Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crisp Fall Morning to discuss Our Country

We were outside on the back deck this morning when I opened the My Country, My World book. We had tickled the first pages of this book but no one was really interested. So I read it to them like it was a story and held the book to be viewed by the two of them.

So now they can identify their state of Illinois on the map.  We covered again our flag and its symbolism. We discussed one of the freedoms in the United States-- Freedom to Worship--  they were surprised to learn that there are places that the Bible cannot be read. They felt bad for the children in those places and wanted to send them a Bible. 

So we have begun our first citizenship lessons.  This too will be great and once again I began the day outside of the traditional studies which seems to prepare them to sit down and begin their work for the day.  Studies today were  productive and done very quickly today. 

Speed drills in math for G are clearly helping.  Tomorrow is the Lyceum again, they are looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Learning my tricks for when we are on the road

I have created a growing binder of a variety of activities. It includes math, phonics, language skills, sentence making, reading readiness skills etc....  On the days that we have to be at the doctor office or traveling to a field trip the girls can use this to reinforce prior teaching.  I feel that way we do not miss out on valuable time as the day really flies by these days.

We attended the Magic House in St. Louis Home School Morning.  It is a valuable experience at a very nice price.  We had just covered the 5 senses in science time and found a section that reinforce that lesson. The girls knew it right away and felt that they really were wise about it already and explained it to me.  These days are so rich as I find they new things.

Yesterday, at Children's Hospital, in the waiting room F worked in her binder when suddenly it all came to her and the big light bulb went off.  She successfully blended the word TUB using her phonic skills.  She was so excited. The woman sitting across from her asked her how old she is, that woman then looked at me with an expression that I did not know how to understand.  It was more like I was pushing this little soul than amazement that this little soul is a natural learner.  It was a big day for her.

Another trick I have learned is that we do not have to begin the day with the traditional lessons. G is just not ready to take it on so fast, it looks like she gets a headache when we begin too early. So today I finally used our art easel.  Great idea!  F tells me as she has never painted like this before.

I am so blessed with each day as I watch their bloom unfold.

Oh My gosh...they just learned how to make GRAY.  They are so excited.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another great experience at out Lyceum

Friday was another wonderful day of experiences and interactions.  G moved between activities with such ease, as if this 6 year old was a middle school child.  She helped others find their way and did errands for me at the end of my class time, as we cleaned up my room at the end of the day.  F enjoyed it very much although she started the day with that horrible attitude she gets and told me she was not going to participate.  Well when we continued as usual she quickly forgot to be hateful.

The girls had been left with studies to do with their father and mother earlier in the week while I took a trip to D.C. however a local boy had gone missing and daddy needed to work with the search team while mom prepared large amounts of food to feed them.  Since they were so involved with the search there was not much other work done. The girls were happy when the boy was found but were to distracted by the fact the "he is with God now" to have any productive learning.

Big plans this week as we begin a once per month activity at the St. Louis Magic House.  It is a special program for homeschoolers only and I expect it to be very fulfilling.

I did test G recently in phonics, she did well but I expected her to achieve 100% so I was surprised when she got a 97% and an 92%.  Great grades yes indeed.  I feel we must be dong something right.

I am still trying to find a way to get F interested in blending her sounds that she knows, her reading books are here now so I hope that will help.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Smoother week, eager learning

Well I have decided that we are suppose to have wrinkles in our days but it was a great week for school.

I have stepped from the day to day lesson plans however as the girls want more in their day than the basic education.  A Beka does not have us using several books for some time but they pulled out science and said lets do something in the book today.

Great idea they had. It was a crisp morning with lots of dew on the grass, early fall scents and a calm exciting start to our day. At the end of the lesson both girls could tell you that they have 5 senses, tell each one and show me examples of each, tell me how they got those senses and tell me that scientist us all 5 senses in their investigations.  So why was it so fun, after all it was only senses.

I was not to thrilled to begin here as I thought they were going to be bored. After all they know that God have them eyes to see, nose to smell- etc.  But is became an awakening of sorts. In my own front yard we felt the cool wet grass under our bare feet, saw the shades of green in each blade and the sun sparkle on the dew drops. We even counted a few dew drops on one large leaf.  We felt and smelled the difference of the pine cones, pine needles and the leaves of the oak, maple, pear, apple  and red bud tree.  We viewed bright yellow wildflower still with a bloom and when we touched the stem to pull the flower to our noses we discovered the fuzzy feel of the plant.  I did not let them taste any items from the yard but we did gather items from the kitchen and F was eager to try each, G only wanted it if I promised it was a sweet thing.

I used the Bob Jones book for this, although ABeka covers the same thing in the first chapter.  It gave each girl a book to have open on the desks, which of course was INSIDE the house.  The BJ book has a "Taste Race" game and I was able to assemble it so quickly that they did not feel a delay.  Each girl gathered their game piece according to their desire but first they had to use their senses to verbally describe their game piece. I had them stand on "stage" to tell about it (the long front porch).

F is not so eager to try sight words but she gave it a whirl while G was more eager to progress with her cursive writing. 

We bowled on Monday for PE with the co-op.  On Friday was a very enriching day. We began our lyceum that is offered through the coop.  The girls were great. G moved from class to class like a student in the middle school.  It was rather calm considering the enormous number of students passing from room to room each hour.  G was thrilled with her Five In A Row choice and they touched on some geography, she enjoyed ballet, group play, picnic family lunch and a science class that goes along with THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS.  F was in a class called Learning Centers and her center she was listed as MASTERED the turkey trot game for upper case recognition.  She also enjoyed the group play but her group is of course younger and lots of variable levels of play there. She was so cute and looked like a regular school kid all day. In the afternoon F participated in tumbling and ballet as she needs motor skills right now more than academic. It is her motor skills that are the slow up for some academic achievements. 

Well as you can see we are well on our way.  Next week they will be at lyceum again. but during the week they are going to have some copy work and readiness skill items to complete with their parents for four days while I travel to Washington D.C.   (oh some day they will go there with me and it will be a tremendous time)

So until next week please have a blessed day

OH one more thing we did a unit on Johnny Appleseed as well, made apple pie and crust and a cute craft making a Johnny out of a toilet paper roll.  Totally fun and educational.  They painted watercolors of fruits that nurish out bodies and we created our first ever itsy-bitsy book of fruit. 

As I read through this it seems like I did not do any of the 3Rs.  WRONG- I got them all included, plus our Tuesday library day.  G read to us Is Your MaMa A Llama book and did very well with it.  She has really progressed with her long vowel sounds.

Till next time.....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wanting to avoid feeling like she was is in school forever.

I am talking about F.  I know it sounds like I am a biased grandparent, but most strangers that meet her ask me her age since she is a petite.  They cannot imagine a child who is so articulate and understands so much.

She will be 4 in about a month.  She can do so much of the kindergarten work as long as it does not entail an excess amount of fine motor skills.  She hates doing any busy work that she does not immediately succeed it.

I have a sneaky suspicion that she will take longer that I had hoped in completing this years goals.

Friday, September 10, 2010

DAY 6 a new home-schooler perspective

I had planned to post at the end of each week.  I found that I had so much I wanted to write in the blog that I have made several entries. However, to be truthful I began making an entry two other times this week and found that I had so much I wanted to say that I just did not have either the time or more stamina to finish the entry.

I did not expect it to be super easy but I was not prepared for how super hard it was.  As I mentioned, day one was boring to them and I was caught unaware.  On day two we took the field trip and it was easy. Not just because we were having fun and learning a wide variety of things but because their mother was participating as well in the process.

Then came day three, the day after a busy trip and concentration was low as everybody was feeling the stress from walking the trails.  I delayed the lessons a bit in the morning but enhanced the day with a trip to the library.

Day four was amazing!  Both girls were eager to take on the task in front of them and  F, the littlest one, also took on a great student roll.  F was not so great at taking her turn and waiting for me.  I suggested she get out her white slate and "doodle' a moment.  She did fine with and so it worked well in the beginning of the day. But being F she decided to do it HER way and rather than wait for me she began erasing the work in the book she had completed.  The other day four experience was one that really floored me.  I have been praising G's ability to read way above her level.  WELL I WAS WRONG.  She is a great reader, giving expression as well.  I have found out that the method used to teach her in Kindergarten was called the whole language approach.  I compare it to Suzuki violin, really impressive at the start but no appreciation for the art of the experience.  She has a wide range of "sight words" that she learned. As I review them it makes me wonder why they consider words like  "ATE" or RED"  a sight word. They are phonetic in nature and rules apply to each of them.

As it turns out G has learned ending sound combinations like "AT" and adds the beginning sound to it.  Sure it makes "SAT, FAT and RAT" easy to read but it seems she is almost reading backwards.  She looks at the end and adds the start sound. I wonder how we have come to this in our language skills.  What happened to blending, I believe that there had to be a lot of professional teachers in the states that never learned phonics so the began creating their own methods. So G has words that are long vowel sound and she is tossing around ideas of a word that would fit the context of the sentence or the story.  WHAT? I said to her.  You mean to tell me that you struggle with the word until you decide that you have it right just because it fits the sentence?  Sure that is a useful skill  but SOUND IT OUT. 

So back to the amazing day 4, I learned something new about my student and she learned the rule of two vowels.  By the end of day 4 she was amazed as well.  Then comes more revelation.  She adds so well only because the problems have always had a picture to support it.  When she adds 1+1 without a picture it becomes 11. This actually became a fight of me against the teacher that is no-more.  Miss. W told her that and she was always right. WHAT again I wonder!!!!  Miss. W often misunderstood G and I believe the G often misunderstood her. Certainly I can overcome this. Finally I did achieve this concept by proof and making her write a lot of 41 dots while I got to write only 5 in the sum box.  Turns out that 41 and 5 are very much different, no matter what she told me at first, seems when she has to perform a time consuming task while I get the pleasure of a brief task she can see my point.  Even if she did not, well she did concede.

What I liked most about day 4 was that we walked to the river bank, sat on a log and had story time. On the way we noticed many of God's natural wonders. While sitting on the log we noticed that several trees there had been cut by a beaver.  Both girls asked me if I could make a lesson about beavers.  OH YES day 4 is amazing and God is working in these girls.

So much for that last sentence on day 5. The morning routine was broken as they both had their  yearly check up at the doctor office.  Now I am not one for physical punishment, however, I found it necessary to be an enforcer onto F in a way that makes me cry. I must say however that the practitioner verbalized appreciation at discipline, telling me how many people do not do so.  F was so far away from the Lord on day 5 that one would consider an exorcist to be necessary.  Of course I know she is not truly a little demon but during  a period that day....well only God knows.  Lessons with her were difficult although she did complete some.  As we all know, a negative atmosphere spreads and I had reached my patience end.  I cannot say what G even did except that she would at times get F more stirred up.  I just know that by the end of the day I wondered what I had taken on.

Finally, day 6 comes and that would be today. F attempted a few huffs and turns away. Well, fine with me if she is not going to do any lessons but she will not be disrespectful to me.  Seems part of her lesson today including honoring mother and father.  I had a craft and paint for her to do, so she of course had do finish her number 5 worksheet which she eagerly did finally do.  OK...not so bad...not so beat. However, remember I also had to teach G.

Oh poor G, she broke down and cried at one time as I caught her cheating on the paper.  You see, I had to erase a few pages from the used book and I saw her write the answer and never even take a second glance at the problem.  She did that once the day before as well.  We got through it fine and she went on to do wonderful progress today in all subjects.  Today she was not afraid to complete addition facts and understand the concept FINALLY.  We moved on to TENS and ONES placement. 

What I have discovered is that I am exhausted. both physically and emotionally drained.  I tip my hat to you moms who are doing this job. You see, I am grandma, and as the saying goes "I get to send them home when I am done with them"

I really wanted to share everything but realize it would be impossible.  We began a lesson today on John Chapman...Johnny Appleseed.  Next week we will do a unit study on him as well as our other subjects. After-all, it is apple picking time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Field Trip

Today we went to Giant City in the Shawnee National Forest of Southern Illinois. This is about 1.5 hrs from our home and a drive with pleasant views when we take my route. It is unfortunate that K (their mom) had morning sickness on the hills up and down as we traveled further south.

We took time to visit the park's nature center, where G and F performed rubbing of several different leaves that are indigenous to Illinois.  There was a booklet there and I aksed the conservation officer if those were just for the table of resources to take with us.  He kindly replied, "take them" and then brought out a huge supply of variable resources that we could take with us to use in our class studies.

While there we watched a movie about the park and it included some information about how the formations were made but the girls were more intereted in the man talking about the CCC.  It clearly spoke of hand chiseling the stone that built the lodge and hand forging the handles to the doors and windows. 

This picture, although fuzzy, is of the girls touching one of the corner stones he spoke about in the movie.

They were also exicted to see Native American items present and learned of the stone wall that is present within the park. It tells us that it is  not actually a fort but the purpose is not known.  I can tell you that the reason the purpose is not known is because it was probably a group of men that tried to figure it out and they did not have any little ones with them at the time.  IF I was a Native American living in that time frame I would have had it built to block they unknowing, unaware or children when playing from the potential harm only feet away on the other side. 

This picture is what is left of the stone wall.

And this is what is on the other side.  In my opinion it is clear why it was put there.

So much more can be done about this trip in the class tomorrow.  G was walking along a tree when she noticed it was crumbing, great opportunity to talk about decay and nurishment back to the earth.

I do not have to tell you all how rich this experience is going to be. I did these type of activities with my own children all the time.  But to take these activities and make them even more purposeful than a family memory is priceless.  This is our busy week for things to get more full blown.  I am calling on the Lord to hold me up and support me as I go deeper into this experience.

Friday, September 3, 2010

First day of school today

I had planned to wait until the 7th but the girls really wanted to begin class today.  I knew this so I was prepared.

Ha Ha, so I thought.  I was not prepared for G to be bored with the review material. I was not prepared for F to have one of her obstinate days. But I am no amateur to their individual needs and this is not my first walk in the park, so to speak.

So I quickly abandoned the lesson plan that the ABeka curriculum guide  had provided me with. I am sure that the guide is written to a class of children at varying levels of understanding.  G told me, about 15 minutes into the lesson, that this was really boring and she thought that home school would be more fun.  I replied, "your right, this is really silly to teach you what you already know. Our school will be fun sometimes and sometimes it will be down right hard work.  So should we do it differently than the book tells me?"  Bless her heart, with the sincerest of looks she answered me back.  "Well, your the teacher I know, so do what you think is good."

So I tossed out the beginning phonics review and had her teach me all the letters and the sounds that they make.  Then I opened up her language skills seat-work book and told her to begin on page one and work in it as long as she wants.  If she gets to a point that she does not know it then we will begin teaching at that point.  So she was so eager to show me what all she already knows.  She did several pages until I told her that she has spent enough time on that subject and it was time to move on.  So out came the math book and she did several pages there independently until I told her that enough time has been spent on that subject as well.  According to the lesson plan book I do not even use these books until the 7th -12th  lesson day. 

I was not prepared indeed for her to feel bored, but I know that it is not something I want.  I can only imagine how she would feel in a class of 25 students doing the review necessary for such a diverse gathering.  I know I will return to the lesson plan at some point but for now I am going to let her work independently in the books until she no longer is showing me that she has the subject mastered.

NOW, as for F.  She learns easily but not deliberately. Remember that she is still very young but very knowledgeable.  I know there are times I must let her age and maturity level be the guide.  Eventually, after being in the living room by herself, without any form of entertainment (TV, myself, or sister) she rejoined the room. We did begin in the book as planned but did not spend too much time on it.  She was more eager to open a workbook as well after 10 minutes with the letter "Ii" and do some work.  So I got out the really neat Reading Readiness Skills book she did several pages of tracing and coloring  I knew that her fine motor skills were going to be an issue, tracing is still hard for her.  Then after a couple pages we went on to the Number skills book.  She was very talented naturally and correctly completed three pages. 

I am not sure why ABeka has them do just one page at a time here.  I am going to let them be the ones that guide me for right now.  I hope soon we reach a point of new learning.  I hate to imagine them being bored with school.

Even with that, we were at the playground right after lunch. What a beautiful day it was. Cooling down, breezy, and a joyful experience. 

I still have not snapped those photos for the wall decor but will get to it soon.

All in all, my first day as a home school granny-teacher was enlightening. Not for them of course, but for me. OH, and today we joined the HSLDA.  I thought it might be helpful to do so. 

I must say that this life has suddenly become very busy. Next week is filled with lessons, meetings, doctor appointments, and G's first girl scout meeting. The following week will be equally as busy as the co-op bowling will begin as well as the Master's Lyceum enrichment program on Fridays.