Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Semester Update

We're now a couple months in to our spring semester, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how things are going. For the most part, we're cruising right along.

In math, I decided to continue on with MEP Yr. 1 for "Rusty", my Kindergartner. He loves the puzzle aspect of MEP but finds all the workbook exercises challenging from a fine motor skills standpoint. So we're going slowly, alternating the formal MEP lessons with "hands-on" activities and lots of "living books" like the Sebastian Pig series from Jill Anderson and Stuart J. Murphy's Math Start series. He just turned 5 in November, so in most places he would be pre-k this year. So I'm fine with taking a longer time to finish a K math program (MEP follows the British system so Yr. 1 is equivalent to U.S. Kindergarten, Yr. 2 would be U.S. 1st, etc).

"Miss Scarlet" has one chapter left in Singapore 4A (area and perimeter) but I've decided to re-arrange the sequence to hit the decimals chapters in 4B prior to her having to take the STAR test in April. I don't put a lot of stock in the STAR as an assessment, but at the same time, I don't want her to score below her potential because of something like not knowing how to properly read decimals. I got her Life of Fred: Decimals, which she loves; however, it does not seem to be enough by itself to get her to answer the practice STAR questions correctly. So I figured it made sense to do the first 2 chapters of 4B before finishing the last chapter of 4A.

In terms of language arts, "Rusty" is making fantastic progress. The biggest relief is that he has finally made a breakthrough in his writing. He went from not being able to print his name to writing multi-page "books" with full sentences. His lower case letters are still hit-or-miss and his legibility could be better, but I'm thrilled with how far he's come over the past couple of months.

He has 4 lessons left in All About Spelling Level 1 and should start Level 2 soon. I wish Marie Rippel would hurry up and complete the higher levels of the new All About Reading program because the first level looks great! Sure would've been nice to have had on hand last summer when "Rusty" was at that stage. I'll definitely be interested in giving it a try when Princess P. is ready. And no, I have no affiliation with the company other than being a satisfied customer :-)

"Rusty" has also started First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1. It's going okay, but he seems to have better retention with "living books" and watching old Grammar Rock clips on YouTube. C'mon everybody, sing with me: "Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses."

"Miss Scarlet" is loving Killgallon Grammar for Middle School, Figuratively Speaking, and surprisingly she also likes that Drawing Inferences reading comprehension test prep booklet that looked pretty dull to me. Go figure!

I haven't gotten a handle on how to implement the Adventures in Fantasy book, so I signed her up for a creative writing class about which I've heard raves. Personally, I tend to agree more with Susan Wise Bauer's approach to writing but DH feels strongly about wanting "Miss Scarlet" to do this. He read in either Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers or Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code (I forget which) about the Bronte sisters writing massive amounts as young girls and thinks that starting early is the key to developing the talent he's convinced that DD has. No pressure or anything :-p

In history, we're having fun studying the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers. "Rusty" loves that so many of them had red hair like he does (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, etc.) LOL! "Miss Scarlet" loves hearing about the heroines- Margaret "Molly Pitcher" Corbin, Deborah Sampson, Sybil Ludington (known as the "female Paul Revere"), Betsy Zane (who smuggled gunpowder into a fort under siege), Patience Wright (an artist in London who spied on the British and sent her dispatches hidden in her sculptures), Phoebe Fraunces (George Washington's African-American housekeeper who saved him from assassination by discovering a poisoning plot), and Abigail Adams.

In science, we are currently doing a unit on sound, and the kids have been enjoying making musical instruments out of household objects. DH, who has been working from home doing consulting projects and writing a book, is less than thrilled about this particular unit ;-)

The kids are also going to be starting art classes at the end of the month. Art is just one of those subjects that doesn't really get done in any kind of formal way unless we outsource. "Rusty" especially could use the fine motor practice. I signed him up for a clay class since I've heard that is one of the more helpful media for improving hand strength and coordination. "Miss Scarlet" is going to be doing nature art class, which is done in coordination with the local Wildlife museum. She has talked about possibly wanting to be a veterinarian when she grows up (if her first choice of fashion design doesn't pan out), so I thought she might like it.

Princess P. has been diagnosed with a speech and language delay like her big brother had (fortunately he seems to have outgrown it but he spent a year in speech therapy). She just started attending a developmental preschool through Early Intervention 4 morning per week that includes 2 sessions per week of speech therapy. She seems to enjoy it and I've noticed that she has been using more words even after just one week in preschool. She still has a long way to go, but the improvement makes me feel better about putting her into the preschool at only 25 months old. There is a 3:1 student-teacher ratio so that is really isn't that different than being here with her two siblings and me.


ChristineMM said...

Just want to say hi and give you an update. Those odd link comments keep appearing on my blog and I am getting to the bottom of it. It seems certain homeschool bloggers are getting paid from homeschool curriculum providers to run ads on their blog's sidebar


within the body of their blog posts there are hotlinks to the sites even when the discussion is not relevant


when those bloggers post a comment on other blogs there are ad links in their comments, even when they are not really relevant.

I am going to do a little more research to see if I can verify this but I won't have ads placed on my blog that I personally am not getting paid for!

Wondering what you think of that?

Jennifer in OR said...

Hi, I enjoyed reading about your homeschool day! I also have a daughter in Singapore Math 4A at about the same page. I like the order of teaching you're planning with the 4B book. Blessings, Jen @

tarheelred said...

Crimson, good stuff!

I enjoy your comments over at my side, wish you would write more here--you've got good things to say!