Saturday, 29 August 2009

Weekly Reports 2009: Term 3 Week 4

As per my Mum's request, I am going to be writing more on the blog again about our homeschooling efforts. I have settled into our pattern, and it hadn't seemed interesting enough to write about from my perspective, but she reminded me that I am teaching different children now, and it is good to be providing a diary of sorts for myself and for interested parties such as grandparents. And Mum does have a point. My last Weekly Report was way back in week 2 of term 1! So here we are again...

Granny was staying with us all this week, but didn't spend much time with us until Thursday, because she was visiting Gramps each day. He has been in hospital here in Perth, having had a heart attack last Saturday night. Gramps was operated on on Tuesday, and had five stents put in three blood vessels near his heart. He was discharged on Thursday and we were at last able to spend a little time with him (see below). Unfortunately, Gramps still needs at least one more stent put in, so he will be back for another operation in a fortnight.
It has been a privilege to care for my MIL while she deals with Gramps's dramatic health concerns, after all the help and prayer our family has been given over the last month. As Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 1:3-6),
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer."

We took a morning trip to the library. We read some books there and borrowed a few to bring home, including Lauren't de Brunhoff's Babar's Little Girl, which has re-ignited Babar-fever in our sweet Abigail.
Abigail worked through pp5-6 of LEM Phonics 1 book and re-read Bob Book #1.2 Sam. I have decided to have Abi do her phonics pages in order that the letters are introduced in the Bob Books, so we are hopping around a bit. After Abi has completed the relevant phonics work, she reads the book. It is taking her several days' worth of lessons to get through the phonics behind each Bob Book, so she is re-reading them quite a number of times before moving on to the next. Each time she reads the books, she gets a little better. At this stage she isn't feeling frustrated, but rather pleased with her accomplishment. I am not feeling like I should be moving her through faster. Joshua and Anna read shorter home-made reading books (one sentence a day) when I was introducing them to the Basic Code, but I wasn't using the LEM Phonics materials with them either. I think this is a good fit for Abigail.
Abigail is doing well with blending, but the pace is allowing her to focus on learning and recognising each new letter. Also, while she can blend simple CVC words, she still finds it hard to segment words (sound them out from hearing the word, not seeing it written) into their individual sounds without running two sounds together, thus: mat is sounded m+at or ma+t, rather than m+a+t. It is really quite fascinating to see how well she has come along so far this term, since we began about six weeks ago (with time out for illness) to introduce her to the Basic Code and reading VC and CVC words. And when I look ahead in my mind and see her reading as well as Anna and Joshua do, I am excited to be teaching my own child to read, once again.
Abigail also worked through half of the pages of the Singaporean kindergarten-level Mathematics book Baa Baa Black Sheep, using the skills of counting 0-5, using the terms "one"/"many" and "enough".
Anna read pp44-47 from Endeavour Reader #5, Sparky the Space Chimp. She also went to Girls' Brigades in the evening (and so was required to have a rest in the afternoon, hence she didn't do much in the way of academics).

In the morning, we collected Grandma from the airport, only for an overnight stopover this time, on her way home to Darwin. We took Grandma for a tour of Joshua's school, where she was able to see Joshua working and see the pre-primary class that Anna will be joining for the last five weeks of term 4.
In the afternoon, Abigail completed pp9-10 or her phonics book and pp22-26 of Baa Baa Black Sheep, using the terms "same"/"different".
Meanwhile, Grandma and Anna were working on a jigsaw of three chameleons, which provided a nice topic for an extended conversation about the characteristics of some of the Animal Classes. Both Anna and Abigail joined in this conversation, and while Anna had a sound understanding at the end, which she was able to demonstrate to Dad over dinner that night, Abigail found it a bit confusing.
Anna's penmanship task for the day was based on this Science lesson. For copywork: "Birds have feathers. Mammals have fur. Reptiles have scales." For tracework: "Zebras and tigers are ___. Chickens and ducks are ___. Snakes and turtles are ___." Anna completed this penmanship with Grandma's oversight while I went to collect Joshua, and apparently she had no trouble reading the sentences or working out what word to use in the blanks.
Grandma also helped Anna with her mathematics lesson, from Primary Mathematics 1A #7.1 pp69-75, and Ex50 from the Student Workbook 1A(2). It was Anna's first lesson on shapes, and we are moving through faster than previously because she is quite familiar with these ideas, and much of it is review. Since Anna has now completed the number skills chapters to the stage of being able to add and subtract within 20 (competently with manipulatives and sometimes without), we are leaving the remaining number skills chapters and skipping to the chapters on shapes, length, halves & quarters, time, money and perhaps weight and graphs, in order to complete these before she begins at away-school. If I was going to continue teaching Anna at home, we would just keep going steadily through the Primary Mathematics 1 books into next year, but I think most of the number skills of 1B are beyond her at this stage, while the space and measurement skills are at an appropriate level as well as being useful.

This is our BSF day. After dropping Grandma back at the airport and Granny at the hospital, I was back home in time to hand the car keys to Jeff so he could drive Joshua to school on time: by 8:35am!
At BSF, we studied Numbers 13-14, the tragic story of the unbelief of Israel when they listened to the report of the spies who had been into the Promised Land, and focussed on the "giants" in the land who would oppose them, rather than listening to Caleb and Joshua and placing their faith in the greatness of God who would go before them in all His mighty power.
Jeff met us at the church and collected the kids from me. We have one child in each of the BSF classes: Samuel is in the 2yo class, Abi in the 3yo class, and Anna is one of the eldest children in the 4-5yo class. When Anna begins away-school, she will have spent over three-and-a-half years in the BSF programs! The Children's Leaders have been an immense blessing in Anna's life, as for all our children. Without the kids, I was able to attend the Homiletics Seminar, as I have already blogged.
That evening, I read the children four picture books, one for each of them: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Where's Stripey? by Wendy Binks, Jungle Drums by Graeme Base and I Love My Mummy by Sebastien Brown. All of these picture books came from our own home library, and most were gifts from family.
I think Where's Stripey was the favourite of the night, with the children joining in with me for the repeated refrain as Stripey's father, Crikey, asked other bush creatures if they had seen his son. The names of places and characters are delightful. I offer you a taste:
So Crikey ran on, past Musselduck Crossing and over Dingbat Ditch, where he saw the two kookaburras Smirk and Giggle, who were laughing their heads off.
"Hey, guys," he called to them once they'd stopped laughing, "have you seen my chick? His name is Stripey."
"What does he look like? Asked Smirk. "Does he look like you?"
"No," said Crikey, "he is small and fluffy - and stripey."
"No, sorry," Smirk and Giggle replied together, "we haven't seen him."

The pictures are delightful as well:

This is our Women's Gathering Day. Jeff dropped Joshua at school then took the younger children to church, while I collected another woman to bring her to church. It was a small group of five this week (the smallest it has been since we started), but that was great. It gave me an opportunity to see how the changes I had made in the structure of the study (embedding Connect questions within the Content section, rather than leaving them all to the end) worked well: it did.
The children joined with their friend C in having Kids' Gathering with Jeff, studying Acts 13:13-52. He told them the story of Paul and Barnabas in Psidian Antioch, when the Jews responded to Paul's proclamation of the good news of salvation through Jesus with contempt, but the Gentiles heard the word of God with gladness and believed. Each week I provide a colouring picture to help them visualise the scene. This week's picture I altered slightly from the original black line master, which was intended to be Jesus preaching at Nazareth:When we got home from WG, the kids were delighted to find Granny had brought Gramps home from the hospital. They cuddled around him on the recliner, with me intervening when it seemed they would bump him too hard or lean over him too heavily and cut off the circulation to his legs. Gramps even managed to read a few stories to the eager children: The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.
Granny provided lunch and then she cooked Magic Broth (aka vegetable soup, the alias is hoped to help Abigail want to eat it though she really doesn't like soup) with Anna's careful help and increasingly skilful efforts with the vegie peeler.
The girls and Joshua played with Maths Mastermind later on, Abigail working with the beads and Anna with the shapes.

Before everyone left in the morning, I took some photos of the kids. With only a few days left of winter, I have finally got their winter homeschool excursion clothes made, so after Joshua left for school we had some more fun (and a whole lot of frustration as well) taking some more Equip Academy photos.
Since it is apparently "Book Week", the local library was having a special treat for their Story Hour, which we don't usually attend. We watched a Patch Theatre production of "The Frog Prince". Well, I watched. All three of the kids, along with a friend from Sunday School who was there with her mother, were chosen to be part of the cast. So they didn't just watch, but joined in! Anna was dubbed Lady Spice and Abigail was Lady All Things Nice... can you guess where the names came from? Any predictions for Samuel? He was Lord Slugs!
The children loved the story, and the girls really took it all in, as they showed later when they narrated it back while Sam had his nap. Anna's narration provided her penmanship task for the day, and I read The Frog Prince from my JLC & WC Grimm anthology as well. One of the things I noticed about this story is that the original has an extended end that is deleted from every children's version I have ever heard. After the happy couple marry, they are driven home to the prince's kingdom by a faithful coachman who has mourned his prince's suffering so much that his heart has had to be bound with three iron bands. As Henry drives them home, his joy at the prince's happy ending is manifest in the sounds of the bands on his heart breaking, one after the other. At first, being so familiar with the modern versions, I felt like the tale of Henry was an odd end. But upon reflection, I can see that Henry's faithful love provides a much-needed counterpoint to the princess's faithless attempts to avoid fulfilling her promises.
Anna completed Ex51-52 from her maths workbook, and listened to Esther on MP3 while examining the related pictures in one of our children's story Bibles.
Abigail completed pp13&15 from her phonics book and re-read BB1.2, Sam for the last time. She can now read each of the words almost without hesitation. She also coloured a picture very neatly to send to a friend.
While we were at the library, we also read Clod Hans by Hans Christian Andersen and a picture book adaption of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf": The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Tony Ross. I can't say I have read the original, although I think I may have heard it on a record (!!) when I was a child. This picture book is great, although parents might want to pre-approve the ending before reading it to little ones... the wolf goes home with a very full belly.


Mrs. Edwards said...

Maybe I'm like family now...I enjoy reading posts like these to get newsy updates on what all is going on!

I'm interested in Where's Stripey, and re-reading Grimm's "Frog Prince" tale. I have a giant volume of "The Complete Brothers Grimm" which is leather-bound and meant to look pretty more than be read, but Sydney and Hope occasionally take it to their room and read fairy tales. I didn't even realize it until they started telling me the "real" version of various tales. That being said, I'm off to skim the "Frog Prince."

But first, a comment on "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev. I think you must be confusing the "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", which is an Aesop fable, with the story of "Peter and the Wolf." As for the later, I love that music and have two versions, but my favorite is narrated by Leonard Bernstein. On the same album is "The Carnival of the Animals", another great piece of music, fetchingly narrated by Bernstein (but beware that he calls the donkey by the more objectionable noun 'jack-ss').

Perhaps a future update might tell of your three Equip Academy kids acting out "Peter and the Wolf" to the music and also acting out the animals in "Carnival of the Animals" (by Saint Saens). Just talking about it makes me resolved to get our CDs out for a listen!

Sharon said...

Hi Amy,

My anthology of the Grimm brothers is similar to yours, I think. I bought it together with a matching anthology of Hans Christian Andersen's stories. They are blue leather bound, from Wordsworth Classics, and came in a matching blue leather slipcase. I bought them when Joshua was a baby, I think, with dreams of reading to him on my knee that didn't match reality. Mind you, we have read certain of the stories, such as "The Nightingale", many times. This play has given me the impetus to see if we can read through all of them before Anna goes off to away-school in three month's time. We're going to make a go of it at least!

I do thank you for pointing out my woeful lack of knowledge of the background of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" - of course you are right. Perhaps we shall have to read through our Aesop's Fables after the Grimm's Fairy Tales and Andersen's Fairy Tales. Aah. So many books, so little time!

We are still reading through Anne of Green Gables as well. I read two or three more chapters last night before bed. The kids love it. We will keep these chapter books in our family reading no matter what we do with our Equip Academy reading.

Where's Stripey is available from Dymocks in Australia, and there is one used copy avvailable from Amazon as of right now. The ISBN is 9780646450018. HTH! Or perhaps we should just bring a selection of Australian paperback picture books with us to read to your kids in our authentic Aussie accents when we visit next year?

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

What a great offer! Of course you'll have to read at least something to the kids!

Regarding the two wolf stories, Aesop is fine but don't neglect the musical pieces! You can also find various picture books that illustrate Peter and the Wolf. It is funny that you mentioned the "Boy who Cried Wolf" having a bad ending--at least for the boy--because there are two versions of the ending of Peter and the Wolf. Originally the bad wolf is shot by hunters. But, some newer children's versions have the wolf being captured for a zoo. Same music, but the ending is sanitized. Go for the original. I think any normal child wants the more just ending of the hunters getting their prey!

Confusing the two wolf stories is an easy mistake. It just happens that I'm more familiar, I guess, with Prokofiev's story because of my fondness for it. I don't think you have a "woeful lack of knowledge"!

I'll try to order the Where's Stripey book when I can. I need to save the money for now (and there are several books I'm wanting to buy), but I've added that one to my list! Hopefully no one else will notice until I get around to buying it! :) Thanks for the link!

Alison Lacey said...

Thank you for the great update, I really enjoy reading how the kids are going with their schooling. I also enjoy reminincing about some of the books that I read as a child. Glad to hear all is well and I love the photos of the kids my they have grown when compared to the photos on the left hand side of your blog