Challenge A

Week 5

We had a wonderful class today! I changed our schedule some, and that seem to work to our advantage. I moved Latin to first thing in the morning so the boys were fresh and wide awake (and munching on donut holes). I moved Rhetoric to mid-day so we could cover clear reasoning while we ate before going outside and the catechism questions/apologetics when we returned to the classroom. Mathematics was last to give them something to look forward to since this is a subject they seem to enjoy. After lunch seemed to go much more smoothly than the past couple of weeks. We played "Around the World" a lot today since it was our first time playing it this year; next week we will implement some different review games.

I have walked through Challenge A with my son already, so I know the challenges you may face as a parent. Some of them I am still facing with my son! This week he only had half his work prepared, and last night I was finding Challenge materials all over the house. Know that whatever happens you are not alone, and our sons' lack or preparation, disorganization, or forgetfulness is not a reflection on us as parents. These are simply areas in which we can continue to help our sons as they continue to mature... from all I have read and witnessed, this is common for pre-teen and young teen boys and skills they simply are not yet ready to master. All we can do is continue to encourage them, challenge them, and pray for them while teaching them skills for the future. I once asked my son's doctor how many times I was expected to repeat what he should already know... her response was every day is a new day and each day I need to repeat the expectations at least one more time. Sometimes when either my husband or I (or both!) start to get exasperated, we will look at each other and one of us will say, "at least one more time."

That said, I am amazed at both boys' progress so far this year! They are doing great in all their seminars, but I am especially impressed with their growth in Latin and Geography. Often times what we see at home is just a glimpse of the great things our children are accomplishing that shows up in our class discussions. It is truly a pleasure to tackle Challenge A with your sons!

in His grace,



In opening assembly Karli led us in the first verse of "The Old Rugged Cross." Please have your sons bring the sheet of music each week as we continue learning this hymn.

Today we discussed discernment and Psalm 119:65-68, Romans 12:2, and Phil 1:9-11.

Debate: Cartography

Today the boys drew the United States from memory. I must say I was quite impressed! I don't think I would ever be able to draw our country from memory with the detail your sons were able to remember. I had them bring their maps home for you to grade; use whichever map you've instructed him to draw from at home.

This week we began Mexico, Central America, Greater Antilles, and Lesser Antilles. My suggestion for the boys is to draw all of them this week and next week, but focus this week on memorizing the countries, capitals, and features of Mexico and Central America - we went over these in class, and most of the features they already know. I gave them a mnemonic to help remember the order of the Central America countries: Good Boys Hunt Elephants Not Cute Pandas (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama).

We played Around the World with all the past geography terms. Please remind your sons to review past terms each week. This week's terms to define are: coast, continent, continental shelf, country, cove, and crag.

As with previous weeks, draw the assigned map daily (or follow the modified Charlotte Mason way I provided earlier in the year) and define the geography terms either on the first day or spread out through the week.

Research: Science

I am really enjoying listening to your son's research papers and seeing their drawings. They are doing a great job! It is up to you as the teacher to decide how in-depth you want the papers, but our main goal is to teach them research as we study natural science.

Our topic for next week is weather. We had a lively discussion about weather, the weather in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, and familiar Bible stories about weather. I have asked them to start ending their presentation by asking if there are any questions.

I know there is a lot to weather; your sons may choose any part of weather to research. My recommended pace will remain the same for the rest of this semester, so to make things a little more brief I will stop repeating it.

Logic: Mathematics

We reviewed some concepts from lessons 17 through 20 in Saxon Math 8/7 and then played a quick game of Around the World naming polygons. We had a great time playing Number Knockout (Board Slam) with the Challenge B class. Next week I plan to do Investigation 2 in class so they can do some hands on activities their math program may not have. If you have them, please send a protractor, compass, and ruler next week.

Please continue having your sons bring two problems to class - one challenging, and one fun. Having them show us how they worked through a problem, and discussing different ways to solve a problem, brings another element to our class which promotes conversation.

The math concepts covered or began in Saxon 8/7 for lesson 17-20 include:

  • Measuring Angles with a protractor
  • Polygons
  • Similar and Congruent
  • Perimeter
  • Area of Rectangles
  • Exponents
  • Square Roots

Exposition & Composition

Today the boys shared their issues for Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and we reviewed how to use the Five Common Topics. We also went over the Arrangement this week on how to sort the ANI chart, use the sorting to choose three 'Proofs' and for each Proof three "Sub-Proofs." We only sort the Affirmative and Negative columns, and we do need to sort and find the three most compelling groups for both columns before we decide which side of the issue we will argue.

From there the boys will fill out their worksheets and prepare the outline. This is vastly different from what we were accustomed to in Essentials. If your students get confused, the section in the Teacher's book that will clear it up is Essay Two: Arrangement. It is okay if what your son chooses as the most compelling reasons are not very compelling to us adults... right now we are working more on form and concepts, and even if he has funny or silly responses he is still learning.

Below is my suggested schedule:

  • Tuesday: Sort the ANI chart following Step One and Step Two on pages 10-11, completing the worksheet on these pages. I did not tell your sons, but if needed they can roll over some of this work to Wednesday since most of the worksheets are copying from these two pages.

  • Wednesday: Decide on your thesis following Step Three on pages 11-12, completing the worksheet.

  • Thursday: Fill in Essay Two Arrangement B Introductory Persuasive Essay Worksheet on pages 13-14.

  • Friday: Complete the Outline following the template on page 15. Everything with an asterisk needs to be replaced with words from the previous worksheets. Words without an asterisk may be copied verbatim from the template.

Grammar: Latin

Today we went over Henle pages 44-46, reviewed Grammar Numbers 45-63 and completed review exercises 43, 48 and 49. Then we discussed Third Declension neuter nouns, vocabulary, and new material in pages 47-52 and completed exercise 50.

Below is my recommended pace for this week's work:

  • Tuesday: Read Latin text pages 44-52; Memorize Grammar No. 64; Finish declension chart on page 40 in Latin Workspace (using rule #64 for Third Declension neuter nouns), Make Flashcards for vocabulary on pages 44, 47, and 51, Complete exercises 44 and 45; Check answers and correct.

  • Wednesday: Re-read Latin text pages 44-52, Memorize Grammar No. 64, Finish declension chart on page 43 in Latin Workspace, Complete exercises 46 and 47; Check answers and correct. Drill new vocabulary.

  • Thursday: Finish declension chart on page 45 in Latin Workspace (iter is declined differently than the rest of the words on this chart), Complete exercises 51 and 52; Check answers and correct. Drill all Grammar and vocabulary.

  • Friday: Finish declension chart on page 47 in Latin Workspace; Complete exercises 53 and 54; check answers and correct. Drill all Grammar and vocabulary Read Latin pages 53-57 to prepare for class.

Rhetoric: Clear Reasoning and Apologetics

This week we discussed chapter four of It Couldn't Just Happen. Chapter Five is assigned for next week. This week you may choose whether your students complete chapter five with the study guide, highlighting method, or both. If you choose the Study Guide, I would still like for each child to highlight in blue (or write down on paper) what he found most interesting or intriguing in this chapter. This will help guide our discussion next week. I have told the boys that next week I expect them to know enough about the chapter to lead the conversation. Together they should have no problem filling thirty minutes discussing this and future chapters. I don't expect them to know everything or remember all in the chapter, but they can certainly discuss what they found interesting, which can lead us into a discussion of how that fits in with other subjects.

We also went over our next three catechism questions. We played "Around the Word" with our past catechism questions. Make sure your sons are reviewing not just the weekly catechism questions, but also the past questions so they have a good working knowledge of all of them. We do expect these to be verbatim as well as understood.

I gave your sons my suggested schedule for completing this chapter with highlighting since they both preferred that method, however, keep in mind we expect only one hour per week for this seminar, so there is a little more leeway in the week. There were many times my son completed this subject in one day. Below is the suggested schedule which includes both methods should you choose to have your son do the study guide. This suggested schedule will remain the same for the rest of the semester.

  • Tuesday: Skim ICJH chapter 5 and highlight (pink) names, dates, places. -and/or- Read and complete study guide for Introduction and first two subtopics of Chapter 5.

  • Wednesday: Skim ICJH chapter 5 and highlight (green) lists, questions, order words -and/or- Read and complete study guide for next two subtopics of Chapter 5.

  • Thursday: Read ICJH Chapter 5 and highlight (blue) quotes, phrases, ideas, facts, scents, passages, etc. -and/or- Read and complete study guide for next two subtopics of Chapter 5.

  • Friday: Go back over Chapter 5 and highlight (orange) examples, illustrations, figures of speech -and/or- Read and complete study guide for final three subtopics of Chapter 5.