Monday, April 12, 2010

A Clean Mind Leads to Projectiles

Thank you Spring Break! Nothing like a week off to reflect and regroup...oh, and spring clean. My cupboards and shelves are nearly organized, door jams primed and ready to be repainted, and many treasures stacked and ready for next week's multi-family garage sale. There is something about purging the house that helps me purge and clear my mind.

As I mentioned in my last post, I felt we had gotten bogged down by our textbooks. I started hearing, "I hate science," which I know is a total lie because Mythbusters and How It's Made top the list of recorded programs on our DVR. What SJ was communicating, in his 13 year old manner, was that he hated what we were studying and how we were doing it.

It occurred to me that he likes anything that shoots, explodes, or destroys so, duh, brainchild, how about studying the weaponry and warfare of the Medieval times (which we are now entering in History)? With a little encouragement from my husband and his friend, I found a book, The Projectile-Throwing Engines of the Ancients, that offers sketches of many types of catapults and their histories. As we read this together, SJ will cover as many learning objectives, if not more, than if we were reading his history, science, and literature textbooks. I am hoping he can build scale models of a few of these catapults (or weapons) and we will (at least, my husband will) test and discuss the differences of trajectory, force, and all those scientific concepts of which I am glaringly lacking in understanding. In reading the history of the weapons, we will surely find terms to add to the vocab list and, in order to understand the concepts, he will be forced to take the time to comprehend his reading. He has already opened the book to peek.

I am also looking at curriculum for next year and, again, it occurred to me that I've been a little too intent on taking up where he left off in school and getting through the book. Well, it's clear he will be doing Pre-Algebra again next year. With every lesson, we tend to back up another chapter. So...why am I trying to move forward? STAR testing? For the rest of the year, I plan to start back at the front of the book and review until I find where he is stuck. I am also having him do some diagnostic tests on a few of the programs I am reviewing. If you have used these, please let me know: Aleks Pre-Algebra and Teaching Textbook.

Lastly, check out this post from another blogger mom where she outlines the lessons learned from, of all things, a Cheez-It box: Who Needs Textbooks?  Great minds think alike. Homeschool offers so many opportunities to learn about life from life itself.


  1. A book entitled Projectiles -- Throwing Engines of the Ancient Egyptians? The kids? My HUSBAND wants it !! HA!

  2. Aw, I came over here to see your fabulous ideas, and you linked to my blog! Thank you!

    I think the projectile study sounds fascinating. (Of course, I may say this b/c I have four boys.) My kids LOVE that kind of stuff! When Boy #1 came home from school mid-way through 1st grade, one of the first things he did was embark on a study of weapons throughout history. For awhile, we had a whole "war wall" up -- a timeline, complete with the appropriate weapons slotted into the appropriate places.

    Keep us posted -- and include pics!