Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homeschool K/1 - Week 2

Wow, it's only been 2 weeks! On the other hand, wow, it's been 2 weeks already! Not having any experience with the American public school system (except for my approximately 2 weeks in American high school 15 years ago), I am constantly worried whether M is learning enough "stuff". Which is probably very silly of me since I do understand that quality trumps quantity. Still, every day last week we completed our lessons in just under an hour. But M's little friends who started K this year go to school from 9:15am to 3:45pm! What am I missing?!

So this week, since M seemed to be doing just fine with the amount of work last week, I made some changes to our schedule. To begin with, I decided to do math and reading every day instead of alternating days. So Monday and Wednesday we did a lot of math and some reading. Then Tuesday and Thursday we did a lot of reading and some math. On Friday we did a bit of math and a bit of reading, but I'm keeping Fridays open for field trips, get-togethers, and family time.

Another thing I changed was I added 1-2 occupational and physical therapy games daily to M's schedule. That's even on the days when he has therapy sessions.

So, here's what we did during our second week of homeschool:


Candy button math - we started the week with some candy math. First, we watched this How to Eat Candy Buttons Like a Recreational Mathemusician video by Vi Hart. I already had the candy button strips prepared. I reminded M a bit about Moebius strip and he started eating. After a few buttons he asked if I'd help him. So I suggested cutting the strip into two parts, so I'd have one and he'd have one. Obviously, we couldn't cut down the middle (we'd had to cut through buttons). Which led to very interesting and beautiful result. I'm not gonna spoil it for you and it's not in the video either. Just do it. It's fun.

What is bigger, a part or a whole - these were some questions I asked him, like "Are there more birds on Earth or ducks?" and "Are there more people or men?" M gave me correct answers on all, but had a bit of a hard time explaining the why of it. BTW, he even had no problem answering "Are there more quadrilaterals or rectangles out there? Are there more rectangles or squares out there?".

Magic squares - these are 3x3 squares with some stickers in some of the cells. Other cells are empty. The object of the puzzle is to figure out which stickers/pictures need to go into empty cells. We played this game twice this week, each time with 3 squares. The first time M had a bit of a problem figuring out that only 3 kinds of shapes or colors were allowed in a square. But once that hurdle was overcome, he breezed through the puzzles.

Divide quadrilaterals - another puzzle with the objective of figuring out how to draw one line across a quadrilateral in such a way that it would divide it into 2 triangles; 2 quadrilaterals; a quad and a triangle; and a pentagon and a triangle. M didn't solve all the puzzles here, but came up with an unexpected solution when he drew a zig-zagging line instead of a straight one. Another interesting moment was when in one of the puzzles he kept drawing lines across smaller and smaller shapes observing (with delight) and predicting the outcomes.

Zingo 1-2-3 - he's getting better at it. He seems to have less trouble identifying arrangements of 6,8, and 9 objects without counting. We are playing the green side of the cards for now (quantity recognition).

Patterns - I made up some simple patterns for him - ABBABBA and ABCABC - and had him predict what was going to be the next element in the pattern (I love colorful borders I picked up from a dollar store). No problem at all here and I think I'm going to move on to some more complicated and longer patterns next week.

Geometry - We started reading an old Russian book called Геометрия для малышей (Geometry for the Little Ones). As we read, we try different activities suggested in the story. Some of the terms and concepts we learned and reviewed this week were a straight line, a point, each line contains infinitely many points, line can be divided into infinite number of segments, segments two end points, a ray has one end point, vertical lines, horizontal lines, point of intersection of two lines, what's a plumb line and how it's used, how to draw a straight line through a point, through two points.

Quantities of 7 and 8 - last year, when I tried RightStart Math with M, that's where we stumbled and just couldn't move any further. For some reason he just wouldn't accept that 7 is 5+2 and 8 is 5+3 and had to count over and over again. So this week we spent some time practicing with all the different manipulatives, with abacus and fingers, to learn 7 and 8. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Ordering by length - M finally got to use the set of Cuisinaire rods I got him a few months ago. I gave him 10 rods and asked to arrange from shortest to longest. He seemed to be absolutely fascinated by the process, but was done with it very quickly. So he asked if he could do it again, but from longest to shortest this time. Sure! Once that was done, he did another longest to shortest, this time placing the rods horizontally. Finally, he arranged them end-to-end in a line, again from longest to shortest.
(Somehow he figured how to take his own pictures with my camera. So here is his self-portrait with his two favorite transformers)
Russian Language

Speech Therapy - we continue doing 2-3 minutes daily of speech therapy exercises. Our логопед assures us that M is showing good progress. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

On the Road to Alphabet - this is the name of a Russian work book I use with M to review letters and letter sounds. We don't do every exercise, but we try to do at least 2-3 for each sound. Most are centered around listening to me pronouncing a word and figuring out whether a given sound is in this word and if yes, where is it - at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the word. Sometimes they have little puzzles and M seems to enjoy them. I do wish we had a more exciting book though.

Reading lists - every day M reads a list of 16-20 Russian words I write for him. I have to remind him to read syllables, not individual letters. Reading this week feels like one step forward, two steps back.

Memorization - I am trying to get M to memorize and recite back some simple rhymes. This week's rhyme is just 6 lines and is actually pretty funny. He doesn't like this work. So what I thought would take us a day to learn is taking 3 days already.

Summary - this is another new activity I'm trying (and something suggested by our American speech therapist). I read M a very short story (just one paragraph). He then tries to re-tell me the story and as he does so I'm writing it down. I then read him the original story and his summary. It's time consuming  and M doesn't like it. But I think even after just a couple of times it's working. He is doing a bit better speaking in full sentences.

Fishing game - we have Russian magnetic letters, so I set up a simple fishing game. Since he already knows all the letters, the challenge was to create words out of his "catch". It was pretty difficult, so I helped, but he had to figure out the missing letters and fish for them.

Building letters with Legos - I set out a few magnetic letters in front of M and asked him to build the same letters out of Lego blocks. He really liked it and asked if we could build a whole entire word. So I scrambled the letters of a very simple word нет and asked him to put them in the proper order and then build the word out of Legos. He loved this game! I'm going to try some more. Looks like we need more simple Lego bricks and another plate.
(This is M's "Friendly Allien" picture. M explains: "It has a big smile, bit eyes, tiny hands and feet and an antenna")
Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Cutting with scissors - we did it as a math game called Special Snowflake. This is another game from the book I'm working on with a wonderful friend and mathematician, Maria Droujkova. You can actually see a snapshot of what the game pages in the book will look like here.

Mystery bag - this is a simple game of reaching into a bag with some small objects in it and figuring out by touch what it is.

Unscribbler - we play it on our chalkboard wall. So I draw a squiggly scribble on it with a yellow chalk first. Then M has to go over it with a red chalk without lifting his hand off the surface.

Lacing - I picked up some lacing cards at a dollar store a couple of weeks ago. M did his first lacing card last week and the second one this week. I'm happy to say that this week's work was a whole lot more accurate and was done faster! Way to go!

Tracing - I draw patterns of lines and dots on a sheet of paper with a marker. Then I turn the paper over and M traces the pattern with a marker or a pencil.

Marbles - ok, the way it's played is we sit on the floor across from each other. M has a plastic cup. I roll a small marble toward him and he has to catch it by covering it with a cup. We also tried kneeling on both knees, then on one knee.

Lazy baseball - M lays down on his back on a mat. I hold a light ball on a string above him. I tell him to swat the ball with either right hand or left hand and specify the place on the ball (side, front, bottom). It sounds simple, but it can be challenging to coordinate the movements to hit the ball just right.

We are continuing with the Story of the World book. This week we only read one part of the chapter about early people. I expected the story to start in Paleolithic Era, but instead it was set a mere 7 thousand years ago.

Some of the words and ideas M learned - nomads, Stone Age, prehistoric people, a tribe (племя in Russian which he immediately connected with племянник), hunter-gatherer life style.

We also talked some more about what archaeologists do and read Archaeologists Dig for Clues.

We went to a friend with an idea of looking at their rock collection and exploring some of the properties of rocks (hardness, density, etc). Instead, the kids, M and my friend's son, had a playdate and didn't seem to be interested in rocks even a little bit.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great week. You must have missed my complaints about SOTW. Just wait until Abraham and Moses are served like true historic figures! On the subject of what the children are doing in school for 6 hours - I do wonder sometimes. There are "intangibles", of course, like learning proper classroom behavior, taking care of their own belongings, getting along. Usually September is spent mostly in getting to know each other and their teacher before any actual learning can start.