Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interview With a Five-year Old

I loved this post over at Life With My 3 Boybarians, so I decided to steal the idea. So, thanks to Darcy for the post idea and Darcy's cousin Amy for the questions.

1. What is something mom always says to you?

"I love you."

2. What makes mom happy?

"Hugs and kisses"

3. What makes mom sad?

"When I get hurt."

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

"Tickle me."

5. What was your mom like as a child?

"I can't ...oh I just can't do it. "

6. How old is your mom?

"My brain wants to say 25, but I know you're not 25."

7. How tall is your mom?

"I think I'll just....pass this question. I just don't know."

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

"Look at a book"

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

"Read a book"

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

"Reading a book"

11. What is your mom really good at?

"Reading a book"

12. What is your mom not very good at?


13. What does your mom do for a job?

"Work at the office"

14.What is your mom's favorite food?

"Lean Cuisine....hmmm....maybe chocolate?" Oh, you think?

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

"Because you read me stories"

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

"Scooby Doo"

17. What do you and your mom do together?

"Read stories"

18. How are you and your mom the same?

"We both like reading stories."

19. How are you and your mom different?

"Mommy has longer hair than I do."

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

"She's nice to me."

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

"He makes you laugh."

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

"the bookstore"

Hmmm...I wonder if I read too much? Naaa...

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Reading Idea I "Discovered"!

My title is very tongue and cheek. Mostly I steal ideas from the much more organized and experienced homeschooling mom blogs I read. However the seed of this idea actually came from my cousin who does not homeschool, but has two voracious reader sons. She was telling me at Christmas that they both always have a book or two in the car to read. Well, most of our car trips are very short in-the-neighborhood errands, so I didn't really think about that as a homeschooling idea. Plus he is reading on his own, but not silently and I thought I had to be looking at the same page so I can correct if needed.

Today I decided to throw that out the window. By accident, at the Half Price book store, I discovered a "Junior Chapter Book" version of a series of books he and his dad read together. Flipping through the pages I knew this would be a challenge for him, but thought the familiarity with the characters and stories would keep him going.

Fridays we have two 20 minute or so drive times. This morning we were listening to an audiobook. We had not finished it and I expected him to want to hear more for the afternoon drive. I had forgotten I had thrown the new book on the back seat. He saw it and decided to read. Remember he is not a silent reader so he is reading aloud to me, although often I couldn't hear his precise words due to traffic and road noise. Every now and then he would speak up louder and read a sentence with a spelled word and then tell me his "guess". He was usually close, but it allowed me to help him with unknown words even though I couldn't see the page.

This I decided was a much better way to teach a LOVE of reading, as opposed to just reading lessons (although he will certainly still get those). Later he told me he loves so many things - dancing, singing and reading!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Changes to Curriculum

The next book on the history list was Sam the Minuteman. I pre-skimmed it and while I thought it was a good book, I thought the talk of war and fighting would be too much for my five-year old. He's very sensitive to scary and sad things. So, I took it out of our book list and decided instead to look for some books about the national symbols from that time...the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and the Flag. I have requested several books from the library, and if we end up using these books, I'll add them to my Kindergarten Curriculum post. I made a few changes today to reflect what was "planned" and what has actually occurred. History for a five-year old is more about exposure to the "idea" of history in my personal educational philosophy anyway.

I kind of chuckle when I use the word "curriculum" because to me it is just a guide of the books and ideas I want to expose my son to. I gather these ideas from all over the web and from homeschool curriculum books. Sometimes reality sets in. It has always been my practice to not push anything. Sometimes I make him listen to a few pages from a book before making up his mind (don't judge a book by its cover, you know), but if he doesn't want to finish it, I don't make him. Usually, I just move that book title down my list and the next time it comes up, he is receptive.

I recently was reading posts by a mother who was reading The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her sons (I believe...if this is you, please leave a comment and I will edit my post to link to your blog). She was not particularly enjoying the book. I remembered reading my mom's childhood copy as a child and knew she still had the book. I didn't really remember anything about the story though. I decided to bring it home to re-read.

But when my son found out it was his "Mommy Anne's" book as a little girl and that I had also read it when I was a little girl, he wanted it as a read-aloud. I started it and after the first page thought, "There is no way he will understand this language and context", but to my surprise he wants to keep reading it. The language is very hard and I had to stop and explain some things. One example is when the family was getting excited over the idea of 200 candles burning in the house and I had to explain that the story took place before there was electricity in every house so they wouldn't have had lights at night or on dark days. He especially liked a section where Polly is talking to an older lady who is deaf and mishears quite a few words.

So, it's been two nights now and I will keep reading it to him as long as he likes, but I won't make him finish it if he stops being interested. But for now, I added it to the Kindergarten Curriculum post.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Summer Reading List

Sheila left me a comment on my last post about public school. Don't worry, Sheila, I didn't take it personally, but I thought I'd use that as an opportunity to blog about my son's school and why we made the decision to send him there.

He goes to a private school. I'm pretty sure they are further ahead than the public school kindergarten classes here. Second, the kindergarten is only two days a week. First and second grades meet three days a week and third through twelfth meets four days a week. They have three 11 week trimesters. Independent work is emphasized. In fact, the school started as a homeschool Latin class in the founder's basement and grew from there. What I love about it is that if I were going to homeschool 100%, this would be the kind of curriculum I would use. But as you do in every "class" situation, your child does not always get to move at their pace. Which is why I "afterschool" so I can help him where they are moving faster than his pace and keep him challenged where they are moving slower than his pace.

There are a couple of reasons we decided that homeschooling was not the best solution for us, but if we didn't have this school as an option, we probably would be homeschooling. The first reason is work schedules and the second reason is that Samuel is an only child with limited opportunities for interactions with other children of any age. I have gone to some of the local homeschool group activities and while the activities were good, I have not been successful in building any friendships, either for myself or my son.

And since the comment came in regards to the reading level of his class, I thought I would share his summer reading list with you. So if they are reading these books by summer time, I think they will pick up the pace in the last trimester (beginning in March).

Rising 1st Graders

I Can Read Books
• Morris Goes to School (Level 1)
• Frog and Toad (5 book series, Level 2)
• Mouse Tales (Level 2)
• Wind in the Willows
I Spy, Each Peach Pear and Plum, 32 p.
Drummer Hoff, 32 p.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, 20 p.
Doctor DeSoto, 32 p.
Corduroy, 28 p.
Circus Caps for Sale
Curious George, 36 p.
Harry the Dirty Dog, 32 p.
Bread and Jam for Frances, 32 p. (5 book series)
The Little Engine that Could, 37 p.
Floss, 32 p.
Ox-cart Man, 40 p.
Blueberries for Sal, 32 p.
The Magic Fish, 32 p.
Gregory’s Shadow, 32 p.
Maybelle The Cable Car, 42 p.
Madeline, 46 p. (6 book series)
Seaman’s Journal: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark, 32 p.
Poems to Read to the Very Young, by Josette Frank

Monday, February 2, 2009

January Afterschool Report

This month we focussed mostly on reading and math. In his Kindergarten class, they are still on CVC short vowel words. Mostly I view this as writing practice. In math they are doing addition by "fact houses". All the combinations that add up to a certain the "four fact house" consists of 0+4, 1+3, 2+2, 3+1, and 4+0. They are on six right now. This is what we did at home the other 5 days of each week:

· “Fun Devotions for Boys: Gotta Have God” by Diane Cory - we actually just started this and are enjoying it so far.

· Math History - “Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories for the Lives of Great Mathematicians” by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer – Thales, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Hypatia
· Tangrams – “Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told With Tangrams” by Ann Tompert
· Regrouping (adding 2 digit numbers) – “A Fair Bear Share” by Stuart J. Murphy
· Area – “Bigger, Better, Best!” By Stuart J. Murphy
· Symmetry – “Let’s Fly a Kite” by Stuart J. Murphy
· Understanding Halves – “Give Me Half!” by Stuart J Murphy
We also played some Uno and Battleship.

· Beethoven – Fifth Symphony, Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata
· “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven” by Mike Venezia

· “Addie Meets Max” by Joan Robins (An I Can Read Book)
· “Frogs” by Laura Driscoll (Station Stop 1 All Aboard Science Reader)
· “Honey Bunny’s Honey Bear” by Marilyn Sadler (Step into Reading 2)
· “Blue Goose” by Nancy Tafuri
· “My Friend Rabbit” by Eric Rohmann
· “Water” (An All Aboard Science Reader Station Stop 1) by Emily Neye
· “A Dollar for Penny” by Dr. Julie Glass (Step Into Reading Step 1 – also math)
· “Snow Wonder” by Charles Ghigna (Step Into Reading Step 2)
· “Cat on the Mat” by Susan Schade (Step Into Reading Step 2)

· “The Story of Dr. Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting - we are also reading a new "fun" series (A to Z mysteries by Ron Roy), so we still have a few chapters left.

Read from the Library of the Thirteen Colonies and the Lost Colony series:
· “The Colony of North Carolina” by Susan Whitehurst
· “The Colony of Connecticut” by Susan Whitehurst
· “The Colony of South Carolina” by Susan Whitehurst
· "The Colony of Maryland” by Brooke Coleman

· “The Adventures of Peter Cottontail” by Thornton Burgess

Life Skills
· Making his bed - this is a HUGE deal since his Dad never makes the bed. With his work schedule, he sleeps later than us every day and I don't always remember to go back and make the bed as an example to Samuel.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bird Study

I mentioned in this post about our cool bird field guide. It's sometimes hard to use because we don't get a great look at any bird before they are scared off by our movements or sounds. We have a tree just outside our balcony and we sit out there sometimes trying to intice them to come to our tree so we can look at them. Last spring we were excited to see a mourning dove build a nest in the center of the tree, but soon the leaves filled in and we never got a good look at the pair (or any babies they had) after that.

This past week we had an ice and snow storm that broke off a branch of the tree, so we are very sad about that. But one good thing is that Samuel spied several "blue" birds alighting on the white branches. We tried to get closer looks and even a close up picture, but we always seemed to spook them away. Still, Samuel got out his trusty bird guide and decide they were barn swallows. Even though our field guide said they were summer birds in Kentucky, he was adament. They did look more like this bird in our guide than any other. I just was unable to give him another option.

So I asked him if he wanted to try drawing a picture in his nature notebook (and other stuff). It's just a small notebook we infrequently write nature notes in and sometimes he draws a picture. He said he couldn't do it. I told him of course he couldn't do it if he never tries. This is an area we struggle with. If he can't do it perfectly or without help, he doesn't even want to try. I told him to look at the picture in the book and copy it. I left him alone for a while with his notebook, field guide and some colored pencils. When I came back in to the room, I was shocked and amazed to see this:
Barn Swallow Nature Journal Page

This is probably better than I could do and he's only 5 1/2. I am definitely going to encourage him to draw more. He's not interested at all in the Draw Write Now book we have though, although I love it.