Saturday, September 20, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary: Lego, Lego, Lego my Lego

Do you have Lego-maniacs in your home? I have three. 

Both drawers are full of Legos ...
I totally get it, I liked Legos when I was a kid; one of the few girls I knew who did.  And if Lego Friends had been a thing then, I would've liked them even more.

The children have been building a sprawling ranch home with vehicles, bedrooms, and parlors.  They've had more fun building it than playing with it.

Lego tops have been another huge hit here.  My nephew introduced them to the concept and they have been building, spinning, and battling tops.  Figuring out the right shapes (rectangles don't work well, as you might imagine), balance, and weight to spin and/or destroy one's enemies.

M-girl is 9 and old enough to participate on a First Lego League team this year.  It is a group of homeschool friends from church and Jason is helping with the programming portion.  N-boy is really, really interested in M-girl's work and wants to help so badly.  He has to wait until next year. 

I love that Legos are such a part of their every day lives.  They build. They follow directions (once, anyway).  They use their imaginations. 

How do you Embrace the Ordinary? Please share with us at Gina's place ...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekly-ish Report for September 2-20, 2014

One of my overarching reasons for blogging is to track our homeschool successes (and failures).  I have been a bit lax in the last few weeks, not getting to the computer to spend the time to think through what we've been doing and what we ought to be doing.

This will be a general update.

We've been working at our Circle Time somewhat diligently.  We have learned 'O Worship the King' and began working on 'And Can it Be.'  I've put off a lot of hymns that require parts, but N-boy is capable of doing some of those repeats (and relishes doing it!).  We are mostly done with learning Colossians 3:12-17, and are going to begin Psalm 23.  M-girl and N-boy continue reviewing catechism questions, while R-girl is learning about the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer.  We have just about finished Covenantal Catechism Book 2 (I need to order book 3! I might buy the workbooks this year instead of just the teacher's manual)  They have learned Jamie Soles' song The Kings of Israel and now are reviewing the OT and NT Books of the Bible from Wee Sing.  They're learning 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in poetry.  We've read some about Pythagoras in Mathematicians are People Too and the Lamb's version of The Tempest.

They've been working on Math. We've been doing Calculadder, and everyone has advanced a level.  M-girl has been working more on XtraMath, she needs to shore up those math facts. R-girl has been doing her math on Khan Academy, reviewing and making certain she understands before we go back into MEP full time. M-girl is working in MEP on a section of spatial relationships, which she finds frustrating.  She has a hard time seeing symmetry and following spatial directions.  N-boy is working on a Geometry section with parallel and perpendicular lines.  During Circle Time, we've been working on the Math Sound Off Level I which gives definitions for some of these things.  That has made these easier for N-boy.

In History, we learned about some African tribes during the colonial period and how they fought for their own national sovereignty.  We studied about Triangular Trade and the colonies.  The children read some from American History Stories, Volume I.  They all worked some on Geography Blobbing.  They're getting the shapes, but maybe not so much the placement.  R-girl continued working through the Memoria Press States and Capitals Book.

We did some Science, reading through sections of The Elements.  We got to learn about notation for electrons that chemists use.  They also read some from the Basher Chemistry or Periodic Table books.  On Facebook, I lamented the lack of readable books about Chemists and/or Chemistry.  Our library has three books in the juvenile section under the subject "Chemist" ... and they're all about Marie Curie.
Basher Book
 I gave them the first Logic Liftoff book to be done on their own time.  I don't know if anyone has completed a page yet, though.

Highlighted Grammar
We worked somewhat diligently in Writing and Rhetoric.  I'm really enjoying this, and I think the children are too.  R-girl is close to finishing FLL2 in Grammar; N-boy is working through Grammar-Land and doing very well with it.  He and I parsed through this paragraph with highlighters.  M-girl is diagramming sentences with prepositional phrases and learning 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by Yeats.

For Literature, the children finished reading The Silver Chair, which is probably my favorite Narnia book other than The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but not theirs.  They read Looking for Atlantis, which is fun.  They also enjoyed some of E Nesbit's The Book of Dragons.

Art with Friends
In Latin, we worked some on Lesson 9 in Latin for Children A and reviewed some of what exactly we're doing.  I challenged the kids to be Latin Detectives who are following clues to decode the mystery.  That seemed to catch the fancy of some of them.  We all need to keep working together.
I've got to find my CD so we can review vocabulary chants in the car.

M-girl and N-boy have been doing some programming on Khan Academy. M-girl is helping with the programming on her First Lego League team, as well.  R-girl has enjoyed her Art class so far.  She missed this week's lesson because I forgot.  Oops. We enjoyed our Art with Friends group this week.  Soccer has been a big part of our evening time. The children have not been doing their Piano practices this past week.  I really, really need to find a teacher.

We had a fun trip to our county fair on Monday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O'Brien (Family Read Aloud)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


We read this as a family over the past several months.  All of us enjoyed it pretty well. 

We found a lot to discuss in this book: stealing, learning, dangers, friendships, service to others.  We had some long after-dinner discussions. It was exciting that after all these years of dinner time read alouds and modeling how to interact with books to see our eldest daughter (9yo) make allusions and draw ideas together from the reading. She asked some good questions. Not all the time, but from time to time.

There's a review on Amazon that treats the rats as totalitarian/fascist, and I'm not sure I agree with that.  I like the review very much, but I think the Rats of NIMH show an extreme, self-centered independence. 

Rather than considering how they could serve others, they were so focused on their own plans and desires that they walled themselves off into their own world and could not love rightly. With all their intelligence and learning, they could not see the interdependence they had on others - Mr. Ages, Mr. Frisby, the Bonifaces, the Fitzgibbons, even the old owl.  And without seeing the interdependence, they offered no support until asked.  No thought.

I was intrigued that they considered following the ideas of the early European monastery to remove themselves from the world.  The monasteries, yes, were a haven, but a haven for learning and service to the community.  Their separation wasn't as extreme as the Rats intended.

I also wonder about future generations of Rats.  They are going to leave almost everything behind - including their books and tools.  Yes, working is good and having real work is important, but standing on the shoulders of our ancestors and their learning and ideas is an important part of advancing civilization.  They learned that the prairie dog civilization stopped growing and advancing, they claimed to be interested in and learn from history, yet Nicodemus and the Rats leave behind all that they could teach from and build from for the coming generations.  Why?

As a Christian, I read this and wonder about how I love others.  Do I only serve when asked, or do I seek out needs and offer help and aid.  Do I love my American Individualism more than I love God and love others? Some ideas to consider out of this worthwhile book.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesdays with Words: We Were Curious

We finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH last week.  While it wasn't the favorite readaloud we've done, all of us did enjoy the book.  I was particularly interested in how the rats furthered their education.

The reading we did! We knew very little about the world, you see, and we were curious. We learned about astronomy, about electricity, biology and mathematics, about music and art. I even read quite a few books of poetry and got to like it pretty well.

But what I liked best was history. I read about the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, and the Dark Ages, when the old civilizations fell apart and the only people who could read and write were the monks. They lived apart in monasteries. They led the simplest kind of lives, and studied and wrote; they grew their own food, built their own houses and furniture. They even made their own tools and their own paper. Reading about that, I began getting some ideas of how we might live. (pg 159)
We talked a lot about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats. One thing we talked about was how history is replete with lessons for those who would hear them - lessons that can help us see trends of failure, of power grabbing, and of success.  The rats knew history, how would they use it?

One last thing this week, please be educating yourselves on fair use and copyrights.  Sharing books this way has been a boon to my TBR pile and our conversations have been a blessing to me. I hope it has been for you as well!

What have you been reading this week?

Wordless Wednesday: At the Fair

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: When Gods Die by CS Harris

When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr #2)When Gods Die by C.S. Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this book as well as the first. For most of the book, I thought I liked it better. I found the resolution a bit confusing - the motives and explanation of how the plot shook out seemed a little lightly woven, like one false move would tear it asunder.  I liked the intrigue and the weaving of potential coup in with his family story.

I was not such of a fan of Sebastian's professed atheism corrected to theism of some amorphous pattern to things. I see from future reviews that this theme opposed to Christianity continues and have my concerns with continuing the series. The theme of what happens when Gods die - from those we love devotedly to heroin to ourselves to God himself - is strong. Harris shows disillusionment, fear, and shattering. I'm just not convinced that is what she meant to show about God the Father.

And, yes, I want to know about Hero - despite her small walk-on roles so far, she is a favorite character and I think she is in love with Sebastian. I thought Harris did well with Tom - his incarceration was a haunting episode in the book. Kat did not seem as involved with this and I fully expect her connections with the French to cause problems in the future.

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