Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning on Vacation

We spent the second week in September at the beach with family. While no formal school was planned, I am amazed at how much life is about learning.

Science abounds at the beach. Sharkman loved tracking, catching and playing with crabs. One of the highlights of the trip was a late night walk on the beach, flashlights in tow, to catch crabs. We even took some hermit crabs back to the room for a day for more observation. Definitely Biology 101.

We also enjoyed a bit of bird watching and feeding. Friendly little fellows.

Between daily castling building and sculpting a Mer-Mom, we had plenty of Art.

With SharkMom on a trip, we always have a daily dose of stories.

Plenty of Physical Education. SharkMan loved the waves. He and his cousins loved "scuba diving" as the swam in they ocean with their goggles looking for fish and shells.

And finally, the "most important" subject -lots of family socialization.

So instead of saying we had "no school" this week, I think I will label it a week long field trip.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Two Weeks

We are loving homeschooling! I am still learning how to balance and tweak our curriculum, but overall I think everything is going well. Here is a highlight of our first two weeks.

Not much has changed in Bible this year. I am still not sure what I think of the Vos Story Bible. I love her descriptions but I am struggling with whether I think she is compromising accuracy of the text with story telling. I am still praying about direction in this area.


After reading Developing Number Concepts Using Unifix Cubes by Kathy Richardson and Math Their Way by Mary Baratta Lorton, I have decided to revisit some concepts that I think that SharkMan already has mastered. Both of these books stress that young children need multiple exposures to how numbers physically look. For example when you think of the number eight, most people don't "see" eight items in their head. They may see a combination of 3 and 5 or 4 and 4. These two authors contend that unless children really solidify what numbers under 10 (and especially 3-5) look like, they will struggle with math. So while SharkMan can easily count with one to one correspondence beyond 20, I decided that it couldn't hurt to review. We took one week to create a book of 3. Each day, I used 5 sheets of paper and a new manipulative to look at different combinations of 3. We used toothpicks, wooden cubes, pattern blocks and Do A Dots as manipulatives - one each day. We enjoyed looking at all the different ways we could make groups of 3. At the end of the week, we stapled all the pages together and made a book for our book basket.

We also have enjoyed using other manipulatives. We have copied patterns on our hundreds board.

We continue to use our Cuissennairerods and alphabet book. Sharkman is getting better at recognizing the lengths of the the different color rods. We use the same letter that we cover in phonics with the cuissennaire rods in math.
We also played a great game with Tangrams. We were each different colors and tried to cover the most dotted areas of the board. We played several times and SharkMan quickly picked up some strategy!


We have enjoyed reading about the ocean the past two weeks in preparation for our beach trip. We continue to use the Phonics Road to Reading's plan of alphabet introduction with Phonogram Activity Sheets by Cindy Franklin. Basically, this program introduces all the sounds that a letter makes at one time. Most phonics programs introduce all the short vowel sounds then long vowel sounds. This is SharkMan's favorite part of the day. At the end of phonics time, I ask him to tell me the correct sounds the letter makes and the he "earns" a card with that particular letter on it. He loves earning his letter and it is typically the first thing he tells Papa Shark about each day.
I did decide to change our handwriting component of phonics. SharkMan just doesn't have the fine motor to control the pencil perfectly on lined paper. He was getting frustrated that his letters didn't look right. After three days of frustration, I changed my plan. Instead of writing the letter, we are using manipulatives to form the letter. One day, we used dried beans and another day we used Wikki Sticks. I also pulled out my Montessori sandpaper letters to practice where to begin each letter. All of a sudden his resistance disappeared and he looks forward to see what new material we are going to use each day.

We also have enjoyed the literature rotation. We did a sort on things that you find in the country and the city when we read The Country Mouse and The City Mouse.

When we read The Crow and the Pitcher in Aesop Fables, we did an experiment to see if we could raise the water level in a dish by adding stones like the crow did. SharkMan loved it and did the activity twice.

We worked on the Pledge, sang songs about America and did a US map. We read a number of books about patriotics songs and a biography on Betsy Ross. We placed our first picture (Adam and Eve) in our time line book.

August Reading List

Here is what we read for homeschooling in the month of August:

Read Aloud:
Nine True Dolphin Stories - Margaret Davidson
Dolphin Adventures - Wayne Grover

Counting with Sebastian Pig and Friends on the Farm - Jill Anderson

Patriotism Unit
Betsy Ross - Wil Mara
America - My Country Tis of Thee - Samuel Smith
Stars and Stripes - Story of the American Flag - Sarah Thomson
The Pledge of Allegiance - Scholastic
America The Beautiful - Katherine Lee Bates
Wee Sing America - Pamela Beall (CD)
Being a Good Citizen - Mary Small
A Picture Book of Davy Crockett - David Adler
The Star Spangled Banner - Catherine Welch

Ocean Unit
This is a House for a Hermit Crab - Megan McDonald
I am a Sea Horse - Trisha Shaskan
Little Shark - Anne Rockwell
I am a Shark - Life of a Hammerhead Shark - Darlene Stille
Gone Fishing - David McLimans
Live! ABook of Deep Sea Creatures - Melvin Berger
Jellyfish- Lloyd Douglas
Tentacles - Tales of Giant Squid - Shirley Redmond
Dolphin Talk - Whistles, Clicks, and Clapping Jaws - Wendy Pfeffer
An Octopus is Amazing - Patricia Lauber
Sharks - Usbourne Beginner - *cool internet link
Under the Sea - Usbourne Beginner
Usbourne Children Encyclopedia - excerpts from Ocean section
Usbourne Complete First Book of Nature - Fish section