Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekly Report

This is a bit late, but I have a good reason.. my beloved Mac is excruciatingly slow with our Internet connection when both other computers work fine. So here I am, on Husband's laptop, otherwise no blog.

Last week is recapped as follows:

MCP - subtractions, vertical sums. Son seems to understand what he's doing, and doing well. He rarely misses one.
Miquon - patterns. Son did well completing a pattern, but had difficulty creating a pattern.

I'm still plodding through Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, but I'm not enjoying reading it aloud. I don't mind quickly reading it but the language is not appealing to me. That said, Son likes the animal stories very much but not the human stories. He has difficulty with a few imperialism words and sayings, and British ramblings in the book. He needs help with his narrating. The latter do tend to drag a lot. Only one more story left, then I can pick up Little House in the Big Woods from the library and start reading that one aloud.

This week I had Son write his Thank You notes for his birthday gifts, which worked out well. The last day he wrote: It is right to obey your mother and father. Hmm.. I wonder why.

Son is moving nicely through Italic Handwriting. I like the font, and I have Son do it over if it's carelessly done. He seems to care more than most about his penmanship, so I use that as a good opportunity to teach him good habits. He still reverses his numbers and letters often.

Son does the one page in the workbook easily and painlessly for the most part, and this week was no exception. He did short "e" sounds and short "i" sounds. I was glad to see he was able to write a few sentences as part of his assignment. He needs help with spelling, of course, but I prefer he ask me how to write something than try to invent a new (and wrong) spelling.

Son is doing well reading, but I'm close to encouraging him to the next level. He read a section from the nonfiction Living Long Ago, and the following books this week: Uncle Elephant, In a Nutshell, Snipp Snapp Snurr and the Red Shoes, and the Please and Thank You book. We're going to try slightly more challenging books that capture his interest, and I'm going to observe him to see if he's ready for The Littles (chapter book) maybe next week.

I started very easily with him -- first I let him see one word, then take a picture of this word and store it in his mind. Then I remove the word and he has to copy it from his mind. This has been working well. This past week I wrote down two words: river and flood. He was able to write both with perfect spelling. Maybe he's ready for three words this week.

We looked at tree stumps and rings, read about how to calculate the age of trees, Son drew tree rings and wrote the age next to it, we went on another walk where Son picked up twigs and berries for his twig and berry project in Nature Smart. We also were able to tell how twigs grow by the marks on them. Yesterday Husband and Son worked on the Twig and Berries wreath, which looked pretty. I should post a picture of it. It hangs in our home library/school room.

We listened to the SOTW 1 audio, this week was Egyptians Lived on the Nile (chapter two). Son narrated the first section with some difficulty, colored a page about Osiris and Set, did mapwork illustrating King Narmer's unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, cut out and colored Homeschool in the Woods' figures and pasted them in his Book of Centuries, and Husband read to him from the Usborne's World History Encyclopedia and they visited the quicklinks online. Son was excited and did his best coloring the picture, which showed me he liked the story of Set and Osiris. We listened to the audio CD a few more times.

We checked our rain gauge, recorded the observations and put them into a graph, looked at the map of the USA and Egypt's place in the world and discussed oceans and cities.

This week Son memorized Rain, by Robert Louis Stevenson, a nice short poem. He has a tendency to stutter sometimes and I notice while he's reciting poems he doesn't stutter. He has memorized three short poems in three weeks. We're building up to longer ones as the weeks keep going by.

We read the poem Try, Try Again from The Children's Book of Virtues and discussed the virtue of perseverance. Son promised to work on that for the week, and I can say he did well all week.

We read two bible stories -- both about Abraham. Son seems to like the stories. He gets religious education at the Catholic church, so we read the Bible at home to familiarize him with the stories. He's already read and reread his Children's Bible a few times, but these stories are more mature, more vivid, and beautifully illustrated. They're from The Children's Bible in 365 Stories.

We discussed personal grooming such as brushing hair, washing face, having clean hands and fingernails and dressed neatly. Son liked that, but doesn't have the habit yet of either washing his face or brushing his hair. Still working on reminding him of those things.

We're working on The Easy Spanish where we did the Me Llamo activity sheet and Chichi's personality profile. Son seems to enjoy it, and I reinforce the learning by asking him, Como te llamas? And he answers, "Me llamo (his name)" and so forth.

Son studied Madonna on the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci for five minutes and had to tell me what he remembered when I took it away. For the first time he didn't do badly, but I imagine his powers of observation increased as we progress with his picture studies.

Son has been listening to Bach's music every morning he wakes up and to the organ works in the car. I got a video of Bach's organ works on Netflix, which he enjoys watching. Son really enjoys the music and recognizes Toccata in Fugue in D Minor. I read to him once a week from The World's Greatest Composers - Bach. The book is just right for this age, and just about at his reading level so he can follow along. He loves the cartoons (as does Husband!). Thank you, Mike Venezia, for making art engaging to children. We read a little bit at the time, so Son can absorb what is being said. I made a note of having him narrate next time as well.

Son takes piano lessons, but this is singing, dancing, etc. I have a background in both, and I'm having fun teaching him Silent Night in time for Christmas. We have fun with this one.

As for extracurricular activities, this week Son has done tennis, horseback riding, Boy Scouts and Religious Education. He has unstructured play outdoors twice (hot outside) this week and indoors daily.

And that's our week, folks!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 07, 2009

First Day, First Year

Son was so excited to be starting school yesterday. So was I! We woke up, had breakfast at his favorite place, and walking back home he saw a hermit crab. I caught it and we brought it home, read about hermit crabs and how to care for them and put him in a gallon-sized container. Besides lady bugs, butterflies, sow bugs and spiders this is Son's first "pet". He also scooped up lizard eggs a day or two before. Totally impromptu, but perfect for our first day of school. 

First we did Virtues, which is basically reading a story or poem out of the Children's Book of Virtues and discuss. We read a poem about Little Fred going to bed promptly as told and how easy it was for everyone when he did that. Although Son didn't live up to his promise of going to bed promptly when night came, he has a goal to work towards al to the end of the week. We can keep working on that habit as needed.

After Virtues we did Math, which consisted of teaching the lesson of subtraction. Ds really got it and gave examples himself with counters (in this case markers). He did six sample problems then out of the workbook another 3 problems and he was done. Today we are going to work on three more for practice. We are using MCP Math and I don't want to frustrate him with too many problems, but have him see how useful math is and certainly have him practice.

We did Poetry focusing on Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. We read The Whole Duty of Children. Son likes poetry, and is working on memorizing this during the week.

In Copywork he wrote down the first sentence in the aforementioned poem, which reads "A child should always say what's true". Not bad for our first day. Son felt compelled to squeeze all his letters on one line, but otherwise he didn't do a bad job. Not great either. I made a mental note to work on his penmanship as he hardly did any writing at all during the Summer.

Bach is our composer for the first half of the year. We read a bit about his times, the 17th century and the Baroque period. Then we listened to one or two pieces. He worked on Phonics while we listened to the last one. It was enjoyable, and Son was interested. He really likedthe music and Baroque architecture too.

Son completed a page in Spectrum Phonics finishing up words. He did flawlessly.

After that, Geography was exciting as we got to go outside and set up our rain gauge that Husband had previously fashioned out of a large soda bottle. We dug a shallow hole (Daughter was keen to help) and set our rain gauge in there so it wouldn't topple. At least we hope it won't. It's all a learning experience, eh? We also determined together what day each week we would check our rain gauge. We decided Monday was the best day.

We used Calculadder for our Math drill. I explained to Son what was expected and in two minutes he was supposed to fill out a whole page of numbers. He got to about half. That's OK, because today we try again. He has 16 tries. I'm confident he'll work on his speed without sacrificing relative neatness.

Ah, History. I've been excited about this for at least two years. We're doing Story of the World Volume I: Ancient Times. I read him half of a chapter.  This is what he came up for his first narration: 

Lesson: What is History?

We can tell our parents and grandfather then we know something and tell people it. That’s what we learned. 

Historians learn about the past by reading the writing on the buildings and by reading letters.

He had trouble with the last sentence as he couldn't remember the word "monument", but I thought it was a good first start. I'm sure he will do much better as the year progresses and I'm not worried about it.

Reading is an easy subject for Son as he loves to read. I picked something a bit challenging for him, Robert McCloskey's Burt Dow Deep-Water Man. It's more difficult than I thought because it has some sailor terms even I'm not familiar with, but Son seems to enjoy it and understand it, so we're moving along. Since it's long I have him four pages at a time. He can't wait until today, he said yesterday to find out what happened. This is always a good sign.

In Literature I read to him aloud from Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. I read the first story, How The Whale Got His Throat. I don't know how much Son understood but he asked a few questions that made me see he didn't understand some of the old terminology that I could grasp from the context. It is an old story, after all, but hence the more challenging for him to listen to and considered true literature. I'm working on reading with expression. Seems to make a big difference. 

Our First Day was a success. Son did complain that it lasted a long time (a whopping total of 2 and a half hours compared to his Kindergarten an hour and a half), and asked me for a break in between. I told him I would institute a break from now on. I think a 10 to 15-minute break wouldn't hurt. Even adults have those kind of breaks in between conference sessions. When Husband came home, Son said his First Day was awesome. 

Things to work on: distractibility, attentiveness. Varying the lessons a la Charlotte Mason is an excellent idea and keeps him interested.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Story of the World Volume I: Supplementary Reading Schedule

For Kindergarten I didn't bother too much with schedules, as I just "did the next thing" for most and if not, well, flew by the seat of my pants. This year, however, it's schedule time. I have Story of the World Volume 1: The Ancients (SOTW1) and not as much scheduled it as put a sequence so I can just follow it. The Activity Guide is so helpful and comprehensive, I don't need much else except to tell my project manager (Husband) to get the necessary materials. Doing the sequence with the supplementary reading material this way leaves me with more freedom and flexibility, which is just the way I like it. 

Here's my supplementary reading sequence for SOTW 1, with markings denoting whether the book is available in our local library system (KL) or if it's only available through Interlibrary Loan. This way I can plan ahead and request the books I need. The rest of the books I own. Following this is easy, and keeps me on track and makes me feel accomplished as a teaching Mama. I have it all pretty in a column format on my computer, but for some reason couldn't post it as an image. Here it is in copy-paste format:

SOTW 1: Chapter,  Book Title

Ch. 1 The Earliest People                                   Little Grunt and the Big Egg KL R

Ch. 2 Egyptians Lived on The Nile River              Living Long Ago

Ch. 3 The First Writing                       Science in Ancient Mesopotamia

Ch. 4 The Old Kingdom of Egypt Mummies in the Morning (MTH)

Ch. 5 The First Sumerian Dictator Abou Hassan (Arabian Nights Story)

Ch. 6 The Jewish People The Coat of Many Colors KL

Ch. 7 Hammurabi and the Babylonians Abu Ali - Three Tales of the Middle East KL

Ch. 8 The Assyrians Gilgamesh the King

Ch. 9 The First Cities of India The Token Gift

Ch. 10 The Far East: Ancient China Day of the Dragon King (MTH)

Ch. 11 Ancient Africa Anansi and the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti KL

Ch. 12 The Middle Kingdom of Egypt Pharaohs and Pyramids KL

Ch. 13 The New Kingdom of Egypt Senefer, Young Genius in Old Egypt ILL

King Tut’s Mummy - Lost and Found R

Ch. 14 The Israelites Leave Egypt Bible Story: Moses

Ch 15 The Phoenicians The Phoenicians: Mysterious Sea People ILL

Ch. 16 The Return of Assyria The Seven Voyages of Sinbad (Arabian Nights Story)

Ch. 17 Babylon Takes Over Again! Camaralzaman and Badoud (Arabian Nights Story)

Ch. 18 Life in Early Crete Atlantis: The Legend of a Lost City KL

Ch. 19 The Early Greeks The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War

Ch. 20 Greece Gets Civilized Again The Librarian Who Measured the Earth KL

Ch. 21 The Medes and the Persians The Enchanted Horse (Arabian Nights Tale)

Ch. 22 Sparta and Athens The Twelve Labors of Hercules R

Ch. 23 The Greek Gods The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus Aliki KL

Ch. 24 The Wars of the Greeks Aesop’s Fables

Ch. 25 Alexander the Great The Great Alexander the Great KL

Ch. 26 The People of the Americas Maria and the Stars of Nazca ILL

Ch. 27 The Rise of Rome Romulus and Remus Anna Rockwell KL R

Detectives in Togas

Ch. 28 The Roman Empire Detectives in Togas

Ch. 29 Rome’s War with Carthage Detectives in Togas

Ch. 30 The Aryans of India Stories from India ILL

Ch. 31 The Mauryan Empire of India Stories from India ILL

Ch. 32 China: Writing and the Qin The Great Wall of China

Ancient China Treasure Chest

Ch. 33 Confucius The Empty Pot by Demi ILL

Ch. 34 The Rise of Julius Caesar Detectives in Togas

Ch. 35 Caesar The Hero Detectives in Togas

Ch. 36 The First Roman Prince Pompeii -- Buried Alive!

Ch. 37 The Beginning of Christianity The Bible: Jesus Born and Died

Ch. 38 End of Jewish Nation Annie’s Shabbat KL

Ch. 39 Rome and the Christians Vacation Under the Volcano (MTH)

Ch. 40 Rome Begins to Weaken The Beast of Lor ILL

Ch. 41 The Attacking Barbarians Living Long Ago

Ch. 42 The End of Rome Science in Ancient Rome

So far Son has enjoyed reading Little Grunt and the Big Egg. He needed help with a few words, but otherwise has done very well. 

Our Summer Vacation

It's been so long! We've all been so busy. We visited Aruba for two weeks to see family and for pleasure, and had a blast. Son and Daughter were exposed to Aruban culture, language and people, and it was great to see him interact with my family members, whom he had never met previously. The beach was gorgeous, I was so spoiled growing up there. The aquamarine waters, breeze and white, soft sands.. aahh.  The waters are so clean too, especially compared to our neck of the woods. The kids also enjoyed the cave at Ayo and its Paleolithic markings, and Indian drawings in the Fontein cave. It was fun climbing the huge boulders at Casibari and Ayo, and see the whole island. The kids rolled around on the sand in the sand dunes and spent hours at the beach. We also saw a Cultural show at Fort Zoutman that brought me a lot of memories -- typical music, folklore and history. I can't believe I hadn't visited in almost seven years!  I'll try to make it at least every two years from now on. Here are some beach pictures from our wonderful trip.