05 March 2010

Life's Curve Balls

We're trying to get back into the swing of things following a little family drama. School was about the only thing that didn't suffer during our little hiccup. I'm just now starting to feel like our normal family life has returned, so I'm going to update my blog about my kiddos.

Regarding their actual school work, I feel like they are doing very well as of late. However, I think they are getting an early case of spring fever, despite a week off in early February. They have been very resistant to school, but once they get going, their work has been outstanding.

First of all, H's math is now teaching her how to add. I was watching her do her worksheet yesterday, and I was very impressed with how she gets it all together in her brain. For an example, we'll do 4 + 5. She takes her 4 block and her 5 block and puts them together. Then she guesses that they match the 8 block. "One more," she says as she compares the length. So she puts the 9 block up against the other two, and writes out her number sentence on her worksheet. Next week, we refine it a bit more and concentrate on adding 1.

K's math is also going very well. This seems to be the subject we've had the most trouble in getting her to do, but what she does, she does well. I think the problem is that her personality, for the most part, makes her so independent that she hates having to do something that she needs consistent help with. Most of her other work can be done with just minimal help from me, but math seems to need me more. And I think that is why she does not like it. However, with just a few examples of different ways to figure out the answers, she can usually end up doing the work herself. I am considering getting an overhead projector (They have them relatively cheap on Craig's List in this area!) and one of the things I will use it for is walking her through samples of math problems like the ones she will be doing that day, like my high school algebra teacher, Mr. Easton, did every day. He was the best math teacher I ever had. (I don't really know what makes that different than using a chalkboard, but it worked for me, so it's worth a try! And I can prepare the samples ahead of time, instead of having her watch me draw oodles of squares on the chalkboard for each problem.)

We are taking a break from our R.E.A.L. Science to do a spring unit study. I picked this up, and H is doing the Butterflies and Ladybugs with Eric Carle lapbook while K works on the World Explorer Journal on birds, to be followed by the insect lapbook. So far, they are enjoying this. What is really neat is that the day we went to the library to get some of the required books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the girls' story time included The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When we resume our normal science, we will be learning about the circulatory system and doing a heart lapbook.

Reading has been good for K. She is still working on the pages from Reading for the Gifted Student and we have also started working on some lessons from Reading A to Z. She is working on level O, and we have made it through the first two books. She enjoyed Whales, but couldn't wait to be done with Sally Ride. The next book is about yoga, so maybe she will like that one better.

H is slowly, but steadily, getting better and better at her reading all the time. We are still working on her confidence, as she mostly will only read to me, and even that takes some coercion sometimes. However, she is on lesson 62 and is learning to distinguish between lowercase b and d. Yesterday she was taught the hand trick, and I told her to imagine a c in the middle. If that doesn't work, I made the girls each a mini office, and hers has a handwriting guide, so she can use that to see which one is which.

Well, I think I have covered pretty much everything that is relevant. I will take some pictures and scan some of their recent work, and try to get it posted this weekend. I'm very excited about our spring projects and the mini offices and some of the other things that are coming up in the months to come. My goal is to share that excitement with you!

25 January 2010

Weekly Report - Week #16

We had a very productive week this week. We were able to get a lot of science and history done for once, and we even had our first Jeopardy game.

In history we were introduced to the Jewish people, and read the story about Abraham and Sarah and the story about Joseph, both from the Bible.

In science we talked about the musculoskeletal system. Below you will see the skeletons the girls put together and the arm models that we made. We used the arm models to do a lab where they had to measure the biceps string and the triceps string with the arm flexed and then again with the arm extended, so they could compare what happens to your muscles when you bend your arm. They also learned that muscles can only pull and cannot push.

Below is a picture of our jeopardy game. We had six categories with five questions each, just like the real game. We even used a buzzer from an old game I have for the contestants to buzz in. K ended up winning, but I think that Dad threw the final jeopardy question on purpose. ;)
Eventually, I would like to play this every Friday as a way to review, but for now we don't have enough material to review, so it would just be the same questions every week. A lot of the clues that were in the game were things that both girls should have known. It was all school-related material, except for the TV Shows by Character category, where the clue was something like Smitty and they had to know it was Imagination Movers. Dad even got one wrong in that category, because he thought Beaver was on Little Bear instead of Franklin.

21 January 2010

The Animal Guy Field Trip

A lot of these pictures are kind of dark. The room where the event was held did not have the best lighting, and since I was back a bit from the action, my flash didn't work overly well. In addition to the animals pictured below, there were also two chinchillas and an armadillo.

This is a barn owl. They live everywhere on the planet, although in some places they are known by different names.

You can see K in her braids and dark pink shirt, but H is hidden by other students. There were over 100 students in attendance!

This is a baby wallaby.

More than once he tried to hop into the students, so he had to be caught by the tail in mid-hop and "pouched." Here, just his tail is sticking out, but one of his hind feet was sticking out at one point. He seemed perfectly content this way, even if he was upside down and twisted!

This is a horseshoe crab.

This is a 400-pound python. She will soon be "retired" because she is getting too large to transport easily. Both girls touched her and were not afraid of her at all. Some of the other parents were, though!

18 January 2010

Weekly Report - Weeks #14-15

The new year has been very good to us from a school standpoint. For some reason, however, Fridays seem to be the day of resistance from my pupils so far.

K has officially completed her faux standardized reading test. (The results for part 2 will be revealed in a different post.) We will continue with the McRuffy grammar lessons, which are still moving along quite nicely. She seems to like those, so she has been doing more than one page per day.

The new spelling has been working out extremely well. Not once has K given me any problems over it. We have gotten through the first eight lessons, and starting tomorrow she will be "tested" on 25 words each day. Some of the words on the lists from the last two weeks have been spinning, begins, we, wee, be, bee, inn, inning, beginning, beginner, agrees, agreed, agreeing, disagrees, disagreed, and disagreeing. So far, the only "problem" I've noticed is that each new day she seems to forget that the n gets doubled when adding a suffix to an -in word. But I guess that's what review and repetition are for.

Writing With Ease lessons are finally going well. I was a bit concerned in the beginning, as K seemed resistant to the process, but now she does it cheerfully. We did our narrations this week from Charlotte's Web. Here are the two sentences she came up with after hearing each passage:
  • Charlotte was the first one to notice the baby chicks were arriving.
  • Wilbur climbed up the manure pile.

In bible class, K has begun her third of 10 books. It is all about praying. The objectives are:
  1. I can tell that praying is talking with God.
  2. I can tell that meditating is listening to God.
  3. I can tell when to pray.
  4. I can tell where to pray.
  5. I can say God's very special prayer.

The math workbooks that I picked up from Dollar Tree have worked out beautifully. They are simple enough for the girls to do on their own, but not boring. They have each been doing a double-sided page each day.

H's reading continues to grow, and we have added the sound for m to her repertoire. Her spelling lessons are also going really well. We still need to continue working on her confidence, as she will only read in front of me and K, and even then, sometimes she is resistant. However, when she does read during school, she very rarely makes a mistake in what she reads.

We also were able to continue on with science this week. We made models of cells using Jell-O and fruit, and the girls had a lot of fun doing it. Below are some pictures of their lab sheets and the models.

This is H's lab sheet. She had a little bit of help with her writing, but she did the sketches of the cells she did pretty much on her own.

This is K's lab sheet. I love how she decided to draw the strawberry nucleus as a strawberry. :)

The square cell model is a plant cell and the round one is an animal cell. The strawberries represent the nuclei and the grapes in the plant cell represent chloroplasts. (If I would have been thinking, I would have used a white bowl instead of a blue bowl for the animal cell, so that only the plant cell looked green. We used lemon Jell-O.)

We also had a field trip this past Thursday. We met at the church to see Nelson the Animal Guy. This was his third year bringing his amazing animals to our homeschool group, but the first year that we were able to attend. I will post more details, along with pictures from the event, in another post.

07 January 2010

Reading Test, Part I

The first part of K's faux standardized reading test has been graded. Before going over the results, here are the details. K has been taking a sample standardized test for 2nd-grade reading. I am then going over the answers for each section, and grading them. Since this is a sample test, I have no way of knowing where she would fall on the scale compared to other students taking the same test, but I am just using this for my own assessment purposes. I plan on spending extra time working on concepts that she is not as strong in. She is over halfway done, taking a few sections each day. We should be complete by the end of next week.

Here are the results so far:
Vocabulary: 100%
Picture Vocabulary: 100%
Words in Context: 84%
Synonyms, Antonyms, & Homonyms: 93%
Word Sounds: 89%
Word Recognition: 100%
Contractions: 86%
Spelling: 100%
Root Words, Prefixes, & Suffixes: 10%
Capitalization: 100%
Punctuation: 75%

Also, I should point out that there were six of her answers where she filled in two circles, one of them being correct. I will have to remind her tomorrow that if she changes her answer, she needs to make sure she completely erases the wrong answer. She could quite possibly have gotten 100% in punctuation instead of 75% due to this detail. Other sections affected by this were Words in Context; Synonyms, Antonyms, & Homonyms; Word Sounds; Contractions; and Root Words, Prefixes, & Suffixes. True wrong answers for the first 115 questions were only 11, eight of them being in the Root Words, Prefixes, & Suffixes category.

Proud Parent Side Note: Since she is not quite 6, and this is a 2nd-grade exam, I'm going to assume she's ranked pretty high among her age-mates. :D

04 January 2010

The Upcoming Week

I am going to do something a little different this week. Since I did not do weekly updates of our last two weeks before our Christmas vacation, I have decided to give a sneak preview of the week to come. Tomorrow is our first day back after our break, and I'm excited to get back into it. What is it about a couple weeks away that makes you long to have it back?

H is going to be moving on to reading the letter m this week, with a book called Map & Ham. Her spelling words will be ham, map, him, miss, and man. We will also begin learning about question marks.

In math, H will continue practicing place value with units and tens. We will finish the Decimal Street lapbook by making a cover for it and deciding how we want to make the Hundreds' castle. Then will we will be able to move on to learning about the hundreds. Although it will be covered in length with the next book, I would like to take time on the place value section since it is such an important concept.

K will be continuing her tests that she started before the break. She is taking a practice standardized test. It is broken down into sections just as an official standardized test would be, and is meant to be used by me as an assessment tool. The test I'm giving her is for finishing up 2nd-grade reading or starting 3rd-grade reading. I'm hoping this will help me see where there are any gaps in her language arts instruction, so I can fill them before we continue on in this area.

We will also begin McGuffey's Eclectic First Reader this week. I will be using this series as a way to assess K's reading aloud. She is such a voracious reader on her own, but I want to make sure that she is reading things correctly, so she will read a passage to me each day. This way, I will be able to correct anything that she might be pronouncing wrong.

K will be switching to her new spelling program this week as well. We will be using Sequential Spelling 1. Our first "test" with the program will be tomorrow. The program eases the student into the system of having a test each day by starting out with only four words, then eight, then 12, and finally 16 on Friday. Week 2 has 20 words each day, and then starting on week 3, there are 25 words each day. I think this approach is perfect for K.

K's math is on hold this week until we finish up the reading tests.

History this week will be about the Jewish people. We are on chapter 6, and will be reading about Abraham and Joseph. In science, we will continue learning about cells.

I will return later this week with some photos as well as an update. Until then, I hope we can all start out 2010 in a productive way.