Sunday, September 17, 2017

Year 1: Week 13

This is a princess Gemma drew this week, using Freddie Levin's 1-2-3 Draw: Princesses.

(This "week" lasted 9 days.)

For timeline, Gemma wanted to add Peter & Cornelius, Goliath, and Jonah to her timeline book.

For nature Study, we read "Grass - So Much More than a Lawn," from Nature Connection. This book was a gift from a friend, and I'm looking forward to reading more from it. In the Burgess Seashore Book, we read about starfish, or sea stars, and we also watched a couple of short YouTube videos of sea stars moving and eating. Finally, we read a chapter about how flowers make seeds, in Plant Life in Field and Garden.

For math, we did Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 15.

We finished A Child's Garden of Verses, and started Nature in Verse. It's divided into seasons, so we are enjoying poems about autumn.

In history, we read Horatius at the Bridge (from Fifty Famous Stories Retold),"A Cloud in the East" about King Darius, and Hillyer's A Child's History of Art (ch 5 of Painting - Jars and Jugs). For Jars and Jugs, we looked up the pronunciation of different styles of Greek vases.

Our tale this week was Beauty and the Beast from The Blue Fairy Book, and our fable was The Dog in the Manger.

I'm doing Lamb's Shakespeare differently this term. Instead of reading a full tale in one week, I'm going to read about 3 pages per week, stretching one tale over 6 weeks. We're starting with The Tempest, which Gemma is familiar with from both the Usborne Illustrated Shakespeare book and the Animated Shakespeare movies.

For geography, we read chapter 7 of CM's Elementary Geography, about the planets orbiting the sun. Gemma was particularly interested in the idea that Saturn takes longer than earth to orbit the sun, because Saturn is farther than earth from the sun.

Instead of a narration with that book, I had Gemma answer the questions at the end of the chapter. I assume that since CM wrote that book, she wanted children to be able to answer those questions. I'm curious about this point because it's the opposite of what CMers deem "right," regarding how children should process  text.

At Classical Conversations, Gemma is learning the states and capitals, so I finally ordered a game that has been on my wish list: Jax Sequence States & Capitals. We played as a family, and my husband won. While we were playing, Gemma's eyes got wide and she said, "Hey! What a consequence!" (She meant "coincidence," a word she had just learned an hour earlier.) "Augusta, Maine; Concord, New Hampshire? That's just like CC!" I gaped. "Wow, how did that happen?" I said, feigning surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed that she had no idea I bought the game on purpose to help her learn the states and capitals.

We also read a chapter from The World By the Fireside by Mary Kirby, a book listed on the PNEU programmes. While this book has lots of wonderful passages, it also has some passages that need editing for various reasons. We came to one of those passages this week. The chapter was called "The Red Man." One of the things I want Gemma to gain an understanding of, over time, is that a reader can read text without agreeing with the author. I also want her to understand that there is something to be learned by doing this. There is value in this.

For example, last term, we read about the Esquimaux, or Eskimo, and I explained to her that this was a name that other people gave them, and not a name they gave themselves. I told her that the name they call themselves is Inuit. We did not discuss that not all "Eskimos" are Inuit, however, later, we will be able to have that conversation.

Back to this week's chapter. The book is written from an English perspective, so Kirby writes about "we" people living in England. I change this by adding or omitting words. The book is also old. We don't call Native Americans "red men" anymore. But! I do think it's important to explain that people from England did refer to themselves as white and to Native Americans as red. They did see them as different, and superior - but I don't want to get into that idea too much yet. We most definitely will in the future.

(Coincidentally, one of our current free reads is Little House on the Prairie, and we recently read the chapter in which Native Americans go into Laura's house...)

Now, for the edits... This particular passage discusses scalping. Now, first of all, Gemma is sensitive. If I bring up scalping, she's going to ask questions. And I answer her questions. These are questions I don't want to answer right now. I don't want her thinking about how this was done, or why this was done, or that all Native Americans did this, or that no other people did this.

Another discussion we had was about medicine men. The book says medicine men "pretended" to scare away evil. I explained that the medicine men didn't think they were pretending; the English author didn't understand that the medicine men believed what they were doing. In her narration, Gemma didn't use the word "lied" - she used "pretended" - but I could tell that she equated pretended to lied. She thought that if medicine men lied about chasing away evil, they were also lying about the medicinal value of the herbs they prescribed. I explained that many of the herbs a medicine man prescribed really did have medicinal value. 

Lastly, the chapter said that Native Americans didn't like "knowledge and improvements," so I edited that, too. I said the Native Americans had a different kind of knowledge than the English, and that the English had certain technology that the Native Americans didn't have.

Gemma earned a yellow stripe in jiujitsu. Her coach told the students to write 6 sentences about being prepared for jiujitsu, so she was very motivated to write one sentence per day for six days. Her sentences were short, but she chose what she wanted to say and wrote her sentences in cursive.

A game of Duck Duck Goose...

The French song I chose for this term is Alouette, because it is a song she will learn to play on the piano in the not-so-distant future. She's finishing up the Alfred Prep Level D book, and Alouette is one of the early songs in the Level E book. (In piano, she's working on The Baseball Game, which is the second to last song in her current book.)

The Spanish song Gemma chose is Des Colores. We watched Children of the Open Air's lesson on Ring Around the Rosie, and listened to half of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Gemma, surprisingly, chose Van Gogh's Potato Eaters for picture study. For recitation, I chose Psalm 100, and The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, and we read the story of Naaman.

I did not chose an Old Testament passage for recitation yet; I didn't teach a handicrafts lesson this week; I haven't chosen a hymn yet (but we did sing a couple); and I didn't have Gemma do a nature journal entry.

She did spend time in the forest.

They made fairy (or dragon) houses out of clay and twigs, and other objects.

Finally, here are pictures I took at swimming, and at dance.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Year 1: Term 1: Exam Week

This is the first time I've done an "Exam Week" with Gemma, and I really didn't enjoy it. 

It didn't reveal anything that I didn't already know. Because Gemma does all of her school-work with me, I know what she knows. I also know that her narrations need a lot of improvement, and I'm confident that as she gets older, and as she reads and talks about what she's read more, her narrations will improve.

I suppose that if I needed to prove to someone else - like a charter school - that my child was learning, these exams could help do that. But we're not enrolled in a charter. I don't have to keep a portfolio. I blog about our homeschooling experiences for me (because I'm so busy with work that I wouldn't remember what Gemma and I did last week without some sort of record to jog my memory), and to keep in touch with family and friends, and because I've discovered so many great books, field trips, games, etc. by reading about other homeschoolers' experiences.

We tried two different things. We tried Gemma answering her exam questions using speech to text in google docs, which took longer than it needed because Gemma kept rereading what she had said, and which produced some errors that I will, someday, find humorous. (Did you know there were "bondsmen and zombies" in The Good Samaritan?) We also tried me typing her narrations, which was fine, but tedious for me, and produced shorter narrations, I think because she didn't get the same satisfaction from just talking as she did from seeing her words appear on the screen with speech to text. We didn't try videotaping her exams.

I want to see some value in Exam Week, if not for me, than maybe for her. What does a child gain by showing, in this way, what they've retained from a term? Or is it that they develop an understanding that they are expected to retain these ideas?

I do think that I need a Reflection Week, or a Grace Week, to evaluate what went well over the term, what worked, what was easy, and what needs to be prioritized so it doesn't get left out.

For example, piano was easy. Gemma played more than her required 15 minutes per day. Duolingo was easy, and while Gemma now knows some words in Spanish and French, and is interested in learning more, I am wondering if I should add something here, like scheduling Telefrancais and Salsa episodes, or setting a goal of a certain number of new (themed) words per month.

On the other hand, maybe it would be nice to look back, years from now, at Gemma's exam answers. But I don't think we need two questions in each subject for that purpose. Maybe next time, we will have an Exam Day, with only two questions total, followed by a decadent dessert, like fancy chocolate cupcakes from Sweet Lady Jane's. Yes, that changes everything.

Year 1: Week 12

Gemma lost her third tooth during...WEEK 12!
Coincidentally, our tale for this week is TWELFTH Night. :)

Our free reads: Bunnicula, Galileo - The Starry Messenger, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader

(We read the Galileo book to complement the chapter in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography about Galileo. We also watched a DVD about Galileo from our public library - "The Animated Hero Classics: Galileo" by NEST; I highly recommend it.)

In addition to the free reads I read aloud to Gemma, she reads independently all the time. She has been enjoying the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, the Boxcar Children series, and the Encyclopedia Brown series, and Classic Starts Sherlock Holmes.

In geography, we read "The Gulf Stream" and "The Polar Sea."

Gemma chose The Boy and the Well for her fable.

We revisited our Degas painting from last week, and our Beethoven piece from last week.

For Natural History, we learned about the oyster crab. Did you know the female oyster crab lives inside an oyster shell? I had no idea. We also read "How a Seed Grows" from Plant Life in Field and Garden, and watched a time lapse video of a seed sprouting. (A long while ago, we sprouted bean seeds in a clear plastic cup with wet cotton.)

There was also a day at Temescal Canyon, an afternoon at a park, and an afternoon at the beach.

One of our co-ops held a bake sale and lemonade stand to raise money for hurricane relief. We raised over $800!

Swim lessons started up again.

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Gemma got her gi.

And, of course, there was dance class.

For math, we did Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 14.

We sang, recited, read more Stevenson poetry, learned to write s, t, u, and v in cursive, rang bells at church, did Duolingo, etc.

Our Bible story was Elijah and the Ravens.

In piano, Gemma continued to work on Caravan, and also learned to play the hymn "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" from her Sacred Solos book.

Next up, Exam Week...