Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 1 Recap - FIAR: The Story About Ping

So we made it through our first week of pre-K! Unfortunately, I feel that it only went well two out of the five days. The Heffalump and Woozle seem to still be retaining information that we covered, so I guess that's a good thing, I'm just a little frustrated at how difficult it is to teach them.

We read "The Story About Ping" each day last week as the curriculum suggests. The Woozle liked this at the beginning, but seemed to get bored by the end of the week. The Heffalump loved the repetition and I 'caught' him reading the book aloud to himself during non-school time towards the end of the week.

Prep work: I bought a world map and put it up, and used a roll of brown packing paper and Sharpies to make a timeline to post on the opposite wall.

What we did during the week:

Language Arts-
  • Read the book
  • Put the book on the timeline and talked about how long ago the book came out - I had one of them put their finger on 2013 and had the other put their finger on 1933, then I pointed out dates in between (when they were born, when their father and I were born, when our parents were born)
  • Copywork - traced the opening sentence.
  • Read a comprehension worksheet about timelines and wrote events on their own timeline.
  • Looked up how to write their names in Chinese
  • Did a Ping word search
  • Read the book "Ducks Don't Get Wet."
  • Talked about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, narrated the story, and filled out an information sheet for the book. I'm hoping to make or have an info sheet for each FIAR book they read so they can have a collection to look back on in their notebook.
  • Talked about the short 'u' sound: -uck, -ut, -ug, and -un. Each day they had a short list of spelling words and a reading comprehension sheet. Friday, I picked two words from each list and gave them a basic spelling test, and we did a word family sorting game.

Bible Study/Character-
  • Talked about obedience. We used the character study series from Confessions of a Homeschooler - I have the other sections saved to use with appropriate books throughout the year. We covered the stories of Noah, Abraham and Isaac, and Daniel and his friends.
  • I had them work in their workbooks. I only planned for them to do one page front/back, but they both ended up working through the first 5 lessons on the first day. After that, I limited it to one lesson per day. The Heffalump made it through the first unit, so we did the unit test on Friday. He needs work with money and counting by 2s, so I'm going to skip the workbook next week and focus on that.
  • Learned how to write numbers 1-10 in Chinese, and watched some YouTube videos to learn the pronunciations. The Heffalump is a strong auditory learner, so he loves anything put to a song. This was our favorite video:

  • They counted and colored Ping's family, and graphed the family.
Observations: Heffalump needs practice writing the numbers and number words and the Woozle only likes to write in uppercase letters, regardless of the print she sees.

Social Studies-
  • Found China on the world map and in their "Children's Atlas of the World," and put the story disc on the map.
  • Colored the flag of China for their lapbook
  • Talked about family units and compared our family to Ping's family.
  • We did an experiment to show how ducks stay dry. I had them cut out two duck shapes, paint one with oil, and drip water on both ducks to see what happened.
  • Made a flipbook of different types of ducks, talked about different bill styles and how the bill influenced what the duck ate, feeding, and migration.
  • Listened to duck calls online at Ducks Unlimited and compared the ducks to the story to determine what type of duck Ping and his family were.
  • Watched "PBS: An Original Duckumentary" on Netflix, and watched YouTube videos of fishing cormorants and Pekin ducks.
I've noticed that the Heffalump and Woozle both enjoy science-related activities, so I'm planning to incorporate more science as we go.

  • Looked at the illustrations in the book, talked about the medium (colored pencils), and drew with colored pencils.
  • Made pipe cleaner ducks. The Woozle liked this project, so we ended up making a duck for everyone in the family:
  • Colored and cut out a paper doll from Education.com. I'm hoping to do these for each country we cover as well, so they can see the differences in traditional dress.

  • Drew and colored a picture of our family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Read "The Duck" poem by Ogden Nash and drew an illustration.
That pretty much covers it! I'm trying to be flexible and let them have input as to what they want to focus on and the order we do things. I feel that as long as we read a story and do at least phonics and math every day, then I can fill the rest in with what they want to learn about. Stay tuned for next week's continuation of China and ducks, with a side trip to Australia!

Monday, September 16, 2013

What We're Using

Ugh, I feel like I'm already behind in my blogging! There's so much I want to write about, and only so many hours in the day. I want to jot down a quick list of our curriculum for this year before I post my recap from last week.

Our main curriculum is Five in a Row - I have volumes 1 through 3, and the cooking, bible study, and holiday supplements. Right now we're using volume 1 and since it's our first structured school year, I'm giving myself two weeks to "row" each book. I felt that stretching it out would give us a chance to read the main book the first week and spend the second week on read-alongs while focusing on areas they had more interest in.

I'm supplementing math and phonics as recommended, because both kids are working around a K level in math, and the Heffalump is reading at about a 2.5 grade level. The Woozle isn't far behind him in reading, but she doesn't like to read aloud unless she knows all the words herself, so it's hard to judge her exact level. For math right now, I'm using the Spectrum 1 workbooks and then supplementing with in-depth studies when I see a weakness. For phonics, I'm using a mixture of spelling lists and comprehension readings (fiction and non-fiction) from K12 Reader, Zaner-Bloser, and Phonics by the Book.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why am I doing this?

I am blessed to be able to stay home with our three kids. We have a Heffalump (4), his twin sister the Woozle (4), and a Sea-Bass (2 next month). I've tried homeschooling before, but never stuck with it. So why am I making an effort to do it now?
  • Because preschool is expensive, especially when there are 3 kids involved. Plus, if the kids are in preschool, I'd have to try to find a job. Having been out of the workforce for over 4 years and not being established in a career before I left, I know my job prospects are slim.
  • Because my kids love to learn, and while they're home with me I feel it's my job to help them learn as much as they can.
  • Because honestly, we have difficult kids. The Heffalump and Woozle are just about as opposite as a set of twins can get (and strong-willed to boot), and the Sea-Bass seems like he's going to follow in their strong-willed footsteps. At least they come by that honestly! My twins have different learning styles, different personalities, and different approaches to learning, and we honestly didn't feel that at this point either of them would thrive in a traditional school environment.
I know that a lot of homeschooling mothers feel "called" to homeschool - I am not one of those moms. When I was in college, my degree path could have gone in multiple directions, one of those being education. I distinctly remember saying on more than one occasion "I do not want to be a teacher." However, the twins are a year away from being age-eligible for Kindergarten but working on a K level (at least) in many areas. I saw that there was a need to fill, so I'm filling it through homeschooling. In my state, we don't have to enroll children in school or register them as homeschoolers until the age of 8, so we're planning to use this time to experiment: see what approach works best for me, what approach works best for them, and see if this is really something that we can sustain for the long run.

I will try to keep this blog as updated as I can, and try to remember to take pictures. You can also follow my inconsistent blogging efforts over at Domestic Knitter Designs, where I document my sporadic adventures in knitting, sewing, and pattern design. :)