Monday, March 30, 2009

March Afterschool Report

March has been a fun month as I have tried an even less formal approach and allowing more input from Samuel.

Music - We have been listening to a Bach CD from our library, "The Essential Bach". It's a two disc set and we have listened all the way through twice (we only listen in the car) and we both have decided Bach is our favorite composer out of at least the last two. We also read a little about Bach's life from Mike Venezia's series of books.

Reading - I have been alternating between books that he can read with little or no help (mostly Level 1 and some 2)and books that require more help, with both the punctuation and words (mostly level 2 or "beginning chapter books" that are not graded). I don't know that the actual titles will be of interest to others. I try to find non-fiction readers about animals, because that's "his thing" or mysteries which he also likes. Lately he has started to read the "Henry and Mudge" books by Cynthia Rylant, which are at the comfort-zone level.

Literature and Poetry - We started "The Family Under the Bridge", but we find it difficult to keep more than two chapter books going at a time, so I took that back to the library for now. What we've been reading and will finish by the end of the week is another in the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner, "Mike's Mystery". I personally do not like the sequels, but Samuel keeps asking for them, so every few months, I'll check out another one.

We also read a book of poems written and collected by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, entitled "The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars" to go along with our impromptu study of the solar system (see the Science entry).

Finally, we read some of the old favorites from our very own bookshelves.

History and Geography - We finished up our thirteen original colonies study and began reading books about national symbols. So far we got to the White House ("If These Walls Could Talk" by Jane O'Connor), the Liberty Bell ("The Liberty Bell" by Mary Firestone), and began learning the Star-Spangled Banner (from the book by the same name illustrated by Peter Spier). I also downloaded a United States puzzle from Owl and Mouse Software and Samuel had a lot of fun and I think maybe learned a little.

Nature and Science - We finished up "The Adventures of Reddy Fox" and began "The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse", both by Thornton Burgess from a box set I gave Samuel for Christmas. Hubby planned a trip to the planetarium at the beginning of March to see a show designed for children called "Our Place in Space" and this what prompted enough interest for a small study on the solar system. We read "The Planets in Our Solar System" by Franklin Branley and "Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations" by Jacqueline Mitton, along with the book of poems already mentioned.

Life Skills - We did some more cooking in the kitchen, including some guided cutting, with my hands on his, and worked on setting and clearing the table. Clearing the table includes throwing away food and paper in the garbage and either putting the dishes/utensils in the dishwasher or sink. Also, I've had to work on th concept of "tone of voice" and the fact that how you say something is often more important than what you say. I think this is something most parents deal with on a daily basis!

I also found a good book at the library called "A Little Book of Manners for Boys" by Bob and Emilie Barnes which we have been reading about once a week.

And lastly, he began another set of swim lessons, which he also did last spring and summer to get ready for and practice during swim season. My secret hope is that one day he will want to swim on a swim team and I can be a swim mom (I will not push, I will not push, I will not push...)

Monday, March 16, 2009

How Protective Am I?

I was reading this post at Funschooling and got to wondering if I am an over-protective parent. Like Suji, we live in a yard-free environment (in our case a condo complex). So I decided to do a little inventory -

Knives - I have allowed Samuel (age 5) to use a table knife to spread and cut, although I started with a plastic knife, and after I taught him knife safety. Once I allowed him to use a sharper knife under my supervision, but he couldn't get a good enough grip without getting his fingers in the way, so I volunteered my fingers to do the gripping while he did the cutting. I'll probably wait a while longer to try again.

Climbing - we don't have any climbing trees in our complex, but I think I would let him climb a tree if we had one. He has climbed grassy hills (one so steep I couldn't even follow and when he couldn't walk back down, I had him scoot down on his rear) and ice covered hills, but I won't let him climb on the sofa, mostly because he tends to also want to jump on it and I am afraid for the life of the sofa more than the life of my child if he jumps).

Stoves - we do a lot of cooking together. He is the one who usually wants me to do the "hot" work. I wonder if this is because of the "don't touch the stove" warnings when he was smaller.

Fire - I haven't let him play with fire, but he does love to blow out candles.

Throw a spear?!! - What? I don't know anyone of any age who has thrown a spear.

Deconstruct appliances - In theory, if we had something that didn't work, I'd be all for it if he were interested, but I also think I've heard that some appliances have some dangerous chemicals in some of the pieces, so I think I would want supervision by someone who knows about that appliance.

Break the digital media copyright act? - I don't even know what this means.

Drive a car - Well, I do remember sitting in my Grandaddy's lap driving a tractor, but that was way out where no other traffic could find us, not in suburbia. Maybe in an office bulding parking lot on a Sunday. But he hasn't asked me to, so I probably won't offer.

So, even though somedays it feels like the only words I know are "don't", "no", and "ok time-out, mister", I think I am maybe more free-range than some, but not as much as others. However, I do desperately wish for a house with a yard where I can tell Samuel to go outside and play and I don't have to go with him because our "outside" is a parking lot.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February Afterschool Report


Samuel has been attending "big church" with us. I don't know how much he gets, but it has led to a few questions on baptism, communion, and giving. We are also doing devotions from Gotta Have God, but not daily. When we do the devotions, we are also reading from my NIV bible. I think I may switch some of his daily reading with me to the Beginner's Bible, which is on the Sonlight Curriculum Readers 2 list.


In school, Samuel has been working on addition fact families. They made it through the "7" family. They also have been "counting pennies". I decided to enrich that aspect of school with living books on money, as well as talking more about money and adding change at home. These are the books I found that worked for us:

“One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money” by Bonnie Worth

“How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” by Bob Merrill, retold by Iza Trapani

“Jelly Beans For Sale” by Bruce McMillan

“Counting Money” by Tanya Thayer

“You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime” by Harriet Ziefert


“Honeybees” by Joyce Milton (All Aboard Science Reader, Station Stop 2) – This was by far the hardest and longest book (at 45 pages) he has read, but he kept plugging away and finally finished it. I am so proud of my little reader! And of course, this also counted as science.

He also read "There's a Wocket in My Pocket" which challenged him to use phonics to read all those nonsense words Dr. Seuss loved. And some other readers that I forgot to record.


We finished "The Story of Doctor Dolittle" by Hugh Lofting. This was a favorite and he even ended up naming two of his Webkinz after two of the animals in this book. We began "The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew" by Margaret Sidney. This book will take quite a bit of time. The language is so difficult that we only read 3 or 4 pages at a time, and we don't read this every day. So, I guess we're "savoring" this one.

History and Geography

We finished reading about the thirteen original colonies. When I requested some children's books from the library on the Revolutionary War, I made the judgement not to read any of them due to Samuel's sensitive nature. He knows that the war happened and the basic "why", but I decided not the emphasize the "how". Instead I read two of David Adler's "Picture Books" on George Washington and Paul Revere. For the next few months, the plan is to read more biographies of famous Americans and books like "Meet Our Flag, Old Glory" by April Jones Prince on national symbols.

Nature Study

We've been reading "The Adventures of Reddy Fox" by Thornton Burgess. Of course, his reading selection taught us about honeybees. And I already posted about our bird observations in this post.


This past month we focussed on Leonardo Da Vinci. We read "Katie and the Mona Lisa" by James Mayhew and "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Da Vinci" by Mike Venezia. I used the color printer to print out The Last Supper, Mona Lisa, and Lady With an Ermine and placed them in dollar store frames for our own art gallery.

Life Skills

We practiced more on making his bed, and added setting and clearing the table. I also found a cute book on manners at the library - "Do Unto Otters" by Laurie Keller.