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My first real “homeschooling” post in a month and a half! We’ve been quietly continuing on in about half of our subjects. I’ve uploaded a few photos of Satori’s spelling lesson she did today, as they show multiple progress on various things – spelling, handwriting, and writing.

Today we hit the middle lesson in our Level 2 AAS book. These lessons (when we do them) just fly by, she learns certain things so quickly and some spelling things she picks up on her own. Today’s lesson was the double-e “ee” vowel pair making the long-e sound. The only word she spelled wrong was “dere” instead of “deer”. But she does correctly spells the word that doesn’t follow the rule, which is “been”.

You can see she understands sentence structure and sentences with capital letters and ends them appropriately. We do need to work on doing this in her random journal entries and letters to people though. Her letters are pretty much all formed correctly. But I have failed in getting her to use a correct tripod grip. She doesn’t think she writes as neat when she uses a proper grip. Frustrating, but I think I will move on from that.

I love it that Satori loves to write letters to people. If I remember to take photos of them, it is a great way to document how her handwriting, spelling, and writing/grammar are coming along. These letters are completely of Satori’s own initiative and I did not help at all with content or spelling. We sent out a bunch this week. Here’s a few that I especially liked.

This one was to an old pen-pal that Satori still remembers. David is embarassed that he got called out for watching TV all day.

She enjoys drawing maps now and then.

She writes so much better when it is  on lined paper appropriate for her age. We are just beginning to learn writing and grammar this year, so sometimes she forgets to capitalize beginnings of sentences and put periods on her sentences, but we’ll be working more on that this year.

Here she is talking about what she learned about Ancient China from our Story of the World studies.

Phonics rocks! It enables Satori to write about whatever she wants without worrying about appropriate spelling. She is completely empowered to put all her thoughts down on paper. Spelling isn’t 100% correct, but anyone can read her letters. I love seeing her thoughts and reading what she is excited (or “isdided”) about. As for  learning the correct spellings, we are halfway through Level 2 All-About-Spelling now and are totally whizzing through it. We have 6 more levels to go total, but by then I am confident she’ll be spelling better every month!

Mom will be at her relaxing retreat for a week starting tomorrow. Good organic food, yoga/meditation, hikes and more… I expect to come back rejuvenated and strong and calm…

I leave you now with a little Mountain Chickadee. These guys are common at our 9000 feet altitude mountain house and are distinguished from all other chickadees by their little white eyebrow stripe.

Yesterday we finished our spelling program, All-About-Spelling Level 1! Satori got to put her last sticker up on her AAS chart and I presented her with her Certificate with Achievement.

I framed her certificate and hung it up on the wall above her desk. (I erased out her last name for privacy purposes.) Satori was so excited we had to call Daddy and tell him the news!

Here’s a brief summary of what Satori learned in Level 1, which we started last June, when Satori was 4.5 years old. First off, All-About-Spelling is a vertical phonics program, so right away we started learning all the different sounds for each letter. Some vowels have 4 sounds, and some consonants had some tricky ones to remember, so this took a while! What she didn’t master right away simply went into our Review file. Next up we learned to segment words, how to hear the sounds in the words. We familiarized ourselves with the alphabet – its order, vowels and consonants. We went quickly through the lessons that taught how to spell words using their basic sounds, and the easy digraphs and blends.

Eventually we learned tougher concepts, like when to use a C or K for beginning sounds, when to use K or CK for ending sounds, when to double letters at the end (like “tell” or “dress”)… We learned consonant teams (“ng” and “nk”), compound words, plural words, and lastly, open syllables. The end of each lesson requires the child to spell our phrases or sentences, which was great practice to hear it orally and apply everything learned.

Here’s a sample of what Satori can now spell successfully.

Tomorrow we will pull out Level 2. I’ll have to do a little bit of organizing first, such as updating our AAS tile whiteboard with new sections such as “Vowel Teams” and “The Sound of /er/”. We’ll be starting a “Jail” to hold our spelling Rule Breakers. First lesson will be a review of Level 1, as well as learning more about open and closed syllable tags.

I’m looking forward to furthering Satori’s spelling skills. She always writes books and letters and will greatly benefit from learning more spelling rules. We have progressed far enough in our Reading subject that she already knows how to spell many things, but by systematically learning the rules, she won’t forget to add her silent-E, and so much more.

Here’s a sample of words we’ll learn in All About Spelling Level Two.

We are now well in our Kindergarten Spring 2010 semester so I feel qualified to muse on Satori’s progress and to reflect on new curriculum choices. I want to start off giving myself a pat on the back for staying on top of our homeschool schedule and getting most lessons done by 11am everyday, considering my spontaneous personality. Huge hugs to Satori for participating with such joy, and for going along with some lessons that I know aren’t the most exciting.

READING

We’re using Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and the more I read about other homeschoolers and books on reading, the more glad I am to have chosen this book as our main reading program. It’s so systematic and thorough. Within our allocated 20 minutes, we easily cover a lesson a day, and a thorough review of recently covered lessons and then touch a few lessons covered months ago. Every 7-10 days we take a thorough review day, although our reviews are already thorough, so we’ll be stopping review day. We’re on lesson 118 now, in Section 13 “Common Spellings for Other Vowel Sounds” like AW, AU, OO, OU, OI, EA and so on.

Aside from the 20 minute lessons five days a week, I do not push Satori to read on her own. I want her to learn to enjoy reading and am afraid if I push it, she might get burned out or turned off by reading. Only until last month did I encourage her to read off her easy readers, which are totally below her level, but gives her the confidence of reading. So we do try to have Satori read a few books, then mama read a read-aloud, but I haven’t been consistent.

One milestone we have finally reached is Satori’s eagerness to read books. Monday night (2/8) Satori just could not get enough of her Nora Gaydos books, and read an entire set in one sitting. In 24 hours, we read both Level 1 and Level 1 Advanced sets of Nora Gaydos. She loves the stickers and laughs at the stories. (Ah, the simple things…) We’ve started Volume 2, with sentences like “The gray ape places the cake to bake on a tray.” and “The crazy snakes danced into the lake.”  This is more her level. She also started reading the Biscuit books. I’m so glad that we got this far in our reading program, it has given her the confidence to tackle beginning reading books with ease. I’m afraid she might be getting a bit too over-eager, as she sometimes wants to try to read “my” books, lol!

On a final reading note, last week Satori went gung-ho with her ReadingEggs.com online reading subscription, which we recently renewed after several months. I think she went through several maps in one day! She does this completely independently, which is a nice break for mama. She’s now on Level 2, Lesson 64, although at this point, I think she could get through all of level 3 without learning anything new that she hasn’t already learned through OPG. She is using her math skills to earn her eggs. For example, she wanted to purchase a piano for 84 eggs, but only had 24 at the time. So she worked extra hard and saved up all her eggs until she could purchase her piano. 🙂

MATH

Again, I think we chose the perfect program for ourselves. We’re on RightStart A Lesson 39 today. Recently she’s been learning how to estimate, add, write equations, money, even/odd, and dozens of other things. She is not using the abacus to add things like 7+3, but she doesn’t have it memorized either. I’m trying to get her to use the abacus, but she’s doing her addition fast and without mistakes, so we’ll see how it goes. Last night we revisited a Memory Game from Lesson 9 and she wanted to do it over and over. She has a great memory, so she kicks my butt.

I love how learning our coins – penny, nickel, and dime, it reinforces the concept of grouping things in 5s and 10s. She has no problem paying me for an apple worth 87 cents, in several different ways.

HANDWRITING

Last week I posted about a handwriting emergency, letters getting sloppy/careless. We hadn’t been focusing on handwriting at all for such a long time. My mistake! As I posted a few pictures of Satori writing, I noticed a weird pencil grip. I then launched myself into researching grips and discovered I myself have an incorrect grip. I use 2 grips, both are incorrect. Satori uses a combination of Quadropod Grip (which HWT says is okay) and sometimes something totally incorrect. So both mom and daughter have been practicing using the more commonly suggested Tripod Grip.

Satori knows exactly how each letter should be written, right down to its shape and  how to write it. When people write lowercase “e” wrong on TV, she’ll catch it and tell me how they wrote it wrong. If I forget the tiniest little detail on a letter, like forgetting to come back down on lowercase “u”, she’ll point that out and correct it for me. So daughter does teach Mama sometimes!

To get back on track, we’ve started Handwriting Without Tears First Grade book, and are using StartWrite software to make practice handwriting sheets, and are constantly checking our handwriting grip. HWT has a few tricks on  how to get a correct grip, and we’re working on those.

SPELLING

One more Step left in All-About-Spelling Level 1 and we’re on to Level 2.  I couldn’t ask for more from a program, but I think I talk about AAS enough so I’ll leave it at that.

Satori has been writing books about 10-15 pages long. The classical education model doesn’t start “creative writing” until Grade 5 (the Logic stage), but this kindergartner sure loves to write stories. Using her phonics and spelling she knows so far, these are fun (and funny) to read. I really need to take a picture of these books, they come complete with cute pictures! She’s been writing a story about a cat named Liz and her adventures with Gest her friend, and her babies. Here’s a few pages of one story (some misspellings corrected):

Liz met a male. The owners of the cats are mad. (picture of happy cats with collars and mad owners)

Liz saw her owner and she ran fast. The 2 cats got home. The people left Liz and Gest home.

Liz and Gest had a idea. They ran to the cat bed. (Hmmmm….) In the mornin the 2 cats be friends.

Gest and Liz got mayed (married). (Picture of Gest with a top hat and bow on. Liz with a fancy gold collar.)

The End

OTHER SUBJECTS – WRITING, GRAMMAR and LOGIC

Not much to say about Writing, Grammar, and Logic except they’re going well and only take a few minutes a day. Nothing too exciting about these subjects, but there are some Logic problems Satori loves of which she cannot get enough. Satori wants to do several lessons of vocabulary a day. She picks up on unknown words all the time and demands a definition. She attempts to use new vocabulary in her conversation. So cute!

History is amazing, I talk enough about that, so no big updates here. I did plan on going much slower in history, but we are doing one chapter a week, which is what’s recommended. Love SOTW audio CDs to listen to in the car so we can review stories already  covered. I had no clue Satori would enjoy history so much.

SPANISH

We just started using Discovery Education streaming Elementary Spanish which rocks! Satori actually asked for Spanish videos so she can learn on her own, so I simply introduced her to these. They come with a teacher’s manual PDF file. We are only on our first week, more to say about this later.

MAJORLY SLACKING ON…

Science and Art big-time. I think the prep-time of these is daunting to this perfectionist mom. We have however, been watching lots of science videos on Discovery Streaming. I keep meaning to spend an entire day to pre-prepare lessons in these 2 subjects, and then doing several in a week (I schedule these once a week).

We’ve finished spelling compound words in our All-About-Spelling program Level 1. Just 2 more Steps to go and we’re on to Level 2.

Before we started Step 23 today we did a review. This program has a great system for review. In our Spelling Review box we tackle things we need to review. She has all the rules, Key Cards, phonograms memorized except for a couple like all the sounds for the letter “o”. AAS is a vertical phonics system, so we are to learn all the sounds of a phonogram right away. At first it can be daunting to be presented with all these sounds that even the parent didn’t have memorized, but in the end, it makes reading and spelling so much easier. It’s certainly paying off now that we’ve moved beyond the basic short vowel and consonant sounds.

I keep all the words Satori struggles with and we start out by spelling them. Here she is spelling them on her hanging white board.

Any words that are not spelled correctly get filed away in the Review tab of our index card box. Toward the end of Level 1, here is the remaining words she has a hard time spelling. Most of the time it comes down to pronunciation issues – instead of “drink” we pronounce it almost like “jrink”. “desktop” she wants to spell as “desctop” but I think she is catching on now. “pink” is always spelled “pick”, but I know she knows most of her -ink words, so this must be a pronunciation thing for her. “windmill” often forgets the double “l” at the end. Our hint:

Remember to floss!

I admit our spelling lesson went past 20 minutes today, I wanted to get a very thorough review done. I guess we’re usually so excited to start a new level, that the Review session gets truncated prematurely. This time, we covered everything. She got bored after the 30 minute mark and started writing random phrases down. This is what it says:

chase the frog

Mat gulped. He scared the pig, ran to the pond.

Not quite a story but I love that she spelled “chase” correctly and we haven’t covered that yet.

We finished Step 21 today (out of 24) in our All About Spelling program. In about 3-4 weeks, we’ll be on to Level 2! Here is what the AAS board looks like at the end of Level 1. You’ll have two sets of letters (vowels are in red, and you’ll notice “y” has one red tile). You’ll see a blank consonant (blue) tile and a blank red tile to assist with spelling words when we need to apply a rule first. The Consonant Teams we’ve learned so far in spelling are: th, ch, sh, ck, ng, and nk.

Today we finished up nk words. At the beginning of this lesson you’ll line up all the vowels EXCEPT e, as e never goes before -nk. (Maybe it does in very rare words…)  Same as the -ng rule, where e rarely goes before -ng.

Each Step takes us about 3-4 lessons, usually 3. Since we strive to do three spelling lessons a week, each Step takes us a week to finish.

The first day we review, and All About Spelling has a pretty great system for review. We tackle the review cards in our AAS file box. Then we learn the current step’s lesson. We use the tile board for spelling out the first 10 words. These are the same words that we store in our Index file box, and we’ll put them in the “Review” section. The next day we’ll spell those 10 words on paper. Usually this doesn’t take too long, so we’ll also spell a few “More Words”. The final day we’ll spell the rest of the “More Words”, and a list of Phrases. Usually the phrases has the  original 10 words in the phrases, so if Satori gets them right, I can move them into the “Mastered” section. Only in a great while will we take out our Mastered cards and review them.

Then, once a lesson is done, we put up a sticker on our chart! (Stickers don’t come with the program, we chose the most happy stickers we had at the time.) Our hopping frogs are very happy looking, so we do our Happy Hoppy Frog Dance!

Satori and I had so much fun this week! I love having a daughter, I can’t wait to have more children (most likely adoption).

We just finished our Story of the World history lesson, the very first chapter about History and Archaeology. We actually had gone over both very thoroughly way back in May 2009, and one of Satori’s dream jobs is an Archaeologist. Our Archaeology Dig was last spring, which would have been messy to do indoors anyway this winter. Here’s a few pictures from back then, or you can click the above link.

Coming back to the present day, I pulled out our SOTW book. As I read the story, she started doodling on her whiteboard.

A bit worried that she might not be paying attention, I asked her to describe her drawing. She proved she listened to every word, as the items on the ground where from an ancient civilization and the person shown was an archaeologist finding the artifacts in the ground! She also remembered me saying something about learning about the Egyptians soon, as she also included an Egyptian mask, an Egyptian fossil (I don’t think she doesn’t know about mummies yet, or maybe she does), and more. She then begged to learn about Egyptians, but I was not prepared to jump into that yet. We’ll start our Egypt studies in two weeks, have patience honey!

Our spelling lesson started out with her distracted, but I used a bribe of one Nerd candy for each word spelled correctly. (I haven’t used candy as a bribe for half a year, so don’t think this is typical!) At first I didn’t think she was going to get our new spelling rule of how to know when to use a “-CK” or “-K” at the end of a word, but she proved me very wrong as this turned out to be a very enthusiastic lesson of lots of dances, hugs, and of course, a few sugary Nerds! Once she started, she spelled every word correctly – mask, elk, duck, thick, milk, etc…  She begged to spell more and more, and we finished almost 3 Spelling lessons as a consequence. When I said “no more”, she ended with this phrase:

Obviously we haven’t covered the word “great” in our spelling yet, but at least she understood the long e! We have covered “great” in our reading, so I switched the vowels around to show her how to spell “great”, and not a frame of metal bars. 😉

Satori injects humor into her lessons, which is great because I need the laugh now and then. On Monday, in our All About Spelling lesson where we spell on paper, I had asked her to spell “spell”. She doesn’t want me to watch her in the act, so after she wrote it out, she had it all covered up. She then uncovered the “SP” and I said that’s not how to spell it! She giggled crazily and uncovered the teeny tiny word “spell” at the bottom of the page! Lol!

It’s the little things like this that make every day so much fun. I love my family! I love homeschooling!