June 3 – 8th, 2012

As it begins to feel more like summer, we feel a bit less like school but here we are writing about another week in the learning journey. 

Monday morning we continued with our goal of finishing up our math book so E spent 45min working on math addition and subtraction.  E skipped art to attend a Ready, Set, Learn class for her brother. Although the crafts were intended for the younger set E enjoyed making finger puppets and a banner with our phone number. 

Tuesday we spent some time on grammar and more math. It was E’s last PE class and so we went swimming as a family for the afternoon.

Wednesday was our homeschool Sports Day and E had a terrific time doing relays and obstacle courses with her team.

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Thursday: E worked on math with Oma as Mom was at the dentist for the morning. E is making great strides in her mental math skills and is very consistent with addition and subtraction between 1-20. She also spent part of her morning making a tea party for Oma and playing hostess and doing shared and independent reading to show off her reading skills.

Friday E had a major dentist appt. in the morning and spent her afternoon and weekend recovering.

By Sunday E was feeling more like herself again so we attended sunday school and spent our afternoon with family and a visit to a friend’s farm to see the chickens.

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Robin Update

The sad reality of a life cycle is death. Last week we had a time of grieving when our Mama Robin abandoned her nest with unhatched eggs inside. We brought the nest indoors and tried keeping it warm for a couple of days while we discussed how difficult it would be to look after the babies if they hatched. E realized eventually that even if they eggs hatched the babies would probably die soon after as it would be hard for us to keep them fed and warm. We decided that the babies had probably stopped developing. We ended up cracking an egg open and looking at the embryo but E found it quite upsetting so we disposed of the other eggs and kept our nest to use for a science centre in the classroom.

May 28th – June 2, 2012

As we approach the end of the year our various classes begin to wrap up. Dance is finished for the year now but fortunately we have a few more Monday art classes yet! E really enjoys exploring different mediums and forms through this abstract art class. She has done quite a bit of painting but also some sculpture. Taking advantage of Dad being home today, E and I went out for girls time! We had high tea at a local teahouse and practised good manners and conversational skills. E was thrilled to be doing such a grown up thing and had many questions about high tea and the traditions involved with it. She was also wonderfully curious about the gorgeous items on our platter and we had a lot of fun trying everything and guessing the ingredients!

Tuesday we did math in the morning with more concentration on subtraction. E has a strong grasp of her numbers and can do the problems easily with manipultives (ie. her fingers or a number line), but has difficulty staying focussed and can be slow to complete the work. Conversely when she works quickly she tends to be messy and careless. This was E’s second last PE day with more competitive sports. E misses the co-operative games but is excited about their wrap up swim party next week.

Wednesday was our final Mom’s morning out. E helped with childcare again and then we hurried home to have lunch and get ready for swimming. This was also E’s final swimming lesson for the session. She was not able to complete Swimkids 3 as her endurance is not up to that level yet. Her instructor was happy with her stroke improvements and kick so E has set herself some healthy living goals to increase exercise and thereby increase her overall cardio-health and endurance for swimming. Following swimming lessons we went to the farmer’s market which has just re-opened for the summer. In addition to all the small local farms featuring their harvests, there were many artisans and crafts people. We were able to observe some of these folks spinning alpaca wool on modern spinning machines. One of the men gave E pieces of the wool before and after it had been spun. He was also wearing a handmade hat woven from reeds. He showed us his hat and explained how he made it then E was able to make her own paper mat using strips woven together.

Thursday was more focussed seat work time with some attention to writing and making cards for her baby’s brother’s first birthday. E loves to make notes and cards for her family and friends and we are each gifted with an I love you note regularly! We also have a whiteboard on our fridge that she and I use to write positive notes to each other. It has become a fun game to write and message and then watch and wait how ever long it takes for the other one to notice the new note.

Friday  and Saturday, E had a couple of days off with friends and family while I attended the local homeschool conference. I was amazed and energized by the various sessions I attended: Brain Gym (Allen Stanton), Reading and Writing (David Albert), Storytelling and Brain research (Terry Small). This conference was a real flashpoint for me in defining our homeschool goals and methods. I came away from the weekend excited for the coming year and ready to implement dozens of new strategies to improve E’s learning experience.  On Friday and Saturday I came home bubbling with new ideas and E and I had great conversations at bedtime about all the things I was learning and how even Moms need to go to school sometimes so they can learn new things!  This weekend was also our littlest one’s 1st birthday so Saturday night wrapped up with a special dinner and some cake. E proudly gave her brother her handmade card and a book called “My Big Sister” which she promptly read to him.

She is so proud of her increasing reading ability and regularly reads to her brothers. Her favourites are Dr. Seuss books.

May 21-27th 2012

We started out this week with a rainy holiday Monday; Victoria Day. A short conversation about the historic significance of Queen Victoria’s birthday and off we went to our nearest historic village/ museum to take in the parade complete with antique vehicles and marching bands. E was equally fascinated by both and particularly enjoyed seeing the many people in period costumes.

Tuesday we worked on Math through the morning doing reinforcement activities of addition from 1 – 10. E practised rewriting equations by using the same numbers in different positions and how she could solve subtraction questions using her sum. After lunch E had PE class where they played floor hockey. She does not enjoy the more competitive sports and finds it difficult to participate but put in a good effort nonetheless.

Wednesday E spent the morning helping in a childcare program at the church. She is one of the older children there and takes great pleasure in helping the leader with snack and organizing the younger children for crafts and games. Following that, she had swimming lessons which she thoroughly enjoys! We spent the later part of the day doing some applied math with grocery shopping. E is always eager to discuss the sale prices, relative value of products based on size and we have been engaging in many conversations about healthy choices, necessary and non-essential items and even global realities and the luxuries that we have in our culture.

Thursday we had a playdate and E’s morning was more involved with chores and her contributions and responsibilities within our family. She is expected to clean her own room and to help with some small chores in the kitchen (ie, food prep./ setting table) or just general tidying. She recognizes her role in the family as the oldest child carries more responsibility but she is also beginning to understand her greater privileges as well.

Friday our weather warmed up and we spent the morning enjoying the hammock and some gardening. E has been learning quite a bit about life cycles this year. From her research on Chickadees in the winter, to observing our resident Robin and now with planting both seeds and bedding plants. E has participated in planting, and choosing the appropriate spots in the garden for our different vegetables based on their individual needs. She has learned that our zucchini and kale are very hardy, our lettuces have to be protected from slugs, the tomatoes need full sun and that grass is our greatest enemy! She is helping with the weeding and is also therefore able to distinguish between plants and weeds based on their distinctive leaves and stems. We decided to further glory in the weather by heading to beach for the afternoon to have a picnic. The tide was out, way out and the children had a fantastic time exploring the tide pools with shovels and buckets. We had the good fortune of finding this sea star:

Saturday brought more sunshine so off we went to play at the park and the splash pad!

That was our fantastic week, hope you enjoyed some sunshine too wherever you are!

May 14- 20th, 2012

This week we have been enjoying some particularly good Spring weather and the Robins who have built a nest in the rafters of our covered deck. Each day we have been filling a water dish for the robins and photographing the eggs to keep track of how long they take to hatch. The robin first built her nest about 2 weeks ago so we are getting very excited to hear the first cheeps of the new chicks!

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Monday E had her final dance class and preparation for the recital! Following dance E painted a robin during her art class. With beautiful weather and spring fever in the air we headed to the zoo to ride bikes and see some of the new animal babies. There were 3 Squirrel Monkey “Babies”, one Muskox calf. We looked up the names for different animal babies here: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/animals/Animalbabies.shtml and found out that newborn monkeys are actually called babies!

Tuesday E had PE and played soccer baseball.

Wednesday was a big day with swimming lessons and the long-awaited dance recital in an actual theatre on a big stage! E did GREAT! She came out with a big smile and actually led her group in the steps of their piece. This was a huge personal success for E as she started this class under the strict agreement that she did not have to be in the recital.

Thursday, E was pretty tired and rested in bed with a big pile of books for much of the day. However, it was her cousin’s school play that evening so off we went to watch a cleverly written and executed musical rendition of Robinhood. On the way to the play (30 minutes away), I gave E an overview of the traditional Robinhood story and it’s history. She immediately saw the link to a  Backyardigans (C) episode she watched several weeks ago called “Robinhood the Clean”. The play followed the Disney production fairly closely with Prince Jon portrayed as a thumb-sucking dandy and the actors performed the song from the show “The Phoney King of England”.

Friday morning we carried on our Robinhood theme and E rewatched the Backyardigans episode and made a compare and contrast list between the two versions of the story. That evening for our Friday night movie she watched the Disney version and added a third column to her compare/ contrast chart. It was a fun project testing each other to see who could be a better detective and find more differences between the stories. E was very engaged and we will look further into Robinhood and the actual folk tales about him and perhaps some study of Medieval times history further down the road. E’s younger brother is very interested in knights at the moment so I am envisioning plenty of learning extensions that may come out of Robinhood!!

Reading this week:

Little House in the Big Woods (audiobook, Ingalls Wilder), Birds Build Nests, Where Have you Been? (Wise Brown), What’s in the Egg Little Pip? (Wilson), Secret of the Dance (Spalding), Subway Mouse (Reid), A Ride on Mother’s Back (Bernhard), The Sad Princess (Benton)