September 22, 2007

Home School Update

If you're looking for cute pictures, keep scrolling...this will likely be a long rambling post with no photos, but I did upload a video and a couple of cute Kenna pictures in previous posts!

We just finished week 13 of our Sonlight Core C curriculum, so I thought I would take a little time to do an update of our school adventures. (Also got the idea from Claire's blog--thanks, Claire!) We are over 1/3 of the way through the Sonlight year, which is somewhat hard to believe considering we've had multiple breaks for vacations and sick days.

I guess you could say our days truly begin at the breakfast table, where we usually read a Psalm and pray together. Sometimes instead of reading we work on AWANA memory verses. The kids and I all enjoy this time together, and I love their enthusiasm for God's Word and pray they never lose it.

The first official subject is math. Charis is 1/3 of the way through the Math-U-See Beta book. A few weeks ago she was introduced to the concept of "regrouping," otherwise known as "carrying." With the block manipulatives we use, it was easy to visualize what happens in this process: for example, an 8 block and a 4 block are playing together at the Units' House. Together 8 and 4 make a 10 block and a 2 block. When it's time to go home, the 10 block can't fit into the Units' House, so we have to carry the 10 back to his own house. While Charis could do this with the blocks, the first day we were doing her practice page she ended up in tears because she just didn't get the concept. We quit halfway through the page and prayed God would help her understand it when we worked on it later. I am so proud of Charis--the next day, she buckled down to do the work again, even though I could tell she was intimidated. (She's used to whipping through her math with few mistakes, and those only when she's carelessly rushing!) By the end of Tuesday's session, she was doing it, and at the end of the week, she "taught" the lesson to me flawlessly! Since then she's learned about the decimal system in relation to money, and it looks like the next lesson will be about carrying with more than 2-digit numbers.

Tobin is nearly finished with the Primer book. We're using the same book Charis used in Kindergarten--literally the SAME book, not the same copy of the book. There are 6 pages of lesson sheets and cumulative review pages for every lesson, and Charis did about 3-4 pages of each lesson. So Tobin is doing whatever is left. If I feel that he needs more practice on a concept, I either erase a page that Charis did or else have him do extra practice on the board. His favorite math activity currently is being a "math detective," which is what Steve on the Math-U-See instructional DVD calls solving for an unknown. Having watched the Veggie Tales "Sheer-luck Holmes" movie, Tobin delights in being "Sheer-luck" and finding clues to figure out the missing number. He would do these problems all day if I had the patience to stand at the board and applaud for him every time he solved his mystery! He also thoroughly enjoyed learning to make tally marks. I'm going to have to order the Alpha book for him--hopefully that will keep him occupied for longer periods of time, as he finishes math faster than I can get Charis settled with her handwriting!

Arden is sitting in on any math lesson he can (on the DVD, that is). He has picked up a lot just listening in and playing with the math blocks on his own. While I'm not quite ready to officially start him on the Primer book (which I plan to order when I get Tobin's next book), I wouldn't be surprised if he could actually do the book now. Still, he needs to practice writing before we get to an actual workbook. He's still as obsessed as ever with numbers, only he has moved past the age thing to randomly spouting math facts. Daily he reminds us that "1 + 1 is 2, and 2 + 2 is 4, and 4 + 4 is 8, and 8 + 8 is 16, and 16 + 16 is 32." He usually asks what 32 + 32 is, and sometimes we go an extra couple of steps. Eventually he'll probably remember those and his list will grow longer.

Language Arts covers a plethora of activities, but typical activities for Charis (for the whole week, not just one day) include her handwriting practice page, spelling words, a copywork passage, an application activity during which we examine a grammar concept from the previous day's copywork and then apply it to a sentence or paragraph that she writes, a writing prep activity, the writing activity itself, and an optional assignment for Fridays, which we do about half the time. She also reads aloud from her readers (currently the Beginner's Bible) daily...actually about 2-3 times a week, because she usually begs to keep reading after she finishes the day's assignment. Oh, yes, and she does Explode the Code and Wordly Wise workbook pages, very minimal each day, but great reinforcement.

Tobin's LA is very similar, though it's one level lower. I help him with his writing assignments, as his handwriting still isn't fluid enough for him to truly enjoy writing much beyond his handwriting page and copywork passage. I let him dictate what he wants to say. His program also includes some games to reinforce letter sounds, sight words, etc. Since he is reading fluently, we don't really need to do the games--but you can bet we do anyway. Gotta keep school fun! Arden joins us, so I'm hoping he'll pick up some things from Sight Words Bingo and Go Blend (a Go-Fish type of game).

Arden has completed 15 lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. He is making marked progress, though I still have my reservations about whether this is too early to be teaching him. He struggles with blending the sounds into words, often spouting out words that we've previously examined instead of focusing on the sounds at hand. I'm starting to cover the other lines so he won't be as distracted, and that did seem to help. And I must say, there are times when he gets the word on his own, without hearing me say the sounds first. I guess as long as he is enjoying it and asking to do the lessons (which is daily--never mind whether it's a weekend or school day), I might as well enjoy the time with him. If we finish the book and he's still having trouble, we'll try something else! Beyond that, Arden's "school" basically consists of him bringing a bunch of books to me for reading and snuggle time. I'm good with that. :-)

In history we are going through the Usborne Living Long Ago book, which the kids all absolutely love. We've gone through clothing during various periods and are now looking at houses in those same periods. When I announce it's time for this reading, the kids all begin singing "Living long ago-ooh, Living long ago-ooh!" and jump up and down excitedly. We've gotten more rave reviews for this book than the Children's Encyclopedia, though they did enjoy the pages in there as well.

The Egermeier's Bible story book has also been a hit, surprisingly. There are significant portions without pictures, and I had read on the forums that a lot of kids don't enjoy this book. My kids do enjoy it, however. I think it's because last year we went through the Taylor Bible story book that I had as a kid, and they got used to hearing longer passages. In fact, the passages in Egermeier's are much shorter than the ones in the Taylor book--so maybe that's the key!

Each week we also have poetry readings from The Llama Who Had No Pajama and Mother Goose, again met with wild approval (though we don't have a song to announce the beginning of these readings!).

In science we have completed a reading unit of fish in Usborne's First Book of Nature, during which we all learned some fascinating things about fish. Sure makes me admire God's creativity!

Our current read-aloud is Twenty and Ten, the story of a group of French school children who agreed to hide ten Jewish children during World War II. We've also recently completed The Family Under the Bridge, The Light at Tern Rock, and The Hundred Dresses. We enjoy reading these in the evenings when Ted is home.

And I guess that's about it! If you read this far, wow, you must really love us. :-) As a reward, I'm going to post a link to a great video that I found on my friend "Amos's" blog. If you like the song "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns, you'll enjoy this rendition of it very much!


Amos said...

What a great update. Thanks for all the details! I think you probably know that I like the details. We are starting week 4 and so far so good. Still in the learning phase of how to do everything around here but it will all get done. Sounds like your kiddos are doing awesome!

Bob & Claire said...

This is great--I love reading what others are doing! Caleb and Tobin are in similar places in math, but boy, I wish reading would just "click" for Caleb. He's improving, but it's just sloooowwww--obviously developing my patience is a more important lesson here, LOL!