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entirelysonja ([personal profile] entirelysonja) wrote2012-01-14 03:40 pm

Mid-year review: First Grade

My mid-year homeschooling review was yesterday, so it seemed like a good time to write up my reflections on the semester. The review itself was fine, and although I was annoyed not to get to meet with the same reviewer I'd met with last year, I was happy with the experience.

This academic year, we have co-ops on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is killing us. The co-ops themselves are great, but having them two mornings a week, back-to-back, is not working out well for the rest of our rhythm. Written schoolwork really only works for us in the morning, so it means we're only doing our regular schoolwork on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Erika is very routine-oriented, so the only day when school really goes well is Friday, since she had Thursday to get herself back into the habit.

It's not that she's not making good academic progress, but that things take her much longer than they should on Mondays and Thursdays. I'm probably going to devote Monday to working on a new approach for getting things done efficiently.

Anyway, as for the actual academic progress:


Erika has been continuing to read longer and more complicated books. Last week, she picked up the first Harry Potter book, and has been reading it with great enthusiasm.

For writing, we've been using Evan-Moor's "Daily 6-Trait Writing," the second-grade version. This is working out pretty well for us, and she always looks forward to writing. At the beginning of the year, we were doing copywork and dictation regularly, but those things have taken a back burner as we've been struggling with our rhythm.

Erika has also been learning to type, and is doing very well with it. She has learned to type all of the letters, as well as some punctuation marks.


Erika has learned how to add and subtract two-digit numbers, and is starting to work on three-digit numbers. She's also gotten quite good with time and money.

We've been mainly using the Math Mammoth blue series books, though I do also provide her with a daily problem from MEP.

She's also been using xtramath.org for arithmetic drills.


We did a lot of work on migration earlier in the fall, including watching the National Geographic "Great Migrations" series, reading some related books, and going to a Monarch butterfly day at a local nature center.

Other than that, we took a pretty loose approach to science last semester. Lots of museum visits, nature center programs, etc. -- but nothing particularly coherent. I'm not bothered by this, as I don't think Erika is getting an inadequate amount of science.

Here the kids are working with a lock at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia:

Playing with a lock

Surrounded by a soap bubble at the Boston Children's Museum:

Surrounded by a Soap Bubble

Social Studies

We did a lot of ancient history this semester -- I read out loud from Story of the World, Erika read related books herself, we did activities at our co-op, etc. We also went on some field trips, to the National Geographic museum and to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

This has been the big source of "fun" in our academic day, and both kids have been enjoying it.

One of the things we did this semester was mummify a chicken.

Early on in the mummification process, Karl and Erika are changing the salt:

Mummifying a Chicken

And the completed mummy, wrapped in linen:
Finished Chicken Mummy


This is another area where I didn't have a coherent plan for the semester, but a lot got done anyway. Erika did some sculpture, a lot of drawing, experimented with printmaking, did some painting, etc.

Here's an example of some art Erika did as part of our ancient history studies. A group of six kids each made their own terraces for the "hanging gardens of babylon." Erika's includes a section of the Euphrates River, showing how water might have been pumped up from the river to water the gardens.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Erika did this painting of a fox:


And here she is at the art museum:

Exploring nature in art


Erika continued to study the piano, and took up the recorder. We also sang a lot of German songs in our morning circle time.

She also went to a program on African drumming at the African Art Museum.

PE and Health

Physical Education was a major strength of our program this fall -- Erika took Yoga, Diving, and Karate. She played on a soccer team. She went swimming every week. She went bicycling often. She went to a climbing gym. And so on. She is definitely getting a lot of different kinds of physical activity and learning some great physical skills.

Taking her orange belt exam:

Erika's first belt test


Erika riding her new bike

With her soccer team:

Erika's Soccer Team Fall 2011

At the climbing gym:

Erika with climbing shoes

As always, we addressed health topics as they came up, and I feel sure this is adequate.


Erika is making excellent progress on reading German; at the beginning of the semester, it took her two or three sessions to read books considered to be on a second grade level, while now she can read the same type of book in fifteen or twenty minutes. These are books it takes me about ten minutes to read out loud, so I think her reading speed in German is coming along quite well.

Her teacher at the Saturday school seems pleased with her written work, and she came in first in the class spelling contest today.