Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer School - My Honest Review

On Grandpa Tim and Grandma Amy's Boat this Summer

Mid-July it hit me that Summer was completely upon us and going to be over soon!  We became so engrossed in enjoying whatever Summer opportunities before us, we completely dropped Summer School.  I think 8 weeks is a nice round number and aside from shortening the overall length of the program I planned for them, the only other thing I would do differently in the future is cut back to just 5-6 subjects to cover.  How to pick though, I don't know!  I love all of what we did.  Perhaps we'd eliminate the animal section, though it was super fun, it was just to expound on the kids' knowledge of animals they already could identify.  That doesn't quite fit with the goal of the others which was to simply introduce new material and memorize.  It should, like in Classical Conversations, be simple and straightforward, like "Here's the new constellation, I'll show it to you everyday for a week, then review once a week for the rest of the Summer."  Mondays were our review day, Tuesday started the new info for the week.

Favorite Subjects we did: Classical Music, Bird Sounds, Sea Life and Fungi
Least Popular Subjects we did: Trees, Astronomy, Geology

Through the Summer the kids and I kept a running list of subjects we'd like to cover in future years. The plan is to return to all this in three years, so I have two more years worth of material to compile.  For the sake of next Spring when I'm ready to think about this again, here's the list we came up with:

  • Dog Types  - Ezra's determined to learn these, so we must add this one
  • Braille - Another Ezra add
  • Morse Code - why not?  We'd have to use this for good and not evil though. Back in the '80s, I had neighbors in DC who were both Morse code specialists and they'd cheat during Pictionary using Morse code.
  • Weeds - I took a medicinal herb class this Summer and am inspired to learn more about the weeds in my backyard!  
  • Different cultures - Mainly so we could try making different foods from different countries.
  • Reptiles
  • Arachnids

Before I let it go, I had already looked this up for Week 9 and wanted to share because I never knew the difference.  Check out these conifers:

They are Spruce, Fir and Pine, in order of top left, top right and bottom.
Now, I know!

Summer School Week 8

Week 8 Field Notes 

Bird Call: Mockingbird

Classical Music: Haydn, The Creation (Oratorio) & The Emperor's Hymn

Picture Study:  Renoir, "Two Sisters on the Terrace"

Animal: Alpaca - Conveniently, the owners of our community garden recently bought two alpacas we can visit anytime.  They're funny animals with intense under bites and jaws that lock up if they get upset.  

Insect: The fly - We didn't have to go far for this one either!  Didn't have to leave the house, in fact!

Flower: Rose - When we're driving places, the kids will announce that they see one of our flowers from this Summer.  Toward the end of Summer, though we stopped doing formal "Summer School" I still couldn't help but point out the hydrangeas, phlox and hibiscus.  We played "hydrangea poker" in the car a few times (just like "cow poker" in whenever you see a cow on your side of the road you get a point.  If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your points.  Only change the cows for hydrangeas).   The hydrangea talk led to good discussions on pH levels and how coffee grounds added to the base of the hydrangea turns them pink, purple or blue.  So, the kids would point them out and comment whether the owner had bothered to add acidity to their plant or not.   

Tree: Ash - This subject really didn't get covered near to what it should have been.  This was, for some reason, a harder one for us to fulfill.  Perhaps because I can't identify trees very well, I couldn't just whip out the names for them and figuring them out was work.    Note to self: In three years when we revisit these topics, do not expect the kids to remember any trees at all.  

Fungi:Chicken Mushroom - We've actually found these (we think) at the fairgrounds on a tree.  Don't worry, Grandma, we're not going to eat any of them unless a professional mushroomer gives us the go ahead.  The mushroomers around here that I've met seem to specialize in a particular kind of mushroom, like morels.  Perhaps they haven't branched out yet to other mushrooms.  I guess that makes my ambitions to become a seasoned mushroom hunter more attainable, just learn one at a time!  I was a bit overwhelmed this Summer with all there was to know about mushrooms.  
Rocks: We skipped rocks this week, oops!

Constellation: Leo - The Lion.  See week 5 for the constellation flashcards that made all the difference in this subject.  

Dinosaur: Brachiosaurus - CHECK OUT OUR AWESOME FIND!! I only wish we found them sooner in the Summer.  YouTube is full of "I'm a Dinosaur" videos on tons of different dinos.  

American Sign Language: Reviewed ABCs - Starfall has a nice little review video for abcs found here.

Sea Life:  Catfish - Later in the Summer, at the family cabin, Ezra caught a catfish, Ben cleaned it and Aunt Debbi helped bread and cook it.  It was about six bites of really good fish meat.  
Here's Ben with his "catch of the day": Phoebe Fish.  Check out those other whoppers in the lake!  

Biography:Samuel De Champlain - Ezra's choice, he remembered the name from Classical Conversations

Fiction Summer Must Reads: Raggedy Ann - The original book from my childhood

Summer School Week 7

Clearly, the Summer is long over, but I wanted to post the last two weeks of our field notes as we did actually do them, but I didn't have time to post them.  I'm only posting them for my own record keeping sake.  

Week 7 Field Notes 

Bird Call: Gold Finch 

Classical MusicHaydn's No. 94 in G Maj. (the Surprise) and Piano Sonata in D Maj. - The kids cracked up everytime we played the "Surprise Song", very fun.  I also have a Juni quote about the Piano Sonata, "This song reminds me of the birds in the tree in that picture, of our family and how much we love each other."  Awww!

Picture Study:  Renoir, "Luncheon of the boating party"

Animal: Wildcats - Here's a Nat'l Geographic video on wildcats

Insect: Beetles - Here's a video showing some beautiful tropical beetles and one on Hercules Beetles

Flower: Daisy - I made flashcards for our flowers this week and below is one of the pictures I used for the daisy!  I printed the pictures I'd collected, cut them out and taped them to flashcards.  They await a trip to Staples for laminating.  I did two of every kind of flower so they can play games with them and also to show different views of each flower - close up and farther away, open or shut and different colors of a flower.

Tree: Chestnut - We have some chestnuts our neighbor gave us, so we'll have to roast them and find the tree in their yard.  

Fungi:Shaggy Mane

Rocks: Basalt - "The ugly one"

Constellation: Gemini - The Twins

Dinosaur: Apatosaurus

American Sign Language: Reviewed ABCs

Sea Life:  Oysters  - Here's a Discover video that covers the oyster basics!

Biography: George Washington

Fiction Summer Must Reads: The Random House Book of Humour