Saturday, August 30, 2008

Exploring the World with Benny: Week 2

This past week we covered South Korea and tigers. Here's our book list and craft:

South Korea:
  • In the Moonlight Mist : a Korean Tale by Daniel San Souci
  • The King's Secret : the Legend of King Sejong by Carol Farley
  • The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo
  • Magic Spring : a Korean Folktale by Nami Rhee
  • The Princess and the Beggar : a Korean Folktale by Anne Sibley O'Brien
  • The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy by Yangsook Choi
  • Yunmi and Halmoni's Trip by Sook Nyul Choi

  • I Don't Want to Take a Bath! by Julie Sykes
  • The Loudest Roar by Thomas Taylor
  • The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman
  • The Tiger by Jennifer Justice

Here's a link to our tiger paper craft. Benny is still finishing his tiger. He seems determined that there will not be any white left showing at all. Another great craft is the tiger paper plate craft at the same site. Benny had already made that one a couple of years ago when I taught coop and still has it in his craft box.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week 4: Settling in...

My plan for this week was to settle in to our schedule without adding anything else in order to get a better idea of whether our schedule included adequate amounts of time for each subject and to let the kids get familiar with the new routine so they weren't continuing to ask what to do next. Being the opportunist that I am, however, I ended up adding spanish and sign language on Tuesday when we went into town. We managed to squeeze them in one other day when the girls asked me to teach them some more so I guess I'll have to figure out how to do them more consistently. I also have some music and art to add in at some point. Here's a look at our week.

Math is the main area that we are still struggling to finish on time. Jessie finished her actual workbook exercises in time the first part of the week. Thursday she got confused with the page on the left thinking that the blocks she colored in were supposed to mark the path. Silly Mom made the same mistake. We erased the blocks and colored them in a second time only for me to finally realize that the white blocks the remained were actually the ones marking the path. (Duh! I need more sleep.) Friday I simply had too much assigned and should have adjusted it instead of having her do it all. Hmm... Maybe we didn't do so badly after all. I am going to try one change next week. I'll have Jessie work on CWP first while I do Violet's math lesson. That way if she needs help with the problem, we can work it out together during math time instead of trying to squeeze it in later in the day. The downside would be if she is sitting there doing nothing because she is waiting on me. It's still worth a try.

Violet has done much better this week with math as well. She's finished up mental addition and has started working on mental subtraction. The subtraction is a little bit harder for her, so some of the problems she chose to work them out on the dry erase board if there was borrowing involved. I know part of the struggle is that she still hasn't mastered the corresponding addition facts. We'll finish the section out and she if she becomes more comfortable with it. She has also struggled the last two weeks with the CWP book on Friday. Part of the problem is that she is not always reading the problem carefully to recognize that it involves more than one step. Part of the problem is likely that I am assigning too many problems in one day. I'll have to look to see if there is a better way to schedule these.


Jessie's language arts have gone well for the most part this week. Spelling ran over because she had to look up the definitions of a few of the words. I'll give it one more week before I adjust the pace. Her grammar (on the left) is going much better than last year. It's taken a few days, but the memories of diagramming last year appear to be coming back, and I've seen steady improvement of her ability to find the simple subject and predicate (even when that is a verb phrase) over the last week and a half. Dictation has still been running over its time slot. Her speed and confidence is improving. Part of the problem may be that we are not starting on time. We'll give it one more week before I adjust the time here. Classical Writing is going very well (no more tears or power struggles during editing) and is actually the one area where we don't use the entire 30 minutes that are scheduled every day. It's nice to have that buffer of extra time for now, and I know that it will begin to take more time as we progress through the year into longer selections. This week's selection was The Milkmaid and Her Pail. Jessie made a few minor changes to the original story using her imagination of which we were both very proud. Dare I say it. She actually had fun this week. For reading this week she read 9 more chapters from Pollyanna, "As You Like It" from Tales from Shakespeare, and "The Unknown Land" from Parables from Nature.

Violet's language arts are all going smoothly. We started copying the 23rd Psalm for handwriting. She was very proud to have spelled all of her words correctly on both spelling tests. (That's here spelling page on the write.) Grammar seems to be moving along well, and she enjoys doing it (which is always a plus. :) ). Violet read 9 more chapters of Pinocchio, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" from The Blue Fairy Book, and "How the Rhinoceros Got It's Skin" (I believe it's called) from Just So Stories.


Jessie is very excited to be nearing the end of memorizing 1 Corinthians 13. Only one more sentence to go! Yeah!! Violet's making good progress with the 23rd Psalm and is a little ahead of Jessie on our poem. I'll give her a couple more days next week to cement it in her mind. Hopefully by then, they can both move on together.

Jessie is loving Latin for Children. She loves the DVDs and the activity book. This week I also gave her a parsing exercise from the free worksheets that can be downloaded from the CAP website. She did an excellent job.

I mentioned at the beginning that we also learned some Spanish and sign language this week in the van. We don't have a formal program for either right now and are simply starting out by learning both alphabets. I think I'll see if I can ILL one of the Signing Time videos through the library. For Spanish, I don't know what are next step will be yet. I'd like to focus on vocabulary and common phrases this year.


This week in history, we read about the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. The assigned biography of the week covered Sacagawea. The booklets on the left cover Lewis and Clark as well as Sacagawea. In addition to these two we also added Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase to our time lines. Our map work covers both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Jessie helped Violet with the map by holding the papers up to the window so she could easily trace my outline of the Louisiana Purchase. I also only required Violet to draw the path of Lewis and Clark going to the Pacific Ocean while Jessie's map included the return trip as well.

For science this week, we studied ants and bees. The girls felt sorry for the male ants and bees who don't live very long. Benny was glad that he wasn't an ant or a bee for the same reason. The booklet for ants focused on how an ant colony is started as well as what the different jobs are for the worker ants. The bee booklet focused on honeybees covering what the hive is made of, what different bees eat, the different jobs of worker bees, and how to make honey. We did read about bumblebees and Africanized bees as well, but didn't include either in our booklets.

Benny's PreK

On Thursday, we introduced the short i sound in Phonics Pathways. Friday, Benny did great using the sound in our little vowel game. He still occasionally mixes up the short e sound with either the a or the i but is doing much better. This week's reading covered South Korea and tigers. I'll put up the list of books and a link for the tiger craft tomorrow. Benny was very excited about his craft this week. I believe he asked me every single day if we were going to make his tiger that day. Today Benny asked me to cut out the head and the piece of meat. Everything else was cut out by him. We worked together gluing all of the pieces. He started coloring on it some as well while his sisters were working on there maps. I promised him we'd take another picture when he finished coloring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Exploring the world with Benny: Week 1

Rather than add a booklist to my weekly report every week for Benny, I've decided to post what we're reading separately so that I can go back and pull it up more easily. Our book selections come from the available library resources for each country under the subjects of juvenile folklore or juvenile fiction. For our animals, I try to pick at least one science book and then a few fictional books as well. Last weeks topics for Benny were China and panda bears. Here a look at what we read.

For China:

  • Dragon Prince : a Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
  • The Enchanted Tapestry : a Chinese Folktale by Robert D. San Souci
  • The Luminous Pearl : a Chinese Folktale by Betty L. Torre
  • Rabbit's Gift : a Fable from China by George Shannon
  • The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
  • The Story of Chopsticks by Ying Chang Compestine
  • The Story of Kites by Ying Chang Compestine
  • The Story of Noodles by Ying Chang Compestine
  • The Story of Paper by Ying Chang Compestine
For Pandas:
  • Giant Pandas : Gifts from China by Allan Fowler
  • Milton the Early Riser by Robert Kraus
  • Pi-shu, the Little Panda / John Butler

Friday, August 22, 2008

Week 3: Adding On...

Another week finished and a few more subjects just begun. This week we added on American history starting at the Constitution, picked back up with insects from Exploring Creation with Zoology 1, and ventured into our new Latin program, Latin for Children A. It's been a good week overall and we've gotten a lot accomplished.


Jessie finished up numbers to 100,000 in the textbook and workbook and moved on to the corresponding section in the Intensive Practice book. Her favorite exercise of the week is on the left. It's been nice starting at the beginning of a year of math with an easier topic. Her CWP book is going very well. We started our first section of challenging problems this week. I did have to help her set up diagrams for one problem, but otherwise she's been doing fine on her own.

Violet is thrilled to finally be working in her 2B books. The first section is entitled addition and subtraction. For the first part of the week, we worked on finding the missing number in a number sentence. For the second half of the week, we started working on some mental math strategies for addition. Violet has done very well for the most part. The work is a bit slow for her at times simply because she hasn't finished memorizing her addition facts. A few of the mental math problems she chose to work out on her dry erase board instead of in the book, which is fine with me.

Our biggest problem with math this week was trying to keep the girls at the table together. Jessie wanted it quiet, yet she kept humming and looking over at Violet's books. Violet finds it easier to do mental math if she talks outloud to herself. They also seemed to have a hard time staying at the table a couple of mornings to finish their work. So I guess the plan for next week will be to have one work at my desk (which I'll have to clean up over the weekend) and the other at the table. I might also have them run a few laps before we get started Monday to see if it helps their concentration.


As far as memory work goes, both girls have finished up the poem that they were memorizing and have begun a new one entitled Don't Give Up. I believe I pulled it out of the R&S 3 grammar book. Jessie is still plugging steadily away at 1 Corinthians 13, while I have Violet starting to work on Psalm 23. We've been reading aloud the book A Cabin Faced West in the afternoons. It's nice to simply share a book together as a family. I would say the favorite part of the book was when one brother threw cold water on the other after catching him in a complaint. Grammar and spelling are going well for both girls. Jessie is still using the scene when Lucy first goes to Narnia for dictation. Violet has been copying the poems from her memory work. On the right is the second stanza from Don't Give Up. Our assigned reading program seems to be working out well. Jessie continued on in Pollyanna, read The Tempest from Tales from Shakespeare, and The Law of Authority and Obedience from Parables of Nature. Violet is starting to enjoy Pinocchio as she gets further along. She did a much better job of narrating her chapter from The Blue Fairy Book and told me that the chapter from Just So Stories about how the camel got his hump was funny. I'm glad to see her start to enjoy her reading more.

Our first week from Latin for Children has gone very well. Jessie loves to sing and chant her Latin vocabulary (even though it took her a few days to admit it). She had lots of fun using exercises in the Activity book as well. On Friday, I gave her a test that I created, and she did excellently with only two minor mistakes. It's good to see her enjoying Latin this year (and even hear her singing her Latin vocabulary to herself outside of school time).


This week we finished up TruthQuest AHYS1 covering the Constitution, Benjamin Banneker, and the founding of Washington D.C. We made booklet using our narrations for the first two topics. We also added timeline figures for the constitutional convention, Benjamin Banneker, and John Adams to mark his presidency. We may try to find a quick biography to read for John Adams next week before discussing Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Our other history project was to make a map of the United States after the Revolutionary War. The map I found online was very detailed, so I filled out a blank map with the information I was most interested in for the girls to use as a guideline. In order to fit the labels on their maps, both girls chose to abbreviation all of the state names. I thought their maps turned out very well.

In science, we finished up chapter 11 by filling in a crossword puzzle booklet covering insect defenses on Tuesday. On Thursday, we began chapter 12 with a general discussion of social insects and a few basics about the two orders of social insects in our trifold booklet.


Benny's phonics is coming along well. He is confident with his short a sound. His short e sound is correct about 75% of the time. After some initial resistance to playing the short vowel game from the book, he enjoys playing the game and even played a round with DH on Wednesday when he was off. We also started off on our geography theme this week. Since the Olympics are in China, we started with Asia for our first stop. This week we read stories and folklore from China as well as books about pandas. Benny has really enjoyed having all the new stories to read. On Friday, while his sisters were doing there history activities, we put together a panda face on a paper plate. My original plan had been a panda paper bag puppet. When I went down to get the construction paper this morning, I discovered that it had all been used up so we make a quick change of plans. I sat coloring black circles for the eyes and ears on cardstock while Jessie did her dictation. Benny cut them out, glued them on, and drew the nose and mouth. He loved the final result and wanted to make another one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our First Full Day!!

We're on week 3 now, but this was our first real day with our complete schedule. I prepared myself for whining, dawdling, grumbling, etc. (After all having an hour outside last week in the morning since there was no history or science was loved by all including me.) Do you know the day went great!?! It wasn't perfect. Jessie and Violet still chatted and dawdled over math. Violet complained about the history book I gave her to read. I did have to call Benny out of one room or the other a few times, but overall we actually stayed on schedule!! We got started with school at 8 after finishing our Bible time. Violet was finished by 12:15 and Jessie by 2:00. No headache, exhaustion, or frustration for Mom. The only thing listed that wasn't done this morning was making Latin flash cards. Yippee!! Or as Hannibal used to say on the tv show The A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Changing up literature... The Result

I must say that overall, I was very impressed with our first week of literature. I had a few misgivings about the Shakespeare book for Jessie so we discussed who the characters were on Tuesday before I handed her the book. She loved it and can't wait until next Tuesday for another story. I was impressed by her narration. She seemed to have a good grasp of the storyline despite my worries that it might be a bit hard for her. Jessie is also enjoying Pollyanna although a bit disappointed that I won't let her read through it any faster. I'm not sure what she thought about Parables From Nature, but she didn't complain about it. She did an excellent job with all of her narrations and loves the new literature format so far.

Violet was excited about reading The Blue Fairy Book. She's not as excited about the other two selections (she wants to read Pollyanna instead), but she isn't complaining about reading when the time comes. She is, nonetheless, off to a great start. I had some misgivings when I set up the schedule about having Violet read books one morning and not narrate them to me until the following morning. Tuesday, it took several questions to get her started talking about the first 3 chapters of Pinocchio. By the end of our discussion, however, both of us were surprised at how much she remembered. She had a little bit harder time retelling the fairy tale from The Blue Fairy Book to me on Wednesday. I'm wondering if she read the pages that I printed off the internet out of order towards the end of the story because they weren't put back in the folder correctly. This week I'll number the pages just to be sure, and hopefully it looks like the following week I should be able to get a copy from the library.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Changing up literature... The Plan

Our literature up to this point has always been fairly informal. We simply gathered round in the living room and read for 30 minutes. Sometimes I asked the kids what happened yesterday before we started and sometimes not. It's simply been fun (most of the time) to sit together as a family and have all the kids listen in. That said, I found it harder last year to find books that I thought would be appropriate for all my kids. Some books that I thought would be appropriate but challenging for Jessie would get set aside because they would have been over the head of her younger siblings. I also noticed that the girls seemed to be in a bit of a rut when it came to selecting library books. Violet always gets Magic Tree House or American Girls books. Jessie read her way through all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series (at least the original ones). I wanted to be able to challenge each of the girls at their own level and expand their reading interests and capabilities. I also wanted to improve the quality of some of the books they were reading.

To that end I spent a lot of time over the summer looking around on the internet for ideas on how to set up our literature for this year. I perused the,, and the 1000 Good books lists. Each of the sights had their own strengths in my opinion, so in the end as usual I found myself picking and choosing from among the different groups. From, I loved the challenge of some of the book selections, but I didn't want to overwhelm Jessie by starting her into the year 4 books. From ambleside, she's reading one selection from Tales from Shakespeare by Lamb on Tuesdays and one from Parables from Nature on Thursdays. Violet, in similar fashion, is reading The Blue Fairy Book by Lang on Tuesdays and Just So Stories by Kipling on Thursdays. The downside to the literature at ambleside is that I wanted the girls to cover more books in the year for assigned reading. The number of books listed on the Simply Charlotte Mason website seemed more reasonable, but the girls had already read over half of the books listed on their own. So I decided to try for 1 book every 4 weeks or so depending on the book. By having the girls reading the books only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I'm hoping to spread the books out enough that the story has some time to soak in and be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace than most of their library books. For the first 4 weeks, Jessie will be reading Pollyanna and Violet will by reading Pinocchio at a pace of three chapters a day. For Jessie that ends up being around twenty pages. For Violet, it is only about 8 pages or so, but the size of the pages is larger. Each of the girls has a scheduled time to read these books and a book or two assigned for history, which they will then narrate and/or discuss with me the next day during their one on one time after math.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 2: Warming Up...

Overall it's been a good week. We've added on our language arts components to our schedule. For Jessie that includes spelling, grammar, dictation, assigned reading with narrations, Classical Writing Aesop, and Reading Detective from the Critical Thinking Company. Violet's schedule is much simpler covering spelling, grammar, handwriting, and assigned reading with narration. We've had the normal boundary testing that occurs every year as the kids try to figure out what's expected of them and what they can get away with. After a relaxed summer, I knew it would take some time to reestablish our routine. Hopefully, everything will smooth out over the next few weeks. Here's a glimpse of our accomplishments for the week.

Jessie's been breezing through her math this week. We're still covering the first section on numbers to 100,000. This week we finished off rounding, discussed factors, and introduced multiples. Our new schedule of working 1 or 2 problems from the Challenging Word Problems book is continuing to be successful. Jessie's currently working in the review section at the end of the level 3 book so that we can cover the topics in the textbook before encountering them in the word problems book. Truthfully, the biggest problem we've had with math this week is the girls talking and goofing around instead of working because I'm in the other room with Benny and Henry. I may end up moving one of them to my desk to complete their work if things don't change next week.

Violet has been continuing her review of last year. We finished reviewing addition with renaming on Monday, spent three days reviewing subtraction with borrowing, and ended with onw of the review pages from the 2A textbook. She did very well for the most part. Friday she made several mistakes when she copied the problems out horizontally but was able to work the problems correctly when I wrote them for her in the vertical format on the dry erase board. I think we'll stay with my origainl plan of beginning the 2B book next Monday. We can always do a couple of review problems each day if I find she needs more practice.

We've had both successes and struggles with Jessie's language arts this week. The only change that we have made to dictation this year is to move from lined handwriting paper to regular wide ruled paper. I didn't actually time it, but it seemed that Jessie spent more time erasing this week than she did writing. The two main culprits seem to be a lack of focus and her sudden desire to have her handwriting look nice (perfect would be more accurate). To cope with the lack of focus, I've made the dictation a little easier by having her read the selection out loud one time before I begin dictating the sentences. Coping with the perfectionism is an ongoing battle across several subjects in school and other areas outside of school. I simply try to help her see the positive things she is accomplishing and remember to encourage her hard work to try to balance out her criticism of her own efforts. Grammar, spelling, and reading detective are off to a good start. I'm still not sure if I need to slow the pace down in her spelling book. We'll wait a couple of weeks and see how it goes. In Classical Writing, she did a nice job of narrating the fable back to me although we did have a slight power struggle when it came to making revisions. That leaves the assigned reading. This is a new addition for us this year. I'll write more about what we're doing and how our first week went this weekend.

Violet's language arts are off to an excellent start. The FLL lessons that I planned went well this week as we began our discussion of nouns. She needed a little help with her spelling lessons, but only missed two words on her test Thursday. Again, I may need to slow down the pace of the workbooks this year. We'll give it another week or two before making a final decision. She's doing well with her copywork even though I forgot to set up anything for her ahead of time. She knows how to correctly form all of the letters but still sometimes writes her M and N starting from the bottom. We'll stick with manuscript for another month or so even though she really wants to move on to cursive.

For poetry, we've started memorizing a new poem entitled The Shepherd which I'll add over on the left as soon as I get a chance. Jessie's finished the first stanza, and Violet finished memorizing the whole poem in two days. I added another short poem for her from FLL that Jessie already knows, Hearts Like Doors. This way I can still challenge Violet without making Jessie feel like she is behind.


Benny officially started Phonics Pathways this week. He spent two days learning the short a sound, and the remaining three figuring out the short e sound. He had a hard time correctly repeating the e sound after me. He kept saying either the short a or the short i sound for some reason. I'm not really worried about it though. It took the girls about 6 or 8 weeks to learn the 5 vowels sounds and confidently identify them when the letter was held up. We'll just go at whatever pace Benny is comfortable. We also practiced some counting up to 20. We counted toes one day and beads on the abacus another day. He is skipping from 14 to 18, but we'll work it out eventually. We read several random library books this week. Next week we'll start following more of a geography theme. (More about that later as well.) This morning he did some cutting in his Kumon book which I thought was really challenging, but he did a great job with a tiny bit of encouragement.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Almost Organized

It's our second week of homeschooling now. My plan was to add in the LA subjects. I was feeling confident on Sunday that I had everything ready. I had filled out the weekly assignment sheets for each of the girls. I had printed out Violet's Blue Fairy Book chapter and Jessie's chapter from Parables of Nature. I had read all of their assigned reading so that we could have discussions about it. (Besides, I'd never read Pinocchio or Pollyanna growing up.) All of the school books were in there baskets. Alas there are always a few details that slip my sleep-deprived brain. What did I forget this time?

When it came time for Jessie's dictation, I realized I hadn't picked out a passage yet. I grabbed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and quickly skipped to the part where Lucy goes into the wardrobe. Jessie took one look at the book and informed me that it was the wrong book. She wanted to write the description of the coronation from The Magician's Nephew before we moved on. Now why didn't I just think to ask her. Then I wouldn't have had to scramble.

As Jessie was writing her dictation, I decided to pull out Violet's spelling book so that it would be waiting for her. There was just one small problem. I forgot the sheet protectors. The plan was to reuse last year's sheet protectors. (Thankfully, I did know where to find them.) After all, for the most part they just needed a good cleaning. So there I was alternating between reading Jessie her next dictation sentence and cleaning sheet protectors. (At least I had enough foresight to clean a couple for Jessie spelling workbook while I was at it.)

I finished working with Jessie and stopped to look at the schedule to see what I'm supposed to be doing with Violet for the next 45 minutes. Memory work, math drill, and handwriting. Drat!! I forgot about the handwriting. I started Violet on her memory box and quickly ran down to the basement to grab a sheet of handwriting paper. Then I grabbed the new poem out of the memory box and started copying the first stanza while we finished her memory work and math drill. By the end of the morning, I was so tired of trying to remember what else I might have forgotten that I told Jessie we would wait to start her CW until today.

Oh well. We do the best we can. It will just take some time to settle in to the new routine. Maybe I should make myself a checklist before we add in new subjects next week.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lesson Plans: Streamlined FLL in 1 Year

I have a love/hate relationship with FLL. On one hand, I love the short lessons, and on the other I often wondered why I was working on narration skills and picture studies during grammar time. I love the concept of no lesson preparation, but honestly scripted lessons drive me bonkers. I liked learning the definitions of the parts of speech and memorizing linking verbs, helping verbs, and prepositions. The presentation of these components, especially during the 2nd grade year, felt a bit sporadic to me. Jessie and I both like to work on one thing until it is mastered. So towards the end of last year after I had given up on using FLL for Violet's 1st grade very early on, I went through the book to determine what it contained that I actually wanted Violet to learn. You can read the list of goals that I created here.
So armed with my list, I've gone through the book selecting lessons or portions of lessons that I felt best met the goals that I have listed. I rearranged the lessons into units covering one topic at a time, and added in a few ideas here and there to make the lessons more hands-on. To provide the review that we need, I'll have Violet copy each of the definitions as we encounter them onto index cards which will then go into her memory box that we use for Bible verses and poetry. For each lesson, I have listed goals for what I am trying to accomplish as well as the lesson numbers and page numbers from FLL which line up with those goals. The hands on activities column is still in its preliminary stages this year, but I hope to add on notes and suggestions as I work with Violet which can then be used with the boys as they get older. You'll find a link to the rough draft of my plans in the right hand column under lesson plans.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Week 1: Start Up Stretches

We've completed our first week!!! There have been ups and downs this week, but overall school has gone well. It feels great to start easing back into a more structured schedule.

For subjects this week, we began math not only because it generally takes the longest of any of our subjects but also because it seems to require the most focused concentration for the girls. During other subjects, they'll talk or glance at each other's work or talk to Benny. With math, they both prefer it to be quiet and complain about any noises or distractions. Jessie has started Singapore Math 4A. This week has been really simple as we worked on numbers to and then rounding numbers to either the tens or the hundreds. Violet is scheduled to start the 2B book, but before we jump in midway through a math year, I wanted to do some review. We did some mental addition and subtraction reviewing math strategies from the first grade books. We've really drilled her addition facts because I want her to feel solid on them before we reach the multiplication sectionin the 2B series. She struggled a bit at the beginning of the week, cried a few tears because Jessie had started new books and she hadn't, and finally seems to be finding her groove again.

Our other brain warm up for the week was a review of the memory work (Bible verses, poems, grammar definitions) that are in their memory boxes from last year. We shuffled around the cards so that anything that they needed help in remembering was moved forward to be reviewed more frequently. They both did a great job here. Next week, we'll start adding some new cards.

My final goal for this week was to finish up last year's history topics. We read about Deborah Sampson and Benjamin Franklin to start the week. On Thursday, we assemble booklets for all of the summaries that we have done sporadically over summer break. The booklets covered George Washington, George Rogers Clark, John Paul Jones, Molly Pitcher, Sybil Ludington, Patrick Henry, Deborah Sampson, and Benjamin Franklin. We also finished out timeline figures placing Franklin, Washington, Henry, Jones, Clark, and the battle of Yorktown. Today we assembled the lapbooks. The pictures running down the left are from Jessie, and Violet's are on the right. Jessie and Violet are still coloring in picture on their booklets, so I'll post pictures of their completed Revolutionary War lapbooks over the weekend.

Benny had a very light week. We read a few library books each day and reviewed the alphabet by matching letter magnets twice. One day I asked him to show me how high he could count. He made it to 30 with a bit of help between 15 and 20. He was thrilled to restart his schedule play times with his sisters and had a blast cutting paper scraps on Thursday. He made boats and skis for his sisters' paper dolls in addition to a multitude of tiny pieces of various shapes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Starting Back: Our First Day

After all the researching, reading, planning, scheduling, organizing, etc., it's finally here!! Our first day of school for the new year!!! I may not have finished all my planning work yet, but ready or not here we go....

At 7:00, I went back to wake the kids up. Jessie was just waking up. Violet and I played tug of war with the blankets for a minute or two until she woke up. Benny finally succumbed to the incessant tapping on his leg and opened one eye.

By 8:00, we had finished breakfast and were ready to start. Jessie and I started her first lesson in her new Singapore 4A books. After 15 minutes, Violet and I started working on some math drill and did some concept review. I check on Jessie only to discover that she's playing with baby Jonathan and sent her back to her math lesson. Then Benny and I broke out the letter magnets, matched them up, named them, and read a few random library books. Somewhere during Benny's schooling, baby Henry conked out on my shoulder. (He'd been up since about 6:30.)

At 9:00 (OK, 9:05 to be exact), we switched again. Violet and Benny disappeared to play castle. Meanwhile, Jessie and I went through her memory box, used a blank multiplication chart for drill, and wrote all of the capital letters in cursive (since I lost my notes on which one she needed to practice).

At 9:30 I sent Jessie off to practice piano and do her typing lesson, explained to Benny that he is supposed to play alone now, and sat down with Violet. We went through her memory box. I asked Benny to stop playing with the vacuum sweeper attachments. There was a brief pause while I went to get baby Henry out of the cradle. I told Benny to stop playing with the vacuum sweeper attachments (again) and go play quietly in his room. Then I watched Violet write the alphabet and noted which letters are written incorrectly. (Yes, those notes were on the same paper as above that disappeared mysteriously.) I had Violet do a few more math problems and sent her down to practice piano.

Since we aren't doing our full schedule this week, I had a few minutes to sit quietly and feed baby Henry. (OK, maybe not quietly). I explained to Jessie how to bring the computer screen back up so she can type. A few minutes later, Benny reported that Jessie made 7 mistakes on her first try. (Now I know what he's been doing.) I called to Jessie to try one more time and reminded Benny that he is supposed to be playing alone. Moments later I heard a dispute from the office and called Benny back into the living room with me until Jessie finished her typing practice. I reexplained for the 3rd or 4th time that after he plays with Megan he is supposed to play alone for 30 minutes. His reply, "OK. I can just hang out with you for 30 minutes." I tried explaining that next week, I'll be working with his sisters during that time and he's expected to play quietly in his room. I'm pretty sure that went over his head also.

At 10:30, we sat down to read about Deborah Sampson. That leaves Benjamen Franklin for tomorrow to finish up last years history reading. Baby Henry sat on my lap, and Benny was on the arm of the chair. Violet sat quietly on the sofa (most of the time) and listened (or maybe zoned). Jessie started out in the chair. Then she came over to look for pictures. Then she stood behind me to read over my shoulder. I asked her to come out from behind the chair, so she sat down on the floor and began making faces at baby Henry. I stopped reading again and sent her back to the brown chair. We finished the book (after I asked her to stop playing with the baby and sit in the chair a second time). I wrote down Jessie and Violet's narrations (we're going to have to work on listening carefully again), and we're DONE!!! Yeah!!!

It was a bit of a bumpy start, but overall not to shabby for a first day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Year at a Glance: Violet's 2nd grade

Here's an overview of what I have planned for Violet so far. The grammar lessons are ones I have put together using portions of FLL. Again history and science I'll update as I get to them.