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Monday, October 5, 2015

Five in a Row: Daniel's Duck

When my husband planned a long weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains, I scheduled Daniel's Duck for the week leading up to the trip.

Daniel's Duck is about young Daniel learning to carve wood, and learning to appreciate and value his own work as an artist.  It takes place in the mountains of Tennessee, and Daniel's family lives in a cabin.  While we were in a different state, our general setting was still similar enough.

Social Studies
We know that Daniel lived on a mountain in Tennessee, so we learned a little about TN, marked it on our United States map . . . then we placed our story disk.

Mountain/Country/Cabin Life
This was the focus of our row.  We discussed the lesson in the manual, and made a list like the manual suggested.  Elliott really liked going through the book looking for "clues" about how they lived.  We did this at the beginning of the week.  They boys also built log cabins out of Lincoln Logs.

At the end of the week, we spent a long weekend at a cabin in the mountains!

Language Arts
Comprehension, Quotation Marks
These were relatively easy lessons.  For the quotation marks, I made two different copywork pages using a quote from the book.  Emory's was in print, and he had to circle the quotes.  Elliott's was in cursive, and he had to add quotation marks in the appropriate places.

There were three lessons in the manual that pertained to climate, weather and seasons.  The book goes through winter and spring, but we were transitioning into fall, so it was still a good time to work through these lessons.  We made these watercolor circle calendars following the seasons.  (I went over the months with Sharpie when we were finished.)  Elliott recognized the division of the months by season right away, but it was a good activity for Emory who is also learning the months of the year in math.

Emory had a lot of green, but also a lot of random colors all throughout his seasonal wheel.

Elliott chose to paint his by season.  He chose green for summer growth, orange-red for autumn, "cool" purple for winter, and brown for spring because it's dirty while you're planting before everything starts blooming.

There was more that I wanted to do, but since we took a day off to leave for the long weekend and I forgot the soap carving supplies for our trip, we just didn't get to everything.  I think carving will come up in another row, but we'll do it sooner if the boys really want to.  I wasn't worried about the math from this row because it's something we have done and do often in every day life, so we just did our regular math curriculum every day.  So it was a simple row, but the weekend getaway was worth it!

©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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages Spanish (TOS review)

This year my kids are being offered a couple different foreign language options at co-op, and my 3rd grader is taking Spanish the first semester.  I want him to have a lot of experience and reinforcement with the language, so I was thrilled to be offered another review opportunity from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  This year we're reviewing Elementary Spanish 1:  Grades 3-5 and I was interested to see how it would compare to our experience last year.

What is Middlebury?
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online, immersion style courses for students of all ages, in a variety of languages.  Last year we reviewed the first semester of Elementary Spanish for K-2, and I had the option of continuing with the second semester, or bumping him up to the more advanced course.  After discussing it with Elliott, we decided we wanted to try the 3rd-5th grade course.  It appeared the upper level course would have similar material, so the familiarity would boost confidence, but it would take it to a deeper level, and I knew it would challenge him more.

For the purpose of the review, I was given six months of access in order to review the first semester of the course, using it approximately three times per week.  This is a good pace, and I've found 3-4 days a week perfect for our needs.  The website is easy to navigate, and Elliott goes through the course while I'm nearby. I like to be within hearing distance so I can work with him on pronunciation if necessary.

The first semester covers vocabulary and basic sentence structure for common topics, such as family, numbers and greetings and other topics that would be of use and interest to elementary age children.  There is an authentic story/tale in Spanish, and a cultural lesson for each unit so this course would also compliment a geography study of Spanish-speaking countries very well.  You can access PDF files with translations for the vocabulary, stories, and songs, so if you want to go over the context of the story and songs first, you can use these with your students.  I find that Elliott likes a brief overview of the stories that are told in Spanish.  He said otherwise he is only able to pick out the vocabulary at first, and he wants to follow the whole story.

There is an option to buy the course with a teacher, who will grade the speaking labs and speaking quizzes.  I don't think that's necessary unless we were taking this course in high school for transcripts, or if we were in an area where Spanish is a predominate language and we wanted to be more fluent, but I like that the option is available.  Since we don't have the teacher, the speaking exercises sit ungraded in the gradebook, but this is not an issue for us.  (Husband and I are not fluent, but have high school/college Spanish and can help him with pronunciation.)

We still find the course fun and interesting!  The graphics are cute, the stories are interesting, and the activities are varied.  Sometimes he works independently on the computer, but sometimes we cast the lessons to the TV and the little kids follow along for fun.

How Do K-2 and 3-5 Courses Compare?
Both Spanish K-2 and Spanish 3-5 are Introductory courses, which means they require no prior knowledge or experience with the language.  I wanted to share how the two compare, in case you have children of different ages or you have have a student working somewhere between a 2nd/3rd grade level and aren't sure where to place them.  In K-2 Spanish, it is basically vocabulary acquisition.  In the upper level course, students are not only taught the vocabulary, but are asked to put it into practice in a way that applies to the student.  For the topic of Family, older students are expected to learn a few additional vocabulary words, as well as to speak full sentences, ending with a quiz that has them recording a sentence in Spanish that states who lives in their casa.

The unit on Numbers for younger students is basically just counting 1-10 in Spanish, while older students also learn the vocabulary for zero and numbers, how to count backwards from 10-1 and practice their phone number in Spanish.  So yes, some of the vocabulary is the same, but the 3rd-5th grade does dig a little deeper into the material.  This has been a great review for Elliott, as well as giving him new material, and I love seeing him put to practice what he knows in a meaningful way.

While the units in the two grade levels are similar, they do not line up, so you could not put a child in K-2 and a child in 3-5 and have them working on the same material/vocabulary at the same time.  I know as a parent with children in different grades who like to cover the same topics, it would be nice to have them doing comparable vocabulary, at their own level, but it wouldn't necessarily work out that way with this program.  What I like about this course is that the online/audio/video nature of this course allows my 1st grader to tag-along and learn a little with his older brother.  However, the program only allows for the grading of one student, so siblings can follow along and learn too, but their progress isn't tracked, unless you purchase for multiple students.

Final Thoughts
I think this program is great.  It teaches through repetition and immersion, using stories, songs and simple computer activities.  It is interesting for my son, and we're learning the basics of speaking Spanish and the Spanish culture together.  I definitely plan to look into this program for high school to meet foreign language requirements, when that time comes.

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online language learning for elementary, middle, and high school levels in Spanish, French, Chinese and German, and even offer AP courses for some languages.  You can check out their website for more information, and be sure to read more crew reviews, as everyone reviewed a variety of grade levels for all four languages.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekend in the Mountains

Recently my husband decided he wanted to spend a weekend in the mountains.  Just a quiet, secluded little weekend getaway for the family.  It was nice to spend a a couple days without the computer, without neighbors, without his phone going off constantly for work.

It was nothing fancy.  Just a cabin in a state park about three hours away.  He booked a couple months ago, and I was hoping to see the fall foliage.  While the leaves weren't quite turning just yet, it was still pretty, but also warm enough during the day to feel like perfect weather inside the forest.

We spent most of our time just lounging by the fire, playing games, grilling out and relaxing.  I loved sitting on the front porch reading while the kids played outside.

Of course we got out and enjoyed the awesome weather too.  We took the kids to the playground a couple of times.  None of the playgrounds we frequent at home have a merry-go-round, so I think this was a first for my kids.

Eleanor had no problem climbing up the steep stairs all by herself, but needed a confidence boost the first time down.  You should have seen daddy on the swing too.  ;-)

A see-saw is another thing we don't see often.  They enjoyed this too.

Behind the camera for much of the trip . . . mommy and Eloise . . . she did swing on the baby swing on another trip to the playground, and she LOVED it!

For our nature walk, we picked the nature trail based on descriptions.  The one we chose was the shortest length and was described as an easy after-dinner walk with mostly level terrain.  Or something along those lines.  I was thinking mostly a basic walking path that maybe circled the cabins or something.  Mostly straight and flat like it started out . . .

But then we crossed a bridge . . .

It was a little more "intense" (for my little ones anyway) than I was expecting.  There were a few steep climbs and a few stretches of very narrow paths squeezed between a hill and a drop-off.  You can't really see in the picture, but it would have been a long tumble for a little kid.  Or for mommy wearing a baby.

All in all, we had no major tumbles.  It was nice to take our time and enjoy the natural beauty all around us.  Elliott liked looking for the path markers and signage on the plants.  And of course, every boy needs a stick.

What a face, what a face!

She was so proud of herself every time she went over a log by herself!  There were a lot of fallen trees, but a friend of ours said the derecho from a few years ago really did a number on their trails, so that could have been part of it.

Everyone got to take a ride at some point.

She had to go UNDER too!  It reminded me of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, which would have been a cute book to row with Eleanor before the trip (or when we went on a cave tour the week before!) but maybe next time.  The boys did row Daniel's Duck though, which also tied in nicely.

The End!

©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.