Monday, August 25, 2014

First "real" day of school and FIAR: Papa Piccolo

Today was the first day of our 3rd year homeschooling and it was completely awesome! I hope it's a sign of things to come with our school year. I am still going back and forth on where to settle with our curriculum and style of learning this year. I am re-reading The Well Trained Mind and I feel that it is a good fit for us. We are trying to take a looser approach in that I know there are certain things that the kids need to know in order to be able to express themselves creatively later on, but if they are really interested in something particular I want to be able to fully explore that as well. So structure with a decent amount of flexibility I suppose!

I decided to keep up with Five in a Row this year. I was unsure because my daughter seems a bit young for some of the concepts and my son is too old so I am just trying to find a balance. We started with Volume 1 again and have a half a dozen or so more books I want to row from it. Today we did Papa Piccolo which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to read a child's story that was from a father's point of view and an adoptive father at that. I also appreciated the fact that the father wasn't presented as a bumbling buffoon, which seems to be common in children's books. We focused on most of the social studies today including finding Italy then Venice on a map, looking at Venice on Google Earth (which was so fun and interesting! We ended up looking at some other interesting areas around the world as well.), learning some Italian words, and making an Italian and Venetian flag. It was my son's idea to hang it from this corner guard like a flag pole. The top one is my daughter's (which is like the cutest lion I've ever seen) and the bottom one is my son's. We learned the Italian words from a children's Italian dictionary I picked up from the library book sale yesterday for .25! I ended up purchasing over 100 books yesterday. It was amazing!

We went over some vocabulary words from the book as well. This was a good activity for both of them as my son could explain the ones he knew to my daughter and I could explain the ones neither of them knew.
I also went to a "teacher sale" at a retired teacher's home yesterday. She had many books and workbooks for sale but what I was really interested in were manipulatives. I purchased an AIMS balance scale for a dollar and this awesome clown number balance scale for two dollars. My daughter actually came downstairs, pushed a chair over to the shelf, and got this down to play with first thing this morning. It's a wonderful tool and was my favorite school purchase from the sale.
We have been lightly covering some subjects for the last week and a half and this was our first full on school day. We are doing "Story of the World Volume 1: Ancients" again this year so I can get my kids on the same page. I felt like we should start at the beginning of time this go round though so we started with "The Usborne Book of World History" and began with dinosaurs. I bought them these excavation kits at a natural history museum we visited this summer and gave them to them today as a sort of first day of school gift.
They worked on them for a bit and although they were a challenge they weren't as hard as the mineral kit we purchased a few years ago. My son ended up freeing one piece of the dinosaur but I think he will need some help eventually or it will take him forever. The kit was only $7.50 though and well worth it. It came with a chisel and a hammer and a little brush. All the pieces will eventually be snapped together and we will have a neat little model to display.
We are also revisiting All About Spelling 1 with my son this year. My daughter is doing it for the first time alongside him. His spelling needs some brushing up on so I am hoping them doing it together will make it more interesting for them both. I am also waiting for my backordered Rainbow Resource order so it works well for now!
I am also going to try and display relevant books in the calendar area. I purchased the dinosaur ones at the book sale yesterday and I also displayed the FIAR books. I got my son The Magic Tree House #33, "Carnival at Candlelight" and he is reading that alongside our reading of Papa Piccolo. I also found some comprehension questions online that I ask him at the end of each chapter. He has always been interested in Venice so this is a fun time for him!

I am also finally trying to REALLY do Saxon Math K with my daughter. She didn't show too much interest last year but she is almost 5 now and is a little more willing. We did a lesson today on patterning and the A,B pattern. She wasn't too thrilled about it but she grasped the concept right away and then proceeded to do the rest of the lesson on her own with her instinct only and no instruction from me. It literally took 3 minutes which was great because I really just want to get her used to doing school daily and I'm not concerned with a specific time limit. We finished quite early and decided to take a last minute field trip to a local arboretum that we have never visited before. It was a great day and I hope a sign of what the year has in store for us!!