Saturday, September 25, 2010

A week of pre-school work boxes

Work boxes are still working for us! I think, eventually, Z-Man will move on to something more like a checklist or a daily schedule that he can cross off. For right now, however, work boxes really help to keep us on track and moving through our day without whining or complaining. And THAT is worth a lot.

Little Man participates in our breakfast Bible time and our Morning Service, where we learn a new hymn each week and learn about a certain character trait. We then do FIAR all together and work on our current unit (weather) and read another picture book on our unit or our history study (Z-Man and I tackle the more advanced books later.) The funny thing is, Little Man doesn't think of any of this as "school" (which is fine with me!) No, only his "chores" say school to him - and that means workboxes. He gets three a day and is very pleased with himself when he finishes them. So cute!!

So here is a week's worth of Little Man's workboxes:

Tangrams, a geo board with shapes to make and a world puzzle

This was a tent in a house with telephone poles and a road. :)

Cutting project from a Kumon First Steps workbook, sounding out three-letter words, a really cool pack of raised pictures for doing crayon rubbings.

Our 21 Rules of This House coloring page - he prefers to paint it, Cuisenaire rods with a pattern book for making buildings and vehicles with them, glitter glue to decorate our Bible verse with, once we write it out together.

An adorable little foam counting puzzle, right and left counting puzzle, a four seasons activity to go with our Henry books (there are four books - one for each season.)

Tangrams again! A basic addition puzzle and another cutting project from the Kumon book. We also have a Kumon workbook for pasting and one for folding. We also have quite a few letter recognition activities but I'll have to put those in another post.

So there you go! I hope to do more of these posts occasionally so you can see what Little Man is up to.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Meteorologists R Us

We've started off the year with a month-long weather unit and we're just about ready to take over the Weather Channel. I'm sure it will be a hostile takeover because, well, I have boys.

We're using a book from the "And God Created Science" series called "Exploring Weather: 30 Amazing projects that explore the wonders of God's Creation." Each lesson is 2-3 pages and there are cool experiments like crushing soda bottles with air pressure. Also really easy instructions for a rain gauge, wind vane, anemometer, barometer - you can make your own little weather station!

Showing that hot air expands and cold air compresses.

Z-Man writes out his hypothesis, our procedure and the results to keep in his notebook.

We used the book, "How Artists See the Weather" and the Beaufort wind scale to determine the intensity of the wind in some of the paintings. Z-Man enjoyed that. We found one artist, J.M.W. Turner, who actually "tied himself to a ship's mast in order to experience the fury and motion of a snowstorm at sea."

We're keeping all our weather info - wind direction, speed, precipitation, clouds, temp, etc. on the calendar so we can do a lot of graphs with it later. Oooooh, love that sneaky math.

For cursive practice, DS is doing old fashioned weather sayings, like "Rain by seven, clear by eleven." I use this cursive worksheet generator.

We've also been reading weather-related poems by Christina Rossetti, our poet of the semester. That link will send you to a long list of her poems from Ambleside Online.

And, of course, we're reading all the FIAR books that have weather in them! Henry the Castaway, Madeline, Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car, etc. Z-Man has been happy for the chance to row these wonderful favorites again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sweet Success

Z-Man, overheard talking to friend on the phone: "Do you have independent study time? We do - it's awesome. You can pick whatever you want to study."

Ahhhhh. Happy kid. Happy mom.

A fierce battle inspired by the WWII studies. I just hope these were the bad guys.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fourth grade and Pre-K plans

Better late than never! Here's what we're studying this year:

I am delighted to have found this program. It presents history as HIS story and examines man's beliefs about God and humanity and focuses on how those beliefs affect every aspect of a society. (Very Francis Schaeffer) It uses living books and teaches through stories - no dry textbooks here! Because there are books listed for multiple grade levels, I plan to include Little Man, to some extent, so that he can be part of the discussions. In addition to our reading, we'll keep a timeline, do some map work and throw in some History Pockets when we can.

Science and Pre-K - Five in a Row
Oh, the joy of being able to do Five in a Row again with Little Man! And since I know Z-Man will not be able to resist listening in on books that he has come to view as old friends, our science program this year will be based on Five in a Row. We'll group books together that have a shared science theme and do science units - weather, light, simple machines, oceans. Each boy can participate at his own level. One thing I know they'll love is doing LOTS of experiments. For the weather unit, we'll be using Exploring Weather from the And God Created Science series. Tornadoes in a bottle, make your own clouds, rain gauge and barometer - good fun!

Language Arts - I really like the Charlotte Mason approach. We'll be taking passages from Bible readings, poetry and other reading to use as copywork and dictation. We'll take our language arts lessons, spelling and vocabulary words from those passages. Z-Man will continue to work on cursive. We'll also read poetry that relates to our studies. Z-Man will work on narrating after we read and he'll either write those narrations or dictate them to me to type. Little Man is working on letter sounds and is doing great.

Bible - We're planning to use Bible Study Guide for All Ages again. They just love those stick figures! We'll continue to learn some new hymns and work on character qualities using the online Character Journal. It really bothers me that we only do that during the school year. The Bible is not a school subject. I want my kids to know that it's infinitely more important than that and we should be seriously studying it all the time.

Art - In addition to the Five in a Row art lessons, we'll focus on early American artists, starting with Benjamin West. Many of his paintings will tie in very nicely with our Bible reading and American History. We'll read some biographies too.

Math - mostly Saxon, but I have found some football math that Z-Man loves. I'd like to transition to more of a math unit study format but Math on the Level wasn't in the budget this year and I don't feel quite confident enough to plan that out on my own. We'll just try to supplement with a lot of living math books for now. Little Man has lots of math manipulatives to play with - that really could be a whole separate post.

That's pretty much it. We'll be listening to various composers and reading the occasional biography as well as listening to Classics for Kids. We plan to read poetry at lunchtime and are focusing on Christina Rossetti first since her work is a good, kid-friendly introduction to poetry.

Oh! I almost forgot one of the most important things! Z-Man now has time scheduled every day to pursue studies of his own choosing. Right now, he's chosen to study World War II so we made a trip to the library and found a very intriguing book about trickery and deception in WWII:

We've had three days of "school" so far this year and so far, so good!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Kick-Off Field Trip!

Instead of starting school last week, we went on vacation. One of the major perks of homeschooling is that you can go on vacation without the crowds. Lovely. Of course, being a homeschooling family also means that we feel compelled to take advantage of any educational opportunities on our way or anywhere near our destination. And so, since we were reasonably close to Boston last week AND we're studying American History this year, we HAD to go walk the Freedom Trail. And go see some battleships. And some forts. It was a great field trip. I mean, vacation.

Seriously, though, we were so amazingly blessed. A friend asked if we wanted to stay in his apartment all week while he was in Europe. Um, YES!!! The weather was beautiful and we had a great time just all hanging out together. It really was a wonderful way to start a school year!

The men on the USS Massachusetts

Hanging out at the Old North Church in Boston

Firing at innocent passers-by from the deck of the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)

Ben and Z-Man on the Freedom Trail

Handling some discipline problems at a fort on the Maine coast.

Boat watching

Exploring tide pools

Football on the beach

And a very thankful family!!