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Archive for August, 2010

Today we finished the 100th lesson of First Language Lessons, which concludes Level 1 (Grade 1 equivalent) of the First Language Lessons grammar program. As I mentioned earlier, this program moves slow, but does an excellent job in getting the grammar-stage child to memorize important grammar terms, as well as memorize poetry. So we started moving at an accelerated pace, sometimes 5 lessons in one day.

Here’s our latest poem Satori memorized. I hope to get her on video saying all the poems she’s memorized. For now, we made this page with the poem, and Satori drew a picture. The girl understandably, has blushing cheeks, as she blames a dropped plate on “Mr. Nobody”. The squeaking door is also there, left for Mr. Nobody to oil.

Today we reviewed our fourth type of sentence, the Exclamation! Satori had a giggling fit when Mama demonstrated various exclamations to express excitement, surprise, fear and anger. 🙂 We then drew a few sentences on our little whiteboard, remembering to add the exclamation point!

We look forward to continuing to use First Language Lessons Level 2, and my plans are to use it 2-3x a week, and do as many lessons that fits in a 10 minute period. I expect us to do 1-2 lessons at a time, but if they’re over in less than five minutes, we’ll add another lesson if I think Satori can handle it. In FLL 2, we’ll go into more depth with verbs, as well as learn about adjectives, conjunctions, adverbs, prepositions, and much more. We’ll memorize more poetry and do picture narrations on fine art. I have downloaded the new First Language Lessons 2 in PDF version which is easier to read than the 2003 book that combined the first two years.

We’re also adding a new grammar program, Growing With Grammar, that will give Satori more practice in writing instead of just copywork.

This project is from Artistic Pursuits – The Way They See It book, which is their Pre-K book. I’m going to try and finish it this month so we can move on to their other three books for K-3. :)  For this project, we took visual notes on trees we observed in nature. So we headed out of our house to find the right tree.

We only have Lodgepole pines and Aspens to choose from, and I happen to think the lodgepoles are ugly, so we headed out to an Aspen grove.

First we did some bark rubbings.

I did not plan on participating, simply photo-documenting the experience.

Then some leaf rubbings. We used Prismacolor Art Stix for the rubbings, which are perfect for large areas of color.

We used Derwent watercolor pencils for the actual drawing. I love these pencils!

We found a natural bench to sit on and sketch the trees around us.

Here’s Satori’s picture, she couldn’t resist drawing herself in the picture.

And I couldn’t resist quickly joining in on drawing a tree at the last moment.

Nor could I resist taking one more picture of our little tree-hugger!

Here’s a few photos from Sunday morning. The first thing Satori wants to do in the morning is write a letter to Daddy. She’s the little speck in the middle of this photo. We never used this area in our house until just the past few weeks. A few tables and chairs with art/writing supplies make a big difference. We’re calling this room our Atelier.

Satori is eager to learn cursive and even though she’s only learned 6 letters so far, she tries her best to write some of her notes in cursive.

It’s interesting to see what she’s picked up just by examining random cursive examples she’ll find on packaging, books, etc… She would fly through her handwriting book if I let her, but I want it to last a bit longer!

We set a few extra tables and inexpensive rolling office chairs so Daddy and I can join in on the fun. Here we did another of our family puzzles. This is the kind with three different size pieces I mentioned earlier. Satori finished the huge and the medium size parts of the puzzles before Daddy and I could finish the one tiny piece section!

The past few days we’ve had Gramy and Grampy visit us from Wisconsin, and we all had a great, relaxing time!

The weather was perfect, sunny and 70’s. We drove to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park and then down the western side of the Rocky Mountains and around back up the eastern slope where we live on the Peak to Peak Highway.

We enjoyed this refreshing stream, Satori played in it quite a bit. Grandpa and I learned about the geology of the area while she splashed with Grandma. This was the site of the Lawn Lake Flood in 1982 which had a flash flood from a dam that broke. It rushed down the mountain as a 30 foot high wall of water, creating an alluvial fan in this area and the meadows below. Huge boulders were deposited in the meadow. It reached Estes Park.

Here we are driving up through RMNP and Angela stopped to get photos of our Flat Kids we’re hosting this week. If you look just to the top left of my hand, you’ll see the line of bare area where the Lawn Lake Flood rushed down the mountain, and where we were in the above photos.

We then drove down and did a loop around the mountains, viewing the ugly damage the pine beetles are doing to our Rocky Mountain forests. A few of the trees on our property are already dying. 🙁

The next day we visited our quaint neighbor town of Nederland, where the Carousel of Happiness just opened this summer!

Every stop to get groceries now necessitates a ride on this beautiful carousel.

If you’re ever up our way (Rocky Mountains above Boulder), be sure to stop in Ned to take a whirl!

Reading has been our number one priority this past year. We’ve been using Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading as our main reading/phonics program. I chose OPG as I wanted a very systematic way to go through all the phonics, and it was just the most thorough program I could find. I even started pronouncing some of the tougher words correctly after going through this! For example, I always pronounced “cordial” with a d, not a j sound. Even though I was taught phonics when I grew up, I don’t think it was as complete as this. Combined with our spelling program, I just see words in better clarity now (if that makes sense).

There are 231 lessons, although we did the first 30 lessons in one day. Satori had learned all her letter sounds in one evening by watching the  Letter Factory DVD. So we got to breeze through the first section, as she could already read/spell CVC words. So that leaves 200 lessons that we did one lesson per day, so it took us 14 months to complete the book. I think it was designed to take a few years. The last lessons were tough, we took two days per lesson to finish the last section, which consisted of 7-syllable words. This is one of the shorter pages from these last few chapters. Talk about tongue twisters for a 5 year old girl!

And our final lesson – a fourteen syllable word!

One of my next posts will talk about what we’ll be using next for our reading lessons – Beyond the Code. I talk about the good and bad for our experience this month with it.

I have been working non-stop getting our school year scheduled, preparing for a visit from Gramy and Grampy, and organizing my 20-year class reunion. So we aren’t getting to all our lessons except for reading/phonics/handwriting. To keep Satori intellectually stimulated while I’m organizing, she’s been on BrainPop and playing with jigsaw puzzles!

In fact, she quickly ran through our selection at home, so these came in the mail last week. The Geopuzzles just rock, Latin America GeoPuzzle completes our set. They were easy enough for Satori to do at age 4, yet still fun for David and I.

Try as I might, I couldn’t stay away from the puzzles. When times are very stressful, taking the time to do a puzzle forces me to stop and breathe and take my mind off things. So I helped out with one…

And when David came home, he joined in on this 300 piece Dinosaur puzzle. It’s beautiful!

Because we all had a blast, we picked up this one specifically made for families to do together. This line of puzzles by Ravensburger is called their Family Fun puzzles.

They have three different size pieces – huge ones for PreK-K children, regular-sized ones for K-3 children (or so) and tiny pieces for older children/adults!

Our local toy store had one Family Fun Puzzle in stock for $19.99, but we used a $5 coupon. Amazon has them at $15.99 though, and their Ocean Marvels puzzle (380 pc) is an additional 25% off. We’ll be doing this together soon, maybe with Grandma and Grandpa who are visiting this week!

This morning over breakfast, Satori asked if I knew what “I’m at the end of my rope” means. I asked her where she learned that phrase from. She then brought me the little vocabulary flip-books we just started using last month. This phrase was in one of the books.

I saw these little flip-books at a local Barnes and Noble and knew that they would be a hit at our house. I purchased from Amazon and used their 4-for-3 and started out with the Vocabulary Power Grade 1 and Raining Cats and Dogs idiom book. Satori is so thrilled with them! She even tried packing them with us on our summer vacations.

They are little flip books that stand up by themselves, each book contained 200 words selected by professional language specialists for the specified age. They’re cute and colorful and fun to use. We loved them so much I ordered Grade 2 and Sound-A-Likes (400 homonym/homophones). There is only one idiom and homeophone book, so we only flip to a new page a few times a week, while the First Grade 1 we flip over everyday.