January Updates

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We have been pretty busy this month.  I would say it’s been a great month.  We took on a lot of new things, perhaps too many, but sometimes you just need that momentum to keep you excited and engaged.  (Okay, perhaps just me.)  Despite having to travel for a medical visit this month, I still feel we’re pretty much on track and somedays even enjoying ourselves.

During our recent visit to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

During our recent visit to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Kate has handled all the changes well.  We have been having weekly Spanish classes now this month and just love it.  We do these classes through Homeschool Spanish Academy.   Everything I read about this company in other mom’s reviews was true.  The teachers are so nice and highly trained.  Through a Skype connection they work one-on-one with your student and during that time they mostly speak in Spanish. When they assessed Kate they recommended she start with the middle school curriculum because she has grown up hearing Spanish and speaking a little, mostly with my parents.  I’m a native speaker, so I also work with her during the week on the assignments that they ask her to do.  It’s going great because this approach is focused on speaking and hearing Spanish, and Kate is an auditory learner.  So yeah!

Technology

The dictation feature on my MS Word was not easy to work with, so my husband got a Dragon app on his Ipad, which is working out a lot better for writing journal entries.  One thing that using  dictation software is  good for is helping you to organize your thoughts and ideas, which is a challenge for my student.

Kate is enjoying her audiobooks.  She listens to an audiobook for fun each day through Learning Ally. (We finally got all the IT issues worked out by the first week of January.)  The first book she wanted was Ever After High, a book about fairy tale princesses.   I also found her math book and put it on our digital book shelf.  We used it for listening to the word problems. We are just starting to explore these tools, but so far so good.  Also, the Minecraft homeschool course has been a lot of  fun.  I’ll write more specifics next time.

What we’re reading this month:  Alligator Crossing by Marjory Stoneman Douglas

We are using this book as the base for a literature unit with a focus on science (ecosystem), history and geography of South Florida.  This book was written in 1959 and yet the story is as relevant today as back then.  At the time she wrote this book, Everglades National Park had barely been established a decade.  Protecting the natural environment meant that many people were pushed out of their way of life, which included poaching alligators and hunting birds for their plumes.  It also included the freedom of living in nature, something very hard to give up willingly.

While today the challenges are different, their is a tension between the need to protect the environment and the legitimate need of humans to make a living.  Most recently their is a proposal to develop an area of pine rockland in Miami, making me feel that the issues are still very relevant to all of us, especially in South Florida.

This has been a great book to learn about the wildlife and the habitats of the Everglades as well as why this national treasure had to be protected (from poachers and “plumers”).  We’ve really enjoyed all our read alouds, but this book is special because it feels like one generation passing to the next generation the stewardship of something truly amazing.   We hope to finish reading it this week in time for our field trip to Everglades National Park next weekend.

Tomatoes from the garden. We used these to make tomato sauce ;).

Tomatoes from the garden. We used these to make tomato sauce ;).

The other day Kate asked me when we would read the next book in the Kaya series (American Girl); we have read four of the six.  I felt so lucky that we’ve shared all these great stories so far this year and I can honestly say I’ve never seen her so excited about reading, that’s for sure.

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