It was pretty amazing this week when I looked at the calendar and realized we hit our 30th school day of homeschooling on Tuesday! It’s been a whirlwind 30 days! We’ve definitely had our ups and downs and this week (for the most part)… was an up.
In the beginning (you know, a month an half ago lol) I made the big mistake of trying to jump right into homeschool (yes, I knew all about deschooling, but thought we were immune lol). Now when my kiddo sees the words “unit study” she gets a panicky look in her eye. 🙁 But as much as she’s learned, I’ve learned just as much. I still use unit studies, they just look really different than they did at the beginning (and we don’t call them by name anymore).
This week’s Unit Study was on Afghanistan. I’ve already shared our whole unit study with links, but I just wanted to highlight a couple things in this post.
We started our Unit Study by reading Nasreen’s Secret School, yes, this is all part of The Big 5th Grade Picture Book Experiment. 🙂 Without planning it we managed to read one of the top 10 most challenged books of 2015 for banned book week! This is a well told story of a little girl in Afghanistan, who loses her parents and her Grandmother gets her into a secret school for girls. It was a perfect way to start connecting with the differences in culture between Afghanistan and the US. We really enjoyed the book.
While the unit study started off great, by Wednesday she basically told me she was done, like DONE, with Afghanistan. I was really bummed, because the last couple days of the week were the ones I was really looking forward to. Thursday while she was working on her fractals without fanfare, or even expecting her to watch, I just turned on the documentary I’d planned to watch. (Mostly because I still wanted to see it LOL). This is new for me… split attention. I hear homeschool moms talk about it all the time, they read to their kids, or they listen to an audio book while they’re doing something else. This is a completely foreign idea to me… but, I gave it a try. Suddenly, questions started coming up. We paused the movie and talked. We got into these deep conversations about women and Afghanistan (which was totally the topic of the day!!), vs women in the US and other countries, and why they don’t rise up. She asked amazing questions, and postulated theories of her own. It was quite remarkable considering the night before she told me she wasn’t “doing” Afghanistan anymore. 🙂 We researched different types of head coverings used in Afghanistan, and she made a Hijab for her American Girl doll (Rosabell). Then at 4pm she said.. we need to start the dinner!! Yesterday was also food day (our schedule got pushed a little this week after an impromptu afternoon hanging with friends on Wednesday) and we cooked Kabuli Palau, and learned about why it’s such an important dish to Afghan women. It takes a couple hours to make (according to the recipe I had), and she was ON IT that we get started. Well, it took more like THREE hours to make, but we did finish, and it was quite good.
I really enjoyed this week’s “unit study”, and we’ve been talking about where we should “go” next. She’s partial to China, and yesterday decided Mexico would be fun too.
Speaking of China. This week she decided to start learning Mandarin. She’s using Mango, through our library (they also have a homeschool option if your library doesn’t offer it). She found, logged into and started it without me even knowing, and suddenly was speaking Mandarin. (shakes head in awe). This program is pretty cool, it allows you to speak the words and then it plays them back with the instructors voice over yours so you can see if you’re getting the cadence and pronunciation. She’s doing pretty well, and seems to have a knack for accents. 😉
This week we also read Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. McKissack. This book is part of our Living Lit curriculum (which I love and she tolerates). I love this program because while it does help her learn the fundamentals of the English language it gets her to think for herself, and dig in for answers to questions. She is still having a hard time with always needing to have the “right” answer. This program offers enough open ended questions that are just opinion, that it gives her an opportunity to excercise that muscle. I also love the fact that even though the books are picture books, they are pretty deep. This week’s book led to some pretty interesting conversations about Jim Crow, and discrimination, which led us to talk about different times in history. I love that we can start all that with a picture book. 🙂
Speaking of picture books and perfectionism. This week we also read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. I am always on the lookout for books to help her learn that mistakes are OK, in fact, mistakes are what make your brain grow! This is definitely a good one for that.
Continuing on the picture book track, for math this week we started with Mysterious Patterns Finding Fractals in Nature. We found a cool Nova episode that really dug into fractals and Benoit Mandelbrot. I was quite astonished that fractals are a relatively new thing. I had no idea. By far though, her favorite part of studying fractals was coloring them. 🙂
We also received our Urthbox, snack subscription box, this week. Which Hanna decided we HAD to do a taste test video for. 🙂 That was fun, and we’ve been snacking from the box all week. I am really enjoying the Urthbox.
For Science this week we did Mystery Science, we’re still studying volcanoes. This week we learned why some volcanoes explode and some just run. I just love Mystery Science so much. It’s so easy to use, and you end up learning so much in a really hands on way. (I wish there was a “mystery science” for every subject!!). We also dug into our Steve Spangler box and mixed color with light, which was fun. We are also enjoying the new Steve Spangler show DIY SCI, which we are lucky enough shows up on Hulu a day or so after it airs. We’ve also been watching a (large) spider who’s made its web outside our living room window. 🙂 It disappears during the day, but at night it’s back, and rebuilding the web, and wrapping up lunch. It’s been pretty interesting.
All in all, it’s been a really good week. I feel like we’ve come a long way in our first 30 days of homeschool. But this is what makes me the happiest. When I see her laugh, and cheer and jump up and down because she’s learning… that’s what it’s all about right there.
What about you? How did your week go? I’d love to hear about it, drop a comment below! We’re also linked up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers today!