I have been so lax in posting; this will be a quick summary of what we have done the past five weeks.
Geography: both kids are now into their mapwork. Here is what we do: First, we read the section of the book that is assigned. On a different day, they get two outline maps. One is a map with the places marked and the names written neatly on the map. (I usually choose the places that will be marked, and I try to use something that has some significance in the story, or if I know it will be important later on.) They also have a blank map, and their job is to copy those marks and names neatly onto the blank map. Then the third day (not always three consectutive days) they are given the original map to study. They have to pay attention to location and spelling, and when they feel like they are ready, we put away the marked map, and they have to fill in a blank map. Afterward, they can get the original map back out and correct their work. The next week, we will add one or two places on the map.
Composer/Music Study: We have changed this up. We used to do it near the beginning of the school day, but the other day our musical selection was over 30 minutes long! This caused a lot of grief, because the kids were anxious to get their day started. I don't allow multi-tasking (reading, drawing, chores, etc.) during our weekly "music study" time. I don't mind repeating the music in the background, but the music deserves to be really listened to a couple of times. After all, that is what the composer had in mind. It was not written to be background music.
So I was trying to figure out a way to make this fun for the kids, but still encourage active listening. I came up with the "Drink Party." The kids can order special drinks that we would not get to have on a daily basis. I made up some recipes and gave them fancy names. For instance, "Cowboy Roy" is root beer served in a frosty mug. (Apparently there is an alcoholic drink by this same name, but I wasn't aware of that at the time. oops!) I also have a couple of fruit juice drinks that are made with frozen concentrate and lemon-lime soda. I have a little electric ice crusher that I hardly ever use because it is so loud, but I do use this to crush ice for our party, to make it a more special occasion. :) The rules are that you remain seated until the music is over and no refills. I don't want it to be me in the kitchen making more drinks the whole time! I do allow a bit of talking at the table, but I do encourage them to mostly be quiet and listen.
The drink party has been very popular and the kids really love it.They even requested that we do this on a different day of the week while we listen to Shakespeare, so we are doing it then also.
Shakespeare: We are listening to a dramatized version that we bought on Audible.com. At first, I didn't want to do this because I thought it was a cop-out and my kids should read it themselves. But I did think of this: Shakespeare wrote those plays to be performed, and most people in Shakespeare's day only experienced them in that way. So while we are not watching a performance, we are hearing it acted out by excellent performers. After we are finished, we will watch a video performance.
Outdoor Hour: We have enjoyed some park days, but the past two weeks two kids have been ill. They seem to be on the mend now, so we will get back into our weekly nature study this week.
Fall Break: We are taking our Fall Break a week earlier than the school kids. We are going back to good old Branson, Mo. for some family fun. We leave tomorrow. Everyone is so excited!