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Archive for June, 2010

Satori and I took a hike in our big backyard today – James Peak Wilderness area. I knew there’d be flowers in bloom, so we stocked up our sketch pads and some water and hiked in for about an hour. (If we kept going we’d be on the other side of the Great Divide.) We haven’t studied wildflowers yet, but when we do, I’m sure we’ll do it quite thoroughly. Mama’s already planning some of that out!

It was a little windy at times, and I didn’t bring a tripod, but I did snap shots of every flower we passed. Here are some that turned out okay.

Golden Banner (Thermopsis montana) were everywhere.

The Colorado State Flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine or Colorado Columbine (Aquilega coerulea).

These Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) thrived wherever the ground was muddy. Tiny little flowers, we almost missed them.

We found a boulder meadow, selected a nice flat rock and sketched flowers.

I swear she could’ve spent all day here!

In the meantime, Mama took her camera and walked along the meadow fringes.

More Columbines…

Time to head home! Mom was getting a little dizzy from constantly bending over to take all the flower photos.

Chiming Bells on our way out…

Just ordered this book on Kindle and will be reading it on the iPad tonight… I am really looking forward to it! It’s getting glowing reviews from my favorite homeschooling forum on WTM, they’re finding it very inspirational.

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins

I cannot believe that just six weeks ago we were halfway through All-About-Spelling Level 2 and now we’re finishing it! It took us about six months, and that is including a long, extended spring break we took. In the end we were really on a roll! Satori seems to pick up certain things fast, and writing/spelling is one of those things.  I hope we take AAS Level 3 much slower, I’m certainly planning on it. I just love this program. Every now and then I peek in on other popular spelling programs and I’m so happy we are using AAS.

Here’s what our 2’x3′ whiteboard looks like after Level 2. We’ve got 2 sets of the alphabet  (3 for 3 and s), Consonant Teams (ch, sh, th, ng, nk, ck, wh) and Vowel Teams (ee,  ou, ow, oi, oy, au, aw), Sound of /er/ (er), and ar and or. Satori knows how to divide syllables that are open, closed, v-c-silent-e, vowel team and r-controlled. So does Daddy. Satori taught Daddy how to divide syllables. (He partakes in our lessons if we do them on the weekends, and spelling is one we love to do with him.)

We don’t always use the white board in spelling, like the lessons say to do for the 10 main words in each lesson. Satori just loves to write in her spelling book, or even spell orally. But I always try to introduce the new concepts with tiles. It’s just another method of keeping new concepts in her head (multi-sensory).

Here’s her spelling page from a few lessons back when we learned soft sound of ‘c’ words. For these oral dictations, I start with the 10 main lesson words, then progress to any “More Words” that apply to the rule(s) we’re learning. If she has no problem with that, and she wants to do more, then we progress to writing short phrases such as “a cube of ice”. Finally, we work up to full sentences.

The below lesson was when we learned that the silent-e has other functions aside from making vowels long. Can’t leave the word “have” without the silent-e, even though the a is short! English words don’t end in a “v” and we need that “e” there to prop the “v” up. 🙂

Here’s the last sentences in Level 2. For these dictations, I read the sentence in a normal tone just once. She repeats it and then spells it as a complete sentence. When we do it this way, she’s pretty good at writing them as proper sentences starting with a capital letter and ending with an end mark. I love how the phrases and sentences not only cover the lesson learned that week, but also previous lessons as review.

Just in case  you’re curious, here’s a sample Sentence dictation from Level 3. It looks like they drop the word phrases and include more sentences. The sentences exactly cover the words covered in the lesson, in Levels 1 and 2 they’d sometimes miss a few words. This sample here we should be hitting sometime in the fall of 2010.

David and I are sharing this new toy. So far our favorite apps are: Scrabble, Rush Hour, Plants vs. Zombies, iBird Pro and Kindle. Once I get more used to the iPad, I’ll list all of our favorite educational apps!

Unfortunately, we did give up our iPhones. (I think we’ll be lazy and sell them on a service that makes it super easy to send it in for cash.) We’re not phone users and I never really used mine as a phone, only for email, so I’m not going to miss it too much.

The entire family played Plants vs. Zombies tonight! We kicked zombie butt.

This spring Satori noticed cursive writing somewhere. I don’t know where, but all of a sudden her handwriting was looking strange and she was touting about her new “writing”. Finally it dawned on me what she was trying to do – write cursive! I wrote her name neatly in cursive and she copied it. This page was from over a month ago.

She continues to try to write cursive, although I haven’t given her any instruction except to write her name that one time and explain that it is cursive. Here she wrote what I’m assuming to be “grocery store”.

I promised we would start her Cursive Handwriting (HWT) book once she’s finished her HWT Grade Two Printing Power. At our rate, we should finish this book in August, so we’ll be starting Cursive way sooner than I originally planned. We always went fast through these workbooks, Satori couldn’t wait to learn how to write.

She also mimics calligraphy or serif print sometimes.

Our Grade 2 book covers helpful concepts in Language Arts, such as this mini-lesson in word spacing.

And this lesson yesterday about apostrophes, which thankfully we covered last week in our reading program.

It also inserts mini-lessons in science and art. Today she copied a paragraph on art.

We’re on a big ETC kick! Explode the Code is an inexpensive phonics workbook series, that is great to supplement our reading program. Since we’re almost finished with our formal phonics (OPG), we’re back to these workbooks and just started ETC 3. This level will be all review in terms of phonics/reading, and we’ll be hitting ETC 4 later this summer, which will be closer to her current level.

ETC 3 introduces handy little rules which enforce what we already know. For example, “If a little word ends in y, the y says long-i.”

If Satori didn’t like these workbooks, I wouldn’t make her do them, but she totally loves them. She asks to do them everyday lately. She averages 6-8 pages a day right now, that would be 2-3 page spreads like this. Oops, I forgot to take a photo of an example of one of their sentence pages. Last spring, the sentences were just too much for a new reader, now they’re a breeze. We always laugh at the sentences/pictures. 🙂

She always makes sure to put a smile on my face or a laugh in my day when I correct the pages. She can find a way to insert a joke or something cute in almost everything she touches.

So we’re enjoying our ETC program right now and seeing I just ordered ETC 4-8, I hope we continue to do them, especially when our phonics program ends. As you can see above, they’re also great to supplement handwriting, spelling and even a bit of vocabulary.

That’s it. I am finally convinced that we’re going to continue to use First Language Lessons, but we’re going to ZOOM through it! Satori’s got a good memory, she memorizes the poems after I say them a few times, she’s got the grammar definitions down and understands it all.

I thought we started a bit early with this program, so we were only doing a few days a week. This month I pushed that up to 4x a week, and today I decided to do TWO lessons at a time. Each lesson only took a few minutes anyway. Life is getting more exciting now that we moved out of nouns and learned two new things, woah! Satori now knows about pronouns, and easily picks them out of any sentence I read. We’re just started verbs, with an introduction to action verbs. That’s Lesson 54.

I wrote a few sentences on the white board today, and Satori marked them with an “n” for noun and a “v” for verb.  It was easy and kinda fun!

After we finish FLL 1/2, I think we will be moving to MCT Grammar Island, perhaps this winter or next spring. This program starts at Third Grade, but I’ve seen a few families who started it early. The sample pages look easy enough for us to start, but I’m open to advice here if anyone is using it…