Thursday, January 5, 2012

Week Two, Monday -Thursday

This week has been a little better.  I have been more creative, which has helped.  I have also allowed the girls to do school in spurts: an hour or two at a time, then take a break, then return to school.  Some time we end up doing some at night, but that is fine.  Catherine just does not have the endurance to go all day.

This week I did a theme for the first time.  Last week we talked about nouns, so this week the theme was VERBS.  I know that is not a very exciting theme, but it was the only thing I could come up with late on Sunday night.

I decorated (somewhat) the door to our school room/office to highlight the theme.  Neither girl had any idea what a verb was, so at least I have introduced them to the concept.
We made a poster of all the verbs we could think of.  As we did our reading throughout the week, we made additional lists of verbs and added them to the poster.  We ended up with 2 huge posters.
My goal for Sabrina was for her to learn the days of the week.  We taught her a little song and I had her write them out several times.  She likes laying on the floor to do her work.  I also bought white boards over the weekend to replace the glass mirrors I had the girls write on last week. 
Instead of doing the phonics worksheets, which were ridiculously easy for Catherine, we are going through the phonics readers and the phonics games.  She seems to enjoy both of those activities.  We played Word Bingo with colored marbles:
Catherine's regular school did graphs all the time with the kids, so I let them do one.  Catherine knows how to graph, so this is just review for her.  Sabrina had never done one before, so it was a new concept for her.  We made a die out of Toy Story characters and they graphed which character was rolled each time.  Whichever character reached 10 rolls first was the winner.  Surprisingly, Lotso Bear was the winner for both girls.
Sabrina wanted to do her graphing on the floor:
For her handwriting and vocabulary practice, I made Catherine copy down any 20 verbs off our posters every day.  You can kind of tell that she has added some extra verbs she thought of throughout the day to our posters.  The problem with letting her choose which verbs she wants to write was that it took her forever to pick a word.  She would stare at the poster and think about it for several minutes between each word.  One day she chose all the 3 letter verbs.  This made her vocabulary practice take forever.
For Sabrina, tracing is still a great exercise for her.  Every day she had to trace her name, all of our names, and the days of the week.
I also teach Sabrina two "new" letters every day, using letter writing worksheets.  She loves these because they have a Mickey Mouse theme.
One of our biggest struggles is how to teach Catherine addition and subtraction.  She understands the concept behind both, but only knows the facts up to about the 4's and 5's.  After that, she has to use some type of manipulative.  She loved using the marbles, calling them her "magic marbles."
Catherine's teacher from Georgia Cyber Academy called this week (I am merely a "learning coach).  She and I talked about the addition and subtraction a lot.  She said that it is totally normal for kids to use manipulatives throughout first grade and in to second grade.  I suggested we take away all the manipulatives, but her teacher pointed out that we cannot take away her fingers.

She said to just try to do the addition and subtraction facts every day in different formats: worksheets, games, flash cards, songs, videos, etc.  I got two DVD's from the library on the subject.  We have been playing cards and counting the totals.  We were already using flashcards, but will do these more.

One of the hardest struggles I have is to find things that the girls can do independently that is also educational.  Sabrina will do puzzles by herself and really enjoys them.  In just one week, I have seen a huge improvement in her ability to solve puzzles.  When we first started, she could not do any of them by herself.  Now she can do them very quickly.  I may need to invest in some more.
Sabrina also wanted some flash cards of her own, so we got some of just the numbers (Mickey Mouse theme, per her request).  I made her put them all out in order, mix them up, and do it again several times.  She loved this and I think it strengthened her counting skills.
It is kind nice to do some of the schoolwork in the evening, because we can give the girls individual attention.  Catherine read a Phonics Reader to Robby while he acted as the scribe and wrote down the verbs.  Can you see Catherine's feeding tube sticking out from her dress?  This is one of the reasons we home schooled: so her learning can continue as she is fed.
I saw this activity on a blog somewhere (I never keep track of where I find things) and it is an enormous hit.  I bought a package of half-sized Popsicle sticks and used some Styrofoam strips that we had from a set of picture frames we purchased.  For Sabrina, I wrote the numbers 1-10 on the sticks and she had to poke them into the Styrofoam in order.  She kept having to count (out loud of course) to figure out what the next number is.  This was great practice for her.
This apparently looked like lots of fun, because Catherine insisted (and I mean insisted) that she do one too.  So I made Catherine one for skip counting by 2's:
They wanted to do this every single day.  So I made Sabrina a second one for the letters (and between every single letter she had to sign the alphabet song).  For Catherine I made ones for skip counting by 5's, 10's, and 3's.  I am learning that the girls like things which require they use their hands, perhaps because it seems like a game.
We also started the Science curriculum this week, doing 3 lessons.  The first unit is on tools that scientists use to measure things.  So we learned how to use a graduated cylinder (with a few drops of food coloring in the water to make it easier to read):
She measured household objects with paperclips and a ruler and made a chart (did I mention that the girls wanted to have a "costume day"?  I figure I fight with them so much on the worksheets that I am not fighting about what they wear.):
Catherine also learned how to use a scale.  Each of those blue cubes is one gram. We made a chart of how much her different characters weighed.  The mean queen from Sleeping Beauty was the heaviest.
I still have Sabrina do cutting practice every day, although she is very good at it.  Right now I am giving her a different shape every day in different colors.  This day was a square:
Catherine has to write a "story" every day.  These shaped writing templates only allow for a sentence or two, but that is about as in-depth as her writing is right now.  I was touched at the Biblical nature of her barn story:
Another Phonics game we did was "action charades."  We drew cards and read the action on them, then acted them out.  The girls loved this and will probably play it with Daddy tonight.  This is Catherine acting out "fill a cup."
Sabrina just came in and got the Toy Story die out and wanted to make another graph.  Of course I let her.  It is interesting how some "school" type activities are torture on them and others are so fun they come and ask to do them.  I am trying to intersperse the fun activities with the not-fun activities.  Because I have had zero education in education, I really do not know what is an is not "educational" for the girls.  I do really want them to enjoy school, so even if some of these activities are not truly "educational" the fun aspect of them will at least foster a positive attitude towards homeschooling.

This week so far we have also gone to the library once, had a play date while I went to a court hearing, and had a Girl Scout leader meeting at Chick Fil A (the girls enjoyed the play ground).  I make the girls go outside and play for at least an hour a day to get some exercise, although it is not really formal "physical education."

We have also read a Magic Tree House book about a tsunami hitting Hawaii and some books about our body parts and the five senses.  I made Catherine some worksheets to practice some of the vocabulary we learned in those books.

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