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Archive for September, 2010

For the next month, I may only blog a few times a week, as I’m ahead of my class reunion this year, which is way in Wisconsin. I have to get after people who need to send in their money and questionnaire, as well as create our full-color class pamphlet, complete with photos! It’s just a small class, but I want to give the project my best. We leave in a few weeks to Wisconsin and will probably be gone for at least a week.

In the meantime, I am taking pictures of Satori’s creative projects that she does on her own. I like to do this now and then to document how her writing, spelling, drawings are coming along. First a bit of where we’re at, four weeks into First Grade taken seriously. Academically, we’re on Lesson 12 in All About Spelling Level 3, learning our consonant and vowel suffixes (-ness, -ful, -ly). Our grammar and writing programs are currently overlapping a lot, but soon she’ll learn more about writing and advanced grammar topics. We dropped Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons for now and are focusing on Write Source and Growing With Grammar which gives her more writing opportunities which she loves. She’s tackling some of the more difficult lowercase letters in cursive – Handwriting Without Tears Cursive. Her current favorite subjects are Writing, Grammar, and Vocabulary.

We got some large blank books which I thought would be great for science and history journals, and she decided to use them for her art journals. I never thought we’d have an art appreciation journal, but here you go. In the top in tiny numbers are the dates these artists lived – Vincent van Gogh and Mary Cassatt.

A bit more about Vincent…

She even draws Vincent to her pen pals. She’s been taking to labeling everything, which is kinda cute.

Satori has been obsessed with writing “chapter books”. She has been begging me to find her a chapter book journal to write in. Hmmm…  At this point, we haven’t even really gone over what a paragraph is, much less a chapter. This was written early this month. Daddy was impressed because she described a “gleeming” coat in such detail. (Click to see larger size.)

I found this page laying around, who can tell me what book this is from? This was from last month.

Another pen pal letter, writing about her artists she’s studying, and letting her know our house is safe from the big Colorado fires a few weeks back.

This was taken a long time ago, I thought all her mice drawings were cute. Since then, she has gotten much better at writing correct sentences.

Another labeled drawing of our house.

One thing I can tell immediately after looking at all her recent (the past few weeks) writings, is that she’s gotten a better grasp on correct sentences of all kinds – statements, questions, exclamations, and she’s using them in her writings. Just a month ago, she’d insert random periods all over the place, just because she knows that she needs periods.

I’m so excited to see how much she’ll change by the time she turns six early November!

The second artist we’re studying in our Meet the Masters program is Mary Cassatt. She specialized in women and children, as at the time, it was inappropriate to paint men that weren’t in her family. She was the only American who exhibited with the Impressionists. She befriended Edgar Degas, an artist we’ll also be studying soon.

Mary loved to use chalk pastels for her painting, so this is the medium we used in this project. Meet the Masters first had us practice drawing a big hat, and then showed us how to position our chalk to get both thick and thin lines. Here are our experiments with making chalk pastel plaid patterns.

After practicing, we made our pattern once again, this time making a hat design on the back. We cut it out and pasted it on black paper. Satori added the woman’s head.

I’ve been pretty busy lately, but I wanted to share our Artistic Pursuit art project we did today. This is from Book 1, Lesson 2 – Artists Use Their Imagination.

Satori used her imagination to draw a mermaid sitting on a rock out in the water.

She used the Neocolor II water-soluble crayons and then used a wet brush to blend it all in. I love these crayons, and now I am wondering how we can get a full set of 126…

Here’s a few photos of today’s hike around Mud Lake.

Learning how Mud Lake was probably formed…

Learning some geology…

Smelling trees…

What a great group!

In an effort to make it easier to keep track of Satori’s penpals that she’s been writing to everyday lately, I’ve been trying to think of a very easy system for both Satori and I to manage it all. For awhile now, I’ve been on the lookout for an accordian file folder to carry all of Satori’s penpal letters she receives. The past weekend, I was in luck! I found this at Target! It’s attractive enough and has a magnetic clasp to store everything neatly when not in use.

It’s the perfect size for Satori’s currently active 10 penpals! I think there are 13 pockets total.

There’s a few extra folders that we’re using to store writing paper, envelopes and stamps.

Each penpal has their own folder in which we’ll store their letters. Even better, today I whipped up these sheets of Avery label stickers, and each sticker has the address of the penpal and Satori’s return address. Avery’s website also allows you to choose a fun image, so we chose birds, books, bees, snowman, etc… to dress up the outgoing envelope a bit.

After Satori writes her letter, she can grab one of these stickers to stick on the envelope! I even included stamps in there. Before she seals the envelope, she has to give to Mommy to check over before we send it out. I’ll make sure it has enough postage and is appropriate and it it will go to the post office! (Addresses grayed out below for privacy.)

And this might scare people off how overly organized I am about this, but I even included sheets for every penpal so we can track incoming/outgoing letters and notes. We have a few penpals with the same name, and more than a couple going to the same state, so all this is going to make it much easier on us!

Satori was absolutely ecstatic and she tested it out by writing to her long-time penpal who lives in California. She thanked me over and over! The effort to get this all ready for her was worth it.

Today was Satori’s first day of school, her one-day-a-week school for homeschoolers. Halfway home, she fell asleep so once we got home I laid her on the couch. Three hours later, she’s still sleeping!

Our school is over an hour away from us, so we had to wake up three hours earlier than we’re used to. She had so much fun and talked non-stop the first 30 minutes of our car ride home. Her favorite class was Writing. For art, they studied Mondrian and made some Mondrian-inspired art. Other lessons included math, science, music, and physical education. They are supposed to have 30 minutes of Spanish, but Satori said they didn’t do any Spanish. She said her teacher sounded impressed that she was learning Latin.

Her teacher already emailed me before we arrived home to say Satori did very well and made some new friends. She said she plans to provide more challenge for those kids who already know the basics of reading, writing and math, so that is so good to know. Today Satori said they learned how to write the letter “A”, hehe. I figured it would be pretty basic stuff, but I can already tell that Satori is loving attending OPTIONS anyway. She did say she’s glad she isn’t going every single day, every Monday is about enough for her.

September 7 we started our official first grade, including all our new curriculum choices. I’ll go through everything briefly, following our curriculum list on the right side of this blog. One update already, we are doing three hours a day approximately, with a very light load on Mondays, in which we’ll be trying out OPTIONS (one day a week).

Explode the Code workbooks: We had just finished up ETC 4 and towards the end, the workbooks turned out to not be so independent as all prior books have been. We still really love Explode the Code, but now the vocabulary is a bit more unfamiliar, and of course the work itself was more challenging as well. I think all the three-syllable work at the end intimidated Satori, even though she could read them. We have never used the 1/2 extra practice books, but for some reason I did purchase ETC 4 1/2 just to look at, but didn’t think I needed it, so I put it up for sale on Amazon. Last week I quickly took it off Amazon Marketplace, and Satori started to use this for the extra practice. We’re doing four pages a day as always, even a few weekend days here and there. Our of curiosity, I have MCP Plaid Phonics B and Level C arriving this Tuesday, so we might try this out for awhile. More on that in a week or two…

Beyond the Code – Since we finished our official reading program, I thought we’d try the Beyond the Code series for reading practice. It’s okay. The first book is way too simple, and I wish we had started half a year earlier on these, or at least when we were on the ETC 2 and 3 books. Satori loves following the story of Zack the Dog, and it has enough coloring and writing to have her asking to work on Beyond the Code everyday. I totally skip some of the workbook pages, as they’re insultingly simple for her at this time. We’ll probably zoom through the series 1-4, as Satori is getting a kick out of the stories. I see I forgot to put this up on the side bar, I’ll have to do that, as we will be using this program for sure now.

All About Spelling – We’ll be on Level 3 book, Lesson 9 this week, and as always, it’s going well! I recently blogged about the spelling rules she’s learning. She often asks to do spelling lessons, and this is one of the subjects I try to slow down a bit.

RightStart Math B – I’m trying my hardest to do this four days a week now, and Satori is now doing the worksheets easily. This program just blows my mind how effective it is. I intend to give it the priority it deserves this year!

Math Mammoth 1A – We just started this last week and although Satori is not thrilled about the worksheets, she does them without complaint. The first worksheets are super easy, they are addition problems like 2+3 or 5+0. I don’t have too much feedback on this yet, but we’ll be doing these worksheets 2-3 times a week, with about 2-3 worksheets per lesson.

Handwriting Without Tears Cursive – Another amazing program. Satori is kinda teaching herself cursive, so I’m going to try to keep up with her interest by doing this 3x a week and doing 2 pages per lesson. We’re using StartWrite Worksheet Wizard quite a bit now that we’re learning cursive, it has the HWT Print and Cursive fonts!

Story of the World 1 – just chugging along, we have a great time with this program, as you can see by all the blog posts.

Write Source Grade 1 – This is one of our brand new programs, we had finished up WS Kindergarten, but First Grade is more indepth of course. Satori begs to do her new “grammar” program everyday, even though it’s mostly a writing program. She’s finally learning how to write, which is probably her most favorite activity in the entire world. The program does cover some grammar, which is why she’s been calling it her “new grammar program”.

Aesop’s Fables: My Book about Reading, Writing, Thinking – I recently realized I had this program laying around and that now is the time that Satori can appreciate it. It looks like a lot of fun for her, so we’ll be starting this next week. Sorry that I have no feedback on it yet.

Growing With Grammar 1 – I was really looking forward to a more independent program where Satori can write in a workbook (she seems to dig that kind of thing), but she just does it like it’s a job she doesn’t particularly enjoy. I’ll give it a few more weeks and write up more about our experiences. We may drop this.

Writing With Ease 1 and First Language Lessons 2 – These programs go too slow, so we do these 2-3x a week doing several lessons at a time. Not too impressed with WWE yet, but I do think FLL has great value for us. People on the WTM forums that I frequent love these programs, so they do work for most children. We may drop Writing With Ease.

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life – We’re actually doing science this year and having lots of fun! The program itself makes it all so easy. I’ve made an updated list of books that are easy to find, as this program really benefits from reading additional books.

Wordly Wise 3000 Grade 1 – Satori still loves this for vocabulary, and we’ll be starting the Second Grade series soon, which is totally different.

Elementary Spanish – We bought a subscription to Discovery Streaming and this great spanish program is offered there. We’ll watch the 20 minute video once or twice a week (they seem to have great review built-in) and do the corresponding worksheets. Here’s Satori watching the first video for the second time and coloring her sheets. I normally download the higher quality 700kbps video and play it full-screen, but here we just watched it on the smaller screen as it was on my laptop and the Internet connection was slow that night for some reas0n.

La Clase Divertida – I had this program already, so we’ll be watching the videos and doing some of the activities, but I think Elementary Spanish will be our main Spanish program. I thought Satori would love this DVD, but she seemed a bit bored.

We’re really trying to learn Spanish this year, as in two months we’re going on an eastern Caribbean cruise and we’ll be hitting Mexico and Honduras!

Song School Latin – this is a very gentle, easy Latin program for young children. We did one lesson this week and Satori loved it. I posted the video last week of her singing her SSL song. 🙂 We just learned four terms, and she’s been using them all the time throughout the week.

Meet the Masters – really enjoying this program!

Artistic Pursuits – starting Book 1

Drawing with Children – have yet to get into this…