Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

...never should've looked down.

Trying to Get Out of Egypt!

We've spent the afternoon trying to wrap up all of our Ancient Egypt odds and ends so we can move on to Ancient China for a little while. Here is Cullen working to flatten out our thoroughly soaked papyrus reeds. Maybe we'll still paint something on it when it dries. That is assuming it's useable, of course!

Then we pulled out some rubber heiroglyph stamps and figured out how to make our names. After the paper filled up, Cullen labeled himself in various places.

Yesterday, we got to go to the King Tut exhibit in Atlanta. It was really impressive, and I absolutely loved it! Cullen worked on writing a couple of sentences about the outing, with a little rubber mummy from the gift shop keeping him company.

With all of the unbelievable treasures and artifacts we saw, the highlight for my little boy was a toilet seat from an ancient Egyptian palace!

There is a little bit of inventive spelling still, which is okay for a six-year old, and the handwriting could be neater, but look! Two complete sentences with capitalization (mostly) and punctuation done correctly the first time! I really can't adequately explain the hearts or know if they are related in any way to his excitement over the toilet seat, though. He was quite pleased with himself after writing this and knew that I would be proud of him, too. Maybe all those good feelings just spilled out onto the paper!


Yes, I missed posting a weekly report for last week. It was a scrambled up sort of week with a few days of computer trouble tossed in! I'll cover everything in this Friday's Weekly Report post.

This is all about curriculum and lesson plans, so only read on if you think you won't be bored silly!

I think we've finally settled into a writing routine that works!!! I tried to begin the year with Sonlight's Language Arts programs, but Cullen is between their level 1 and level 2. The amount of customizing that was required was wearing me out, so I looked into a few other options. Write Shop Primary is a little below Cullen's level right now, but I've pulled some good information and ideas from it. The publisher has not yet finished the series, so there is nowhere to go with it after the A level.

I bought and read a copy of Writing With Ease, which I will include in what we do. I also found a great book at my local store, The School Box, by Scholastic called Grade 1 Writing Curriculum Week-by-Week Lessons. Though originally designed for classroom use, it is easily used in the homeschool setting. (Available also for grades 2 and 3)

Our weekly writing now includes copywork, following recommendations from Writing With Ease, alternated with D'Nealian 2 workbook for handwriting practice. We do oral narration in response to history, literature and sometimes science readings, with Cullen actually writing out a couple of sentences one day per week for his Ancient History notebook. Two days a week, he writes just a sentence or two in response to a journal prompt from the Scholastic book. (These are really good prompts!) Then the remaining two days of the week, he does prewriting and writing for a short assignment covering things like descriptive sentences, narrative sentences, friendly letters, expository sentences, etc. These require a few sentences each, but we won't be calling them paragraphs until later in the year when we cover what exactly makes a paragraph.

Next year (I am forever looking ahead) I think the Sonlight Language Arts 2 Intermediate, which I already have, will be a very good fit. Of course, I will tweak it a bit to make room for history or science-related writing to be added in.

As I've been typing, Cullen's been doing his math worksheet. I hear him running a toy dump truck up and down the hallway, so that means he's finished. I'm signing off to check some calculations, then have lunch with my little man.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weekly Report

Another week of fun for us! We didn't get to finish everything on my plan for the week, but I have to say that is not unusual. Cullen learned a bit and made progress in the important areas, so all is well.

Memory ~ Proverbs 9:10, as well as another short verse for Sunday School which I don't have written down here and can't remember. (Maybe I should be doing some memory work, too!)

Math ~ Moving along through Horizons 2 at about half a lesson per day, with continued drill work on facts. The bright spot for me on Friday was Cullen's sitting down to tackle his math without trying to negotiate fewer problems. He just got busy!

Language Arts ~ Handwriting is showing more consistency and care. Spelling comes easily to Cullen, and he loves taking his quiz every Wednesday. Reading and phonics work are moving along nicely. Switching to Explode the Code online was a really good thing for us! We are doing oral grammar about 2 days a week, which is working out pretty well.

History/Social Studies ~ We tried to wrap up studies of Egypt and of Mesopotamia this week, working on History Pocket projects. The papyrus project we began last week still isn't done, but it is ready to roll out for drying. I think we'll get that done tomorrow afternoon. This upcoming Monday, we (Dad, too) have tickets to go see the King Tut exhibit here in Atlanta. Our history and geography readings next week move us to the Indus Valley, but we will likely be finishing up a few odd Egypt projects at the same time.

Science ~ This was a highlight for Cullen this week. We began Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level 1, reading about atoms and molecules and making observations. I plan to do one chapter a week, with lab time on Fridays.

At the beginning of the year, he begged to learn about motors. I did find a small kit appropriate for his age from Thames & Kosmos, but I wanted to cover basics of motion, force and simple machines first. Lego Education has great kits for learning about simple machines, so I ordered a couple hoping that they would not be too advanced for an eager six year-old. I pulled out the Levers set this week and it was perfect for us! Cullen built different types of levers, exploring the effects of changes in placement of the fulcrum and of the load, etc.

After putting all of the little pieces away, I asked if he could create a lever to move an object from among his things. It took only a couple of minutes for him to set something up that worked, then he decided to explore changes in the height of the fulcrum on his own. I just stood back and enjoyed watching!

Cullen's Wednesday chess class was especially fun for him this week because he got to play his coach twice and earned extra points for managing to keep his queen one of those games. He may already play better than I do, but has a long way to go before giving his Dad a run for his money!

As a matter of fact, that is one of Cullen's life goals at this point - to beat his Dad at chess. Must be a boy thing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unofficial Outdoor Hour

We spent a little time at the park today. Cullen ran off a bit of pent up energy playing with a friend we ran into there and having a great time in the sunshine. It was a warm and absolutely gorgeous day!

Walking along the trail with me, he discovered this snazzy little red leaf.

We looked up and around to discover we were surrounded by sweetgum trees, in all shades of yellow, red and even purple.

I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed the hundreds of prickly sweetgum balls all over the ground. Cullen had never seen these before and is still not sure if he likes them. I almost told him how we used to throw them at each other when I was a kid, having all-out wars with them. Knowing he would have immediately tried throwing some at me if I had shared that, I'm very glad I caught myself in time!

The star-shaped leaves were everywhere! I actually had quite a few handfulls of those thrown on my head before all was said and done!

Not an official Outdoor Hour Challenge or a "real" nature study, just a time to delight in the beauty of creation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008