I don’t usually do a week in review type post, but I thought I’d toss one out for this, the first week of school for many kids. We are back to school for a couple of weeks now after taking off several weeks in July and August for summer camp and family travels. It may be September, but it’s terribly hot, so twice this week we sought out the water. One of the many great benefits of our city is free water. All the public pools are free and there are many good free splash parks and fountains as well. The city extended their days thanks to the heat so we enjoyed two romps in the water this week.
We’re wrapping up history altogether and are trying to run ourselves up to the present day with just one depressing modern history topic left: the Middle East. Two books have been useful for this: Understanding the Holy Land by Mitch Frank and The Middle East: The History, the Conflict, the Culture, the Faiths by the editors of Time Magazine. Both are a few years old (2005 and 2006), which can make a difference for such an ever changing topic, but both have a nicely balance perspective. The second book has really great summaries of the issues and a nice photojournalism style introduction, which is always a good way to introduce a topic. The kids and I both have mixed feelings about all this depressing history. Mostly, I think it has really worn us down. We’re ready to take a nice history break.
Both boys wrapped up a quick and easy writing project from Brave Writer’s Partnership Writing by writing instructions and finishing their revisions this week. Mushroom wrote instructions for making a Wizard of Oz style tin man from foil and toilet paper tubes. BalletBoy wrote instructions for how to put on sunscreen effectively. We were a bit lackadaisical on our other writing fronts. No copywork got done, no poetry tea. Mushroom practiced writing down his grand ideas for inventions. BalletBoy worked on a story about a boy who finds himself stuck in a storybook world where Robin Hood and Merlin fighting a medieval war against each other.
For evening reading time, we started Alan Mendolson: The Boy From Mars by Daniel Pinkwater as a new read aloud. Mushroom read most of Road Trip by Gary Paulson and BalletBoy read Frank Einstein by Jon Scieszka. Additionally, Mushroom has gotten into a news app he found called News-o-Matic. While I haven’t been super impressed by the quality of some of the writing, it is really cool that he found it himself and he’s so into reading about the news. He reads it every day and discusses it with us. Since they had a piece about clean water and we’d been talking about giving to charity what with the ice bucket challenge so omniprevelent, he picked out a clean water charity to donate ten dollars to. So that was a cool thing that I felt pretty positive about.
For math, Mushroom wrapped up a section in Beast Academy and polished off a Key to Math book on decimals. BalletBoy struggled with long division with two and three digit divisors and really, really struggled with any long division with zeros in the quotients. I got some good tips on helping him and he seems to be getting through it. I printed off practice pages from the Middle School Math with Pizzazz series. This is the link to Book A, a search will show the books up through Book E and an additional Pre-Algebra book. If you have a kid who likes puzzle worksheets for practice, such as puzzles where you answer a joke by solving the problems, they’re an excellent resource. BalletBoy loves that kind of thing.
We also finished up a set of lessons on ratio from the book Time Travel Math from Prufrock Press. The final project has the kids make a giant object with a ratio of 1:26. You can see Mushroom and BalletBoy’s giant Lego brick. It’s really big! That’s the real Lego brick they measured to build it sitting in front of it. This book has been really fun so far. A lot of the time books with a storyline to teach like this one are pretty cheesy. While this one isn’t going to win any literary awards, it’s really not bad. And we like the way the math activities build through questions and worksheets to projects and how the story integrates the math. Overall, we’re pretty impressed.
Finally, lots of activities got moving this week. BalletBoy went back to ballet where he got an invitation to join the cast of the Nutcracker for the first time! We’re getting back in the groove with piano and had the first soccer practice of the season. Destination Imagination also started back up and the kids started the process of hashing out which challenge to use. As usual, I cannot sing the praises of Destination Imagination enough. We’re looking forward to a good season.
Still, the highlight of the week was definitely enjoying those last bits of summer with friends, especially in the water.