Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week 14, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed a few verses and catechism questions, and read about the shepherds and the wise men.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was almost warm, and sunny. Yippee! Eventually, sogginess becomes tiresome.

Handwriting: I did wet-dry-try on the board with P for the numbers 5 and 6. Hopefully this will help her remember how to form them when she's doing her 5-a-days.

Language Arts: P wrote yesterday's sentence from dictation, and read her reader with ease. The schedule had me hum tunes the kids knew and ask them to identify them. Since neither child can remotely carry a tune, I was skeptical about whether this would work, but P found it fairly easy. So her inability to carry a tune is separate from an inability to hear a tune, which is interesting.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): On Thursday morning, E asked if we could count to a trillion. When Ari heard me explain to him that we couldn't, but a computer could, he offered to program his linux box to count to a trillion. The computer took about 20 hours to count to almost a trillion by ones (some kind of floating point error caused it to count to a trillion minus 2^12), displaying every 100,000th number (because printing out numbers takes the computer much longer than counting them). This was highly entertaining. We then asked it to count to a trillion and a half, which it is still doing, but it's gotten past a trillion and thus the objective has been achieved. The kids have learned that computers can count much, much faster than people can.

I asked P to make 30 cents using 4 coins, and then using 2 coins. She did both of these instantly, hardly having to think about it at all. It's amazing how much easier this sort of thing as become for her over the past few months.

E's "school": We read "Thumbelina" from Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales and "What Happens To Your Food" from The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book. E wanted to repeat yesterday's SSGMR activity, so I let him trace around a small book, trace the pencil line with a marker, colour in the rectangle, and cut it out. He was quite pleased with the result; his scissor skills are pretty good for 3 years old.

Geography and/or science: We looked at the pictures in the book about Denmark, and I talked about some of my experiences as an exchange student there. The book was quite long, so by the time we had finished reading it, the kids had no attention span left for any other geography-type books.

Other: We're done with school for 2009! I don't plan on doing any more until the first week of January; there is plenty going on around here for the next few weeks. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Since the baby's due date is February 3rd (but both P and E were born before their due dates), I don't know how much school will happen during January. I plan to take a couple of weeks off once the baby is born. Hopefully P and E will get to see much of the (home)birth, and that will count as science for several weeks!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Week 14, day 3

School didn't happen on Wednesday. The kids hung out with their Oma all morning while Ari and I went Christmas shopping for them (we're making them kites - shh, don't tell), and in the afternoon I had a midwife appointment from which I only got home at 3pm. (I really like the fact that my midwife spends a full hour chatting with me at every visit - so much better than what I've heard about big OB practices). By that time I didn't think it would be worth the stress of trying to get anything done, besides which the kids were enjoying being read to by their Oma, so instead I took them to the library when she was done. The outside of the library, that is, because "an incident" caused the library to close without warning for the rest of the day, so although the official closing time was 6pm, it wasn't open at 4:30pm when we came. We tried again on Thursday, and they were open (I called first).

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed a couple of verses, and read the story of Jesus' birth. The story went into Joseph's initial reservations about Mary's pregnancy, which led to an interesting discussion of just who should have babies when (I summarized it as "you ought to be married, and if you aren't it's a problem, unless an angel from God tells you otherwise").

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It's been cloudy and/or rainy all week long. But this (Friday) morning we woke up to clear skies. Hooray!

Handwriting: I had P write her first and last name on the envelope of the card she made for her friend last time we did school. Her handwriting is still too large to comfortably fit the return address on the envelope as well, so I wrote that.

Language Arts: P did the copywork and read the reader to E (I wished I had my camera, it was really neat to see the two of them sitting together reading, but if I'd gone downstairs to grab it she'd have been done before I got back up). We played a "Tigger Toss" game where all the letters we've looked at so far were spread out on the floor, I said a word starting with one of the letters, and the kids took turns tossing a stuffed Tigger puppet onto the starting letter.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did her 5-a-day without much difficulty, though it seemed like she'd switched her brain off when trying to write a 6 - it ended up as an 8, a 0, and a spiral before she finally got it right. Perhaps we should spend some handwriting time reviewing number formation.

E's "school": This week's SSGMR activity involves tracing around an object such as a mixing bowl or a book with a pencil, using a marker to trace on top of the pencil line, colouring in the shape, and cutting it out. E enjoyed doing this, and P watched patiently, which I used as an example when E was messing with P while she did her 5-a-day.

Geography and/or science: We made it to the library, and checked out books on Iceland, Norway, Denmark, the Vikings, the Solar System, various planets, and magnets. Once home, we read about Jupiter (a fairly good book, I didn't have to correct anything and only added a few points that I found interesting but the author hadn't), the Vikings (the book was over the kids' heads, but we discussed the pictures), and Mars (unclear, inaccurate writing by someone who HASN'T studied the Red Planet for several years at Caltech. I ignored the text entirely and told them like it was. At least the pictures were okay. Perhaps you should just never check out a book for your kids that deals with your area of expertise, but I think the key is that this particular author was neither capable of understanding science nor of writing in English).

Other: The kids decorated the cookies they baked a few days ago, using icing in ziploc bags with one corner cut off. If sufficient force is applied closer to the zip closure than to the open corner, the zip closure bursts open and a gallon of icing spills out, even if there was only half a cup of icing in the bag to begin with. I think this was mainly because I was trying to cook dinner at the same time, and E didn't think it as much of a problem as I did (I have no idea how many globs of icing he ate before I became aware of the situation). Okay, it wasn't really a gallon, it really was more like half a cup, but half a cup of icing is a LOT.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Week 14, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed a couple of memory verses and catechism questions, and read the story of the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary. I wasn't sure I liked the rhetorical style of the children's Bible for this story; it used a lot of unnecessary imagery and figurative language. I don't think the average 3- or 5-year-old (or at least my two) can grasp symbolism at the level the storytelling used. Imagery is great for older children and adults, but preschoolers and kindergarteners need ideas to be expressed more concretely.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It's still cool and cloudy, and is expected to remain cloudy for a long time. The rain last night left a large puddle, and I let the kids play in it once we were done with school (I used it as an incentive to keep us on task).

Handwriting: I had P do wet-dry-try with b, c, and d to try to emphasize that "b" starts with a "big line down" and "d" starts with a "magic c". Later on, she complained that we hadn't done handwriting, since she hadn't done any pencil-on-paper work, so I let her make a Christmas card for another friend of hers in PA.

Language Arts: I had P do yesterday's copywork from dictation, and she read the reader quite well. She's clearly gaining confidence and fluency. She also got to make up a story about a fanciful picture, which went slowly at first but eventually she got into it and came up with a coherent and sensible story.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): Before we officially started school today, the kids played with Cuisenaire Rods. When we were putting them away, P counted all the 1-rods and found 22. She divided them into 2 piles of 10 with 2 left over, and I felt inspired to try to introduce adding with regrouping (carrying). So I started by establishing that the way we divide them into groups doesn't change the total, so I had her add 10+10+2, 12+10, and 11+11 both on the whiteboard and using the 1-rods. Then I told her I'd do something a bit tricky, and divided them into piles of 6 and 16. I wrote the problem on the whiteboard and asked her to do the first column. She saw that 12 (6+6) wouldn't fit in the column, so I asked her how many tens and how many ones were in 12. She wasn't quite sure, so I asked her how she would make 12 using dimes and pennies. This made it clear to her that there were 2 ones and 1 ten, so we wrote the 2 in the ones column and I told her we'd store the one ten above the other ten from 16. She added the tens column and got the expected answer. She seemed to readily grasp that this made sense. I'll find other concrete examples to teach the same concept in the coming days and see how it goes. I'm so stoked about teaching my 5-year-old stuff I'm pretty sure I wasn't taught until 2nd grade, and having her understand it.

I put a 2-digit addition problem (no regrouping) onto her 5-a-day, and she needed a bit of guidance with that but did it well. The problem was 40+15, and I made it concrete by having her find 40 cents and 15 cents, and then put them together and compare the result to the result of her addition. Once she did, her response was basically, "Well, of course they match, they're the same problem." So I feel pretty confident that she's tied the more abstract addition problem to reality.

E's "school": E demanded "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" today, so we read that, as well as a book about 3 boys who spend a day on the river. We didn't get to any P3/4 books, but that can wait for tomorrow. Yay, flexibility.

Geography and/or science: The kids' extended playing outside in last night's puddle meant that it was too late to go to the library when they were finished. I'm sure they absorbed some good physics by splashing around. They also invented an adorable game where they took turns being Jericho and Joshua's army. The child who was Jericho stood still in the middle while the child who was the army ran around Jericho in circles, then stopped, made a trumpet noise, and Jericho fell. Then they switched roles and played again. This worked great for them until E thought it would be hilarious for Jericho to run away instead. P was annoyed at E but then got the idea that a Jericho made of sticks would be easier to control than her younger brother, so they played the same game but both ran around the pile of sticks, and took turns knocking it over and rebuilding it. This is a way more creative game than I'd be likely to come up with myself - it's fun to see them in imaginative play together.

Other: The gingerbread recipe I used for the gingerbread house we made was ridiculously generous - I could probably have made 2 gingerbread houses - so we used the leftover dough to make cookies. Both kids are really good at this now. It was frustrating a year ago to make cookies with E, because he cut out several shapes on top of each other and was upset when the resulting cookie didn't have a recognizable shape (and when I insisted on transferring his creation to the cookie sheet instead of letting him eat it before baking). This year, he's as good at it as P, so now we have even more good things to eat, just lying around being tempting...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week 14, day 1

I thought about not doing school this week, but the idea of entertaining the kids in some other way every single day made me shudder. They still find it enjoyable (hopefully this will remain the case for a long time), so I don't see any need to stop until the week of Christmas. Also, this way we can read the whole Christmas story during our school time.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed the 2 most recent memory verses, and read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): We agreed that the weather today was cool and cloudy. E was able to recognize the 14 on the calendar without much help.

Handwriting: I let P trace 5 letter cards and E trace one. He wanted to do more, but P was already done. She has been reversing "d" lately (actually, all her "magic c" letters that start with a c shape), so I may use tomorrow's handwriting time to correct that with wet-dry-try.

Language Arts: We introduced another letter, and the kids were happy that they got to make a letter sheet. E chose to play foolishly with his scissors near his pants after I had warned him not to, so he lost the privilege of cutting anything out (he's ruined at least 2 shirts by testing scissors on them). This was upsetting to him but didn't completely extinguish his joy at finding appropriate pictures and at least getting to tape them in place. P got to cut out, tape in place, and label all the pictures she found for the letter sheet - her handwriting is neat and small enough now.

P did her copywork (tracing, really) neatly, and read this week's reader without much trouble. After she'd sounded out each sentence slowly, I had her repeat it to me faster, to see if she was comprehending, and she really was. This is the first of the readers that she hadn't looked at before, and she was pleased that she was able to read it so well on the first try.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): We had fun with this today! I didn't make up P's 5-a-day until just after lunch, and I asked her if she wanted to trace coins or just count them (since she'd been struggling with the tracing the past few days). She insisted that she wanted to trace them, so I had her make 25 cents in as many ways as she could without using any pennies. She found 3 of the 4 possible ways herself, and I guided her to the fourth.

After P was done with her 5-a-day, I thought I'd try a suggestion from the MOTL Operations book: adding Really Big Numbers. I wrote down a pair of 5-digit numbers (making sure that there would be no carrying required), and drew columns so that she could add the numbers in each column (ones, tens, hundreds, etc). She was able to do this easily and came up with the correct 5-digit answer. Then I let her make up a number, I made up a second number (looking at each digit I wrote to make sure that its sum with the corresponding digit in her number would be 9 or less), and she did the problem without any guidance from me. Then we let E write a number. He can only really write 1s and 0s, so almost any number I came up with for the second line would work - the last problem we did, P ended up adding 101,110,110 to some random number I came up with and getting the correct answer (I did draw the columns for her). The kids loved this so much - they were really impressed at being able to add such big numbers. Ari commented later on that they don't really understand what they're doing, so I plan on alternating between having P add 2-digit numbers (and demonstrating with manipulatives, like dimes and pennies, or beans and 10-bean sticks) and letting them play with huge numbers. As she gets a grasp of larger numbers, I'll add in dollar bills or 100-bean squares and I'm sure the connection with reality will come. Ari suggested that we could probably introduce carrying as well, if we used manipulatives. I'll "test the waters" on that one and see how P does when I introduce the concept.

E's "school": I tried interspersing various P3/4 books with the other activities, particularly P's seatwork, today, and it worked well. We read several sections of Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? and "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics. I didn't even look at what this week's SSGMR activity was - the past weekend was packed; I sang in 4 concerts and didn't have any evenings at home from Friday to Sunday (evenings being when I usually do most of my prep work).

Geography and/or science: Nothing along these lines happened today. I've been meaning to take the kids to the library, but the nearby library closed and is moving farther away, and I only recently found the next-nearest one (and had no time to investigate it in much detail once I'd found it). We might do that tomorrow, since there's no Titmouse Club this week (or anything else, for that matter - no Arabic Bible study, no ballet lessons, no CBS - it's rather relaxing).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week 13, day 5

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed John 3:16 and our most recent catechism questions. These deal with sin and how sin deserves the wrath and curse of God, so I explained to the kids that that's the bad news, but John 3:16 tells the good news - Jesus took the curse on the cross, and when we believe in him we can have life forever instead of getting what we deserve. We also read the story of Jonah, both in the Bible storybook and a Peter Spier picture book adaptation (which I conditionally recommend: the pictures and story stick close to the original text but in the back there's "additional information" including a more liberal date for and attitude toward the book of Jonah than respect for the Bible justifies. We discussed the pictures - a map and a diagram of a ship of Tarshish - and I didn't read any of the comments aloud).

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): E really excels at identifying the date on the calendar, and P is doing pretty well at telling time to the nearest minute when I walk her through it.

Handwriting: Paul, look for a pair of Christmas cards from your niece and nephew in however long it takes a standard letter to reach Canada at this time of year. E traced his name (though he couldn't see what he was tracing and formed the letters as well as he could remember instead, which turned out surprisingly well) and P wrote a few sentences.

Language Arts: We played the picture matching game, where the kids place various pictures on the letter card corresponding to their initial letter. P has no trouble with this, and E just needed help finding the letters sometimes - he could easily identify whether a given letter was right or wrong once he'd found it.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): Again, P got frustrated when I included counting money involving a dime and a quarter. She's been able to do this readily in the past, but it's been a problem the last few days. I may change up the 5-a-day again, using scanned coins for her to count and letting her trace the same ones if she wants to trace something, instead of making her come up with the right number of coins.

We played the coin matching game, this time with various numbers of nickels to practice skip-counting by 5s. E does this almost perfectly, and P is at about the same level as he is but doesn't like it and resists.

Earlier in the day, we did more measuring. The kids put their chairs on the table, and we measured together that the table alone was 41 cm high and the chair alone was 26 cm high. I showed P how to do the addition problem on the whiteboard, and we confirmed together that the chair on the table was 67 cm high just as our sum predicted. Later on, when I found out that standard postage to Canada is 75 cents, I showed the kids how to add the values of two standard stamps, which came to more than 75 cents, so we knew that 2 stamps would be enough.

E's "school": We read a number of stories and poems, including "Leo the Late Bloomer," "A Baby Sister for Frances," and "Baby Says" from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics. P tried to read the words in "Baby Says" (there are only 7 unique words), but they don't follow the phonics rules we've covered so far (Uh oh, no, okay, baby) so I had to help her out quite a bit. She started to recognize some of them by the end. We discussed some of the ways life might change once our baby is born - I may not have as much time to do some of the things they're used to, our school might be interrupted if the baby cries in the middle, etc.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Week 13, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We didn't get started until about 3:15, because I was enjoying reading a magazine and the kids were enjoying being read to by their grandparents. We reviewed our memory verse and most recent catechism question, and read about Daniel in the lions' den.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): While we were outside observing the weather, we ended up measuring various items because E brought the meter stick with us. The jungle gym is almost 2 meters high, the roof of the first floor more like 2 3/4 meters. When E was standing on top of a pile of wood stumps, he was 2 meters high, though he is almost exactly 1 meter high when he's standing on the ground. Although it was late and I wanted to get through various other school things, I thought this was a valuable enough activity to let it continue for a while.

Handwriting: P completed a page of capital "A"s. I can see HWT's point about having children complete an entire line of letters without any sample letters in the middle or at the end of the line - the letters do get progressively messier. I think that, when we use these free worksheets in future, I'll put a few sample letters in before I have P complete the line.

Language Arts: P wrote yesterday's sentence from dictation, re-read this week's reader quite fluently, and completed a "story elaboration" in which she added to a 2-sentence story. Her elaboration ended up taking up over half a page of my handwriting (which is slightly larger now than when I was in college, but still...). She seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, but insisted on jumping off the bed repeatedly while coming up with some of the descriptions.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I could tell, when I brought out the 5-a-day, that it was going to be a chore to get P to sit still and do it, so I let the kids play with Cuisenaire rods first. While they played, I made number cards (I cut 4x6 index cards in half and wrote a number from 1 to 18 on each, and also made +, -, and = cards). I traced the relevant Cuisenaire rod onto each card and coloured it the appropriate colour. The kids enjoyed finding the right Cuisenaire rod for me, and once we got into the teens I placed the appropriate 1s digit next to the orange 10-rod. P insisted on decorating the +, -, and = cards with Cuisenaire rods in different colours from their sizes (she traced a purple 4-rod onto the + card and coloured it dark green, for example). I wish she hadn't, and may make new ones to use when we're actually using the cards to demonstrate concepts, because it confuses matters. I showed them that 4+1=5, 1+4=5, 5-4=1, and 5-1=4 using the cards and the Cuisenaire rods, and I think they understood the interrelatedness of the 4 equations, but I'm not sure they'd be able to reproduce them.

When P finally did her 5-a-day, it took a good bit of refocusing. It became clear to me today that working earlier in the afternoon is far easier in terms of the kids' attention spans, so I paid for my laziness. When it came to the coin play, generally P's favourite part, she collapsed in tears of frustration when trying to add to a quarter to make 42 cents. I walked her through it, and she did most of the thinking herself, but needed to be cajoled to trace the coins once she'd assembled them under her paper. I declared that formal school was over - it was time to start thinking about dinner, anyway.

E's "school": This didn't happen. It was cloudy again, so we couldn't examine our shadows outside. I did read a fun book to them, but I'm counting it under "science".

Geography and/or science: Before we started school, E asked me to read the Usborne "What's Under the Ground" book. I told him we would read it after school, which we did once the food was on the stove and safe to ignore for a while. The book deals with many of the things near the surface, like anthills, moles, and pipes, as well as caves and mines. It deals briefly with the idea of "digging a hole through the earth", with a cartoonish cross-section of Earth. After we had read the book, P told me, "I don't understand how, if the earth is round, people on the underside don't fall off." This led to a discussion of how gravity pulls stuff toward where the most stuff is, and the most stuff is under your feet wherever you are on Earth. I reminded her of how, when we visited South Africa, gravity seemed to work just the same as in the USA. We turned the cross-section page of the book to various angles to see how down was always toward the center of the earth. I think she grasped the concept, and I was pleased to see her really thinking about it.

Week 13, day 3

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed John 3:16 and read about the handwriting on the wall.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): This whole telling time thing is a little beyond P, and I think I succeeded in intimidating her by asking her to do it on her 5-a-day a few days ago, because she seems confused now. When we record the temperature and the time the temp was taken, I go through how we figure out the time step by step. (Where is the hour hand pointing? What hour is it? Where is the minute hand pointing? Let's count the minutes together - do you want to count by 5s or by 1s?). If I leave out any of the hand holding, she gets upset. Clearly, this means that she's not ready for me to leave any of the steps out, so I need to be reliable to help her with all of them for the next little while.

Handwriting: I gave P a page of "a"s to copy, since she was tempted to do them wrong on Tuesday. She completed all the lowercase "a"s and they looked good.

Language Arts: P traced the second sentence for the week, re-read the reader, and we played a game where for each letter we've learned, the kids took turns naming a food that started with that letter. E really enjoyed coming up with different kinds of meat: turtle meat, alligator meat, penguin meat, fox meat, etc. I tried to get him to identify foods he's actually tasted, but at least he proved that he's fully grasped the concept.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P got through her 5-a-day slowly, after a few threats about how if she pretended to be asleep instead, I'd have to assume that she was sick and couldn't go to ballet. This problem wasn't restricted to math; she tried it repeatedly during just about every subject. I didn't let her get away with it, and she did all her work well once she actually did it.

E's "school": This didn't happen. It was too cloudy to look at our shadows outside, which was the main other thing from SSGMR I'd planned, and I left to take P to ballet before we had time to read any storybooks. Perhaps I ought to switch around our schedule some, by putting a read-aloud between handwriting and language arts or before math, to give him more direct attention. I'll mull this over and perhaps try it next week.

Geography and/or science: We looked at my picture book about Bamble, a region in Norway. The book is full of beautiful pictures, mainly featuring seaside towns and winter scenes. I explained what fjords were by drawing an outline of Norway on our whiteboard, and then erasing bits of the coastline and drawing jagged inlets into each erased bit. It was a bit more dramatic than the real map, but the kids readily saw that Norway has a lot of coastline because of the fjords.

When I first received this book in 2001, I was amazed to see that one of the pictures was of an area whose name was the same as my mother's maiden name. The picture's caption stated that the land in that area had been farmed for over 5000 years. Never having lived more than 4 1/2 years in one place (though I have now lived in the USA for almost 8 straight years, which explains why I'm getting stir-crazy), I found it incredible to have a photo of a place where I have 5000-year-old roots. I tried to explain to the kids why I liked this photo so much, but they were way too young to grasp the concept of "rootedness". I guess it is kind of abstract.

Other: I took P to ballet while Ari and E used their underwater camera housing to film sunfish eating bacon. They got some awesome close-up footage of several sunfish stripping their bait wire clean. I guess this counts as "science".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 13, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed about 10 of the most recent catechism questions and the memory verse, and read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Today, the kids didn't argue that it was cold, and were satisfied with recording it as cool and cloudy with a bit of rain. The time was 11:55, and I showed P how we could figure that out on the clock, but I think I confused her.

Handwriting: Mom and Dad, expect adorable Christmas cards in the mail, the one from P with several sentences and the one from E with his own tracing of his name. P started making her lowercase "a" in a strange way, so I nipped it in the bud by having her do "wet-dry-try" on the chalkboard.

Language Arts: I asked P to write yesterday's copywork from dictation, which she did well when she was trying. I became frustrated with her when I reminded her to leave a space between words, and she started the second word at the very end of the line (leaving most of the line as a space). I made her erase it and do it sensibly - I think she just wanted to get a rise out of me. She read the reader beautifully. The "creative expression" activity for today was for the child to make up words to a tune they know already, but P can't carry a tune yet. I helped her and we sang the list of her favourite colours (from most to least beloved) to the approximate tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb": "Pink and purple, blue and green, yellow, orange and red" twice.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): Before Titmouse Club, I let the kids watch the math video, covering addition, subtraction, and comparisons. Later in the day, P compared all the braid bracelets she's made, deciding which pairs were the same, similar, and different.

I put a clock reading 8:05 on P's 5-a-day, but it took a lot of prompting and eventually telling her before she figured it out, so that was premature. I'll keep reviewing hour and half hour, and work on more direct instruction for the next few days to try and help her grasp it. I showed her how to tell time to the nearest minute after she was done with the 5-a-day, and she seemed to grasp it again, like yesterday, but it's clear I need to let her keep practicing with lots of input from me before she can do it by herself.

E's "school": We did the "shadow play" activity today. It was cloudy anyway, so we closed the curtains and turned off the lights, and saw what kinds of shadows various toys cast when they were between a flashlight and the wall. I showed them how the shadow got bigger when the toy was closer to the flashlight, because it was blocking more of the light. If it's sunny enough later in the week, we'll look at the sizes of our shadows outside at various times of day.

We read "The Gingerbread Man" from The Tall Book of Nursery Tales and a few more poems. P was amused by the poem "Brooms", which described trees on a windy day as brooms sweeping the sky until it's blue again.

Geography and/or science: Titmouse Club today featured birds, the various things they eat, and the places they live. The kids spread peanut butter on pine cones and rolled them in seeds to make bird feeders. We haven't hung those up yet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 13, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): I introduced a new memory verse for this week, John 3:16, and we discussed the meanings of "perish" and "eternal". We also read about the prophet Jeremiah, and how King Jehoiakim burned Jeremiah's scroll.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): The kids thought it was cold, although they were both in short sleeves and didn't instantly start shivering. We compromised with "cool/cold"; it was about 58 degrees F. P's ability to read the thermometer is really useful sometimes: I can ask her to tell me the temperature while I'm getting dressed without having to go into their room and look at the thermometer myself.

Handwriting: Today, I thought it was time for something completely different. I had P and E both make Christmas cards for friends of theirs back in PA. P wrote a Christmas greeting neatly inside the card. I intend to have her do this each day this week, so, family members reading this, you ought to receive one in the mail sometime before Christmas.

Language Arts: We played a matching game where the children took turns picking up pictures and placing them on the letter they started with. P found this easy, and E struggled to find the right letters sometimes. We'll play it again, probably, on Friday, and see how it goes. E has no trouble hearing what the starting sound is ("phonemic awareness"), just with identifying the shape of the letter - he mixes up F, T, and I.

P did her copywork happily, and I had her read the 4th Sonlight reader. She was really amused by the misadventures of the sap-sipping rat. I enjoyed seeing her laugh after each sentence she decoded. This is the last of the readers that she's looked at before, and I think last time we tried (over the summer) the process of decoding was still so difficult for her that she didn't really grasp the storyline. It's neat to see how much she's progressed since then, even though she doesn't have any new quantifiable skills - she's just more comfortable with the skills she already had a year ago.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P has really grasped the concept of place value, as far as I can tell. She had no problem telling which was greater, 45 or 54. She is easily able to make a given amount of money using dimes and pennies (in this case, 41 cents: 4 dimes, 1 penny). She's starting to get comfortable with using quarters as well, in this case using a quarter, a dime, and 6 pennies to make 41 cents a different way. She enjoys it when I give her a money problem whose solution involves lots of coins, because then she can arrange them into a "flower" shape before tracing them. Later in the day, I gave her a little direct instruction in telling time, because she's really solid on hours and half-hours and I want to move on to intervals of 5 minutes. She grasped it pretty well, and I'm going to start putting that sort of problem on her 5-a-days.

E's "school": We read "Crictor" and "Pete's A Pizza" from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, as well as a few poems. Tomorrow I'm going to try this week's activity from SSGMR, which involves playing with shadows cast by objects held in front of a flashlight.

Geography and/or science: Mom, you'll be pleased - we started looking at Scandinavia. We identified Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Greenland on the Markable Map, and the children took turns tracing them (E traced Iceland and Greenland, where there's more margin for error). P wondered whether Greenland was really green, and I assured her that it was not - when I was an exchange student in Denmark, a fellow student told me of her time in Greenland and described her excitement, after a few months of being there, at finding a bit of green lichen on a rock. Once she was back in Denmark, she was looking at her pictures and couldn't figure out why she'd taken so many photos of the same grayish green bit of lichen! P thought probably Iceland was a more honest name than Greenland. Does anyone know why Greenland has that name? I plan on going to the library on Wednesday and getting kids' books on the various Scandinavian countries; at this point I have a general textbook on Denmark which is pretty dense and whose photos would take a lot of explaning, and a small book on Bamble, a region in Norway where I visited relatives in 2001 (also while I was an exchange student). I haven't showed these to the kids yet, though we may look at the Bamble one tomorrow.

Other: I made dough for Norwegian Christmas cookies with E's "help" (he was excluded a few times for unauthorized operation of the food processor), and plan on assembling them tomorrow.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Week 12, day 4

It did snow! This influenced our choices for the day, our ability to focus, etc.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed a couple of memory verses, and read about Isaiah. This story wasn't as coherently a story as most of the ones in our Bible storybook, but P seemed to grasp quite a bit of it (E sat on the floor in a box / with a box on his head, so he was probably listening intently but it didn't look like it).

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Cold! Yes! It spat a bit of snow before we went out and recorded the temperature, but then turned to big fat flakes for most of the rest of the day, and they even stuck a little. This morning, the shaded spaces still have little bits of white left. Huzzah! This morning, the kids enjoyed running outside and finding ice in the bird feeder and finding that the drips on their jungle gym were ice, not water.

What do public school teachers do when white stuff comes out of the sky? It was hard enough getting ONE child to focus occasionally - what about 30 children? (I let P get up and look out the window, at least, between each activity we did, on condition that she eventually sit down and do the next thing).

Handwriting: I remembered that I had a booklet of handwriting practice pages. They don't go with our handwriting curriculum, but they're close enough that we can use them to good effect. P chose to do an "I" page instead of dry-erase letter cards.

Language Arts: We finished the week's letter review worksheets and dictation, and P read the 3rd reader. E wanted to read too, and got through the first 2 pages before his atention span expired. I told him, "You're 3, you really don't have to be able to read yet." He threw himself to the floor and sobbed, "But I WAAAAANT to!" "Okay, then, we'll keep working on it." We also played a "replace the letter" game - given a word like "pit", have one kid read it, then replace the i with an a and have the other kid read it. E did pretty well with this, though he still struggles to remember what sound "i" makes, and P did perfectly.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P finished this up as quickly as she could, in order to be able to go outside and play. She did it accurately, but her neatness suffered toward the end. That was basically it for school.

E's "school": He and P learned all about white frozen bits of H2O falling out of the sky. Any suggestion of anything else would have earned me disdain.

Geography and/or science: Water freezes. This is awesome. We talked about the difference between TX and PA, and how there was no reason to hope that the snow would reach above E's head (something he kept suggesting).

Other: We went and bought a Christmas tree, and decorated it. I let the kids cut out snowflakes from paper, which they taped up in the windows. Ever since I learned how to fold paper into sixths instead of just quarters, my and my kids' snowflakes have looked awesome.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 12, day 3

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed the most recent catechsim questions, because the kids had some trouble with these yesterday. We also read the second half of the story of Esther.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was definitely not cold by the time we checked the temperature, but the kids disagreed with me. However, tomorrow it is supposed to snow (yes, snow, in Houston), so perhaps this will give them some needed perspective. :-)

Handwriting: I had the kids use the dry-erase letter cards again today. I gave P all 10 letters we've covered in the language arts curriculum, and I gave E 4 of them. He was upset over not being given as many as P, so while she did her language arts worksheets I gave him the other 6 to trace. He got through 4 1/2 of those before becoming sidetracked.

Language Arts: Not much of interest here, there were worksheets and copywork, and P re-read the 2nd and 3rd readers. She is gaining fluency, and reads all the words accurately and with some measure of understanding. It seems like she enjoys re-reading the readers while she's doing it, even though she protests beforehand.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I'm really in love with Math On The Level. P says that math is her favourite subject, and I use the promise of her 5-a-day to motivate her to finish her language arts. She complained at the fact that, when a problem is written in vertical format, the equal sign consists of a single long horizontal line beneath the problem instead of 2 short horizontal lines next to the problem. She placed a normal equal sign next to her answer for one of the problems, and added a long horizontal line beneath the original to make it look more like an equal sign on another problem. Sorry, kid, notation can be nonsensical at every level of math.

E's "school": E played with 2 puzzles while P was doing her seatwork, and I can see him making progress in his ability to put them together. His 15-piece Bob the Builder puzzle he completed without help, and I only gave him a few suggestions for his 25-piece Nemo puzzle.

We read "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse" from the Tall Book of Nursery Tales, and a few poems.

Geography and/or science: We didn't do any of this, unless you count starting to bake a Christmas fruitcake (note to all you Americans out there: you only groaned because your excuse for fruitcake is not worthy of the name. You need to try my great-grandmother's recipe before you get to make another comment on the subject of fruitcake: it is exquisite). We added baking soda to a pot full of boiled raisins, currants, sultanas, and butter, and watched it fizz. Now it gets to sit overnight, and we'll bake it tomorrow. Ari also built a fire with them, so they got to see how you need to light the smaller bits of wood before there's enough energy to get the bigger logs to light.

Other: Nothing else academic happened. Not having had Monday to get things rolling, this entire week has felt like catch-up and only the "3 R's" and Bible have happened consistently.

Week 12, day 2

Yesterday (Wednesday) was packed brim-full. I had a midwife appointment in the morning, followed by Arabic Bible study, and after coming home and doing school with the kids, I took P to ballet and had time for a quick bowl of soup before dashing off to the rehearsal for the Houston Symphony Orchestra Chorus's Christmas Pops concert. Needless to say, there was no time in there for updating the blog.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed the catechism to date, and read the first part of the story of Esther (how she became queen).

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Again, the kids thought it was cold, and I thought it was cool. The temperature was in the upper 50s.

Handwriting: I had P do a page of the phonics workbook, and write her name neatly at the top. Her dictation in language arts also counts as handwriting.

Language Arts: In addition to the vowel worksheet, there was a "chore description" activity. P chose instead to describe how to braid a bracelet, which she did fairly well. When I read her description back to her, she saw an obvious hole in it and filled it in.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): We only just had time for this, but P did her 5-a-day well. We didn't have time to finish the last question (I asked her to make 30 cents using at least one quarter, which she did, but there was no time for her to make 30 cents another way, because we needed to go to ballet).

E's "school": Nope. Didn't happen.

Geography and/or science: Nor this.

Other: Because of so much other going on.

I've been meaning to insert a musing on the value of learning to read at the same time as your kid. I'm thinking here of my studies of Arabic. I've known most of the letter sounds in Arabic since I was 13, but fluency is hard to come by. When I'm at Arabic Bible study and the ladies take turns reading aloud a few verses each, I feel extremely stupid. I force all my powers of concentration into pronouncing the words on the page, but there is no mental power left over for parsing the meaning of what I just read. The ladies are all supportive and encouraging, but I can tell that it's frustrating for them to hear me going so slowly. Suddenly, I have sympathy for all the kids who were in the "other" reading groups, and for the adults who stumble over words when called on to read aloud. (Since I've been reading fluently since I was 5, I'm afraid I always felt mild disdain for people who couldn't). I know that, with practice, my skills will improve. I'm also sure that it makes me a better teacher for P and E. The immediacy of this experience - being faced with a page full of squiggles, and pouring all my energy into turning the squiggles into words - helps me grasp what it's like for a small child doing this for the first time. So, homeschool moms and kindergarten teachers, let's hear it for learning to read a phonetic language that isn't your own, for a deeper understanding of what it's like for your kids.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week 12, day 1

Ari and I had a wonderful time away from the kids in Fredricksburg, TX, and we enjoyed our time in North Carolina with my parents over Thanksgiving as well. We got back last night, so this morning our 2-week break was officially over.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed all the memory verses to date. I was surprised at how well E remembered most of them - he supplied the gaps in P's memory. We read the story of Jehoshaphat's "singing army" - how God caused the alliance of enemies to turn on each other and destroy each other, so that Jehoshaphat had only to take the plunder.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): I had no time to do prep work, so the kids watched me make another calendar sheet for December. They thought it was cold, I thought it was cool: 53 F. Ari's parents found a jungle gym on Craig's List and stepping outside to observe the weather was more temptation than they could handle, so I let them spend 5 minutes or so burning energy before insisting that they return inside.

Handwriting: After lunch and some longer jungle gym play, I let each child trace a few dry-erase letter cards. I did "wet-dry-try" with E on the board while P finished her letter cards (I gave her more than him), and he happily (and neatly, for a 3-year-old) wrote B and F on the board several times.

Language Arts: This is another review week, so P has vowel worksheets to do as well as her copywork. I introduced the third Sonlight K reader, and P was unwilling to read it at first, so I helped E through it. He doesn't routinely recognize the letter I, and most of the words in the reader contained the short i sound, so I gave him lots of hints, but he was able to read about a third of the words independently. Once he was done, P read the book fairly accurately but slowly. We'll work on it daily and I'm sure she'll increase in fluency.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did all the problems on her (hastily prepared) 5-a-day without much trouble. She doesn't always look closely at a problem to see whether it is addition or subtraction, but I point out to her if she's solving 11+3 when she should be solving 11-3. She's fully grasped making a given amount of money using dimes and pennies, so I think she's getting comfortable with place value.

We started playing the "trading up" game, but neither child seemed as excited about it as usual (though they were the ones who suggested we play it). When E asked me to count his coins for him and the total was different from what he had anticipated, he swept the coins to the floor in rage and I declared the game over. He sulked for a while, and I didn't change my mind, so he contented himself with playing with cardboard shapes instead (I made them from old cereal boxes and painted them with tempera paint - there are squares, circles, triangles, and halves and quarters of the squares and circles).

E's "school": I didn't prepare anything from SSGMR this week, though the Saturday immediately after my last post we did observe whether various items sank or floated in water. We didn't read any of the Sonlight P3/4 books, but we looked at "A Child's Book of Art" from P4/5 and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs".

Geography and/or science: We went to Titmouse Club where the theme was squirrels and mice. The children learned that rodents' teeth grow throughout their lives and they have to gnaw to keep them from getting too long, that baby mice and squirrels are born blind and naked, and that they build nests for their babies that look a bit like birds' nests. They made thumbprint pictures of mice and we took a nature walk during which we saw no mice or squirrels, but 2 female cardinals.

Other: None of this. When the math game finished on such a sour note, I felt that I wouldn't get away with making the kids do anything else at all, so I let them play by themselves. Easing back into our daily routine isn't automatic, and it felt like more of a fight today than usual.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 11, day 5

Bible: We reviewed the most recent 2 memory verses and 3 catechism questions, and read about how 4 lepers discovered that the siege of Samaria was over.

Calendar: Conveniently, it was exactly 1:30 when we recorded the time, so P was able to figure out the time all by herself. Yep, I was super lazy this morning.

Handwriting: P finished her numbers workbook! This took a rather long time, as it involved writing all the numbers from 1 to 30 about 10 times, but she decided she wanted to finish it and refused to stop until she was done. I filled out the certificate in the back of the book and we hung it on the wall of their room.

Language Arts: We played with the letter cards, making CVC words using letters we've already learned. E still struggles to remember the sound of the letter I, but can sound out any word with "a" in the middle and consonants he knows. Both kids read Fun Tales readers, E read the first one independently but slowly and P (while spinning around in circles) read the second one fluently.

Math: P still struggled a bit with rewriting a problem in vertical format. I may need to take this off 5-a-days again for a bit and review it more intensively with her.

E's "school": I ordered a pile of Kumon workbooks (Mazes and Cutting for E, Number Games 1-70 and 1-150 for P) which arrived today. While P was finishing her numbers workbook, E did about 12 mazes and 9 scissor activities. His idea with mazes seems to be to seek out every side path, even when he knows how to get to the end more quickly, but it does give him practice tracing inside a defined space. I insisted that he hold his pencil correctly, and he got better and better at picking it up correctly with each maze he did. His scissor skills are pretty good, comparable to P's at half a year older.

I finally assembled an assortment of items that will sink or float, but we didn't get around to placing them in water. We may do that tomorrow.

Geography and/or science: P made most of a book about the British Isles, including flags of Great Britain and Ireland, a map with the different countries coloured different colours, a Scottish man in a kilt, Westminster Abbey, and Queen Elizabeth I. There are still 2 pages left to fill, so we'll probably do that tomorrow.

Other: P's ballet performance is tomorrow, so this evening was her dress rehearsal. She got to watch the other (all older) kids' performances as well as practicing her own, and was impressed at how well they did.

We're about to take a 2-week break from school! On Monday, P has a 10:00 dentist appointment, so I'm not inclined to bother with school for just that day. Ari and I are going away, just the two of us, from Tuesday to Saturday morning, and Saturday evening we'll all fly to North Carolina to visit my parents for Thanksgiving week. So, presumably there'll be no regular updates until December. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 11, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): In CBS, the kids learned about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace. P commented on how long and funny all the names were. We reviewed the memory verse and most recent catechism questions, and read about the healing of Naaman the leper.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): P is slowly learning to tell time to the minute. She sometimes forgets that the number the minute hand is pointing to is not the number of minutes (for example, 1:10 is not 1:2). Since she's still working on skip-counting by 5s, I'm going to just keep informally teaching her by showing her the time each day, knowing she'll pick it up eventually.

Handwriting: P did 2 pages of the phonics workbook, one of which involved writing "Bb" under only the pictures of items starting with the B sound, so she got lots of practice writing that letter. This was good for her, as she sometimes forgets how to make a lowercase b, and I could see improvement between the beginning and the end of the worksheet.

Language Arts: P rewrote yesterday's copywork from dictation, and identified the name (starts with a capital) and the word that rhymed with "fib". We thought up and wrote on the board several words ending in "it": bit, kit, pit, hit, fit, mitt, grit, sit. E wanted to participate, and read some of them but struggled with remembering the "i" sound. P's fluency in reading 3-letter CVC words has really increased, and she read most of them with hardly any hesitation. I asked E if he wanted to read one of the readers, and he gave the second one a very good try, needing help with less than half of the words. P read it through almost perfectly, only hesitating once or twice.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I had a midwife appointment (for my glucose test) this afternoon, so math waited until we got back. I actually hadn't prepared P's 5-a-day yet, so she and E hung out in my room while I was doing that. I had her rewrite one of the problems from horizontal format into vertical format, and she wasn't quite sure what I meant (though she's done it herself before; I think how I phrased it on the 5-a-day wasn't clear enough for her). I'm giving her another similar problem tomorrow just to see how she does; I think doing it today should have cleared it up for her.

I had her make 23 cents using dimes and pennies, and then add a dime to see how much she had, and then remove the dime and add a penny to see how much she had. I demonstrated "23+10=33" and "23+1=24" on the board, in vertical format so she could see how the ones and tens lined up.

E's "school": We read the story of Cinderella in A First Book of Fairy Tales, and reread some of the poems.

Geography and/or science: We read a book about Ireland. I was interested to learn that St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the 400s AD, used the shamrock to give some insight into the Trinity. God, in the 3 persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is one God much as the shamrock, with 3 leaves, is still one plant. I mentioned this at dinner, and P said, "Even though the book explained it, I still don't really understand" (the Trinity). Join the club... No-one fully understands the Trinity. However, Ari pointed out that if we fully understood God, there would be no point in going to him for help. He gave the example of E's favourite doll, Pearl Diver. Since P and E watched me knit and stuff him, they understand him pretty well. However, when they're in trouble, they don't cry, "Pearl Diver! Help me!" They cry, "Mommy! Daddy! Help me!" because they know we're able to do things they don't understand, and the fact that they don't understand us fully just means they also expect us to be able to help them solve problems they can't.

Other: This has nothing to do with "school", but you get to hear about it anyway. P and E came downstairs to kiss me goodnight as I was writing this, and then P said to E, "When we're in bed, can you tell me a story about Friend Lion?" E is quite a storyteller, and I'm pleased that P is asking her younger brother to amuse her with made-up stories after bedtime. I'm sure it's good for him to exercise his imagination like that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Week 11, day 3

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed this week's verse and the 4 most recent catechism questions, and read about how Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): I think the afternoon sun shines on our thermometer, artificially increasing the temperature, because although it was fairly cool outside, the thermometer read 84 degrees F. We recorded it as cool.

Handwriting: P did half a page of the numbers workbook. Since this involved writing all the numbers from 21 to 30, I decided this was enough.

Language Arts: P traced the 4 words of the second copywork. There was a letter matching game (name the two letters out of 4 which have the same sound, for example T, F, f, r) which she found easy. I had her read the second Fun Tales book again, and she read it almost without hesitating on any of the words.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I'm continuing to include questions that lead into discussions on place value. Since P still continues to mix up 12 and 21, I had her make 12 cents and 21 cents using only dimes and pennies. I then had her add them and count how much she had. I showed her on the board how to add 21 and 12 to come up with 33. I gave her another example (she picked 25, I picked 13, and we added them to make 38) and she grasped it easily. I demonstrated the same problem with dimes and nickels so she could see why it worked. I'll give her a few more days' practice with this concept, and then replace her basic addition questions with 2-digit addition without regrouping (for example, I won't ask her to add 29 and 38, because she wouldn't know what to do with the 17 in the ones place).

E's "school": Though this wasn't formal "school", I had him play with alphabet blocks (cubes) while P was doing her math. He independently decided to build 2x2x2 cubes, and I asked him how many he could make using the 50 blocks in the set. We're actually down to 49, so he made 6 cubes and had one left over. P asked me how much 6 eights plus one was, and I told her.

Geography and/or science: We read the "How Are Babies Made?" section of the Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book, which led to a good deal of discussion about our baby. I demonstrated to P that we could use 2-digit subtraction to find out how many weeks remain until our baby's birth, taking 39 weeks as the expected total gestation (so we wouldn't have to do any regrouping, and since that's about when both P and E were born). Since I'm at 28 weeks now, she did the subtraction in each column and came up with 11 weeks remaining. I pointed out that this is how long it's been since school started. Also, I'm satisfied that I used "science class" to introduce a brand new math concept - something that happened to me all the time at Caltech. Mwa-ha-ha-ha...

Other: While P was in ballet, E and Ari worked on their "robot" - an underwater camera case that holds a video camera so that, if you can't catch any fish, you might at least be able to get a look at them. Since it's getting toward the time of year when fish are harder to catch, the "robot" is an excellent project for the guys to work on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bible: We reviewed the most recent 3 memory verses and introduced the next catechism question, as well as reading about how God sent fire in response to Elijah's prayer.

Calendar: It was 11:58 by the time we recorded the temperature, and I showed P how 11:58 turns into 12:00 just 2 minutes later. She seems to mostly grasp telling time most of the time, but still needs a lot of practice.

Handwriting: P did a page of her phonics workbook, which involved no handwriting, so I had her write her full name at the top of the page. I also had her write yesterday's copywork from dictation.

Language Arts: P was to "write a book" - given an 8-page booklet with illustrations only, she needed to discern and dictate the storyline. It turned out quite well, and her story made sense and was easy to follow.

Both kids read Fun Tales books: E read the first one by himself with occasional hints, and P read the second one with a good deal of fluency. Since P has the first one memorized, I don't see the point in having her practice "reading" it.

Math: I included several questions that approached the topic of "place value" indirectly: she was to put a < sign between 12 and 21, and use dimes and pennies to make both 13 cents and 31 cents. She made 31 cents with 2 dimes and 11 pennies, but when I asked if she could trade up she immediately saw that 10 of the pennies could be replaced by a dime. She thought it was interesting that 13 cents was made of 1 dime and 3 pennies, while 31 cents was made of 3 dimes and 1 penny. I asked her how many dimes and pennies it would take to make 22 cents and 43 cents, and she answered correctly.

E's "school": We read "Jack and the Beanstalk" from The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, and reread some of the poems.

Geography and/or science: Today's Titmouse Club theme was seeds. In addition to talking about the way seeds grow into plants by pushing a root down and a shoot up, they discussed what kinds of seeds people eat. We all ate popcorn, and the kids did a craft involving gluing seeds to a popsicle-stick picture frame. On the nature walk the kids kept their eyes open for seeds in the path, and found a few different kinds. Ari and I pointed out at dinner tonight that our meal, lentils and rice, consisted mostly of cooked seeds.

Other: P reluctantly practiced her ballet routine. She knows it pretty well and is unconvinced that further practice is necessary, but I reasoned with her and she eventually submitted. Really, once she gets started, she enjoys it, but I think reluctance to practice is part of being five.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 11, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): This week, we're learning Mark 10:14. We also reviewed the most recent catechism questions, and read about God's provision of food for Elijah during the drought.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): This morning was cloudy, after it rained last night. It seems to be clearing up, which means that E was advocating that Ari set up his telescope tonight, but Ari decided against it.

Handwriting: P did one page of the numbers workbook, practicing writing the numbers from 21 to 30 twice. She keeps wanting to call 21 "twelve".

Language Arts: We did a new letter sheet today, and couldn't find any items in any of our catalogs that began with that letter, so we went online and googled images. We got to hear Ari ranting against the U.S. copyright website. He struggled with it all day and made no headway in submitting a copyright request for his book (it's already copyrighted, but not in its final form).

P traced her copywork today (I'll ask her to do it from dictation tomorrow) and correctly identified the vowels. The kids read the second Sonlight K reader, with E reading several of the 2-word sentences the first time through. He started a 3-word sentence, and it was too much for him, so I asked P to complete it, and he yelled out the final word before she'd started sounding it out. Heh. I had P read the whole reader after they were done taking turns the first time through, and she did quite well. I'll have her do it a few more times this week to gain fluency.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I asked P to make 24 cents and 42 cents using just dimes and pennies. She struggled a bit with the 42 cents, so I'll continue to give her this kind of problem for practice. E asked to play the "trading up" game (week 9, day 5), which we did - again, we all won during the same round.

E's "school": I forgot to do the Slow & Steady activity (sorting silverware, and next week's, seeing which objects sink or float in water), but we read "Caps For Sale" and "Head to Toe" in the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, and some more of the poems.

Geography and/or science: We labelled the Atlantic Ocean, the United Kingdom, and Ireland on the Markable Map, and read a book about England. Since I've actually spent significant time visiting England, I was able to add anecdotes that the kids found interesting. Paul, I'm afraid the kids were delighted by the story of how Mom "pulled your arm off" in the Lake District.

Other: P was reluctant to practice her ballet routine, and I was prepared for another battle of wills (I'd been having battles of wills with both kids all day), but Ari showed his wisdom by talking with her about how she likes doing ballet and how if she doesn't enjoy it, she doesn't have to take lessons. Ah, but she does enjoy it and does want to keep taking lessons, and thus was more than happy to practice her routine. I could hardly believe it was the same kid.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 10, day 5

I was flakey this morning and we didn't get started until almost noon. However, part of my flakiness consisted of making waffles for breakfast (I wanted to use up a mysterious carton of buttermilk and half a can of crushed pineapple, and we were out of cereal - still are, flakey me). I included the kids in this, and P was able to read most of the ingredients. She needed no help with "3 eggs" or "1/2 cup sugar", but doesn't yet know how to read numbers greater than 100, and I helped her with abbreviations like ml and g. We weighed out 400g of flour together after I'd explained the importance of zeroing the scale before starting.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed the most recent verse and most recent 3 catechism questions, and read about how Solomon built the temple.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was certainly back to being cool today. It was also 12:35 by the time we got around to doing calendar, so P got extra practice on whether it was 12:35 or 1:35. I re-explained the reasoning, but again am not sure she grasped it.

Handwriting: P did another vast number of the pages in her numbers workbook, but when she realized that there were no more dot-to-dots in the book she no longer wished to do any more. Next week we may be back to the phonics book or letter cards.

Language Arts: We played letter bingo, with each of the 3 of us taking turns reading out letters for the other 2 to find on their bingo cards. E knows quite a few of his letters, more than have been officially taught, and P knows all of them pretty well but struggles with finding them on a bingo card where they're in no kind of order. I think I must just have more efficient search algorithms than she does.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P was stumped, at first, on whether 46 or 64 was greater (she needed to put a "<" sign between them), so I hauled out the bean sticks. These are popsicle sticks on which I glued 10 beans each. I asked P to make 46 beans (4 10-sticks and 6 beans) and 64 beans (6 10-sticks and 4 beans), whereupon she was able to see that 64 was greater.

It isn't every day that your 3-year-old asks a math question that you can't even estimate the answer to in a reasonable amount of time, but at dinner E asked, "How many ways can you make a million dollars?" Ari and I winced, shuddered, and decided that if any of you reading this blog want to take on the challenge, you're more than welcome to, but we'd rather not spend our time that way.

E's "school": We read "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" and "Maybelle the Cable Car" from Mike Mulligan and More.

Geography and/or science: P wrote a book about South America featuring a map, potatoes, Angel Falls, the Atacama Desert, a blue-footed booby (a bird from the Galapagos Islands), Lake Titicaca, and llamas.

Other: P performed her ballet routine for me from memory. She can do it accurately, but not completely smoothly. I'm going to insist that she do it daily until it's smooth - her performance is on the 14th.

Week 10, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We did a brief review of catechism and memory verse, and read about Solomon's request for wisdom.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): I thought it was warm again (80 degrees) but both kids were certain that it was cool and I let them overrule me.

Handwriting: P did many pages of her numbers workbook, hoping to get to the next dot-to-dot. This inspired me to order the Kumon dot-to-dot workbook, to help her with number sequencing, because she still gets confused about the value of the tens place (mistaking 29 for 19, mixing up 23 and 32, etc). Her handwriting is tidy.

Language Arts: P did her copywork under the table. Even upside down, her handwriting is acceptable. A picture is worth 10^3 words. If I'd tried something like this when I was in public school, I'd probably have had to describe it to the principal. It gives me deep pleasure to know that the principal of our little school (Ari, of course) thoroughly approves of such activities.

P was also supposed to sequence a story I read out of order for her. It was the story of Cinderella, and consisted of 6 sentences read in order 5, 6, 4, 2, 1, 3. This was quite difficult for her, and she had to work hard at it, but she managed in the end.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P mixed up 12:30 and 1:30 on her 5-a-day, so we talked about how you figure out the hour. She does fine with all other half hours, but I think her idea is that when the hour hand is between 2 numbers, you always choose the number that is less rather than the number that is in the counterclockwise direction. Usually the 2 are the same. I don't know how well she grasped my explanation.

E's "school": We read "Cinderella" (in the correct order, this time) and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" in The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, as well as a few poems from Poems and Prayers for the Very Young.

Geography and/or science: This didn't really happen, though in the evening we took Ari's telescope for a local homeschool group's high school astronomy evening. E slept through most of it, but P was around for much of Ari's conversation with the high school students. You never know how much she understands of this - it can be scary sometimes how much adult conversation she grasps (or only grasps enough of to terrify her).

Other: P practiced piano some, and did some pages of music theory. We counted the beats in various measures, and "2+2=4" is completely automatic for her so she was easily able to see that two half notes, two quarter notes and a half note, and 4 quarter notes all get 4 beats. Looking at the several sample 4-measure pieces in her book, each of which had 4 beats to the measure, she asked me, "What's two 8s?" I told her it was 16, to which she immediately responded, "That means four 4s is also 16." Hooray for seeing her break up numbers and reassemble them!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 10, day 3

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed this week's verse and catechism question, and both kids are starting to be confident with both. We read about David's friendship with Jonathan.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): E felt that the weather today was warm, while P insisted that it was cool, so we wrote both (it was about 70 degrees F). Both kids are still a bit shaky on "am" vs. "pm", but I'm sure it'll come.

Handwriting: I had a midwife appointment this morning, and I brought along the dry-erase letter cards for the kids to use during the appointment. Back at home, P did 9 pages of her Kumon numbers workbook, practicing writing all the numbers from 1 to 10 several times. When she's concentrating, she rarely reverses any numbers, but if she stops thinking very hard she reverses 3 and 6 fairly often. However, over half the time she catches herself, erases it, and does it correctly.

Language Arts: P traced her copywork and then we played a "blending game" where the kids were to sound out and blend together the letters in various 3-letter words. E did as well as P on this activity, though P is more able to do longer words than E is. We went out to IHOP for dinner tonight, and P was able to read a sign that said, "Kids eat free". She also sounded out (with some hints) words like "octopus" and "manatee" on the kid's menu activity page

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I asked P to make 30 cents using 2 coins. This took her a while, but she did it without help. I then told her that if she wanted to, she could make 30 cents a different way. Her first impulse was to use 30 pennies, but she played the "trading up game" (5 pennies become a nickel, 2 nickels become a dime) until she had 2 dimes, a nickel, and 5 pennies, which she traced. Once she was done, I showed her how addition and subtraction problems can be written in both horizontal format (with an equal sign) and vertical format (with a line beneath the problem instead of an equal sign). I'll start giving her problems in vertical format on her 5-a-days.

E's "school": I didn't review the activity from Slow & Steady, but we did read a lot of storybooks. We read "Harold and the Purple Crayon", "George Shrinks", "Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm", "The Year at Maple Hill Farm", "Madeline", and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom".

Geography and/or science: My midwife loaned me 2 children's books about homebirth. One of them was fairly low quality and contained typos, but the other was well illustrated and well translated from the original German, and we read that one 3 times and discussed just how a mommy's body pushes a baby out. This counts as science, in my opinion.

Other: P was able to describe to me the steps of her ballet routine from memory in the car on the way to her ballet lesson. I'm looking forward to seeing the actual performance next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 10, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed all the memory verses to date and the most recent catechism question, and read the story of Saul's jealousy of David.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It took a lot of prompting, but P was eventually able to tell me that the time was 11:40 am instead of pm. I don't think she was focused at all - I've had problems with them hauling out toys while I'm trying to move us from one activity to the next, and then if I don't take time to make them put them all away, they'll play with the toys and not hear a word I say. I need to establish a solid "no toys during school unless I specifically authorize them" rule.

Handwriting: P did 2 pages of the phonics workbook, which involved no handwriting but much more reading than she can do independently. However, she sounded out each word that could be sounded out using basic phonics rules, and I told her the sight words and sounds she hadn't learned yet (laugh, walk, etc). The exercise was to identify certain letters in the sentences, but the instructions assumed the child could already read the sentences, so I'm not sure what whoever designed the book was thinking. For handwriting practice, I had her write her full name (first and last) at the top of each page, which she's getting better at.

Language Arts: P was to talk about "when I grow up". She wants to be a ballet dancer and marry a nice man and have about 2 kids (she isn't entirely sure about the number) and paint her kitchen with pink, red, white, and green stripes and her children's room with purple and white stripes. E wanted to get involved with this activity too, so I took down a dictation from him on the same page as P's. He wants to be a fisherman and to build houses for people whose houses get broken in hurricanes (and maybe a house for P), and apart from that imitated P's story fairly closely.

We were also to discuss ingredients in common grocery items such as bread and juice. Since I prefer to bake our own bread, the kids are already fairly familiar with those ingredients. However, for juice, we spent some time in the grocery store comparing our favourite brand of orange juice with orange-coloured fruit punch. The kids now know why Sunny D is never on our shopping list.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I again gave P a pair of math facts, 3+6 and 9-6, and we hauled out the Cuisenaire rods to get a better sense of how closely they are related. I asked her to make 27 cents using 3 coins, and she did that instantly. She was also able, with only a bit of trial and error, to make 27 cents a different way: a dime, 2 nickels, and 7 pennies.

E's "school": I talked some about tastes in foods: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. We also read some poems from the same book as yesterday, and the story of Little Red Riding Hood. We discussed the value of obedience (if Little Red had obeyed her mother by staying on the path and not talking to strangers, the wolf wouldn't have known where she was going).

Geography and/or science: We went to Titmouse Club this morning, and the theme was trees. The kids learned about how the tree makes its own food from sunlight, water, and air, about counting rings to tell the age of a tree (once it's already dead), and about some of the animals that live in trees. They saw a tree with a large hole in it where a raccoon lives, and a bird's nest in a tree near the cabin where the club is held. Each child was given a piece of paper and a crayon as we went on our nature walk, and they took rubbings of different tree trunks. They were encouraged to avoid any trees that had vines growing on them, as those vines might be poison ivy. I had a nasty experience with poison ivy vines 10 years ago where my arms both swelled up to twice their normal size, so I was eager to keep the kids from touching any vines that could be suspicious.

Other: P is pretty confident about her ballet routine, but she didn't feel like doing it from memory for me today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 10, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): I introduced a new memory verse, which should be fairly easy since it's so familiar: Genesis 1:1. We reviewed all the catechism questions so far, and read the story of David and Goliath.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): We had to make a new monthly calendar for November, which took a while. This month is going to be busy - for the first 2 weeks, my inlaws are out of town, so we're holding down the fort, and then Ari and I are going to take 4 nights away from the kids as a last getaway before the baby comes, and as soon as we get back we're flying to see my parents for Thanksgiving. So the last 2 weeks of November will be a break from school.

Handwriting: P wanted to do the dry-erase letter cards this time. To keep it from eating the rest of the morning, I limited her cards to letters we've covered in our language arts curriculum. E got two cards, and I helped him hold his marker properly. If you pick up a marker between thumb and forefinger when it's pointing toward you, you can then rotate it into the correct position, and E loved this. Previously, he's always wanted to pick it up in his fist, which makes tracing difficult.

Language Arts: We introduced a new letter and made a letter sheet. I hauled out the first of the Sonlight K readers, which P has read before. I first asked E if he could read it, and having heard P read it several times, he had no trouble reading all 5 words in the book (yes, it's an easy reader). I then asked P to read it, and she demonstrated that she'd memorized it and said, "This is an easy book. If a 2-year-old knew their letter sounds, they could read it." She doesn't remember how hard she had to work to read it a year ago when she was 4. However, she's only made it through the first 4 books before hitting a frustration wall, which was why I decided that the K level (redoing these readers) was a better fit for her than the 1st grade level. Hopefully by going at the recommended rate of 1 book a week, with the copywork to support her recognition of the words she encounters, she'll find all of them "easy".

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I gave P 2 related problems on her 5-a-day, 8+4 and 12-4, which she solved separately, but when I asked her to look at them, she immediately saw that they were essentially the same problem. The MOTL curriculum guide says that the concept of addition and subtraction being inverses, and there being "fact families" (e.g. 4+8, 8+4, 12-8, 12-4), is one that can only be taught when the child is maturationally ready - if they haven't reached that stage of mental maturity, you'll be banging your head against a brick wall to try to teach it. However, I guess P might be ready for it already, since she saw so easily that they were the same problem. Since I'm still working on helping her count coins up to $1 and tell time to the nearest minute, I'm not going to work on teaching "fact families" yet, but that'll certainly help when she's ready to memorize her addition and subtraction facts.

E's "school": This week's activity is fun! While P was decorating her 5-a-day, I took E downstairs and had him taste sugar (sweet), salt (salty), vinegar (sour), and cocoa powder (bitter). He rather liked the straight cocoa powder, but after several tastes suggested that I add sugar to it. A budding culinary genius?

Geography and/or science: We didn't do anything in this category, but we did read Goodnight Moon and a few poems from Poems and Prayers for the Very Young from Sonlight's P3/4 curriculum.

Other: Ari and I finished proofreading the first volume of his fantasy epic, Karolan, which will hopefully be printed and available for purchase by the end of the month. P understood enough of it as I was reading to Ari that she became troubled and needed comforting. Meanwhile, E seemed to be taking an awfully long time in the bathroom, and we found that he'd fallen asleep in the middle of the floor. He seems quite healthy, though.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 9, day 5

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed just the most recent verse (which P now knows well and E can say large portions of) and the last 5 catechism questions or so. We read about how David was anointed king, after his oldest brother had been rejected because "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart."

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Today was back to being cool. We almost came to blows over whether it should be described as cool or cold, and I averted warfare by writing both on the calendar.

Handwriting: P did 3 pages of the phonics workbook, which didn't involve much handwriting, so I had her write her first and last name on the last of the 3 workbook pages. She struggled to remember that lowercase n is not the same as a small version of a capital N, so that might be one to work on more intensively.

Language Arts: Nothing was scheduled, so we did nothing.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did her 5-a-day with no problem. She's become thoroughly confident about telling time to the half hour. Later in the afternoon, P said, "Mommmmmmy! Let's do something fuuuuun! Like a maaaaaaath game!" So we played a game where we each took turns rolling a die, and each person took the number of pennies indicated on the die, and then traded up: 5 pennies for a nickel, 2 nickels for a dime, and 2 dimes and a nickel for a quarter. When everyone had 2 quarters, the game was over. Counting amounts over 25 cents was a challenge for P, since I haven't really taught that yet, but she started to grasp some of the patterns after a bit. E was able to count on the number of pennies given whatever the silver coins added up to (for example, I'd say "35" and he'd count on his 3 pennies and get 38). We all received our 2nd quarters on consecutive turns, so there was no official winner and thus no tears.

E's "school": I had him match the shoe cutouts again, and arrange them from largest to smallest. While P was decorating her 5-a-day, I showed E with some cardboard shape cutouts how 2 semicircles make a circle, and 4 quarter circles make a circle. I asked him how many quarters it would take to make a half circle, and he unhesitatingly answered that it would take 2. I wrote the relevant fractions on the board to plant the idea in their minds, though I don't intend to formally teach them the notation of fractions just yet.

Week 9, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed all the memory verses and catechism questions again, and then read about how Saul was anointed to be the first king of Israel.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was warmer, and muggy and drippy. We had a discussion on whether there were necessarily clouds in the sky if it was raining. P was of the opinion that clouds were optional, due to the phenomenon of the "monkey's wedding" (that is, simultaneous rain and sunshine). I insisted that even during a monkey's wedding, there were still clouds in the sky, just not between you and the sun. I drew a diagram on the whiteboard to illustrate this, which I think P and E understood to some extent. E then drew his own rendition of the diagram, featuring a large sun and small earth, so at least that concept was conveyed.

Handwriting: The kids wanted to use their dry-erase letter cards, which they did. P likes sorting hers into vowels and consonants, and further sorting them into "frog jump consonants" (a Handwriting Without Tears term for capital letters starting with a big line down and jumping back up to the starting point before completing the letter, such as B, D, F, M, N, P, and R) and other consonants.

Language Arts: P completed her dictation beautifully. She's really good at this, and sounds out each word without any help. There was a rhyming activity (saying whether a given pair of words rhymed), which she found extremely easy.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did well with her 5-a-day, though she made a careless error on 7-2. When I asked her to check her work, she came up with the correct answer easily. She was instantly able to make 16 cents using 3 coins, but changing it into 16 cents using 4 coins took more trial and error. When she was done decorating her worksheet, I showed her the similarities and differences between the 2 piles of coins, hoping that she'll see that if you have to use n coins to make k cents and one of those coins is a dime, to make k cents using n+1 coins simply requires exchanging a dime with two nickels. One of the more important math skills is the ability to break numbers apart into appropriate smaller numbers and deal with them separately (for example, 9+4 = 9+1+3 = 10+3 = 13). I'm hoping she'll gain this ability by playing with coins on her 5-a-days.

E's "school": This was replaced by a desire on the part of both kids to play outside in the large puddle that forms in the driveway every time it rains. They spent almost an hour splashing around outside while I watched through the window and read my new National Geographic magazine.

Geography and/or science: Did you know that chicken bones can poop? This observational fact was much enjoyed by both children, but E in particular. Let me explain. A few weeks ago, after the scary acid experiments, my father-in-law agreed to my suggestion that we try vinegar for softening a chicken bone instead of hydrochloric acid. Once we got back from CBS, my father-in-law decided that the time had come to investigate the state of the chicken bone. He asked E to try to break it, and it had become floppy enough to bend instead. However, a small hole formed at the bend, and softened, dark brown marrow squirted out the hole, looking remarkably like another type of brown stuff. P tried bending the bone, and it did the same thing. After the kids had spent 10 minutes jumping up and down yelling, "Chicken bones can poop!" he discussed with them what marrow was, and I asked them to speculate on whether a chicken bone that had not soaked in vinegar for a month would be able to poop. They were able to understand that it was not real poop, and that it only came out that way because the bone was so soft. Ah, science - full of beauty and wonder...

Other: P practiced her ballet routine, which she seems to know pretty well. After a few days, I will ask her to do it from memory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week 9, day 3

School started rather late today, because P had to have some cavities filled at the dentist in the morning (she was very well behaved) and I let her spend her saved up allowance at the toy store afterward. She bought glow-in-the-dark stars, and we spent the first part of the afternoon attaching them to the ceiling and walls of the kids' room.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): I just had them review the most recent memory verse and the last 5 catechism questions or so, and we read about Israel's demand for a king.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): E is now thoroughly proficient at saying what day and date it is given yesterday's day and date. It was slightly warmer today, but the kids still described it as "cool".

Handwriting: P did a page of the phonics activity book today. She was to write the letter that came between 2 given letters, which she did perfectly except for not always matching capitals or lowercases (B _ D requires a capital C, whereas p _ r requires a lowercase q).

Language Arts: P was to retell the story of the 3 bears, which she did in great detail. I wish I'd thought to record this, because I know my mom recorded me telling the same story at about the same age. Perhaps she'll be willing to retell the story when I have the digital voice recorder handy. P was reluctant to trace her copywork for today, but did it well.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): It was time to leave for P's ballet lesson before we got to doing the 5-a-day, so this didn't happen today. The plus is that I don't have to prepare a new one for tomorrow. Counting out her money at the toy store gave her practice with counting money and adding. She remembered all by herself that 4 quarters make a dollar.

E's "school": This also didn't happen, due to time constraints. It was cloudy today, so his fishing expedition didn't result in any sunfish (the main kind he is able to catch, but they are well-named and much harder to catch when the sun is behind a cloud). Call it a lesson in how to cope with disappointment?

Geography and/or science: I forgot to write about yesterday's Titmouse Club, so I'll write that here since no geography or science happened today. The kids learned about bats, how the kind that eat insects have big ears to help them echolocate but the kind that eat fruit instead have good eyesight and smell. They made a bat craft and we had a quick nature walk, and each kid got a bat colouring page, which they both coloured in beautiful rainbow tones.

Other: P's ballet performance is in just over 2 weeks, so each parent was given a handout of the steps to practice with the kids at home. We'll work on that, and I bet she'll do well - it looked like she already knew the dance fairly well when I saw her at her lesson.

Week 9, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We again reviewed all the catechism questions and memory verses so far, and read about Samuel in the temple.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): The weather has stayed cool for a while now, though it wasn't rainy.

Handwriting: Again, the kids traced their letter cards. The dry-erase feature worked beautifully.

Language Arts: We read the story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears, and I had P write from dictation the words she traced the day before.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P elaborately decorated her 5-a-day after completing it perfectly. The opportunity to use crayons at will is part of why she loves math.

One of our library books, The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy, inspired the kids to make graphs of their own. I had to help them a good deal, but they placed each person in the family in a Venn diagram with circles for "Men (and boys)", "Women (and girls)", and (intersecting both), "People who wear glasses." Ari and I were in the middle circle, and everyone else was only in the appropriate gender circle. Once we'd done that, the kids asked to do a graph of "Whose hand is longest?" I drew axes on 3 pieces of paper taped together, drew horizontal lines at 5, 10, 15, and 20 cm and a dashed line at 5 inches, and then we traced hands on construction paper and glued them along the x-axis. As predicted, Ari's hand was longest and E's was shortest.

E's "school": I had him match the shoe cutouts and identify which pair was smallest (his) and largest (his daddy's). I pointed out that 3 pairs of shoes is 6 shoes.

Geography and/or science: We read books about South America and about llamas.