Wednesday, January 27, 2010

what Alex has read...

... so far this year.... unless I missed some (which is entirely possible).

I really enjoy the books lists that Jocelyn posts on her blog, so I thought I would try to do something similar for Alex this year.

I'm going to try to do this each week. I took this photo on library day since we would be returning one of the books in the pile.
For School:
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere,Esq. as Revealed by his Horse
Both of these are part of his Sonlight curriculum this year.

For Fun:
The Disappearing Floor (Hardy Boys, Book 19)
Alex loves the Hardy Boys mysteries... he always grabs one when he wants a quick read.
Peter and the Starcatchers
Alex LOVED this book. It was part of our family book club this year. I'm the only one who hasn't finished reading it, I got distracted by an old favorite (found a Trixie Belden mystery at the library... I loved those as a kid). Anyway, I'm trying to talk Alex into writing a review of the book for the blog, but so far, no dice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thank You!

(random photo since I have an aversion to photo-less posts)

I just wanted to jot a quick note to say thank you for all of the advice and encouragement you all have given me, either in person, via email or by commenting here after my post about Clara.

I have decided to loosen up the structure with her. I'm toying with an eclectic mix of Charlotte Mason, Montessori and maybe a little unschoolishness (how's that for a word?) thrown in. I'm still working it all out, so nothing is really underway yet. She's still working through Horizons Math, but I've added more living math books to our day. She's still working her way through Click 'n Spell but I'm thinking about adding some of these from Montessori for Everyone and continue using All About Spelling to explain the spelling rules. I'm having her read more to me from various books, not just a "reader". I've also started adding in a bit of copywork. She needs more writing practice to go along with the work she has been doing with her handwriting tutor so why not be copying rich texts from great books versus the simple sentences given in her handwriting book.

Like I said, I have a lot to work out still but I think I'm on the right track.

Thanks again!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

homeschool swim

We're pretty fortunate here in the city that so many different people and organizations are willing to work with homeschooling families to form classes during the day. The place where the kids take swim classes is one of those great organizations. There are only four kids in the class but they're totally okay with that and the run the lessons anyway. The kids get great individualized instruction and they have a lot of fun with each other and their instructor.

Their favorite thing has to be the diving board though. They usually each get one turn off the low board at the end of class...

The boys got to have extra turns the other day while the girls changed clothes...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How do you solve a problem like...

... Clara?

Sigh... time for my biannual homeschooling meltdown in regards to this child.

So, here's where we are right now...

1. Math - we're actually doing decent here.... not great but decent. I have her plugging away through Horizons for my own piece of mind. However, where she's really doing well is with the living math approach. We've added more living math books and we're playing more games again.

2. Handwriting - still a struggle but we're making some headway... finally. We have a handwriting tutor (an occupational therapist) who comes to the house once a week to work with her. She still really struggles, which makes me sad, but like I said, she is finally making progress. And thankfully, she's made enough progress that she can get more practice at it because she's able to do written work in all of her subjects.

3. Language Arts - we're finally doing more work with this now. I have tried working on LA with her at different times but it was just more frustrating than it was worth for either of us. Uppercase and lowercase letters were all the same to her... capitalizing the first letter of a sentence meant nothing to her since she tended to write in all caps anyway. Now that handwriting is beginning to click with her, simple grammar rules are making sense too.

4. Reading - she's moving along in reading. She's finally graduated to reading easy chapter books. She has a friend who is an avid reader and it's pushing her to push herself with the level of books that she is reading. I still have her do quite a bit of reading aloud to me so we can work on issues together.

5. Spelling - not great but we're slowly but surely making progress. She's doing an online spelling program at the moment, but I need to get back to something more hands on.

6. History, Science, etc. - to be honest, these have not been at the top of my priority list for her this year. We have had so many other, more pressing issues to work on after her learning assessment that I haven't been doing anything terribly formal for her.

So, here's where I'm at... where do we go from here? What is the best overall approach to take with her? I need a plan. I know that both of my children have different learning styles and completely different interests. I know that what works for Alex will not work for Clara. Alex is thriving with Sonlight this year... it's been really exciting to see. However, as much as I would love to have two Sonlight kids and be able to pass curriculum down, I'm just not sure that it's the right fit for Clara. Sonlight is so literature rich which is right up Alex's alley... he could lose himself in books all day long. Clara always has to be doing something. Things click better with her when she actually sees how they work, when she gets to touch and feel it.

Right now she's doing well with and has a keen interest in music. She's been playing violin for over a year now with moderate success, but now that her teacher has been showing her the same pieces on the piano as well as the violin, her playing has really taken off. Given her interest in piano, she will be starting lessons next week. She's also doing well with dance. She loves it dearly and it really seems to be the one activity where she can truly focus.

I've been re-reading the descriptions of all of the different homeschooling approaches. Would Charlotte Mason be a good fit for her? Would a more Montessori based approach be better? Would we just be better off focusing just on a few things and taking a more unschooling approach for the rest? I'm doing lots of research right now trying to figure out what would be a good fit. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them! In the meantime, I'll be dragging out all of my books and catalogs again! :-)

what we're loving...

... right now.

I have decided that I need to qualify all statements like that with something like "right now" or "at this moment"... because, quite frankly, things change.

This is a recent find from the library...
How High Can a Dinosaur Count?: ...and Other Math Mysteries

I'm trying to incorporate more "living math" into Clara's day so I picked up some random books at the library last week. This one has been a huge hit. There's a little word problem for each picture and several bonus questions listed in the back. She loves working with this book.

Alex just started this book last week...

We had finally finished up Grammar Island, so when we started Sentence Island, we started this book as well. Who would have thought that Alex would enjoy "four level analysis" of sentences? We do these together and work through them aloud as he writes. I really thought he would balk at doing this book when it came time, but it has really surprised me!

And then there's this book...
Life of Fred Fractions

We're still loving this book... although I will admit that Alex ummm... strongly dislikes the "bridge" portions. He loves the rest of the book though and has really gotten a lot out of it. Because of the humor and continuing story line, he can't wait to keep working his way through the book. I'm excited to see that there are enough books in the series to keep us busy for years.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

location #5

Okay... since one of my New Year's resolutions is to be a better blogger, I decided that perhaps I ought to finish up this series of posts which I started... oh... what... two and a half months ago? :-)

This was our final location of the day....

This is definitely one of those buildings that I totally took for granted. Sure, it's a cool looking building and yes, I've been past it a million times (in fact, I once had a temp assignment in the building next door years and years ago) BUT I had never actually looked at the building.

If I had, I surely would have noticed the numerous stones set into the building...
The one above is from a Revolutionary Battlefield in New Jersey.

And the one below (also from NJ) from where Washington landed after crossing the Delaware...

Then there's this brick from Holland from the house the Pilgrims used as a church before making their voyage...
Also, if you look really hard...
... you'll notice that the carvings aren't typical carvings.... there are dogs with glasses, alligators, monkeys and who knows what all else. These all have meanings and thankfully a lot of them are outlined in the book we bought at the gift shop.

The whole building is like a huge game of I Spy...
You'll be amazed at what you will find there.