I forgot to do a 3rd quarter review of Bridgetender school. Please forgive me. Bridgetender school has finished for the year and is taking a well deserved break. For two weeks-ish, we will do no school, nothing. We will go down to Tuscon at some point and I would like to take a day trip to someplace we haven't been, maybe Jerome, a ghost-town-turned-potential-tourist-trap.
As a reminder, we toured through the 20th century, going from the turn of the century to WWI in the first two units and going from The Cold War to present day during the second half of the year. As a school, we seemed to spend a lot of time on The Civil Rights movement, mainly because the work to end segregation in all its forms and truly free the Southern blacks took over a decade. We also read about the space race and all about the Middle east and The Cold War. For me, it was a time of seeing our country start to slide from a Republic toward a democractic socialism in tiny steps and relieve some sad times in our history. I utilitzed Youtube a lot so that the kids could watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream speech", Elvis' and The Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and parts of The Kennedy/Nixon debates. We watched "The Right Stuff" when studying the Mercury mission. The read-aloud suggestions that we enjoyed most were Mission Control, This is Apollo, The Red Scarf Girl, and Tales of Persia: Missionary Stories from Islamic Iran. The Red Scarf Girl is about a family who gets persecuted during Chinas culteral revolution, when Mao Zedong tried to eliminate enemies of his program and led the country into mob rule.
We are still using Math U See for math. Elizabeth is halfway through Pre-Algrebra, Jessi is halway through fractions, Kyle went through multiplication and John breezed through addition and subtraction. Elizabeth opted out of the honor math problems because math is not her favorite subject.
For science, we went through Apologia's "Swimming Creatures book learning all about fish and other aquatic creatures. I learned a lot, too. For instance, those beautiful sea stars are pretty disgusting, literally heaving their stomachs out of their mouths to grab the food and partially digest it outside of their body before reeling the stomach back inside the body. Gross! I also saw a picture of a lamprey and now know where George Lucas received his inspiration for the creature that Jabba was going to feed with Luke and Han at the beginning of "Return of the Jedi."
Our friend, Jenny, continued to give our kids age-appropriate writing assignments, which I will be sharing in future posts. For writing assignments, the kids wrote movie reviews, news stories about the Civil Rights movement and comic strips as part of an assignment to make a newspaper. We also wrote up and performed part of a radio theatre drama that had been inspired by the book _Escape from Warsaw_.
We continued to work on Spanish by having another friend and native speaker, Javi, come read books to them and help them translate. Jessi and Elizabeth are doing great. Kyle is not so interested and John could care less, which is pretty typical of I figured that this is how we learned English, so it would be a good way to learn Spanish. I am also trying to talk more in Spanish around the house and the kids know what to do when they hear some of the phrases. It definitely helps attending a bi-lingual church. Elizabeth is with the adults these days and hears the sermon in both English and Spanish. She is starting to pick out one or two words in Spanish, which is really big. I am translating the handouts given to parents into Spanish with help from some of the native Mexicans and it has been helping develop my Spanish skills.
Elizabeth is getting to be a beautiful artist and a good writer. She has improved in math and seems to like pre-algebra so far. She has enjoyed General Science and tried to double up on science this year when we moved into sea creatures, but dropped out because of all the work. She joined Speech and Debate and seems to be enjoying improvisation and debate. It has added a lot of work and will be counting for her writing and language arts skills. She has been working harder at improving her penmanship this year because it has been affecting her grades on assignments. The biggest improvement I have seen this year in how she has been able to independently manage her workload. There were a couple of times when she took on inordinately heavy loads and then realized that her goals were unattainable without spending every waking minute on school. She is also improving in organizational skills. She continues to be a voracious reader.
Jessica is getting better in math and seems to enjoy fractions a whole lot more than Elizabeth did. She is also really good at picking up languages. She is always requesting to learn more languages, so at the end of the year book sale that my homeschool group has, I found a copy of Powerglide French for $5. Score! She has started listening to it and I might use it to re-inforce Spanish phrases, too. She is getting better at writing, thanks to Miss Jenny and has also joined Speech and Debate as a junior. She has made huge improvements in making sure she does a job completely, and thoroughly and making her best effort. It is shown most of all in her chores, where she has gone from being worse than John to being another "go-to girl." She plays piano beautifully. She is my voracious reader #2, enjoying a lot of different non fiction books as well as mysteries and historical fiction.
Kyle has picked up guitar and is getting in the habit of practicing daily. He excels in math having mastered multiple digit multiplication much faster than either of the girls. He also loves fact-based books and loved reading about wars and space. His writing is still in development stage. His current style of writing could be described as "terse." He wrote a three paragraph paper on John F. Kennedy that took up less than 15 lines. Most sentences were less than ten words each. If I could just combine his efficiency with words, with Elizabeth's loquaciousness, they would both be awesome writers. He is my third voracious reader, preferring books on baseball teams, architecture, biographies, war-themed books and Rick Riordan books.
John is my late bloomer, as all last borns seem to be. He took the longest to pick up reading, probably because he has five other people to read to him, so why make the effort. However, at the very end of the year, I am happy to say that he finally picked up the reading bug. At the end of the year, he read a Geronimo Stilton fiction book that was 300 pages long, taking two weeks to read it from cover to cover. He prefers to read comic books. He has focus issues. He knows his math facts, but his mind wanders a lot. That is probably due to his age and being a boy. I found that when I timed him in math, he did better at focusing...most of the time. He does a great job at his chores and is always trying to prove that he can do whatever the older kids can. He has recently been promoted to floor sweeper and cleaner skills. He is a great artist, storyteller and Lego builder.
I am enjoying a couple weeks of rest before spending the summer covering some "extras" and some topics that got pushed aside during the school year. The three youngest will be going through Building Thinking Skills by Critical Thinking Company and Elizabeth will be going through The Fallacy Detective. The three oldest are also going to approach grammar from an editor's point of view with a series called Editor-In-Chief. The three youngest will also be going through spelling words, especially John. In Arizona, summer is the time when everyone goes inside from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to avoid being baked to a crisp and so part of that time is going to be spent on these subjects when we are not getting out of town to escape the heat.