Saturday, 2 August 2008

Weekly Report 2008:28

Our second week of second semester went smoothly with less whinging than last week, so I'm quite pleased. The one thing which is causing problems is actually one of my scheduling decisions planned to remove problems! I have planned for Abigail to watch Play School (with Samuel in the lounge room as well) while I do the reading and writing lessons with Joshua and Anna in the dining room. The big kids never used to watch morning Play School before (it's only a relatively recent addition to our screen time in the afternoons) and the littlies are often asleep during the afternoon showing. Despite this, there is great angst being experienced, particularly by Joshua, over the fact that Abigail gets to watch morning Play School and he doesn't. Like, lots and lots and lots of distress. I'm not sure what to do with this problem. I am considering the idea of giving Abigail playtime in the lounge with a CD on, preferrably a homemade CD of songs, poetry and memory verses we are learning together, rather than the TV to watch. Then I can tell her that's her "Preschool Time" and the others might not be as jealous. I think if I put a music CD on I would still get much of the same jealousy as I am seeing with TV, but perhaps a spoken word CD would not cause the same envy. I think I will persist with the present situation for one more week and see if the big kids can learn to suppress their jealousy.

Circle Time
We finished the story of Noah, heard about the doings at Babel, and read two stories about Abraham. We'll actually be doing six stories on Abraham rather than four because there is, as is natural, some overlap with his story and that of his son, Isaac. We have begun singing Consider Christ by Bryson Smith & Philip Percival (1996) from the album You Alone together at Circle Time and at other times, such as when we take our walks together, and the kids have already learnt the first verse and chorus. We have this on CD, which I realised after I searched online for the words for a good 15min on Monday morning (one thing I was not organised in advance for). It has some complicated words for little ones, so we've been having some great vocabulary-stretching and theology-building conversations whenever we sing it. We have successfully memorised Genesis 1:27 and have moved on to Genesis 12:1-3 which will take us longer to memorise, although it has a poetic structure also so perhaps won't take as long as if it was all in prose style.

As I posted here, we've added poetry to our morning Read Aloud time, and all but Samuel are already joining in with various segments of "Ducks' Ditty". They have loved my reading from Sister Madge's Book of Nuns (I know most of the poems in it by heart).
We've read a few longer picture books from our bookshelf this week also: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and Tim to the Rescue by Edward Ardrizzone. Only two chapters from Dangerous Journey, but that's pretty heavy-going for the kids and I think the pace of one chapter every few days is probably about right. The do ask lots of questions, and there are times when I have to hide the pictures, but the chapters (so far) have all ended positively. Chapter 6, Vanity Fair, inlcuded the death of Christian's partner on his pilgrimage, Faithful, but there was warnings before it happened (so I could prepare them ahead of time) and it was immediately followed by a description of a chariot coming to take Faithful straight to the Celestial City, so that Faithful reached it before Christian. I loved this description of the consummation of the joyous hope for eternal life that every Christian holds.

We are now doing two of these each week, a literature or Bible one on Tuesday and a Science one on Friday. The Bible narrations went well, but the Science narrations on the Polar regions (just basically the terminology) was less than successful. I will need to come up with a concise sentence for each of the poles for them to memorise over the next two weeks as we read together about Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes and other polar animals.

Literacy - Reading
Anna has completed reading through the first set of Bob Books! I am so proud of her. She seems to have moved ahead with the skill of blending faster than Joshua; she caught on to it faster initially as well. She has a faster recognition of individual graphemes and the phonemes they represent than he had even a few months ago (although she is still slower than his present rate, of course). She is already self-correcting herself when she reads "the": "t... h... the" (sometimes she doesn't even read the "h" aloud), and Joshua took ages to get this with the extra repetition of flash cards. I think it has helped immensely that she has such a wonderful grasp of the flow of language in story forms. While she was climbing a tree at the shops car park this morning I overheard her telling herself a story, and it is this sort of storytelling which has paved the way for her to grasp decoding so quickly, I think. Although she was very put out that "cat" was not rendered "lion" in "The Vet", which she read today.
Joshua has greatly improved in his ability to read aloud from a book without adult prompts this week as well. He is definitely benefiting from going back to the second set of Bob Books and re-reading them at the dining table (less seating-related distractions) while holding the book and pointing to letters/words himself (improved independence). Jeff was quite impressed with his speed and fluency when Joshua read to him this morning, while I was listening to Anna read. I know it has been said by many homeschooling mothers, but I am relieved to see the hurdle of learning to read is looking doable at last.

Literacy - Writing
Anna did her writing this week from a penmanship workbook, because Joshua was working on the same passage for the whole week and it would have been too much for her to tackle. It was almost too much for Joshua to tackle, but in the end he produced some amazing work which impressed both Jeff and I.

The kids have loved our discovery of basic fractions this week, lesson 19 in the book. Lots of eating fruit cut into halves and then quarters. I must say Salada crackers are very handy when it comes to teaching about fractions. It took a few days, but both Joshua and Anna have a pretty good grasp of halves and quarters and the concept of equal parts of the whole. We'll continue with fractions next week as it's a long "lesson" in the book, five pages, and we only did Earlybird Mathematics three days this week, with Friday being dedicated to Maths Mastermind. I think stretching it over two weeks will also help to solidify it in their memories.
The kids like having something different for Maths lessons on Friday. Today Jeff did it with the kids while I napped. Anna was very excited to tell me later she had "made a teddy bear with round circles and long rectangles and triangles and red bits and blue bits but no yellow pieces and...". Jeff was impressed with her recall and so was I.
Anna and Joshua also enjoyed playing with the Colour Patterns game Joshua received from a friend as a present ages ago. Once they had completed a few patterns, Anna discovered a 100 chart on the back of her pattern card. She proceeded to count her way from 1 to 100 and then I sent her to Jeff and she did it again for him. Joshua wasn't to be left behind and did the same. Without any prompting from me! Wonderful.

Science and Geography
Pole to Pole, by Pamela Freeman, with amazing pictures by Phillip Blythe, was an enjoyable introduction to the polar regions and the variety of creatures that inhabit them.
We also read about Animal Babies in Polar Lands. This book was written with a question on one spread, with the answer on the following opening. An example: "I have flippers instead of legs. They help me to swim very quickly in the cold water. Who is my mummy? ... My mummy is a harp seal and I am her pup. My fur is soft and white, but my mummy's fur is sleek and brown." Complete with cute photos, this simple book grabbed the kids' interest. They were busy with Duplo on the floor when I started reading it aloud and before I had read the second question they were both standing by the arms of my recliner, peering over my hands at the pages.
Our homemade atlas pages went well. Before now we have used the world globe only in our schoolwork, with flat maps being used for day-to-day activities (such as, "Let's look at this street directory to find the way to XYZ.") I explained to them the difference between the two and how the top and bottom of the globe are stretched visually when they are shown on a flat map. The study of Antarctica was a good place to start with this, I think.

We did a lot of painting this week, making our own sponge stamps and doing some bubble painting (courtesy of Play School on the Web ideas. Joshua has started saying "when are we doing craft? I love craft!", which of course pleases me. We also worked on a calendar - well, Jeff kept the kids happy drawing weather and celebration illustrations while I finally got around to writing out labels to be stuck on with velcro dots. It is now hanging up in the dining room from a bulldog clip, and we'll try to remember to change the day, month and relevant activity labels each morning as necessary. One thing I am pleased with is that they know the order of the days of the week well and are familiar with the names of the months. We'll be working more on their order next week in Class Time.

And in the evenings
I took Joshua to his first Anchor Boys on Monday and he thoroughly enjoyed it. It helps that one of his best friends has been going for six months and the other started on Monday night as well. I am really pleased that he will have this structured activity, which is strongly Christian in content, as one of his "co-curricula" activities, especially as he will be too old to come to the BSF Day class children's program next year. Jeff doesn't go to an Evening Men's class at the moment - he has quite enough on his plate already - but I do hope to move into an evening class if possible as the children get a little older. However, next year I am hoping Jeff will be able to spend Wednesday mornings with Joshua while I take the girls and Samuel with me to classes.
I've just started two - yes, two - six-week night courses through Jeff's Theol College. If I pass them both, I'll be able to graduate from the Certificate of Christian Studies at the same time he graduates from his Masters of Divinity. On Tuesdays I am studying 1 & 2 Samuel: God's Eternal King and on Thursdays I am studying The Christian Life: Head, Heart and Hands. I am planning to complete the essay for the Thursday subject early so I can work on the (probably harder) one on 1 & 2 Samuel in the later weeks. I am sure I will be able to get an extension if I ask for it, but I'd rather get it done on time because procrastination will not help in the long run. So I will be a little busy for the next few weeks... I am very glad we've got the homeschooling running relatively smoothly now before this started.

Jeff should be healthy enough to go back to college to study next week, Lord willing. It has been helpful (and lovely) but somehow odd to have him at home so much.


Rhonda said...

Wow! You did a lot with your kiddos this week. Looks great. Looks like they enjoyed it also. I just found your blog and really like it. Have a great weekend.

Sharon said...

Yes, we were busy and the kids loved it. I am glad you like my blog, you are warmly welcome. Thanks for letting me know you visited.
~ Sharon