Saturday, May 23, 2009

Catching Up

I feel like I have to spend some time catching up, as we've been so busy lately. Not only schooling, but dealing with external circumstances like the car breaking down and Husband's digital camera needing a quick replacement. Everything is fine now, but whew. These seemingly little details can take a few days to get sorted out. 

Two weeks ago Son, Daughter and I took a beautiful nature walk at our local botanical park. It was so quiet, and we spent time picking leaves and reading the identifications on the ones that were identified. I vowed to include more nature walks in our curriculum. When we came home we made leaf prints, which looked lovely. We're definitely doing more of these -- gifts, maybe? 

Here are some pictures highlighting these past few weeks:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Weekly Report

This week is the second week we're trying out alternating between MCP Math Level A and Miquon Math Orange Book. So far it has been great. Ds is actually more compliant, works faster and has more attention, and I love the fact that I explain and he works on a more traditional text and another day I just explain what he should do and he does discovery math for himself. I see him making connections too, and like the open-ended style of Miquon, whereas MCP reigns me in in a good way. I think both programs have much to offer and together they make a great team in helping ds to understand math.

We chug along with Spectrum Phonics. Nothing spectacular, but looks can be deceiving. Ds is gaining a better understanding of letter combinations and sounds, and is broadening his vocabulary. Just one simple page a day for four days gets the job done. He seems to like it too.

Ds is reading well, and reading often. Him reading makes my heart sing. The boy doesn't have to be told, cajoled.. he simply loves to read. I'm praying it will always stay this way. He reads his favorites over and over again. He even reads the picture books I'm supposed to be reading to him. No reading assignments are necessary. I'm really happy to have discovered Ambleside's first grade recommendation for readers. We are now on the Primer by Harriette Taylor Treadwell, and Son has already read The Little Red Hen and The Gingerbread Boy.

We took a long (two-hour!) nature walk on Friday as part of our Science, identifying trees and looking at barks and leaves at a nearby botanical park.  Son collected an assortment of leaves that we're planning on making a simple craft with our book Nature Crafts today, which I'm trying to convince dh can count as Art.  We're on Lesson B4-A in Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, Identification of Living Things. We went on the walk without knowing what we would find and didn't see any birds, but were pleasantly surprised to see many trees marked and leaves of wondrous shapes.

Poetry has been non-existent for weeks now as I can't find our poetry book! Argh. Incentive to be less messy. Hopefully. Son enjoys poetry. 

Geography has been going slowly, but well. I want him to gain, at this age, an understanding of maps to prepare us both for Story of the World: The Ancients next year. Last week he made a rough map of the house. Today he's going to make a more accurate map (I bought graph paper for this) of either the house or his room.

Since we are through with the Getty-Dubay Italic workbook, I've printed out each letter from the free printables section from the site Our Los Banos and he's already done those. This week I had him working on copying a word at a time. I found out he could handle this after finding him copying words for fun, and writing "Scooby-Doo" and "fun" correctly from memory. I had the Italic handwriting desk strip laminated (finally!) so he can see the letters up close and focus on writing them correctly. He still reverses letters like "b" and "d" and his numerals, which I'm working on, but I know this is also normal for his age. I remember I used to put a dot in the middle of my "o"s when I was little. Go figure. I like using copywork for Penmanship so much next year I'm having Penmanship twice a week, to focus on letter positioning and shapes to practice, and copywork the rest of the three days. 

Spanish has gone a lot better since I hit upon putting Blue's Clues in Spanish, watchingthe Spanish immersion DVD Cantemos and Husband found the missing computer program CD-ROM, yes!  He asks me often now, "How do you say this in Spanish?" and I feel good about his interest and the knowledge he's accumulating. I also read him a short book occasionally in Spanish. I need to do this more often. Next year I'm planning on having Spanish twice week: once with his computer program (KidSpeak) more formally (it comes with a little book to do exercises with) and the other day I'm committing to reading him a story in Spanish from Mi Tesoro de Cinco Anos, a book in Spanish printed in Venezuela my Godmother gave me a few years ago. That was a mouthful. 

Husband finished reading A Bear Called Paddington to Son for his Literature. Although Son enjoyed it, Husband tells me the chapters were long and it was difficult for Son to follow along as many of the expressions are very British. Perhaps I selected this one too early. Maybe we'll revisit in the future. He seemed to like it, though. I also decided to proceed with the selections in Peak with Books, which are excellent, but not worrying too much about the questions and activities. I wanted him to engage with the material, but not interfere too much.  I've been reading Charlotte Mason's ideas again and want to follow it closer to the letter as everything in her method so far has been a blessing for us.  As a result, I was going to have the picture book A Pig in a Pond read to him, and to my surprise Son picked it up and read it himself -- at least a dozen times! Next I requested Skip to My Lou, which is also a big hit here and he can read to himself. Next I have Beatrix Potter's incomparable A Tale of Peter Rabbit, which small size Daughter mistook for "her book" and walked around with it, pretending to read (making sounds while holding it open and looking at the letters) and looking at the pictures for a long time. Ah. Charlotte Mason is so right about living books. They edify not only the mind, but the spirit. 

Although an extra-curricular activity, I have to comment on how well Son is doing on his piano lessons. His teacher, Ms. Jan, is zooming him through Alfred's Beginning Piano course and just started him on finger exercises. He's only been taking lessons for a few weeks now. He practices without me telling him to. I'm so proud.

Tennis is also going well, and Son has the strength to hit the ball far and over the net. Husband is a very good teacher. The man has so many talents. The more I know him, the more I admire him.

Today Son is going horse-back riding and we're excited. This is only his second lesson. And this, folks, wraps up our weekly report.