Friday, January 29, 2010

Flash Card Circus Act

This little guy has always been energetic, to say the least. Being at home for school, we can accommodate his need for extra wiggle time throughout the day, while still working to increase the amount of time he can manage to sit upright in a chair being relatively still. He can usually do 20-25 minutes of seatwork before needing a break, longer if the seat is comfy, and he can behave well through a church service. For his age, I think that is perfectly fine. I can actually see evidence that his mind is free to work better when it isn't putting so much energy into trying to stop movement. The wiggles don't usually interfere with his learning anything. The challenge has been for me to remain unaffected by them!

Some examples of wiggles while learning: The entire first semester of his first grade year, phonics was done always and only under the table. He often fiddles with small things in his hand when he listens to a read-aloud and will sometimes wallow around on an exercise ball for thinking-intensive work (never handwriting practice though!) We move from table to floor to couch to table during the course of the day. The latest craze has been lying on his back on the floor, balancing his chair on his feet as I quiz him on math facts. He claims it helps him think better.

I'm wondering if things like this can count toward P.E.

Weekly Report

Though not quite what I'd call a perfect week as far as work is concerned, I've decided to lighten up on myself a little after putting together thoughts for this post. Apparently we accomplished a little more than I realized!

The Renaissance has been exciting to read about. There will be a few more weeks for us to dig into this era. Cullen is very interested in the artists of the period, so quite a few projects are in the plans. Leonardo Da Vinci got most of our attention these past few days. There is a special exhibit here in Atlanta at the High museum on him that we should really go see.

Cullen read The Littles this week. What a cute book! Spelling, phonics, Bible Explorer lessons went nicely. We added in a little review of map skills and began a focus on adjectives. For memory work, Christina Rossetti's "Who Has Seen the Wind?" is almost ready for reciting for others.

In the area of writing, we paid special attention to choosing specific and interesting topics and in choosing good details that pertain to it. Today, Cullen did a pre-writing exercise for a paragraph on "The Life of the Blabbering Boot." Does his choice of title catch your attention!?! After he wrote out lists of details he would include, he announced to me that he thought he might go ahead and actually write this. I smiled and decided not to mention that that is exactly what I have down in my planner for next Monday. He can claim that as his own idea if he likes!

For math, he finished up Singapore 2B workbook and we just today began Horizons 3, with plans to supplement occasionally with Singapore, especially the word problems.

The human body study wrapped up today, as well. The life-size model and all readings are done. I imagine we'll have to keep this guy up on the door for awhile. We've gotten somewhat attached to him!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Legos and Bach

After a session of seat work with heavy pencil involvement, I usually allow Cullen a play break. He's enjoying one now with his Legos and a cd of Bach, our composer for the month, that I turned on for him. He just called out to me a few minutes ago, "Mom! You have to come hear this!" Of course, I wonder if he has switched to a different cd. The player was quiet when I walked into the room. He made sure I was ready to listen, then pressed a button. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, loud and enormously dramatic, filled the room. Cullen was completely enchanted with this big, dramatic piece! I hear it playing again from the next room as I type.

Don't get me wrong. He absolutely loves a hip hop beat and old 70's music. I am just thrilled that his mind is still open to finding what is beautiful and moving in classical music.

A few weeks ago, my husband said to me with a bit of amazement that Cullen was "so...(pause to search for right word) cultured for a kid his age."

I laughed, and answered, "I'm really trying!"

There are sometimes moments in this home-learning journey that make up for all the work and the difficult days. This little bit of wonder at a truly impressive piece of music was definitely one of them!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Magnet Mania at the Tellus Museum

Earlier this week, Cullen took his first homeschool class at the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, not too far from us. The staff did a terrific job, offering a mix of interesting demonstrations and hands-on exploration of magnets and how they work. There were some new friends there, as well, that belong to the same homeschool group, some that take weekly classes with Cullen, and a couple of good friends from church, Amber and Hannah.

The kids explored electromagnets in small groups, using the scientific process of predicting, testing, observing and recording conclusions. Here Cullen and Amber work along with another little girl to see just how many paper clips their electromagnet can lift, trying to discover if the number of wire coils on the nail affect the power of the magnet.

Hannah's group graciously allowed her Dad to get in on the action!

Of course, we love this museum, so we spent another hour wandering around the exhibits. I was very pleased with the class. We will definitely be signing up for more of these. If you are in the Atlanta area, you can see details of their monthly homeschool programs here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dookie, the Amazing Aquatic Frog

I'm too wiped out to type up a weekly report, and I did let on earlier in the week what was on our agenda, so I'm letting myself off easy this time.

Not to leave you walking away empty-handed, here's an updated photo of Cullen's aquatic frog, Dookie.

Stretched out, she is a bit longer than my hand, and you can see how plump her belly is. We probably feed her more than she should have, but it's so much fun to watch her pop up out of the water to take her food from our fingers or a little plastic spoon! Visitors are impressed that we've trained her so well, but she is actually just very determined and assertive when it comes to eating! She has her priorities perfectly straight.

Dookie came to us two years ago as a tadpole from Grow-a-Frog. The company tells us that these frogs can live more than 7 or 8 years!

I just hope she doesn't grow any bigger.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What's Really Going Around Here

Not that you can tell from my last two posts, but we are actually doing some intentional learning around here. This is some of what's happening this week:

For science, Cullen has begun a month-long unit on the human body that I've pulled together from multiple sources - those shown in the photo, as well as activities from the R.E.A.L. Life Science curriculum. So far, this has been fun for both of us.

Here is the life-size model he is putting together as he goes along. It so far only has a brain and a heart. Cullen thinks this thing is hilarious, speaking to it and addressing it as himself!

Every Wednesday this quarter, he'll be participating in a WeDo Lego Robotics class, which satisfies his craving for technologically-based science. (Did I just make up a term?)

This will be a relatively light week for history, but one book I am looking forward to is this on Gutenberg's printing press.

Spelling, Explode the Code bk. 5, Bible Explorers, assorted reading assignments and vocabulary are all moving along with no surprises or changes. I am finishing up plans with some new writing and literature resources which we should begin next Monday, or maybe later this week because I'm excited about it. Watch for a post on this soon.

For math, we are doubling up on topics in order to keep things interesting. Cullen is beginning to work with fractions while doing some intensive practice with counting money and making change. Of course, as long as I let him use his play money, this is a game, not work!

Personally, I am struggling with getting back to a routine, though I desperately need to get this habit firmed up again. This is my goal to work toward for the week, and as scattered as I can usually be, it is seriously challenging!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Experiential Science

This morning, Cullen got some hands-on experience with GRAVITY, RESISTANCE and PROPERTIES OF ICE.

Seriously, with all of the local schools out today because of the icy roads and the neighborhood full of squeals and screams as the kids slid around, there was no way we could tackle any of our regularly scheduled learning until we joined in for a while. So we dug out a cardboard box, which is what passes for a sled here in the deep south, and headed outside.

It is so cold and I am such a wimp that we didn't manage to stay out too long. The older kids across the street were experimenting with pouring water on their sloping drive to make a faster place to slide. I wanted to get my kid inside before the serious daredevil runs began. He thinks he can keep up with anyone and anything, but I don't think I could watch that. I told you I was a wimp.

Now Cullen is warming up with a cup of hot chocolate, and I'm thinking some snuggle time on the sofa with a couple of books and a blanket would be just about perfect. At least until he starts begging to go out again!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jedi Training

Cullen argues that this is not a toy, but science, and should count as school time. Maybe we can do a little research on the technology of amplifying brainwaves and potential ways this can be used to help people or something. It really is fascinating!

I want a turn to play now.