Monthly Archives: December 2010

Look at What I Got!

I got some great Christmas gifts for homeschooling that I’m really excited about! The first one is The Five in a Row Cookbook, which I’ve been wanting to get for a while, but didn’t buy because there have been so many other homeschooling purchases that I had to make that needed to come first. It’s obviously an extra that isn’t necessary for Five in a Row, but it’s allows you to add even more depth to your lessons by including foods from the country/ time period of the book you are studying. It contains recipes to go along with all the books we’ll be reading from volumes 1-3, so we’ll be using it for the next several years (and then again when it’s Caroline’s turn).

The other awesome book I got is “1001 Rhymes and Fingerplays”, which I will be using a ton next year with Caroline. I’ve been working on planning her preschool curriculum for next year and one thing we’ll be doing is taking a letter each week and really focusing on its sound and a variety of words that begin with it. The heart of the curriculum is reading lots of books that will showcase our letter, but we’ll also do crafts, eat snacks, play games, do puzzles, and learn poems/fingerplays that all revolve around the letter for the week. With this book, I’ve got so many options for little poems for words that start with every letter.

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You know you must be doing a decent job when…

your little homeschooler asks to do a writing project on the first day of Christmas break. I was planning on doing NOTHING school-related today, and probably not at all until we start back up in January, however, after lunch today Elliot asked me, ” Mom, can I have a piece of paper to write out a report about rain? I want to tell the world what I like about rain!” I sure wasn’t going to deny the boy the opportunity to do this if he wanted to. It made me feel really good because he must enjoy our little Five in a Row writing assignments and journal entries more than I realized. So, here you go, world…’s what Elliot likes about rain:

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Final project for Grandfather’s Journey

Today Elliot completed his final project for Grandfather’s Journey. I was really proud of him because I hadn’t actually planned on doing it and I kind of sprung it on him at the last minute of the day when it came to my mind, but he cooperated and ended up doing some of his very best work I’ve ever seen! He had a lot to say about his favorite bird, the Chickadee, and he diligently wrote it all out beautifully.

I found some great stickers at Hobby Lobby with all sorts of birds, and we were able to use our library book to identify a few of them, including the Chickadee!

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Just For Fun

Elliot get’s “High Five” magazine (from Highlights, for a younger audience) and there are always cute crafts and activities in them. This week he got an new issue and within a few minutes of flipping through it, he came running to me saying, “Mom! You won’t believe it. We have to try this!” The activity was “Paper Bag Town”. They provided all the signs, doors, and windows of various places in a town, which you were supposed to paste on the front of a puffed up paper bag. Unfortunately, I did not have any paper sacks, but I thought doing it on folded card-stock might work alright. It was relatively simple and he enjoyed it so much. I was asking myself why I hadn’t thought of doing something like this before. He loves pretending like he’s driving his cars around a city. I was also really wishing we had come across this back when we were reading Lentil and talking about life in a small town. I will definitely be making a note of this when I do Lentil round 2 with Caroline. Making a three dimensional version of Alto would have been even better than drawing the map of it.

Cardstock Town

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As part of our Japanese theme, tonight we made made “frushi”. Elliot knows what sushi is and that it’s japanese, but he also knows that it’s not something he wants to try, so I thought this would be a fun way for him to pretend to eat sushi using his chop sticks. The rice didn’t hold together quite as well as we would have liked and really needed to be eaten with a fork, but the berries on top were perfect for practicing with chop sticks!

I sensed he was a bit nervous it was actual sushi with raw fish.

What a relief! It was delicious…no raw fish after all!

I was shocked by Caroline’s ability to use the chop sticks. She seemed to have more control over them than Elliot did. She has fantastic fine motor skills!

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More FIAR Fun

We’re finishing up our last week of reading Grandfather’s Journey before we take a break from homeschooling for a while for Christmas break. We’ve learned even more about Japan than we already knew from when we read A Pair of Red Clogs. We’ve also been learning about birds and Elliot has really taken interest in them. Elliot says that his favorite bird is the Chickadee, because he likes that they are small and that they say their own name when they chirp. Unfortunately with it being Winter, there aren’t a lot of birds around to observe. We bought a little bird treat to put in our backyard, in the hopes that we might attract some birds to watch, but no such luck. I’m making a mental note that when we do this book with Caroline in a few years, we might want to do it in the Spring!

Today was our language arts day for Grandfather’s Journey. We used our favorite method of learning our vocabulary words….a memory game! I simply write the words on half the cards and the definitions on the others, and we try to find matches. Our vocabulary words this time were: astonish, enormous, explore, marvel, bewilder, and homesick. After the game I asked him some questions to check his understanding of the words again. I asked him to tell me something he marveled at. He said “My Mom….because I admire her!” He’s such a sweet kid!

We also did our typical discussion on setting, characters, and plot. We have been discussing point of view a little bit too with the last few books and he finally has a solid understanding of what that means. About half of our books have been in first person point of view and half have been third person.

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Cursive Already?

A few weeks ago Elliot noticed some cursive writing on an advertisement and he instantly decided he wanted to learn how to write in cursive. It definitely wasn’t something I anticipated even beginning to think about at this point. Actually, I have often worried about how when the time comes for that in a few years, it will probably be confusing to him when I explain that there’s another way to write the same letters he’s already learned. Instead of being confused, Elliot had no problem with the idea and it seemed to make perfect sense to him. That’s the way it always seems to go…..I anticipate something being a huge confusing ordeal to explain, and then it turns out that a simple explanation is more than adequate. I still don’t plan on teaching him a whole lot of cursive for a while, but he has mastered his name and we may try a few other simple words and family member’s names, just to satisfy his curiosity.

He decided he would write his name in cursive on all his work, like he did on his practice sentences he wrote (he’s totally mastered words with long vowels and can figure out the spelling all on his own!) this morning. Not bad for a kindergartener, huh?

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Homeschool Mondays

I love Mondays! Most people dread them, but around here they always seem to be my most successful day. We tend to have nothing planned on Monday besides getting school stuff done (and sometimes the library in the afternoon to gather up books we’ll need for the week) and it just always seems to have a nice relaxed feel to it. I am also usually pretty happy to get back into our routine after the weekend and to start a fresh week! As each week begins, I get really excited about how much we’re going to accomplish in the days ahead. Today was no exception….it was a great day! Elliot breezed through his handwriting and math work. Then we got out our letter tiles we haven’t used in a while and practiced sight words and then made up some sentences. After that the kids played the game Colorama together, since Caroline is working on her shapes and colors. Then after lunch we did some reading about the Pacific Ocean (where Grandfather, from our book, journeys across to get to America) and he did a project to add to our notebook.

Caroline is a pro at letters now. She can tell me the name, the sound they say, and a word that starts with it for almost every single letter.

They completed the task together!

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Origami Night!

Since we’re learning about Japan, I thought it would be fun to try our hand at some origami. We had a fun evening trying a few things from our books we got from the library. If there’s one thing we learned, it’s that it’s a lot harder than it looks and it’s not for the impatient!

Blowing up my origami ball

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I just wanted to share (and shamelessly brag about) a few of Elliot’s recent journal entries. Every time I look at his work, I can hardly believe how great his handwriting has gotten. It’s so encouraging to know that we still have over half a year left to continue improving it! I remember that when I was in Kindergarten all I could write was my first name in all capital letters and that was it. I’ve had people who don’t know how advanced he is tell me that I shouldn’t worry about his handwriting at this point because, for a boy of this age, it will surely be impossible to read and all over the place. They are usually very surprised when I tell them he is actually writing quite beautifully….. legibly and on the lines!

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