Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Day at Mullin Academy

     Recently, many people have asked me about our daily schedule.  Since today was fairly typical with no appointments or other interruptions, I decided to write everything down.  For those of you who are curious, here's a sample day at Mullin Academy.
     My goal is to start school by 9:00 a.m.  Today, we ran a bit behind.  My oldest went to Collide at our church, a youth event, where he stayed up late Friday and Saturday nights, and he was still recuperating, and my youngest and I have been battling colds.  We were all dragging this morning.  Before school begins, the boys get dressed, make beds, eat breakfast, and brush teeth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
9:30-12:15  School
Third grade son -- 30 minutes of independent reading, Math page 22D, sit ups, push ups, stretches (preparing for Presidential Physical Fitness challenge at our co-op), skill book (long 'a' review), shoe tying practice, spelling test 23, piano practice
Seventh grade son -- Piano practice, independent reading, read ScienceSaurus 15 minutes, grammar, creative writing homework for our co-op (writing a poem about how a pencil feels to be sharpened from the pencil's point of view -- I teach his creative writing class), reviewed 25 Latin vocabulary words
Me -- During youngest son's independent reading, I started a load of laundry, ate breakfast, tidied the kitchen, checked e-mail, and got ready for the day.  After that, I helped my youngest with the rest of his work, and  I made lunch while he practiced piano.

12:15 - 12:40  Lunch -- homemade beanie weanies, hotdogs, apples, cheese bits (My oldest ate 2 hot dogs, a bowl of beanie weanies, half an apple, and cheese bits!  Yikes!  He's only 12!)

12:40-1:00 Clean-Up Time
Youngest-- made bed (he was supposed to earlier), cleaned up Legos and Hexbugs in the living room, folded washcloths
Oldest -- unpacked Collide suitcase, got out laundry from dryer, put load from washer to dryer, sorted socks and put them away
Me -- Put a load of laundry away, folded undershirts, cleaned up table from lunch

1:00 - 2:00  Reading Time -- Everyone Together
I read to both boys in the living room.
1.  History:  A History of US:  Making Thirteen Colonies 1600-1740 by Joy Hakim, Chapter One
2.  Read Aloud:  Imprisoned in the Golden City:  Adoniram and Ann Judson by Dave and Neta Jackson  (about American missionaries to Burma in the 1800s)
3.  Science:  Exploring Creation with Botany by Jeannie K. Fulbright p. 43-44  Carnivorous Plants:  The Venus Flytrap Family and The Bladderwort Family
4.  For their spies class at our co-op, I read:   Traitor:  The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz  p. 70-80  (We are reading the entire book aloud.  Both boys take a SPIES class at our co-op, and they are assigned two chapters a week.)

2:00  Snack and Coffee/Hot Chocolate -- because I REALLY needed coffee, and my boys are always hungry.
After snack, more school.
Youngest --  studied AWANA verses, read to mommy Third-Grade Detectives #3:  The Mystery of the Hairy Tomatoes by George E. Stanley Chapter Two (I continue to have him read aloud to me so I can check for errors or concerns.  Also, this aids fluency.), Phonics Pathways by Dolores G. Hiskes p. 184, Sheppard Software (online):  Geography -- countries of Asia and Rivers of the US (while I watched math video with oldest because I need to watch it now that he's doing pre-algebra), Basketball -- shot 45 baskets  
Oldest --  Corrected math test from yesterday, watched pre-algebra math DVD Lesson 14, did math page 14A, 10 minutes reading The Real Benedict Arnold by Jim Murphy, studied and recited Psalm 46:1-3, spelling page, Basketball -- shot 60 baskets

Third grade son finished at 3:50.
Seventh grade son finished at 4:20.

Whew!  There you have it -- that's our school day!  Questions?  Comments?  Surprised that we don't finish at lunchtime?  Feel free to tell me about YOUR homeschooling day!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit -- A Great Read Aloud!

     "This is the story of the different ways we looked for treasure, and I think when you have read it you will see that we were not lazy about the looking."   From the first sentence of the first page, The Story of the Treasure Seekers:  Being the adventures of the Bastable children in search of a fortune, by E. Nesbit gets right to the point, and the adventures that follow are as irresistible as the Bastable children themselves.
     Originally published as short stories in magazines and put into book form in 1899, The Story of the Treasure Seekers is the delightful tale of the six Bastable children, Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and Horace Octavius (H.O.)  After their mother dies ("and if you think we don't care because I don't tell you much about her you only show that you do not understand people at all") and their father also falls ill, "his business-partner went to Spain -- and there was never much money afterwards."  As creditors start calling and the children must leave school because father can no longer afford it, they decide they must do something to restore their fallen fortunes.  Each child comes up with a plan, and, well, their plans are hysterical.  Oswald suggests stopping "people on Blackheath -- with crepe masks and horse-pistols -- and say 'Your money or your life!  Resistance is useless, we are armed to the teeth.'"  Other ideas include rescuing an old gentleman in deadly peril, using a divining-rod to search for gold, becoming bandits, finding a princess and marrying her, becoming detectives, and digging for treasure.  Fortunately for us but not so much for their father, they actually carry out their plans and much hilarity ensues.
     Written over 100 years ago, this book has never lost its appeal to readers young and old alike.  My boys were ages 11 and 8 when I read it, and we all laughed from beginning to end.  I recommend it as a read aloud because it's great fun for the entire family and because there are some vocabulary words that are difficult.  It was written in the 1890s, afterall.
     I leave you with a poem, written by Noel.  If you have a child who is sad, here in Houston, when the dead June bugs litter the sidewalks, then you'll love this poem.
Lines on a Dead Black Beetle that was poisoned
Beetle how I weep to see
   Thee lying on thy poor back!
It is so very sad indeed.
   You were so shiny and black.
I wish you were alive again
But Eliza says wishing it is nonsense and a shame.

     "It was a very good beetle poison, and there were hundreds of them lying dead -- but Noel only wrote a piece of poetry for one of them ...and the worst of it was he didn't know which one he'd written it to -- so Alice couldn't bury the beetle and put the lines on its grave, though she wanted to very much."     (Chapter 4)

Thanks so much, Holly S., for recommending this book!  We LOVED it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

100 Cupboards Trilogy by N.D. Wilson -- EXCELLENT!

     After reading N.D. Wilson's first book, Leepike Ridge, my oldest son and I sped through his three novels in the 100 Cupboards Trilogy:  The 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, and The Chestnut King.  I started reading first, but by the third book, my son passed me and eagerly waited for me to finish so we could talk about the ending.  Each book grew longer (320, 480, 512 pages), but neither of us wanted to put them down.  When he finished reading at night, I asked him to leave it on the floor by his bed so I could snag it.  They were just that good.
     After his parents are kidnapped, Henry York, age 12, ends up in a town called Henry, Kansas, living with his Uncle Frank and Aunt Dotty and their three children, Penelope, Anastasia, and Henrietta, whom they also called Henry until Henry moved in with them.  One night, he finds plaster in his hair and using the knife Uncle Frank had bought for him, picks all the plaster off the wall to find 100 cupboards of all shapes and sizes, and thus begins his adventures.
     So Henry, a young, unlikely hero, who throws up when scared and whose parents made him wear a helmet to P.E. class, never told him he was adopted, and continually left him with nannies and in boarding school, finds 100 new worlds and a surprising heritage, learns to be brave, discovers baseball, family, and friendship, and, by the end, is given an impossible, Frodo-like, task.  It's a classic tale of good vs. evil, with well-developed, unique, irresistible characters and some pretty rotten, evil ones, too.  The plot keeps you guessing, and the writing is pleasantly refreshing, unique, and unexpected.   You'll find yourself holding your breath, cheering for Henry and his family, and hoping he doesn't lose everything he has just gained.  There are funny parts, intense battle scenes and fights, and loving and tender moments.  Unlike some book series which end badly as if the author didn't know how to wrap it up, this book ties up beautifully at the end, leaving you satisfied.  
     My favorite part, though, is that the boys are young, but they are loyal, keep their word, face fear, and grow as young men.  Henrietta starts out as an impulsive, sneaky girl, stubborn, and obsessively curious and turns into a brave, still-stubborn, yet strong young woman by the end.
     As a fantasy series, this is one of my favorites; it may not be The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, but it is very close.  Wilson's first novel, Leepike Ridge is good, but his 100 Cupboards Trilogy is incredible.  His next series, Ashtown Burials, is out, and we can't wait to read the first book!

     N.D. Wilson wrote an article for DesiringGod.com called "Stories Are Soul Food: Don't Let Your Children Hunger" on why our children need good strong stories of good and evil, and even magic.  I wrote earlier about Wilson's father, Doug Wilson, author of Future Men, here.  (It was quite by accident and a cool coincidence that I found out that N.D. Wilson and Doug Wilson were thus related!)   For a three-chapter-sample of 100 Cupboards, click here.
     Finally, I leave you with two quotes from the last book, The Chestnut King; quotes which reveal why both my son and I loved this series.

     "Frank opened his mouth.  He wanted to make her promises, to tell her lies, but he couldn't.  Instead, he leaned his face over into her wet, straggling hair.  
     "'Dots,' he whispered.  'You're my life, and I've loved it.'  He drew in her smell, and she leaned her head against his lips.  'Every kiss, every dirty look, every night we slept between clean, starchy sheets, and every night we didn't.  Every nag and needle and nudge.'
     "He sat up.  'Your peaches,' he said.  'And your applesauce.  How many pies do you think I've eaten in my life?'  He looked down at her.  'Not enough.'  He smiled.  'If we get out of this, there needs to be more pie.  That's all the complaining I've got.'"  -- Frank to Dotty when it seems they will both die soon, The Chestnut King

     "Let evil hear the pounding of our feet!  Let evil hear our drumming and our chanting songs of war.  Let evil fear us!  Let evil flee!  In any world, may dark things know our names and fear.  May their vile skins creep and shiver at every mention of the faeren.  Let the night flee before the dawn and the darkness crowd into the shadows.  We march to war!"  -- King Nudd, The Chestnut King

Note for parents:  I recommend this series for children ages 10 and up, maybe older, depending on the sensitivity of your child.  My son is 12.  The books contain fighting and other violence, bloodshed, death, some very dark moments, and magic.  The 2nd book uses the profanity d**n.