Saturday, October 21, 2017

Year 1: Week 17


This "week" has lasted two weeks.  

The reason? Report cards. My school district adopted a new report card system this year, a very complicated system, which required me to spend 16 hours inputting data. It also meant that Gemma spent a lot of time reading independently, and that I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for ignoring my child.

It also meant that our "handicrafts" were pumpkin carving, pumpkin decorating, and cooking.









I know that pumpkin carving and decorating are not sloyd or knitting, but being able to use a knife and a hammer help develop fine motor skills (like other handicrafts), and are both important life skills. I know, I know. Handicrafts and life skills are not synonymous. The purpose of handicrafts is to produce something that is not just useful, but both useful and beautiful. Carved pumpkins aren't useful, but I have seen pumpkins which elevated pumpkin carving to an art form.

Gemma graduated from Fish to Barracuda, which means that, in the spring, she will be in the "big" pool. 

She drew Eleanor of Aquitaine...

In history, my husband read her Some Greek Colonies, which included the story of the Philaeni (fil-ee-nee). I had never heard the legend of how Carthage and Cyrene determined where their border would be, and how the Carthaginian brothers involved were buried alive at the border. 

Gemma didn't want to include the Philaeni being buried alive in her timeline book. She chose to include 1)Polyclitus' Discus Thrower (from our Art History reading), 2)Van Gogh, and 3)Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. It was fun to see Gemma realize, by looking at her timeline book, that Van Gogh and Beethoven were alive during the same century. 

In math, we completed Life of Fred: Liver chapter 2. This was one of our recent problems:
If Fred's pulse had been 160 beats/minute and had slowed to 90, how much was the decrease?

When I'm teaching her how to approach word problems, I always ask her what numbers are in the problem. Then I ask her what we need to do with those numbers; what process do we need to use? This problem used the word "decrease," so I asked her what, seeing that Fred's pulse had "slowed" down, and seeing that his pulse went from 160 to 90, did she think "decrease" meant we should do with those numbers. She answered "subtract." She completed the problem.

Additionally (math pun - get it?), I am assigning her pages in Mathematical Reasoning Level E, which is the 4th grade book. If we were doing Fred more often than once per week, I wouldn't do this. I'm doing it because it gives her practice with skills she knows (like the steps in long division, or the steps in the multiplication of two 2-digit numbers), and she enjoys the way math problems are like puzzles. 

Gemma went to CC, jiujitsu, and dance. We also started Christmas pageant rehearsal, which means learning lots of new songs. Coincidentally, our Bible passage this week was Luke 2:1-20.

She read several Aesop's Fables independently (because I put the book in her bookshelf) and narrated them just because I asked her what she read about.

She read her Old Testament passage, psalm, and parable. (We have yet to commit to a poem for recitation this term, though we've read lots of poems from Nature in Verse.)

We listened to our hymn of the term - All Creatures of Our God and King.

Hymn Study... The way I understand Charlotte Mason believed it should be done was that children should learn to recite the verses, one hymn per term. The way AO is scheduled, a different hymn is learned every month, but families can study them the way they choose. Some people do one hymn per month, but choose hymns they sing in church. I chose to learn one hymn we sing in church per term. One hymn per term seemed doable, while a hymn per month seemed ambitious and daunting. The way things actually work out, we do learn more than one hymn per term. For example, Gemma has been practicing playing two hymns on the piano - Jesus Lover of My Soul and A Mighty Fortress is Our God - to play at an upcoming social after church.

For picture study, she chose Van Gogh's The Bedroom.

There were other readings. She sang her foreign language songs, and she practiced cursive. As always, there are several other things we did, things I'm forgetting at the moment, but I'm going to let Week 17 be, and move forward into Week 18...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Year 1: Week 15

The big adventure this week was driving up to Central California to visit family and go to the Big Fresno Fair. Here are some of the highlights of our field trip...


Gemma posed as the Sun-Maid Raisin girl in the Agriculture Pavilion.

Here are Gemma and Grandpa viewing the prize-winning citrus...

...and getting attacked by a giant grasshopper in the Bug-ology exhibit.
The fair's theme was "The Land of Ahhhs," so the pumpkin carver carved all of the characters from The Wizard of Oz, plus a house on top of a pair of legs, complete with tornado.

In Ag-Ventureland, Gemma practiced milking a cow...

...and driving a tractor.

In the Gems and Minerals Pavilion, there was a Touch Station...

...and one of my favorite fair features - the rock feast.
Gemma got to practice her television weathercaster skills in front of a green screen...









She played in a box full of corn...

...and watched a marionette performance of The Wizard of Oz.

The week leading up to our field trip was packed with...

History: We read about King Leonidas (Lay-o-NEE-thas) in The Brave 300, and King Ahasuerus (in On the Shores of the Great Sea).

Literature: We read 2 fairy tales, both of which we'd read before but Gemma hadn't narrated - Snow White and Rose Red, and Toads and Diamonds. Our fable was The Man and the Goose, in which the man had a goose that laid golden eggs, but the man was so greedy that he cut the goose open, killing the goose, and putting an end to the golden eggs. We also read 3 pages of Lamb's The Tempest, and poetry from Nature in Verse.

Natural History: We read "Seedboxes We Eat As Vegetables," which introduced the idea that some flowers have dustbags and some flowers have seedboxes. (Some flowers are male and some are female.) In the past, we dissected lilies (complete flowers), which, if you're reading Plant Life in Field and Garden, would be a great activity to complement the chapters about dustbags and seedboxes in this book. In the Burgess Seashore Book, we read about oyster drills.

Geography: We read Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography - "The Sunshine" (poem) - and The World By the Fireside (The Green Corn Festival).

We listened to Tchaikovsky (more Swan Lake & Pathetique, and the Tchaikovsky Classics for Kids episode about ballet). Gemma spent the week reviewing songs in her Level D piano book. She also reviewed her hymn and 2 foreign language songs. We reviewed this terms Bible recitation passages, and read the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. Gemma worked on her cursive, and strengthened skills in Duolingo.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Year 1: Week 16

This is just some of what we did this week...

Gemma drew a princess holding a frog...

We continued to read poetry from the autumn section of Nature in Verse. In geography, we continue to read about North America and Native Americans. One of the chapters was about buffalo, and one of the chapters was about a topic that is part of few 1st grade curricula: the practice of senicide. Gemma finished Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 18. We continued to read The Father Brown Reader. Gemma went to CC, jiujitsu, and swim, but missed dance due to a misplaced leotard. 

She did some cursive, practiced piano, did Duolingo. My husband took on some more of the teaching duties, as my workload this year - because of a new, mandated language arts curriculum; a new report card system; and for the first time under the current ELD requirements, I have the 4th grade English Learner cluster  - is heavier. My husband read Gemma 3 pages of Lamb's The Tempest, the Burgess Seashore Book ch 16, Why the Sea is Salt from The Blue Fairy Book, and a chapter from Plant Life in Field and Garden. In her free time, Gemma did several pages in Mathematical Reasoning Level E. We listened to some Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake & Pathetique) and looked at Van Gogh's painting Cafe Terrace at Night. We read Psalm 23, and her recitation passages. She worked a little on her sewing doll. In history, one of the topics we read about was Thermopylae.

My favorite Gemma quote of the week (in reference to Father Brown): "He's always fumbling with his umbrella and parcels."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Year 1: Week 14


Gemma's week included samba-ing in the street.

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

We read several poems from Nature in Verse, 3 pages of Lamb's The Tempest, The Story of Pretty Goldilocks from The Blue Fairy Book, the story of The Fiery Furnace from the Bible, 2 pages in Nature Connection about why leaves fall off trees, recitation passages (Psalm 100, parable, Baby Moses), wrote 4 words in cursive (lettuce, autumn, etc.), added 3 people to timeline book, and did the "strengthen skills" feature on Duolingo.

The fable Gemma chose was The Mouse and the Weasel. In it, a mouse chews a hole in a corn basket, and once in the basket, eats so much corn, and gets so fat, that he can't squeeze back through the hole to get out. Gemma's narration included advice to the mouse: "He should have taken the corn to his burrow, instead of eating it in the basket."

The fairy tale was perfect for prediction. Instead of having Gemma narrate - gasp! Call the Charlotte Mason police! - I had her predict what would happen next, because, if she had been paying attention, she should have been able to, at several points in the story, predict what would happen next. For example, Charming rescues a carp, and the carp says she will repay Charming. When Charming comes upon another animal, the listener should be able to predict that Charming will help this animal, too, and that this animal will also gratefully promise to repay Charming. When Charming comes upon a third animal, the listener should easily predict Charming will rescue the third animal, and that this animal, too, will promise to repay Charming. When Charming is asked by Princess Goldilocks to do the impossible task of getting a ring from the bottom of a river, the listener should immediately be able to predict that the first animal, the carp, will get the ring for Charming. At this point, the listener might predict that Princess Goldilocks will ask Charming to perform two more impossible tasks, because there are still two animals who need to repay Charming. Otherwise, when Princess Goldilocks asks Charming to go on a second adventure, the listener should predict that the second animal will come to Charming's aid. And so on and so on.

One of the thoughts that struck me while reading this story to Gemma is how necessary predictable stories like this are for developing the ability to predict. It seems obvious, but it is something disregarded by public education.

It also struck me that the king cruelly imprisons Charming, because he is fearful and jealous. This story clearly shows that this is an injustice, that kings shouldn't rule this way, and that government should be just.

This week, I prioritized the things we didn't get around to last week. I had Gemma choose a hymn, and she chose one we often sing in church: All Creatures of Our God and King.

She also did a nature watercolor of her lettuce plant, which she noticed is producing a flower!



I made handicrafts a priority this week, and we pulled out the doll sewing kit Gemma started. She sewed and stuffed the body and head; I attached the arms for her. She did this while Alouette, a couple of other French songs, and some of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique played. We also listened to some of Swan Lake, and revisited Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters.

Math: Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 16

History: Cinncinatus, The Battle of Marathon, and The Perfect Building (the Parthenon)

Free Reads: The Father Brown Reader

PE: Dance, jiujitsu, swim



Gemma passed her swim test (swimming the length of the pool), and is now able to swim in the rec area of the pool without me being in the water with her. That meant she was able to swim before her lesson and after, spending not just 30 minutes in the pool, but an hour and 30 minutes.

Geography: a couple of games of Jax Sequence States & Capitals, The World By the Fireside (The Baby's Cradle & The Medicine Bag)