Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Diving In

Ella was chomping at the bit and ready to start back to school, after the holidays.  I was still finalizing some plans for the new term, but found a great app on my iPad called The ABC's of God.

The app has letter tracing, bible verses, crosswords and more and the kids absolutely love it!  Ella was even cheering Eric on, as he found different letters and traced a letter himself.  How wonderful to see them working so peacefully together!  Ella absolutely loves to teach Eric and is very encouraging!  It definitely helps that Eric adores his big sister!

We jumped right in after the holiday with a new school schedule and morning routine,

Our "Morning Board"

trying to make life a little more manageable as I fully integrate Eric into our daily lessons for Preschool and streamline some basic concepts for the kids.  Our new morning board has been a great way to start our morning after the Calendar.  We have a photo of our sponsored child from Compassion International, whom we pray for every morning.

We have math concepts that she is working on in Saxon 2 Math, Math-U-See & Classical Conversations such as Skip Counting, Making the Date with Money, Telling Time, Days in School, Graphing and Temperature.  We also have our character virtue of the week, from We Choose Virtues.  We introduce the weekly virtue at our Sunday family meeting, review the card each morning, hand out stickers for our 100 Days of Virtue Poster and have a memory song, bible verse, and poem to go along with it.

Our schedule resembles more of a traditional school now; however, we are flexible and do not always hold to it.  Usually, all gets done in a day, but sometimes we may choose a different order or opt for a field trip or more project based work and will have "homework" in the evening.  Ella doesn't seem to mind the homework and sometimes even asks if she can finish up her work later in the evening, which she is usually very diligent about (she's a night owl).

We have also added a School Room Job Chart for the kids.  They each have jobs they are responsible for during our school day and I rotate them through the week.  I'm not sure why I never thought to make one before; however, having both kids in the school room full-time definitely results in twice the mess.  This has definitely helped and the kids love having a special job for the day.

We are excited to have Eric even more involved with our daily schooling, as he starts a more formal preschool routine this term.  I tried a letter of the week curriculum a months ago, but he just wasn't ready.  He has matured quite a bit in the last five months and now shows a strong interest in writing, letters, numbers, and reading various books.  He has also mastered using the mouse on my laptop, so he is enjoying having more control over his learning and utilizing the Starfall website to help reinforce his learning.

We jumped right in with the letter D last week and he just soaked it up.  He really enjoys are songs and movement and by the end of the week he was recalling many of the songs by memory.

He even dressed up as a Dinosaur for his daily lessons, which he loved.

I found this great magnet, dot page, Dino printout from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  He started placing the magnets on, but soon found out that the magnets were attracted to each other. He ended up making a caterpillar with the magnets and had more fun playing, then actually doing this activity today.  

Eric did have fun dot painting his Letter D picture.  I tried to keep him focused on making "dots" for D, but in the end this is his piece of art and not mine.  He requested more dot painting, so I found more do-a-dot pages 

He likes stamping the letter D as well and completed all of these in one sitting.  Looks like a found a winner and remember this for next week.  I would always sit with him and review what letter we were learning, the sound it made, and name other things that began with the letter D.

We even broke out our Handwriting Without Tears Stamp and See Screen, so he could see how to build the letter D.  

He had to keep making it, to erase it and so it worked out.  He much preferred the erasing to the making.

He loved making this truck out of rectangles, as we also reviewed the shape of wheels and did some size sorting and counting here.   

I definitely have to switch gears with Eric and plan for activities that will keep him engaged, fun, and hands on.  He is very much a kinesthetic learner, at least for now.

Eric is definitely learning a lot watching and listening to Ella, being a part of our full morning routine.  The kids like working together and Ella will often help Eric or want to join in on our more "fun" preschool activities (songs, rhymes, play).  Many times during the week, I would glance over during a break and find the two of them sitting side by side and playing cooperatively.

"Moment to Remember"
We even have a few subjects that we try and work on together, like Spanish and of course the bigger projects within Science and History.

While Eric was busy working with the Letter D, Ella was hard at work in her studies.  She learned  about the Cod of Hammurabi and made her own set of rules to live by.  

We are working on 1 minute timed tests for our addition math facts, which she is learning quickly averaging 18/20 almost every time.  We use Math-U-See to help her visualize the facts and Saxon 2 Math to run through math concepts.   

She is starting to write full paragraphs now, so look for her posts at "The World According to Ella."  We have learned about the 2 point Expository Paragraph and will be writing daily now.

Ella's favorite subject, which she looks forward to daily, is Science.  Our current topic, the Sun.  We've been learning so many details, like the difference between revolve and rotate, Thermonuclear Fusion, the different eclipses, sunspots, and more.  We are wrapping up our study of the Sun this week with daily projects about shadows, light, and heat.

All this directed learning can get boring, so Ella will often pick up books herself on other various topics.  I found her just today reading a few of our Sonlight books about Weight and Pulleys ("How Do You Lift A Lion?"), "The Underwater Sea", and "Noahs Ark".  She is currently reading the chapter book, "Misty of Chincoteague" as well 

and has plans of getting her first pony at Chincoteague. 

Ella absolutely loves to read!  She definitely understand the power of books and even explained to her Dad that she enjoys using her imagination, instead of watching a movie.  She just gets lost in books for hours, something she could never do at a traditional school.  I am so glad, she has the opportunity to get lost daily!