Learning Notes 2/23 to 2/27

linking up with Melanie and others


We were out the door by 7:15 once again for babysitting duty.  The little gal was happy and played with us for a short time and then she took a nap for over 2 hours.  Easy-peasy.  We managed to tackle some geometry (5th grader) and general practice for the other two with addition, subtraction and multiplication.

Then came writing.  It was a struggle for the 5th grader to hear some critical feedback on a persuasive writing piece and she resisted going back over it to rework some more.  By the end, I think she was happy with what she accomplished and we resolved to do more tomorrow.  The other two chose their own topics: the third grader wrote a list in prose on the topic of “what I still want to do before I leave Saipan” and the second grader selected, “How I would like to spend my next birthday.”

The Internet connection was being difficult so we did not do as much work on their Final Project as I had hoped before it was time to relocate and return home.  But they live on the hill overlooking the lagoon and it was a beautiful day, so who cared!  As if we even needed an excuse to be outdoors and kick a ball around…

We practiced spelling words with the BananaGrams tiles and played a round.  Then the girls spelled out difficult words as I read aloud from Rifles for Watie.

The 2nd grader and I read a couple of chapters from Young Man and the Sea.

In the afternoon, I started on a creative project in honor of some fellow-homeschooler who are due to arrive on Saipan later this week and L. helped.  A. read for a long time from her new chapter book and BR made some videos of himself and his Legos.  Later in the evening, we said goodbye to another friend who is leaving the island, and played on the beach a bit after sunset.



The eldest woke up with a fever and feeling icky so I excused her from schoolwork for the day.

We started out with a BananaGrams game because my middle child challenged me and it seemed like a decent brain challenge that would be an appropriate way to wake us all up and get us in gear for the day.

The younger two and I completed a Geometry lesson that we had started last week; it was pretty much just a puzzle and a lot of fun.  Then we tackled the first part of the next lesson about fractions but we got distracted and ended up putting that to the side because they thought it was so much fun to do addition/subtraction in “miniature.”  I basically just wrote some sums down in teeny, tiny font (by hand) and challenged them to complete them.  They thought it was Hilarious.  I might just have to use this trick again, for writing assignments or something…

They both whipped out some writing really fast, one chose the topic of “What kind of pet I think a teacher ought to get for a classroom” and the other went with, “My favorite part of the day is…” and we read them out loud.

I read “Coconut Kind of Day” which is a collection of island poems by Lynn Joseph and that inspired the youngest to get his father to go outside and crack open a coconut for us all to share.  Then I pulled out “Exploiting the Sea” and read a short excerpt on harnessing energy from waves and tides and it inspired us to look up online to discover more recent developments on that front (that books is 20 years old, at least).  But only for a few minutes, because BananaGrams is all the rage around here right now and we can hardly stand not to be playing…

coconut poems

The kids took turns working on the Final Project online, but I will have to supervise this more closely because it is clear that they not are capable of doing it alone.

After lunch, I read aloud with BR from Young Man and the Sea again.  It’s getting to the exciting part.

My middle child is trying out tennis and her first time was this afternoon.  She loved it.

We ended the day with a viewing of “Plastic Paradise: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” on Netflix streaming, which was very straightforward and easy for the kids to understand.  They want me to share the link on Facebook, in order to spread the word about the dangers to wildlife, our health, and the health of our planet should we choose to continue dumping plastics and other wastes into the world’s oceans at the current rate.  I will share it here, too:

Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Trailer from Angela Sun on Vimeo.


The kids started the school day without me.  I coached them on what I expected from them in the next hour, then they worked alone on the sidelines of the court while I had my regular tennis lesson downtown.  As you can imagine, this system does not always work out as well as I would like.  In fact, I hadn’t been to tennis in three weeks, in part because sometimes I get tired of feeling behind, right from the beginning of the day.  But today they were all self-motivated and kept each other on task, playing a Math game, completing their writing assignment for the day and playing BananaGrams all together.  They were supposed to each read a chapter from their respective chapter books, but they ran out of time.

After tennis, we snuck in another 30 minutes at the beach, just because.


I read the Second grader’s chapters out loud with him later in the day during his sister’s piano lesson.  Both of the girls finished their own books later and the 3rd grader gave me an oral report of hers.  I cannot possibly keep up with the girls’ readings.  The best I can manage is to keep supplying them with quality books and urging them away from the silly, “fluffy,” badly written stuff.  Earlier in the school year I asked them to keep a log of what they complete, but I don’t think they’ve done a super job with that.  We’ll try to do better.

We made some more progress on the Final Project.  Someone practiced their typing and their Korean.  There was soccer practice.  We played even more BananaGrams.


Math: we continued with geometry.  The kids are getting more into it now, but it took awhile for the enthusiasm to spread.  The lessons have been fun, combining vocabulary, fractions, physical skills (intricate line drawing, and manipulating several rulers at once), symmetry and patterns, and learning how to make shapes.



We went to the library and finished up writing projects there, worked on the Final Project online, and found new books to bring home.

The 2nd grader and I continued to read out loud from Young Man and the Sea.  He listed it as one of his favorites for this Expedition.

I, very guiltily, left the kids at the library with their dad and went across the road for a noon-time swim with some other folks at the WWII tanks.  In very shallow water, as I was swimming alone, a very large ray came up right to me and slowly swam away.  That was a first for me and I immediately recovered from my any guilty feelings!

I took A. to tennis lesson and dropped the other two off at “homework club” then we had some car trouble, and I whipped up dinner and tried to figure out where the day had gone.


Everyone was so hyper this morning that when they begged to start off with some picture books, I quickly agreed, hoping that would calm the mood a bit.  It worked.  One of the books was The Song and Dance Man which is such a fun book and made me want to look up videos of tap-dancing and vaudeville but I controlled myself and we went directly into Math next.


Math is taking forever this week.  We spend at least an hour a day.  But it’s good stuff, and I can see their little brains making connections that will endure.  At some points earlier this academic year, I haven’t been sure what to think about RightStart, but I am pretty much sold on it now (however much I look forward to recuperating my initial investment, phew).

Today was supposed to be the last day of our Ocean-themed study and so we did some wrap-up discussions and writing. The kids added more to our Final Project site that is definitely not at all finished but what to do.  I introduced the next one (it had been a surprise) and they are very enthusiastic.  Should be fun!  Stay tuned…

We finished reading Young Man and the Sea and we watched the first twenty minutes of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from 1954 and it is entertaining so far.

We went to practice some tennis on our own and we discovered that we need lots more practice.  Big shocker.  We had some time to kill so we went and dipped our toes in the ocean for 10 minutes since we were only a few blocks away.

The kids participated in a craft and games and Veggie Tales themed study of some kind at a local church.  They were mellowed out by the end and thrilled at the thought of sleeping in tomorrow morning.

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