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Erika's portfolio review for the semester is on Monday, so I spent the afternoon putting her portfolio together. Boy, did we do a lot of stuff this semester!

In the order it appears in the county documents:

English

This semester, I introduced Erika to silent reading. Previously, she had done all of her reading out loud. She wound up reading most of her science and social studies books out loud, whereas stories she read silently.

She read 32 books silently this semester, and is currently obsessed with Cam Jansen, having read the entire Young Cam Jansen series already. She's also been reading Magic Tree House books, and a few books that aren't part of a series. Dick King-Smith was a particular favorite author.

She also read 16 books out loud, mainly from the True Books series.

The portfolio also includes samples of Erika's writing, such as letters to her pen pal and stories she wrote.

A page from a story )

Health

I find it odd that Health is the second subject on the county form, but it is.

We mostly covered health by discussion, though Erika did learn about muscles, lungs, and the heart in her co-op, do a couple of science activities related to germs, and visit the dentist.

Our discussions were pretty far-ranging this semester, including illegal drugs, radiation, cigarette smoking, the dangerous E Coli outbreak in Germany, poison ivy, knife safety, growing food, and so on.

Math

Erika's math work this semester included numbers up to 100, bar graphs, money up to $1, basic fractions, basic measurement, and addition and subtraction within 20.

This is the simplest section of the portfolio, as I just provided a workbook page for each month along with a list of the materials we used.

Science

I had no idea we'd done so much science this semester until I sat down to put the portfolio together.

We studied Rocks and Minerals, including field trips to the Natural History Museum's Gems and Minerals exhibit and to Kartchner Caverns in Arizona.

We did some work with robotics and computer programming using Lego WeDo.

We studied the habitats, animals, and plants in the various parts of the world we covered in Social Studies. This happened to include the Galapagos Islands, providing an opportunity to discuss Charles Darwin and evolution.

With other kids, Erika explored a range of topics, inlcuding buoyancy, surface tension, germination, astronomy, and static electricity.

Erika watched the first two seasons of Beakman's World, several episodes of "Walking with Dinosaurs" and "Walking with Monsters," some Magic School Bus episodes, and the last couple of episodes of BBC's "Life" series.

And then there were more field trips, including the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, the Boston Children's Museum, the Harrisburg Science Museum, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, and Kitt Peak.

Some Science Photos )

Social Studies

The main thing we did for Social Studies was continue our study of countries around the world. We finished up Canada, moving on to China, Cameroon, and Brazil this semester.

We also did some introductory work on American history, covering prehistory through the precursors of the Revolutionary War.

We also watched the German children's news program, Logo!, about five times a week. It does a great job of explaining the major news items of the day in a way that kids can understand. Hot topics were the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan; unrest in the Middle East; and a major outbreak of a dangerous E Coli strain in Germany.

We also continued graphing temperatures here at home, in Canberra, and at the South Pole; we now have a nice graph from the end of August to the beginning of June.

A Social Studies picture )

Art

Erika went to the Stories in Art program at the National Gallery of Art three times, acted in a children's production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and produced a lot of art of her own.

A few of Erika's artworks )

Music

Erika had some piano lessons with John and a couple of recorder sessions with me. She also listened to the podcast series Classics for Kids about four different composers (Joplin, Beethoven, Mozart, and Stravinsky), and learned about different instruments and musical styles at our co-op.

Physical Education

Erika participated in Takoma Park Soccer this spring, and did Karate through the county rec department all semester. We also went swimming once a week, visited playgrounds, etc.

Phys Ed Pictures )

German

This isn't part of what the county cares about, but I'm going to include it for completeness.

Erika made a lot of progress in German this semester. She finished the Einsterns Schwester 1 series of workbooks, read the accompanying reader, and read a number of other books in German.

She also attended the German School's Saturday program, where she was a diligent student.

Her reading in German lags a bit behind her reading in English, but is certainly entirely adequate for a child her age.

She's now working with great enthusiasm on learning the German style of cursive, and I just ordered a bunch of additional books from Amazon.de.

Reflections on the year

I feel like we've had a really great first year of homeschooling. Having Karl in preschool gave us a chance to develop a good rhythm and a defined time to do schoolwork,though it also put major constraints on our schedule.

Over the course of the school year, Erika's reading has improved dramatically. At the beginning of the year, she could read books with about 1000 words, and often needed help with several words on each page. Now, she can read independently books like the Cam Jansen series and the Magic Tree House series, both of which have about 5000 words. She sometimes even reads an entire book of this type in one sitting.

Her letter formation and stamina for writing have also improved considerably. Her spelling seems entirely adequate for a student at the end of Kindergarten.

Erika's addition and subtraction skills are vastly better than they were at the beginning of the year. She has an excellent grasp of all of the addition and subtraction facts up to 10, and is doing really well with addition and subtraction up to 20.

She's also learned so much about the world around us -- about geography, science, history, etc. I do feel that she's still not quite ready for history, but we'll see how that goes when we start pursuing it in more depth next year.
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Things were really relaxed around here this week; I think the whole "end of the school year" thing is taking over. Erika has a pretty good grasp of what we do for "school" by this point, and she's been taking a lot of initiative, so I've been letting her run with it.

English

Erika read three Young Cam Jansen books this week, and finished reading a Magic Tree House book and a book about Llamas.

She also wrote her first Postcrossing postcard, and also wrote a story. Picture of first page )

Math

This week in math, Erika started studying more difficult subtraction problems, such as 15-7, using the technique of subtracting down to 10 first. So 15-7 would be converted to 15-5-2. She only did two pages in Math Mammoth Add & Subtract 2a (39 and 40), but we also worked with this on a couple of other occasions. Picture of Erika doing subtraction on the whiteboard )

Erika also played Yoku-Gami several times.

Social Studies

We didn't do much in this area this week -- Erika did finish reading that book about Llamas, and she worked on memorizing various geography stuff in Anki, but that was about it.

Science

Erika watched Beakman's World several times, watched more of the documentary series on South America, and went on a nature walk.

Art

Erika did a lot of drawing on her own this week. I was particularly amused by the pizza. Picture of pizza )

Music

Nothing beyond playing "Pluto Plays Music" on the iPad. Which does actually count for a little.

John plans to refocus his energy on piano lessons for Erika once Karl is no longer going to preschool, which will relieve a lot of time pressure in our schedule.

Physical Education

Lots of PE this week: Swimming, Karate, playgrounds, and the last session of Soccer for this semester.

Health

Nothing going on here this week.

German

German was Erika's major interest this week. She always wanted to work on German first, and wound up doing 11 pages in her workbook. She also read a story from the accompanying reader, did her homework, and attended class on Saturday.
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Last week, we were on vacation in Arizona, while this week, we got back into the swing of things academically.

The Arizona trip was mainly for my cousin's wedding, but we also managed to get quite a lot of sightseeing in.

English

While we were on vacation, Erika didn't do that much reading of books, but she did read more than half of a BrainQuest deck and quite a lot of information on displays at zoos and the like. She also wrote postcards and did other incidental writing.

After we got back, she finished reading The Nine Lives of Aristotle and read two Young Cam Jansen books. She also started writing a "chapter book" about the six lives of Meowy.

Math

Erika continued work in Math Mammoth Add & Subtract 2a, completing through page 38. She also did work on geometry, fractions, and money this week.

The coolest thing that happened in math was our discovery of Reiner Knizia's Yoku-Gami for iOS devices. It is a fun game, and provides LOTS of practice with addition. To my mind, this is the ideal type of educational game, in that it's worth playing regardless of its educational value.

Social Studies

We did a bunch of Social Studies things while we were on vacation, including:

Back at home, I read out loud from A School Like Mine.

Science

In Arizona, we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Reid Park Zoo, Kitt Peak, and Kartchner Caverns. Whew! Erika learned about the plants and animals of the desert, the climate of the desert, astronomy, and the formation and preservation of caves.

Pictures )

Back at home, we continued our studies of South America by watching more of a documentary, and I read out loud from Der Regenwald. Today we went to the Natural History Museum and paid special attention to South American animals.

Erika also watched several episodes of Beakman's World this week, and saw interesting insects at the Natural History Museum.

Art

Erika did enormous amounts of drawing while we were on vacation. We had to buy her more drawing paper! She also drew with me at the Natural History Museum today.

Picture Erika drew of the Earth in space )

Music

A weak point, though Erika has been playing Pluto plays Music on the iPad.

Physical Education

We did a lot of swimming in Arizona, plus some hiking. Back at home, we've visited playgrounds, and Erika has had Karate and Soccer this week.

Health

At our co-op this week, the topic was muscles. Erika also watched a segment in the German children's news about healthy diet and exercise.

German

Erika finished book 5 of Einsterns Schwester 1 this week, and moved on to book 6. She read one of the stories in the accompanying reader. She also did some copywork, and a lot of homework for her class. She attended German School on Saturday.
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Well, I seem to have gotten really behind in posting weekly updates!

The last two weeks, Karl has been at home on spring break, but we have continued to do school anyway. Partly, this is because we are going on vacation to Arizona this coming week, and partly, so that the kids could understand what it would mean for Karl to be at home during school next year. Both of the kids had lobbied to have Karl at home next year, and we eventually decided that if he really didn't want to go to preschool next year, we weren't going to make him go. We hope that not having our schedule dictated by taking Karl to and from preschool, which takes 3 hours a day, will make things better for the whole family.

During this three-week period, I also took Erika on her first solo trip to Boston. She doesn't know enough about American History for it to be worth visiting the historic sites, but we did go to the New England Aquarium and to the Children's Museum.

English

Erika finished two Magic Tree House books, The Knight at Dawn and Mummies in the Morning. She also started reading Dick King-Smith's Aristotle and Pirates Past Noon, the next Magic Tree House book.

In non-fiction, she finished reading Antelope by Melissa Stewart, read the entirety of Monkeys of Central and South America by Patricia Fink Martin, and started reading Llamas Emilie Lepthien. All of these are part of the True Books series.

She also wrote a letter, did some copywork, wrote and performed a puppet show, and went to a library storytime.

Math

Erika finished pages 25-36 of the Math Mammoth Addition & Subtraction 2a book. This section of the book covers adding two numbers where the answer is more than 10, for example 6+8 or 9+7. I think Erika is starting to get the hang of decomposing the smaller number in these examples to change the problem into 4+10 or 10+6.

I've also had her using IXL for practice with other topics. She's been primarily focusing on time and measurement there. She's been using the LÜK first grade math book for arithmetic practice, too.

Social Studies

We started transitioning from our study of Africa to a study of South America. We watched some more of National Geographic: Africa, but also read from Children Just Like Me and A School Like Mine about kids in Brazil and read from the atlas about South America.

On our trip to Boston, we went to the Children's Museum, which has many interesting exhibits related to both Science and Social Studies. There is an entire Japanese house inside the museum, so kids can see how people live in Japan. Erika particularly enjoyed shopping and playing cashier in the pretend store. Pictures of Erika in the store )

Science

In our usual studies, I continued reading out loud from Der Regenwald, a book about rainforests worldwide. When Erika was sick for a couple of days, she discovered Beakman's World on TV, which both kids have really taken to. We've also been watching the BBC Atlas of South America, and we watched bald eagles feeding their chicks on one of the bald eagle cams.

Probably the coolest science thing we did during these three weeks was visit the New England Aquarium, where Erika got to see penguins, sea turtles, sharks, etc. We also took a particular interest in the Amazon exhibits, since they relate to our current studies.

The Boston Children's Museum also had a lot of great science stuff. Erika particularly enjoyed the bubble area, where she got to make a huge bubble sheet. Picture of Erika making huge bubble sheet )

Erika also visited the science museum in Harrisburg during these weeks.

Art

Erika did a lot of drawing on her own during these weeks. During our co-op this past week, the kids did some collaborative storytelling, made paper puppets on popsicle sticks, and put on a puppet show using their puppets. The kids did a great job of coming up with a story for their puppet show that incorporated everyone's ideas.

Music

I'd say music was a weak point during this period. Erika listened to some episodes of Classics for Kids, had a recorder lesson with me, and played the piano on her own.

Physical Education

We had a lot of nice weather, and consequently, a lot of time spent outside. We went to playgrounds a lot, the kids scootered, we went swimming, Erika had Karate and Soccer... lots of PE. Erika also had some fun experiences in Boston, both at the Children's Museum and at playgrounds. Pictures of fun Boston physical activities )

Health

Not all that much going on in the health department. We worked in the garden growing food. Bacteria and allergies both came up in conversation.

German

Erika ALMOST finished the fifth book (out of six) in her German curriculum. She left the last two pages, which are pretty easy, for when we get back from vacation. She went to Saturday school once, did homework, and read two easy readers: Ein ganz besonderer Ferientag and Ein Bär reißt aus. She wants me to buy her the rest of that particular series of books.
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I didn't get around to writing a weekly summary last week, so I've got two weeks at once. It was a pretty unusual couple of weeks, as John had the first week off from work, and we only had one "normal" day in the second week.

The big news last week was the Tempest -- Erika had two rehearsals that week, I finished making her costume, and the performance was on Sunday. Both sets of grandparents came, and I thought the whole thing went as well as could be expected, considering that no one in the cast was over the age of seven.

This week, we went to a nice program on mammals with Karl's class at Glen Echo Park, where the kids got to touch a cute African hedgehog.

English

In non-fiction, Erika finished reading Rocks and Minerals by Ann Squire, and also read Hippopotamuses by Melissa Stewart. She also started reading Antelope by Melissa Stewart.

In fiction, she finished The Invisible Dog, and also read three "Young Cam Jansen" books, Young Cam Jansen and the Ice Skate Mystery, Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth, and Young Cam Jansen and the Library Mystery.

Erika also did a variety of worksheets on subjects like verbs, spelling, homophones, proper nouns, etc.

She told me Friday that reading is her favorite part of school. Yay!

Saturday, she totally refused to stop reading "Young Cam Jansen and the Library Mystery" when it was time to get ready for bed, even though we told her she could keep reading it in bed after she brushed her teeth and put her pajamas on. John eventually had to forcibly remove it from her hands. I guess she was celebrating International Children's Book Day with particular vigor!

Math

Erika continued to work in the Math Mammmoth Addition & Subtraction 2a book, finishing pages 16-24. She also did a few individual pages from the Clock, Money, and Measurement books.

She also used the LÜK controller with the grade 1 math book a couple of times, and played some math games.

Social Studies

I finally finished reading the entries about children in Africa in Children Just Like Me out loud. We also watched the National Geographic: Africa episode about Ethiopia and continued our temperature graphing exercise.

Science

We didn't do much science at home during these two weeks, but Erika did learn about wild animal rehabilitation at Earth Scouts on Monday, about analyzing data at her homeschool science class on Wednesday, and about mammals on Karl's field trip on Thursday.

Additionally, she read non-fiction books about science topics (mentioned under English), I read out loud to her about rainforests from Der Regenwald, and she watched some animal documentaries.

She particularly enjoyed a National Geographic video on the relationship between lions and hyenas.

Art

Erika did a lot of drawing during these two weeks, and did drawing activities at her co-op the first week.

Of course, much of our time and energy for art was taken up with Shakespeare. I can't post any pictures from the actual play, but I do have a picture of Erika trying on her costume )

I'm really glad Erika decided to participate in the play, and I think it was a great experience!

Music

Erika had some piano lessons with John, and listened to a Classics for Kids podcast on Beethoven.

Physical Education

The most interesting thing that happened in Physical Education during these two weeks was Erika's first Karate class in the second session. She's now an "advanced white belt," meaning it's not her very first session of Karate, so she gets to spend most of the time practicing with the other advanced white belts and orange belts. She really enjoyed her first class in the new session, and remarked that there was a lot less waiting involved. I'm glad she's enjoying Karate!

I also happened to take a picture of Erika playing soccer )

Health

At our co-op this week, Erika learned about the lungs and the oxygenation of blood. They did a fun activity where the kids circulated construction paper "red blood cells" and had them pick up oxygen in the lungs and give them up in other parts of the body.

I also read a book out loud about not going with strangers, Jule geht nicht mit Fremden mit.

Sunday, we went to our community garden plot to weed, add compost, and plant carrot and leek seeds. We even found a few leftover carrots from last year poking up new leaves, so we harvested them.

German

Erika made good progress this week in her usual German work, read Franzi und das falsche Pferd, and watched various German TV shows, including our daily viewing of the children's news show Logo!

Erika didn't make it to her Saturday school class because she got carsick on the way there and threw up all over herself as they pulled into the parking lot. Bleah. On the up side, her teacher provided John with all of the work they were going to do in class, and she did it once she got home. They learned the names of common spring flowers, the parts of a daffodil plant, and read a couple of pages about springtime.
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Our week was primarily occupied with standardized testing.

Standardized testing isn't required in our state, but John and I both feel that the best way to prepare for high-stakes tests like the SAT is to be totally comfortable with standardized tests from a young age. We want our kids to have a positive attitude about standardized tests, and to view them as a fun challenge. It's also possible, depending on their development and interests, that they might wind up taking out of band tests as early as age 8.

The test I picked for this year is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. I had a choice between the Level 5 and the Level 6 -- one is intended for kids who are in Kindergarten, and the second is intended for kids in the first half of first grade. Since the level 6 test is normed for kids who have completed 7 months of Kindergarten through kids who have completed 7 months of first grade, and Erika is an older Kindergartner who is doing a fair amount of "first grade" work, I decided to have her take the level 6 test. I wanted to make sure the test had some questions on it that she did not know the answers to, and I also wanted the test to have a reading section, which the Level 5 did not have at the time I ordered it in February.

Anyway, I went into the week prepared for the possibility that I might wind up thinking the test was a waste of time, but I actually learned a lot in the testing process.

The kids are supposed to use a marker to keep their place in the test, but Erika didn't want to, and asked if she could skip that part. I was impressed with her self-awareness, as I realized when she asked that needing to manipulate the position of the marker was likely to distract her from actually answering the questions.

During the actual test, I found it interesting how much trouble she had paying attention to the questions, which I was required to read out loud. She took the test together with a friend, so I was able to see how much harder it was for Erika. The other girl simply listened to the question and marked her answer. Erika fiddled with her pencil, pulled up her pant leg to poke at her band-aid, stood up, etc. while I was reading the questions. Then she'd realize it was time to mark her answer, and rack her brain trying to remember what I said. Most of the time, she succeeded in remembering the question and marked a correct answer, but there were definitely times when she couldn't remember. I'd say that she probably missed 10% of the questions on the non-reading portions of the test because she didn't succeed in paying enough attention to the question. She also missed about 3-5% of the questions because she didn't know the answers.

The reading section was really easy for her, since she could read the questions for herself!

I'm sure that the actual scores on the test will be fine, so if I hadn't administered it myself, I don't think I would have learned anything useful from the process. It was really watching Erika's behavior during the test that provided me with useful information.

The one down side to administering the test myself is that Erika had trouble remaining silent during the test. Each section was about 15 minutes, and she had a lot of trouble not talking to me for that length of time! Based on her behavior with other adults, I'm sure that wouldn't have been an issue if someone else had administered the test.

Other Stuff

We intentionally didn't do our regular sit-down schoolwork this week, but life does go on!

At her co-op this week, Erika listened to a story and painted a scene from the story. At science class, the kids learned about plant growth and started an experiment involving sprouting beans. Both of my kids opted to study whether the amount of water the beans get impacts their sprouting and growth.

Erika also:

  • Participated in her Shakespeare rehearsal -- the performance is next weekend

  • Went to the last class in her Karate session. I feel that she's making really good progress!

  • Went swimming

  • Did some reading

  • Did a bunch of pages on mapping in a workbook

  • Wrote a story )

  • Did some math and reading with a friend (the friend was doing her schoolwork)
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We had a really good week of school, particularly in the areas of reading and German. Erika seems to be reaching a new level with reading, and I'm cautiously optimistic that she may start reading for pleasure sometime soon.

I spent the last two days of the week working on Erika's costume for the Shakespeare play during school time. Erika really wanted me to work on it, and agreed to do her schoolwork mostly independently so I could sew. That actually worked out surprisingly well!

English

Erika read all of Little Horse and Young Cam Jansen and the Missing Cookie, as well as finishing Lions by Ann Squire. She also started reading Dick King-Smith's The Invisible Dog.

The most notable thing was that she kept volunteering to read more than I required, and on Friday inserted reading in between German and Math. I've pointed out to her a couple of times that reading would be a good thing to put in between two kinds of written work, to break things up, but up to this point she's always wanted to put reading off until the end.

She also told me this week that reading was her second-favorite thing in school, after math.

I'll be interested to see how this develops!

Math

We started work in Math Mammoth Addition & Subtraction 2a this week. Right now Erika is learning about two-digit addition and subtraction (without regrouping) in more depth.

She also did some workbook pages on clocks.

Social Studies

We didn't spend much time on social studies this week. I read out loud from Afrika für Kinder erzählt, and we watched part of National Geographic's Africa series.

Science

Science was another weak point this week. All we really did was watch the Life episode about Primates.

Art
This section has been edited to reflect Sunday's happenings.

Erika participated in her Shakespeare rehearsal and did some drawing on her own.

We went to the Stories in Art program at the National Gallery on Sunday, where Erika learned about David Smith and made her own metal and wood sculpture. Pictures )

Music
This section has been edited to reflect Sunday's happenings

At our co-op on Wednesday, Erika learned a bit about the physics of sound, and listened to different musical instruments. The kids made a chart showing which instruments were most popular in our group.

We also listened to some Do Re Mikro, a German music program, and Erika had a piano lesson with John.

Physical Education

In addition to swimming and karate, Erika spent lots of time outside this week, taking advantage of the nice weather.

Health

Nothing, nada, zilch.

German

I usually expect Erika to do 9 pages in her Einsterns Schwester workbooks during the week. Typically, this is not one of her favorite parts of school, because it involves a fair amount of writing. This week she did half again that many -- 14! She also finished book 4 and moved on to book 5.

Erika also did her homework for German school and attended class on Saturday.

Edited to add: This week we also discovered that a German children's news program, Logo, is available as a podcast on our AppleTV. This makes it super-easy for us to watch it as a family in the evenings, so we've made it a post-dinner routine. I think it's a good program, and would probably be good for German language learners, too, because it explains all of the cultural context that a news show for adults wouldn't.
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Erika has not yet reached the point where reading a book generally seems like a fun thing to do with her free time.

I have seen signs lately that it may be coming, though. Several times recently, she has continued reading past her assigned block of required reading time. Yesterday, she told me reading was her second-favorite part of school, after math. Today she commented at the end of assigned reading time that she knew she didn't have time left, but she was just going to keep reading. She finished the book. Not a long book, but still...

Then in the afternoon, she read a book in the car for fifteen or twenty minutes.

I'll be interested to see how this develops.
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Even though Erika was sick for part of the week, it was a really good week of school overall.

Most notably, she finished the Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 book, which I considered to be the minimum I expected her to achieve this year in math. Of course we'll go on to do more math, but it seemed like a nice milestone.

English

Erika finished reading Little Horse on His Own silently this week, and Dinosaurs before Dark. She also read Cam Jansen and the Dinosaur Game silently, and started reading The Knight at Dawn out loud.

She also did a couple of workbook pages on spelling.

Math

The best thing this week in math was that Erika finished the Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 book. She didn't even give me any trouble about writing the equations for the word problems, which has been a source of tension lately.

We also did some work on money, and some drills. She's not really getting any faster with drills, which seems to be a problem of focus/attention, rather than a problem with her knowledge of the answers. I am trying to decide whether to ignore it, or whether I should be doing something about it.

I was thrilled this week to get an updated (electronic) copy of the entire Math Mammoth Blue Series books; I had written to the author asking what her upgrade policy was for people who wanted the new books that she's added to the series over the last year, and she explained that if I paid the difference in price between what the series cost last year and what it costs this year, she'd give me a whole new copy of it. The graphics in the new version are much improved, so it was well worth the $15, even though I won't need any of the new books anytime soon.

Social Studies

This week I read out loud from Afrika and A School Like Mine. We also finished watching the second episode of National Geographic Africa and started the third. Erika is particularly excited about the third episode because it features Cameroon, the country in Africa she is most interested in.

We also continued our US History studies by watching two episodes of Liberty's Kids.

Science

We did a science activity about classifying things at our homeschool science class. Both kids did a great job with it! I was actually particularly impressed with Karl's recounting of the classificiation system they came up with -- he explained it very clearly. Erika took great written notes about the exercise, too.

We also watched the fourth and fifth episodes of Walking with Dinosaurs.

Art

Erika did some drawing this week, along with another Mark Kistler online drawing lesson. She thinks he's hilarious.

I really liked a giraffe Erika drew this week. Picture of giraffe )

Music

All we did in music this week was listen to some Classics for Kids episodes on Beethoven.

Physical Education

Because Erika was sick three days this week, we didn't get out much. She was feeling well enough to go to Karate on Thursday evening, and had a great time.

Health

At our co-op on Wednesday, the kids learned learned about the heart and about the effects of exercise on heart rate. Picture of heart rate graph )

We didn't do a great job of measuring everyone's heart rate accurately, but it was good enough to get the general idea.

German

I read the book, Der kleine Drache Kokosnuss kommt in die Schule out loud. Erika really liked it; I think we will need to get more books in the series.

Erika also did several pages in the fourth Einsterns Schwester 1 workbook. I was very surprised by page 50, where the kids were expected to distinguish between the sound represented by "ch" in the word "Buch" and the sound in the word "Ich." The thing that's so odd about it is that it's practically impossible to pronounce the wrong sound in an actual word. As far as I can tell from considering a variety of common words, which sound is used is determined entirely by the surrounding phonemes. Anyway, Erika had no idea there were two different sounds involved, and I had to draw on my own knowledge of phonetics to explain it to her. I really can't figure out why the curriculum authors thought German first graders would benefit from distinguishing those two sounds from one another.
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Since Karl had the week off from preschool, I hadn't actually planned to consider this a week of school. But it was such an educational week, I may as well! We went on two field trips, read books, and watched a lot of educational videos.

English

Erika finished reading African Animals and Jenius. She continued reading Dinosaurs Before Dark out loud, and started reading Little Horse on His Own silently. She thinks the chapters are way too short.

She also happened to read Fox in Socks out loud, and did the Nora Gaydos Cinderella play together with a friend. She practiced her Shakespeare lines, and did a bunch of pages in a new workbook. Some were writing exercises, some spelling, and some reading comprehension.

Math

We only did one page of our regular math curriculum this week, but Erika did do a bunch of pages in a workbook, played an addition game, and added up numbers when playing games.

Social Studies

In honor of Presidents' Day, I read out loud from What Your First Grader Needs to Know about the Revolutionary War and George Washington. We also read a bit from the encyclopedia on Abraham Lincoln.

I read out loud from Exploration and Conquest, continuing my American history read-alouds from last week. Erika will be going with me to Boston in April, so I want her to have some understanding of American history before we go.

I also read out loud from Afrika für Kinder Erzählt, which we got in the mail this week.

Science

We started off the week with a Lego WeDo session, building the drumming monkey. Picture of Erika with drumming monkey )

Both kids had a great time with that!

On Wednesday, we went to co-op and science class, both of which happened to be studying water. The theme at co-op was surface tension, while at science class the kids experimented with buoyancy.

On Thursday, we watched the shuttle launch on TV, which tied in very well with our field trip on Friday to the National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy center. The Space Shuttle Enterprise is located there, along with a Space Shuttle main engine, Spacelab, and other Shuttle-related stuff. Since we've recently talked a lot about the Apollo missions, the F-1 engine (5 of which are used in the first stage of the Saturn V rocket) was also nice to see. Picture of Erika in front of Spacelab )

On Saturday, we visited the rocks and minerals exhibit at the Natural History Museum. One highlight of that visit was getting to touch one of the world's oldest rocks -- 3.6 billion years old, if I recall correctly! We also enjoyed the earthquake and volcano exhibits, and just looking at many different kinds of rocks and minerals.

Throughout the week, we watched a few episodes of Walking with Dinosaurs. This afternoon, we're planning to do some work with an electricity kit. Obviously, a good week for science!

Edited to add: As an extra bonus, we did an activity involving yeast and a balloon. The point of it is to see that yeast releases gas when it grows. Picture of inflated balloon )

Art

Erika made a sticker mosaic, did general drawing, and rehearsed the Shakespeare play.

Music

Music was a weak point this week -- we didn't really do anything here.

Physical Education

We didn't do anything planned, but there was a lot of outdoor play.

Health

I read The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses out loud this week.

German

We didn't do our regular German work this week, but I did read aloud from our new Grundschullexikon. Erika did do her homework for German school, and attended her class on Saturday.
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Aside from a kerfuffle over word problems, we had a great school week. I bought a subscription to some fun drawing lessons on-line, which we did almost every day. We also started a study of Africa, and spent a lot of time outdoors in the nice weather.

Next week is a vacation week for us, since Karl has the week off from school.

English

Erika continued to read Dinosaurs Before Dark and Jenius, the Amazing Guinea Pig. She also started reading African Animals as part of our Africa study.

She also did some copywork, had a lesson on nouns and verbs, and practiced her Shakespeare lines.

Math

Erika had a major meltdown this week over word problems, refusing to write down the equations although John and I have both explained to her that translating the problem into mathematical language is the main point of the exercise. I set aside the math, telling her we'd take the week off from math -- she wasn't a fan, since math is her favorite subject. When we talked about it, she eventually told me that the problems are too easy. I asked if it would help if the problems were harder, and she agreed that would be good. We did some word problems later in the week, set up so it would be impossible for her to solve them in her head. She was willing to write the equations, so a step in the right direction. We'll see what happens when we resume regular math work.

Erika did do some other math work this week from various workbooks, most notably a few pages on pennies, nickels, and dimes.

Social Studies

Our Africa studies got off to a good start this week. We read about Africa in our atlas, read a couple of books about tribal peoples, and began watching National Geographic's Africa series on Netflix streaming.

At our co-op this week, the kids did a geography activity -- they created a model of the playground where they met. Erika had a great time!

Science

Science was a weak point this week -- Erika watched a couple of videos, listened to me read out loud about animals from her DK Animal book, and read out loud herself from African Animals. The most interesting video was the first episode of Walking with Monsters, about the evolution of early amphibians. We're both looking forward to the rest of it!

Art

We had a lot of fun with Mark Kistler's Online Art Lessons this week. I bought a subscription through the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op after hearing about it from another homeschool mom. One of Erika's first drawings )

I think we've done at least six or eight lessons already.

Erika also went to her Shakespeare rehearsal, and tomorrow we're planning to go to the National Gallery of Art for another of their Stories in Art programs.

Edit: We did go to Stories in Art. I don't think it was the best one ever, but the project at the end was fun. Picture of Erika working on her project. )

Music

We listened to the last two episodes of Classics for Kids on Beethoven, and also listened to other Beethoven music. Erika also practiced the piano, and I hope she and John find time for a lesson tomorrow.

Physical Education

Swimming, Karate, and lots of outdoor play. I think we went to playgrounds five days this week! Photo of Erika at the playground )

Health

Erika went to the dentist this week, which I suppose falls into the category of Health. :-)

German

As always, Erika worked in her Einsterns Schwester workbook. She also listened to me read from the third Sams book, and read herself from Das Picknick im Wald. She did her homework for the Saturday school, and attended class.
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It was another successful and relatively uneventful week of school. Erika finished the Math Mammoth Place Value 1 book, and finished her first long silent reading book.

English

In English this week, Erika finished reading Violet Bing and the Grand House as her silent reading book. She started reading the first Magic Tree House book for her read-aloud book, and the Dick King-Smith book, Jenius, the Amazing Guinea Pig for silent reading.

We also started copywork this week, which Erika liked. She asked for more.

Math

Erika wrapped up Math Mammoth Place Value 1 this week, and continued with Subtraction 1. To break things up, I also had her do a page in her German math workbook. I changed the way she does math drills at the end of the week, having her do only the "test" in the iPod Math Drills software, instead of doing a practice exercise first. Her test got much faster that way; I think she'd previously been getting distracted by the time she got to the test. She also spent quite a while playing with the Rocket Math software on the iPod.

Social Studies

Erika updated her temperature graph and listened to me read aloud from DK Eyewitness China.

Science

Wednesday was packed with science activities this week, including a session on gravity at our co-op, static electricity at science class, and rocks at earth scouts. Whew!

During the gravity session, the kids took turns reading aloud from Gravity is a Mystery, which went well. The kids thought it was hilarious that the author kept asking if they weighed 60 pounds, since the heaviest of them weighs about 52 pounds.

Art

Erika did some watercolor painting and played Who What Where Jr.

Music

We listened to the first two Beethoven podcasts from Classics for Kids. She's also planning to have a piano lesson with Dad today.

Physical Education

I actually took a picture at Karate class this week. Picture of Erika at Karate class )

In addition to Karate, Erika played in the snow and did a lot of running around with other kids, playing hopscotch and freeze tag indoors.

Health

Nothing specific in the health department this week.

German

Erika completed her usual work in the Einsterns Schwester workbook, did her homework for Saturday school, listened to me read aloud from the third Sams book, and went to her Saturday class.
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We had a fairly peaceful, uninterrupted week of school last week. Highlights included Erika reading her first book in German, and a field trip to the Air & Space Museum.

English

Erika finished reading Big Cats out loud this week, and continued with Asia. She also kept reading Violet Bing to herself.

In addition, she practiced her Shakespeare lines and wrote a letter to her pen pal.

Math

Erika kept working in Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 and Place Value 1. She's almost at the end of Place Value 1, working on bar graphs and counting pennies, nickels, and dimes. In Subtraction 1, skipping some of the pages that are mainly intended to practice subtraction facts seems to be working well for us.

I also gave Erika a math puzzle this week, and was pleased that she stayed calm and let me help her identify strategies for solving it.

Social Studies

I continued reading out loud from the DK Eyewitness China book, read You Wouldn't Want to Work on the Great Wall of China, and started You Wouldn't Want to be in the Forbidden City.

Science

We did a couple of rocks and minerals activities this week -- we made a sedimentary rock using sand, salt, and water, and separated materials into layers by shaking them in a tube filled with water.

We also watched some of Wild China.

The big excitement was our trip to the Air and Space Museum on Sunday. Before going, we watched parts of "When We Left Earth," so everyone was very enthusiastic about the Apollo program stuff and space exploration in general. Picture of Erika in front of a moon rock )

The kids also participated in a program involving a paper airplane contest. Photo of Erika throwing her paper airplane )

Art

Outside of Shakespeare rehearsal, not much went on in the art department. Erika rehearsed without her script for the first time.

Music

At our co-op this week, Erika learned about Jazz, Blues, and Rock and Roll Music, in honor of Black History Month. We also wrapped up the Classics 4 Kids segments on Scott Joplin, and Erika practiced the piano on her own.

Physical Education

Swimming, Karate, romping around in the snow.

Health

Erika finished observing the second of our mold-growing experiments, and wrote up her results. She determined that mold requires water and heat to grow.

German

Erika read her first German book this week. It was a first grade reader, Finn und Lili auf dem Bauernhof. I was impressed by how well she did with it!
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Despite the snow, which caused Karl to have two days off from school and our house to have no power for 38 hours, we still managed to get a decent school week in. Highlights included starting to learn about counting money, lots of time at the piano, and our first trip to the Stories in Art program for this academic year.

English

Erika continued to read Violet Bing for silent reading this week. She also kept on with Big Cats for reading out loud, and started another difficult title, Asia. I continue to be impressed by Erika's enthusiasm for reading books that I think are really too difficult for her. She's not at all fazed by encountering several words on a page that she needs help with.

Math

Erika finished major sections of both Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 and Math Mammoth Place Value 1 (page 39 in each book) this week. I decided to have her skip some of the pages in the next part of Subtraction 1, because while she needs some additional work on basic subtraction, she has a sufficiently good grasp of the addition facts within 10 that she doesn't really need that much subtraction drill. The remainder of Place Value 1 is about things like counting money and graphing, which is interesting and fun. Erika enjoyed learning to count pennies, nickels, and dimes this week.

Social Studies

We did some more reading in the DK Eyewitness China book this week, and Erika watched more of the Wild China video. She also started reading a book on Asia, mentioned under English.

Erika also went with John to have the emissions tested on one of our cars this week, and learned about utilities through our real-life experiences with the storm's aftereffects.

Science

Erika watched a couple of Magic School Bus videos this week, one on Volcanoes and one on Ants. Unfortunately, our science class was cancelled this week due to snow.

Art

At our co-op on Wednesday, the kids learned about perspective, studied a couple of pictures by Henri Rousseau, and made their own collaborative artwork. Picture of completed project )

Today, we took the kids to the National Gallery of Art's Stories in Art program. They learned about Alexander Calder and viewed his Little Spider, listened to a book about a spider who is an artist (Sophie's Masterpiece), and made their own mobiles using embroidery hoops and wire.

Music

Erika worked with John on the piano three times this week, and practiced on her own several times.

Physical Education

This was a weak point this week, as we neither went swimming nor had a Karate lesson. There was some playing in the snow, though.

Health

We started the second experiment from the Magic School Bus Germs kit. This was derailed a bit by our power outage, as part of the point was to see what happened with mold in a warm vs. a cold environment, but I think it will still come out OK. We also did the third experiment, about what yeast needs to grow. This didn't work out that well using the materials provided, but once I used larger containers, more water, more yeast, and more sugar, it all turned out the way you would expect.

Erika also heard more of the Magic School Bus book about bones read aloud.

German

Erika did 7 pages in Einsterns Schwester 1's fourth workbook, heard me read aloud from her Conni book, did her homework for the Saturday school, and went to class.
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We didn't really get that much done this week, as Karl was only in school two days, and one of those days was his school birthday party, which Erika and I needed to be there for. Monday was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Tuesday a snow day (and Karl's actual birthday), Wednesday his rescheduled school birthday party, and Thursday a doctor's appointment. Friday morning Erika had her Kindergarten co-op, rescheduled from Wednesday because we wouldn't have been able to make it then. All of this adds up to NO regular school days for Erika this week.

I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a short week of school, I just didn't know how short. We got about half as much done as we aim for in a typical week. I didn't set out to accomplish anything in particular, and worked without a checklist this week.

English

This was our biggest area of strength this week. Erika did one lesson in Funnix 2 this week, and thought it was fun. Funnix 2 has the kids reading a couple of pages of a carefully graded story each lesson, so I took the opportunity to determine that she read 52 words in one minute with no errors.

She also read part of Ivy and Bean out loud to John before bed, read her Shakespeare lines several times, and read a book about cougars out loud to me in the car.

For silent reading, she read Nate the Great and the Big Sniff in two sittings, and started reading Violet Bing and the Great House, a much longer book.

Math

Erika did page 37 of the Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 book, and also did pages 37 and 38 in the Place Value 1 book. This section of the Place Value 1 book is an introduction to the idea of making additional 10's out of the 1's when adding several numbers together, in problems like 35+18+27= ?. It's very much a surface treatment of the subject, just intended to get the idea percolating in kids' heads for the future. I find it interesting that Maria Miller included this idea here, and figured we'd go ahead and do it even if I wouldn't have thought of doing it myself.

Social Studies

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, I read the relevant section out loud from What Your Second Grader Needs to Know. I have the whole series of these books, picked up one at a time at the Wheaton Library used book store, which makes it easy to find short, easily understood readings to introduce subjects like this. We also listened to part of the "I Have a Dream" speech, and talked about the civil rights movement.

We also continued reading the DK Eyewitness: China book this week, finished the American History readings in What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, and heard some volcano myths at our Kindergarten co-op.

Science

I took Erika to the Natural History Museum on Monday, where we looked at the dinosaur fossils, the ice age exhibit, and sketched a couple of Chinese mammals.

At our Kindergarten co-op on Friday, Erika learned about volcanoes. I'm actually not sure of everything they did, because I was only there for about half of it.

Art

As usual, Erika did some drawing this week. She also went to a rehearsal for The Tempest, and was sad when it was over! drawing of Chinese Water Deer )


Music

All we've done this week so far for music is listen to an episode of Classics for Kids on Scott Joplin. I'm hoping John and Erika will get around to doing a piano lesson, but because we're so busy preparing for Karl's birthday party tomorrow, I'm not sure it will happen.

Physical Education

Swimming. Karate. General running around.

Health

Erika is learning about the bones in the human body by listening to us read The Search for the Missing Bones.

German

Erika read most of the third section in Lesespaß mit Lola. She also did five pages in the fourth Einsterns Schwester 1 workbook, did her homework for her Saturday German class, and went to class.
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Erika was in a lousy mood most of the week, so we had a bit of a challenging time with school. Both of us knew why she was in a lousy mood -- she was tired -- but we were unable to solve the problem. When I talked with her about possible solutions, her response was along the lines of, "but mom, I don't want to take a nap or go to bed early, because I like to do stuff!" Sleeping in isn't an option, both because it doesn't work with our family's schedule, and because she gets up before she's actually fully rested even when she has the chance to sleep in.

We had a lot of trouble getting as much done as I would have liked, because everything that involved any kind of writing took about 3 times as long as usual.

Anyway...

English

Erika finished reading "If I Ran the Circus" for her silent reading book this week, and also read, "What the Ladybug Heard." She started reading "Ivy and Bean" out loud, and also read her lines for The Tempest several times. Our Shakespeare group had its first rehearsal.

Erika also wrote a letter to her pen-pal this week.

Math

Erika caught up to where she'd been before the winter break in the Math Mammoth Place Value 1 book, completing page 35 for the second time. I feel as though the knowledge is fairly secure at this point. She also continued in the Subtraction 1 book, completing through page 36. Math drills were on the slow side this week, which is not surprising considering Erika's general lack of focus all weekk.

Social Studies

We continued our study of China this week, reading the relevant entries from "A School Like Mine," the entirety of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China, and part of the DK Eyewitness book on China. We also watched some more of the Wild China video.

Science

We did a lot of science this week!

At our Earth Scouts meeting on Monday, the kids learned about how caves are made by water, and got to crawl through a pretend cave system, taking the role of water eating away at the soft rock. Coincidentally, we had seen part of the Wild China video earlier in the day about caves, which had discussed the same thing.

On Tuesday, we went to a friend's house for a session on force. The kids explored kinetic and potential energy, experimenting with rubber-band powered cars, catapults, etc.

Then on Wednesday morning at our Kindergarten co-op, the kids explored buoyancy by testing different materials to see if they float, and by filling a plastic container with various items to see how much weight would cause the container to sink. They then determined that this was approximately the same as the weight of the water that fit inside the container.

Wednesday afternoon, we went to the first session of our new homeschool science class, where the kids explored the idea that different liquids have different weights, and did a bit of chromatography.

Art

Erika did some drawing this week, and had her first real rehearsal for The Tempest. She also went to a puppet show of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Music

All we did this week for music was listen to an episode of Classics for Kids on Scott Joplin.

Physical Education

Phys Ed this week was mainly swimming, sledding, and Karate. It's too bad the karate class is at 6pm, because Erika's really pretty tired by then. Hopefully, it will work out OK.

Health

We read The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body this week.

German

Erika finished book 3 of the Einsterns Schwester 1 workbook series this week. Woohoo! She also started on book 4, did her homework for the German School, and went to class on Saturday.
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This was our first week back from winter break, and I thought it went very well. Erika didn't have any trouble getting back into the swing of "doing school," though she did seem to have forgotten everything she'd learned about place value.

English

I introduced silent reading this week. Up to this point, I've only had her read out loud, and she has not done much personal reading. For silent reading, we're spending 15 minutes each reading our own books. I'm letting her pick whatever she wants for silent reading, and encouraged her to pick something she thought was easier than what we usually read out loud. She picked "If I Ran the Zoo" by Dr. Seuss, which I think is actually pretty hard. The first day, she asked me for help or confirmation on a lot of words, but she's been asking less as the week progressed. I view this as positive, in that I think she's developing more confidence in her ability to figure it out for herself.

Karl asked for reading lessons this week, and since Funnix is available for free this month, I downloaded it and gave it a shot with him. I have no intention of teaching him to read at this age unless he continues to request reading lessons, but I'm happy to meet those requests when he makes them. Erika thought Funnix looked like so much fun that she wanted to try it, too. I gave her the placement test, and was not surprised that she placed into it at the highest level, lesson 57 of Funnix 2. I think she will probably find Funnix boring, but I am willing to let her do it if she wants to.

Erika worked a bit on learning her lines for the production of The Tempest she has a role in. I was amused when she called Karl an "insolent noisemaker" at one point during the week. She also finished reading "Bobcats," read a book called "Jack and the Box" at the library, and started reading "Amelia Bedelia Helps Out" to John before bed.

Math

When Erika did page 34 of the Math Mammoth Place Value 1 book this week, I realized she'd forgotten a bunch of stuff about place value. She suggested going back and doing some of the earlier pages again (what a great idea!), so she went back and did page 21 this week also. She also continued with the Subtraction 1 book, where she did pages 32, 33, and 34.

We also tried some interesting little 3-D block puzzles from McRuffy, which were challenging, and got back to doing drills on the iPod. Her times were slow at the beginning of the week, but got almost back to her top speeds by the end of the week.

Social Studies

I read out loud to Erika this week from the book, "What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know." I thought it was a good idea for her to have some grasp of American history at the most basic level, and living here in the DC area, even the most basic understanding can be expanded on as naturally as breathing.

We also began our study of China. It was my turn to facilitate the Kindergarten co-op this week, so I showed pictures of China, read "The Empty Pot" and the relevant section from "Children Just Like Me," looked at maps and at the globe, and did Tangram puzzles for a hands-on activity. Erika also started watching a series called "Wild China" that's available on Netflix streaming.

Science

Erika went to a nature center program about the value of dead trees this week. She particularly enjoyed making a woodpecker craft, and later in the week drew a picture that featured a dead tree with a woodpecker on it. Picture )

Saturday was very heavy on Astronomy; she went to a planetarium show in the afternoon, and in the evening the Earth Scouts had their stargazing field trip, which had been postponed from December. I set up my telescope, and everyone enjoyed looking at the moon, Jupiter, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Orion Nebula.

Today we went to the National Building Museum for the "Flying in the Great Hall" session -- a couple of times a year, a local model airplane club flies electric and rubber band powered airplanes in the huge hall there. The kids had a great time watching the planes and learning a little bit about how they fly. At home, we flew a remote controlled "flying saucer" I happened to have kicking around.

Oh, and she finally finished watching the "Plants" episode of the Life series.

Art

Erika did a number of drawings this week, but I feel like this was a weak point this week.

I've started putting a postcard of a well-known artwork on our school table; I plan to change it out every week or two. Right now it's a self-portrait by Van Gogh.

Music

This week, Erika had a piano lesson and listened to the first Classics for Kids episode on Scott Joplin.

She also had an abortive recorder lesson -- just when she got the first note right, I startled her and she banged her mouth with the recorder. Oh, well. I don't think it will put her off of trying again.

Physical Education

Despite the cold weather, we went to the playground several times this week. We also went swimming once, and Erika had her first Karate lesson.

She liked Karate, and is looking forward to doing it again next week.

Health

Nothing special here this week, though Erika did get back to her memory work in Anki. Some of that was safety-related information this week, like phone numbers, while other parts applied to Social Studies or Science.

German

Erika did her usual work in Einsterns Schwester this week; she's only a few pages away from completing workbook 3 of the 6-workbook first grade series.

I also read out loud to her from "Conni geht auf Klassenfahrt," and she went to her Saturday School class.
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This week was the last before our winter break. Karl's school is out of session until after the new year, so our home school is on break as well.

It was a good week, with considerably less stress than last week. I kept Karl home from school on Thursday due to snow, but did a full day of school with Erika anyway, which was a bit challenging for everyone.

English

Erika did some fairly challenging reading this week, finishing up Jaguars and starting on Bobcats. She also wrote a letter to her pen pal, listened to the story of Shakespeare's Tempest twice, and got yakked at about nouns. We'll see how much she remembers about nouns next time it comes up...

Math

We spent a lot of time in the Math Mammoth Place Value 1 book this week, learning about counting by various numbers, and particularly about counting by 10's starting from any number within 100. She also learned more about estimating, and solved problems like, "if a purse costs $23 and a sweater costs $48, approximately how much do they cost together?" The expectation here was that she round each price to the nearest 10 and then add them together.

Erika also asked me to start adding bigger numbers into her math drills, so she's now practicing sums up to 11 instead of 10. I plan to increase that slowly up to 20.

Social Studies

I read out loud from Wow! Canada three times this week. During one of those sessions, Erika colored in the flag of Canada. She also marked and colored some interesting features on a map of Canada.

Erika also did some work with the US states this week, assembling the GeoPuzzle of the US and Canada with only limited help, and playing the "Stack the States" game on the iPod.

Picture of Erika putting the puzzle together )

Science

In science this week, Erika did an activity on sediment layers and a ping-pong ball airflow experiment. Picture of ping-pong ball experiment ) She also visited the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, where she participated in a program about dinosaurs and enjoyed the exhibits. One particularly interesting thing was an owl skull displayed with a human skull, which made it easy to see all the differences between them.

I also read out loud about giraffes and tapirs from her Animals book.

Art

Erika did some drawing and crafts this week, nothing too exciting.

Music

Erika continued her study of the Nutcracker this week. She listened to the music several times, heard the classics for kids episodes on Tchaikovsky once, and watched part of the ballet on TV.

Her co-op this week was also on the subject of music, though since I wasn't there myself, I'm not really sure what they did!

Physical Education

Nothing unusual here - swimming twice, playground, playing in the snow.

Health

Erika watched three episodes of The Magic School Bus on the functioning of the human body and its response to infection. She also had her annual visit to the pediatrician.

German

Erika did her usual work in Einsterns Schwester, listened to me read aloud from the third Sams book, and read from an easy reader a couple of times.

She also went to her Saturday class, which was partially occupied with the Christmas festival. I thought it was charming -- some of the classes did group performances (including dad's!), several families performed on various instruments, and some individual students also played.
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We managed to get everything done this week in the end, but not without a certain amount of stress. Due to various circumstances, we were a bit behind going into Friday, and then she had a total meltdown that morning, getting only 30 minutes of work done. It was an unusual day, and we were trying to work in a library with John there. We wound up doing schoolwork from 5pm-7pm in our school room at home. Luckily, that went much better than I expected, just like a normal school morning. Yet another example of Erika's strong preference for working in the school room.

On Thursday morning, we tried something new. Erika's friend Grace came over, and the two of them did school together. We didn't work on our usual curriculum, but instead mostly played educational games. I thought it went really well, and both girls enjoyed it. The only real problem was that Erika prefers math activities, and Grace prefers reading, but they managed to agree to alternate. I think we'll probably do it again.

English

Erika finished reading Nate the Great Talks Turkey this week. She also read the last Bob Book, which she'd never previously gotten around to (The King), and started reading Jaguars by Ann Squire. It has a lot of words that are challenging for her, but she's fascinated by the information and is eager to read it.

She also team-read Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping with Grace when the two of them got together for school.

On the writing front, Erika wrote her last birthday thank-you note. Whew!

During her Shakespeare group meeting on Thursday, she watched a children's animated version of The Tempest, the play the kids will be putting on.

Math

Erika mainly worked in the Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 book this week. The most interesting exercise was one where she was expected to write word problems using a provided equation. It took some coaching, but she figured it out. She also practiced writing some of the numbers, and agreed that she would use the American style for both "1" and "7". I didn't care whether she used the American or the German style, but felt it was important not to use the German "1" with the American "7".

We also played some math games, and she did addition drills.

Social Studies

We continued our study of Canada this week, reading the relevant entries from Children Just Like Me, A School Like Mine, and the children's atlas, while also reading further in Wow! Canada.

Erika also heard a story from Thailand about the blacksmith in the moon, and listened to a Greek myth about Pegasus. This was part of our Earth Scouts meeting with an Astronomy theme.

During our Kindergarten co-op this week, the kids played a mapping game where they had to hide things around the room and mark them on a map for the other kids to find.

Erika also continued learning the locations and flags of countries in Anki.

Science

We started off the week with further work on the Lego WeDo bird. Erika programmed it to make a pecking noise when a motion sensor detected the beak down near the ground.

During the Earth Scouts meeting on Astronomy, we focused on the moon and on the constellation of Pegasus, both of which will be visible during our outing later this month.

Erika also watched more of the Life video, and listened to the book, Our Three Bears, about the three types of bears in North America.

We plan to visit the Air & Space Museum Annex tomorrow afternoon.

Art

During the Earth Scouts meeting, Erika created moon-inspired art. Moon Art )

Erika also played Who What Where Junior with Grace, did Christmas crafts at the German school, and engaged in acting exercises in her Shakespeare group.

Music

Erika is planning to do a piano lesson with John tomorrow. She's also been practicing on her own, entirely without it being required.

We listened to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker on several occasions, and may watch a movie version tomorrow.

Physical Education

We went swimming twice this week. Erika also started learning to hula hoop, and tried ice skating for the first time. Ready for ice skating: )

Erika's going to a birthday party tomorrow morning at a gym, so I'm sure that will involve many interesting physical activities.

Health

We talked about nutrition this week, and I introduced the food pyramid. Erika seemed to really understand the importance of eating a variety of foods, and was more willing to eat vegetables later in the week.

German

Erika did her usual work in Einsterns Schwester and listened to me read from Neue Punkte für das Sams. She also did her homework for the Saturday school and attended her class.
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Although the week wasn't without challenges, we did a lot of good work and got mostly back into the groove after Thanksgiving. Erika made a leap in her German reading this week, and did a lot of math.

Math

Erika did huge quantities of math this week. She made progress in Math Mammoth Subtraction 1 and Place Value 1, as well as some other miscellaneous stuff. She also did some pretty fast addition drills. Picture of Erika working on some math )

English

Erika worked on reading Nate the Great Talks Turkey this week, but isn't finished yet. It's at least twice as long as the other Nate the Great books we've read. She also wrote a thank-you note.

On a playdate this week, Erika's friend had something called Cinderella: The Play by Nora Gaydos. It included a book with the Cinderella story, and individual scripts for each of the characters. The girls read the book together, alternating pages, and then put on the play. They actually did the play twice, so they could take turns being Cinderella and the prince. Her father and I read the other parts, with a bit of help from our younger kids. I thought the whole thing was a lot of fun. Picture of the girls reading their parts )

Social Studies

Our main social studies activity this week was at our Kindergarten co-op, where a mom who lived in Cameroon for 10 years told African folk tales and taught the girls how to wrap a rectangle of fabric to make a skirt. They also danced to African music.

Other than that, we did some reading in the book, Wow! Canada, and Erika studied countries and continents in Anki.

Science

We started off the week by building another project in our Lego WeDo robotics set, a bird that can be tilted up and down and has wings that flap. There's a motion sensor in the tail, so you can program the WeDo software to do things in response to the sensor input. We got as far as having it make noise when the wings flap, but will be returning to the project next week. Picture of bird )

Erika and I also went on a nature hike this week, read a sweet book about seeds (A Seed is Sleepy), and watched yet another part of the Life series.

Art

I tend to count any kind of drama as an art activity, so the Cinderella play I mentioned under English counts here, too. Erika also went to the first meeting of a new homeschool Shakespeare group -- the plan is to put on a heavily modified version of the Tempest. The kids did some acting exercises and listened to a reading of a Tempest adaptation during the meeting. I think Erika is feeling too shy to have a speaking role in the play, but hopefully she'll have fun with it anyway.

We also visited the Smithsonian American Art museum, where we saw the Norman Rockwell exhibit. Erika was interested in the pictures, and I think we might go back again before the exhibit closes. We also took a look at some Paul Manship sculptures while we were there.

Erika also found time to do a lot of drawing this week, and made paper snowflakes.

Music

We listened to two of the Classics for Kids episodes on Prokofiev, and Erika plans to do a piano lesson with John tomorrow.

Physical Education

Nothing special here. Swimming, a nature hike, general running around outside.

Health

We found a tick on Karl this week, so we got to learn about ticks and Lyme disease. We also had a tour of the new fire station and talked about firefighting and fire safety. Picture of Erika at fire station )

German

Erika did her usual work in the Einsterns Schwester workbook this week, but the more interesting thing was when we were reading Conni sucht Kater Mau. This category of German books has all the nouns replaced by pictures. The way we usually read these kinds of books is that I read the text, and Erika fills in the words for the pictures. Only this time, she accidentally read one of the words after a picture. And then she started doing it on purpose, reading one or two words after each of the pictures, until she read the entire last page. Go Erika!

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