Saturday, July 13, 2013

What We've Learned: June - July 2013

We’ve never really been big on following the traditional school year…but since moving here and living in such close proximity to others who do has sort of forced us to this year.  So this month we’ve wrapped a few things up and switched a few things around....
Term One of AO Year 1
We’ve had a rather interrupted year, but we did finally complete the first 12 weeks of AO Year 1.  I’m so pleased with how it’s been going for us and how much both Michelle and I are enjoying reading and learning together.   It has been so much fun to see her begin to make connections between various things we’ve read together – such as with Dangerous Journey: noting the similarities with the dragon battle in St George and the Dragon, and recognizing some of the Biblical references (like “the Valley of the Shadow of Death”).    Or when our memory work poem for June “just happened” to be a little portion of a speech of Ariel’s from The Tempest, and the same week we began to memorize it one of our reading assignments was to read the story version of The Tempest in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  This version of the story ends with the same little quote of Ariel’s (“Where the bee sucks, there suck I…”) and you should have seen her face light up when she heard it!   Another fun example: we wrapped up our composer study of Mozart and have switched to Bach.  Yesterday the kids asked me if I could put on Mozart for them again just because “they missed him”!  June has also been a wonderful Nature Study month – you may have already seen our updates about our caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis…I loved the awe and wonder on all of their faces when we first saw him as a butterfly!   Michelle has taken a great deal of interest in the birds we see in our yard as well – we are slowly working on identifying them.  It has been such a delight to me to see the personal initiative that she is beginning to take, often noticing things that I don’t.  I still remember our very first nature walk where I told her to see “how many blue things she could find” and the best she could come up with was “there’s a blue car over there mama!”   We’ve come a long way, baby!
Math-U-See Alpha
We also wrapped up Math-U-See Alpha.  It was slow going at times, but we did it.   We also finished up a 6-week module of MEP Year 1 (which we picked up in the middle).   Whereas MUS is very systematic, MEP has been challenging and stretching her to think about numbers in new ways.   I like both of these curriculums for very different reasons and am trying to figure exactly what direction I want to take with them.   I’d love to figure out how to mesh them both together somehow….
I haven’t been doing any formal lessons with James, but he has been consistently choosing to read out of his readers (the All About Reading Level 1 Readers) several times per week and thus getting in some good practice with sounding out three letter words.  He’s also taken an interest in writing and trying to spell things (last week it was all the names of the Little House in the Prairie characters) and has taught himself how to write numbers up to 30 (correctly, I should add).  I’ve also been trying to make a point to read books off of the AO Year 0 list with he and Elizabeth – currently enjoying the stories of Beatrix Potter.  So I guess it doesn’t matter that I’m not doing any formal lessons with him….
Summer Term
We’ve now switched gears to what we are calling “Summer Term” until the school kids in our neighborhood go back the second week of August.   This is basically our way of keeping some structure in our days when we don’t have other activities going on!   Summer term for us consists of:
  • Math daily – we are continuing to reinforce addition and subtraction skills by using MEP Year 1.
  • Reading Daily – independently and together – at least one thing off the AO reading lists.  Just to keep moving forward, and because we love reading AO books. J   It is taking us 2 weeks to read through 1 week worth of books at this pace.
  • Tea Time – another activity that has become a staple in our home.  We have tea and cookies, read poems, talk about nature observations, maybe do a bit of geography or French.
  • Games – the addition of a daily game period has been a huge hit with all 3 kids.  We are revisiting old favorites, trying to learn some new ones (I picked up a simple set of ’30 Classic Games’ all in one box that we are trying out), and occasionally sneak a math game in there too.
  • Nature Study – aiming for one journal entry per week, as usual.
  • Drawing with Children – I’ve had this book on my shelf for more than 2 years and am just now getting around to using it.  It’s a little intimidating to start with, but the lesson plans from Donna Young have helped a lot getting started.  We are having a blast with it!
  • And as we have time, I have some ideas for some craft and writing projects we might work on.  Right now we are working on taking photos to make a little book on a topic of their choice.  Michelle wants to make one about her rock collection, the two little ones both what to do one about their chores!!  
Overall, we’re being a lot more relaxed though – last week my husband was off of work so we had  a ‘staycation’ of sorts and hanging out with Papa took priority over doing “school”.  And it’s looking like we may be able to travel with him for a work-related trip coming up at the end of the month, which should be a fun opportunity as well.
So, that’s what’s up in our home.  Hope you are having a wonderful “summer” too!!

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