Saturday, September 15, 2012

Homeschool K/1 - Week 3

Another week has gone by and let me tell you, it's been the craziest week this far. I honestly need a break from this much fun! The house is a mess since we spent minimal amount of time here, mostly just enough time to make a mess and leave, on our way to some exciting activity. And that was in addition to our regular schedule of physical, occupational and speech therapies.

It's been a great homeschooling week, this one. Not too many frustrating moments even though sometimes I felt a bit rushed. But at the same time, I started seeing M's progress in a few areas where he seemed "stuck" before, especially in arithmetic.

So this is what we did this week:


We continue reading Геометрия для малышей (Geometry for the Little Ones). However, we haven't made as much progress as I hoped. I think it's mostly because M is not used to me reading books on a computer screen (and this one I could only get as rather poor quality scanned images of each page). We talked some more about line segments, parallel and perpendicular lines, and practiced using a compass to compare lengths of line segments.

Greedy Triangle - we read this book before a couple of times. But this time I brought out a mirror book and we role-played the story. I was the greedy triangle and M was the magician. M really enjoyed the game.

Now he's looking for shapes and lines, segments and rays everywhere. He also asked me to draw a quadrilateral for him and then spent quite a while making it "more mathematical" with lots of straight lines. He then gave me a little tour of his "mathematical quadrilateral", explaining about segments, parallel lines, lines that cross, short and long segments, etc, etc.

The Tower of Hanoi - I made my own with some Mega Blocks and explained the rules to M. But let me tell you, Mega Blocks aren't really good for this game. M kept trying to place blocks next to each other on top of the larger blocks. So I've ordered a normal Tower puzzle and we'll try it again soon.

Repeating activities - we've repeated some of the activities we've done in the previous 2 weeks. But I made them a bit more challenging. For example, here are the sorting cards. The idea is that M is given 4 cards and he has to sort them into 2 groups. Then he has to explain why he sorted them just so. Also, as you can see, there is more than one way to sort each set. So M has to find another way to sort. He was very good at this and also at Venn diagram.

Transitive property - I gave M some word problems that used transitive property ("if a > b and b>c then a>c). It went something like this: "A pot is larger than a tea kettle. And a tea kettle is larger than a cup. What is larger, a pot or a cup?" I gave him some simple ones like this to solve and some harder ones, not based in daily experiences. Each time I asked him to explain his answer. He did use the "because I experienced it before" argument once or twice (particularly, with the pot-kettle-cup problem), but mostly replied with "well, you said so yourself earlier - a was bigger/taller/faster/etc than the others". BTW, I take lots and lots of ideas from the wonderful Russian book Малыши и математика (The Little Ones and Mathematics).

RightStart Math - we are making progress with this curriculum. I really like it because it doesn't require M to write anything or trace numbers or color or do any such thing. Instead, he uses tally sticks, abacus, and his fingers to show numbers from 1 to 10. I also like how the program discourages counting and instead emphasizes number composition. M is still a bit shaky with 5+3 and 5+4, but he's getting much better. When I show him 7 fingers or put 10 tally sticks on the table, he no longer counts them one by one. Instead, he subitizes the 2 groups (say, 5 fingers on one hand and 2 on the other) and recalls that 5+2 is 7. Very cool. Me like it.

Memory game - this is the first time in a couple of years that M played a Memory game. I can't say that he liked it a lot since he had to match cards with numbers on them, except the numbers were shown as fingers on two hands. So he had to keep in mind quite a few things. But he did well enough and did not dislike the experience. So we'll play it some more.

Russian Language

Speech therapy - HUGE progress this week! Whether it was our daily 3-minute practice or me keeping my fingers crossed that did it, but M now rolls his "Р" sound (ok, that's R for all my non-Russian speaking friends). Russian R is notoriously difficult to master. M is nowhere near mastery, but he's moving in the right direction. Me very happy! He is very happy too since both me and his therapist are smiling these huge silly smiles every time we hear him roll it; he's got not one, but two prizes at the end of his session; and he got to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner for one day!

Word lists - we finished another 2-sided page of words. I'm going to lay off of them for a little bit because he gets bored, yet he is not ready to read phrases.

On the road to alphabet - we did just 4 lessons this week. Now, why would I continue working on the alphabet with him if he already reads words? Well, there are a couple of letters he is a bit shaky with; the ones that aren't used very often. Also, this workbook has great exercises for recognizing different sounds within words and that's something M needs more practice with.

Read and find - ok, that's what I'm going to call this activity from now on, but that's not very descriptive. So, here's how to play it. First, I choose a story (something simple that he's heard before and with lots of characters in it). Then, I write the first letters of characters names (or first letters of magical objects or landmarks) on mini sticky notes. As I read M a story, I pause when a character is first mentioned and wait for M to find the corresponding sticky note (out of 10 or so). I stick it to the page of the book. At the end of the game we put the sticky notes into our syllable house.

Syllable house - that's something I added to our daily routine. Basically, it's a grid of sticky notes. Rows are for vowels; columns are for consonants. The cells are for syllables made up of these vowels and consonants. So M has to first read each syllable and then find its room (cell). I help him since there are no grid lines (I really should add those). I found that using sticky notes really cuts down on prep time (as opposed to drawing the whole thing on paper and then cutting out the syllable cards). He can't wait to fill the entire syllable house since he gets a prize at the end.


We are continuing with pre-history. SOTW only gives a very brief overview, so I'm relying on a combination of library books and my own memories (ok, I'm not THAT old, but I did participate in an archeological club when I was 10 or 11 and even presented a paper on Paleolithic hunter-gatherers). Oh, YouTube also helps a bit.

I found a few good short videos from "I, Caveman" show on Discovery's Curiosity channel. We watched them together and then talked a bit about what we saw. I was impressed that he remembered not just the word "nomad", but the meaning of it. He mentioned it after watching one of the episodes and then I overheard him explaining it to one of his toys.

We also looked through the Early Humans book. M commented on how the dwellings made of sticks and hides look warm and cozy and asked if we could build one in the yard. He then asked if we could possibly dig a small cave in the yard. Maybe when we're in NY, I'll take him on a hike to a small cave (really, just a rocky overhang), so he can play caveman for a bit.


We haven't done much about rocks this week. In fact, the only thing was M's drawing explaining how volcanic rocks form.

Instead, M was once again playing with his garbage trucks. But I'm counting our tour of a landfill as science. He did learn even more about recycling, played a landfill bingo, and then explained all about leachate to his speech therapist.

I'm also counting him watching a couple of episodes of the Russian cartoon Пин Код (Pin Code) as science activity because not only did he watch the cartoon, but he recounted the story to me and drew a picture of an atom (below), showing the nucleus and electrons orbiting it.

Oh, and we did have Lego League with the theme of Super Seniors. The kids explored what it might feel like to get older and also what things were like 40, 50 and 60 years ago. M's group then attempted to build a bank branch out of Legos.

Another Lego thing that M built this week completely on his own was a chocolate factory. He listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory CD and loved the story. And then he built his little factory with lots and lots of buttons for "controlling mechanisms". Sweet!


  1. Wow - a super busy week! I had a question on finding these math Russian books - where do you order them or maybe they are available online?

  2. The book by Zvonkin I ordered online through (they do ship from Russia, although it's neither fast nor cheap; but I really like the book and it was worth the trouble IMHO). The other one, Geometry for Kids, is out of print. I was able to download it by searching for геометрия для малышей скачать. If I remember right, I downloaded it from this site - since it was the only one that my antivirus software allowed me to open/download from.