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Archive for August, 2009

Play Dough–All Afternoon!

Play Dough--All Afternoon!

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Wow, what a week!  Trying to fit the substitute paper route (see previous entry) in our already crowded schedule sure makes our lives interesting!

School is moving along.  We just finished Lesson 10 today.  We are settling into our daily routine, and I think everyone is getting used to the schedule.  It took awhile for the kids to get used to the new time slots for music lessons, and a few practices were missed.  That hasn’t happened for a few days, though, so hopefully that won’t happen anymore.

Probably our biggest development in school for this week is that John is settling on a topic for his science project.  He checked a book out from the library called Crime Scene Science Fair Projects by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. It has several interesting ideas in it, but John was particularly focused on a project involving DNA extraction.  We read that section of the book and looked up more information on the internet, and I think it could be turned into an interesting project.  So, the next step will be writing a research paper about his chosen topic before beginning the actual experiment/data collection.  I’ll continue to post updates on his progress.

Other than picking a science project and running newspapers all over town, things are going along pretty smoothly.  All of the kids are enjoying their teachers, and I am enjoying getting back into our school routine.

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Paper Route Subs–Again


Well, we are busy delivering newspapers again.  One of Brock’s friends from scouts has two routes, and his family went on vacation this week.  So, he asked if we could fill in.  We started last Thursday, and will have the routes through the end of this week.

It’s not too bad now that Dan is home to help.  He was out of town for the first two nights, so I did both of the routes with all five of the kids.  It took about three hours to complete, and we were all wiped out by the time we were finished.  I guess the boy who usually does these routes does them on his bike.  We didn’t know that when we agreed to help out.  Walking the routes takes a lot more energy and time than using a bike…..  I was pretty discouraged after doing those two days.

Things are going better now that Dan is home to help.  He takes some of the kids on one route, and I take the rest on the other route.  Doing it that way only takes about an hour, and we still have time (and energy) to enjoy the rest of our evening.  Each day gets a little easier, and the kids have been great helpers through it all.

Last time we substituted, I contemplated whether we should get our own route.  That was during our summer break from school.  Now that we are back in school, I really don’t think it would work on a long-term basis.  It falls right after school when I should be making supper and the kids should be doing homework.  By the time we finish the routes, get supper, and the kids finish up their homework, there is little time left for the kids to be kids.  So at least for now, I think we’ll stay substitutes rather than getting our own route.

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We are enrolled in A Beka Academy DVD Program 1, which is the Academy’s accredited program.  We have to regularly send in papers and reports on our kids’ progress and follow their program to the letter.

This year was the first year that we encountered the required P.E. class.  It is currently required in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, and I was always curious how it would be implemented.  I searched the internet for specific information, but never found what I needed until my materials came.  So I wanted to make an entry about this topic in case anyone else is looking for this same information.

The class is scheduled for 50 minutes every day.  They break that time into these segments:

10 minutes calisthentics

Minimum 15-20 minutes of activity or skills test

10 minutes of cool down

remaining time for shower, changing clothes, etc.

They have several options for the activity portion of the schedule.  Some of them are aerobics, baseball, basketball, cycling, rope skipping, running, skating, swimming, treadmill, etc.  For each activity, A Beka gives a weekly chart of goals to meet.  4 days each week are spent practicing, and the 5th day is a “skills test” for which the student must meet that week’s goal to pass.  It is all pass/fail–either the student meets the goal or he doesn’t.  The letter grade on the report card is determined by the number of passes.  (To get an A, there can be no fails; to get a B, there can be one fail, etc.)

John is doing a combination of using our elliptical trainer and our stationary bike.  The weekly goals are very attainable, but do require effort.  The first week’s goal is cycling 2.0 miles in 11 minutes or less.  By the 5th week, the goal is 2.0 miles in 8 minutes or less.   The distance and speed gradually increase until a “conditioned” level is reached and maintained.  For the stationary bike, the “conditioned” level is 7 miles in 35 minutes or less.  It seems a little overwhelming at first, but it is definitely a realistic schedule of increasing difficulty.  I personally began using the exercise bike every day beginning last Christmas.  I gradually worked my way up to what I do now which is 7 miles in 30 minutes or less, so if I can do it, anybody can!  😉

We are combining this class with the Personal Fitness merit badge for Boy Scouts.  We are using the flexibility and strength exercises listed in the official Personal Fitness Merit Badge Booklet on pages 68-79 for the calisthentics portion of the daily program.  I am glad that we are doing the requirements for this badge along with the A Beka program because the Boy Scouts require testing/charting of progress both in acquisition of skills and body measurements.  The merit badge requires a 12-week program, so we are going to stick with those specific exercises for at least 12 weeks, and then we will evaluate whether we want to change or add others for the rest of the school year.

I hope this information is helpful.  John is enjoying P.E. very much.  I think he is surprising himself on how much he can do!

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Our first week of school has gone pretty smoothly.  We are gradually getting closer to a full schedule, and I think everything is going to fit just fine.

Kara is enjoying kindergarten.  She really likes her penmanship class.  I hope her enthusiasm sticks because she is doing a very nice job!

Luke and Cosette are still in the review portions of their classes.  They are both looking forward to getting on to new things, but I have explained to them that review is normal and necessary since a lot of learning is dusty after a summer break.

Brock is doing a great job in 5th grade.  He likes having a man teacher for math.

We are still adjusting to John’s 7th grade schedule.  He certainly has a full day by the time he completes all of his classes and homework.  He is in the beginning stages of a major science project.  This project will eventually include a research paper, an investigation, a science-fair-like display, and an oral report.  He is excited about it.  He is supposed to have a topic picked out in the next few days.  If any of my readers has any great suggestions for a 7th grade science project, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

I am always happy to get back into a school routine.  I enjoy seeing my kids growing academically, spiritually, and physically.

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This video is a demonstration of the new fad in our house:  using our chin-up bar to climb up the doorway.  All three of my big kids think this is the greatest thing ever while my two younger kids wish their legs were long enough to do it too! 😉

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Yesterday we met my goal of getting school started.  It’s an adjustment getting back into routine, but it is a good adjustment. The first couple of days have gone very smoothly, thanks to my Mom who helps me chart out a plan for our school day.  (I am still making minor adjustments to the schedule as we are seeing how it fits in real time.  When it has been finalized, I will make another post about that specifically.)

Kara is in A Beka Academy K5, program 1, and has Mrs. Bere as her video teacher.  Mrs. Bere is the only teacher that all five of my kids will have shared.  She does an amazing job, so I am happy about that.  K5 starts out with only partial days, so it will take a week or two to get into our full schedule.

Luke is in 2nd grade this year and has Mrs. Chappell for his video teacher.  He is the 3rd of my kids to have her, and I have always enjoyed her calm, pleasant disposition.

Cosette is in 3rd grade and gets to be the first one of us to try out the new teacher, Mrs. Achuff.  I am sure that she will be a fine teacher.  Cosette enjoys having the brand new books since she has always had hand-me-downs for the non-consumables up until now.  She was a little frustrated on her first day of school because all of a sudden she was supposed to be writing in 3/4 space cursive instead of whole-space cursive.  I told her that John and Brock also struggled with that at first, but that she will catch on to the smaller “font” soon.  She felt better knowing that she was not the only one who found this a hard habit to change!

Brock is in 5th grade and has Mr. Howe, Mrs. Bere (yes, the same teacher as Kara!), and Mrs. Yohe.  5th grade was recorded several years later than the K5 program, and Mrs. Bere does a great job with both age groups.  Brock is really trying hard on penmanship, which has not always been easy for him.  I am proud of him for that.  Mr. Howe is a neat teacher, and I know that Brock will learn a lot from him in math this year.

This is John’s first official year of junior high.  It is hard to believe that he has already reached 7th grade.  There are a few things that are different in the format of the junior high than in the elementary years, but John is not having any trouble adapting. He will have a fun year.  He gets to do a big science project, and that is something that will be right up his alley.  He also has P.E. this year, and I think between the A Beka Academy requirements and the requirements for the Eagle Scout-required merit badge for physical fitness, I think we have put together a good plan and set appropriate goals.

I was always curious about how A Beka Academy did P. E. since it is required in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.  I searched and searched and never really found the answer until my material came this summer.  So, in a few days, I will write a separate entry about what John is doing.  Hopefully it will help others who are wondering about P. E. like I was.

I am planning on making a new category on this blog this year called Abeka Academy Weekly Journal.  I am going to try to summarize highlights from each of our weeks of school.  It will be a good way to record the special memories that come with homeschooling.

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