What We Did, August 2010

This month I’ve been doing a bunch of reorganizing, planning, and trying to step up our school time a bit. I think the older kids could use a bit more of a challenge, but I’m still trying to keep it laid back and let them provide the driving energy.

What I’m working towards is having a bunch of different activities written up on index cards (e.g. make a book; play a math game; listen to a history story while coloring a picture). Each day they can select one that must be done jointly with me and one that’s more independent. The idea is that I would work with them while the twins play in their room, and then they will work independently while I play with the twins. Total expected time is about half an hour. (This is in addition to a fifteen-minute singing/memory time and about another forty-five minutes of read-alouds at other times of the day. And everything they do on their own.)

Some snags still occurring in this: I’ve been letting the twins do more “school-like” activities, and they can’t really do these independently (coloring, small manipulatives). Or if they do, they fight or throw everything on the floor. I think we need to go back to in the room, gate up, bin of duplos or blocks for at least the first, joint activity. Then perhaps we can do the other while the big kids are working independently.

The other is that the big kids do not always agree on what they want to do. For the independent activity, this shouldn’t matter, but sometimes does–for the one where they both need to be with me, it really does. Besides, eventually one activity ALWAYS wins out over the other. They really would rather do the same thing the other one is doing. So I think what I may do is assign them alternate days to pick. But then I have to remember whose day is which. Even and odd, that always works. (D1 was born on an even day, D2 on an odd.) (Except for that we’re gone one day a week–if it’s Wednesday, as I plan, it should still be OK, though.)

The third problem is I think I lost the cards already. I better find them this afternoon.

Well, anyway, other than that, I rather like it. It lets me prepare activities at random when they strike me, and then lets them decide what they want to learn about next. We did science and art lessons this week, both things that we’ve never really worked on. Less writing than I would have liked–I’m debating making copywork daily instead of just one of the options.

I’m also trying to make my journal notes daily and I’d like to make these posts weekly.

Our memory work has continued what we were doing in July.

This week:

Coloring a page of Spanish numbers and colors. (And read Counting Ovejas again.)
Narrated from Aesop.
Sewing on shelf liner.
Observing dandelions opening and closing, bees, discussed pollination.
Addition math game with dice and poker chips.
Drawing lesson–elements of shape (from Drawing with Children.)
Science lesson–organization and categories (Lesson A-1 from Building a Foundation for Scientific Understanding.)

Books: Cleopatra
books by Rumer Godden
More of Oz. Lots more. D1 is reading on her own, after or ahead of me, now.
Toot and Puddle
Merlin and the Making of the King
(also Arthurian paper dolls)
The Sea King, Jane Yolen
Finished The Great Snake, about the Amazon.
Books of picture puzzles–helping to learn to focus on details.

To prepare next:
Lesson B-2 (living and non-living things) from BFSU
Using elements in drawing.
New memory/music for September
Possibly books on Australia/Oceania
Know parts of flowers to discuss next time opportunity arises.
Games/activities to learn addition/subtraction facts, focusing on making 9s and 10s.
Find a way to incorporate/require daily writing, however brief.

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