Saturday, May 10, 2014

Assessments 2014--A7

This has been a fun year for my first-grader.  She's got an innate sweetness that constantly touches my heart and reminds me how I want to become a gracious person.

Language Arts:
She's worked her way through Sonlight Langage Arts 1.  Her reading fluidity skyrocketed and one week the early readers included in the program were just right and the next they were just useless.  We dropped them and began using books that were interesting to her; I selected several appropriate titles (from the Sonlight grade 2 list) and she chose the order in which we read them.  When we finished those, she chose to read aloud from Betsy-Tacy and Tib until she got distracted by The Book of Mormon Challenge.  Along the way we kept a journal in which I recorded some of her narrations.

A7 hates writing assignments.  She shuts down completely when asked to write a journal entry, make up a story, or narrate a simple expository paragraph.  I never found any technique for approaching these assignments that didn't leave her falling apart.  Eventually I dropped them.  There's no point in stressing her out over writing now--especially when she writes often and creatively all on her own.  I find the situation perplexing to say the least.  She does love small poetry challenges, so we did do all poetry-writing assignments.  I'll just let her have a year off of prose writing assignments and come back to them later.  But now I'm going to find a "How to write poetry" book and let her fly with a variety of those.

She's been exposed to simple grammatical rules like capitalization and using periods and commas, but she does not apply them to her own writing without prompting.  When prompted she smiles sheepishly and quickly fixes the errors without being told what is wrong.  So she knows but hasn't internalized the concepts.

I read that even the very young can learn cursive.  I bought a simple book and got her started.  She loves it! And her cursive handwriting is far prettier than her printing.  We'll definitely keep this one up.

Math:
I have continued to delay formal math instruction.  However she has learned about geometry, adding, subtracting, counting into the hundreds and thousands, patterns, skip counting, measurement, and telling time just in her daily life experiences.  She also got a Khan Academy account this month and has been happily practicing and mastering early math skills at the computer. 

Literature:
Like H4, A7 is simply surrounded by good literature.  I read picture books aloud here and there.  She stays up and listens with the big kids to all of our evening read alouds--all of those good books listed in the side bar of this blog.  In addition I often find her reading library books--fiction and non-fiction alike.  She reads picture books to her younger siblings and tries her older sisters' novels.  So far the big, thick books have proved beyond her ability to stick-to-it, but she's not afraid to try.  We have a large library of classic readers that are right at her current reading ability, and they are rarely on the shelf because she's reading them almost constantly.

History/Geography:
She's listened to stories about family history and scriptural history.  She's participated in whatever historical/geographical conversations have come up in family conversations.  She's looked at maps and asked questions here and there.  We've done no formal studies.  She knows about left and right and the directions of the compass.  In fact we'll be using our compasses this summer as we take hikes and nature walks.

Science:
She participated in our science club--about which I will post after our end of year celebration.  She's also gone on nature walks with us and read about animals, plants, and the human body.  I guess this has been a biology year.  She's also a collector--pretty rocks, dandelion seeds, interesting leaves, insects, bits of bark--if it's found in the natural world she's pretty fond of it.  On a recent hike, she used a butterfly key to identify two different butterflies we saw.  Our summer botany studies are going to bring real joy to A7.

Religion:
H4 attends church with the family weekly.  In addition she participates in family devotionals and has memorized The Articles of Faith.  Her sweet personal prayers show the simple but profound faith that is special to the very young, though sometimes as I listen to her pray I get the feeling that Heaven is closer to her than to anyone else I know.   I believe she has the gift of prayer.  She listens as Daddy reads aloud from the Book of Mormon, often asking comprehension questions that show she's trying to understand.  I'd like to pull a Bible storybook off the shelf to be part of her curriculum this coming school year as she was very young the last time we had family Bible stories as part of our curriculum (the older kids have been reading from the KJV Bible, but the little ones have been left out of that.)

Art:
A7 is probably a gifted artist, and I don't think that's just mommy-pride speaking.  She draws pictures that show very interesting uses of line, shape, color and perspective.  Intuitively her art products are more advanced than what I see my older kids (or any other kids I know) producing.  She creates art out of paper, recycled items, paint, pencil, pen, clay, fabric, items from nature--whatever she can get her hands on.  I am not an artist and will probably have to find her a mentor in the coming years.

Music:
We received a 1/4 size violin this year.  A7 began taking lessons from M12, but those dropped by the way after a few weeks.  The violin seems to require an instructor and instruction to produce satisfying sounds. She uses the simple lesson books we have to make music on the piano and the recorder.  She's also provided some simple piano instruction for H4.  She enjoys singing songs and dancing freely.  She participated in American Rhythm this year, learning songs and dances and performing 4 times to different audiences in our community.  She also learns songs in church and sings them with the other children in congregational meetings.  And I failed to write this about H4, but both little girls were exposed to Mozart's The Magic Flute and Handel's Messiah via online video recordings.  They were spellbound by both (very long) works of classical music.  More music will need to be part of their lives in the coming years.

Physical Education:
She plays outside and participates in family discussions about good nutrition and caring for our bodies.

Foreign Language:
A7 loves ASL.  She spends long hours watching ASL training videos and practicing signing.  I also found a detailed series of drawings she made of how to sign the alphabet with ASL.  It was accurate enough to shock me that it was made by a not-quite-7-year-old.  Her grown-up cousin is getting her undergrad degree in ASL, and we'll be headed out for her wedding this summer.  Though there won't be time for the bride-to-be to practice signing with her small cousin, I'm hoping that at least the brief moments they will spend together will help them form a friendly relationship (the last time they saw each other in person was when A7 was still a nursing baby) and that eventually this cousin might act as a long-distance mentor (via Skype?) in this subject.

Handicrafts:
A7 has learned how to perform simple household chores.  She sewed a dolly from a kit this Easter. 

In General:
A7 is a bright, happy 7 year old.  She likes to learn, and she learns readily.  She'll be kept quite joyfully busy with her Book of Mormon challenge, cursive practice (because it's fun and doesn't seem like school to her), and our family botany studies this summer. 

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