Thursday, April 5, 2012

Month in Review: 4 April 2012

I'm noticing a theme here.  A week in review was too much, so we did two weeks in review.  Apparently even two weeks in review is too much, so here is a month in review.  We school 4 weeks on - 1 week off so I think I should be able to stick with this.  I hope. =)   Anyhow, without any further ado....what we've done this past month with a few plans for our coming 4 week term....

(Oh and sorry about the wonky formatting in this post.  I am getting too frustrated to try and fix it anymore.  I attempted to do too much cut-and-paste methinks, and Blogger didn't like it.)
Bible and Character Development
- Scripture Memory: We are making good progress on our way through Psalm 139, about 2/3 of the way through.  I am consistently amazed at the ability my kids have to memorize.
- Hymns: We have learned "Amazing Love" and "Amazing Grace".  I love hearing my kids sing hymns as they go throughout their days..all the way down to the 2-year-old.
- 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 finished reading Mark (buddy reading with Michelle) and are now reading through Luke.  (Except for this week, we are taking time to work through our traditional set of resurrection eggs leading up to Easter.)  
- Character Development: We are slowly reading through Parables from Nature, a book of lovely nature stories that also illustrate a virtue such as faith or patience.

Circle Time

- Poetry: Nursery Friends from France (English translations of French Nursery Rhymes with lovely illustrations and little cultural notes sprinkled here and there.)
-Aesop's Fables - read and narrate.  These are excellent practice for beginning narrators to develop their skills in a non-threatening way.  They are short and often amusing, so it takes only a few minutes to read them.  I'm pleased with how Michelle's narration skills are developing. (I will do a separate post on narration and our approach to language arts in general soon.)
- God's World News: Early Edition
- Calendar Time in French + French activity: sometimes a read-aloud storybook checked out from the library, other times a French preschool workbook I picked up last week.

Table Time (The Basics)

- Cursive: Through letter P, with several review and practice lessons in between.  Michelle is doing really well with cursive.
A recent sample page from her cursive book

- All About Spelling Level 1: Completed Steps 14-17 - spelling words with initial blends (such as stop), final blends (such as last), and deciding when you use c or k at the beginning of a word.  I am pleased with the way the that the phonics based, word segmenting approach is giving her greater confidence it both reading and writing.
Dictated word list and phrases from Step 17 of AAS Level 1

- Math: Well...we decided to make the switch to Math-U-See.  While math was not a huge problem now, I was becoming increasingly concerned with the way that Math Mammoth presented concepts and was having to supplement and tweak more than I really wanted to.  I didn't see MM continuing to work for us in the long run.  Math-U-See takes a very different approach to presenting the skills so I thought it would be better to switch sooner rather than later so we wouldn't have to backtrack too much.  We worked through the first 3 lessons during the last week of this term (there are 30 lessons in the book - designed to take a week or so each, depending on the needs of the individual child) - all of which were very easy for Michelle, but a good foundation to the methods and materials used in the curriculum.  All of the kids LOVE to play with the colored blocks used in the program as well.  When we get started again next week, we will dive in to addition facts and hopefully get those good and cemented.  I imagine we'll move through the lessons quickly to start with and then slow down as we hit areas that are trouble spots or fact families we had not yet covered in our previous curriculum.   We also implemented some math copywork/math drill sheets over the last 4-week term and that seems to be helping to in terms of aiding her memorization of the facts.  Sometimes she makes up math worksheets for me too - funny girl.

Enjoying their new Math U See Blocks
-Copywork: We attempt to do print copywork 2-3 times a week.  My goal is for her to do something of my choice, something of her choice, and something that I have transcribed from one of her narrations, but we aren't always hitting all of those.  Michelle's print handwriting is excellent.
Two page spread out of Michelle's copywork book

And here's a close-up.  This was copied from a portion of her narration from Aesop's Fables.

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 the past month we have read about George Washington, Benjamin West, and a number of inventors and scientists such as Gutenburg, Newton, and Galileo.

A sample of Michelle's narration + illustration of from Collette in France

- Geography and Culture:    We enjoyed reading, narrating and illustrating Chapters 5-8 of Collette in France and looking up the various places mentioned in the story online.  As a family we visited the city of Grenoble, so we also marked this on relation to our town on the map and recorded it in our Year in France book.
Riding the cable car in Grenoble
View from the top
Science and Nature

I posted in detail about some of our recent nature study projects here, so I'll let you read about that over there.  We have also been reading through the spring-related sections of Outdoor Secrets.

Art and Music

Composer Study: Debussy
Artist Study: We wrapped up our study of Monet.  We've tried to do artist study on and off in the past and this was the first time we were really successful.  Michelle loved Monet and enjoyed his paintings.   We're hoping to go to Paris sometime in the next couple of months, and I think she will enjoy seeing a real Monet painting in a museum.
What we learned about Monet in her own words.

Her favorite Monet painting - The Cliffwalk Pourville
In the last 4 week term, we have incorporated French study more intentionally into the kid's days.  We have been doing our calendar time in French as I already mentioned.  I also bought a French preschool workbook that we do a page out of a couple times a week (good for learning to follow directions, build vocabulary, etc.) and we now have library cards so we try to read a simple French storybook or 2 each day.   Additionally, Michelle has been working with The Learnables Level 1 software 3 days a week (working on Lesson 3 now), and watching these videos the other 2 days (we've watched 1-4).  The littles aren't required to do anything, but they are fascinated and they love following along with what Michelle is doing also.

Watching a French video on the computer

What the Littles Did
Well...not much. =)  Due to my school schedule, we have primarily been doing our school time in the afternoon, so Elizabeth is napping, and James is often also resting or playing quietly in his room.   Elizabeth napping during school simplifies matters a lot, but I would like to start including James more in what we are doing.

Family Reading

- Picture Books Highlights: Elizabeth got some new books for her birthday, the favorites of which are Honey, Honey Lion and the Mike Inkpen collection - a British author recommended by a friend.
- Michelle's Reading: Michelle's reading has really taken off.  She continues to read several times each week from Busy Times to either Papa or me, but she is reading a lot of things on her own too.  She often reads picture books to herself or to her siblings, has recently informed me that "Level 1 readers are too easy" and got into the stash of Level 2 readers I had intended to spread out over the year (mainly the remaining Frances books and several Amelia Bedelia's).  She's read about half of them in the past 3 days alone.  Yup, someone's been bitten by the reading bug...  I also continue to read outloud to her from Little Town on the Prairie several times each week.
- Bedtime Read-Aloud: At the start of our last 4 week term, we had just started Mary Poppins which we abandoned before we finished.  It turned out to be really, really bizarre.  Bummer.  Probably one of the only books about which I will ever say "just see the movie instead."  We moved along to The Betsy Tacy Treasury which we have all enjoyed immensely, James included.

Some Goals and Plans for the Coming Month
Overall, school is going really, really well for us, so there's not a lot that I want to change.  A few goals for the next few weeks however:
- I think it is time to start including James a little more intentionally in our time, so I plan to start some Montessori style letters/sounds and number recognition activities with him.
- I recently stumbled across this website which seems to have some really good language learning ideas.  I'd like to take some time to read through things on this site a little more thoroughly and chose some of the ideas to implement into our French study.
- I think if I want Michelle to be doing print copywork more regularly, I need to start choosing selections ahead of time.  When I'm not prepared, it tends not to happen.
- I have had the Put-On Chart and Study from Doorposts for quite awhile now, and after Easter I'd like to start working through it as a family.
- And some posts in the works: Our Schedule, How we do Language Arts, How we do French, more Nature Study and more Daybooks.

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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