March 28, 2012

Year 1, Weeks 29, 30 & 31

I haven't written lately due to the beautiful summer-like weather, and the demands of many children and not a lot of help.  Plus, my inspiration ebbs and flows for blogging, just like other things.  When I blog less, I read a lot more!  I've read 4 books in the past 3 weeks, in fact. :)

 So, I'm back-tracking a bit to earlier this month.

Weeks 29-31 from Ambleside Online

The Good:
  • We are enjoying Viking Tales, and Buffalo Bill was a big hit as well.  
  •  We are continuing with Life of Fred (for math), and he seems to be enjoying it much more lately, as we near the end of Apples, the first elementary book.  
  • We finished Birds in the Handbook of Nature Study...but haven't started wildflowers, beyond looking to see what we have outside our door.  
  • We are almost finished with the last 1st grade reader, and he is doing very well.
  • We have also gotten some more of the free reads in - St. George and the Dragon is completed and Pinocchio has begun.  I've checked out the Red Fairy Book, but honestly these foster kids don't want to sit long and its going to take a while to get through free reads unless my own son starts reading on his own.
  • He built a wooden model tractor from a kit this week.

    We found a great Norman Rockwell study guide, and started using it this week.  I've missed having the term's art prints posted on the wall, but Rockwell is too modern for his painting to be public the way the others have been.  Here is another site that may be useful to Rockwell enthusiasts:

The Bad/Ugly:
We haven't really done much spelling in week 30 and 31, due to some reluctance on his part.  The newness wore off, and he has had struggles to get copy work done as well.  Trouble in one area typically means an extra hour of schoolwork due to time-outs and just plain wasted time, so spelling has been put off.  The few times we have worked on it, I've been using my foster son's 1st grade spelling list from public school :)

The Other :)
I've continued to work on Ambleside Online Pinterest boards most afternoons or evenings for a few minutes, and have gotten the Librivox recording of AO books pinned through year 7.  Once I'm done with Year 8, I plan on completing the booklists in the same way for years 6-11.  Its quite a lot of pinning, but I am sure it will be useful to myself and other in the coming years.  If anyone wants me to add them as a collaborator on any of the AO boards I've started, let me know!

March 9, 2012

Post-Storm Learning

Last week at this time we were huddled (me, 5 kids and a large dog) in a rather small bathroom to avoid being swept away by those awful tornadoes.  Luckily, none of them touched down too close to us, and no one I know was harmed.  Last week, my son learned the joy of storm coverage on local TV...mostly that if there is a storm, I turn the TV on during the day, LOL!

As follow-up to the excitement of last week, and the let-down of not-as-much-drama this week, we made a tornado-in-a-bottle.  Very quick and easy - and just look at his face!  (I learned how here, through a link on Pinterest.)

We also did AO's week 28, as written.

In addition, we are continuing to use The Months by Sara Coleridge for copy work - 1/2 a month per day, which is two lines on our lined handwriting paper.  No, its not much but he continues to complain of hand cramps and an occasional allergic reaction to touching paper.  Sigh.  If anyone has a cure for an imaginary paper allergy, I'd love to hear it! (Update: This was my first clue that he has sensory processing disorder, or SPD. We did occupational therapies with him for all of 2nd grade, and he is much improved!)

In math, we were continuing to do Xtra Math each day...until we found Timez Attack will actually work on our Mac now (free download for home use = not tying up our small bandwidth to play).  The way it works is almost identical to Xtra Math in the way it learns what the child needs to practice on and gives more of those problems before moving on.  And it has awesome gaming graphics, which for a 7 year old is a huge draw.  So...not sure which way I'll go with mastering his math facts.

As far as a math curriculum, we are trying out Life of Fred, borrowed from a friend.  As I expected, he resisted at first, but it only took 3 days before he was asking to do math next instead of putting off until last.  Hooray!  We are starting with Apples, and doing one lesson each day.  Its super easy for him right now, but I'm hoping that starting at the very beginning will help ease him into doing the reading of it on his own much sooner, and give him confidence in both reading *and* math.

As for reading - he leaped ahead of the schedule, and is now using a book light each night to read the leveled readers.  He hates reading aloud, and giving him this freedom has been very encouraging to him, in my opinion.  I'll probably give it another week before requiring him to read something to me aloud each day.

All in all, it was a nice, relaxing week.  Next week will most likely not be that way, due to several meetings and the hubby's 7 day business trip.  Wish me luck!

* I'm linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up!*

March 6, 2012


I'm new to the whole blog carnival things, so while I have the button over there ----->
I don't actually know what I'm doing. :)  The latest Charlotte Mason carnival was on poetry, and so while I'm late for that party, I'm going to go ahead and share how we do poetry here with just one student.

As you know, we use Ambleside Online, and I am following their suggestions for poets.  In Year 1, we started with Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.  I had never read this as a child, and liked it very much.  My son had never really heard poetry before, other than nursery rhymes put to song, so this was brand-new territory.  The extent of my poetry exposure was Mother Goose and whatever public school forced on me, which wasn't much except in junior high, if I remember correctly.

We used a hard copy with beautiful illustrations instead of reading online, although that's an option if your budget is really tight.  Each morning, usually right after Bible and scripture memory, I would read between 1-3 poems to him.  I sometimes asked what he thought, but for the most part just paused and let him enjoy the moment.  After a couple weeks, I asked him to start listening for a favorite poem so we could memorize it, and he immediately chose Rain.  I think he liked the shortness of it, but agreed it would be a good place to start.  I copied it onto an index card and we used it for a bookmark a few weeks, reading it daily after reading the ones I had scheduled.  Once he knew it, I added it to the scripture memory box to keep it fresh in his mind.

For the second term, he chose The Moon for memory work.  This was a much longer piece, and I was glad he enjoyed that one.  He is proud of knowing this one, and for a while would try to recite it for anyone who would listen.  I believe I can agree with Brandy at Afterthoughts that memorizing the poetry is what got him truly excited about listening to it, and that *doing* poetry at this age is SO much more important that explaining, analyzing and dissecting the poem.  (She has a great, in-depth post with several Charlotte Mason quotes, and you can see there how I think poetry should be done.  We're getting there!)

Once we finished the whole Child's Garden of Verses, we moved on to Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh).  These poems are longer, in general, and much more like stories.  The language was a bit more complicated than the short Verses, but I enjoyed these very much, and think he did, too.  We had trouble finding one to memorize, and with all the foster kids coming and going, and the illnesses we've had this winter, I didn't push it.

Just this week we competed Now We Are Six, and we have started The Real Mother Goose.  This book is actually for Year 0 (preschool and kindergarten), but since we weren't using AO then, and I didn't have this great book, we are doing it now.  This is the book I remember from my childhood, and don't want him to miss out on!  I think we'll be able to find several little poems to memorize from this volume, and have a fun time finishing out Year 1 this way.

PS - I'm aiming to start linking to blog carnivals, so here's my first one.  I'm linked up with The Weekly-Wrap Up over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, as well as the Charlotte Mason carnival.