Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekly Update

The basketball season with our local Upward organization wrapped up this week. Cullen loved the pace of the game and learned quite a bit. This is definitely something we'll do again.

A new session of weekly enrichment classes began this week, with the usual Fun With Chess class and a second round of a clay art class. He recently started piano lessons with a terrific teacher and really seems to love learning to play. ( I made an effort to find a male teacher for the role model benefits.) We also bumped gymnastics up to two afternoons per week. There is plenty going on for our little guy in the enrichment/physical ed./social opportunities department!

As far as the basics are concerned, we've had an odd turn-around lately. In the past, Cullen would drag his feet and moan about being required to write anything that I asked of him, but would do math all day if I let him. Complete about face! Math (which is currently just review actually) has become a chore, but he's been writing a paragraph here and there, as well as a handful of requested sentences, without the slightest complaint. Reading over what I've just written here, I think I see a clue - "review" in math. Time to spice things up again, I guess!

The three R's are chugging along, with a greater emphasis on writing. My usual pattern for reading, as we don't use a ready-made reading program, has been to challenge him about three-quarters of the time, then allow some fun, easier reading from time-to-time. I want him to ENJOY reading! He's been reading selections (short stories) from Level 2 of the Junior Great Books anthology, which does a terrific job of stretching his vocabulary and also giving us some very interesting topics to discuss after he reads. I like that the stories represent a broad range of cultures. Wednesday, Cullen got to start a fun book, Jake Drake, Bully Buster, which he's loving. It is a funny take on a topic with which he can identify easily!

We've done no science at all, which is something I will try to remedy next week. For one part of history, we read this book about Martin Luther and the Reformation. Cullen actually found the subject interesting enough to have an extended conversation, especially as he realized that one man's actions so long ago had an effect on how our family worships today. (We are Baptist-flavored Protestant, in case you wondered.)

On his own, Cullen is working on writing and illustrating another book. This one is a space adventure with plenty of appropriately epic language (and a 7 year-old's spelling) called, Space Navy: the Rise of Abor. There is already talk of a sequel! ;o) I'll share more as he goes along.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Puppy and a Poem

Our new puppy, Cookie, has brought an enormous amount of extra giggles and wiggles to our house this past week! She's an almost 8 week-old Miniature Schnauzer named after the crushed-up Oreo that she looks like. Just listening to the constant laughter makes the extra hassle worthwhile. She is already becoming a good buddy to our little guy.

You can imagine any progress we've made toward my longed-for school routine has been shot to pieces by this new addition. Oh, well...

We did begin a new unit in Cullen's language arts studies called Beyond Words, which focuses on imagery in language with an overarching theme of "change" throughout. It was designed for classroom use, but it hasn't been difficult to adapt to a one-on-one setting. We've actually had some very interesting discussions through this. One of Cullen's assignments was to write a poem in which a thing is described by comparing it to something else and in which the item undergoes a change. The book suggested using a tree as the subject. Cullen had another idea altogether. Here is his poem:

A bubble is like an angel in the sky.
It sparkles.
It floats.
It looks like the earth
right in your eyesight.
It goes left.
It goes right
and then
It's gone.

He recites this with his usual dramatic flair!