Great Words, Great Works

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Great Words, Great Works represent a list of books, compiled by the National Spelling Bee organizers. These books contain the 450 words which make up the School Level Word List. The organizers have picked these books for their literary value, engaging plots, and vocabulary.

Spelling Bee Titles

Three titles from the list put together by the National Spelling Bee

The book list, just like the word list, changes every year. This year, they released the list earlier, due to the quarantine. Proactive parents would do well to get these books for their kids as soon as possible.

One thing stays the same: the books are organized by grade and even the first grade books present challenging words. The point is, read them all. Even if you have children in 5th grade and 7th grade, like I will have next school year, you should read them all. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the 24th Week

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This was THE week we have been prepping for since August – Spelling Bee week. We also traveled to Nashville for TeenPact One Day, a political workshop for homeschooled children. In addition, we had another Science Olympiad practice in Knoxville, for Circuit Lab. Last but not least, the orchestra practice competition started this week.

TeenPact 2020

TeenPact 2020

Our son decided to practice a lot more than what he usually does. Well, when you go out of town for two days, you cannot meet practice goals. He is learning that our goals must meet the reality of the schedule. He has three more weeks when he can strive for the same goal though. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the 23rd Week

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We spent three days out of the classroom this week. Even though I know learning happens, it makes me nervous to not have “school” done with books, at home, in our regular habitat.

One day, we went hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Another day, I had to take my son to Knoxville for Science Olympiad practice (Write It, Do It). And yet another day, my husband drove all of us to Knoxville again, so that our daughter can test her latest boomilever with her coach, while our son met with his partner for Mission Possible to schedule the next move.

Icicle

Now that’s an icicle!

Lots of learning happened, of course, but, at my core, I am not an unschooling, carschooling, relaxed homeschooling type of mama. It makes me nervous that we are not progressing through our books.

We attend church in Knoxville, too, so this means we drove two hours round trip four times in one week. People commute like this every day for work, but I am glad we do not have to do it regularly.

The hardest thing we did this week (besides driving to Knoxville four times) was hiking in 36F. That’s 2 C if you are wondering. Just above freezing. We got warmed up as we went along, but the picnic was tough. We ate in a hurry and left.

Icicle Flag

My daughter found an icicle flag.

The kids have fun on these hikes and that’s what keeps me going for more. Also, I enjoy the fellowship with like-minded mamas. I won’t pretend I do not need these hikes for my own soul. All in all, we had a good week.

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Lessons from the Thirteenth Week

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The title could also be changed to “How to Homeschool While Your Entire Family Has the Flu.” Yes, we had the flu all of last week. It started the weekend before that, but we had no clue. We thought it was just a sore throat due to seasonal allergies.

Orchestra portrait

Every year, they take official portraits for the youth symphony.

Then our son started coughing badly on the way to orchestra. He stayed for the photo session, happening only that day, but not for the rehearsal. The next day, he was running a fever. A visit to the doctor confirmed he had the flu. By now it was too late for anything other than rest and lots of fluids. I made tea and heated up soup several times a day. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Eleventh Week

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One thing I forgot to mention last week: the Science Olympiad coaches invited my children to try out for the Write It, Do It (WIDI) event, to represent their team. Each team has 14-16 members and they all participate in 2-4 events each. There are 35 or so events. Each event has two team members. Since my children only signed up for 2 and 3 events respectively, the coaches wondered if they would be interested in WIDI.

Black bear in our yard

Black bear in our yard

Science Olympiad organizers set up the schedule of events. So, our coaches look at the schedule and decide which kids could fit the slot for this or that event. This happens after every child has suggested them 5-10 events they would like to participate in. Continue reading »

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Fourth Grade Curriculum Choices

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One of my readers wanted to know our curriculum choices. As I browsed through my blog, I realized I have not actually spelled out much for 4th grade. Before I give you the list, let me just say this is what I am using this year with my 4th grader. It is slightly different from what I used with my son, who was in 4th grade two years ago. Here we go.

Reading – Mensa for Kids, 4-6 book list Also, the National Spelling Bee Bookshelf titles. They change from year to year. User discretion is advised. We have had to skip some titles because of their political or occult content.

 

Spelling and grammar – Logic Of English Essentials – Level A

Story of the World Volume 2

Story of the World Volume 2

 

Writing – Writing with Ease, Level 1 – if your child is not yet writing well, do some more copywork. Alternatively, you can make your own sheets online. I had a book for cursive copywork with nature facts and Bible verses, titled Cursive Copywork. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Tenth Week

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Time flies when you are having fun. Indeed, it applies to us this school year. Some days fun eludes us, but, overall, we can say with certainty this year has turned out better than the last.

Kids on a trail

Ijams trails

Just last week, my son exclaimed, “I love this new way of doing math!” He was referring to how we skip around the page, not doing every single problem in the chapter. I observe him solve the first few exercises to make sure he got the concept, and then I assign certain problems or exercises as I see fit. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Fourth Week

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The fourth week went by smoothly. The children had auditions for Knoxville Youth Symphony Orchestras on Monday. The results came in on Wednesday and, sure enough, they reached their goals. Our daughter wanted to stay in the same orchestra, but move from Second Violin to the First Violin section. She did. She instinctively knew the next orchestra would be too hard. Well, not just instinctively. She also knew from experience.

Mom and Kids at Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome, Observation Tower

Last summer, during string camp, she tried the next orchestra level up. She kept up, but barely. She prefers a more relaxed environment and we respect that. In fact, her violin teacher said this shows a rare form of insight for a nine-year-old, and also recommended we let our daughter go at her own pace. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Third Week

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Last week was nothing short of revolutionary. Have you heard of The Wild and Free community? We joined a local group. Also, we had our first outing with them – at the Knoxville Botanical Garden. I have been praying and hoping for more time outside.

Outdoor exploration classroom

Botanical Garden, Knoxville

The answer came in the form of this group. Another homeschooling mom introduced me to them. This means that I will only get four days of instruction at home with the children. We spend the fifth day exploring nature in our area, at local gardens, hiking trails, zoos, and parks. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the First Week

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We started on August 5 this year because we needed to have 150 school days before their nationally standardized test in March 2020. That is how I know when to start. I give myself 150 days of instruction not because I have to, but because I want to.

Why send them to this test unprepared? It would only demoralize them. As I have written here before, we do not think the standardized test represents the benchmark of our success in homeschooling. However, it is a strong indicator of our level right now. Continue reading »

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