entirelysonja: (Default)
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.


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 )


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.


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


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


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.


Nothing going on here this week.


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.
entirelysonja: (Default)
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
entirelysonja: (Default)
Karl had Thursday and Friday off from preschool, so we terminated our formal school week on Wednesday. We also went to a museum on Tuesday, and had our co-op on Wednesday, meaning we only had time for sit-down schooling on one day. Next week will be our fall break, since Karl has the week off from school and we'll be traveling.


Erika got considerably faster on her addition drill this week, and doesn't seem to mind doing it. We did a mixture of Math Mammoth Place Value 1 and Addition 1 this week, along with a couple of pages in her German math workbook.

I was really impressed with her work in the Addition 1 book, which was on inequalities. It was all really easy for her, for which I credit all the work we did on the subject in MEP 1. The best thing was when she looked at this problem:

7 + 4 ___ 7 + 2

and said, "oh, that's easy -- I don't even have to add, since I know that 4 is greater than 2."


Again we just read a couple of books together this week. I think I may try to get her to write something while we're on vacation next week.


We did build a better volcano this week, though it's not dry yet so we haven't had a chance to test it.

picture of volcano )

I think we may not get to it until after we get back from our break.

Erika also went to the Natural History museum twice, once with me and once with John. She mostly looked at the Mammals exhibit, though we did also spend some time in the Early Man area.

We also watched the first episode of the "Life" nature documentary, and went on a nature hike at Jug Bay with our Earth Scouts group.

We accidentally started our study of Canada when Erika saw the books I got from the library about Canadian animals. I wound up reading books out loud to her about caribou and wolves, and we team read a book about beavers.

Social Studies

We did our temperature graphing exercise, and I started reading out loud from a book about New Zealand. Erika also continued her work with Anki on the locations and flags of various countries.

John also took the kids up to the farm we get our milk and beef from for their open house. Among other things, they took a tour of the creamery and learned how milk is processed into different products.


Erika did a few pages in her Einsterns Schwester workbooks, and a page of homework for her Saturday class. I also read out loud from our current German read-aloud.


Erika did a bunch of different art things this week. She did a couple of projects outside of our school time, including an elaborate set of construction-paper food. She also drew Australian animals at the Natural History museum, worked in clay to build the volcano, and participated in some acting activities at our co-op. Whew!

Some of the art )


All we did for music this week was continue our study of the Schumanns via Classics 4 Kids.


PE this week included swimming, hiking, a playground visit, general running around outside, and soccer.


Nothing new here; Erika continued to review basic name/address/phone number information in Anki.
entirelysonja: (Default)
I was sick much of this week, so I got to learn the sick homeschool parent techniques of, "watch documentaries," "do lengthy art projects," and "read in bed."


Erika made good progress in math this week, ending the week with the first page of word problems and puzzles in the Math Mammoth Addition 1 book. I was happy that she enjoyed the puzzles, since she'd been finding the ones in MEP frustrating. I get the impression that she's now starting to recognize that the puzzles are the interesting part. It gives me hope that we might be able to go back to MEP at some point.


The coolest thing that happened in English this week was a conversation we had in bed on a day when I was feeling particularly rotten:

Her: Can you read this book [Jumping Kangaroos]?

Me: How about we take turns?

Her: Why did you get this book?

Me: Because I thought you might like to read it.

Her: Oh, in that case, I'll read it.

Me: Are you sure? I'd be happy to take turns.

Her: No, I'll read it myself.

She then proceeded to read it out loud with decent fluency, only needing help with a few words. As a side note, this book contains a significant factual error -- it says that kangaroo babies, and indeed the babies of all marsupials, are born in the mother's pouch. Uh, no. I had to find a video of kangaroo birth on the Internet to correct that particular bit of misinformation.


The most hands-on thing we did for science this week was observe the activities of ants we accidentally disturbed in our garden, and look for pillbugs. Ah, well -- not a complete loss, anyway.

We did do a bunch of other stuff, though. We continued watching the Australia the Beautiful documentary, and also watched the "Under Antarctic Ice" show from the Nature: Antarctica DVD. I read a book out loud about Australian animals, too.

We also took a trip to the Natural History Museum, where we looked at the Australia section of the Mammals exhibit and sketched the dingo. When we were done there, we revisited the exhibit on the evolution of the horse, and took a long look at the gems and minerals upstairs.

Social Studies

The documentary about Australia included information about geography and native people, so I'm counting that for Social Studies this week. I also read out loud from a book about Australia, and we continued our temperature-tracking activity.


Erika made excellent progress in her Einsterns Schwester books this week, finishing up book one with enthusiasm. She also attended the second session of her Saturday school program, where they bought their books and started with the real work of the class. The first step was to learn about the "Buchstabenhaus," which is a picture of a house containing an image for each sound in the language and the letter used to represent that sound. For example, a picture of the sun is shown for "S", since the word "sonne" is the German word for sun. The kids use this extensively to remember the sounds of the letters. Erika also had an in-class assignment to fill in the letters on a buchstabenhaus that just had the pictures, and the teacher though she did very good work.


After seeing an artist creating Australian aboriginal art in the documentary, Erika was interested in seeing more, so I found some examples on the Internet. She wanted to try some for herself, so I helped her mix up some colors she liked and let her have at it. Interestingly, she opted against dots, choosing to outline her kangaroo with lines instead.

Erika's kangaroo )

She also sketched the dingo in the mammals exhibit at the Natural History Museum.


We continued our Benjamin Britten experience in Classics for Kids, and she had a piano lesson with John. Not terribly eventful.


This week we went swimming once, had some playground visits, and the kids are starting soccer again this afternoon.


I had Erika start using the Anki software to memorize important information, like her own full name and various family phone numbers. I consider this health because it's about safety.

She's making excellent progress on our cell phone numbers, and has remembered them successfully for a day now. I'm sure that within another week or so, they'll be pretty solid.
entirelysonja: (Default)
Our first week of formal homeschooling definitely had its ups and downs, but on the whole, I'm feeling pretty optimistic.

How'd the checklist work?
We did wind up modifying our checklist, which I had certainly expected to do. We omitted the Handwriting item entirely after deciding that Handwriting was adequately covered in our German curriculum. We also consolidated Math into 4 "Math Lessons" rather than being so specific about which types of math we would do. Writing was a surprise addition to the checklist -- I'd been planning to do something like that with Erika this year, but hadn't planned to start on it right away. Obviously, she had other ideas!

We didn't check every box on our checklist, but I hadn't expected to. We did check at least one box in every row, which makes me happy because a big part of the point of the checklist for me was to make sure I didn't ignore things that were harder for me. I think I would otherwise tend to give short shrift to subjects I consider less critical, or that are very time-consuming.

I think the checklist definitely helped Erika to understand what we needed to get done, and she enjoyed checking the boxes.

Partway through the week, I downloaded the VisualTimer application for the iPhone/iPod touch. It's been very helpful in allowing Erika to understand how much time we have available, and I think it will also help her with telling time. She'd really like to improve her skills at telling time, but we're finding it challenging.


The biggest challenge we had was finding our place in Math, a task we haven't really accomplished yet. Erika isn't terribly "teachable" -- she doesn't like me to explain things -- but she was also finding some of the math things we were doing too difficult and frustrating. So we stepped back to some easier stuff, which is a little on the boring side. She wants to give the easier math some more time before deciding if she'd like to skip ahead in it to a place where it would be a bit more challenging.


As I mentioned in my earlier post, Erika wrote her first sentence this week, and I was very impressed with her spelling.

She did quite a bit of reading out loud during the week, but only one formal reading lesson. I'm still on the fence about how important the formal reading lessons are, though I think she does learn patterns better when she sees a whole bunch of words at one time that follow the same pattern, rather than seeing them here and there in real books. Probably the highlight for me was when she read, "A Fly Went By" with a good degree of fluency. I got out the first BOB book and pointed out to her that a year ago, that was the most difficult book she was able to read with the same degree of ease. She couldn't believe her reading had improved so much in only a year.


We read a lot about Antarctic animals this week, and also watched part of a National Geographic video, Antarctic Wildlife Adventure, in which a family sails along the Antarctic Peninsula counting penguins. The boys in the family are even homeschooled! The book Summer Ice by Bruce McMillan was a nice read-aloud for her, because she's so interested in animals. I think it might have been a bit dense for Kindergarten with a different child.

We also started our rocks and minerals study by examining a rock in some detail, which allowed us to use a magnifying glass, a loupe, and a miniature light table. I got a kick out of being able to repurpose my old tools from the era of chemical film processing for our homeschooling studies.

While we were camping this weekend, we spent time stargazing. Erika also asked a very interesting question as we were walking to the stargazing location the second night -- she wanted to know how we're ever able to get anywhere by walking or driving if the earth is moving so fast. I don't feel like the answer I gave was all that satisfactory, so I think I'm going to address it again next time we're riding the Metro.

Social Studies

We read about Antarctica and did a little work with maps of Antarctica.


I read some books aloud in German, and she did a bunch of pages of her Einsterns Schwester workbook. It's organized by letter, so the kids learn how to write each letter, listen for its sound at the beginning, end, and middle of words, and eventually how to read and write words containing those letters. She got to the point this week where she was reading and writing actual words. This is probably the most difficult subject for her, because it involves so much writing.

Erika also watched a fair amount of German TV, including the discovery of a new favorite show -- "Panda, Gorilla, & Co.", which is about zoo animals and their caretakers.


Erika spent quite a while drawing. She also worked with me to make a cardboard climbing wall for Playmobil people, based on instructions in a book called, "The Cardboard Box Book," by Danny, Jake, and Niall Walsh. This was actually part of her summer reading program at the library; the second-to-last challenge was to read a book that taught you how to make or do something, and then to make or do it. The folks at the library were very impressed with her project.

Picture of cardboard box project )


Erika had a piano lesson with John, listened to an episode of Classics for Kids on Benjamin Britten, and listened to some of Britten's music.


We made a fair number of playground visits, and also spent the weekend camping at the beach, which involved a lot of running around. I think we had PE covered for the week.

Picture of Erika at playground )
entirelysonja: (Default)
Erika had seen this paper with lines on the bottom and an open area for a picture on the top, and she asked to use it yesterday to write a story. Unfortunately, we ran out of time when she'd written three words.

We got back to it today. I encouraged her to spell the words herself, but she asked me for confirmation that they were spelled correctly at the end of each word.

Picture of her paper )

Frankly, I am astounded. This is the first sentence she's ever written. We've done no work on spelling, and very little work on handwriting. She only needed help with two of the words in the sentence -- "going," which she originally spelled "goeng," and "store," which she originally spelled "str." I did spell the names of some of the animals in the picture, like "guinea pig," for her.

And I think the picture is pretty cool, too.
entirelysonja: (Default)
Erika's "Kindergarten year" will begin next Monday. I feel fairly well prepared; I've got all the materials we'll be using and I've figured out how much work we need to do per week.

When I asked Erika what was important to her, one thing she said was that she wanted to get to decide the order we do things in. Seemed reasonable to me, as long as it works. One of my own priorities is for flexibility -- I want us to be able to finish things faster or take longer with them, depending on how it's going and how interested she is. So I suggested to her that we try a weekly checklist of things that need to get done. That way, we can be flexible on a daily basis, but still be accountable for making sufficient progress in every area. Here's the checklist I came up with; obviously, this will change during the course of the year.

Reading Lessons (Primarily finishing the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading)- 4 per week
Reading out loud for at least 15 minutes from library books of her choice - 4 times per week
English read-alouds - 4 sessions per week (exactly what constitutes a "session" is a little vague)
Handwriting (Getty-Dubay Italic) - 4 pages per week
Miquon lab sheets (Orange and Red books) - 7 per week
MEP lessons, selected problems drawn from Year 1 - 4 sessions per week
German workbook pages (Einsterns Schwester 1) - 9 per week
German read-alouds - 4 sessions per week
Science activity (Lego WeDo robotics, rocks & minerals, other stuff)- 1 per week
Science read-alouds (mostly animals tied into our geography studies)- 2 per week
Social Studies activity (tracking weather around the world, map work, perhaps other stuff) - 1 per week
Social Studies read-alouds (geography, we're starting with Antarctica at her request) - 3 per week
Art activity (drawing lessons, art projects related to art we've seen in museums) - 1 per week
Piano lesson (with John) - 1 per week
Music appreciation (Classics for Kids or Do Re Mikro, a German podcast) - 1 per week
Physical Education (swimming, soccer, running around on the playground) - 5 times per week
Health (Magic School Bus germs science kit, other stuff) - occasional, not as often as once a week

Of course some of these things we'll probably do more of than is listed, but I wanted to have minimum targets.

I'm planning to take her to a museum or to the zoo at least once every two weeks as part of my "museumschooling" concept -- it makes sense to me to take advantage of what's available here locally. I imagine we'll spend a fair amount of time sketching on these outings, since that's a major interest of hers. She'll also be going to a Saturday program at the German School beginning around the 10th of September.


entirelysonja: (Default)

August 2014

3 4567 89


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags