Growing Every Day

Archive for August, 2013

Never Underestimate

My lesson this week:  never underestimate.

I am seeing a beautiful blend of basic planning and inherent motivation budding forth.  It will help to explain using examples.  We have several educational workbooks that have been given to us and have thus far been mostly out of sight, out of mind.  In hopes to decrease the pile, we started working through these to use them up.  Sitting down to work on letter tracing:  my basic planning – complete two pages.  Mason’s inherent motivation – complete 5!

Another time I noticed this blend of basic planning and inherent motivation:  throughout the last couple of weeks, Mason has been more consistently sounding out words.  Out of interest, I asked if he could spell ‘and’ the other day.  He could.  This makes it a great time to move into the realm of spelling basic word families and sight words.  It came to me to write several letters on the ground and have Mason spell words by jumping on the letters in order.  I made sure to include the letters of his name so that there was a word with which I knew he was familiar.

Spelling Jump

(Madison enjoyed jumping on letters as well!)

Long story short…

Not only did he spell the words I thought up, he then started making words out of the letters on the ground.  Words I hadn’t even thought to ask him.   Then he said a word, realized one of the letters wasn’t there, and wrote the letter with the chalk himself.  Wow!  My basic planning – have Mason spell his name and a few other words.  Mason’s inherent motivation – spell given words, make my own words, include new letters.

I must pause and say, there is definitely a timing to this whole process.  There were a few times this week that I presented the idea of tracing letters and either it just didn’t fly, or only what I asked was done (and that with little enthusiasm).  In these instances, I didn’t push and we didn’t move on to other areas.  Most of our learning activities this week happened on Wednesday and then Saturday and Sunday.  There just seemed to be a “no go” on the other days of the week.  This, however, is the beauty of “doing school” from June to June on a 12 month cycle…plenty of time to flow.

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Collecting Data, Calendar Activity from RoyalBaloo

  • The only math we did this week was graphing the weather each morning with our calendar activity.  The activity is set up to do daily.  This is not something I’m willing to make happen everyday.  It seems to work better for us to do it once, maybe twice, a week – doing a few days work at one time.

weather graph data

Reading:  

Introduction to Beginning Consonant Blends, Blend Wall Cards by 3 Dinosaurs

  • Since sounding out words and attempting to read books is occurring more and more, we began to look at and attribute sounds to specific blends of consonants.  These wall cards helped with the sounding out of each particular blend and then I had Mason think of another word that started with the same blend.

Blend Wallcards

Sight Word Practice, Lego Pack by walkingbytheway.com

  • Reinforcement is always good, and we have a large supply of foam letters.  Thank you Grandma S for the foam letters!  I also found this great Lego pack at walkingbytheway.com.  So, we practiced color sight words, by finding and placing the correct foam letters on the words.  Since spelling is becoming a forefront concept as well, I made sure that once the word was completed, I would ask the question, “How do you spell blue.”  Since the word was in front of him, it simply gave him a chance to practice responding to that question.

MM foam spelling

(Madison’s version is on the right.)

Handwriting:  

Tracing and Free writing Letters

  • As stated above, we have several educational workbooks that I am ready to work through and lessen the pile!  The pages with letters A-D were completed this week.

tracing work

Tracing Numbers

  • Calendar Activity – writing in dates on the August calendar printable found at RoyalBaloo.com

Spelling

  • What we are now calling Spelling Jump.  It is the activity described in the blog above.  Writing letters on the driveway and giving Mason a word to spell by jumping on the correct letters in order.

Eyes to See

This is the first week using our New Approach of recording lessons as or after they happen.

I have to tell you, I was amazed.

In the previous method of making a list of activities to accomplish through the week, my focus (without succumbing to pressure) was to watch and see which of those specific lessons we completed.  This week, however, my eyes were opened to the amount of learning that truly takes place everyday, naturally.  The challenge this week was deciding what learning experiences to record!  Rather than having my attention concentrated on a pre-made list, I was able to see that when Mason decided to play with the circle math addition facts of 10 for fifteen minutes – it was a math lesson.  When we discussed the difference between cannon and canyon, discussing spelling, and looking up pictures on the internet – this was a science/language arts/history lesson.  I could list numerous other experiences throughout the week.

Don’t get me wrong,

I still have a pathway of advancement that will challenge and move the kiddos forward.  I even found that I personally want to keep a list for each child as to what is the next step in their learning.  For right now, I know the plans I have for them.  I know the next things I want to work on in reading and math.  The freedom is, as I create it or find it, then they can do it.  They are two and four years of age…I’m in no rush!

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Addition facts of 10, by The Learning Leaf

  • Mason rediscovered the two colored counters, with which we made addition cards.  He spent quite a bit of time not only placing the counters but really focusing in on the addition problems at the bottom.  Since the cards are laminated, I gave him a dry erase marker and he wrote in the answer on each, only to find out they all equal 10!  This will launch further exploration and experiences with the very important addition facts of 10.

addition cards copy

(click the pic to download these cards)

Exploring Doubles

  • After working with the addition facts, we took the counters and made two lines for a number.  For example – 4 is two lines of two,  6 is two lines of three counters.  Then it turned into questions such as, “What is two lines of 4?”  This was a lot of fun to watch him explore the concept of doubles.

Reading:  

Story Sequencing

  • While cleaning out the garage this weekend, my husband found a set of Blue’s Clues story sequencing cards.  Mason was very interested in these and spent the next 15 – 20 minutes working on them.  Four cards created a simple story, and he had to place them in the correct order.

Reading Practice

  • We also made a trip to the library this week, and came home with a set of fifteen Hooked on Phonics books in which each book focuses in on a specific vowel sound, as well as incorporating word families and sight words.  Throughout the week he read books #1-8.

Handwriting:  

Writing Practice

  • I pulled out our pile of activity/workbooks and Mason decided he wanted to work in one.  He did many mazes and other small puzzles, which are always good for practicing fine motor skills.  On a couple of pages, there were words to unscramble.  On those pages, I told him what letter to write next, so he was able to practice writing alphabet letters.

Coloring by Number

  • There were also two pages of color by number which is wonderful because he read the colors himself.  So really this doubled as Reading practice because of the sight words he was using.

Calendar Activity

  • Mason traced numbers on an August calendar up to the current day.  He also completed a shape tracing sheet that came with the calendar pack from RoyalBaloo.com (search for calendar)

August calendar

Geography:

Color and Name States

  • A US map was included with the calendar pack from RoyalBaloo.com (search for calendar).  Mason colored in and we named each state.  We will revisit this in the future to learn facts about these states.

colored map

A New Approach

As I was reflecting on this past week, in preparation to write, I realized that the previous few posts all had an unintended theme… we hadn’t finished most of what was planned!  However, there were always impromptu lessons that had come during the week.  This made me begin to wonder if my approach to planning needed to be tweaked.  That’s when it hit,

A New Approach

Rather than starting the week with the lesson plan sheet filled and waiting, leering at me, start the week with a blank lesson plan sheet.  Each time we complete an activity throughout the week, I can record it by subject and completion date.  The exact same information will be recorded simply at the end of the week, as opposed to the beginning.  This seems to bring another layer of freedom to our flow with the Lord in our education walk as well as the freedom to have time to create materials to compliment lessons and explorations – also making it easier to make them available to others.

template thumbnail

I suppose this makes the “Lesson Plan” template, more of a recording sheet, so be it.  In the end the education is the same, the learning is the same.  I still know the directions the Lord has given me in each subject area of focus, as well as wonderful ideas to bring that learning experience to Mason.  Inevitably, though, it takes a couple of weeks to bring the concept lesson into reality.  Recording activities after they happen frees me to move with the new ideas without “assigning” them for the week and then not having the time to create the materials.  I am looking forward to trying out the flow of this new approach.

Week-in-Review

Math:  Mason wanted to play on the pbskids.org site and played a game that was excellent for completing patterns.

Reading:  We also use the website starfall.com.  I highly recommend this website.  It is free, fun for the kids, and easy to navigate.  Mason practiced the word families: -en, -og, -at, -et, -an.

Arts/Crafts:  We created beaded necklaces.  This also doubled as a Spanish activity by naming the colors of the beads in Spanish.

The Rest of the Story

This week, we marked absolutely nothing off our learning list.  However, I must say the list at the beginning of last week was prepared simply for the sake of preparing a list.  My heart was absolutely not in it, and I did not seek the Lord as to the direction of our activities.  Knowing this, I am not surprised that there was no motivation to accomplish the tasks listed.

The rest of the story…

I love that learning takes place no matter what prepared list you may have.  It is our natural state to be curious and to be led by our passions to learn more about the world and life around us.  It warmed my heart to read a book with Mason before bed only to find out that he can name 7 of the 9 planets and knew that they “went around on an orbit”.  Hello!

In retrospect, I find we often forget how simple it is to learn.  Formal lessons are not always (maybe rarely) the path to true learning and understanding.  In fact, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom {Ps.111:10; Pr.1:7; Pr.9:10}.  Much learning and dare I say initial learning is done through life flow conversations and experiences.

Worksheets and prepared lessons often do more to simply solidify the concept.

I still feel that I am baby stepping along in this realm called homeschool.  I’m still not completely sure what it looks like and what the flow feels like.  I know the Lord will show us his perfect way.  I say ‘yes’ to the plans that Father has uniquely designed for us on this path, in this season of learning for all involved!

Week-in-Review

As we didn’t complete the activities written on the “lesson plans”, I want to recount the learning I saw occuring:

Math:  Mason was playing the app – Baby Bus Logic King (android).  The app was about placing two numbers on one side of the see-saw and then placing two different numbers that equaled the same quantity on the other side.  He had a lot of fun with this, so I will most likely create a fun paper version of this as well.

Reading:  I printed a graden unit that included an emergent reader type printable book.  He read through every page, asking for help with maybe two words.  In my search on the internet, I found it difficult to find emergent reader level books that incorporated the words he needs, so I will likely be writing one of those as well.

Science:  Reading through a book on the universe, talking about planets, orbits, the sun, and stars.

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

  • Begin to explore numbers as groupings (i.e. 6 is 3 rows of 2)
  • Watch Array PowerPoint (numbers in groupings of 2)
  • Crayola Practice Pad, addition problems

Handwriting:

Reading:

Arts/Crafts:

  • Make beaded necklaces and say the colors of the beads in Spanish.

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