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!