Friday, September 18, 2009

Week 4 Report

This week FLEW by! Spud hasn't been doing his workbox the past couple of days, which was good in that it gave me some time to reflect (and consult the folks over at the WTM forum) on what is most important for me to be doing with him right now. He knows all of his letter sounds and is quite good at sounding out 3-letter words. But he is so resistant to trying things in front of people when he doesn't feel confident that he will succeed. He has always been this way. He used to say, "Tant say it," when we'd ask him to say a word that he knew he couldn't. And then, voila! a few days or weeks later, we'd notice him saying the word without any fanfare. And he really doesn't like attention drawn to his new achievements, either. I guess it's some weird variety of perfectionism, but it sure is hard to figure out how to teach this little guy. He was/is the same way when learning his ABCs, drawing, counting, learning new songs, and pretty much everything I can think of. As a total non-perfectionist (I'm perfectly happy to bumble my way through most anything!), I have a hard time relating.

Anyways, all that to say that I'm going to back waaay off the reading stuff and just let him pick things up on his own. I'm also going to do some non-handwriting methods of reinforcing proper letter formation (draw in a pan of sand/cornstarch, playdoh letters, possibly make some sand ABC cards for some of the letters, etc.) as he likes to write letters, but his formation is just not very good and, not surprisingly, he is resistant to practice as that is an admission that he can't do it very well. But, back to the weekly report.

We did Rocks & Fossils this week. We had two Bill Nye Episodes (Rocks & Soil, Fossils) and one Magic School Bus episode to watch. Those are always fun, and I know they help me retain the information more when it is presented entertainingly. Yeah, I know we shouldn't have to be entertained to learn, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing when it works! We read a couple of books about rocks and fossils, including this one:

We also went to the BYU Paleontology Museum with our homeschool group. Can I tell you that I was delighted how the timing on that worked out? Fun fun. The museum is not huge, but it has a nice-sized collection and is about right for elementary aged kids. We love the one at Thanksgiving Point, but it is HUGE and really more than anybody can take in on a single visit. Plus, the one at BYU is free! (I gave the kids all my change to "feed" the dino skull donation box, though.) I think I'd like to make a point of going to each of the free museums in the area at least 1-2x/year. I think the repeated exposure is good for kids and adults, and you always notice something different.

We also did a rock craft, where we mod-podged fabric shapes on rocks to make animals. Or just a sticker. Or painted the rocks. Obviously we were flexible. We got that idea here. I think it would be fun to do what the blog author does and make enough to tell a story, but that would work better as a multi-part project (cut out all the shapes one day, find appropriate sized rocks one day, mod-podge another day) than a single afternoon.

We did Ancient Africa this week. There isn't a lot of information really about Ancient Africa (outside of Egypt) because they didn't keep written records that have survived. They did tell oral stories that were passed down, though, including the stories of the spider/man Ananse. (I've seen multiple spellings, but I'm going with that one.) We really enjoyed reading a lot of Ananse stories, listening to the Ananse song by Raffi, and then we finished up our week Friday afternoon by making our very own Ananse spiders out of Sculpey and wire. My first idea for doing the legs didn't work, so we ended up building an armature out of wire and then building the clay around it. I thought to make a sort of tutorial, but then got distracted by doing it and taking care of Sprout, so it didn't happen. The finished products are pretty cute though, methinks.

Language Arts
Like I said, Spud was taking a break from his workbox for part of the week, which was okay. Something new we added in this week for him, though, was "Letter Hunt." I sewed this polka-dot bag for him (you can kind of see it in the letter P picture) and I give him a letter card to go on a letter hunt. I have to say, I was surprised that we kept thinking of more and more things that started with P. It doesn't seem like that common of a letter, but we finally just had to stop looking (as the kids kept making me take a picture after we added each new thing. Good thing we have digital cameras!) I think he enjoyed doing it, so we'll probably add it to our mix of letter-related activities.

Noodle and I spent 2-3 days on soft "c" words. She also kept working through her Yesterday's Classics reader.

Muffin Tin Monday
I'm on a quest to find more fun things to make the days more enjoyable, and the first idea I came across that struck my fancy was Muffin Tin Monday.
It seemed both simple and fun, so I decided to give it a try.

It was a hit! And really didn't take any more effort than a regular lunch, so hooray! Noodle ate all of hers, Spud didn't quite finish. I think I'd like to find a 3rd muffin tin for me, too! And I think it is funnt that Noodle is making such weird faces in both of the pictures. Little nut.

Still chugging along! Sprout likes the manipulatives. I love that he can make a mess, be happy, and it is easy to clean up.

Other Stuff
We went on a loooong walk on the River Trail this week, too. Both kids are now really adept at riding their scooters, which is fabulous as they can speed around at a reasonable pace for me to kind of keep up with. Their bikes are too fast and with walking they get tired or bored too quickly, so the scooters are a nice middle ground. We had a really nice time and found a partial owl pellet on the trail that we will dissect this next week.

Oh, last week (week 3) there was a traveling "Leo on Wheels" science exhibit at one of the schools down in Mapleton, so we went to the Community Night. It was really cool, and free! I found out about it through the newspaper. I know a lot of people get their news (if they get any) online, but I can always find half a dozen things I'd rather do online than browse the news, and I like leafing through the paper and catching headlines. I don't get it read or even skimmed every day, but I like the connection to the community it affords. /tangent/

So, it was a good week. We have two more weeks until the end of our first term (we have six weeks on, one week off with a longer break for Christmas, and we have six terms in our school year) and I'm thinking of having a Fun Friday for the kids and some friends on the last Friday of the term. I think we'll invite a couple of the kids' friends over and the kids can all make mini pizzas and maybe sundaes or root beer floats and play together for a few hours.

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