Monday, September 26, 2016

Kindergarten Week 6

Some of what we did in kindergarten this week...

Gemma was only supposed to learn "Raindrops" on piano, which introduces staccato, but she took a look at "Cracker Jack," next week's song, and was able to play that one, too. I'm sure if she had a real piano teacher (instead of just me - who is learning right along with her) the teacher would tell her she wasn't staccato-y enough on "Raindrops" and make her stay on "Raindrops," but I'm not a real piano teacher, and I think this skill is something that, over time, she can refine.

She can play all of the songs in the Alfred Prep Level B Christmas Book, except the last one, a song I'd never heard until Thursday night called "Coventry Carol." I found a YouTube video of "Coventry Carol (Lullay Lullay)" by Annie Lennox, and it's beautiful:

Gemma loved it and listened to it over and over. It helps me a lot to hear a song before trying to learn it, so I can put the visual with what I know I should be hearing, and I think the same is true for Gemma.

My husband subbed as the tutor for Gemma's Classical Conversations class this week. I'm so proud of him.

At our afternoon co-op, the kids made airplanes. The host mom read a book about Amelia Earhart. I had no idea she built a roller coaster using an 8 foot tall shed, boards, lard, and a crate! The mom also played a game like Follow the Leader using words like lift, thrust, drag, and gravity.
We read a little Little House on the Prairie, Prince Caspian, Training Hearts, and Life of Fred: Honey, as well as "The Frog Prince" and "Rapunzel," and a Brambly Hedge story, but we also read "Snow White and Rose Red" from My Book House, a couple of pages each night for three evenings, and Gemma read aloud "Rumplestiltskin" to me.

...Which leads to something I've been thinking about: If we look over Charlotte Mason's programmes for Form 1, we see that for "Tales," she only assigned 3 fairy tales and 3 fables - 6 stories! - for 12 weeks. But this wasn't all a student in 1B (1st grade) was doing; he was also doing reading lessons. I think it's easy to look at 6 stories as too few, and want to add 6 more, or 18 more. (Why not do a fable and a fairy tale every week? I've got to keep the kids busy with something.) I see this information as freeing. 

Because Gemma is a strong reader, I'm thinking that next year, I will probably have her read aloud "Tales" to me. We'll spend a set amount of time reading and pick up the next day where we left off, instead of worrying that we didn't finish a story. That's what I'm thinking right now.

A final thought on this is that if we look at the exams for 1B, there wasn't a specific list of fairy tales and fables that had to be read. Students were simply to tell a fairy tale or a fable from the term. I think this information is also freeing.
Gemma is still a Minnow. The September session ended this week, but she starts her final session of the year next week. Her coach said I need to tell the next coach to focus on rotary breathing, and work a little more on treading water, but that Gemma has learned all of the other skills on the back of the Minnow card. Yay! Progress was made!

Gemma went to Church Mice; the lesson was about Moses. She did two Duolingo Spanish lessons. She also went to dance class.

Gemma asked to bake sourdough bread, so I explained to her that, unlike baguettes, according to Emeril Lagasse's (AWFUL!) recipe, we have to make a starter 12 hours before we make sourdough bread.

...and then she watched a couple of YouTube videos about how yeast works in bread, and the history of bread:

This is Gemma and the yeast...
Here is the yeast after 5 minutes...
I don't have a kitchen thermometer, so I read that I could just turn on the tap, let it get as hot as it could, and stick my hand in the stream. If I could hold my hand in the running hot water without jerking it away, it would be the right temperature to activate the yeast. It worked.

Here is our starter the next morning...
We added salt and flour. (But not enough salt, Emeril.)
After sitting for an hour and a half...
Gemma kneaded the dough...
...with her elbows.
It turned out deceptively appetizing...
...but it tasted as good as baked wallpaper paste.

Earlier this week, Gemma asked how perfume is made, so I got her the least expensive toy perfume kit for her to use however she pleased. It was the My Perfumery kit from Scientific Explorer ($13). When buying a perfume kit for a five year old, know that half of the oil will get spilled. In hindsight, I should have had her play with it inside a baking pan. Also know that your child will cover herself from head to toe in perfume oil. The perfume oils all smelled pretty much the same, except for the peppermint one, which seemed like an odd addition to the florals. They smelled not unpleasant, sort of like liquid hand soap.

There was a little tree climbing...
...and an early evening rainbow.
There was also fort building. One of the moms in our co-op got the idea to organize a meet-up at a state park not too far away, and bring clothes pins, sheets, twine, etc. so our children could be let loose and build. I love that she did this because, living in the city, and not having a yard, Gemma doesn't otherwise get to have this quintessential childhood experience. She gets to have so many other amazing experiences, but this one is really important. It's not just about playing outside. Going to a park and playing on a playground is very different from going to the woods and building your own playground.
Finally, Gemma asked how to fold a shirt, which led to us watching a video on the KonMari method of shirt-folding. Her folded shirt is on the left, and mine is on the right. She was insistent that our shirts be able to stand. We KonMari'ed several more shirts, and then I finished her drawer while she read me a story.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Only Thing He'll Remember About 4th Grade...

Today, one of my public school fourth grade students came back from lunch with the whole back of his orange shorts soaking wet. He had slipped in mud on the field, and - after going to the nurse to see if she had extra pants, which she didn't - tried to wash off the mud. I told him he could put on my Alice in Wonderland blue caterpillar costume and hang his shorts outside to dry. So he was dressed as a blue caterpillar the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kindergarten Week 5

For piano, in addition to all the songs she's been working on, Gemma learned "Mumbo Jumbo." She can play "Indian Song" from memory, and sings along at the top of her lungs.

Months ago, when she started Level B, I bought the ear training and theory books that go with Alfred Prep Level B, but we haven't been doing them. (When we started Level A, I also bought the flash cards. We're also not using those.) I feel like she's learning so much just by playing daily. When she finishes Level B, I don't think I'll buy the ear training or theory books for Level C. I also think I'll forgo the Solo book, and just get Sacred Solos. (I love the Sacred Solos book for Level B. I'm so glad to have come across it.)

My plan - right now ;) - for Alfred Prep Level C is to get the Lesson Book, Sacred Solos, and Christmas Songs.
Co-op was about boats. The host mom illustrated her own picture book about a sailing trip her family took to Catalina. She drew pictures of tugboats, cargo ships, sherriff's boats, etc. All of us moms were wowed. (I'm so happy to be part of a group of such creative and talented women.) Then the kids played Sink or Float, built cork boats, and ran around like wild things.
Gemma drew this picture at Classical Conversations this week. (The rest of the picture has mountains; the objective, I think, was to draw a person in the foreground and mountains in the background, to show that the person is close and the mountains are far away.) My husband and I had a good chuckle about it. Gemma can read at a 4th grade level, and multiply a 2-digit by a 1-digit number, but she would fail the kindergarten-readiness "Draw-A-Person" test. I have no idea why she continues to draw her people with only two fingers on each hand. They all kind of look like drummers holding drumsticks.

Church Mice started up again. The lesson was about Baby Moses.

She went to dance class.
At swim, she continued working on side breathing.
She did one Duolingo Spanish lesson.

We read some more of Little House on the Prairie. This is Gemma pretending to be Ma driving the covered wagon.
Here are Pet and Patty...
Pet is a stuffed frog wearing Gemma's unicorn helmet. Patty is an air purifier wearing Gemma's My Little Pony hoodie. She used a jump rope as the reins.

Here is one of her children inside the covered wagon...
We also read more Prince Caspian, Life of Fred: Honey, and Training Hearts.

Finally, Gemma's bean plants (that she grew from seeds she harvested from a parent plant) sprouted, and she planted them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kindergarten Week 4

We released Gemma's painted lady butterflies. We kept them for five days, and let them go on the morning of the sixth, before I left for work. If only I could start every day this way. Look at that face.
On Sunday, Gemma sang as part of a trio in church.

That afternoon, she got to go to a birthday party at a place called Adventureplex.

We finished Life of Fred: Goldfish, and started Life of Fred: Honey. Gemma had a meltdown because Fred's pet goldfish died and he threw it in the trash. I told her that yes, it was sad, and that I could stop reading, but she didn't want me to stop, so we kept going.

We started reading Little House on the Prairie, and read a little more of Prince Caspian and Training Hearts.

Gemma was attacked by a giant ant.
Classical Conversations started up again on Monday.

She did one Duolingo Spanish lesson.

She worked on "Indian Song" on piano.

She made a rubber band helicopter with our co-op.
There was dance.
There was swimming. She worked on her dolphin kick, and something called monkey soldier something-or-other. It was a backstroke kick.
Our friend Patrick McGilligan (who knew Gemma before she was born) was painting the windows of our neighborhood video store, Vidiots. He let Gemma paint some stars...
...and help paint a robot...
...and paint a sun.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Kindergarten Week 3

We finished Little House in the Big Woods:

..."What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?"

"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, "This is now."

...They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

It's a must-read for children, and a must-read-again for adults.

Our Little House reading led to us watching a couple of YouTube videos about threshing wheat. That led to us watching a two-part video of a man who grows his own wheat, threshes it, grinds it, and bakes it into bread. Gemma also asked how cloth is made, and watched a video about that, too.

We also read Life of Fred: GoldfishPrince Caspian, and Training Hearts.

Gemma re-read Life of Fred: Apples...
...and some Winnie the Pooh...
Foreign Language: 
She did two Duolingo Spanish lessons.

It was my week to host co-op. What started out as a home(pre)school co-op has transitioned into a co-op of preschoolers, TKers, and kindergarteners.

The theme this month is Transportation, so I wanted to do something to introduce the topic.

I started by reading the kids Ox-Cart Man, for two reasons. The first reason is that I love it. The second reason is that I wanted to ask the kids why the man needed the cart in the beginning, and why he didn't need it on his way home. This is the reason for transportation. We use transportation to carry things (including passengers) from one place to another place.

Then, I gave each child a ziploc baggie of  images (a dugout canoe, a chariot, a steamship, a space shuttle, etc.), and we categorized. I started by asking the kids to find all of the things that had wheels. (Gemma surprised me by saying, "Well, airplanes have little wheels." I'm not sure how she knew that, considering she was the only kid in the group to have never flown on a plane.) Then I asked them which things could fly. (Gemma said that the ship could fly if it were sprinkled with pixie dust. We all agreed. One little girl said the horse drawn carriage could fly if a pegasus were pulling it. We all agreed with that, too.)

Next, I talked them through taping the images in order. (Figuring out how to use tape is a skill in itself.)

Here is Gemma's finished timeline:
She learned "Rockin' Tune" (which introduces flats), and also "Marching Song."

Nature Study:
Gemma's butterflies emerged from their chrysalids. All five survived!

We enjoyed watching this video of a caterpillar pupating:
What else?
She danced, she swam, she practiced her song for Cerub Choir.

Mother Culture:
I've been watching Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses, Shakespeare's Henry VI parts 1 and 2, and Richard III. It's very bloody, but excellent.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Napping House

I came home today to find a unicorn napping in my bed...well, in a bed in my bed. 

I was told that it didn't want to be disturbed.