Saturday, September 27, 2014

K5 in Casa Szrama (2014/2015 School Year)

Math- Saxon 1 (also TOPScience "Get a Grip!" workstation, also drawing from Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction).  I am still using my old wall pocket calendar (still haven't seen one I like more!  We use it instead of making our own every month with Saxon).  I haven't been able to track down a stand-alone copy of Saxon 1's Student Workbook Part 1, so until we get to Part 2 (which I do have), I'm filling in with plenty of workbooks I've grabbed from the dollar store and goodwill, our usual pattern block set, clock set, mini-white board, a printed-out hundred chart & numbers to trace (both in a plastic sleeve) and various manipulatives.

Language Arts- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (last few lessons), then will use real books & readers for reading practice (Bob books sets 3 & 4, Dick & Jane (these are soooo funny to Eowyn, and I find the illustrations to be very attractive! Way nicer looking than the Bob books, IMO)
books, and level 1 & 2 readers from the library), and will start...

First Language Lessons Level 1 for English grammar.  She has started LOVING read-aloud chapter books now.  I have a bunch I hope to read, some tying in to history, others just fun.  Among them are The Little House Books (we're mid-way through Little House in the Big Woods), The Never Girls series (we're on Book 2), Captive Treasure, The House at Pooh Corner, Now We Are Six, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  We might start The Chronicles of Narnia or Prydain, we'll see.  We also are going through all the nursery rhymes along with Liam & Levi.

Ready for her first day of K5
Handwriting- we are still using Cursive First as well as the Kumon Cutting, Cursive Writing Letters and Cursive Words workbooks (she LOVES the Kumon workbooks, and they are the only workbooks I've found that always put cursive letters in the context of words, which makes sense since cursive letters all connect).  I have some PreScripts workbooks for her but they are a bit beyond her at this point.  (ps i have found Kumon workbooks on ebay for better prices than anywhere else)

Spanish - we're doing a weekly little co-op with a friend who has littles the same ages as Eowyn & Liam.  So fun!  This will tie in especially with our geography & culture when we get to our Argentina  units (see below).

Classical Conversations-- we attend this co-op for 3 hours once a week (for us it's Mondays which is perfect!).  Each week we have "grammar" (basically the building block-nuts-and-bolts of any subject) to memorize:  Latin words, the next chunk of the history timeline (same as last year), a history sentence, set of geography facts, a science question, and a portion of John 1 in Latin.  We also do an art project together.  Liam gets in on the school action and goes to his "cyass" with his beloved Mrs. Tina and a new teacher, Ms. Jasmine.  She came up today when I read the word "jasmine" aloud to Eowyn... he is always listening!!  Anyway I love CC because they are so chill despite being thorough and well thought-out, and have so many songs to help the facts "stick"!  And the fact that it's a three-year cycle so the kids will get all the material a second time by 4th grade, and we can build on it. (spiraling is a great teaching technique!)

Geography-- (with our friend) following CC Cycle 3 loosely, so learning states & capitals.  Each week we read about a state (library books) and/or cities in it.  We use a magnetic puzzle (from Costco!!) as well as one I made out of cardboard, a states coloring book I copy out of, maps and our globe.  We are first learning all the states & capitals, then will "zoom in" on South Carolina for a while, going (more) in depth into our own state geography as well as our history-- I forsee field trips to Columbia!  We also will study New York, Georgia, Oregon & North Carolina more in-depth since we have relatives there, and then expand to US features like rivers, mountains, lakes & deserts.  (We use a lot of songs from CCHappy Mom's youtube channel to help remember capitals.)  Finally we'll skip across the hemisphere to study the geography and culture of Argentina, which is where our fellow co-oppers lived and still have roots.

History-- (with our friend) following CC Cycle 3 loosely, so covering US History starting before Columbus.  We are using the American Girls books (as read-alouds) especially "Felicity" and "Kirsten" a LOT as these tie in perfectly with E's interests, listening level and all the fun extras (paper dolls, crafts, recipes, movies etc.).  My sister & I racked up finding the books for about $2 apiece at consignment sales, and the library also has them all.  We have historical paper dolls-- this series, from the Pilgrims through the Civil War, (thank you, Tia Nicole)-- and I'm excited about how studying the Native Americans, Pilgrims & Colonists will coincide well with Thanksgiving. :)  Of course my childhood favorite Little House on the Prairie series ties in excellently.

Science-- following CC Cycle 3 loosely, so learning about the human body first, then basic physics (parts of atoms etc).  We are using The Magic Schoolbus: A Journey into the Human Body Experiment Kit (which she loves!  Seriously, the look on her face when she "gets it" has been worth the "price" of homeschooling already.  I am so glad I got to be the one to see that!!), and various books on each topic from the library.  I have Reader's Digest's The ABCs of the Human Body as a resource for all the topics too. [Any ideas & resources for the physics aspect would be great; I haven't planned that far ahead!]

PE- she's taking gymnastics for 2 months (thanks to Livingsocial) and if she likes that can continue, otherwise she can go back to ballet/tap (I think she'll go for that).

Bible- we are going through the life of Moses (so Exodus- Deuteronomy) in BSF and I'm doing the Home Study sheets with her (and the boys, who are mostly oblivious, though Liam did have a great retelling of Moses' escape down "da deep wata" from wicked Pharaoh as a baby... on a surf board.) during breakfast or lunch.  I HOPE to get back to catechism somehow, someday this year, maybe using these books as an aid.  We also read Wisdom & the Millers periodically and this is a hit.

about to go in to CC on our first day
(Lil Bro is trying to show "5" like sis)
Music- we've been doing musical theater (right now My Fair Lady is big, with BOTH kids!  I snagged a CD on a whim for $1 at the thrift store), I envision more Broadway musicals & Patch the Pirate stories.  I also grabbed some organ recital CDs and hope to cover Peter & the Wolf, a Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and The Nutcracker.  I pull out my old music lesson standbys to teach rhythm, pitch and notation as well as my xylophone & their instruments.  My goals in music for her this year are: ability to keep a steady beat, to copy rhythms, to match pitch, to understand "hi"- "low" and "soft-loud" and "slow-fast," know basics of solfege, to know the instrument families of the orchestra, to experience & "get" on some level how musical theater works, and to gain familiarity with the works I've mentioned.

General- I have found the "What Your __ Needs to Know" series to be VERY helpful.  You could really use this as a curriculum base and just supplement a writing/how-to-read and math curriculum.  I am finding it very helpful to just have in the car for whenever we have down time & need to read something (there are so many interesting things in there, stories, poems, history, science, etc.).  I'm especially using What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know for Geography & History this year.

How it Works... (-ish =D)
We spend about 1 hour each morning on "school," total, and on Mondays and Fridays don't do anything beyond our co-ops.  Afternoons are taken up by lunch, outside play and nap time (every day for boys, every other day for E) or rest time (she picks a type of toy and plays with it quietly while L naps.  Options include reading, books on tape, drawing/coloring, playing with blocks, figurines, Barbies, doll or any bin of toys from our "toy library.")

oh wait, this isn't actually school
We try to read every day, both her and me to her, read the Bible (usually over lunch), and focus on one other subject a day, be it math, music, science, geography or history.  My main sources for materials are thrift stores, the library, ebay and pinterest-found-printables offline. School is fun, not stressful, and if we don't cover it one day, I figure we'll cover it another day. Since we only work for 1 hour a day, she is able to focus and stay on-target and I can expect her best out of her.  Also, since the bulk of her learning is hands-on and story-oriented (seriously, try reading a list of words... nope.  Each word gets put into an entire paragraph of a very random story if I let her!)-- she finds workbooks to be fun and loves them! We go outside every day, the kids get lots of imaginative play (dress up, castles & figurines, Barbies, baby dolls, tool sets, kitchen pretend), puzzles, drawing, painting/art, playdough, blocks... basically anything without batteries) and I try to pull out some sensory experiences every now and then (water table, bean box, etc.).  She helps me with chores and is learning to garden, cook & clean.  For us at this point, a laid-back approach year-round with shorter breaks as we need them works just dandy.

Well, that's what I've mapped out for the year and we'll see how it goes!  Any suggestions or comments are welcome!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Letter to Eowyn at 5 Years Old

Dear Eowyn-

I can’t believe you are five years old.  It seems that you’ve been in my heart so much longer, yet also that I’ve been a mother so much shorter than the span of five times around the sun.  You are the first child I felt stir in my womb, the first baby I nourished with my own body, the first being whose cry quieted at the mere sound of my voice or touch of my arms.  I will never forget the glorious moment where I watched your first breath blush through your purple-white body.  As you love to hear, you looked into my eyes, that first precious howl on your lips, and your deep-blue eyes said “I know you.  Mommy.”  I cried because I knew in all my life I’d never done anything to deserve this squirming, breathing gift.

You are still a gift.  Your loyalty, your ability to laugh at yourself, your willingness to help, your honesty, your concern for fairness, your empathy, your inquisitive mind, your memory – all these brighten up my every day.  This year we’ve worked together to coax meaning from those blurs on a page; I’ve done lots of good things in my life, but teaching you to read ranks as one of the ones I’ve most proud of.  It is so fun to me to have you at an age where you are interested in so many things that have fascinated me since I was five:  American Indians, fairies, pioneers, homemaking, the human body, magic, babies, and musical theater.  You are a reliable, trustworthy little soul, a natural caregiver, a problem solver and a story-teller.  You do everything with enthusiasm, and once you know how, you do it well.  I have a feeling you will be able to do most things better than I can in a very short amount of time.

As we’ve been reading the Bible story of Moses together, so many things have come to my mind that I want you to know deep down.  I think Exodus 2 might be the most ironic chapter in all the Bible (excepting Esther, perhaps).  First of all, notice that Pharoah’s name is never mentioned—but the humble midwives’ are.  Pharaoh wanted to be great; he wanted his name to always be remembered… yet he was afraid of losing his power (all oppressors are); he was so afraid he did something unbelievably cruel:  commanded the murder of innocent babies.  The midwives, Shiprah & Puah, however, feared something else: God.  And it’s their names who are remembered thousands of years later.  Their fear of God led them to bravely risk their own safety to save those same innocents fearful Pharaoh tried to kill.  If you go about trying to make a name for yourself, for your own glory, God will topple you.  If, however, you pursue Him, you will find that you don’t need a name to be happy—far happier than you could even dream.

Pharaoh did not value girls very much:  they were less threatening than the boys, who might grow up to fight against him in an army.  Girls?  What could they do?  Well, God is about to show us!  First the midwives, then Moses’ mother, then a servant girl, then Pharaoh’s own daughter, and finally a little slave girl all take their stand quietly against Pharaoh; not by taking up arms, but by doing exactly what God has created women to do:  nurture.  One by one they choose to nurture a helpless baby, to care for him as he grows, to humbly yet persistently, steadily, fearlessly embrace their feminity.  And God uses them to topple the tyrant of an empire.  I pray you grow up to be that kind of woman—that you are that kind of brave, self-less, giving girl now.  God uses the weak things of the world to shame –and often to save—the strong.  Because that gives Him the most glory.

I love you, dear Eowyn Grace.  I pray you, like your namesake, learn to be content as a nurturer instead of being unhappy so long as you are not queen.  For someone with so many ideas about how the world SHOULD work, this will not come easy.  Especially since your ideas usually are quite good. :)  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding-- in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."  "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil."  "Come my children, listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord:  whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil, and do good, seek peace and pursue it."  You are precious to us and we long to see you become more (and more, and more!) like Jesus.

All my love, and then some more,

PS. You just came up to me and informed me that I've been working long enough-- that this is too much screen time.  Well then. I love you, spunky thing.