Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two Weeks in Review: 24 February 2012

Well...the way our life is going, I think doing a summary post every week is a little more than I have time to keep up with, so I think this is just going to naturally morph into an every two weeks kind of thing.   C'est la vie.   Oh, and sorry I don't have more pictures for you this week.  Everytime I think to take any I can't find the camera because Dan keeps taking it with him to school. =( But, without any further ado, here is what we have been doing in our homeschool these past 2 weeks:

- Scripture Memory: We are tacking Psalm 139.  Yes, it's long.  But, you'd be amazed how well these kids memorize.  I have often turned to Psalm 139 for comfort in trying times, so I thought that committing it to memory was a good idea.

- Hymns: Currently, How Great Thou Art

- Family Bible Reading: In the morning, we are reading the short, illustrated Bible stories contained in the ESV Seek and Find Bible (which we got for Michelle on her birthday when she turned 6. A lovely first "real" Bible.) and adding each character to our history timeline. In the evening, we continue to read a short passage out of the book of Mark each night, often buddy reading with Michelle.

Circle Time
- Poetry: Nursery Friends from France (English translations of French Nursery Rhymes with lovely illustrations and little cultural notes sprinkled here and there.)
- God's World News: Early Edition
- Calendar Time in French

Table Time (The Basics)
- Cursive: Through letter J, with several review and practice lessons in between.

- All About Spelling Level 1: Completed Step 13 - segmenting words with 4 sounds.  This was tricky for Michelle, but she has made steady improvement as we've worked through it.  Really helpful for her reading too - initial blends can still trip her up from time to time and this has definetely helped her to slow down and take apart all the sounds.

If you aren't familiar with All About Spelling, it is a phonics based spelling program that uses letter tiles before dictation and a mastery approach, as opposed to the 'study these words and take a test on them' workbook approach.  We've been pleased with it so far.

- Math: We continue to work through basic addition facts - through pairs that make 8.
-Copywork: We continue to do print copywork 2-3 times each week.

History, Geography, and Culture
- History: I am so, so pleased with how our History studies are going.  Michelle seems to have really connected with the stories we are reading and even a week or 2 later can give me a sentence or 2 that she remembers about the characters we have read about.  Over these past two weeks we have read about: William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, Balboa, Drake, and Ponce de Leon.

- Geography and Culture: Our stories about the explorers have leant themselves well to sneaking some geography in too - we've enjoyed taking our timeline figures and sliding them over the map as we read about their travels.   We also enjoyed reading and narrating chapters 3 and 4 of Collette in France and looking up places we read about online to see more pictures.  Did you know that there really is a bridge in Avignon? (as in the folk song "Sur le pont d'Avignon")

Science and Nature
Our Nature study for the first week was on twigs and branches in winter.   Last year in the US, we attempted to do a seasonal tree study - we stuck with it pretty well through the winter and spring, but once we hit the road and were moving so much through the summer and fall, it sort of petered out.  However, Michelle apparently took something away from this, because she was the one who noticed that the tree outside our window is covered with little red buds:

And wouldn't you know, the next challenge in our More Nature Study in Winter book was on twigs!  We weren't able to actually collect any twigs (didn't find any on the ground, and we live in an urban area so didn't think it would be a good idea to snap any twigs off a 'public' tree).  But we did go take a closer look at the trees outside and observed all we could about the buds to sketch in our nature journals.  Now we can be watching for those buds to open up as spring approaches.  Maybe this year's seasonal tree study will happen without much effort on my part? 

Our second week's nature study was on wool and sheep.  We had no real sheep to observe, but did take the time to examine some wool socks and describe how the look and feel, look at the fibers under a hand lens, and watched the YouTube videos linked here.  The kids were fascinated.

Art and Music
Composer Study: Debussy
Artist Study: Monet.   This week we took at a closer look at some of Monet's paintings using
Google Art Project.  We also explored this neat interactive website shared by another one of the moms over on the SCM Forum.  This sparked a lot more interest in our picture study to say the least!  Both kids were begging to look at more.

What the Littles Did
Okay, so I need to brag on James (3.5 - turning 4 in June) for just a minute.  One of his frequently chosen read-alouds is Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka Bake a Cake.  At the end of the story, they sing Happy Birthday to mother (for whom they have baked the cake).  It looks like this:

Anyhow, James has totally picked up on the fact that all of the words in that happy birthday section are the same, and thus must be the part where it says "happy birthday".  Yeah, I know he's not actually reading yet, I just thought it was interesting to notice the degree of print awareness that he's developed already...with pretty much no direct effort on my part.  I just read to him. A lot.  But that's it.  (Hopefully that might be encouraging to those of you who don't have time or energy or printer ink enough to do dozens of cute alphabet printables with your preschoolers.  Nothin' against cute alphabet printables....just not my thing!)

We also like to attend an (English speaking) playgroup for preschoolers hosted by one of our missionary colleagues when we are able to.  They read some stories, do some action rhymes and songs, and have some playtime.  Fun!

Family Reading
- Picture Books Highlights: Eloise Wilkin Stories (aka "Babies" - Elizabeth's name for this sweet book - many of the stories are about babies or children with baby siblings), Angus and the Ducks, Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka Bake a Cake, and Blueberries for Sal.  Michelle has gotten to be such a proficient reader that she often volunteers to read to James and Elizabeth!

- Michelle's Reading: Michelle reads daily from Busy Times, usually with Papa.  We have also returned to the Little House series and have started reading Little Town on the Prairie.  (We read through most of the others last year, and took some time off to read some of the new books we got at Christmas time.)

- Bedtime Read-Aloud: Sadly, we have finished all of Thomas the Tank Engine.  This was truly a family favorite!  Our new bedtime book is Mary Poppins.  The movie is one of the kids' favorites, we are enjoying comparing the similarities and differences.

Some Goals and Plans for the Coming Week
This coming week is our "off" week (as in 4 weeks on, 1 week off), which I admit I am looking forward to.  We will still do Bible, lots of read-alouds, a nature walk, and hopefully a library trip...but not in a particularly scheduled or structured way.  I also hope to take time to evaluate how this 4 week session has gone and make some plans for our next 4 week session.

For more details about the specific curriculum resources we are using, please visit the Goals and Curriculum link at the top of the sidebar.

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