Monday, May 12, 2014
J10 did copywork and dictation from Spelling Wisdom Book 1. For a time we had very formal lessons in which I pre-tested her by dictating the passage, helping her find the errors, practicing specific spelling words, having her copy the passage a few times, and doing a final dictation "test." That got cumbersome and also held all 4 older girls to working at the same pace. After a few months I just handed them the books and said, "Copy it until you feel that you know it. Test yourself if you feel inclined. You'll know when you've got it." And I think it began to work. J10 moved through the passages at a moderate pace of 1-3 per week. Though there was one passage that she got stuck on for 3 weeks! Each day I checked her copybook to see where she was and find any errors that she might have missed on her own. I also checked for efforts at best handwriting.
I'm not sold that this is the best method for learning. I do like the exposure to great ideas, and I did notice an improvement in her spelling when she writes on her own that did not occur when we used traditional spelling programs in the past; however these copywork exercises have not improved her punctuation when she writes on her own. Because J10 does copywork when she reads from the scriptures, this system feels redundant in our homeschool. Next year we'll be dropping this activity in favor of a Language Arts program with more direct grammar instruction.
J10 started the year in Life of Fred: Cats and moved successfully through the elementary series until she got to Life of Fred: Ice Cream. Along the way she failed to memorize the times tables. Though these books instruct the kids to make flash cards and not move on until the times tables are memorized, J10 didn't do it--and I did remind her to work on them! By Ice Cream the math was too advanced to do without having the times tables memorized, so I stopped her and had her do daily drills at mathisfun.com. (This is the only site I could find that actually drilled kids on a 12 X 12 grid instead of only up to 10 X 10. Other features I like are how the kids can set their own time limits; it gives them a statistical breakdown of how they're doing; if they input a wrong answer it gives them the correct answer and immediately asks the same question again; and it doesn't waste time with goofy game graphics.) Once J10 got reasonably close to mastering the times tables I began giving her worksheets from Math-U-See Delta (the ones that I pulled out of E14's book because she didn't need 8 pages of practice and review for each concept).
These activities saw us into April at which point I enrolled the four oldest girls in Khan Academy. J10 took the "pre-test" (one of the most random things I've ever witnessed) and got to work. I've required J10 to do 30 minutes of math a day at this site on each formal school day, and she's learning well. Sometimes she needs help from me to understand a concept even after watching a video, but she's trying out, practicing, and mastering lots of math concepts. We'll let Khan Academy keep J10 fresh in math over the summer, but we'll plan to work through a paper and pencil math program this coming fall because there aren't enough hours in the day for all of the kids to do all their work at the computer. I'd like to see J10 pick up where she left off in Life of Fred, but I'll ask her opinion about how she'd like best to continue, probably in July.
J10 read and kept a journal (a summary of each chapter read) on the following books:
The Indian in the Cupboard
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt
Landmark Childhood of Famous Americans: George Washington
The Tale of Despereaux
There ought to have been more, but we had quite a gap in our school year because of the move. In addition J10 became hopelessly infatuated with the Warriors series of books (though I am loathe to call them literature). She has read and re-read them countless times, spending hundreds of hours immersed in the stories. She has convinced her sisters they are a fun read, and now conversations about cats and clans fill our home.
J10 did not like any of the books that she journaled because her passions blind her to other blessings in the world, but I hope to keep her mind open to a variety of literature and ignite new passions.
In addition J10 participated in our family read aloud list for 2013-14:
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Mathematicians Are People, Too by Luetta and Wilber Riemer
The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap by H.M. Bouwman
The Complete Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
Caroline and Her Kettle Named Maud by Miriam E Mason
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
Cappyboppy by Bill Peet
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Gannon Stiles
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Usborne Stories from Around the World retold by Heather Amery
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco
Daniel Boone by James Daugherty
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Socks by Beverly Cleary
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
J10 participated in Explorer's Club--our homeschool science club. I'll post details about that when our year is over (late June)
At home science took a back seat, and the only formal instruction we had consisted of beginning The Storybook of Science. The older girls and I met around the kitchen table to read, discuss and journal interesting things we read about. I think J10 is about the oldest child for whom this book is appropriate.
We also took some nature walks, watched some interesting videos about animals on YouTube, and checked out library books about astronomy, earth science, and animals. J10 got quite passionate about guinea pigs for a time and read and journaled on her own almost every guinea pig book our library system owns--which is why we now own a guinea pig.
J10 loves animals with a passion that goes beyond the standard animal love of any girl her age. She is faithful in her care for our pets, and she has a calming influence that animals sense. She reads about animals from library books and would spend long hours in animal observation at the zoo if I could slow her sisters down to J10's studious pace.
She also had a season in which she studied dog breeds with an consuming passion. She read and took notes about every dog breed she could find. She nearly filled a composition book with her information.
We've already begun our summer study of botany, and we've taken a nature walk and a field trip to a botanical garden to kick off our studies. We're going to really have a great summer of science to make up for the dearth of science fun in our past school year.
J10 participated in our brief family map studies--we practiced reading map keys and especially pored over a state road map of our home state, studying it's most interesting (to us) geographical features.
We discovered www.geoguessr.com this year. At least once a week, we play this super fun game as a family, and along the way we've learned lots about the similarities of various country climates across the world. We've also begun to learn about architectural differences on different continents and about different alphabets the world over.
Formally J10 has participated with her older sisters in reading and discussing The Landmark History of the American People. We only got up to just before the Civil War, but we'll continue with this one in the coming school year.
J10 participates in family morning devotionals in which we work on memorizing The Articles of Faith (she knows them cold), memorizing Moroni 7:45-48 (she knows it cold), and listen to and discuss inspiring scriptures, stories, and general conference talks.
In January we took up a Book of Mormon reading challenge, and along with her sisters and me, J10 reads and copies a favorite verse from her reading each day. This challenge will last through the summer and into the coming school year.
The older girls and I read and journaled The Stories of the New Testament. I used the scripture references to organize how we read the stories, but we actually read them from the KJV of the Bible.
J10 attends church each week and participates in bi-monthly church-sponsored activities for 8-11 year old girls.
She also participates in our evening family prayer and scripture reading/discussions.
She prays with our family and on her own.
J10 was introduced to embroidery this spring. She learned to outline stitch, do a french knot, whip stitch, and make a daisy stitch. She made three embroidered bookmarks as she learned these skills. She taught herself to knit and is working on a pink winter scarf. Her progress is quite evident from complete novice to competent beginner along the first 12 inches of scarf. I hope she finishes her project.
She daily helps with household chores and knows how to load the dishwasher so that the dishes get clean, how to dust wood work, and how to empty out a messy closet and put it back together in an organized fashion. She's also getting quite good at sweeping a floor until it is actually clean.
J10 loves paint by number kits--actually she loves any kind of craft kit! She'll read the directions and work patiently until she masters whatever skill is introduced in the kit. She likes working with her hands and creating new things.
She loves, loves, loves to help me in the kitchen. She is a crackerjack pancake flipper and handles the fried eggs and scrambled eggs when we have breakfast for supper. She stirs sauces and soups, asking questions all the while about why I'm doing what I'm doing. Just the other day she and the other girls made french toast from start to finish all by themselves. (They cleaned up, too!) She knows how to use the apple peeler/corer/slicer correctly, how to grate cheese without taking off the skin of her knuckles or fingers, and how to use a basic vegetable peeler. I'm not good at sharing my kitchen--for me cooking is best enjoyed as a solitary activity--but I'm trying to open up and help my girls learn how to manage their own kitchens. J10 will thrive on more opportunity to help and more opportunity to try things on her own.
J10 has had no formal music lessons except for her participation in American Rhythm this year in which she learned a number of folk dances from the American 19th century and some fun 50's rock and roll numbers. She expresses the least curiosity of all of the girls about musical instruments, but she always comes into the music room to sing along when I sit down to play the piano.
The older 4 girls and I attended a performance of La Boheme this school year. It was a joyful exposure to classic opera beyond that of The Magic Flute. J10 liked it, but isn't consumed with passion about it. She was also able to watch video recordings of The Magic Flute and Handel's Messiah. Again, she liked them, but isn't whole heartedly dying to see/hear more.
J10 loves to copy pictures that she sees. She loves to make "coloring books" for I2 by making simple line drawings from pictures/books around the house. We've visited the local art museum once this school year and talked briefly about what makes "great art." We check out coffee table art books from the library, and J10 occasionally peruses them.
J10 got to spend much of 2013 learning how to ride (dressage) in exchange for working at the horse barn. She cleaned watering troughs, pulled weeds, and cleaned bathrooms. She also learned how to care for and saddle a horse. Moving away from that barn and having to give up those lessons has been more painful for her than words can say (and for her mama, too).
J10 often has a hard time keeping up physically with her sisters. She does not have asthma, but my husband has discovered a slight muscular breathing anomaly (he's a nurse on the pulmonary/telemetry floor at a nearby hospital) in her. When we go outside to run or play an active game, she gets tired very, very quickly, and I have to force her to spend time out of doors.
That said, she did complete a 5K run/walk in May, and she does go with us on nature walks and hikes with Explorer's Club.
My assignment is to get her a physical and discuss with a doctor whether her breathing will be strengthened or harmed by increased physical activity and find an exercise that she can successfully do so that her body can be strong . . . I wonder about yoga . . .
J10 loves ASL. She watches the same videos her smaller siblings love, and she faithfully practices signing with them.
I think J10 may be the most intellectually gifted of my children. There is a depth to her that constantly puzzles me, and I wonder how to challenge her and ignite the spark that will lead her to be willing to reach for her maximum potential. I know that horses and caring for animals is going to be key, but we live in the city and don't have the budget to make this easy. We're going to have to think outside the box to help this precious girl shine.