Monday, May 22, 2017

Year 1: Beginning Narration

We started first grade (or Year 1, or Form 1B) last week.

I've chosen to use M.B. Synge's On the Shores of the Great Sea as our history spine. 
The first two stories in On the Shores of the Great Sea ("The Home of Abraham" & "Into Africa") were also about Abraham. I'm also using this as our Bible reading schedule, which meant that our first Bible story also happened to be about Abraham (Genesis 12:1-5).

Prior to reading "The Home of Abraham," I pointed out the Euphrates River and Iraq on a map in an atlas. (We used a National Geographic Kids World Atlas). I also made a list of the proper nouns in the chapter (Abraham, Chaldeans, Euphrates, Eden, Terah, Sarai, Lot, Hebrew). I read one page at a time. Gemma's narration was something like, "Abraham's father was Terah, and his wife was Sarai, and his little nephew was Lot..." That made me chuckle.

She also said that Abraham "crossed the flood," referring to this passage:
He crossed it and became known as the Hebrew - the man who had crossed the river flood - the man who came from beyond the Euphrates.
It was a pretty good beginning narration.

For "Into Africa," I again started with the list of pronouns. Gemma saw the names and said excitedly, "I see words from the last story!" I pointed out places in the atlas (Asia, Africa, Syria, Iraq, Euphrates, Egypt, Nile). Then - and this was something I had completely forgotten to do with "The Home of Abraham" - I told her to listen closely because I was going to ask her to tell back what she heard. Until she gets into the habit of narrating all of her lessons, I think reminding her that she will be narrating is probably a good idea. Because I told her this, she asked if I could read one paragraph at a time. Sure! I liked that she understood that she would be able to give a better narration if she narrated more frequently. Finally, I had her draw while she listened.

The picture is Abraham, a hot sun with no rain, a camel (the animal that looks like a horse), a sheep, Abraham's tent (behind the animals), a pyramid (lower left), a river (along the bottom of the page), and corn (grain growing next to the tent).

I made her first 1st grade drawing lesson How to Draw a Camel. Here are our camels... 😊

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kindergarten: Weeks 37 & 38

Gemma is now the owner of "Rose the Tadpole."
At Christmas, Gemma was given a frog habitat. The coupon that came with the habitat could be redeemed for a tadpole, but it was uncertain how long it would take for the tadpole to arrive. Because we go out of town often, I didn't want to order a tadpole that would arrive at an unspecified date. While looking into other tadpole options, I realized that at some point, if all went well, our tadpole would be a frog, and I didn't want to have to care for a frog.

I found a local aquarium shop that had leopard frog tadpoles (from Florida) and said that I could return the frog to the store after it metamorphosed.

The employees at the shop were very knowledgeable and explained to me that I needed algae wafers, water conditioner, and a submersible pump to oxygenate the water. Who knew raising a tadpole was so complicated? I also needed a little net ($1.99) to fish the tadpole out of its habitat once a week, to clean the habitat (with a paper towel).

If all goes well, Rose the Tadpole will metamorphose into Rose the Frog within three months.
Lots of our bulbs sprouted! We also have a pot of nasturtiums and a pot of lettuce.
Every day, a new rose blooms. 

We are reading two books right now - The Trumpet of the Swan and Avi's Poppy.

We spent a Saturday making erasers.
Gemma finished another round of swim lessons. She's still a Minnow, but she figured out how to do an underwater handstand.
We discovered two little mushrooms growing in a Venus fly trap pot...
...and one Venus fly trap is flowering!
So is the octopus plant!
Gemma turned SIX!
Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Specimen Narration Lesson: Geography

Form: 1B


Book Used: Geography (1st Series) by A.B. Archer and H.G. Thomas, Book I, pages 67-69

Aim: To arouse interest in the country and people of Pakistan

Method: Introduction:
Brief recapitulation of the last lesson. "What country did we read about last time?"

Step 1: Talk about Pakistan, mentioning any people whom you happen to know there. Explain that it was once part of political India.

Step 2: Find Pakistan on the map; notice its position with regard to Egypt (the last country studied) and England. Plan how you would go there from England by sea or air.

Step 3: Look at and discuss the pictures on page 67.

Step 4: Write any difficult words on a blackboard, if available, e.g. Bengal, Bengali, Pakistan, Roshik.

Step 5: Teacher read aloud section 1: "A boy who lives in Pakistan."

Step 6: Uninterrupted narration.

Step 7: If there are several pupils they may supply anything which has been left out. If narration shows that something has been imperfectly understood, the teacher should explain, but she should not tell the children anything they should have known if they had listened carefully.

Step 8: Look at and discuss the picture on page 68.

Steps 9 and 10: Reading of the section "A land of the three seasons" followed by a narration as before.

Step 11: Look at the picture on page 69, "Guess what they are cooking?"

Steps 12 and 13: Reading of the section "Dinner with Roshik's Family" followed by narration.

Conclusion: Answer the questions on page 69. If there is time, a quick drawing might be made of something in the picture, e.g. a cooking pot. This might alternatively be modelled in clay during a craft period.

My notes...

This is a "Specimen Narration Lesson" from the CMDC's PNEU teaching programmes 1968-1977 1952-1978 Pamphlets 1-9.

It is a "first grade" lesson plan.

The book, Geography (1st Series) by A.B. Archer, M.A. and Helen G. Thomas, was subtitled Six Children from Far-away Lands.

I found two images of pages inside the book.

My first thought was that these look very textbook-y.

This particular reading was divided into 3 sections, and each section was followed by a narration. The sections are very short - 3 to 5 paragraphs, and some paragraphs have as few as two sentences. 

I have several takeaways from reading this lesson plan.

  1. The objective is not for students to learn specific facts about a country, but to "arouse interest" in the country and the people who live there.
  2. We're supposed to ask our children what we read about "last time" before reading the next chapter.
  3. Connections. We're supposed to make personal connections to the text. If we know someone who lives somewhere, we're supposed to say so. We're also supposed to connect the new information to something the child knows; in this lesson, the children have heard of India, so it makes sense to tell them that Pakistan was once part of India.
  4. We're supposed to show them where a place is located prior to reading about it, and to connect this new knowledge to prior knowledge. Where is this new place in relation to the last place we learned about? Where is this place in relation to where we are now? How can we get there?
  5. Look at the pictures and talk about what you see.
  6. Write "difficult" words on a whiteboard. In this lesson, the "difficult" words were names of places and people - proper nouns.
  7. I can imagine the teacher reading about Bombo (above) and asking, "Now, what can you tell me about Bombo's house?" or "What can you tell me about Bombo's supper?" as opposed to reading three pages and asking for a child to narrate back all three pages. A child is going to be more successful at narrating if we break a chapter up into several sections. It's not just "okay" to do this; it's necessary. It shows a child that information can be organized by topic. Narration is oral composition, and organizing information by topic is a basic composition skill.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kindergarten: Week 36

One of the big things that happened this week is that we got to the Chapter 18 "Your Turn to Play" in Life of Fred: Jellybeans. This is the last "Your Turn to Play" in the book. We'll be done with Jellybeans in the next few days. Wow.

I taught our after-school co-op's lesson about leaves, and we went on a leaf scavenger hunt.
Daddy took Gemma kite flying on a windy day at the beach.

Gemma learned 5 Position Waltz on piano.

One evening, I let her do "Coding with Anna and Elsa."
We're still reading The Trumpet of the Swan. Gemma read ahead. I think she finished the book because she keeps telling me what Louis is going to do, but she said she only read "a little bit" I think so as not to hurt my feelings. She read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on her own, as well as a couple of Magic Tree House books. This kid...

She begged me to read a children's version of The Tempest, and - in the middle - was really concerned about what was going to happen with Miranda and Ferdinand. She loved it. 

She went to dance class one evening, and swimming another evening.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Kindergarten: Weeks 34 & 35

Weeks 34 and 35 included Palm Sunday and Easter. Here is Gemma, ready to sing Hosanna.
Once a week, my husband takes Gemma to a state park, to meet up with a group of friends, so they can tinker and explore. Over my spring break, I got to take her. I had such a good time watching her and the other 4 and 5 year olds playing on the other side of the creek.
While we were there, I saw this...
It's a male belostomatid: a giant water bug. A female belostomatid laid her eggs on his back, and he's now got to carry them around until they hatch!

There were also rusty tussock moth caterpillars all over the place.
This one was crawling around on the adding machine the kids were using screwdrivers to disassemble.
Over spring break, we visited family. 

Here is Gemma, at Grandma and Poppa's, using binoculars to observe a dove in the nest above the birdhouse on the patio.
Grandma thought it would be a good idea to learn how to twist balloon animals. I am now an expert balloon-dog-maker.

We dyed eggs...
...and Gemma spent lots of time in the jacuzzi.
Back at home, Gemma made soap...
Six of our pots of bulbs sprouted!
Gemma went to the Renaissance Faire, but more on that in a future post...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kindergarten Weeks 32 & 33

Spring has sprung! We've been enjoying the beautiful weather, as well as Life of Fred: Jellybeans (we're 3/4 through), The Trumpet of the Swan, ladybugs, dissecting Asiatic lilies, nature walks, the aquarium (that's a sea lion skull), biking to the beach with Daddy, playing in the sand, dance class (the June recital is fast approaching!), hopscotch, nature journaling, a Sunday School lesson about The Last Supper, climbing a California sycamore, learning to play "Minuet & Trio" on piano, singing songs from Wee Sing Around the World (highly recommend!), finishing a month of swim lessons (big improvements in coordination and focus), and so much more...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review of Channie's Visual Handwriting from Educents

My daughter, Gemma, is 5 ¾ (yes, three-quarters). When it comes to homeschooling styles, I lean toward the Charlotte Mason method, which means that we haven’t officially begun “school.” Charlotte Mason believed that a child should have “a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive, receptive life.” While I can’t claim to have given Gemma six years without academics, I can say that I’ve put off teaching her to write.
Now in the homestretch of kindergarten, Gemma’s public school friends, are writing complete sentences using uppercase and lowercase letters. While I don’t feel pressured to get her caught up, when presented with the opportunity to try Channie’s Visual Handwriting Workbooks for free, I was quick to say yes.
Read all about our experience with Channie's Visual Handwriting Workbooks from Educents here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Superbloom! (Kindergarten Week 30)

We took a drive to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the wildflowers. Because of all the rain we've gotten this winter, this year is a "superbloom."

Here are some of the flowers we saw...
...beavertail cactus...
...desert dandelions, desert sunflowers, sand verbena flowers, and dune evening primroses...
...parish poppies (yellow, upper left), monkeyflower (upper right), Arizona lupine (lower right), and chuparosa...
My husband, Pete, is showing Gemma a spider attacking a caterpillar. The large plant (right) is an ocotillo. We saw lots of ocotillos in bloom with flowers like candle flames.