What’s Happenin’ in Homeschool?

Tis the season to be flexible! Some days we get quite a bit done, other days… not so much.  I try to keep myself calm about that.  Yesterday, for example, all our friends had a snow day. Often time we do school anyway, but the appeal of sledding and playing outside with friends won over!

Today, we were back to the normal homeschool schedule. Here are some of the things happening in our homeschool:

Math: Right now the kids’ absolute favorite part of our day is Math Circles (riddles, brain teasers and math challenges).  The kids absolutely BEG for more!  I’m loving that enthusiasm! Here are a couple of examples from this past week:

  • Bob has only nickles and quarters. If he has 36 coins that total $3.40, how many of the coins are quarters?
  • A mother tells her children, “All zebras have stripes.” Bella, Rachel and Ben draw their own conclusions from their mothers statement. Ben says, “If an animal has stripes, it has to be a zebra.” Rachel says, “If an animal has stripes, it can be a zebra.” Bella says, “If an animal does not have stripes, it is definitely not a zebra.” Who drew the correct conclusions and why?
  • Find two numbers with a product of 56 and a sum of 15.
  • If you want to print out some other math brain teasers you can go to this recent post.

I mentioned before how much the kids are loving Mathematical Circle Diaries.  Still two thumbs up for that book!!

The kids are also working on problems in their regular math books as well. They generally spend about 10-25 minutes on that each day.

Meanwhile, ED has been really enjoying the Christmas math card games.  DD has been playing the same games to practice her multiplication facts. Again, it’s such a bonus when the kids beg for more math time! Here, ED and I were playing the Place Value Game (Turn a card over, decide where it should go, place it down and try to build the largest number. Cards can’t be moved once they’re placed on the board.)

You can download various Christmas Number Cards and Game Ideas over at this post.

Language Arts: For a couple of weeks we were working on spelling and grammar.  We still have a few more sentences to complete on the Comma Rules Practice sheets I made last week. (Note to self: finish that!) We also finished our biography project (more about that in another post).

But this week, we’ve gone back to doing our writing workshop. Our mini-lesson this week was on the 5 parts of writing. One day the kids had to come up with a “Grabber” beginning that hooked the reader right away. Another day, they had to think about how to end a story… and leave the reader thinking, feeling or laughing.

LD jumped right in to writing this week… not a complaint or a groan.  :) This is a big step forward even from the beginning of the year. The writing workshop model works SO well for us now!! (If you want to read more about that you can read my series: Creating a Writing Workshop.)

You can download this page to print off if you’d like: 5 Parts of Writing

Reading: We finished  Ella Enchanted a couple days ago– and we all loved, loved, loved the book!  I would definitely recommend that for agest 5-10!

History/Geography: This semester we’ve been studying India. Last week we spent quite a bit of time learning how Arab traders helped spread Islam not only across North Africa and into West Africa, but also eastward into India.  We reviewed some of the information we learned about Islam last year (see our free Islam Worksheets  from last year). We spent some time comparing Hinduim (see our free worksheets) and Islam.

We went on to talk about the Moghul Empire and spent quite a bit of time on the fifth emperor, Shah Jahan. We read a number of books about the Taj Mahal and learned that it was built to honor Shah Jahan’s third wife who died in childbirth.

One thing I didn’t know was that in the 1830s, a British governor decided to destroy the Taj Mahal in order to sell the expensive marble in England so rich people could decorate their houses.  Fortunately for history, few people in England were interested in buying the marble.

The kids enjoyed trying to draw the Taj Mahal. DD went on to draw several other famous buildings.

We went on to learn about British colonialism and the growth of the British Empire.  On Friday we learned a bit about apartheid in South Africa and about Nelson Mandela.  This week, we’ve learned more about British colonialism in India and how the British relied on India for raw materials such as cotton.

We started learning about Gandhi and read about his March to the Sea in 1930. Gandhi wanted to protest the British tax on salt and led people on a long march to the sea to make their own salt. The kids thought it was pretty clever to use sea water to make salt.  We took the opportunity to “make sea water” and explore how when the water evaporated, the salt crystals were left behind.

(The kids made snowflakes, drawings and various other drawings with the salt water!)

Picture of Gandhi’s March to the Sea,  courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, the kids have been memorizing some of the geography of Asia — including the location of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and so forth.

German: The kids have been working on their Bobo Siebenschlafen stories and have had to study for a couple of quizzes (Their next quiz is tomorrow.)  While we don’t “test” a lot in our homeschool, I do think it’s important for them to learn basic study skills.

Piano: Lots of Jingle Bells and Silent Night at our house these days!!

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