Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 2, day 3

This morning we went to CBS, so we didn't do any formal "school" until afternoon. On the way to CBS we reviewed the catechism so far and the Lord's Prayer, and on the way back we reviewed the days of the week and months of the year. P knows the months fairly well, but still has to think about them. She tends to skip from Wendesday to Friday unless I'm saying the days with her. Since their CBS classes contain a Bible story, we skip doing a Bible story for our own school on Thursdays.

After lunch I started some bread rising, discovering halfway through that even with all the whole-wheat flour and white flour in the house, I didn't have enough for 3 loaves. My bread machine died in PA, so I've been doing it all by hand, and making 3 loaves at once isn't significantly more effort than making just 1 loaf. At once stage I had tremendously sticky hands and needed to scrounge for more flour while E yelled about the fact that I wouldn't let him get his hands sticky too. I found a stash of spelt, and that solved the problem, but I think we all started our school time a bit annoyed.

P requested that I start by reading a library book I had obtained, 100 Days of Cool, which places numbers from 1 to 100 on a number line. They both enjoyed the book, though I have no idea how much of the intended "math" they absorbed. Today there also was no conflict on the weather: it was warm and cloudy.

P is struggling with writing her last name, and I think this increases her frustration level. She continually reverses the "z", and when I inform her that it's backward, she gets upset. She hasn't practiced all the lowercase letters in her handwriting workbook yet, so that's part of the problem. Today's page in the handwriting workbook was the letter "k", and P couldn't tell the difference between a capital and lowercase K. She drew a capital one, I told her she hadn't quite gotten it right, and she melted down instantly. Taking Maryam's good suggestion of "distracting her with something shiny," I decided to move on to E's activity for the day, a memory game with 5 colours of paper eggs. He was being silly, which was annoying if one's main focus was getting through the game, and was helpful if one's main focus was cheering P up. Eventually his silliness was to the point that I put the eggs away (causing an outburst) and suggested that P do a different handwriting page instead. She did just fine. I need to remember that, instead of telling her that she's done something wrong, it would be better to ask her, "how is your letter different from the model?" She was able to identify the one "y" where she forgot about the lines on the page, describe what she'd done wrong, and do the remaining ones perfectly. Since there are only about 6 for her to copy, I prefer for her to do her best to get each one exactly right. I'm wondering, though, whether she might do better with a program that requires more repetition. I'll look into it when she finishes this workbook, which she may well do before the end of 2009. Going through 2 kindergarten-level handwriting books in a year can't hurt, if she's happy to go that fast.

After P's language arts, we tried the coloured egg activity again. Any time E started being too silly to make any progress, I started putting them away, which caused him to focus. He still couldn't figure out which of 5 colours I took away, so I started him with 2 colours, took one away, and asked him to figure out which was missing. Since that was easy for him, I tried again with 3 colours, but he had no success at all. He may have been tired, since I don't think it should be too hard for him. His timer went off (it reminds him to go potty), and as I followed him to make sure he went, I stepped in something wet. Usually a puddle on the floor signifies that we need to make the timer go off more frequently, but this didn't smell that way. In fact, it was rather slippery in texture, and much greater in quantity than puddles from the usual source. I asked E to get me the roll of paper towels on the bathroom counter. He came back with a handful of toilet paper, which wasn't quite the same, but it allowed me to wipe my foot off and go myself for the paper towels. I discovered the source of the puddle: an unlidded container of bubble magic had fallen down behind the bookshelf. The bubble magic was consigned to the trash, I finished the roll of paper towels, and mopped the floor with a wet towel, causing many suds. Finally, after straining to move the bookshelf away from the wall and back against the wall, the mess was resolved.

Once the cleanup was complete, I gave the kids a choice between reading one of the books on the USA that I had checked out, and colouring in a map. They chose to colour. E carefully filled in the USA with a single colour, while P asked for help identifying and then coloured Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina different colours and filled in the surrounding ocean with blue. Once they were done colouring, P asked if she could write a little book about Texas. This is something we've done a few times in the past. You take 2 sheets of printer paper, cut them in half, put them together and fold in half, and staple the fold, resulting in an 8-page book 1/4 the size of a piece of printer paper. I suggested we read the book about Texas first, which we did, and then P drew and wrote on all 8 pages. I gave E a 4-page book to draw on, which ended up containing a large number of "beast fish" (imaginary creatures reported to eat blue whales for lunch when E isn't catching them). P's book featured "Texas" on the front page, a flag (whose outline I drew) with the word "flag", a map of Texas (whose outline I traced) with a smiley face where Houston is located, a monarch butterfly, an oil well, an armadillo, a Dr. Pepper (invented in TX), and a cowboy boot. She has read it to every adult in the house, and is justifiably proud of herself. I suggested that we can do a similar book for each country we study (of course, there are Texans who insist that TX is a country, not a state). She liked this idea, so we'll see how it goes.

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