Monday, September 21, 2009

Reading and Cooking with Dad

One of Cullen's favorite pastimes (of the more quiet sort) to share with his Dad is watching the cooking television network. This afternoon, he discovered that I have a couple of Alton Brown cookbooks, and he brought them out to show his Dad, all excited! They sat on the sofa together to look through the books, Cullen stopping to read the entire set of instructions for baking the perfect pie crust. I couldn't help but laugh!

The reading must have inspired him a bit, because he and Dad made mashed potatoes together to go along with a roast in the oven. Cullen can sometimes be ridiculously picky about trying new foods, and I don't think he's ever eaten mashed potatoes before. (Hard to believe, I know!) Since he helped make them, he was pretty eager to try some. I think I'll have him help with the cooking more often!

First on the list of dishes to prepare... some kind of pie!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Acting Lessons Required

I had to share a typical reading session from our house:

This is new material for him, as you can tell by the couple of words that I help with, but the overly-dramatic presentation is actually his favorite, silly way to read aloud. Sometimes I have to insist that he just read it straight or we'd triple or quadruple the time it takes to read a chapter.

Dull moments around here are a rare commodity!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Report

This was a really good week at our house! We kicked it off with a bang at The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. (See Monday's post here.) Overall, Cullen was cooperative and fun to be with, which as you can imagine, does help quite a bit!

Basics rolled along smoothly. Spelling, Bible, D'Nealian Cursive, Explode the Code 4 phonics - all without a hitch. Cullen memorized a few Bible verses and should tackle a poem next week. He finished reading The Sword in the Tree and is excited about beginning Adventures of King Arthur tomorrow.

Rounding out language arts, he read and wrote a response to one of Aesop's Fables and learned about synonyms and pronouns. After we read The Hero Beowulf together, he narrated a super short summary back to me. (I hope that these narrations grow a little longer as time goes on!) I jotted his sentences down, then wrote out two of them for him to copy. He added a gory illustration of Beowulf with sword in hand and a green, bloody monster arm at his feet. Typical little boy, yes, but don't get the wrong idea. He also wrote a couple of sentences with pronouns for me which read, "I have some butterflies. They are beautiful." There is a sweet side, too!

Math was pretty relaxed. He's been working hard on some fairly new concepts, so we mostly just did review work and word problems this week. On the top of the stack for this weekend's read aloud books is The History of Money from Weekly Reader Library series. Cullen saw this earlier and can barely wait to get into it. He finds money VERY interesting!

Due to time constraints last week, which means "we didn't get it all done," this week we combined some of Tapestry of Grace Yr2 week 3 with week 4 to catch up with the schedule, covering the rise of Islam, Charlemagne, an introduction to the Feudal System and what life would have been like in a Medieval village. This is such a fun period to learn about!

Crustaceans were the focus of our science, with a little reading and making a page for Cullen's notebook. Tomorrow, we plan to hunt down a pill bug, sow bug, or roly-poly as I've always called it, to get an up-close look at a land-dwelling crustacean. Now that I think of it, I guess we could spend a few minutes at the lobster tank in the seafood section of the grocery store, too.

Cullen created these clay pieces at his weekly art class - a castle and a goblet. (Perfect for our Middle Ages theme!) I was a little puzzled (silently, of course) at the castle until it suddenly hit me. It's a giant inflatable bouncy castle!

Most of Cullen's free time over the past several days has been spent hunched over a pile of legos and an instruction manual. He has made small things on his own before, but this week was a milestone. After three days, he completed this giant Coast Guard ship with all the bells and whistles - all on his own! The only assistance I provided was to help him backtrack a few steps to find a mistake, then he forged ahead to finish.

He's quite proud of this accomplishment! I am, too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Study of Legos

Shouldn't following an intricately detailed Lego instruction manual count as school work?!?

I actually shortened math time to allow him to work on these. One of my goals for Cullen this year is for him to get a little better at continuing to work through when something is not easy, without throwing his hands up and quitting (or throwing whatever's in his hands up and quitting!) Plus it gave him the motivation to clean off his play table!

Wordless Wednesday

Early morning backyard visitor
Two little ones wandered a little farther back in the trees, but I couldn't manage to catch them with my camera.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Southern Museum Visit

Today, we met some friends at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History here in Kennesaw. The museum had a Homeschool Day with special activities in addition to their regular exhibits. We had never been before, and both Cullen and I had a great time!

The special exhibit featured now centers around the Native American Code Talkers of World War II. A guide led us through this area and explained the importance of the native American languages and their speakers in keeping our soldiers safe during the war. Good thing the guide was there to pronounce some of the words for us! Navaho, Choctaw - Hooked On Phonics would have been no help!

A large part of the museum houses items from the old Glover Machine Works which once manufactured steam locomotives. My little train-fanatic found this pretty interesting.

There were a couple of hands-on activities for the kids in the exhibit itself.

One of the highlights was a working telegraph station. Well, actually there were two connected across the room by real telegraph wire on real poles. Big charts with the Morse Code allowed the kids to send messages to each other, when they finally learned not to both tap at the same time. Cullen referred to this as "texting" at one point! I guess it was the original form of sending a text message!

The dress-up rooms were a big hit, too. Our friends, Hannah and Amber, decked themselves out in bonnets and shawls, and Cullen got to learn how to tip his hat to the ladies.

There were a couple of craft options for the kids also. Cullen's dreamcatcher creation doubles as an earring.

We watched a movie on the true story of the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War. I had known for years that there was a story, but I'd never actually read or heard it till today. It is an amazing tale! The actual General is here, just a stone's throw from where it was abducted all those years ago - only now indoors.

We bought some little packets of reproduction Confederate money in the gift shop. Cullen was so excited about this! First, he thought it was real, but didn't seem too disappointed that the bills are actually replicas. It's not like he could have spent it anyway. Actually, his word of the day has been "replica" since he read it on the package and asked what that meant. You wouldn't think you could use that word more than once or twice in a regular day, but somehow he keeps managing to slip it in.

This is a place I know we will visit again. There are layers of information that we didn't even get to today. As we get farther along in our history studies, I think Cullen may enjoy this museum even more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekly Report (Two for the price of one!)

We still aren't up to full speed and a firm routine yet, but I feel like we might get there sometime soon. This past week, two weeks really, there have been complications with appointments and odd schedule busters. As I gather my thoughts for this post, though, I see that we managed to accomplish a few things after all!

Cullen is reading his first chapter book all on his own. (We've sometimes alternated pages of a book in the past.) The Sword in the Tree has been an exciting tale that ties in with our history studies of the Middle Ages.

We read about the last days of the Roman Empire through the beginning of life in Medieval times, especially enjoying making fancy letters with calligraphy markers like the monks who copied and illuminated manuscripts. I have fallen in love with this book!

Science was a little light with reading and a few activities on insects and arachnids. Cullen firmly declined any offer on my part to help him catch a few critters to bring inside. He's like his Dad that way!

We completed our overview of the 50 states. Here's a pic of Cullen's map that he filled in as we went along. He had the hardest time coming to grips with the fact that the two-letter state abbreviations were all capital letters. That goes against everything he believes about capitalization, and he strongly disagrees with the practice! He did finally agree to go along with the rest of the country, despite his objections, and make both letters upper case.

He finished up Singapore 2A Math this week, did plenty of timed addition fact drills (He loves the stopwatch!) and watched some video segments of cool math concepts on our Mathtacular dvd from Sonlight.

Our Language Arts included Spelling, (which he loves,) writing in his journal, (which he fights, but is usually proud of in the end,) working in his Aesop's Fables workbook from Royal Fireworks Press and a little in a Spectrum LA workbook. He wrote Thank You notes for birthday gifts received a few weeks ago, too. The highlight of the past two weeks of school work for Cullen has been discovering his new favorite word game - Mad Libs. He literally begs to do these. It is a great way to review and reinforce parts of speech in an absolutely goofy way, and believe me, he does take it to the limits of goofiness!

He is enjoying and learning with our Bible Explorers study. I was a little worried about the format, but it works well for him as a short daily lesson.

Wednesdays have chess class and a fun clay class; Mondays always have gymnastics and Cub Scouts to look forward to. The composer we are focusing on this month is Vivaldi, one of my own favorites. Cullen, predictably, thinks that he doesn't even come close to Beethoven, but did agree to listen a little anyway. (Maybe I should have saved Beethoven's Fifth till last!)

Birthday Party

Photos only of Cullen's 7th birthday party about 4 weeks ago. (I know! I'm a slacker!)