Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week in Review: Ballet Recital

Gemma had her hands-on math play date with friend D. They made pentagrams. Because they're in Pythagoras' secret society.
The Venus flytrap is eating the octopus plant. (Carnivorous plant humor.)
Gemma and I had the privilege of being invited to a student's first communion party. She's an absolute pleasure to have in class, so I had to accept. Her mother made all of the decorations. Having planned a few parties, and knowing how much effort one has to put in, I had a great appreciation for all the work she did.
Gemma expressed an interest in learning to write in cursive. Because it has always been my intention to teach her cursive first, I had a Kumon cursive workbook on hand. The lessons are short, and the book emphasizes quality over quantity, both of which make it CM-friendly. (As far as workbooks go, I really like the Kumon ones; we've used a variety of Kumon books, and I've been happy with all of them.)
I started reading aloud The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Gemma. She loves it. We're on chapter 8. Gemma is very interested in trying Turkish Delight, which is - I think - an acquired taste. We went to the British shop to see if they had some, but they were all out. The shopkeeper said to try back Thursday.

Narnia Note: The boxed set has the books numbered like this:
That order follows the internal chronology, but we are going to read them in the order C.S. Lewis wrote them. This is the "correct" order ;) in which to read the Narnia books:
  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  2. Prince Caspian
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  4. The Silver Chair
  5. The Horse and His Boy
  6. The Magician’s Nephew
  7. The Last Battle

You must discover Narnia with Lucy. You can't know about it beforehand. You just can't.

From "But I do believe there is a sense of awe that is missing if your journey does not start with Lucy stepping in the wardrobe, past the fur coats, through the rough tree branches and out into the magical world that is always winter and never Christmas, waiting for the Lion, who is good, but not safe, to come and sacrificially redeem a life and restore things as they should be." I can't explain it better than that.

In Life of Fred, Gemma just learned to "carry," also known as adding with regrouping. Because of that, I would say that Fred books Apples through Cats are kinder to first grade, and Dogs is beginning of 2nd grade. We just started Edgewood.

We have way to many books going all at once, but I think this answers the question of Doesn't a child get confused reading so many books at one time? No. Different writers have different styles. The stories are set in different times, and different places. The characters have different personalities.

Gemma had her ballet recital. I snapped a few pictures during the dress rehearsal...
And here is a sweet moment I managed to capture of my husband and daughter after the show...

Friday, May 27, 2016

This Week's Video Roundup

Here are some of the questions Gemma asked this week, and the videos we watched for answers...

"How is hay made?"
This video -
How To Make Grass into Hay Bales
is shows how grass is made into hay in six days. It's more than six minutes l-o-n-g, but it answers the question.

"How did the doctor tear me out of you?"
I stifled a laugh, texted my mom HELP!, and showed Gemma this video of a dolphin birth:

The next morning, the first thing out of her mouth was: "Do all frogs croak?"
The answer is no:

"Mom, how do spider spinnerets work?"

Not how you were born. (I did NOT show this to Gemma.)

"Why is it spring?"
Let's let Bill Nye the Science Guy explain.

Did you know a candle flame is hollow? Here is a video we watched for "Why is there fire?"

Gemma is still obsessed with O Fortuna from Carmina Burana. She wanted to be able to sing the lyrics and know what they meant. This video has both the Latin and English lyrics.

Finally, Gemma wanted to watch all of the Edward Lear nonsense poetry. It led to her speaking in limericks. Here is part 1:

Week in Review: Dogs, Hogs, and Jumping Rope

We started Teaching Hearts Training Minds by Starr Meade, a book that teaches the Westminster Catechism. Each chapter focuses on one question, and each chapter is divided into a week's worth of short readings. Each night I read the question (What is man's primary purpose?), and the answer, and by the fourth evening, Gemma was able to answer the question without my help.

She's still reading Pippi Longstocking to me. 

She abandoned Magic Tree House Sabertooths to start Magic Tree House Leprechauns in Late Winter, because my child has an obsession with leprechauns.

We're reading Life of Fred: Dogs, which has a bit about animal shelters and euthanasia. Whoa! I was not expecting that. And not on the same evening that I read aloud the part in Little House in the Big Woods when Laura's uncle comes to help Pa butcher the hog. Eek! Killing dogs. Killing hogs.

Gemma: "That's so sad. I would never kill the family hog."

This from the child whose two favorite meat products are bacon and sausage.

She was clearly paying attention, she clearly understood the text, and she had an emotional response to the text. When she makes comments like that, I consider them a pre-Year One form of narration.

Gemma pulled up her carrots.
There were three in total and, as you can see, they were tiny...
...and delicious.

She learned to jump rope.
We tried this at the beginning of the week. She quickly became frustrated and cried, "I'm NEVER going to learn to jump rope!" Even so, she didn't want to give up. I had had a long day at work, and her emotional intensity was too much, so I told her she was done for the evening and we would try it again another day.

At the end of the week, she happily grabbed the jump ropes and asked if I would take her outside. I was not looking forward to it. But, of course, I took her outside anyway. Instead of trying to teach her to turn the rope and jump, like I had at the beginning of the week, I told her to put the rope down in front of her and step over it. Then I told her to turn the rope over her and let it land on the ground. She did this all the way down the sidewalk and around the corner to the little store. She wanted to show the owner how she could jump. She did, and he applauded, and she jumped all the way home. 

Just as we were approaching our apartment, she turned the rope and jumped, without stopping the rope in front of her. It was an accident. And she was so excited!

So, if you're wondering how to teach your child to jump rope, try teaching them what seems like the backwards way. Stepping then turning. :)

We're going strong with piano. Gemma is working on "Come and Play," "Good King Wenceslaus," and "Holy Spirit Hear Us."

Gemma finished a round of swim lessons. 
She didn't learn to side breathe, which is what she needs to be able to do to graduate from Minnows, but she's signed up for two more rounds of Minnow lessons. She'll get the hang of it eventually. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Week's Video Roundup

Gemma asks a lot of questions, and my usual response is, "Let's look it up."

In the past week, she's wanted to know why are some fruits berries and some are not, how the anti-slip letters on the bottom of children's socks work, and what's the name of that song playing on the radio? 

Let's look it up.

Did you know that the fruits we call berries are NOT berries?! Or that a cucumber IS a berry?! For more berry interesting facts, watch this:

For a kid-friendly explanation of friction, here is a video from the interestingly-named Make Me Genius:

And finally, for a flash mob performing "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Week in Review: Edward Lear, Rudyard Kipling, and Blaise Pascal

As always, we've been doing lots of reading.

In My Book House (Volume 2) - I read Gemma "Nutcracker and Sugar-dolly" (for the third time). I'm not quite sure what it is about this story that she likes so much, because it's not one of my favorites, but she loves it. We also read a Brazilian tale about how the green and gold beetle got its coloring, and how the little blue beetle got its coloring and small size. She asked for that story two nights in a row. Finally, we read "Clytie," the sea nymph who becomes a sunflower, and the mother of all sunflowers.

My friend Frankie sent Gemma a book from France - Cropetite - which Frankie translated into English for Gemma. Gemma loved it! Frankie has sent us three books, all of which happen to be about French caves! One is about the Gouffre de Padirac (which I would love to someday see in person), the second is about Lascaux, and the third is the story of Cropetite, a little girl who lives in prehistoric Les Eyzies, not far from the town where Frankie lives.

The Jungle Book - We finished "The White Seal," which is not for the sensitive child. It's about a seal named Kotick. At the story's climax, Kotick fights the other seals to prove he is the alpha, and to get the other seals to follow him to a place where they will be safe from hunters. It's a violent scene, and Kotick ends up covered in blood. While I was reading that part, Gemma was in tears, crying, "I don't want Kotick to die! I don't want Kotick to die!" My first inclination was to tell her that he wasn't going to die, he was going to be fine. But the next day, I was thinking about her reaction, and whether the story was too much for her, and then I thought maybe it's good that she feels so deeply. Maybe it's good that she is so emotionally invested in this character that he has become a living being, and that she doesn't want a living thing to feel pain.

We are still slowly making our way through The Ology.

Gemma read aloud to me The Owl and the Pussycat (Lear, illustrated by Jan Brett), a library book.

I also checked out and read aloud to Gemma A Book of Nonsense written and illustrated by Edward Lear. The copy was a reproduction of - according to the book jacket - "a rare copy published around 1870, in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first in which the drawings appeared in color." 
Gemma is also reading to me a Magic Tree House book and Pippi Longstocking. Pippi is a "fourth grade book," and I'm tickled when I hear words like "remarkable" and "delightful" roll off her tongue.

Teaching her to read has made me think about how special "fourth grade books" are. "Fourth grade books" include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler, not to mention the entire Little House series. What is it about this level? There is something significant that happens when a child can read a "fourth grade book" on her own. The characters are now real, which means that befriending them and being told that they hurt, either physically or emotionally, hurts us. And that kind of interaction with text - the experience of simultaneously being alone and feeling empathy - does something to us; it opens a door to our future as readers.

We're in Life of Fred: Dogs. I came home one day and Gemma "confessed" that she had taken the next LOF off the shelf and read the first chapter. "I can't help it, Mom! I just want to learn!" I had to turn away to keep from laughing at my guilt-ridden five year old. My initial thought of putting the rest of the Freds on a higher shelf made me think of the story of Blaise Pascal's father locking up the books to keep Blaise from teaching himself. Leaving the Freds where they are won't hurt anyone.

There was swimming...
and ballet...
...and a trip with friend J to the Skirball Museum to explore Noah's Ark and be archaeologists. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Carnivorous Plants

Last week, Gemma asked why some living things have mouths and some don't, which led to a discussion about meat-eating plants, which led to us watching multiple YouTube videos of Venus flytraps eating insects (and one of a Venus flytrap eating a pancake)...
...which led to my best friend and her husband surprising Gemma with three carnivorous birthday presents: two Venus flytraps and one octopus plant.

Yesterday, she sat on the ground with a pair of tweezers, catching ants to feed to her new "pets."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week in Review: Happy 5th Birthday!

A handful of things we did this week...

Gemma practiced the song that the children are singing at church for Pentecost.
We walked home along the beach.
In Life of Fred: Cats (book 3), we hit a snag, so I made two activities using 3x5 cards. 

The first activity is reading 7-digit numbers. If a child can read 3-digit numbers, they can learn to read 7-digit numbers.

Number ten cards 0 to 9. Then, put a comma and the word "thousand" on a card, and put a comma and the word "million" on a card. Put those cards down with enough space between them for three index cards. Randomly lay down the digit cards, and get reading!

(Note: This activity is about teaching the child how to read the word. This is not about teaching place value. If it were about place value, we would put cards like "millions," "hundred thousands," "ten thousands," etc. above the digit cards. While that concept is hugely important, it isn't necessary to reading large numbers. In public elementary school, we spend lots of time teaching place value. It is retaught every year. I would argue that six months of an elementary school child's math education is spent on place value.)
In Life of Fred: Cats, there was also a bit about prepositional phrases. This is not an easy concept for a four (or five) year old. 

My daughter's favorite Dr. Seuss book is Wacky Wednesday. I used it for inpiration to write my wacky sentences...
With a black marker, I wrote sentences beginning with "There was a..." With a red marker, I wrote prepositional phrases.  I intentionally left off the end punctuation because I wanted to show Gemma that a prepositional phrase can also come at the beginning of a sentence, and that a sentence can have multiple prepositional phrases.

On Monday, Gemma asked to watch multiple videos of things being eaten by Venus fly traps, and wanted to know what a tesseract is.

Our home(pre)school co-op is learning about insects this month. This week's topic was ladybugs.
We went to the library, and ate cookies...
...before swim lessons.
She practiced her recital routine.
And she turned five!
She wanted a leprechaun-themed party, so that's what she got. Each of her guests got shamrock hair accessories, her cupcakes (from the grocery store) had green frosting and Saint Patrick's Day rings, her piƱata was a rainbow with a leprechaun on it...
...and for a craft, they made "leprechaun" gardens...
They also got soaked in the water play area. (This was not a planned party activity.)
Much of the credit goes to my husband for pulling it all off...

Friday, May 6, 2016

Week in Review: Swimming, Dancing, and Growing Beans

A handful of things we've done this week...

Gemma grew green beans.
And one of the five was finally big enough  to steam and eat.
This week, Gemma graduated to the Alfred Prep level B book!
Gemma started swim lessons this week. She is a Minnow, which means that she is learning side breathing!
She's reading Pippi Longstocking and The Magic Tree House: Sunset of the Sabertooths to me. I'm re-reading her favorite stories in My Book House Volume 2, such as "Snow White and Rose Red."

She's practicing a song for Pentecost.

She's begging for two chapters a day of Life of FredCats. I ordered the rest of the elementary series, and it arrives next week. 

There is a big jump in Cats. In the chapter about place value, readers are asked to add 1+9, 1+99, and then 1+9,999,999. Gemma knew the first two answers - she understands ones, tens, and hundreds - but had no idea how to solve the third. I showed her that there was a pattern. In 1+9, the answer has 1 zero. In 1+99, the answer has 2 zeros. In 1+999, the answer has 3 zeros. She solved the problem by counting the number of nines in 9,999,999 and writing 1 followed by that many zeros.

Today, on our walk home from the library, we went on a 4-digit number hunt. Each time we saw an address with four digits, she read the number to me. 1905 became "one thousand nine hundred five."

Her class practiced their recital dance. All of the moms were invited to come sit on the floor and watch them run through it. We're all excited to see how much they've progressed since last year (several of them were in the 3 year old class together). Here is this year's dance's ending pose:
During her weekly hands-on math play date with her friend D, they built square numbers...