Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: The First Week of School

We've officially started our 2015 school year.  We didn't have a big first day to-do this year.  The kids were aware the change from relaxed and casual summer schooling to regular schedule was coming soon.  I was planning to do a Fun First Day, but the day public schools started here, my 8 year old saw his new Math U see books and asked "Can I just start today?" Sure son.  Who am I to stand in the way of a kid and his math!?  Anyway, I'm hoping to share more weekly wrap-ups this year, because as much as I love going back and reading all those details, I really slacked last year.  I'm already a week behind this year . . . but hey, I'm trying!

3rd Grade
This year I'm hoping to encourage Elliott to become a little more independent in his work.  His morning work includes cursive, spelling and math.  Sometimes I add in some logic/critical thinking, or a puzzle or something from Super Teacher Worksheets (review coming soon) to break up the monotony.

He works through New American Cursive (we're continuing this series, because it was his preference out of the cursive programs we've tried) and that's something he can do independently; I just check the neatness/legibility of his work when he's finished.  He's also flying through the rest of All About Spelling now that we're back into the swing of things, but that is not something he can do independently due the nature of the program.

He worked through the first week of Math U See Gamma without issue.  I usually skim the lesson in the manual, but watch the DVD segment with him.  If I know he understands, he works through the worksheet on his own.  He actually loves to be "graded" so when he's done I literally check and grade his math.

He started Middlebury Interactive Languages, Spanish for 3rd-5th grade, and we're enjoying it again!  Look for a review coming soon!

1st Grade
I've already made one change from my original plans.  I was going to try an eclectic approach to reading, but I changed my mind right at the very last possible second.  I decided to trust my gut instinct and break out Primary Arts of Language (PAL) again and give it a go with him.  I wasn't sure I wanted to take it on right now, but when all is said and done, I really think it's the best choice for him.  We're taking our time and just enjoying the process, and so far he seems to really like it!

After we reviewed Horizons 1st Grade Math, I gave him the choice to continue it or try MUS Alpha, since Elliott uses MUS.  He chose to stick with Horizons because of the colorful workbooks.  I believe his exact words, after looking over his brother's old MUS workbook was "I do NOT want black and white!"  I'm okay with that, and we'll see how it goes this year!

He had all kinds of impromptu nature studies lately too.  Nature Study is his "thing" and he wants to be a paleontologist or zoologist.  We stopped reading lessons one day to watch a turtle cross the yard.

For his birthday, he received some neat little nature tools, including this Bugwatch from his mawmaw.  We've trapped and released a few things so far.  I highly recommend this thing for your young nature lovers.  It's easy to use and all three of the big kids like it.  We're taking all of his cool nature tools that he got on our weekend trip to the state forest!

He also got a venus fly trap.  It was cause for much fascination and excitement!  I didn't realize they sold these all over the place, but he was THRILLED and loved watching it in action.

This girl.  I went shopping for school supplies and the boys needed new backpacks for co-op, so of course I bought her a small one.  "It's for ME!  I can't believe it!  I'm going to school!"  Every now and then she just sings "I'm going to school!" as she dances around the house.  Needless to say, she's excited about being called a preschooler.  She spends most of her day climbing on me, playing with Izzy, or torturing her little sister, but she's so full of spontaneous toddler cuteness that it's hard not to follow her lead.

We'd had a long day . . . but I love this picture of HER!

She also spends a few minutes each day doing some one-on-one Preschool with me, because you know, SH'ES FINALLY GOING TO SCHOOL!  Her first week was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, but I'll share more about that in another post.

Family Subjects/Activities
We rowed Three Names for our family subjects this week.  We learned about the prairie, tornadoes and dogs!

At the end of the week I got a call from the in-laws that they were harvesting honey (this was their first year with bees) so over a couple days we enjoyed the process.  More to come, because we obviously started our row of The Bee Tree next!

We ended the week by driving out to an Italian Festival, and there were games and rides for the kids.  This was Elliott's favorite.  Emory's favorite was the giant inflatable tubes that you climb inside and run like a hamster wheel, while they float on water.  I don't have pictures of that though.

It was an awesome week, and I'm definitely looking forward to another fun year.

Weekly Wrap-Up

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Five in a Row: Three Names (Back to School and a new Puppy!)

Initially I chose to row Three Names as our first book of the "new" school year because it had a school-ish theme, but the timing worked well with the dog/pet theme too.

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Social Studies

Character - Teachable Attitude
Back to school is always a good time of year to have this discussion.

Relationships - Pets
We just got a new pup a couple weeks ago.  She's 10 months old and a sweet bundle of love!  She's adjusted fabulously to the family and she and the kids adore each other.  She's so easy-going and will be anyone's cuddle buddy.  Her name is Izzy.  Is she not the cutest little thing ever!?
     Go Along Book - Dogs by Seymour Simon

Geography - Prairies/Prairie Life and Prairie Animals
We talked about the location of prairies and read the definition of a grassland from Geography from A to Z.  I printed small maps of the North American prairie region that they could clip to their prairie drawings, but they weren't interested in doing a prairie drawing.  They liked going through our animal cards to determine which ones live in prairie regions and reading the interesting facts about them.

Emory drew a gray wolf (grasslands of Canada/Alaska) on his own.  Howling, I believe.

 So I got out Draw Write Now (Book 8) and they can glue their maps to these.  One chose the prairie dog.

The other chose an armadillo.

One day on the week following the row, an episode of Wild Kratts featured the prairie and prairie animals, so that was a lot of fun for Emory, who loves that show!

We didn't get to this online Build a Prairie activity, but it looks great for older rowers.

Geography - Story Disk
After much deliberation, Elliott chose some state boarders, since the prairies encompass so much of this area.

History - One Room Schoolhouses & Culture value of Education
We compared one-room schoolhouses to the structure of traditional schools today, and compared them to homeschools.  We also talked about how Great-Grandfather traveled to school, and how children around the world still do not have cars or school buses.  Then we watched part of the documentary "On the Way to School" to show how people around the world value education and go to great lengths just to get to school.

The lesson in the manual referenced ordinal numbers, so I had both of the boys do a quick ordinal numbers worksheet.  Emory followed coloring instructions.  He's not much for coloring.  Elliott matched ordinal numbers to their written word, but that was easy for him, so he also did the perspective in measurement activity.

Language Arts
Book Titles
One of the boys immediately asked "Why is it called Three Names?" so that was the perfect segue into the lesson on titles.  Their alternative title suggestions:
Four Names
The Dog that had Four Names
The Dog that Liked to go to School

They also caught onto the hyperbole examples as they were written.  Emory asked "Did it really take a hundred years?" so that lesson was discussed naturally as well.  Of course, my kids just called it lying, so we talked about exaggeration as a point of storytelling, verses actual lying.

I explained how a simile uses like/as to make two different things seem similar.  Elliott understands similes, so while we did this Simile - Not Simile cut/paste activity, I had Elliott read them to Emory as I helped Emory fill his paper out.  Emory finally made the connection that if "it's not true" it's a simile.  If it's true statement, it's not a simile.  It was an exposure lesson for him, and I know we'll come around to similes again.

We briefly talked about fraternal twins, but that was easy as Daddy is a fraternal twin.

Wind and Tornadoes
We discussed the lesson on wind and made a tornado in a jar, but it was hard to get pictures of that in action.
     Go-along book:  Feel the Wind by Arthur Dorros

I chose to focus on two lessons from the manual--vanishing point and lines.  It happened to line up with the lesson in ARTistic Pursuits for the week, which discussed parallel and perpendicular lines, etc., so I tied them together.  The boys drew roads with a vanishing point.  It started as a sunny day, but can you see the swirling wind forming a tornado in the rain storm on the right?  I think he added black flecks to his road to make it look like an old worn road, and fence posts along the sides.  (Then they did the ARTistic Pursuit drawing assignment, their interpretation involving Minecraft.)

My kids aren't much for drawing when it isn't their idea, which is usually why we only do the FIAR art lessons conversationally.

Additional Books
Henry And Mudge Take The Big Test by Cynthia Rylant
These readers are about a boy and his dog, and Rylant is a FIAR author so you know her books are good.  This particular title fits in with the "school" theme as well.

Tornado by Besty Byers
This is a great book about a boy and his dog, and it takes place during a Tornado, so that theme ties in well too.

Up Next:  The Bee Tree!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

FIAR: Follow the Drinking Gourd

When we were reviewing With Lee in Virginia the boys were upset at the scenes that depicted abusive slave owners.  It was only a couple of scenes at the beginning, but it was enough to horrify them.  We have the book Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winters, so I thought it might be a good time to row it and discuss abolitionists and the Underground Railroad, to show "another side" of that part of history.  It was a mostly conversational row as we've been very relaxed this summer, but it kept us moving forward through July.

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Language Arts
Analogies, Compound Words
The analogies lesson on the Underground Railroad was covered from the manual.  We also did the compound words lesson (review for Elliott, but he liked "teaching" it to Emory) and I asked the boys to choose a word from the list and draw a picture.

Social Studies
Civil War, Underground Railroad, Geography, Compasses
Because the book was set in the south, we discussed how the United States was roughly divided into "northern" and "southern" states, and how some were slave states and some were free states.  I showed them a color-coded map (I pulled this map from under section 7-4) to show them how the US was divided, and how far slaves had to travel to reach Canada.  We also looked at Virginia and West Virginia, and discussed how WV became a state during the Civil War.  We watched a video about Harriet Tubman and discussed the Underground Railroad.  We discussed directions and I let the boys play around with a compass.  The compass was enjoyed for a long time after the row, and it goes in our nature bag now.

(That was all a lot of information for them, especially the five year old, but I think it's good exposure, and the next time we come around, it will be familiar and they will absorb even more.)

Elliott picked a southern state for our story disk.

Abraham Lincoln
This was a rabbit trail for us, because Emory wanted to study him.  We read the books Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington and Abe Lincoln Remembers.  The first one was extremely detailed.  Too many dates and battle details for an elementary read-aloud, especially to cram into one reading session.  The illustrations were interesting, but it's better suited for upper elementary or even middle school.  The second book was much more appropriate in content and length for our needs.


Measure of Time
We used the lesson in the manual, and then the book All about Time helped us expand on the topic.  They really liked the overlay pages that helped show the lapse of time.

Fine Arts
Art:  Cut-Away View; Music - Songs as a Teaching Method
We discussed this art lesson from the manual naturally as we were reading the book.  Of course we listened to the Follow the Drinking Gourd song one day.

Stars, Constellations
We talked about constellations and specifically about The Big Dipper.   We made constellations with the geoboard.  They also watched an episode about stars from The Magic School Bus.  We have a telescope, but my mind just isn't there when it finally gets dark.  Or in other words, I kept forgetting.  Maybe we'll get it out this fall and enjoy it when it gets dark before exhaustion sets in.

There was actually a lot more I wanted to do with this book, but the kids weren't particularly interested in this row.  It's heavy subject matter, and I probably should have waited a little longer for this book.  It was good exposure though, and that's still important.  We took a FIAR break for several weeks at the end of July and early August, and have actually started our "new" school year, so you'll be seeing that post soon enough!

©2011-2015 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.