Saturday, April 30, 2016

Learning Notes: April: II

Sunday was Family Sunday at the seminary so we went to Mass there and then had lunch. They are always very welcoming but this time they were especially considerate, reserving for us, the largest family present, the largest table:

The rector stopped by for a visit and then Teresa got her face painted by a talented seminarian. 

Then there was volleyball, or at least a lesson in serving and getting the ball over the net.

 And then we walked down to a bridge over a creek and threw bread to the fish.

Fortunately, finishing the previous week a bit behind, this week was a "Catch-Up" week. For Teresa I focused on keeping her going on her reading lessons. Whereas the other girls had no problem doing a whole lesson each day, Teresa is SO distractible, I generally aim for only half a lesson a day, so it is important I try to work with her as often as possible and this week she completed through Lesson 52. She is getting better at staying focused during the lessons, however, so I am a wee bit hopeful that it won't be too long before she can get through a whole lesson in one day. Distractibility is a greater hurtle for her than reading the words themselves.

We also read John Haaren's Famous Men of GREECE which had a wonderful overview of many of the historical figures of Greece. We skipped the earlier chapters on the gods since we had already read quite a bit about them and focused on the chapters on warriors, politicians, philosophers, etc. This book concluded our unit on Ancient Greece and it was a really nice book to finish with since it did, in part, act as something of a review. Overall, I'm quite happy with how our Ancient Greece unit went. We really did cover a great deal and although the kids still haven't tried a gyro, I do think they have a much better introduction to Ancient Greece than they did the last time we went through the ancient civilizations. 
Teresa's drawing. "Dorito"
I gave Thomas and James much needed haircuts. While I did belt Thomas in for his, I didn't use his tray to retrain him thinking it would be one less thing to clean. I won't make that mistake in the future though as it definitely gave him more room to squirm and while he definitely looks much better, I do think I could have gotten a bit more off if he hadn't been so squirmy.

Elizabeth learned about the history of the American Flag and colored both the current flag and a Betsy Ross flag to complete the last requirement needed for her Our Flag badge. And Cecilia completed all but one of the requirements to earn her Space Exploration badge. Simply during the course of our study of Astronomy this Spring, Felicity and Elizabeth had already earned the badge but Cecilia, being older, had a bit more to do. So we looked up the differences between refracting and reflecting telescopes and then played around on the website for the Hubble Telescope and browsed the gallery. So amazingly gorgeous. We then looked up the different colors of stars and why they are different colors and she made a chart explaining it. She also used the iPad Mini to make a short presentation to show her fellow Explorers about the planet Venus. The only requirement left is to use a moon map to try to identify locations on the moon while looking at it through a telescope and while we have used a telescope once this spring to look at Jupiter, we never did take much time with the moon. 

On Thursday we had archery again. I do think Cecilia has gotten a bit tired of it. Elizabeth enjoys it but her arms and fingers can tire. Felicity, however, seems content to shoot indefinitely. 

How to occupy 3 littles while the older ones shoot for an hour.
We also read chapter 14 in our Astronomy book on living in space and then got lost on youtube watching tons of videos of the astronauts on the International Space Station and learning all about how they eat, sleep, wash their hair, and even use the bathroom. Sleeping and floating in space looks fun but I can't say the eating or bathroom facilities would make me eager to sign up. The kids still can't get over the idea that they drink their own urine, filtered of course but Felicity likes the idea of being an astronaut. I'm hoping maybe sometime in the next week, since we still have to look at the moon anyway, we might be able to spot the ISS as it flies overhead. 

We also finally took the time for Felicity to do her Master Kit of Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night. 
Each kit makes two pictures, and her sisters wanted a go, so they and I worked to make this one:
Then we got out the Monet kit and did the second picture of that one, well Teresa and Brigid did. 
Brigid was not happy needing to take turns with the stencil. 

 Brigid got a bit zealous on one side but considering this is the work of a 5 year old and a 3 year old I'm impressed!
My two biggest colorers coloring together. 
We also practiced the Sanctus. Cecilia has about 3/4 of it down already. Elizabeth struggles but is working on the first third or so. Felicity throws a tantrum whenever I ask her to say any word in Latin, but I try to get her used to hearing it anyway. So imagine my shock when she voluntarily came to my office on Saturday and practiced repeatedly the first two lines of the Sanctus! Wonders never cease!

We got back to the books though for the last week in April. The oldest three are working on their math, geography, spelling, english, typing, handwriting, Spanish and vocabulary and are on schedule to finish by the end of June.

We read Geraldine McCaughrean's Roman Myths as well as Donald M. Silver's One Small Square: The Night Sky, which gave a nice overview of most things in outer space. We also watched, with caution on the language, Apollo 13, which was a really nice way of getting them not only to get an idea how dangerous it can be but also how many people have to work together for the space program and how many things have to go right. Cecilia also completed her Space Exploration AHG badge as we went over a map of the moon used photographs of it to locate various seas and craters on it. We did look at the moon through the telescope back in February and I would have liked to do so again but it has been very rainy and cloudy with the moon not even rising until near midnight, which has made it quite difficult.

We also practiced the Sanctus. Cecilia has down all but the last 2 lines. Felicity and Elizabeth know the first two lines and are working on the third:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus sabaoth,
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
gloria tua, Hosanna in excelsis
Benedictus qui venit in nomini domine
Hosanna in excelsis. 
Learning the Sanctus is my last planned Latin assignment for the year, so I expect Cecilia will finish early but Felicity and Elizabeth are plugging right along well too!
On Friday the Milwaukee Public Museum had a Members-Only evening and I took the three oldest out for a special night. The had a couple dozen special exhibits set up where you could get up close to artifacts and ask about them. We visited one table about small pistols, some over 150 years old and then a table about silk which had a genuine silk hat that we were scolded for touching (Signs, people! Just put up a sign!) and then this beautiful silk chasuble:
 If you enlarge the picture you can see on the bottom it was from the 17th or 18th century from Spanish Colonial Ecuador and there are some silk worm cocoons on the table too!

From there we visited the insect exhibit and saw some molds from Velociraptors at a table before heading into their video conferencing center where we got to see ourselves on TV. The girls got to see a green screen and how it worked and got a huge kick out of invisible Elizabeth, who had worn a green shirt.
 Then we went to Old Time Milwaukee, which had been under renovation the last time we were there. ... Not a one of them could reach the pedals to ride. LOL

 There were windows into homes from almost every country in Europe that were really neat to peruse as well as shops and stores from what Milwaukee would have looked like about 100-150 years ago. The General Store looked like something right out of Little Town on the Prairie and they got to play with an old telephone and ride on an old trolley that seemed to actually be passing by old Milwaukee.

 Then we went to the special Dinosaur exhibit with skeletons of dinosaurs from South America and Africa, including a Giganotosaurus, a huge meat-eater from Argentina that is bigger than a T-Rex. There was also a rock sample from Montana where you could see the layer they believe was caused by the meteor that might have destroyed the dinosaurs. The dinosaur exhibit was one of their favorites and is only there through May 15th!

 My favorite (and Cecilia's other favorite) was a table with urns from Ancient Greece. They were used for oil, water and wine and dated back to 400-600 B.C.
The one on the far left is a fake, the rest are genuine.
The big one was of Hercules slaying Geryon to obtain his cattle.
 The small one I got a close up, although a bit dark, was used for oil and has paintings of Theseus defeating the Minotaur. Being so close up to them was awesome!
 And since we were nearby we went through their Ancient Civilizations exhibit again. Cecilia had fun playing with their interactive map that moves through time and shows where the different civilizations grew and expired. We found the map when Alexander the Great conquered Persia. It really was a perfect ending to our unit on Ancient Greece.
 Last but far from least was a behind the scene tour of their IMAX Dome Theater. We got to see the insanely huge reels of film and the projector with its $5000 light bulb and even go behind the dome which is made of hole-punched aluminum to allow light and sound to move through it.

It was a lovely and very fun outing and so educational too... it was everything an outing should be and the perfect way to finish April. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Learning Notes: April: I

Even though, on my calendar, April did not look especially busy (no birthdays, no major holidays, not big visits, etc.) our first week back to school was crazy busy.
Teresa does well with her reading lessons but much prefers math.
We got all our bookwork done, and actually it has gotten easier to finish the bookwork as the girls have begun finishing their handwriting, geography, etc. books. But Monday was very busy between our Catholic Girls group and then AHG. Tuesday Teresa had her 5 year check up, at which she did very well. She measured up at 42 inches and weighed in at 45 pounds. That girl is solid muscle and healthy as a horse. And then I got out and voted. But I never had time to do all the history and religion I had planned and hoped to do on Tuesday. So on Wednesday we tried to catch up. We read Alexander the Great by Demi and began reading Alexander: The Boy Solider who Conquered the World by Adams. We watched an interview with demonstrations on the military gear of the Ancient Greeks ( Then, while I put away laundry, each of the oldest three girls read Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon.

Entertaining Thomas with my phone.
Cecilia finished listening to an audiobook of Where the Red Fern Grows and we all began listening to the audio book of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which seems to be the first book I've seen really captivate Felicity since she plowed through the first Harry Potter book. Felicity definitely takes much more quickly to books if they involve magic, which makes complete sense she is my unicorn-girl.
Thomas Tiger 
His weakness is when you put his hood on. 
Thomas has added to his vocabulary. In addition to Mama and the usual baby sounds, we can now make out Mommy, Bear, Banana and Yeah.

Bumble Bee Thomas

On Thursday Cecilia and Elizabeth finished their AHG Kid Care badge, which, admittedly, is fairly easy to do in our house. Felicity and Elizabeth also completed their archery badges, which they only had one or two requirements to finish after going shooting last week. Teresa struggles to focus but is making good progress in her reading lessons and has almost completed half the book. She loves math much more and always asks to do that book first. We have watched several films on Greece from Netflix, including Greece: Secrets of the Past, which was okay, National Geographic: Beyond the Movie: Alexander the Great, which was quite good apart from the reference to Philip II having "both male and female partners" (possibly true, but not for young ears), The Real Olympics, which I do not recommend due to the nudity, violence and fact it bored my kids like crazy, Visions of Greece which had some stunning footage and everyone enjoyed watching, The Minotaur's Island, which was okay and In Search of History: The Greek Gods, which I found so sexual we didn't even finish it as it wasn't appropriate. Jason and the Argonauts continues to be a favorite. Using Amazon Prime we watched Greece: Garden of the Gods, which mainly recapped all we had already read about the gods, and Global Treasures: Acropolis, which was okay but unnecessarily short.

Brigid uses my feet to build a castle tent.
Friday Cecilia worked on her Bible Basics badge and began her final requirement for it, we completed the book on Alexander the Great and Felicity and Elizabeth completed their Music Appreciation badges. We tried to watch Timelines of Ancient Civilizations' episodes on Ancient Greece but every episode insisted on beginning with the creation of the earth and working up through dinosaurs, etc. before getting to Greece and by the time they got there everyone was bored and wondering why we were watching this. So we dropped that one and moved on to Empires: Season 7 on Ancient Greece. We didn't finish it until Saturday because it was over 2 hours but it was definitely better. The girls loved the fact it was narrated by Ponyo's dad (Liam Neeson) and they prefer the combination of a documentary and a reenactment, which this combined to their liking.
Blessed Sacrament, a Dominican parish in Madison I visited on Saturday.

On Monday we did a nice portion of bookwork, a chapter in religion and read "Lysis Goes to the Play" but the best part of the day was finally getting outside. The grass was suddenly green instead of brown and it was still chilly in the 40s, but it was sunny and dry and we hadn't had that in almost 2 weeks.

"The Beach"

"My heart!"

Elizabeth drew the entire Solar System 

Cecilia drew a zoo with different animals. Here she works on the tiger. 

Teresa's rainbow.

Felicity's rainbow shell. 

When she realized she hadn't actually drawn any of the animals in the zoo.
Felicity's rainbow unicorn.
Tuesday we had archery club again, at which Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth shot. They are getting fairly good hitting their targets and love telling me when they hit the foam turkey or boar that they are getting me turkey and bacon for dinner. Unfortunately, by Tuesday, exhaustion was wearing on me. I'd been crazy tired for a few days despite a nice amount of sleep and while we did begin reading Archimedes and the Door of Science, which turned into a fantastic read including the brilliant man's biography but also simple explanations of some of his science and mathematical experiments and designs with fun anecdotes too, I did fall behind on my plans for science.

By the end of the week we were still behind on Science but we did finish reading our book on Archimedes, which was very good, and spend a nice amount of time playing outside, which is in itself a most valuable time for learning.