Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

We had a good week last week, nothing really "extra" going on, so just a nice week at home doing school and playing outside and just being.

Both girls, but especially A, have made marked improvement in reading this week. You may recall in last week's wrap-up I mentioned needing to slow down and reinforce some stuff in the curriculum, we were able to pick back up to speed this week and things are moving forward. One of A's struggles was the word "the" it's a mystery to me how the child who memorizes memory verses w/ no trouble whatsoever, simply could NOT memorize that t-h-e says "the". But we struggled and struggled and struggled. Probably making it worse for little miss perfectionist (poor thing, she's her mother's child), was that L came into these "lessons" knowing "the" from having worked w/ the Bob books in the past. And while L was a great "cheerleader" I think it just underlined for A the fact that L knew it & she didn't. . . finally, in desperation, I told A to take a piece of paper & write "the" 5 times, saying the word as she wrote it each time (I wrote it at the top so she'd know what to write). That did the trick (further proving she's her mother's daughter LOL. My history notes for some of the major tests floated around our hs for YEARS after I was gone (seriously, my brother was 5 yrs behind me and someone gave HIM a copy of them when he was taking those classes LOL) funny thing is, *I* never studied those notes per se. I memorize by writing. So I wrote copious notes in class and then went home & typed them up, organizing them as I typed. To "review" for a major exam I took notes from quizes and previous exams and retyped/organized them yet again . . . once I had "pretty" notes, at most I'd skim them right before the test. ANYWAY . . . apparently A inherited my tendency to memorize best by writing down, something that actually excites me greatly since we're already using copywork as part of our curriculum, once her reading is to the point that she can actually READ the copywork she's doing, I suspect she'll have a head chock full of Bible verses and whatever else we choose to use for copywork as time goes on). So, A's mastering of the word "the" was a major, and much celebrated, accomplishment this week. I'd also taken a couple weeks off from using the easy reading books from the library. The words were easy enough but when we read the first one (Cat Traps) the sheer length of it overwhelmed A. (L did fine w/ it, but while this may not be "fair" w/ them close in abilities, but L slightly ahead, and A's perfectionist tendancies, I prefer to keep them "even" right now even if it means not pushing L as fast as she COULD go (truth be told, given my druthers I wouldn't be teaching them to read at ALL. I was fully prepared to use the unschooling method of providing them w/ resources and taking it slow and when they were ready, they'd start reading w/o any formal "lessons" but alas, A got impatient and wanted to learn NOW). So anyway . . . I printed off nice short "books" from and and such and we've been using those for the last week or two. Near the end of this week I realized that I hadn't printed off another starfall book (and they'd read the ones I'd printed off earlier) so I decided to take another shot at the library books. A did SOOO much better. One of the reasons she struggled so much, compared to L, w/ "Cat Traps" is because she never picked up on the repetition. Seriously every other opening in the entire book was word for word EXACTLY the same. And the other ones were only a few words different. But she labouriously sounded out those exact same words on! Whereas L quickly picked up on the repetition and barely glanced at the "same" pages. This time (we were reading "Big Egg") A picked up quickly on the repetition and use of pictures (so, for example, neither kid even noticed that the word goat uses a letter combination (oa) tha we haven't learned yet, because by that page in the book they'd figured out that each page asked "is this a [insert farm animal pictured on this page] egg?" saw the picture of the goat and "read" the page without any problem. LOL. Anyway, while some will argue that's not "reading" it strikes me as an important logic skill that is a step toward realizing that reading doesn't have to involve sounding out every single word if there's another way to figure out what it says LOL.

As already mentioned, we also introed the Book-It reading incentive this week & it went over big. They're over halfway to their goal of 12 books and it's only the first week of the month, methinks next month needs a higher number of books LOL.

We finished up Columbus this week by making 1500's bean soup like might have been served on Columbus' ship. The girls asked about each ingredient as we put it in, and we discussed why this would be a good thing to have on a ship (onions last a long time w/o having to stay cold, etc). At suppertime they informed Daddy that "this isn't REALLY supper, it's more like, well . . . school!" and proceed to explain that it was soup like Columbus might have had, yadda yadda. We're now learning about Jamestown/Pocahontas. I FINALLY manged to get one of the d'Auliere books from the library (the last 2 had long wait lists that meant we'd have been on beyond that character before we got the book) and we're enjoying it. It's a great series of books about historic characters for young kids. The other book we're using, Surviving Jamestown, is abit more of a struggle. I'm hopeful that once we get past the ship part, they'll be more interested, I think another descriptive book about a long ship voyage right on top of "Pedro's Journal" (about Columbus' voyage) was just abit much for them. I went through and printed off some coloring sheets that I'll have them color while I read this week, hopefully that will help them listen w/o getting bored (I listen much better if my hands are busy, this is why dh sometimes gives me a hard time for "stealing" the girls' coloring books and coloring in church LOL). Unfortunately, the other book on Jamestown hasn't come in yet, and I suspect won't in time (since we'll finish w/ Pocohontas/Jamestown next week and I'm still #2 on the list), so if we want to learn anything from the settlers' point of view, we need to plow through this one. With Jamestown a likely "fieldtrip" destination at some point (we actually went there when the girls were 2 1/2, but obviously they don't remember it. I REALLY wish my parents' schedule was such that they/we could "recreate" the Nov motorhome trip we took when the girls were 2 1/2, I think w/ what we're studying now & their overall interest in history, the girls would be fascinated by it all! But alas, my parents didn't retire as planned, so it will have to wait for another year. On the positive side, since the original trip was for Dad to get his National Park Passport stamps, I figure the odds are good I can convince him to recreate it at some point, so he can re-get those stamps LOL.

Yesterday (Sabbath) after church we'd been invited to stay for dinner at the church with the other Primary kids. One of the leaders, Teacher Cindy, fixed lunch for everyone and then the kids made crafts (the little melted bead things) to take to the nursing home (I'm not clear on whether there will be another trip later to actually TAKE them to the nursing home or if Cindy will just deliver them w/o the kids), and then went to a nearby playground for awhile. The girls seemed to have fun. The group of older kids (who even w/in the group very much paired off by grade level, I heard comments like "I don't trust anyone who's not in 2nd grade") didn't go out of their way to include the girls, and the girls didn't go out of their way to be included, but it was several small groups of kids anyway, not "everyone" vs. the girls, so I don't think the girls noticed or cared. There was a younger sibling there who was probably 3, maybe 4. And A took her under her wing and "helped" by playing chasing games and such w/ her while we were getting the meal ready & such. At the playground near the end the girls joined in w/ some of the older girls abit more, so there were steps toward building friendships at least.

Looking ahead to this coming week, I realized we really NEED to pick apples this week, that way if we decide we want to turn a good number of them into applesauce we can be lazy & take them to my parents' this weekend and use mom's . . . ok, no idea what it's called, but you just run the apples through it & it grinds them up & dumps the core & seeds out one side & the applesauce out the other side. I figure the girls will think cranking that thing is great fun, and quite frankly cranking that thing strikes me as being more fun than peeling & coring a whole bunch of apples LOL. So, assuming weather cooperates we'll go pick apples this week.

As you'll notice if you pay attention to our weekly schedule (for school) the memory verse this week is the ENTIRE Lord's Prayer. Now, while I have nothing against the Lord's Prayer, I'm not one to go out of my way to encourage reciting prayers (vs. saying what comes from your heart, I firmly believe that Jesus gave us that prayer as an example, not so much something to repeat verbatim with any regularity) so it's not like they already know some/all of it from having heard it elsewhere on a regular basis. We started though it last night and while I for sure want them to learn this one in the KJV (which is what is in the lesson, as the memory verse), that adds the further complication of words they're not accustomed to. So they're having to memorize new WORDS as well as putting a whole lot of words together. We shall see how the week goes. We won't be at our church this weekend (as mentioned above, we'll be at my parents') so at least they won't have to tell Teacher Cindy they don't know it, if they can't memorize it all. I still need to decide which one I want to buy, but I found 3 different kids versions of the Lord's Prayer set o music (kid music, not Charlotte Church type music, which is beautiful, but not likely to help 5 yr olds memorize it) online that can be purchased (the mp3) for $0.99 so I want to get one of them and we'll sing it through a couple times during circle time each day, plus play it at least a time or 2 anytime we're in the car (my gps unit has a built in mp3, so I can download it onto that to have in the car or upstairs (or I can just use my computer upstairs, either way).

One of my accomplishments last week was to go through the ENTIRE history curriculum and figure out the schedule. Obviously there are many variables (books might not be available, or as we're finding w/ the Jamestown book right now, might not hold their attention, in either we might switch to a different one or skip it altogether as needed). I did NOT leave out any time for the baby's birth, with so much of it being read-alouds, I'm wondering if we'll be able to pretty much keep right on going w/ history w/o really missing any time for when the baby's born, but obviously that's something we'll play by ear. I also went through and determined the few books I need to buy (library doesn't have them or, in the case of Squanto, it's a long book that is used over several weeks, even w/ "tweaking" the schedule to not start Squanto till we got back from Disney (following the schedule in order put us reading the first day's reading before the trip) it would mean having to go get the book the DAY we got back from Disney (which would mean reserving it while we were AT Disney, and assuming there wouldn't be any holds on it ahead of us) and it was still iffy if we'd finish it before we needed to return it. So when I found it on for $0.75 plus shipping I decided it was worth that to not have to stress about it being overdue and us not being done. So I ordered it this week. As an added bonus, that should make it a good book to take along on our Disney trip and read some in the car if the girls are in the mood, which might put us ahead of schedule :)

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