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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week 9, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed all the memory verses and catechism done to date, and read the second half of the story of Ruth.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was raining solidly pretty much all day. The weather is still cool. P enjoys figuring out what time it is, with my help.

Handwriting: Thanks to a suggestion on the Sonlight forums, I printed out dry-erase letter cards for both kids - large ones for E and small ones for P. They enjoyed doing this, but I had tried using clear contact paper for laminating them instead of paying to have them properly laminated, and the dry-erase only mostly erased, only coming off completely with rubbing alcohol. Later in the afternoon I took them to a teacher supply store to get them properly laminated, and now they work great.

Language Arts: The kids were happy to do another letter sheet this week, and P, having practiced all her letters on the dry-erase letter cards, did beautifully with the copywork.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): I had given P a sequence to complete (2,4,6,8,?) and she needed a lot of help to figure it out. However, adding 2 coins to 2 cents to make 8 cents was easy and fun for her. Before we started school in the morning, the kids played with Cuisenaire rods, and I got out of the shower to hear my father-in-law tell me, "You've got to stop teaching these kids! E just told me that 6 plus 2 makes 8!" We went to the library in the afternoon and checked out a book on graphs aimed at early elementary age, and the kids really liked it and requested that it be read several times in a row.

E's "school": This week involved tracing around a pair of his shoes, my shoes, and Ari's shoes, cutting out the tracings, labeling them with L and R, and counting them or sorting them by size. E really got excited about this, and had me trace around his boots and his daddy's boots (as I have no cowboy boots, I wasn't nearly as exciting). He later told me, "I like my shoes school."

Geography and/or science: I went to the library and renewed all the books we'd checked out about South America. I read the kids a book about 24 hours in the Amazon jungle, featuring the activities of several animals throughout the day and night and focusing on certain types of animals (for example, howler monkeys early in the morning, and bats at night). It was well above E's level, and he wandered off about halfway through, but P listened attentively.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week 8, day 5

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): P is starting to become quite familiar with the memory verse, but she doesn't really know it well yet, so we'll continue working on it next week. We read the first part of the story of Ruth, how she told Naomi that she would go where Naomi went and that Naomi's God would be her God.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was really cool today, in the upper 60s, and for lunch we ended up having a picnic at a nearby playground. P is really capable when it comes to reading the temperature (she'll say, "sixty-eight point five degrees Fahrenheit" with confidence), which makes me wonder why she struggles with reading numbers like 21. It'll come, I'm sure.

Handwriting: P did 3 pages of the phonics workbook. This time it involved a fair bit of handwriting practice, as the exercise was naming and writing the letters that came before or after a given letter.

Language Arts: We played a matching game with the letter cards, matching capital and lowercase. The backs of the cards aren't completely opaque, and P, by looking carefully, can figure out which cards match. E can't, and he's a sore loser. He was sent to play with his Duplos after knocking the cards off the table in a fit of rage. I'm trying to think of an easy way to make it impossible to guess what the front says from what the back says. Contact paper, perhaps?

Math (5-a-day, other activities): After the letter matching game, P asked to play the coin matching game, which we did with the dime cards (pictures of dimes from 10 cents to 1 dollar). E was happy to play this time, but when we counted up the cards at the end and E had taken 8 cards while P took 12, he knocked the cards off the table again. I sent him back to play with Duplos. Meanwhile, P did her 5-a-day, which went well. I asked her to make 3 cents, and then add one coin to turn it into 13 cents. She first tried adding a nickel, found that it wasn't enough, and immediately replaced it with a dime. I enjoy seeing her get so confident with this.

E's "school": This didn't happen (though I planned for it to), because we started getting ready for our picnic immediately after P was done with her 5-a-day, and after we got back there were other activities.

Geography and/or science: Again, didn't happen. There's a stack of books I keep meaning to look at with the kids, and we never seem to get to them. Perhaps next week.

Other: My mother-in-law bought both kids roller skates! We tried them out this afternoon, with relatively few bumps and no blood - my kids have good balance. (Hey, Paul, you'd be particularly proud of your nephew). This accounts for nothing else of interest happening in the afternoon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week 8, day 4

After CBS, Ari and I needed to get our car registered in Texas and get our Texas driver's licences, so we brought the kids along and they learned first-hand about the annoyances of bureaucracy. It wasn't that bad, but I was glad I'd also brought workbooks and paper for the kids to draw on.

Bible: In CBS, the kids heard the story of David and Goliath, and made a craft where Goliath is attached at the feet with a brass fastener to a card background, and he can be rotated to fall over. They told the story with enthusiasm when we returned home. Once we started school, we read the story of Samson.

Calendar: Still cool. By 5:15, when we finally got around to doing this, the temperature was down to 73 degrees. P is getting increasingly good at telling time to the nearest 5 minutes.

Handwriting: I hauled a numbers workbook along to the various car registering places, and P practiced writing the numbers 3 through 10. She disapproved of this workbook's style of "4", but happily wrote it the way HWT teaches. Meanwhile, E wished to write numbers himself. He wrote all the numbers from 1 to 12, and 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, and 11 bore fairly close resemblance to how they were supposed to look. Since he has never (to my knowledge) attempted to write numbers before, I was impressed. P then began writing on a blank piece of paper, and produced, "I luv God. I luv mie frends. Azar and me lik plaing owtside." I didn't give any spelling help except with "Azar". When I asked her which letter to put at the end of "lik" to make the "i" say its name, she promptly wrote an e. She still occasionally reverses "s" and "e", but much less than half the time. Once she was done with her sentences, she wrote the numbers from 1 to 39. She got all the way up to 32 on the one side of the page, and when she flipped it over she started reversing the 3s, but caught her mistake without any input from me and wrote 38 and 39 correctly.

Language Arts: I had P write from dictation the words she had traced yesterday, which she did well. Asked to write a word that rhymed with "hat", she wrote "mat" easily. She also was to finish a story about 2 children preparing lunch. It took a while for her to get into it, but once she did the result was delightful - she turned it into a picnic at a playground.

Math: P had trouble on her 5-a-day with identifying "21" and "13" (I had asked her to put the correct sign between them: greater than, less than, or equal). I helped her figure it out by asking what today's date was (22), what yesterday's was, how that was written, and if it looked the same as what was on her worksheet. She was then able to do it. If I ask her to write 21, she has very little trouble, but reading it is still a struggle for her. She readily completed the coin activity by herself: I asked her to make 11 cents, and then add one coin to turn it into 16 cents. She tried adding a penny, yielding 12 cents, but immediately replaced it with a nickel and correctly deduced that this was 16 cents. 11 pennies and 1 nickel was too much to colour over with a crayon, so I showed her how to put back 5 pennies and replace them with a nickel.

E's "school": E was having so much fun playing with Duplos while P did her seatwork that I replaced the "eggs" in his daily activity with Duplo blocks. His mind wasn't really on the game, but about half the time he achieved success in identifying which of 5 colours I had removed.

Geography and/or science: Perhaps watching us fill out forms and attach our new Texas license plates to our car counts as "social studies"?

Other: No piano practice today. The kids played with Duplos and constructed elaborate houses while I cooked dinner.

Week 8, day 3

Bible: We read the story of Gideon's selection of 300 men for his army and their defeat of the Midianite horde. Coming up with motions for this week's memory verse was tricky (For by grace you have been saved, through faith...) but P is making good progress anyway. It seems that any kind of arm motion does the trick, whether it's really relevant to the words or not.

Calendar: Still cool. Hooray!

Handwriting: P did 3 pages of the phonics workbook, which involved filling in bubbles (apparently, the book prepares kids for standardized testing, which I hope to avoid unless absolutely necessary) representing images with the same starting sound, ending sound, or middle sound. Since this required no handwriting, I required her to write her name neatly at the top of each page. Since the letters in her name are fairly common, having her practice making them neatly won't hurt.

Language Arts: She traced 3 words (more handwriting practice, of a sort) and then we played a game with letter cards for the letters we've covered so far. I put the first 2 letters of a word in place, and she was to find the final letter. E was able to participate easily, as well: I would put out "ba" and ask him to turn it into "bat", and he unhesitatingly placed a t at the end and sounded out the word.

Math: P did her 5-a-day nicely, enjoying decorating the coin rubbings again.

E's "school": We skipped this. E didn't request it or anything else.

Geography and/or Science: We read the "How Are Babies Made?" section of the Flip-Flap Body Book. This took a while, as we discussed what "our" baby was doing some months ago, is doing now, and will do once it's time for him to be born.

Other: I asked P to practice her piano piece by herself, and she did well. E and Ari caught a red-ear turtle and almost caught a snapping turtle (I'm really glad they didn't succeed) while P was at ballet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 8, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed catechism and this week's verse on the way to Titmouse Club. Once home again, the kids explored math concepts with Cuisenaire Rods (see below) until noon, whereupon we started formal "school" by reading the story of Gideon.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It's warming up again a bit, but not uncomfortably so. P was able to grasp, with little help, that the clock read 12:10. E was bothered by the fact that it was pm even though we hadn't eaten lunch yet, as I've explained the concept of "noon" to them using lunchtime as a benchmark.

Handwriting: After lunch, P did 2 pages of the phonics workbook, but this only required circling and crossing out pictures, so it wasn't really handwriting. I did ask her to write her name at the top of the page, which she did neatly.

Language Arts: We read a story about an old woman trying to get her pig over a stile. It was fairly silly, but the kids liked the repetition. We then looked at photos from the past year or so and P chose to describe what we did last Halloween. She told the story of the day, and I wrote it on a piece of paper, printed out a copy of the relevant photo and taped it to the paper.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): On our return from Titmouse Club, the kids wanted to continue playing with Cuisenaire rods, which they'd been busy with before we left. I showed P how to represent addition facts (a light green 3 rod plus a purple 4 rod are the same length as a black 7 rod), and she played at breaking down each number from 10 to 5 into 2 or more smaller numbers. Thus, she made discoveries such as "3+3+3=9" and "2+1+2+1+2+1=9", "4+4=8" and "2+2+2+2=8". I gave her some guidance, for example giving her a 6 to start with and asking how many more she needed to make 8, but she mostly did it herself.

She did well with the easier 5-a-day today. I asked her to make 6 cents in 2 different ways, which she did with no hesitation. Again, letting her colour paper placed on top of the coins and decorate the imprints was a good decision.

E's "school": I tried him on the egg activity today, placing 5 colours of paper eggs in front of him and then removing one, and he was able to identify the missing one over half the time. He's made serious progress on this activity since I first introduced it 6 weeks ago, and I imagine if we keep doing the activity all week he'll improve still further.

Geography and/or science: The Titmouse Club theme for today was owls. The kids heard how screech owls eat cockroaches, and saw an owl feather next to a falcon feather and noticed how much softer the owl feather was, which is why owls are able to fly so silently. They made an owl craft by gluing foam beaks and eyes and real feathers to walnuts. The nature walk was unusually good today; we saw a bullfrog, a grasshopper, a walking stick insect, several turtles, spiders, and mosquito fish.

Other: I have not been good lately about asking P to practice piano. I need to schedule a consistent time every day, or it won't happen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 8, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We started late this morning because the kids had a dentist appointment, and then I took them to the awesome playground that is near the dentist's office, where they played until almost 11:00. This week's verse is Ephesians 2:8-9 (we may stretch it out over 2 weeks), and we read the story of Joshua and the conquest of Jericho.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Another cool day, though it was warming up by the time we made our observation. P is beginning to grasp that times before the hour are labelled with the previous hour, though the existence of 2 scales on the same clock (1-12 for hours and 00-59 for minutes) is confusing to her. I'll just keep exposing her to the concepts and see what sinks in.

Handwriting: Today's copywork counted as handwriting, and she did one page of the free phonics book. It involved exclusively circling, which doesn't count as handwriting.

Language Arts: The kids were thrilled to make another letter sheet today. I let them do the cutting again, though I trimmed the edges so the pictures would fit on the letter sheet. P wrote 2 of the labels for the items herself.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P had a few struggles; she wrote 33 instead of 22 when asked to fill in the blank for 20, 21, __, 23, and it took her a few tries to come up with the answer to 11-3. I may have been making these a bit too hard, and should wait until she's more comfortable with numbers greater than 10. She loved tracing coins with a crayon again. I asked her to make 25 cents using 3 coins, and then using 1 coin. It was still hard for her, but that didn't diminish the fun of it, so I'll keep giving her similar activities. I made tomorrow's 5-a-day much easier.

There was a rousing lunchtime discussion on the subject of multiplying zero by any positive number. That's not the vocabulary we used to discuss it, but the concept that any number of copies of nothing is still nothing was reinforced through the game of E asking me, "Can I please have 12 nothings?" and me dumping 12 handfuls of nothing next to his plate. When he asked for 100 nothings, I dumped them in groups of 10 (making a show of gathering them up in my hands), but they didn't accumulate to any more that way. P, when asked what a million nothings were, correctly deduced that they were still nothing.

E's "school": This week's activity called for 3 sizes of embroidery hoop. As I own zero sizes of embroidery hoop, I improvised by making rings out of strips of the cardboard boxes our frozen pizza came out of on Saturday night. The idea was to emphasize the concepts of small, middle, and large, and to show that they are relative by showing that without the largest one around, the middle one is the largest, and without the smallest one around, the middle one is the smallest. E grasped this easily, so again the activity seems to have been somewhat below his level. I guess it's time to bring out the eggs (from Week 2) again!

Geography and/or science: Nothing formal today. E's imaginary Friend Lion sailed from India to South Africa and then to Egypt, so I responded that he must have gotten to know the Indian Ocean very well.

Other: I'm reading Bright Against the Storm, the first volume of Ari's epic fantasy, Karolan, aloud to Ari before we send it off to be printed. Ari pushed the kids on the swing set while I read aloud, and P was scared by the scary parts, so Ari had to stop and explain and reassure her. I insisted that they be sent inside for a page or so of the scariest/most disturbing part. Since the book is not written for a 5-year-old to understand, I'm impressed by her comprehension level. E paid no attention to the story at all. We have about 100 pages left to read, which may happen tonight if there aren't any major changes to be made. Reading aloud is a good way to discover typos, missing words, and so forth.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Week 7, day 5

Before we started school today, I let the kids play with Cuisenaire rods while I showered. Getting them to stop was a huge chore, as was getting either of them to focus on anything.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): After slow, painful effort I got P to review the most recent catechism question and memory verse. We read the story of Rahab hiding the spies. There's a Jamie Soles song about Rahab that I love, which I sang for the kids.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Today was delightfully cool, except if you stood in the sun too long. Clear, too, so that Ari can test his telescope tracking machine tonight.

Handwriting: P did 3 pages of the phonics workbook. There wasn't much handwriting involved, but she did write her name neatly twice and wrote 2 words. Looking ahead in the book, there's a good amount of handwriting review coming up when we get to the section on the sequence of the alphabet (for example, write the letter that comes after R). It'll do for now.

Language Arts: Nothing was scheduled for today, and once the phonics workbook was done, P's attention span was down to zero again, so I though I'd get us through her math and then go for a walk. After lunch, P and E both wanted to write words, so P wrote "pig, cow, cows, emoo (emu), emoos", and E wrote "moose" fairly recognizably with P's help.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): She took forever to settle down and do her 5-a-day. She also protested the fact that I had her counting coins again, instead of coming up with the correct combination by herself. Her focus being elsewhere, she couldn't figure out how to write 21. I showed her using the hundreds chart, but had to repeat the explanation twice before she actually wrote it on her paper. Most days, this would be easier for her, but her mind was elsewhere today.

E's "school": We did nothing on this. I had him play with blocks downstairs while I badgered P to get her work done.

Geography and/or science: As soon as P's math was done, we put our shoes on and went for a nature walk. This was a brilliant move, and the day went much more smoothly thereafter. We saw, and the kids drew, fungus on a tree trunk, and then we watched sunfish in the lake. I saw a pair of dragonflies land on a leaf, and just as a hopeful duck was swimming within range of them, a large fish leaped from the water to try to grab the dragonflies. The dragonflies flew off, and the duck retreated. The kids poked sticks into the water and pulled out algae to look at it.

In the afternoon, we identified South America and Brazil on the Markable Map. E traced the outline of South America and P labelled Brazil. We then read a book about Brazil and a book about piranhas. P wanted to make a book about Brazil right away, but it took her a long time to focus and finish it. I asked several times if she wanted to quit for now and do more another time, but she always wanted to keep working at it although she was easily distracted. The final result was quite satisfactory: she wrote "Brazil" on the cover (very neatly), coloured a flag and map outline I drew for her, and drew people celebrating Carnival, a piranha, a soccer ball, a toucan, and a howler monkey. E created a book on piranhas, featuring many solid objects which were declared to be piranhas, surrounded by blue or green (algae-filled) water.

Other: I started reading Marley and Me, and thus was lost to the world for whichever parts of the day I could get away with reading. Thus, nothing else happened (though I did cook dinner and do a load of laundry, which usually but not always happens when I'm lost in a book).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 7, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed memory verses in the car on the way to CBS, and did catechism and Bible story after lunch. We read the story of Balaam and the donkey.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Still hot and humid. P felt that, if it was 10 minutes before 2, it should really be 2:50 instead of 1:50. I explained the reasoning, but I don't know if she accepted it.

Handwriting: P finished the handwriting workbook today! I'm halfway inclined to simply let the Language Arts copywork take care of handwriting practice for the rest of the school year. She asked if she could do the first grade phonics workbook I picked up for free during handwriting time in the future, and I don't see any reason not to let her.

Language Arts: P wrote 3 words from dictation without any trouble, though she objected to my request that she not put a comma after the last word in the list. I explained to her that lists don't have commas at the end, but finally agreed that if she really wanted to, she could put one anyway. She was to draw "a" pictures on a blank worksheet, and drew an apple, an alligator, an apron, and an ant. She wrote "ant" herself. I'm looking forward to next week, when we'll be back to the typical schedule of introducing and reviewing a new letter (this week was a general review week, with fewer interesting activities).

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did her 5-a-day perfectly, and insisted on finishing her hundreds chart today. She wrote all the numbers from 51 to 100. I then let her use pennies to investigate the pattern of numbers where both digits were the same (11, 22, 33, etc). She found that they all lined up diagonally. (A year or two from now, I'll help her discover that the multiples of 9 line up diagonally in the opposite direction, and ask her why that works.) Then both kids played at making patterns using the coins but not using the hundreds chart. E created a portrait of his grandmother using pennies, dimes, and nickels. I wish I'd thought to photograph it. P pulled out coins at random and counted their value.

E's "school": The cardboard triangle activity was completely rejected. While P was doing her seatwork, I gave E assignments with the geoboard and rubber bands ("make 2 triangles that are different sizes").

Geography and/or science: This didn't happen again today. I had a dentist appointment that ate up the second half of the afternoon.

Other: No piano practice today, either - I got back too late to preside over anything like that, and P is not independent enough to do it without me.

Week 7, day 3

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We read the story of the bronze snake which the people were to look at for healing from snakebite. We discussed how the snake on a pole is a symbol used by doctors and hospitals, and how it foreshadowed Christ on the cross.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Hot and muggy again today. P is getting good at telling time, which I have her do when we record the temperature.

Handwriting: P finished the next-to-last page of her workbook, and did better with spacing out the words than she did yesterday or the day before. I'm still mulling over what to do when the workbook is done.

Language Arts: This was quick and simple - 2 worksheets, one of which involved writing the starting letter (a in 5 cases, t in 1) of a word, and one of which involved cutting out several letters and pasting them in front of the letters "at" to make words. She did this easily.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): Her 5-a-day went well, and she was quite able (when I redirected her attention) to make 12 cents 2 different ways. I had her start creating a "hundreds chart" - a 10 x 10 chart on which she will write all the numbers from 1 to 100. Apart from some difficulties with reversals, which she corrected, she has written perfectly all the numbers from 1 to 50 so far. We're doing a little each day. She's starting to notice patterns (11, 22, 33, 44 line up diagonally). We'll use it for skip-counting, games, etc. I strongly feel that no child should have to memorize any chart (including a multiplication table) that she is not able to produce by herself. If I'm going to ask her to use the numbers from 1 to 100 in written form, she needs to be able to write them in order first.

E's "school": E was not interested in playing with the triangle pieces. I didn't make him, but didn't come up with an alternative for him either.

Geography and/or science: We didn't do any of this today, at least not formally. P and E's uncle and aunt, who sailed to the middle of the Atlantic, lost their mast, and hobbled back to Bermuda for repairs, are visiting us now so that he can take the GRE. They're planning to sail back to the Caribbean once their ship is shipshape, and have been able to tell us and the kids great stories about actually seeing some of the places we've learned about. We spent much of the afternoon and all evening with them.

Other: P had ballet, while E caught 10 fish with Ari and his uncle.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 7, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): On the way to Titmouse Club, we reviewed all the catechism questions we've done so far, and I recited all our memory verses since the kids didn't want to. P repeated each one after me. After Titmouse, we looked at the most recent catechism question, because I hadn't perfectly remembered the wording of the answer, and we read the story of the spies whose opinion was split on the subject of whether or not God was bigger than the Canaanites.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was raining when we got home from Titmouse Club, and the kids asked to play outside in the rain. I decided to let them since I wasn't sure it'd still be raining if we did school and had lunch first. They spent 30 minutes getting drenched, and we only did Bible and calendar before lunch and did the rest afterward.

Handwriting: P finished copying her paragraph today. I reminded her again about the relative sizes of spaces between letters and words, and she did well after the reminder.

Language Arts: P was to narrate the fable of the crow and the pitcher that we read last week, and she did a thorough, detailed job. We also read the story of Henny Penny, who thought the sky was falling on her head. In this version, all Henny Penny's barnyard friends are eaten by Foxy Loxy, and Henny Penny alone escapes due to a warning crow from Cocky Locky. P and E had heard "tidied up" versions of the story before, and P was distressed at the discrepancy. She was convinced that the version where Foxy Loxy gets dinner was a false version and whoever had written it needed to get their facts straight.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did well on today's 5-a-day, but it took her a long time of trial and error with coins before figuring out a way to make 11 cents using 2 or 3 coins. When she did, we repeated yesterday's activity of taping the coins under the paper and letting her crayon over the top. She then decorated all around the coin rubbings, drawing flowers and a bunny rabbit.

After our science experiments, we played Go Fish! and War with the coin cards, this time with cards containing only dimes in values from 10 cents to 1 dollar. It gave P and even E good practice counting by 10s. It often surprises me how much E has learned just from watching P. So, my 3-year-old can read 3-letter words and count by 10s to 90. He can't lose a card game gracefully, though. When his pile of cards ran out in War, he kicked the table and me, and pushed his card holder into my arm, breaking the skin and earning himself a spanking. P and I played 2 more rounds of War (which goes much more quickly in a deck of 20 cards than in a standard deck) without E while he pulled out all the K level readers and mixed them up. I was going to put them back in order myself, but P insisted on helping me sequence them, which I didn't complain about.

E's "school": He worked on putting the triangles into their frames while P was busy with handwriting and math. I gave him the challenge of making a square and a triangle with rubber bands on their pegboard, and he did this easily. He also made a rectangle on the pegboard, and discovered that it, like the square, had 4 sides.

Geography and/or science: I decided it was time to conduct more science experiments today. We dissolved sugar in boiling water and put it in a glass with strings hanging into it, on which, hopefully, rock candy will grow in the next few days. We also dissolved Epsom salts in water, put a thin layer in a pie dish, and left it to evaporate. That took a while, and while we were waiting we redid the experiment of blowing up balloons using baking soda and vinegar. Eventually I put the pie dish of Epsom salt solution into the oven and set it to warm for about 45 minutes, at the end of which beautiful crystals had formed. We talked about what happens when something dissolves (where did the sugar/ Epsom salt go?) and what happens when the solvent evaporates. (No, I didn't use the words "solvent" and "evaporate").

Other: P practiced her piano piece 3 times today. She may be almost ready to move on to the next piece.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 7, day 1

Today, we were invited to join a preschool co-op, affiliated with the Heritage Christian Home School group, that meets once a month. The theme was owls, and there was a Bible story, a storybook featuring owls, and a number of crafts. It took half an hour to drive each way, so that ate up our entire morning and we didn't get started with our own school until after lunch. I'm still not certain we'll do this every month, though it could be a good opportunity to get to know other homeschooling moms of preschoolers.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): This week's memory verse is Romans 3:23. I've been making up hand motions for each verse, which means that P is able to recite the whole thing starting the first day, and E is able to do it with only minor prompting as long as I'm doing the hand motions. We read the story of Miriam and Aaron's rebellion against Moses, and I explained the words "rebellion" and "authority" to P when she questioned me.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Both kids thought it was cool, though I thought it was back to being warm again, so I let them win.

Handwriting: Today and tomorrow, P is to copy a paragraph. She had trouble making the spaces between letters within a word smaller than the spaces between words, though she improved when I pointed it out to her. She wrote 2 sentences today (about 3 words each), and will do 2 tomorrow.

Language Arts: No new letter this week! Instead, there are 2 worksheets for each day focusing on the letter A. P traced today's copywork, and then I asked her to write it from dictation. She did beautifully. She enjoyed comparing her dictation to her tracing and finding that they were exactly the same. She's been practicing sounding out and writing words - yesterday, she wrote a list of about 10 words that she was able to sound out.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P really likes doing her 5-a-day worksheets. Today, I had asked her to make 15 cents using only 2 coins. This was a challenge for her, but by trial and error, using a variety of coins, she finally discovered that a dime and a nickel would do it. I then showed her how to tape the coins to the underside of her worksheet and colour over them with a crayon. She found that exciting, so I'll let that be the pattern on future 5-a-days.

E's "school": For this week's activity, I had cut out 3 sizes of triangles from pieces of cardboard I had saved from old cereal boxes. E was to compare the sizes and fit them into the correct cardboard shapes. I asked him how many sides the first triangle had, and he accurately counted 3. I then asked him if all triangles had 3 sides, and he didn't think so at first, but I had him count the sides on the other triangles and he came up with the correct answer. I showed him that squares, on the other hand, have 4 sides.

Geography and/or science: P made a book about Central America. She wrote the title on the front, coloured a map I drew and labelled the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and drew pictures of bananas, men digging the Panama Canal, a ship sailing through the Panama Canal, and three rain forest creatures: a hummingbird, a butterfly, and a tree frog. We looked closely at the bananas in our fruit basket and saw that they came from Guatemala. E filled his book with "banana cane", even though I explained that bananas grow on banana trees.

Other: I didn't make enough time for P to practice her current piece on piano more than once. The kids spent most of the afternoon stringing beads to make necklaces and bracelets. When E had finished a long string of beads, after I had repeatedly urged him to let me tie it for him and he had refused, he picked it up by the wrong end and beads flew all over the room. This experience, upsetting though it was, caused him to ask me more quickly to tie it off the next time. P made patterns on hers, with 5-7 elements regularly repeating. The activity was brought to a close when P accidentally knocked the entire container of beads onto the floor and it took 15 minutes to clean up. I'd reached the limit of my tolerance for picking up beads, and insisted on putting them away. Mean mom.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week 6, day 5

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We read the story of the golden calf in the wilderness. Both kids found the idea of worshipping a golden calf, and claiming it had led the people out of Egypt, completely ridiculous. I shared with them from Psalm 135:15-18 and P repeated verses 16 and 17 almost verbatim after only one hearing.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Finally, some cooler weather. It was in the 70s and raining in the morning when we recorded the temp for our calendar, but by the kids' bedtime it was "62.5 degrees Fahrenheit" - P's confident pronouncement had Ari doubtful that she had gotten it right, but she was absolutely correct and he was impressed.

Handwriting: P finished the "h-b" page, copying "hat-bat, hug-bug, hall-ball". When she's concentrating, her handwriting is beautiful.

Language Arts: Since no specific activity was scheduled for Friday, we used my set of alphabet cookie cutters to bake alphabet sugar cookies. We used all the letters studied so far as well as the first letters of each of our names, and I made sure to cut many extra copies of "a" and "t" so we could make as many words as possible. I told P about the "ar" sound, and she was able to sound out art, arm, bar, far, and tar. For "lunch dessert", each child got to read and eat a word.

(5-a-day, other activities): P did her 5-a-day well, but complained at having a coin-counting question "all the time! It's boring!" She is finding telling time to the hour easy, so I'll start introducing the half hour soon. On Monday's 5-a-day, I've switched up the coin-counting activity by asking her to figure out how to make 15 cents using only 2 coins. I'm curious about how she'll do.

Our cookie baking involved a good bit of kitchen math; I showed the kids the fractions (1/2, 1/4) on the measuring cups and spoons as well as in the recipe book, and P was able to tell me that, using a 1/4 tsp measure, we needed 2 measures of baking powder to get a 1/2 teaspoon.

In the afternoon, P asked to play with the coin-counting cards, so we played a game of "war" and one of "Go Fish!" which we didn't complete. It's harder to play "Go Fish!" when you have to look at each card to count the coins when someone asks you if you have, for example, 13 cents, which is why the kids didn't have the patience to finish the game. We moved on to playing with pattern blocks, which E used to make "bones" with a hexagon on each end joined by several squares in a row, and P used to make concentric hexagons. I hauled out a ruler and showed the kids how each side of each shape was an inch long, with the exception of the long side of the trapezoid, which was 2 inches long. I then made a few shapes and had P predict how long each side would be, and we measured to check.

E's "school": We skipped this on Friday. Cookies were much more attractive.

Geography and/or science: Nothing specifically in this category happened on Friday, but this morning (with their grandfather) we discovered mosquito larvae in the base of a bird bath, strained them into a coffee filter, and looked at them under a simple microscope that I hadn't known we had. It was a high-quality microscope, and lots of details were visible in the larvae. Of course, after being observed, the larvae were not permitted to live.

Other: P practiced her newest piece on the piano, and is starting to sound quite reasonable. She did 2 pages of the piano theory workbook (perfectly) and then asked for "the other workbook". I realized that she was asking for a first-grade level phonics book I picked up for free, and she did 5 pages of it before getting tired of it and moving on to other pursuits.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Week 6, day 4

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We didn't do any of this in the car on the way to or from CBS, so it waited until we got home. We read about the Ten Commandments, and introduced a new catechism question.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): Today was warmer than usual, in the 90s, but the kids still classified it as "warm" rather than "hot." I suppose we've adjusted to the climate!

Handwriting: P was not interested in doing very much today, so she simply copied the words "honey - bee" and I pointed out that h and b are formed in almost the same way.

Language Arts: This was heaps of fun, as we used letters the kids knew (including ones the LA curriculum hasn't covered yet) to make words ending in "at" and "am". We came up with a list of 20 words, and E was able to read several of them. P was able to read them easily when we were writing them, but had to think a bit harder to read the list after the fact. I wrote all the words they came up with on the chalkboard, and took their picture next to it.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did well with today's 5-a-day, though she struggled to come up with the correct answer to 4+6. I had her haul out manipulatives (pattern blocks were closest at hand) and she figured it out.

E's "school": I added 0 and 8 to his list of numbers. It's starting to get hard for him to handle that many numbers, but he easily grasped the concept of 0 (we've discussed it before) and accurately counted out 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 paper bits. When I reminded him that the number under the 9 paper bits said 8, he removed the extra one. He simply left the 5 blank, but I let it go. (I took this picture yesterday).

Geography and/or science: We read books on Costa Rica, rain forests, and the building of the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal book was fascinating to me, though it mainly contained black-and-white photos and thus didn't hold P's interest as well (E was playing with Legos while we looked at this one), but she was interested in a photo of a man being loaded into a horse-drawn ambulance ("I suppose if their ambulances weren't very good, their hospitals weren't very good, either") and grasped that malaria took its toll during the building of the canal. We reviewed the concept of locks, which she seemed to fully grasp. Perhaps she'll want to make a book on Central America tomorrow - she was interested in doing so today, but I suggested that we wait until after we'd read all our books on the subject.

Other: I discussed with P the wisdom of practicing piano pieces more than once in a day, while in the car on the way home from CBS. She agreed in theory, but when the time came in practice, she was unwilling and claimed to be much too tired to play her piece a second time. I told her she could rest while I played it for her, and we'd take turns until she'd played it 3 times. She was quite happy with this, and by the 3rd time through had really improved (which I pointed out to her). So many times, the kids will protest vociferously, but when they find that I'm firm on an issue, they comply with no further rebellion. I need to keep this in mind for when I'm doubting myself in the face of ardent protest.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 6, day 3

Unlike most Wednesdays, my mother-in-law was busy today so "Oma Day" was cancelled. I also had a midwife appointment at 9am, so the kids came along for that and we did school once it was over.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): Both kids have good memories for catechism, and both were able to repeat this week's verse. We read the story of God providing manna and quail for the Israelites in the wilderness.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature)

Handwriting: P finished an entire page of "magic C letters". Lowercase a, c, d, g, o, and q all start with the c shape, so she was to trace the c, wait at the bottom for me to tell her which letter to turn it into, and complete the letter. Apart from occasionally making a small capital q instead of a lowercase one, she did this well.

Language Arts: P wrote from dictation "at, fat, rat, mat". E was able to sound out "at", "rat", and, with some help, "mat". I informed him that this means he can read. Yikes... I didn't exactly set out to teach my 3-year-old to read, but I'm not going to stop him...

Math (5-a-day, other activities): On today's 5-a-day, I included a clock reading 3:00, and she wanted to read it as quarter past 12. I reminded her of which hand was the short one, and she figured it out. She's a bright kid, and will probably have no trouble tomorrow (I've prepared her 5-a-day and put a 1:00 clock on it). Everything else, she breezed through. After E's "school", we played the coin memory matching game, but even with E partnering with me he didn't have the emotional resilience to cope with not making a match every single turn. He swept the cards off the table in anger, and I sent him downstairs until P and I were done playing the game. She counts the coins on the current cards with no trouble at all, so in my spare time I'm making harder ones. After P and I were done, I had to soothe E's wounded spirit. I do want him to learn to respond appropriately, even when he's angry. Playing in the rain after lunch helped his mood significantly.

E's "school": He felt much more confident about the numbers from 1 to 7. He will demand that I add more numbers tomorrow. I might get tricky and add 0.

Geography and/or science: After P's ballet lesson, I pointed out Central America on the world map and read her a book on Panama. E was still fishing with Ari, and caught 11 fish.

Other: P happily practiced the 2nd of her old piano pieces and a new one. She is unwilling to play them through more than once or twice, which means she isn't learning them well. I ought to (note to self) remember to chat with her, at some neutral time (when she isn't busy practicing), about the need for playing pieces many times in order to learn them properly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 6, day 2

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): We reviewed the catechism questions the kids had trouble with yesterday and the newest ones in the car on the way to Titmouse Club. P happily recited the memory verses learned to date in the car as well, though she mixed up the references. After Titmouse Club, we read the story of God parting the Red Sea.

Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature): It was so humid today, the windows of the house were covered in condensation when we woke up. Though not overly hot, there was some debate as to whether we should write "hot" or "warm" on the calendar. We settled on warm.

Handwriting: P finished writing the 3 sentences containing the 3 different types of punctuation marks. She did pretty well, but this worksheet page used a different style of lines (the standard kindergarten style of 2 solid lines with a dotted line in between, instead of HWT's style of just 2 lines, the lower one being the base line and the upper solid one being in the place of the standard dashed line). This confused P, but after I explained to her how the letters were to be placed on the lines, she did well. I need to hold in my mind that many things, obvious to me, are not obvious to her, and that I need to explain things in advance.

Language Arts: Today's activities were fun! We read the fable of the crow and the pitcher (a thirsty crow drops pebbles into a half-filled pitcher until the water level is raised high enough for him to reach and drink the water). We then performed the obvious experiment, but this part of the country contains no pebbles, so we used raisins instead. We drew a line on the side of the glass to mark the water level before dropping in raisins, and after dropping in a number of raisins, noticed that the water level was higher than the line we'd drawn. Then I poured off the water and dumped out the raisins, which P and I separated into piles of ten. I explained how to count by tens and then by ones to reach the total of 81 raisins. Then I ate the odd raisin and gave each child 4 piles of 10 raisins to eat. P was able to see that this meant she had 40 raisins.

The other Language Arts activity was making up and dictating the story of when she was 2 inches tall. She had fun with this one, talking about how she had to slide down the bed rails and how she and E (who, in the story, was also 2 inches tall) helped each other climb down the cliffs of the stairs. Eating Cheerios helped them grow back to their normal sizes. While P was telling the story, E climbed the easel, slid down between the sides, and had to be rescued. He'd been inspired by the idea of himself, tiny, doing serious climbing.

Math (5-a-day, other activities): The first problem I gave P on her 5-a-day was a little over her head: She had to insert the > into the statement "5+2 > 5-2". She could do each step independently, but needed my help putting them all together. The rest, she breezed through. Counting the raisins during language arts counts as "other math activity".

E's "school": I added 6 and 7 to yesterday's activity. He wasn't quite as secure on those, so we'll stick with that throughout the week. He was able to order the circles from 1 to 7 without help, but had to think about them a good deal more than yesterday.

Geography and/or science: Titmouse club! Today's theme was nocturnal animals. It wasn't as well done as some of them are, but they did list a variety of nocturnal animals. The craft was paint and pairs of sequins (to represent eyes) on black paper. Unfortunately, the paint used was fabric paint, which doesn't mix well with small children. Immediate washing (using the sink there) and soaking in Oxy-clean when we got home has restored P's favourite shirt almost to its initial condition, though unfortunately the blue will always be slightly visible.

This afternoon, P made a book about the Caribbean. So did E, though his book featured Hawaii and other unidentified locales, and he traced his name pretty well on the back cover. P's book featured "The Caribbean" on the front cover, a map (which I drew) on which she labelled the USA and Mexico and coloured the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea blue and the islands green, a diver next to a coral reef, a house destroyed by a hurricane with a sad person inside, a person harvesting sugar cane, an amazing fish found in a National Geographic article on coral reefs, seaweed which starts growing on the ocean floor and then floats for part of its life, and a very colourful sea turtle with a nest and eggs.

Other: P practiced only one of the 2 piano pieces she's working on. It may be time to move on to the next piece, as she's getting a good grasp of the first piece at least and I'm afraid if I force her to perfect both before moving on, she'll come to resent piano lessons and practicing. I'll keep her practicing the old ones until she's completely comfortable with them. Both kids helped their Opa clean house, vacuuming and mopping with enthusiasm. It's fun that they're old enough for their attempts at help to actually be helpful.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week 6, day 1

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse): This week we’re learning Acts 16:31, so I added a red piece of construction paper with the reference on it to our memory verse heart. I also made up hand motions to go with it, which makes it much easier for the kids to remember it. We read the story of the Passover, and reviewed all the catechism questions so far, most of which the kids answered readily.
Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature).
Handwriting: Since we’re nearing the end of the workbook, today’s page covered punctuation. P had patience for tracing the periods, question marks, and exclamation points, and copying them on a new line, but not for copying the three sentences using the punctuation marks. We’ll do those tomorrow.
Language Arts: Mondays we introduce a new letter, so we browsed the picture dictionary and looked at words starting with that letter, and then made a letter page. This time, the kids wanted to be the ones who cut out the pictures from the catalogs as well as sticking them onto the page. I found this a bit frustrating, because it took a lot longer, but now that I’m not in the situation I can see that it’s good for both of them to have the fine motor practice (and the turn-taking practice). P’s copywork this week involved 4 words composed of 5 of the 6 letters we’ve covered so far, so she’ll get good practice with handwriting doing that.
Math (5-a-day, other activities): P did her 5-a-day perfectly. She didn't even reverse any of the numbers she wrote. We didn’t specifically do any other math activities today.
E’s “school”: This week, this consisted of presenting him with 5 circles numbered from 1 to 5, and letting him rip off pieces of paper and put the correct number of scraps of paper on each numbered circle. He found this simple. The second part “once the child is secure with the first part” was to mix up the pieces of paper and have him put them back in order. He did it readily, and told me that it was easy. I may have to add more numbers before we do it again tomorrow.
Geography and/or science: Before starting school, we read much of a book on coral reefs. At first I was sure it was way above the kids’ heads, but P wasn’t interested in hearing my summaries of what was happening in the pictures; she wanted me to read “the actual words, Mommy.” We made it over halfway through before they lost interest. After E’s “school”, we read much of a book on the Caribbean Sea. I had meant to have P make a booklet about the Caribbean Sea and some of the islands there, but after lunch the kids entertained themselves playing with paper dolls, and had such a good time I didn’t want to stop them. There’s always tomorrow.
Other: P was happy to practice piano, and she’s getting better at moving the correct finger in response to seeing the finger number printed in her music book. She wanted to move on, but I wanted her to spend at least another day working on counting AND playing the right notes. As a compromise, I sang her all the rest of the songs in the primer. It seems to be designed for a child to get through by Christmas, as the songs at the end are all Christmas-themed, but that seems unlikely to happen here. I’d rather have her know what she’s doing than move at the authors’ pre-determined pace.

Something completely other was that workers from Comcast came to fix the wire. During Hurricane Ike, over a year ago now, a tree fell across all the power wires in the back yard, stretching them out of shape and leaving them hanging at chin level across the yard. 2 of the 3 companies were diligent and responded quickly to the request to raise the wires. The initial request was made about 5 months after Ike, when my inlaws had finished helping Ari's brother and his wife repair their Galveston home. When we made plans to move here in July, my inlaws started trying in earnest to get Comcast to come and raise the remaining wire. Since we don't own a television and thus are not Comcast cable customers, they were slow and incompetent. A few times, people showed up to bury the wire (after clear communication that we wanted to have it raised) and protested that they couldn't bury it. Other times, we would be told that they certainly would come tomorrow, and nothing would happen. Or workers would show up without the proper equipment. It was mind-boggling how many ways they failed to raise the wire. Finally, my father-in-law talked to his lawyer, and suddenly they found they were able to do it after all. It took them about 20 minutes. Isn't human nature wonderful?

Record-keeping template

After thinking it over for a while, I decided to make a basic template for my daily record-keeping posts, with our average daily schedule, and then annotate it as needed.

Bible (Catechism, Bible story, memory verse)
Calendar (Update day of week and date of month, record weather and temperature)
Language Arts
Math (5-a-day, other activities)
E's "school"
Geography and/or science

Friday, October 2, 2009

Week 5, day 5

It's always a relief, after 2 consecutive days where we have only the afternoon to get our schoolwork done, to have an entire day to do it in. P has finished learning all the letters in her handwriting workbook, and the remaining pages involve writing words. I still need to remind her about how to write certain letters, and she often reverses z, b, and d, as well as 3 and 7. My plan is that, after next week (when she'll finish the current workbook), our daily handwriting lesson will involve writing on the chalkboard, including wet-dry-try, to review all the letters. The Sonlight language arts curriculum will start using words containing only letters studied to date (so far, B, F, M, R, T, and adding A next week) for copywork as of next week, so I'll let that cover paper-and-pencil practice. By teaching B first and not D for a number of weeks, she'll only be practicing B and hopefully I can get her consistently writing it the right way around before we add D.

No language arts activity was scheduled for today, so I asked the kids to think of something fun to do that started with R. Running round and round and riding bikes was the first thing they came up with, so we spent 20 minutes outside. They drove their bikes (E has a tricycle, and P has a bike with training wheels) to a cul-de-sac where a large puddle had formed after last night's intense thunderstorm. After riding through the water got boring, they took off their shoes and splashed wildly. Once we were back inside and I was helping E put dry clothes on, my sister-in-law dropped by with her little boy (he'll be 1 next month). We all hung out with her for a bit, but when she went to change her baby's diaper, P decided that doing her math 5-a-day would be much more fun. It didn't take her too long, and she got 4 of the 5 questions right. The one she missed, I'd been tricky - I'd asked her to circle 2 identical shapes, but I'd included both a 5-pointed star and a 6-pointed star, and she circled both of those initially instead of the pentagons that actually matched. When I asked her to count the points on the stars, she realized her mistakes and crossed them out. She then went downstairs to show off her work to her aunt, who was interested enough in the MOTL approach that I showed her all the books in the program before she left.

During lunch, Ari described how much higher the bayou was after last night's rain, and we decided to go and see it. It turned out to be more of an adventure than most of our nature walks are. First, while balancing on the plank that crosses the creek behind the back yard, E toppled sideways and fell into the creek. He turned around underwater while trying to get up, and there wasn't a dry portion of his body. Fortunately, the shoe he lost floated, so after I'd fished him out and comforted him, I was able to fish the shoe out as well. Imagine, if you will, having a volleyball strapped to your abdomen (about the size Baby is right now) and balancing on a plank while trying to reach a floating object a foot and a half below you without falling in. I felt quite pleased with my success. Once we were all successfully across the creek and past the lake, I removed E's shirt and shorts one at a time to wring as much water out of them as I could. Meanwhile, P trod in a fire ant hill. The fire ants didn't take kindly to this, and filled up her shoe and bit her, so once E was properly clothed, I helped P take the shoe off and squish all the remaining fire ants. She wanted to walk barefoot the rest of the way, but I knew how unpleasant it would be for her to step on something sharp, so I insisted that she replace the shoe. When we reached the bayou, it was quite a bit lower than Ari had described, but we sat on top of a large drainage tube and threw debris into the fast-flowing current. Sometimes pieces were temporarily sucked into the tube, but they all eventually found their way back to the center of the bayou. I reiterated to the kids my dislike of fishing and how I'd rather not fish even for such beautiful creatures as they are. They were suitably cautious - E's mishap was still fresh in their minds. Once we'd run out of debris to toss into the bayou, I wanted to walk along the path and see more of the bayou. Unfortunately, the path was so muddy that I couldn't keep my footing, and I slipped, falling on my behind. E, whose hand I was holding, also slipped and bashed his mouth into the top of my head. I was muddy, he was muddy and crying, and we decided that home was the place to be. Everyone felt much better once we were back on the main path, and rinsing off under the tap next to the back door and getting a change of clothes did a lot to improve our moods yet further.

While E was distracted with something else, P and I started playing the coin memory matching game. She completely grasps how to count coins in values up to 10 cents, constructed in any possible way, so, for example, she could see that a card picturing a nickel and 2 pennies matched a card picturing 7 pennies. E came in halfway through, but he hasn't caught on to the strategy of remembering where the cards he looks at are, so he didn't make as many matches as P or I did. He found this upsetting and partly crumpled one of the cards. Next time, he and I may need to be teammates. However, he's quite good at counting the number of coins on each card, though the difference between nickel and penny values is a bit challenging for him. P enjoyed the game, though, and I think she'll be happy to play it again.

After the card game, we read a book on coral reefs. It was written at a perfect level for the kids to understand, which is rare - usually the only books that are at all interesting are more than the kids are able to sit still through. This one had the right number of pictures and the right amount of explanation and interesting detail without requiring concepts the kids didn't yet grasp. We can certainly read it again!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 5, days 3 and 4

Yesterday was "Oma Day", when my mother-in-law (whom the kids call Oma) takes the kids out for the morning and brings them back after lunch, and I go to Arabic Bible study. When they got back, P was tearful. In fact, she cried a solid 5 minutes before even coming inside, and then sat on my lap and sobbed for another minute or two before she was able to explain what the problem was. Through sniffles, I heard that she had been given a choice between 2 kids' meal toys at the Sonic where they ate lunch. Oma had suggested that she choose one toy - quite emphatically, as I later heard - and she had ignored the advice and chosen the other. Now she was thoroughly dissatisfied with her choice, wished she could have chosen the other toy, and was upset that the opportunity to do so was lost. After about 10 more minutes I had finished my lunch and decided that we needed to start school, if only to distract P from this little childhood tragedy which was still causing the occasional whimper. Before we started, I suggested that if E was completely happy to do so, perhaps she could ask him to trade his toy for hers. E was quite willing, and they traded, which finally put an end to the shaky breathing and trembling lower lip.

After we were done with Bible, calendar, handwriting (P asked to do 2 letters instead of just 1) and language arts, I gave P her first "5-a-day" math worksheet. Looking through the MOTL "Beginning Math Student Record Sheet", I realized that the only basic math concept on the sheet that she hasn't fully grasped is identifying and counting money. However, we haven't done much written work, and she needs practice writing numbers, so I wanted to see how she'd do with a worksheet. I used concepts I knew she was familiar with: simple addition and subtraction, sequencing, number recognition, greater than and less than. She needed a fair bit of explanation and encouragement from me, but she got 4 of the 5 problems right (the one she missed was recognizing the number 12 and drawing that number of hearts - she was quite able to draw 12 hearts once I told her it was a 12). At first I thought perhaps she wasn't ready for the seatwork yet, but mulling it over I decided that the main area she's weak on is translating her intuitive grasp of math concepts to written form, and the 5-a-day is a good way to make sure we cover written math as well as just concepts.

After P had successfully completed her 5-a-day (despite E crawling under their child-size table and then attempting to stand up, almost toppling the table and wrecking one of the hearts P was drawing), we started looking at the Caribbean. On the Markable Map, I labelled the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea (to E's chagrin, as he wanted to trace all the places his imaginary Friend Lion had visited and I wouldn't let him), and identified Cuba, Haiti/Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. I had found 5 different articles on the region among my awesome collection of National Geographic magazines, from just a few years ago as well as the 1980s, 70s, and 60s (I knew, back when they were taking up half my room at Caltech, that they'd come in handy sometime), so the kids and I looked at the pictures: coral reefs, hurricane damage, sea turtles, sugar cane, and the contrast between rich tourists and impoverished locals.

When we were done looking at the National Geographics, Opa (my father-in-law) asked to do an experiment with the kids. Several weeks back, he had brought a sun-bleached cow bone as a present for E, and tried to partly dissolve a fragment of it in vinegar. This didn't work, so Ari bought some hydrochloric acid with which they half-filled a jar and placed the bone fragment in it. The bone completely dissolved, leaving almost no traces, though the colour of the HCl changed. Now, Opa wanted to show the kids what happened when various types of rock were placed in the HCl. After a lecture on the implications of the HCl dissolving the bone and what this might mean if it got onto anyone's skin, we went outside with the jar of HCl. I was there to enforce the safety rules, but Opa performed the experiment. He first placed fragments of meta-sediment and quartz into the jar, and not much happened. Then a scrap of concrete was placed in the jar, and it bubbled quite a bit. Opa explained that concrete was made partly of quartz and partly of calcium carbonate, which is found in corals and shells. He had some coral pieces, and a fragment of that was placed in the HCl, where it bubbled significantly more than the concrete had. It was explained that the bubbles were carbon dioxide, though I'm not sure whether anyone but me was listening. The children were impressed, and my presence was found to be useful as P became more excited than sense would warrant and I stopped her from getting too close.

Note to the reader: I did not love the idea of combining preschoolers and hydrochloric acid. I really didn't love it at all. But Ari didn't completely share my feelings (he bought the HCl, after all), and as his dad did this sort of experiment with him throughout his childhood and he survived unscathed, I decided not to put my foot down. My mother-in-law was more inclined to my view of things, so I at least took comfort in not being the only one unexcited about the idea.

Today, after CBS and lunch, we needed to make a new calendar page, it being October 1. I taped 4 sheets of printer paper together to make a large sheet of paper, and the kids watched while I drew squares with a ruler, wrote the days of the week, numbered the days, and taped the new calendar to a pair of flattened, empty cereal boxes for support. P did her handwriting page happily, and for E's school we revisited the coloured egg activity. This time, he was able to identify which of the 4 different colours of eggs I removed almost every time (particularly when I threatened him with packing up his school immediately when he started being silly). P got every question on her 5-a-day right, this time with no help except in reading the questions. I asked her if she enjoyed this kind of thing, and she said that she did. She seemed quite happy at the idea of doing a 5-a-day every day, so I'm going to go for it.

We read (actually, mostly looked at the pictures in) a book about oceans, and then re-read the book Big Numbers (And Pictures That Show How Big They Really Are). This is the one that shows the number of peas increasing by powers of 10, so that 100,000 peas make a large pile on the table, whereas 100,000,000 peas fill the kitchen and half the dining room, and a quadrillion peas make a mountain. The kids had both expressed disappointment when the book had to be returned to the library, though today they didn't look at it with quite as rapt attention as when we first read it.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon cutting out and assembling pictures of coins on index cards to make a memory game. All the possible ways to make 1 to 10 cents are represented, in addition to a quarter. We could also use the cards for a game like "War". I look forward to playing the game with the kids tomorrow.