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Weekly Wrap Up: High School Senior Year Almost Over

We have been super busy with so many things around here that I have neglected my Weekly Wrap Up posts. Lots of high school learning and life skills have filled our days which always makes the time fly by. I love watching my kids work together on Hearts and Trees kits, planning and then implementing all the really fun ideas. Mr. B has finished his first community college course and is going to continue with another class next semester. We took a family weekend trip to the mountains and enjoyed a snowy/rainy time and ate lots of yummy foods.

Now for his homeschool academics…

Pre-Calculus: I am thankful for Teaching Textbooks every week! Mr. B is able to pull up any problems he needs to wrestle with on the CDs and watch the step by step instructions to get him over the hump. I value this math program and know that Mr. B will be prepared for any more math he may need in the future.


Excellence in Literature from IEW: Just finishing Canterbury Tales and moving on to Great Expectations! These are both books he has read before but this time he can read with lots of background and context information from the guide. He followed up the Canterbury Tales with a writing piece that blew my socks off. I had to really dig to find anything to find fault with….his concluding sentence could have been better and so could his title. Now that was digging!

Human Anatomy: He finished his unit on the cardiovascular system and now he is working on the gastro-intestinal system. I am finally satisfied that we have found a rhythm for this course…not too much busy work and a little lee-way for him to follow his interest once he gets started. I know that today his DVD course was pretty graphic…more than once I heard a the professor speaking about “projectile vomiting”. Mr. B didn’t seem to mind.

20th Century History: Tapestry of Grace history for the rhetoric stage in Year 4 is rather rich if you can afford all the books. We ended up purchasing the required core books and Mr. B is enjoying the selections. I do love when he comes to me and reads aloud a section and then proceeds to tell me where he hears bias. He is finding this a lot in his internet research of various topics surrounding things like the Vietnam War and the various presidents of the 50’s and 60’s. The very best part of this era in history is being able watch primary source videos on YouTube. John F. Kennedy’s speeches, the Civil Rights leaders and their own words, and videos of the space program at its beginnings. We also have been taking advantage of quite a few movies from Netflix which let the whole family be a part of the learning.

High School Standard Equipment: Fancy Calculator and His Bike

Art and Music: I have been sharing quite a bit of our art here on the blog so you have seen his projects. We are finished with Miro and Calder and now are moving on to Escher and then finally Rizzi for the term. After that, I am trying to convince Mr. B that he needs to pick a Senior Project for his final fine arts credit. I have left the door wide open as far as topic and I am hoping we can come up with something that he will enjoy and will be his crowning glory as we finish off a long run of Harmony Fine Arts. Any suggestions are welcome….just leave me a comment or email me with any ideas you have for a long term Senior Project in Studio Art or Fine Arts.

We have one more week of school for the term and the calendar year and then three weeks off. I am planning on recapping our term in one last Weekly Wrap Up post this month though so stay tuned for that one.

Homegrown LearnersHigh School Link Up

Weekly Wrap-Up: Homeschooling Your Last Child

Homeschooling Your Last Child ButtonWhiz Bang Zing….the years go by and now you are sitting with your last child in the homeschool classroom. Well, not really a classroom but you get the picture.

It is just Mr. B and me on our own and for the very first time he is an “only” child and I am a homeschooling mom of one. It is strange and wonderful at the same time. Homeschooling your youngest child’s senior year is just as hard as the first year of kindergarten.

Our weekly meetings are always one on one. He really needs to be on his game since there are no big brothers sitting at the table to help him out if he needs it. I can clearly see how things are going with just one blonde head sitting in the chair across from me.

We take more time for rabbit trails since there is only one rabbit to chase. I can indulge his interests more since I am not juggling so much.

It is a crazy fun time.

This is the week we realized we are on the downhill slide to the end of the school year. Splitting Mr. B’s senior year into two has given us lots of breathing room and it feels good to not be pressured to finish anything since we will just carry on in September when we come back to school. This plan has also allowed him time to fit in some more electives. At this time we are hammering out a rough plan for next year… only issue is that his 20th century study seems to be dragging. I am hoping to jazz it up a bit for next year somehow.

Highlights of Our Week

Composer Study – Aaron Copland (free Harmony Fine Arts Grade 12 Music Appreciation plans) – Mr. B started a new composer this week. This is almost always the first thing Mr. B does on Monday morning. He checks his composer and artist assigned and then fires up his music. That makes my heart glad.

Hitler’s Empire (Great Courses DVDs) – We finished this twelve lesson series…finally. Excellent supplement to Tapestry of Grace Year 4 for my son who enjoys the DVD lesson format. This course comes with a booklet that has follow up questions that we use for narration. He also keeps a notebook pages with notes for each lesson.

Human Body Course from Great Courses
Human Anatomy – I really haven’t talked too much about this course this year because it is just moving along with no real issues. What a sigh of relief from this mama! We are stretching this course over two years, partly because of time and partly because it is a favorite subject with Mr. B. He is digging deep on his own with additional research and study. I just ordered Understanding the Human Body from Great Courses and we are anxious to incorporate the DVD lessons into his weekly assignments. (If you click over, don’t be shocked at the price. I waited until it was on super sale and had free shipping…$149. Remember there is HIGH resale value on any Great Course DVD sets.)

Notebooking Pages: Francisco Franco, Goebbels, Nervous System vocabulary/roots and terminology, History of Medicine additional research, Presidential Election (on-going primaries info), Hitler’s Empire, European Map – WW2, Updated 20th Century timeline, Grant Wood artist biography, Totalitarianism.

I just started using WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press and it is very easy to produce quality, customized maps with a few clicks. I will be writing a more thorough review in the future. (Note: I received this product as a prize from the Homeschool Blog Awards and I am now an affiliate for Bright Ideas Press.)

Notebook Pages - High School
Notebook pages from many subjects this week.

Excellence in Literature – American Literature: Finish essay for Great Gatsby. I love this course from IEW and I will be publishing a review for it on The Curriculum Choice in May.

    Link up with your Weekly Wrap-Up post at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

    If you are at all interested in getting started with nature notebooking, now is a perfect time to purchase the nature study pages from They are offering 50% off their individual nature study sets from now until April 20, 2012.

    Homeschool Science: Things I Would Do Differently

    Einstein Sketch
    Mr. B’s sketch based on an illustration in Astronomy Magazine

    “Mr. Fisher says, ‘There are real books, and there are textbooks.’ The day is soon coming when everyone will realize that textbooks have no educational value. We hardly ever use textbooks in our Parents Union Schools. Whenever possible, we use books that spark the imagination and have a touch of originality. These are the differences between a real book and a text book.
    Charlotte Mason, volume 6 page 272

    Teaching high school science can put fear in your heart. Science texts tend to be a little overwhelming and can increase your anxiety that you cannot offer high school science in your home. Setting that fear aside and keeping in mind your goals, it is possible to have a great science experience at home.  Here are a few thoughts from my brain this week on how I would handle the teaching of science in our home if I could go back and do it again.

    1. Throw out the preplanned sequences, especially in the lower grades. I can see the wisdom now in allowing the younger years to be left open for exploring and observing in nature. See volume 1 page 43-44 for more information on how to accomplish this with your little ones.

    2. Include larger numbers of living books. Living books about nature and the world of science are much more interesting than any textbook. I have learned even in high school that a good interest-drawing book is worth its weight in gold. It takes some more thought and preparation but they are available for just about any topic. (I am working on a Squidoo lens to gather the living books we used for high school science.) Don’t rely solely on textbooks.

    3. Do the best you can with labwork and leave the rest for a later date. Labs in high school science are highly overrated. I stressed too much over not having the right equipment and supplies to make labs “exciting”. Most labwork is not all that exciting since our homeschool labs and budgets do not allow room for the WOW! factor. I can offer simple labs that teach what I want my boys to learn: lab procedure, how to record a lab, and to think beyond the text. I am limiting the number of labs to those that are going to teach what they need to know and then leave the rest for online demos, YouTube videos, and then co-op classes, cc, and beyond. I hate it when you put in a lot of time, money, and effort and then the lab falls flat. All that fussing and you could have done just as well to have them watch an online demo and then research any questions or topics that come up.

    4. Tell the story of science chronologically. I would teach more of the history of science with stories of scientists who were successful and also struggled and failed. I found a great series for using with our high school science that my boys loved and would narrate with enthusiasm. It tied history, science, and real people together. Check out the Story of Science series by Joy Hakim. Timeline work would be a part of science study.

    5. Start the study of Greek and Latin roots early. This will make things easier once you get to high school biology, chemistry, and human anatomy. I used the Science Roots system from Paula of Paula’s Archives when the boys were studying biology and those vocabulary cards are coming back out now as we study human anatomy. She suggests you start the roots before you hit high school biology and I want to chime in to second that idea. Don’t wait…..

    I am actually looking forward to Mr. B’s Human Anatomy and Physiology course this year. I chose a basic course that we are adding some CM style learning to with sketching, biographies, and narrative books. I was struggling with a text until I realized that I didn’t want a text… I came up with this:  Simple Schooling: Human Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 and there is a Part 2.

    Don’t let high school science intimidate you when the time comes. Stay the course with Charlotte Mason’s principles and make it work in your family.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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