Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Week in Review, 9/20-9/25

I'm a little late with this, but better late than never!  We had a pretty busy weekend, and I'm working on being disciplined and not staying up *quite* so late, so bedtime won out over blogging!

We got a lot done this past week, but we struggled a bit with behavior issues too.  We're seeing results with consistency and firm boundaries, thank goodness, but MAN, is it wearing me out!!  I also had a couple of frank talks with Connor about how we could be having much more fun doing school but that his attitude was not only keeping us from being able to do some fun "extras," it was also making the normal every day stuff a LOT harder than it really had to be.  But he's learning that Mom means what she says and that she *will* follow through, and he's responding.

Math: He'd been begging me to play "the store game" ever since we started reviewing coins, so we got together a bunch of things, wrote up some price tags, and started counting change!  Brennan had to get in on the action too, so he's starting to figure out that 5 pennies = 1 nickel, 2 nickels = 1 dime, etc. 

We started the Corners game (lesson 60 in RS B), which helps kids cement their addition facts that add up to 5, 10, 15, and 20.  He's doing pretty well, although the game can get a bit long and he loses focus.  We'll probably take up the suggestion in the book to play to a certain score rather than playing until all cards are used.  He also took the mid-year test and did great.  The only trouble he had was with the word problem.  I know he needs to work on those anyway, so I'm going to see what resources I can dig up.

Reading: We read a couple of African folk tales to go with our history studies: Anansi the Spider and Zomo the Rabbit, both by Gerald McDermott.  We're still working on The Family Under the Bridge, but it was on hiatus for a couple of days because we had to return it to the library and then check it out again!

History:  We finished SOTW chapter 11 on ancient Africa.  We chose to try fried plantains as our hands-on project this week.  Connor was excited both to get to help me cook them and to try something from one of the stories (one of the Anansi stories in the chapter mentions fried plantains, although Anansi doesn't actually eat them!).  We had fun making them; he gave them a thumbs up but wasn't interested in eating more than a few.  I agreed--they weren't bad, but I won't be adding plantains to our shopping list!  Brennan tried them and was less than impressed (no surprise there!).

Science:  He's been working on a spider lapbook.  He's actually already studied spiders, but Brennan wanted to do a lapbook, and then Connor said he wanted to do one too.  I told him he could, but that he'd be doing it on his own for the most part.  And he's been doing really well!  I supervise and help him find the answers he needs, but he's really gotten a lot done.  He already knew most of stuff, so it's really more of a review.  Review is always good!

Finding pictures of his favorite kinds of spiders

Cutting them out to add to his book

Gluing finished mini books into his lapbook

Grammar:  Grammar moved slowly this week, but we finished learning the last few pronouns (they, them, their, theirs), read and narrated a story in FLL lesson 51 and then found all the pronouns in the story.  He had fun jumping every time he heard a pronoun.

Latin:  He made a Latin animal dictionary this week.  I set up a template on Word and showed him how to type in the Latin names of the animals and find pictures of each one.  He really enjoyed making it on his own--choosing the pictures and learning how to resize them to fit them in the boxes.  He was begging to make another dictionary!

Finding a picture of a bear (ursa)

Arranging pictures on the pages

The finished product!

Spelling:  We finally started All About Spelling, Level 2 (we do spelling and grammar on alternate days).  He's been ready for a while, but I didn't have everything ready and we weren't in any hurry.  He enjoys doing spelling, although I think I'm going to have to lay down the law soon.  I love the hands-on, manipulative aspect of the letter tiles in AAS, but he won't leave them alone!  The first couple of days (however long it takes us to get through step 1) will just be review.

Math:  Brennan started learning about odd and even this week.  I love how RightStart teaches this--it's so easy for them to SEE it.  My only complaint is that the lesson never really says to explicitly list the evens and odds in order (i.e., 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) during the lesson, but you're supposed to ask the child to list them the next day for review.  It wasn't a big deal to list them then and go over them a couple of times, but at first I thought I'd missed something in lesson 14!

This (below) is something we do every day as part of our calendar/memory work time.  It's designed to help them understand place value.  We count the straws, adding one every day.  Whenever we get ten loose straws, we bundle them together with a rubber band, and he counts by tens to count the bundles and then counts the loose straws individually.  So it's a really visual and tactile way of SEEING tens and ones, and then he writes it on our board, making it easy to see the connection--he has 7 bundles of ten, and nine single straws, so he writes "79."  I happened to take a picture of it this week, so I included it here!

Phonics:  Still working through final consonant blends, one page at a time!  He's really starting to try to read everything he sees.  We've talked about "th" and "ch" outside of our actual lesson time--we said that the "h" is a bully who tries to make the other letters change their sounds if they get too close, so he's been having a blast finding "-h" digraphs and shouting, "Mommy!  I know why 'chicken' says 'ch'--the 'h' makes the 'c' change its sound!!!"  I love it. *grin*

Science:  Still working on his spider lapbook!  Almost done, though.  I need to figure out what we still need and get it ready.

Handwriting:  I finally got to Mardel on Friday and picked up a handwriting book for him--he was thrilled.  He immediately sat down and did four pages, and he would have done more if I hadn't stopped him!  He absolutely LOVES it.  It cracks me up!

Bible:  We learned about Rahab hiding the Israelite spies and Joshua and the battle of Jericho.  They had a blast building Jericho out of pillows, marching around it, and knocking it down (saving Rahab, of course!).  We had a good talk about how we need to follow God, even if His instructions don't seem to make sense to us--which fit in perfectly (unplanned by me, but somehow I think Someone Else planned it nicely!) with our current memory verse, Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  God is so good, even in the details!

Marching around Jericho.  Note the authentic period costumes. *grin*

Rahab's red cord is clearly seen!

And the walls come tumbling down!

I picked up this magnetic skeleton puzzle on sale at Mardel, and both boys *love* it.  We'll be studying the human body after we finish animals (whenever that may be!), so I couldn't pass it up!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Week in Review, 9/13-9/18

We've had a pretty productive week school-wise.  Toward the end of the week, I adjusted how we use Connor's workboxes to hopefully better suit his needs, and Friday was a lot better.  Hopefully things will continue that way!  He's a kid who does better with structure, and I tend to be much more go-with-the-flow, so I'm working on trying to implement a more structured schedule and routine with our schoolwork.  After talking with him (hoping that letting him have some input will result in less bucking of the system!), we're going to start AT 9:00 every day (rather than 8:30 some days, or 10:00 or 10:30 other days) with a snack and short break at 10:00, and we'll do his subjects in the same order each day.  I had been interspersing his "core" subject area workboxes (Bible, math, reading, history/science, grammar/spelling, and Latin/copywork) with "fun" boxes (do a puzzle, computer game, wordsearch book, wikki stix, etc.) so that I could work with Brennan while he did the fun stuff on his own.  I think, though, that using all 12 workboxes was overwhelming him, even though half of it was fun/hands-on stuff.  So instead we're going to fill the first 6 boxes with his core subjects (always in the same order) and I'll continue to fill the other 6 but let him choose which ones he wants to do when it's time for me to work with Brennan.  We tried this Friday, and our morning went much more smoothly.  We got all but one core box done before lunch (AND I got math, reading, phonics, and handwriting done with Brennan!), and we would have gotten that one done except that we had to take the cat to the vet at 1:00.  Hopefully the success will continue!!

Math: He continued reviewing telling time and then reviewed adding coins.  He already had a pretty solid foundation in both of these areas, so it's been nice to relax a bit and just review.  It's also made it easier to incorporate a little continued practice with adding 10 and 100 without overwhelming him.

Reading: We're continuing The Family Under the Bridge.  We found France and Paris on the map, and we looked up pictures of Notre Dame since the characters passed it in one of the chapters we read.  This is his narration and the picture he drew of Armand and the children going up the stairs at the store:

We also read Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel to go with our history studies about ancient Africa.

History: We began reading SOTW chapter 11 about ancient Africa.  He was fascinated with the idea of the Sahara originally being green and fertile and then drying out and changing to desert.  We had fun going to google maps and looking at satellite pictures of the Sahara desert and seeing the brown desert vs. the green fertile land.  It was also neat to *see* the Nile river running through the desert with just a bit of green on either side of it.  The mapwork was probably the most detailed yet, and he really liked seeing how all the places we've studied so far fit together.

He's also been getting better about narrating.  It's still not his favorite thing to do, but I got less attitude about it this week!  The resistance frustrates me, because he is really pretty *good* at it!  This is my "structure" kid--I'm thinking maybe the open-endedness of narrating feels a little unsettling to him, like riding a bike without your hands on the handlebars.  I tried backing off a bit this week and giving him a little more guidance, and that helped.

Since the first section of chapter 11 mentioned continents, we also worked on memorizing the continents and had fun tossing around our beach ball globe and finding each one.

Science:  More hummingbirds!  We read It's a Hummingbird's Life by Irene Kelly, a wonderfully illustrated, detailed book about the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Lots of fascinating info--a hummingbird's nest is about the size of half of a ping pong ball!  We both really enjoyed the book.

We finished off our hummingbird study with a trip to a friend's house who has a very popular hummingbird feeder.  We sat outside and tried to be quiet and were able to see (and hear!) some hummingbirds and managed to snag a few pictures as well.  They didn't really come in full force until we went inside and watched through the window, but by that time the boys were much more interested in playing with toys!

Latin: He worked on SSL chapter 15 this week--more animals!  We reviewed vocabulary the other day by playing charades:

casa (house)

attole manum (raise your hand)
He thought this was great fun!

Grammar:  We didn't get to any new lessons in grammar this week, but we did review the pronouns he's learned already.  I copied a couple of pages from a book of his and he circled all the pronouns he could find.

Spelling:  We did one more day of review before we get into AAS level 2 (hopefully next week).  He didn't have any trouble writing phonograms from dictation, and he did really well at spotting misspelled words and telling me why they were wrong.  He's definitely ready--now I just have to finish getting the material ready!

Math: He finished lesson 13 in RS A (although we skipped the section on writing numbers).  I really, really like the foundation both boys are getting with RightStart.  They're understanding the "why" behind what we're learning, and they're really getting a feel for how numbers work rather than just memorizing facts.  One thing Brennan worked on was combining numbers using tally sticks (popsicle sticks).  He did it easily, which was nice, but what I was really excited about was seeing him *on his own* use mental strategies to figure some of the problems out even before he used the tally sticks (or instead of using them).

Phonics: Continuing two-consonant endings.  He's really getting ready to take off, I think.  He's getting more and more confident sounding out unfamiliar and longer words and is figuring out how to break them down to sound them out.

Handwriting: He did a review sheet and then worked on the letter "R."  And he complains if he doesn't have a handwriting worksheet every day.  And he wants it in his first workbox. *grin*

Still working on the spider lapbook.  This week was a fun discussion about how spiders eat (it's really pretty gross!).

Bible:  We finished up learning about Moses this week with the 10 commandments, the Israelites making the golden calf, and the Israelites complaining, disobeying, and getting a 40 year wilderness hike as a consequence.  

Since Connor has been driving me UP THE WALL singing "The 10 Commandment Boogie" (usually with nonsense words or with various mouth sounds inserted) by the Go Fish Guys pretty much nonstop for several weeks now, I decided to put the obsession to work and we popped in the cd and boogied.

I really like the Go Fish Guys, but I think they need to change their tagline: "Great music for kids that won't drive parents bonkers."  I think it should read, "Great music for kids that won't drive you bonkers when we sing it, but that will absolutely drive you up the wall when your 6 year old won't stop singing it for weeks!" *grin*

Gives a new meaning to "climbing up the walls"

My kids have been climbing up the walls lately.

No, I mean REALLY climbing up the walls.  Well, okay--I guess if you want to get technical about it, they're climbing the doorways.  Silly monkeys! *grin*

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I am SO glad the weather is finally starting to cool down here (highs in the low 90's--it's still hot, but much better than 100+!).  We've spent more time outside this week than we have in a LONG time, including two outdoor activities as a family.  On Wednesday we went to a local park on our second letterbox hunt, with Daddy along this time (but alas, the camera stayed home!)  It took a little searching, but we finally found the box!  The stamp was a Jolly Roger, which is fitting, since this Sunday is international "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"  The boys were fascinated when we saw a couple of trees that had obviously been gnawed by a beaver.  When we walked the trail around the lake (well, large pond, really), we saw the beaver's dam, and judging from the scuffle and splash as we walked (noisily!) up, I think we narrowly missed getting to see the builder himself!  We enjoyed some of the porch-swing style swings by the lake and the boys played on the playground for a while.  It was hot, but not unbearable!

Today we went hiking at Lake Mineral Wells State Park.  The boys and I had hiked this trail when we went camping with our MOPS group there last year, and we've been wanting to go back with Aaron ever since.  It's a beautiful area, and the trail we hiked has lots of rocks to climb on. 

And lots of rocks to throw in the lake.

And really cool lizards eating lunch.  

We saw two of these guys!  I haven't spent the time yet to look it up and figure out what they are, but they were the biggest lizards I've ever seen in the wild, and they had really interesting markings!
It's so much fun watching the boys have fun exploring and discovering.  And of course, heaving really big rocks into the lake! *grin*