Monday, September 3, 2012

August in Review

We've already finished five weeks of the new school year! The biggest change has been adding Mr. T to the school day. The biggest challenge has been trying to get back in the habit of school when we still want to do so many summer activities. A few months ago it seemed like such a great idea to start school on July 30th. I knew it would be a little rough starting then, but I was so excited about the idea of having a little longer than typical break at both Christmas time and Spring time & also finishing earlier. So, I was kind of blind to the idea of how used we are to enjoying the warm weather in August. I actually think it has been harder on me than my kids. Selfishly, I want more time to finish projects around the house. I don't want to spend the day inside doing school. I've been feeling slightly guilty about not putting in the amount of hours I feel like we should & it's my fault. If I told the boys to do school, they would. But dang it, I don't always want to do school. And, I have a hard time asking them to come inside to do school when they're outside catching grasshoppers or building wood creations. I love that they can entertain themselves in such fun, natural ways. I hate to take that away, especially since our summer weather was off to a slow start. If they are just sitting around playing video games it's easy to say, "Come on, let's go do some school."  That's the freedom of home school. They can take the time to catch grasshoppers... But, I still feel guilty about it during times when we're "supposed" to be doing school. All that being said, we're starting our 6th week of school already & we've accomplished quite a bit.

~ Language Arts ~
The second day of school I asked them to write about their first day of school. Mr. T's sentence was I like my teacher. That meant a lot to me because I was really afraid he was going to be a bit hard on me for keeping him home this year.

We're using Evan-Moor workbooks for much of our grammar & writing studies. Mr. T's Grammar & Punctuation workbook has grammar rules, then worksheets to go along with those rules. I printed these orange sheets with the rule number & he copies the rule to the page.

The Grammar & Punctuation worksheets. I've also added extra worksheets from various sources to the packets.

Both boys also use Evan-Moor 6-trait writing books. The books are divided into 5 sections. We're just finishing up the first section.

Mr. T has a workbook called Super Sentences. I've expanded on that by using this pocket chart and Sentence-Building Cards from Scholastic. It works perfectly & he enjoys making the sentences.

As well as other reading, the boys also read from Reading A-Z. Most often they read directly on the computer using their projectable link. We can print the books if we want.

The Reading A-Z program also has a variety of worksheets to print. This particular one is something I do with Capt. N. It's used to improve fluency. They also have comprehension worksheets on their stories. I don't have the boys do the worksheets for every story they read, but they do some.

We are using All About Spelling this year and the boys are doing great with it. On the second day of school when I asked the boys to journal about what they liked about their first day of school, Capt. N wrote that he liked the spelling. That's saying a lot from a kid whose not a great speller or overly excited about any Language Arts topic.

A lot of what we do can't be graded with typical means so for many things we use a rubric system. I don't hound about grades, but I think it's important for them to see how they are doing. I like them to notice the things they are doing well and also the things that need improving.

~ Math ~
Mr. T is acing his math. He hasn't missed a problem yet on his tests.

I love this Addition Adventures workbook from MindWare. We've only done a couple of the worksheets, but they are awesome... at least for a 1st grader. I like that he's not just adding 1 + 3 = 4. The problem is 1 + __ = 4. It's not a typical addition worksheet (although we do those, too). Then, as an added learning bonus he has to move along the grid north, east, south or west to find the answer to some question. Mr. T doesn't know his directions well, yet. So, this is perfect practice.

~ Social Studies ~
To go along with our Heading West unit, I am reading Bound for Oregon to the kids.

Animals of the West mobile.

~ Art ~
Someday I would like to have more structure to our Art classes. But, for now it's very laid back. One project they will be working on all year is drawing the same place outside at about the same time each month and notice how the landscape changes. Capt. N chose to draw our strawberry patch and garden.

~ Student Store ~
I am doing a student store again this year. I don't love the idea of essentially bribing them to do a good job on their work. But, I'm hoping it's an extra boost to make them want to do the best they can, as opposed to wanting to hurry through their work so they can go play. I did something similar last year with Capt. N & he loved it. They've "gone" to the student store once already this year. They both bought lego mini figs with some of their money. I was happy to see they didn't blow every last penny they earned just because they had it.

All in all, we're off to a good start!

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