Monday, 7 April 2008

Weekly Report 2008:14

Last week went very well in the homeschooling department.

Circle Time
After a week of just reviewing memory verses, we got back into reading stories and completing colouring pages for each story for our Make-Your-Own Story Bibles. Abigail has made a sudden leap in her colouring ability and is doing very well at colouring most of the picture, rather than just scattered elements. Anna spent the entire week flourishing her orange pencil.The kids are starting to recite 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 along with me, and I think I almost have it memorised.
I also spent a bit of time on Friday organising my materials for Circle Time for the next term or so while we read through some of the major stories in the book of Acts. I still need to determine the list of memory verses we will be learning to accompany the stories and write out the filing cards, but I am a little bit ahead. One other organising thing I need to do is find the words to "In Christ Alone", because that will be our next song to learn together. (We sang "Shout to the Lord" again at church last Sunday and the kids joined in, even Abi, and I am really enjoying seeing them able to participate more in church. Especially as the girls have been so squirmy the last two Sundays.)
In BSF we are studying the Gospel of Matthew, and the last two stories the children have covered have been Jesus' baptism and his calling of the disciples. We all learnt some memory verses on these stories a few months ago and the kids were very happy to share what they remembered in class - and the Children's Supervisor complimented me on their knowledge also, which is always nice!

Joshua completed reading through the second set of Bob Books last week and has already read the first three of the third set (which only has six stories). The words in this set are much harder because instead of introducing new phonemes or graphemes they are introducing multisyllabic words. I am not sure whether I like this order. Joshua is working his way through them okay(ish), but I am wondering if I should get him to re-read the set after he's read each story once. He might complain at that, but I know he could benefit from the reinforcement. Any which way, I've told him he can start reading Go, Dog, Go! to me again (he considers that to be a "real" book, so there is greater internal motivation), and he managed beautifully with the first few pages this afternoon. He has improved markedly in his fluency this year.
Jeff has asked me to make a few changes to the way we do homeschool (I'll write more in another post) and one is to work with him to recognise more words by sight. I'm happy to do this with him now that he knows the Basic Code. Part of the problem is that Joshua is at that half-way point where he cannot look at a word and immediately determine whether it is a word he must decode from scratch or a word he has already read many times and should recognise. I was assuming this level of automaticity would come with rpactice, but out of context practice at recognising words (eg using flash cards, a poster or a whiteboard, rather than in sentences) will help him to develop this automaticity quicker, I suspect.
Penmanship has continued well, with Joshua copying a sentence each day (eg "Joshua and Samuel had fun in the wet mud."), except those days when we have BSF - and I gave him Friday off also because he did a narration instead. Planning wise, I think this is a good balance, either penmanship or a narration, because they are both aimed at improving writing skills (in the long term) and I don't want to overwhelm the kiddo. On Saturday, Joshua convinced Jeff to help him make a story book about pirates, and it is indeed a fantastic collaborative effort. The story words are all Joshua's work, if you couldn't guess!

We finished Pinquo in four days and I haven't had the heart to launch into anything longer than picture books since. It was very sad, completely shook Joshua up, but really inspired some good questions and conversations. Joshua did a lovely narration (more for emotional catharsis than educational purposes).

We completed lesson 8 of Singapore Earlybird Mathematics 2A last week. We could be moving through faster as Joshua has understood everything well so far, but occasionally I get slack with this subject (which is pretty pathetic for an ex-HS mathematics teacher). This is the one area of homeschool K5 which I feel I am not moving as fast as I should reasonably be. In the other areas, when we go slower or skip that for a few days I am doing it for the right reasons, to let my kids relax and not put too much pressure on them. With maths, because both Anna and Joshua can cope with the concepts very well (so far), it's more because this is at the lower end of my scale of daily priorities. But then, perhaps that's as it should be, at this age at least.

Although we are still reading some fiction books based around sea creatures and sea events, we have begun read alouds on a rainforest theme. So far we've read a really good overview of rainforests, Voices of the Rainforest by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom. We have also read a book on Chameleons which Anna kept asking me to read, and which I found fascinating. Did you know that different species of Chameleons vary in size from 2-3cm to around 90cm long? Also, they are usually coloured to camoflage with their surroundings, but change in response to temperature changes and also emotions such as fear or anger (although how they decided a chameleon was angry rather than afraid is beyond me, not like they could just ask it).
I'm trying to focus on a bit of knowledge of South America, but we also seem to be reading a lot about Madagascar.
One thing that is a tad bit annoying to me is that the vast bulk of books on the library shelves about animals are about animals which are endangered and are written from a very "please preserve me from amn's depredations" persepctive. Now I have nothing against educating my children about the need to be wise in our use of environmental resources and conscious of our impact on other species, but it seems to be difficult to find information on species which aren't endangered (well, other than bugs). It's a sort of zoo-mentality: only write about the species you would see at a zoo, animals which are placed in zoos because they're rare. So how can I develop an awareness of species before they become threatened, in order to inspire our children to appreciate the full diversity of species? Obviously I could resort to an animal encyclopaedia, but I'd prefer to sit down with a small book with lots of pictures that my kids can actually lift and carry to me to read, rather than some weighty tome that would kill them if it fell off a shelf on them. Grrr: frustrated!

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