Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekly Report

We enjoyed a great week here, in spite of the lingering effects of a cold virus. On a couple of our school days, Iron Man has shown up to do Cullen's work for him. I will say that Iron Man is doing a great job of focusing and doing his best! ;o)

Memory: Psalm 91:11 "For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go." We also reviewed "Singing Time" from last week.

Math: Short daily drills of addition facts. Next week, I'll be adding in a little subtraction to the mix. Cullen just completed Horizon lesson 24. We've worked primarily on adding with regrouping, subtraction and telling time to the quarter hour this week.

Language Arts: Still reading from the Beginner's Bible, with one of this week's stories, Daniel and the Lion's Den, tying in with our memory verse. Free reading usually happens in the evenings, but not always. We worked a little bit on capitalization, punctuation and parts of speech with oral exercises from Easy Grammar 2. Cullen likes these a great deal. He completed Spelling Workout A lesson 18 and aced his quiz. Explode the Code work has only happened a few days this week because of computer issues, but I'm working on those.

History/Social Studies: We continued learning about Ancient Egypt, watching an Ancient Civilizations for Children DVD, reading together and working on History Pockets projects that I work into regular notebooking. We have always done oral narration after history readings, but this week I actually let Cullen dictate a couple of sentences to me that he felt most important, then let him find, cut and paste some clip art on the page. I've included photo of one. I plan to do more of these each week. Cullen enjoys the process of putting his ideas into words, as long as he is not the one who has to write those words down!

I purchased an inexpensive kit for making our own papyrus paper to later use for a little Egyptian art or heiroglyphics project. Here is Cullen putting strips of the plant into a pan of water. They'll soak for days, then he will roll them flat to dry. This is his kind of hands-on project - messy, with a strange smell and something useful as the end product.

In addition to history, we read about and discussed elections and government. These were excellent books for this age level.

Science: Another light week for science-related reading, but we dig into Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level 1 next week. This week, we spent some time outdoors in this gorgeous weather. See yesterday's post for details.

Music/Art: We were very light in this area, instead spending time preparing and helping to set up for our church's Fall Family Fun Fair.

One of the highlight's of the week: as we were driving around on errands, Cullen was listening to his cd of Hip-Hop addition facts. He is all about rhythm! His headphones were on, but I got to listen to him singing along, which was hilarious. Then when he finished with those, he asked for another cd. All I had handy was the Beethoven that we'd been listening to earlier during the week. Just a few minutes later, I took a peek into the back seat to find him with his chin tucked against his collarbone, furiously playing air violin! That absolutely made my day!

Cullen is waiting for his grandmother (He calls her Queenie) to pick him up for a visit while I go vote. Of course, he's already counting down the minutes till he can become Iron Man again and hit the neighborhood.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maple Tree and a Romp in the Woods

We combined two Outdoor Challenges, #34 Maple Tree Study and #36 Autumn Tree Study, because the tree we chose last Spring as our focus for the year-round tree study is a maple in our yard. The weather is so perfect today, though! We ended up spending quite a bit of time wandering around and exploring in our wooded back yard.

I couldn't think of a better way to spend the afternoon!

First, the maple tree:

This tree was planted by a landscape company when our house was built, so we know that it is called an October Glory Maple. I find the name a little ironic, because it has never turned its gorgeous, showy red until well into November! You can see in the photos that the leaves are just beginning to show the green giving way to red.

We do have other types of maple trees in our yard, most of them are turning more yellow than our focus tree. None are quite as striking in color as the October Glory Maple, though. Cullen chose this leaf to bring in for a simple leaf rubbing.

I offered him a little bit of syrup to taste while I put away paper and crayons. While he licked his fingers, I explained how maple syrup is made from the sap of certain maple trees. That was amazing news to him. I'm not sure he is entirely convinced that I'm telling the truth about it!

Here is a photo of our back yard. I absolutely love it! Cullen hasn't spent nearly enough time exploring in it, though. I am determined to change that. He was able to recognize oaks and maples. We found little baby trees and ferns and a dried up stream bed. Cullen discovered a well-hidden spider web among the crunchy leaves underfoot, and had me hush to hear the cricket song. I couldn't help but smile that he was leading me as much as I was leading him.

He also found that our largest tree has a nice-sized hole about eight feet off the ground. We wondered what might have its home in there, but we couldn't get high enough to take a peek inside.

Cullen usually resists writing much about one of our outings, so I tried giving him prompts or sentence starters with a blank to finish. He eagerly filled in his findings and thoughts with this format. We'll definitely be using this method again!

We both enjoyed being outdoors so much, I think we may take advantage of the beautiful weather and look for a different type of tree tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekly Report

Not so many pictures this week, although when I checked my camera earlier, I found twenty or so photos of flared nostrils and toes and elbows and other odd parts of my litte one. Maybe he needs a camera of his own!

I meant to post earlier this photo of our wall climber. Last weekend, after a monstrous amount of cotton candy (see Wednesday's post) he got to try something entirely new. He only made it about halfway up, which is exactly how far he climbed before he looked down the first time! That did it for him.

This was a good week for math at our house. We've been working about half of a lesson from Horizons a day and spending some time polishing up addtion facts. We should be back on a full lesson per day, four days a week, within 2 weeks. We usually do "fun" math on the 5th day. Cullen is proud of conquering addition with regouping this week!!!

Reading is progressing nicely. He really enjoys stories from The Beginner's Bible, and he also chooses an extra book to read to me each evening. Tuesday night, I got to hear an entire book about teeth in musical theatre-style song. We did the usual handwriting practice and copywork this week. Cullen is extremely excited to see that he's on the last few pages of his D'Nealian Handwriting workbook, so much that he wants to double up his work and finish sooner.

Memory work included our weekly Bible verse, Luke 6:31, "Do to others as you would like them to do to you," and the short poem, Singing Time.

Ancient Egypt was our focus this week in history and will be for next week, too. We read about mummies and pyramids from Story of the World Vol 1 and Usborne Book of World History, and we'll be reading Tutankhamen's Gift and Tut's Mummy...Lost and Found over the weekend together. (I've decided to switch completely to SOTW in place of CHOW as a history spine. I just prefer it so much more.) We also talked a little about the election process and the upcoming presidential election.

We had short piano practices and only a little bit of drawing this week. Science was very light, as well. Our planned nature studies on maple and pine trees will have to wait until next week. Cullen is dealing with a full-blown and nasty cold. As I type, he is slowly sipping some chicken noodle soup in his pajamas. This looks like a good weekend for cuddling up with a movie or a few books.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

(No, I didn't give that to him, and yes, he ate every single fiber of it!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekly Report

Our week was full and fun!

Last weekend, we went to see a play with our friends, who are also family, Kathryn and Jamie - The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, in which the wolf has his day in court. It was actually pretty funny.

Cullen is really enjoying Spelling Workout - he loves taking spelling tests. Who would have guessed? I recently subscribed to Explode the Code online to give Cullen a way to do phonics that wouldn't require all of the workbook pages, which he tires of pretty quickly. He works on it about 12-15 minutes at least 4 days a week. We're plugging away at the handwriting still, while beginning to use WriteShop Primary. He made a book about himself this week, learning about brainstorming as a prewriting exercise, and is quite pleased with it.

Our memory work this week was a couple of Bible verses since they are both short: Gen 1:1 and Isaiah 41:10a. One was on my original schedule and the other is really for his Sunday School class. He seems to enjoy learning these.

In math, we've been doing half of a lesson from our Horizons workbook each day and focusing on addition facts with a few different ways of drilling them, his favorite being flash card shout out. You can probably figure out what that is like just from what I call it! On Friday, I let Cullen take the test #2 from Horizons because he seemed so eager to get a grade on something. He actually did extremely well, missing two small things, which he was able to correct on his own when I pointed them out.

For history, we still did a little on Mesopotamia this week, but began talking about Egypt also. I'm looking forward to some fun projects over the next few weeks. In addition to this, we reviewed continents and major oceans. Cullen got a kick out of quizzing his Dad on these and energetically supplying the correct answers when Dad hesitated for even a second. We also talked informally about community government and had a field trip Wednesday to our local City Hall with friends from our Wednesday classes. Here's a photo of the group before we began the tour. Cullen is in the flag t-shirt.

Science this week was a little light and relaxed. We only did a little reading and a nature study focusing on oak trees.

Our art projects this week - clay tablets and some coloring-type activities - tied in with history.

For music, we listened to some of Beethoven's music and Cullen began piano lessons. He's pretty excited about piano, which makes me really happy! He has plans to be in a band with one of his cousins some day, so he is pretty motivated to practice right now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oak Tree Study

We are a little late joining in the Outdoor Hour Challenges, but we've been enjoying sporadic nature studies all along. By participating, I hope to be a little more consistent!

We have a young oak in our front yard that was planted by the builder just before we moved in, so we didn't have to look far for a tree to observe. Cullen was excited to find scattered acorns beneath our tree. This is the first year it has dropped any acorns at all, so I was a little excited, too! After identifying the tree online and with our Handbook of Nature Study we discovered that we have a variety of black oak. According to the Handbook, these trees take about 20 years to produce their first crop of acorns, so we also learned the approximate age of our tree.

After observing the bark and the ants crawling up and down, picking off a few leaves, looking at the tiny blotches where the color was beginning to change and gathering some acorns, we came inside to make a page for Cullen's nature notebook. He did a rubbing of a leaf and a drawing of one of the acorns. We also opened up an acorn to see the inside. We'd already read that it likely had a very bitter taste, so Cullen could not be talked into tasting it. Acorns of a black oak are supposed to be tasty to squirrels and deer, so Cullen tossed quite a few far into our wooded back yard where we've seen a few deer and plenty of squirrels. Plus it was just fun to throw them!

By far, the most interesting and surprising thing we learned was that the acorns are velvety smooth, except for a really sharp point at the tip. Cullen rubbed his face with it so much, I think he wore the velvet covering off of this one!

Next, we'll be looking for pine trees and maples. I am loving the time outdoors as much as my little one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cuneiform and a Classmate

We've been learning a little about the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia over the past couple of weeks. Today we pulled out a messy slab of clay and Cullen got to write like a Sumerian, or maybe a Babylonian. (I doubt what we actually produced remotely resembles either!) We found a website that could show us Cullen's name in cuneiform, which was really cool, but a bit complicated to reproduce. Numbers seemed much easier to manage, so we just went with them. Two neatly incised clay tablets are now drying in the kitchen.

I had been modifying Sonlight's Language Arts 2 for Cullen, but this week we began using WriteShop Primary. So far, I am very pleased with it. It suggests what I consider an overload of guided writing and may be just a hair below his actual writing ability, but I never hesitate to tweak things! Cullen will have a weekly "published" project, which makes him feels a greater sense of accomplishment. The goal is to make writing feel more like fun and less like work for him. (We add in Spelling Workout A, copywork, Explode the Code online phonics and mostly oral Easy Grammar to our Language Arts.)

Tomorrow we visit the Mayor's Office in Acworth with our friends from the enrichment classes Cullen takes, so we've discussed the basics of community government in preparation. This afternoon, I began popping questions on the subject to see what, if anything, had actually "stuck." I'm not sure when he managed, but Cullen suddenly had a sock puppet (made years ago by his big brother) on his arm and was consulting with the puppet on answers to my questions! You see the puppet's arm is raised. Turns out he knew what taxes were used for when Cullen had trouble remembering.

This was one of those moments when I was really glad the camera was handy!