Sorry this is so late! My computer won't read SD cards, so I have all these pictures I can't upload! I know pictures is why relatives view this blog... so I was waiting for the day my computer would magically read my SD card. Nick says it's a "sign" that I need a new computer. I am beginning to cave... it's only 7 years old. I know that seems ancient to my husband (and the rest of the world), but it's perfectly capable of opening an internet window and run my Windows Office programs. It's just fine! ... well... since I want to read an SD card too, I guess we'll get a new one. If you're missing photos of our amazing children, Nick has been taking pictures and video with his tablet and uploading them to Google+
We finished our first year with our co-op, Classical Conversations. It was amazing! We learned how to memorize facts, as well as "less is more" when it comes to education. We only did 3.5 hours of school a day, and they would actually talk about what they learned. Besides reading, math, and aspects of writing, we learned key points of history from middles ages to present day, as well as facts about ecology and physics. We also learned basic drawing skills, famous painters from the Baroque and Classical period, how to read sheet music, play the Tin Whistle, as well as famous composers from the Baroque and Classical period and the instruments and sections that make up an orchestra.
Alvin and Alex talk about the laws of thermodynamics when ice cubes are melting. They talk about Newton's 3rd Law of Motion when they release the air out of a balloon. Because of skip counting, they taught themselves how to multiple and divide on their own. Part of our memory work was memorizing four mathematics laws: Commutative Law (a x b = b x a; a + b = b + a), Distributive Law (a [b+c] = ab x ac), Identity Law (a + 0 = a; a x 1 = a), and the Associative Law ( [a + b] + c = a + [b + c]). In memorizing these laws, it's supposed to make algebra easier. Classical model believes the more you have memorized, the quicker you can process information and reach an educated conclusion, even with math. It's been fun.
Alvin and Alex now pick up on adult conversations more, especially about places. They know where many countries, rivers, and mountains are now. We were reading about animals in Southeast Asia. They knew Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam were there. Alex reminds us about the Vietnam war and how we tried to stop communism. Now, they have built on that and they can picture what kind of animals live there. Because we spent the year learning how to draw a map of the world with major longitudes (simple map of continents and a few islands), they know those countries are between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, so it must have tropical rain forests or deserts. From the animals, they figured out it was more like a jungle. Another example, we were playing the game Risk (a much older version). One of the Asian territories was Ural. It was the second territory away from Europe. Alex tells me, "Mom, that's not right. Doesn't the Ural mountains separate these two [European and Asian continent]".
Don't get me wrong, we have our challenges. I'm not pretending Alvin and Alex know everything, but it's been a fun journey.
Rilie and Jackson have loved how much less school we do. I've done a much better job at balancing my time more in favor of their needs. With the warmer weather, we play outside more. We read a lot of books! That is their favorite pass time. They enjoy playing pretend with their brothers: monsters, pirates, soldiers, etc. Jackson has the more adorable karate chop, matched with a high pitch, "Hi-ya!" Rilie and he karate chop each other and invisible foes.
Rilie and Jackson are learning the alphabet. Rilie is learning how to draw letters. He has started writing/drawing with his left hand again. He has been a consistent "righty" the past year. Sometimes, he writes/draws with both hands at the same time. He does this mostly with symmetrical things, like a capitalized "A". Rilie is also counting again. When he was two years old, he could count to 20, but that went away and he couldn't count at all for a year. Now, he can consistently count to 6, and missing a number here and there to 12. Jackson has about 50 words and loves to sing. He very dramatically sings "Leh-i-go, Leh-i-go" over and over again, while gracefully alternating his hands in the air like he is shooting snow.
We've started eating on a schedule. It has improved bed time with Rilie and Jackson. We start our bed time routine at 7pm and usually they're asleep by 8pm. The goal is to do activities with Alvin and Alex that are hard to do during the day with Rilie and Jackson: build circuits, play board games, etc. They have us, or one of us, from whenever we get the younger ones asleep, until 8:30pm. Since our school schedule is set up around Rilie and Jackson's needs, it's been good to add this, so Alvin and Alex feel their growing interests are valued too. The joys of finding balance as a parent.
As for activities: We went to the NW Museum and Campbell House, Spokane Family Dairy Farm, Kelly Alpaca Farm, Board Game club (This has been a huge hit! We had over 20 kids come last month), Kindermusik... and just hanging out with friends.
Cub Scouts: Alvin earned his Bear Badge, Alex earned his Wolf badge. They have many Arrow Points. We enjoyed Pinewood Derby. The boys didn't place, and they were frustrated at times. We talked about how much fun they had designing and making their cars. How they got to make them however they wanted. I encouraged them to "study" the other cars and see what they wanted to do different. They didn't want to, and that's okay. Nick thinks next year, he'll look up videos and tutorials for them to look at together, and then let them decide how to make their cars. We don't need them placing, but since they wish to win... we thought we could educate them on how to design a car and let them decide to use that knowledge.