Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Floats?

Today we moved forward (FINALLY!!) from the letter A and started working on B.

Writing/Fine Motor/Letter Recognition

Letter B! Upper and lower case. Tracing and writing. Writing lessons went better today (numbers too) because I bribed him with marshmallows - one for each B he wrote for me.

Following b's through a maze.


Finding and circling pictures that begin with the B sound.

Circling the picture in a group that rhymes with the first picture.

Spelling and Vocab (at least, that's what the workbook calls it)

Tracing and writing the word "I." Filling in "I" to complete three sentences.


Tracing and writing the number 2.

Following 2s through a maze to help children get to a zoo.

Trace and write the number 10.

Color in only the spaces with the number 10, to reveal a hot air balloon hidden picture.


Drawing a line from an object to where it belongs - toolbox or fridge.

Cutting out pictures of furniture and gluing them in the correct room of a house.


The second part of our chapter on water. Review of yesterday's information, and then moved on to learning about floating and sinking.

When asked what sorts of things he thought might float, he answered "boats." When asked what he thought might sink, he answered, "small boys." (!!!)

I gathered several small objects and filled a clear bowl with water, and we tested a plastic fork, metal baby spoon, hot wheels car, rock, lego, toothpick, toy spider, and a paper muffin cup. We made a chart with two columns - one for float, and one for sink. For each item he tested, he filled in the box showing what happened. When we had tested all the items, we reviewed it by reading our chart. By the time we were done, he was able to tell me, when I pointed at an item on the list, what had happened to it, just by looking at what he had colored on the chart.

Miscellaneous other stuff

Still looking for a good history book. Think I may have found one (or two) - just need to order it/them. May have found something great for world geography and learning about other countries and cultures - will let you know how it turns out. It's published by Highlights - a little old for him at the moment, but we can adapt it and then recycle it when he's ready for the whole thing. Have something wonderful on the way for mythology, poetry, and miscellaneous children's literature (thanks, Mom!!). A 16-volume set of The Children's Hour books published in 1953. I had them when I was little (and not-so-little) and LOVED them. I hope my kids do too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dec 29 2008

Today went well. Much much better than some of the school days we've been having.

Writing/Fine Motor/Letter Recognition

I don't have Ethan trace "A"s anymore on his worksheet, since he seems to have the general idea. Instead today we just wrote a small line each of upper- and lower-case and then only traced them as the first letter in some practice words (Alligator, Apple, Alice, astronaut, at, ant).

He colored a "hidden" picture of an alligator by filling in only the spaces that contained the letter A in either form (he also wrote some lower-case letter Ns in the blank spaces - a letter I didn't know he knew how to write, but he does know uppercase simply because it's part of his name).


Circled A words in a group of pictures, circled words containing the short a sound, and matched one set of pictures to their rhyming pictures (plane to rain, car to star, etc.).


Writing the number 1, coloring only items that are labeled with the number 1 (he was able to recognize other numbers on the other items as well - I'm seeing great progress with this!).

A connect-the-dot page.


We (I) decided to shelve the weather topic for now and work out of a textbook I found called Exploring Science. We read about water and did some experiments to explore the properties of water and what makes water change its state. We made condensation on a glass, saw that ice melted in a glass of warm water, and poured water from one container to another to see that water takes the form of whatever you pour it into. The only one we didn't do was evaporation, because we don't really have a sunny window that's not one of the little boys' rooms, but we do know that heat evaporates water, and I'm going to show him this next time we go into a public restroom with a hand dryer.

Language Arts

We read William Wordsworth's Daffodils - once with me stopping to explain as I went along, and then explaining it at the end, and then a second time when I thought he understood the broad idea. He seemed to enjoy it, so we'll read little poems like that a couple times a week maybe. Maybe he could learn and recite something simple.

We read a little book about a little girl who gets a sled for Christmas (it didn't have a cover - I made up a name for it), and then we did a book report. I had him give a synopsis of the book and then tell me his favorite part.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Tools

We have a new tool here that is helping immensely in number recognition, order, and fine motor skills.

A connect-the-dots book.

We did a few of them this morning, and he loved them, once he caught on. At first, he was going from point to point with some spectacular detours. The shortest distance between two points is a right angle, he thought. But once he figured out that he was meant to be drawing a picture it clicked, and he was very focused on them for nearly half an hour. By the time he tired of them, he could finally distinguish between a 9 and a 6, and could recognize the rest of the numbers by sight as well, up to 10.

That was quite a milestone for him, one I was fretting over him ever reaching.

As far as letter recognition goes, last night I attended a Discovery Toys party and ordered something that looks very promising. It's a magnetic fishing game, and the sea creatures that you catch have uppercase letters on them, that you have to match to the letters on your card. When they've mastered uppercase, you can flip the cards over and fish for uppercase to match to lowercase on the card. He's big into "fishing" with various magnetic things around the house, so I am hopeful this will be an excellent learning game for him.

I also ordered a box of brightly colored small rubber vehicles to use as math manipulatives.

He's getting bored and fed up with having to trace and write letters. I don't know whether to hold off on doing that, and let him try to tackle it again after he can recognize them (all, not just some) and maybe read a few simple words...I imagine it must be frustrating to have to learn to write when you see no discernible purpose in the activity. Maybe once he can read and spell a little we can ease into it? Or should I still keep at it a little at a time? It's not like I'm making him do pages and pages of it; a line a day at most, but he digs in his heels and balks so badly that I'm afraid it will be quite a power struggle if it continues. And I know he gets a little sick of worksheets and so do I, but what else is there for writing? I mean, it seems you simply must get it down on paper if you're going to learn to do it, right?

His fine motor skills are improving by leaps and bounds. He drew a passable combine harvester this morning (well, passable for a 5-year-old, but really it was surprisingly recognizable) along with a few other things (a leaf blower is another favorite), as well as taking a stab at drawing a Pooh bear for Aidan. It's so exciting to see this development!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Today we got a late start, and were still working when Dave came home.

Still using lots of worksheets. He seems to enjoy them but I'm hoping to branch out soon - I have some ideas for next week.

Some of the work seems a little easy for him. I hope to be able to start nudging him forward a little, now that I know what concepts he understands. This week has given me a much better idea of what he can handle.

I need some good ideas for History. Right now I'm leaning toward getting both The Story of the World Vol. 1, and A Child's History of the World and using them together (mostly because they both sound really good and I can't choose). I will probably get the SOTW activity book as well.

I also want to get a big bucket o' cubes for math. They are cheap, and the uses are endless. It seems to me a good and basic place to start.

For his birthday he got a Monopoly Town game that we can hopefully use for math quite a bit as well (it's building houses - Ethan can't wait to get started).

Today's work:

Circling the picture that does not belong in a group of four items. Talking about why it doesn't belong. I had no idea whether he could do this or not - we've actually never tried this thinking exercise before. He passed with flying colors, though he did tell me when he chose the dog out of a group of a turkey, a chicken, and a duck, that it didn't belong because it was not a vegetable. Note to self: do a lesson on animals, vegetables, and minerals. He did get that point back, however, for using the word "instruments" for a guitar, trumpet, and drum.

A review of more and fewer. Still having problems with fewer, so we did an extra page dedicated just to that. By the end of that page I think his "a-ha" moment had happened and he was getting them right, so we'll go over it once more on Monday just to be sure.

Beginning sounds T, M, B, and S. Choosing which picture has the same beginning sound as the example.

Tracing triangles.

Reading about the water cycle and learning(ish) the words "precipitation," "evaporation," and "condensation," or at least the ideas behind them. (We're going to work on this one for a while - he has plenty of time. Weather will be our science lesson for the foreseeable future.)

Reading about the different types of clouds.

Coloring and cutting out pictures of furniture and gluing them in the correct room in a house.

Sorting and counting craisins, cashews, and marshmallows, and graphing. Working on counting to 15.

I forgot to do a Bible lesson with him, but it was late and he does a devotion with Dave before bed anyway.

First Post

So here we are, homeschooling Ethan.

I'm going to try to keep a record here of what we're doing, what's working, what's not, etc. I'd like to try to keep this updated with what we do day to day, though I know it will make for some rather dry reading. I'm open to any suggestions at all for our home schooling adventure.

I already had an idea of what our target areas would be. We've already been trying to nudge him in the direction he should be going, but now it will be a concerted effort to get him up to speed.

At the moment, his letter recognition is spotty and he has no interest in learning to read. Rather odd for someone who has loved books since birth.

He can count to 11 and no further, so that is an area we will be addressing as well.

His fine motor skills are lacking somewhat, though we have seen some rather sudden improvement over the last couple of weeks as he's started drawing faces.

So. Letters, counting at least to 20, and big emphasis on fine motor skills.

Tuesday I copied several pages of worksheets just to see how long his attention span would be, and he finished most of them. I also wanted to see what sort of thinking skills he had. He's fine on most of them. What we covered:

Sorting by colors: coloring different fruits, sounding out colors, cutting out fruits (fine motor skills), sorting fruit by color and gluing to the corresponding basket.

Tracing and writing upper and lower case A.

Learning about "the same" and "more." Drawing "the same" number of kites for Sue as Bill has (he drew squares and some strings to Sue's hand. A HUGE feat for Ethan; I was extremely proud of this). Determining which group has "more" items in it.

Learning about "-est" - Finding longest and shortest in a group.

Drawing one ball for each animal on a page.

Learning B sound, and finding pictures of things that begin with the letter B


Matching beginning sounds

Sorting thing by where they belong (i.e., cow in a barn, bed in a house, tractor in a barn, oven in a house)

Picking out winter clothes from several pictures of winter and summer clothes.

Learning Daniel 3:17, hearing the story, coloring a picture, and gluing tissue paper flames onto a furnace.

Then came Wednesday, and Dylan went to the Dr. Also my copier/printer ran out of paper. So we didn't do as much on Wednesday.

Tracing of basic pre-writing strokes (he needs the most work on slants, such as for A and N and for drawing triangles).

Learning to recognize "more" and "fewer." He can easily tell which group has more, but has a very hard time with the concept of fewer or less.

Sorting, counting, and graphing a little bit of Halloween candy, to see if he could handle graphing (yes).

Reviewing Daniel 3:17, and listing and talking about other instances in the Bible where God has saved those who serve Him.

Yesterday I was sick. Ethan watched lots of Diego. I'm calling it Science and Math.

And now we're caught up and I'll do today's post separately.