Tuesday, March 16, 2010

in breath

It's time for a great big in-breath again. We started out our semester with a bang -- 4 weeks of fairly intensive, structured school work focused on Language Arts and Humanities. That was a great big in-breath. Then we exhaled and relaxed a bit -- a week of science, then a week "off" (from schoolwork, but not all of our "extras"). I have to say, it was much-needed, but also plenty long enough. We all were feeling the need to focus again, and this was the perfect week, as we wrapped up both the Ecumenical Children's Choir program (see two posts ago) on Sunday and our Monday Homeschool Class session with our Share Day festivities yesterday.

The above is a photo of my Revolutionary Days class (minus three students), who presented a public reading of the Declaration of Independence for our Monday Homeschool community. J is 2nd from the right. The kids took turns reading paragraphs from the document, and did a fabulous job. They also made "Independence Shortcake" (with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream -- red, white and blue, you see) and "Freedom Tea" (red raspberry tea -- the colonists began drinking herb and fruit teas when they started refusing to buy tea from the East India Trading Company, and called any variety of non-caffeinated tea "freedom tea") to share with everyone. It was a big hit! (And very, very yummy!)

Later in the day the drama class put on their show, which I blogged about in my last post.

These events made for a great transition back into a more focused school day for us. We have a new element in our morning now, playing with (and training) the puppy. (And on that note, check out my latest project: http://labradorianlife.blogspot.com/ .)

The weather is starting to be consistently good enough to walk in the mornings. I've shifted our spin-and-fold cycle after our walk to a song that better meets the season. I'm using a song from the Enki Education 1st Grade Movement CD call "The Cuckoo" but I've modified it to meet our needs as a spin-and-fold activity. So I sing "Oh, the cuckoo is a silly bird, and she spins as she flies" instead of the usual first two lines as the kids spin down the hall all 3 times, finishing the first verse the way it is written. For the fold on the way back, I sing the second verse as follows: The first time I sing "Oh the cuckoo hops along the ground down by the crystal stream, and she sings as she hops along of the coming of the spring," and the kids hop on the way back. The second time I sing "Oh the cuckoo rolls in the sand down by the crystal stream, and she sings as she rolls along of the coming of the spring," while the kids roll down the hall. (Today J asked me if cuckoos really do all that, and I said only this one crazy cuckoo!) The third time I sing "Oh the fox stalks the cuckoo down by the crystal stream, but he never quite catches her, except maybe in his dreams," while the kids crawl back down the hall.

The kids' journal entries for today, J's above, Zoo Boy's below.

We're starting on three weeks of concentrated math work, while sticking with our Western European cultural theme. Today we read the "Grandfather's Family" story from the Enki Education 1st Grade Math curriculum -- it's the last little bit of 1st grade we need to finish up, and is about working with the math fact families.

For practice work, we've finally made it through the "alphabet-8s" lower case alphabet. J is more than ready to move on, he is now forming all of his lower case letters correctly 100% of the time, so for handwriting practice now he is writing stanzas of our poem of the week (I'll post it when he's finished with it in a few days). Zoo Boy has asked for a bit more remedial type help for a few of the letters, so besides that he mostly will be working towards weaning off those 8s by writing the alphabet every day until he's got them all down.

I surprised the boys today by making all of their answers the same on their 4 processes grids. We'll be reviewing some of the rhymes that reinforce the rote understanding of math facts, starting with all the combinations that add up to 10. A nice intro to our fact family work!

Also pertinent to our fact family work is the cuisenaire rod worksheets the kids have been working on during practice. In this sheet (this is Zoo Boy's work, as was the addition worksheet above), they were figuring out how many different ways you could make up "9". We'll be using the cuisenaire rod colors in many of our math games in the coming weeks. (Stay tuned to see that in action!)

With the weather being absolutely gorgeous after our rain-filled weekend, we just had to spend some of the afternoon outdoors. We took the puppy down to my favorite frog pond (just a few miles from the house in the state forest). We saw bunches of 2nd year bullfrog tadpoles, fresh from hibernation.

When we got home, the kids worked on a stained glass window type craft. I'll be showcasing our Western European crafts in a single post at some point over the next several weeks. We've been getting together with T and D (who are also working with the Western European cultures right now) to explore Italian crafts, and we've done a bunch on our own here at home as well.

All in all, we've slipped easily back into the groove, refreshed from our out-breath and breathing in deeply!

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