My update earlier this week covered what we did last week, as well as my research into next year’s curriculum. Thank goodness, I decided on what we’re using, and I got everything ordered. I found some great deals on used curriculum, and most of it is on its way—some has already arrived. So, what did we work on this week in school?
In arithmetic, Gray has been learning geometry in greater depth than he has in previous years. He’s learned about radii, diameter, and pi, and he’s used those to calculate both the circumference and the area of circles. He’s also learned how to calculate the area of triangles, parallelograms, and some other complex shapes. He’s drawing circles using a compass, and measuring & creating angles with a protractor. I’ve learned (technically re-learned, but it feels like learning anew after 27 years, which is how long it’s been since I took geometry) most of this right alongside him, and it’s kind of fun. He has an incredible ability to understand math conceptually, for which I’m grateful. He’s very easy to teach! 🙂
Des learned to multiply this week, which is a big step here at the end of first grade. Last week, he learned to do tally marks and use those to quickly count things like points or items, which is a type of multiplying in and of itself.
In grammar, Gray and I are almost done with his huge Easy Grammar text…we’ve been working through it for nearly two years! He’s learned and mastered all the parts of speech, and the last chapters are on capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure. We’ll have no problem finishing the text by the time he finishes up math for the year in June.
In phonics, Des has completed his Handbook For Reading, and we’re currently just reviewing all the special sounds together during his last week of first grade.
In anatomy, we’ve done some final projects and supplemental activities on the skeletal system. Right now, we’ve got some chicken bones soaking in vinegar. After a few days in the vinegar bath, the bones should be soft, rubbery, and bendable. This is because the acid in the vinegar removes the calcium from the bones, and they soften. One thing the boys have learned during this chapter is how important calcium is during their growing years, and how a lack of proper calcium could keep them from growing to their full height. Since both Gray and Des are obsessed with being at least 6’5″ (seriously…this is the minimum height they each want to reach! :D), they each decided to be sure to drink at least one cup of milk each day.
In history, the boys spent several days doing notebook pages on four major European explorers to the Americas in the 1500s: Ponce de Leon, Jacques Cartier, Hernando de Soto, and Francisco de Coronado. Gray wrote obituaries for each of these men, listing their accomplishments as well as their failures. Unfortunately, one thing they all had in common was their terrible mistreatment and taking advantage of the Native North Americans, who had been welcoming and friendly to them at first. It’s hard to read about these things; we were cringing at the mistreatment the Natives suffered at the hands of these explorers, who saw them only as pagan savages—in other words, they failed to see them as fully human. It led to a discussion with the boys about how—all throughout history—whenever a particular group of people is seen by another group of people as inferior or somehow less human (Native Americans, Jews during the holocaust, Blacks during slavery & up through the civil rights movement, just to name a few), it gives them license (in their own minds, at least) to do unfathomable things to those people.
It was a valuable discussion to have with the boys. I can tell it impacted them. I’m not one to disparage my European roots, but upon studying a balanced history of this period, it’s impossible to excuse the exploitation of almost all (if not all) the Native American tribes by European explorers and settlers. Gray was telling me how he was trying to imagine what it must’ve been like for the Native Americans, with strange men from distant lands and with much more advanced weapons and equipment coming and claiming their land, forcing them to leave their homes, stealing from them, and in some cases, kidnapping them and putting them in chains and collars. He told me he’d like to write a historical fiction story from that perspective, exploring what it might’ve felt like and been like to be them. On that note, I really hope he pursues writing as his career…he’s clearly got a writer’s mind. However, we pray regularly that God will guide Gray into the career choice that’s HIS best plan for him, and that Gray would follow that leading and God’s path for all the days of his life.
That’s it for another Arcadia Trails week. 🙂