We have a short six-week term ahead of us and are planning to keep ourselves busily ensconced in project work. Our experiment last term was so successful that the children had been begging to start school again last week, with T12 getting quite antsy that he didn’t have something to get his teeth into.
We began school again on Monday, with Gary off work with the infection that has been doing the rounds. He never takes time off so that tells you what a nasty infection it has been. Energy levels for all of us have been quite low for some time and we have been going to bed nice and early and taking things very easy over the last couple of weeks.
School has, however, brought a welcome return to the routine of normal life which we are all pleased with. Project based learning is now the name of the game and the children have thrown themselves hurtling into the new term, researching and excitedly discussing their plans. This term we have chosen to include an all age project which means all children from B3 upwards to T12 will be joining in. In addition the younger two will have a project of their choosing to do and the older ones will be studying a topic chosen by both them and me, for which they will choose their own methods for learning and displaying that learning.
So what are our plans this term?
Science is an area I have been particularly neglectful of. We still haven’t finished studying the body from a year ago! I have decided to study science with all five children. This term we will be learning about microbes – from fungi, protozoa and virus’ to bacteria. This ties in nicely with our history studies and seems a good age to teach the younger ones all about germs.
T12 will continue with his GSCE Physics work which he is thoroughly enjoying each Saturday.
I will also attempt to carry out one or two fun science activities with my younger two, just for the sheer joy of watching them don their goggles and lab coats.
This term I intend to have the children do a very quick European country study each day, individually researching the information on their own laptops and then collaborating with each other and presenting everything they have learnt in a brief, daily presentation. It will be simple, easy and hopefully build their research and team working skills as well as increasing their knowledge of European countries.
T12 continues to work independently of me, with the goal of taking his GCSE a year or so early. We have decided to switch his curriculum to a British one so we can be more sure of where he is in the whole scheme of things.
Maths is still a huge problem for my twins who really struggle to internalize even basic maths. I am now using a variety of curriculum, unschooling, games and computer based maths with the hope that if one method fails to work another will. L11 loves living maths and seemed to be doing really well. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be sticking. This means we can work for weeks at something and she will be answering hard questions and really understanding (or at least that is how it seems to me) and yet a couple of months of doing something different and she forgets what she has previously learnt. As for C11, I still don’t really know or understand what makes her mathematical mind tick. It worries me. If I am failing in any area it is this one.
A5 seems to be like her brother as far as maths goes and finds the whole number thing ridiculously easy and always asks to do ‘just one more page’. We are working through Mathusee Primer, simply because it is what I have, as well as using on-line games and Mr Men themed maths. This term our Mr Men themed maths will concentrate on weighing and measuring.
Language and Literature
This is the area we are deviating from our norm somewhat and using a full British curriculum for just 30 minutes each day. The purpose of this is not solely to learn language and literature skills, but also exam taking skills which will help them in all their subjects come GCSE time. The English curriculum teaches comprehension, poetry, vocab, spelling and grammar. It also contains an extensive reading list which my guys have attacked with a ferocity which surprised even me.
It feels good to be concentrating a certain amount of time to their English studies, without it impinging on their history studies, which are what they enjoy the most. I wanted to avoid looking over their shoulders whilst they were doing their project work, trying to ensure they did enough writing. This way, I can rest assured they are developing the language skills they require. It seems to be working well and as the children aren’t used to using curriculum or work books, there have been no complaints about completing the work for half an hour each morning. T12 has produced some of his best work and we have been able to concentrate on one thing at a time before moving on. They are at just the right age, I think, to be doing this. They do the work independently; we do peer marking at the end of the day and then I re-mark their corrections. The book lists are a great addition to their history based reading books, giving them a much broader literary experience.
We will also be starting a literature study of Chaucer, along the same lines as our Beowulf and Dante studies.
The little ones will be doing the majority of their language and literature during their Mr Men school, whilst A5 will continue phonics with All About Reading.
History is still the mainstay of our studies and is certain to remain there. Although we have covered the plague extensively in our reading, the children have opted to do their projects on this. I have set them a question, asking them to research how the spread of the plague could have been prevented. I am quite impressed by the variety of projects they have come up with. I will post on these at a later date, but for now will say that T12 is focusing on the science of the plague, L11 on the medical side of the plague whilst C11 is utilizing her considerable enjoyment of writing to complete some diary entries based on those around at the time of the plague.
They are currently at the research stage and are enthusiastically relating to me all they have learnt. I’m wondering how much information one person (me) can take in about what is basically a bacterial infection, especially given that said person (me) is hearing each piece of information at least three times!
Project Based Learning for Littles
I’m kind of excited about this one. A5 chose the topic of bugs all by herself, and now in addition to ‘Mr Men’ school, she has coined the term ‘Bug school’. I am asked constantly when they can do their ‘Bug school’. I put together a bug adventure box for them and each day they simply can not wait for me to get down their ‘Bug Box’ for them to begin their ‘Bug School’
Arts/ crafts and needlework
We will continue our studies of artists around at the period we are studying in history, along side any pertinent picture studies.
L11 loves art and is doing extra art lessons with a good family friend of ours. When she turns 12 she will be allowed to choose one extra curricular activity which Gary and I will pay for and at the moment her choice is further art lessons.
C11 enjoys needle work and with the same friend (Pat you are truly wonderful!) who is teaching L11 to paint, C11 is learning to patchwork.
Being one of the least musical people on the face of this earth, music studies is an effort for me. Gary, on the other hand, is very musical – he is worship leader and a self-taught drummer and guitarist. Fortunately all our children seem to take after their father rather than their mother in this area. T12 belongs to the youth choir in our church and is also on the rota for the audio and visual of the evening church services. Both L11 and C11 belong to the junior choir and will soon be joining T in the youth choir. C11 also sings in the adult church choir, singing at services and weddings. In addition, she is taking singing lessons, one to one, with a good friend of ours and will be taking her first exam in July. A5 also sings in the children’s choir, (which C11 helps out at) attending weekly practices and singing in concerts approximately three times a year.
T is currently learning leadership skills as a junior leader at a local church youth group as well as thoroughly enjoying his weekly fencing lessons and the various practice courses that crop up every so often. It seems he is very good at fencing even though he’s only been doing it for 6 months or so. He competed in his very first tournament a few weeks ago and simply can not wait until his next one!
The girls will be allowed to choose a class to go to once they turn 12 but until then go swimming once a week whilst the little two attend a soft play area session.
I will share our resources in another post, but for now wanted to have this up to keep me accountable!