Saturday, February 28, 2009
Spelling was quite a struggle for Jetter until I found the program (through the help of my consultant) called All About Spelling. It is an approach that teaches the rules of spelling, which makes more sense than just having the kids memorize a list of random words each week. The thing that is so helpful for Jetter is the hands on approach. Here you see him at our "spelling board". The little tiles he is working with are magnetic letter tiles. Using these, he spells the word that he is currently learning. We also use these tiles for learning new spelling concepts. Other than the tiles, the program also encourages using the white board to practice writing the words. This is motivational, but it also helps Jetter understand the concept of syllabication. He can write each syllable of the word in a different color of marker. He can also label "vowel teams" or "consonant teams" an other things that help him to remember the spelling rules. Social Butterfly uses the same program, but chooses to skip the manipulative part. She likes writing her words on the whilte board in color so I allow it. It seems to be a great program for all learning types.
Finally, we have grammar. Jetter will start his formal study of Grammar next year. Social Butterfly is using a program called Shurley English. She loves it! It comes with CD of "jingles" that are designed to help the child learn the parts of speech and their functions. She listens to the jingles and memorizes them She is currently working on the prepositions jingle which is quite long since it names the 49 prepositions. It sounds rather juvenile, but the application of what she learns in these jingles is not! She "parses" sentences quite well and will have no problem next year with sentence diagramming.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Second, I am doing a terrible job of keeping up with the lists of books we're reading. I think instead of posting as we read them, each month I will list the books that are currently in the book basket (I try to change them monthly, according to whatever we are learning about.)
On another note, today Night Owl is home because it is a snow day. We actually got very little snow, but lots of ice. Of course, the students at the Good Shepherd Academy insist that they should have a snow day too. That's okay. The teacher needs a break!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
- No one may go upstairs during school time
- No running, climbing or throwing objects in the classroom
- Use the materials properly
- Return the materials to the correct space when you are finished with them
- Speak quietly
- No toy weapons
I do a "3 strikes and your out" sort of thing. If Builder gets his three strikes he has to leave the classroom. You would think that would be great for him, since leaving the classroom means going to the playroom (the basement room we recently remodeled). But Builder is as much of a social butterfly as Social Butterfly is, and he hates to be alone. He will beg, plead and bribe if I tell him he has to go to the play room. So, most days, the system works pretty well.
For Builder, staying out of trouble means keeping busy. We have LOTS of things in the classroom that keep him busy, and I'm happy to say, I consider them all educational. This was an inspiration from Maria Montessori. I love her method, but it would cost a small fortune to do it successfully. So I just use some of her ideas and make them work in our homeschool. Some of Builders current favorites are working with Pattern blocks or Magnetics, doing puzzles, constructing all sorts of "droids" with things I keep in the art cupboard (drinking straws, clothes pins, pipe cleaners, etc.), drawing (I keep lots of drawing books on hand along with paper and pencils), doing sorting activities, and looking at books. We don't keep the Lego's or K'Nex in the classroom because the boys would often dump the bins out and then leave them. I LOVE Legos and K'Nex but I HATE having to pick them all up. So now they are in the playroom. They still have to be picked up, but it's easier to say "No, you may not watch that video (or invite that friend over, or play on the Wii) until the Legos are picked up". Works like a charm.
Builder will start Kindergarten next year and is looking forward to it. I know he will do just fine!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Here are some of the components of the program These are actually the ones I use with Builder. Jetter used them in Kindergarten and 1st grade. There are letter cards, a small slate, a blue mat and wood pieces. They use the letter cards to learn how to build the letter with the wood pieces and then build the letter by themselves on the blue mat. We then do an activity with the slate called "wet-dry-try". I use the chalk to make the letter on the slate. Builder then takes a small piece of wet sponge, and following my exact strokes, goes over the letter, erasing it and leaving a wet mark in the shape of the letter. Then he uses a dry cloth to dry the wet marks, once again in the exact strokes. Finally, he uses the chalk to form the letter himself. All these activities help to solidify in his mind the form of the letter and what needs to be done to make it. I add to it by having him repeat the sound of the letter while he is writing it. This helps add a bit of phonics to the exercise. The last step is the work in the workbooks which Jetter is doing below:
It is not necessary to go through all the steps with Jetter anymore. He knows how to form the letters but he needs lots of practice. One very simple but helpful thing about this program is that every component has a small smiley face in the top left hand corner. This helps orient kids like Jetter to where the letters are supposed to start. This helps him avoid the reversals that he struggles with. Besides the workbook, Jetter does have a larger, lined slate that he uses for practice. When he starts cursive next year, we will use that slate alot, using the "wet-dry-try" activity to help him form the letters and connections. I think he will do okay with cursive, he may even find it easier than printing. Some theorize that children with dyslexia, or symptoms of dyslexia, should actually be taught cursive first - there is less chance of writing the letters backwards. My problem with that is what about reading? Most books are printed, not cursive. I try to tie reading and writing together so they learn and practice both at the same time. If Jetter did not know how to print the letters, I think it would be a bit confusing ... but then, I'm no expert.
Social Butterfly is a totally different kid. She LOVES to write. This year she is using a new program for our homeschool called "Italics". I think the font is a bit challenging but she likes the way it looks and practices happily. I tried to take a picture of it below but it's a bit blurry. Like I said she practices happily and I'm sure she'll have beautiful handwriting some day. She is also learning to type and doing quite well with that too. I think playing the piano has helped her coordination.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Here he is with another hands on activity that he enjoys. I also use a series of workbooks for Builder called "Explode the Code". With these workbooks, he is learning about one letter sound per week. He is doing quite well and will be off and reading in no time.
Of course, this wouldn't be complete if we didn't include Night Owl. He still loves reading even though he's not home much.
So from the youngest...
To the oldest >>
We're a family that loves to read!