Week 13

Year 1: CHOW, “Kings with Corkscrew Curls”; PTTS, ch. 10, first half of George Washington, by the D’Aulaires; Stories of Gaia, Uranus, Chronos from the D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths.

January Memory: Psalm 29; “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”; “Carrickfergus”; Review of “Cabeza, Hombros” and “Diez Deditos”; “Halfway Down” by Milne.

Twins: Jonah by Peter Spier. Various other books. Playing with gems.

We’ve tried doing afternoon school this week. Deux feels cheated out of afternoon playtime. He does not seem to notice the extra morning playtime. However, narrations are less painful by having two fewer interrupters in the room. I wonder if we could do the writing-type school in the morning, plus projects, and only the read-aloud in the afternoon.

I feel kind of cheated out of afternoon work/writing/reading time for me, too. I have an uneasy feeling that no matter what I do there won’t be enough hours in the day.

Jonah was a nice complement to reading about the Assyrians. Large, people-swallowing fish figured prominently in their play this week. The big kids also cut out soldiers to go with it.

We’ve started Peter Pan which is a huge hit. (Too huge, they put up a fearful fuss when I stop reading for the day.)

We went on a hike in the woods in a downpour and got lost.We did find ourselves again.

I identified a Fox Sparrow at the feeder. I’m hoping to get to tell sparrows apart this year. I had initially hoped to learn to identify some bird songs, but my memory for sound sequences is very poor, so that may be asking too much. I’m still struggling to get the tune of “Carrickfergus” in my head and getting very impatient because all the performed versions I can find are soooo slooooow.

We drew in our nature notebooks this week! Inside because of the rain, but they did lovely detailed drawings of some different evergreen branches, cones, and the bug that came in with them.

The Duchess has started a couple more stories. We are working towards getting her her own computer (i.e. when DOB upgrades his six-year-old desktop for one that takes less than ten minutes to boot, she’ll get that one, de-internetized), so that she can write on stories without booting me off.

Copywork with Graphboards

The handwriting workbooks were getting dull. Make-your-own copywork sheets were eating up an awful lot of printer ink. And in both cases, the ducklings weren’t taking as much care with them as they should have.

Then I remembered something my sister had picked up at a second-hand curriculum sale–two personal-sized whiteboards. The only trouble was, they had this grid all over them. But on second thought–maybe that could actually help!

So I tried them. I explained with these boards, they only had to make one copy of the assigned thing–but it had to be a good one. They could copy and erase as much as they needed until they were satisfied. I was careful to copy along the gridlines so that I could easily point out where the letters were uneven heights or widths. I selected words or phrases according to their abilities, letters I noticed them having trouble with, or even personal requests.

Last week on our shopping trip we picked up a pack of multi-colored markers to make it even more fun. To keep D1 from slowing down too much and to help her look at words as a whole for better spelling, I told her she could only switch to a new color when she came to a new word.

So here’s what our copywork looks like now:

graphboard

D1's copywork

D2's copywork

This was inspired by a morning project–which they did all on their own, while I was listening to an online class–of coloring a number of real and imaginary planets, stars, moons, and rockets and taping them all over their room. D2 still needs to work on that “perfect copy” idea, but he’s doing pretty well for five. The extra little blank space at the bottom usually gets filled with decorations. (In fact, the only reason it’s not filled is that I erased D1’s name off of it.)

It turns out these boards were actually designed for use with Algebra 1 students. But they work also great for Grade 1 students. (Oh, and we’ve done some math on them, too.)

Sewing Lessons

Handcrafts are not something I particularly enjoy, so they are probably near the bottom of my list of Things Charlotte Mason Says to Do That I’ll Get Around to Someday. However, thanks to a link from Dewey’s Treehouse, I was inspired by this simple introduction to embroidery for older preschoolers. It uses cheap shelf liner (the more expensive stuff doesn’t have enough holes), yarn, and embroidery needles.

I tried it on a rainy day with D1 and D2 and they were both enthralled. I love how flexible it is–you don’t need a pattern, just freehand draw a simple shape with a sharpie marker. D1 took huge stitches and was done quickly while D2 was more painstaking. They are both eagerly talking about what they’ll do next. I’m going to see if I can introduce a few more basic stitches, and then move D1, at least, on to simple sewing, something she’s already eagerly talking about.

Curious George and Puppets, 3

 We used our puppets for a puppet show Friday night. (Actually a week ago Friday, now, but it’s been a busy week.) We rigged up an impromptu puppet stage with a tension rod and a blanket. (This took paint off the doorway.) The puppets had some trouble with shedding glued-on parts; I think we need to find a better way to attach things.

The ducklings asked the grownups to go first, so we improvised something involving a lot of screaming, puppet angst over not really being lions and bears, and explaining why one puppet was missing an eye. When the ducklings took their turn, they mostly copied us and knocked the puppet stage down.

Since then puppets have been shoved aside for Thanksgiving preparations, but D2 especially has expressed interest in making more puppets. I have some library books on making puppets I will pull out to see if the interest is sparked again when the Thanksgiving rush is over.

Curious George continues to be popular in general; they found a counting book (up to 100) which they demand everyone who walks into the house to read and also the alphabet one.

Curious George and Puppets, 2

I made good on my promise to make up puppet shapes while the ducklings were at Grandma’s house this Tuesday. On Wednesday when they came home I told them everything was ready and they immediately abandoned all thoughts of whining for printed-out coloring papers (something I’d like to get away from) and headed downstairs.

I had hunted through the craft boxes my sister made for us and found feathers, pom-poms, scraps of fabric, felt, ribbons, lace, bits of fake fur, googly eyes, buttons. Having it all waiting on the table was definitely better than hunting it out on the spot; having a table where we could spread things out and leave it during meals really made the whole thing possible. I’m still working on the balance of collaborating with them (rather than either directing or just leaving them alone.) I did keep charge of the glue (was not satisfied with how either glue I used worked) and encouraged them to wait and try out what they wanted with everything rather than gluing one thing on immediately and then discovering later they wanted something else in that spot.

D2 came up with the idea of making fuzzy eyebrows by trimming fuzz off the pom-poms. He imitated D1 a lot but also had some of his own ideas. I really love the way D1 did hair on her puppets; I helped her make the braid for the red-haired one.

We worked for about an hour on Wednesday and another hour on Thursday. After we had made the first two puppets on the first day, I realized D2 still had no idea what they were for. I put my hand inside and had it say a few words, and he instantly lit up and they began taking the puppets around, naming them and talking with them. D1 had hers nod and shake its head rather than talk for it for awhile.

Next up: tonight we hope to do a puppet show.

Curious George and Puppets

D1 has mentioned Curious George’s puppet show several times since we got the book Curious George Goes to the Hospital. On Saturday morning, while we were out shopping, they apparently improvised puppets from socks and did a puppet show with the baby sitter. They kept talking about them.

I asked D1 if she would like to make puppets, and she agreed. I suggested she could draw what she wanted her puppets to look like. She got several small stuffed animals and traced around their shapes, then adding details for the kind of puppets she wanted.

Then I was searching online for ideas on making puppets (it was clear that she expected her hand to go inside, so stick puppets were out) and came across a very simple outline for a puppet shape. She immediately wanted it printed out and colored. About this point D2 woke up from his nap and wanted one, too, although he flipped out at even the slightest hint of suggestion as to what he could do with it. ("I will not make it look like ANY ANIMAL!!!!!")

D1 colored hers an assortment of colors and added a mane, saying it was a lion. D2 of course then wound up coloring a lion, too. I said while they were gone on Tuesday I would try to sew up some puppet shapes that they can then decorate (it’s gotten cold and we will probably be inside a lot more this week.) We’ll see how this goes–I’m still not sure how well I’m going to be able to extend a project long-term. I’m too eager to move on to new things.

We keep coming around to lions, too. Not only did they both color lion puppets, but they watched the lion videos again while D2 was having his hair cut and then played lions drinking from the water hole outside. Their desire to be lion hunters has been stymied by a lack of volunteering giraffes.

Curious George and African Animals

So I’m playing with what we can do to expand interest in African animals sparked by Curious George.

We started last week with looking through some pictures on Earth Album. We decided to look for a monkey and found a picture that reminded us of Curious George, so we made a powerpoint page with him on it. D1 typed in "Curious George" and D2 typed the species name. (Actually I looked it up later and it was a chimpanzee. But it did look curious.)

Yesterday (Wednesday) I let them watch some footage from Africam. It was dark at the time so there wasn’t much to watch on the live cams. Instead we watched some saved footage of a lion taking a drink. They noted the way it licked its lips as it drank. They then wanted to watch lions eating. I warned them that lions ate other animals, like giraffes, but they were still interested. They enjoyed it thoroughly. (Not bloodthirsty, exactly, but they’re certainly not overly sensitive.)

I have a couple of books on hold about African animals and about the zoo–not sure which way those will go or if they will intersect. Their cousins did a fun project of making their own zoo; or of course making a model jungle would be fun, too. I think we have some pictures of animals they could use. The question is how to make them aware of the possibilities without taking over. I think first I’ll help them compile a "building box" and then we’ll talk about different things people have done so they can make their own plans.