Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Third Of The Way

As we wrapped up school today preparing to head to the holiday break I was reviewing Holly's calendar and lessons plans - it hit me... Holly is a third of the way finished with first grade! This is going all to quickly if you ask me!! That being said we are more than on target, if not further along than expected. Holly has is doing beautifully this school year breezing through her lessons with much ease.

Blogging is a lot of fun. It offers family and friends who are interested a small glimpse into Holly's schooling... and when I say small, I really truly mean -- small! Her days are filled with many projects, experiments, art lessons, reading, mini-units, daily work, field trips, play dates, outings, Nature Club, etc... She is doing so much work and enjoying it all! I will try to kind of share where she is as of now and what she has covered so far, I am not sure I can really touch it all though.

First grade has really been a joy in the world of reading - she loves to read. Meeting our daily criteria of 30 minutes a day with 2-3 oral readings has been no problem at all, she has on many days doubled that if not more. As she is working through her Reading & Grammar program she is doing fantastic on reading retention to - she absorbs a lot more than I expected. Our program adds more readings, which the instructor is expected to do the first half of the year - Holly has taken this task over much sooner than I had planned.

He written vocabulary is blossoming as we add new words and rules daily! In the beginning we spent a lot more time practicing rules in her lessons but we have really picked up the pace and are now tracking along with her weekly spelling words. Spelling is another one that sometimes surprises me... sometimes the words are pretty challenging. However, Holly is so great with spelling! She practices them, reviews them and often scores 100% on her week end test. All of this is really paying off as I am really seeing big changes in her daily writing, stories and poetry work. She is enjoying keeping a poetry notebook in which her work is stored. We are learning how to break a poem up, stanzas, visualizing poetry, how to read it, the varying styles, haiku's and expanding her collection of work.

Math has really been supplemented to keep interesting. I do have to admit I think we should have gone with a second grade program. Her daily work is good review but I have had to work to step it up with extra manipulative work, file folder games, online resources, a lot of games, challenging her in more advanced work. She is up to double digits for addition and subtraction, some hundreds now. She has mastered her place values through hundreds with an extra work book she finished up last month, with that we are working on introducing more challenging problems. Holly loves story problems... loves them! I picked up an extra book on story problems and she enjoys them for fun - which has been great to add to our collection of work. She is also enjoying graphs (pie and bar, reading data from graphs, fractions, money work, time and skip counting in challenging fashion (outside of 2, 5, 10, etc).

Of course we are still working our way through her states study, learning a lot about our country and where states are located. Holly finished the first section of her Beginning Geography book on mapping skills. Next she will be looking at land forms. We have completed several different science experiments and are really learning the Scientific Method and it's application. We are half way through our Pioneer studies and the great readings that go along with it. As well, we have enjoyed some small studies like her Thanksgiving History Pocket project and several mini-lapbooks.

Art has been a joy, she adores art and is quiet good I think! We touch art daily in our home, working our way through the Atelier art program as well as our various art books on artists, methods, styles and more. We attend a monthly art club with our homeschool group and also enjoy seasonal work. I too adore art so I find some great projects and bring them to our lessons.

Our homeschool group has been amazing, I am very thankful for finding this group! We have made some wonderful friendship and more are blossoming all of the time. This group has some wonderful, dedicated and creative people who are go-getters and really make a whole hearted effort to make this a great group. The children are really benefiting from so many great opportunities and teachers. We have enjoyed so many field trips with them, outings, hands on learning, artistic pursuits, playtime, learning, nature experiences, science fun and more. I have enjoyed assisting in a really strong Nature Club that offers bi-weekly gatherings exploring our natural world and really taking a fine look at it. Holly has really enjoyed all of her experiences with our homeschool group and looks forward to more activities with them.

Holly's first grade year has so far been a great adventure filled with fun and learning! We are looking forward to taking on new studies at the start of the year and enjoying a fantastic Winter season. Studies for 2011 have wrapped up and we sign off for a holiday break - I might pop in for a project or two to share... in the mean time Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gingerbread Man

Today we read a couple versions of the classic story, The Gingerbread Man. The first was The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth. This book is beautifully illustrated and a wonderful version. The second was Gingerbread Baby as told by Jan Brett. This is also beautifully illustrated and a fun story. For a final version of The Gingerbread Baby we listed to a story telling version from StoryNory - a whole different experience, very well done. Here is a link to listen: The Gingerbread Man

Once we were finished, I set Holly up with a Venn diagram to compare the two books. I offered to sit with her and help but she insisted on doing the project on her own. I have to admit, she did a really nice job on her own. After completing her Venn diagram she also did a Read, Build & Write mat on words from the story, such as: gingerbread, oven, cookbook, wagon, peppermint, woods, dough, bowl, house, and fox. Using these for word exposure is a lot of fun!

And, to finish up Holly created a gingerbread from paper and supplies - it turned out pretty sweet!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Week In Books

The month of December offers a wonderful variety of books -- so many that we cannot possibly enjoy them all, own them all or even get our hands on them all through the library. However, each year we do find a couple of new ones to add to our collection.

This month we are enjoying some of our favorites with you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Art Club - Winter Trees

This week I taught a small art lesson called Winter Trees through our Art Club. The project was very pretty, fairly simple and offered a unique art technique. The kids did salt painting and used India Ink.

To start we discussed the title and why the art lesson might have had that title - the kids concluded the trees were bare and the colors used were cool colors, setting a chilly feeling in the piece. To begin they painted wet watercolors onto card stock in cool tones such as blues, purples, silvers, grey, black and green. Then they sprinkled a generous helping of salt over their wet watercolor.

After the watercolor portion dried for a bit the kids all rubbed the salt off of the painting to reveal a lovely textured look from the salt. The salt absorbed some of the color to give a subtle texture - really very pretty! Then they set to work creating winter trees with India Ink. India Ink goes a long way, is super smooth and easy to work with - I love it! The kids all created wonderful winter trees, simple and unique!

The projects were honestly quiet beautiful!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Science Fun

Today Holly enjoyed a rather simple science experiment but one that is very fulfilling! I have seen this one done before but was waiting for a good time to fit in a quick, simple experiment. We had just finished reading two chapters in the Pioneer Sampler book, with milking cows as the final chapter. We discussed how much milk is used in cooking, foods we use daily and life - then I thought of this project and though the time is right.

Holly took a pie plate filled about 1/4 of the way with milk and placed several different drops of food coloring in it. When she was all finished I showed her the final ingredient of the experiment, liquid dish soap, and asked what she thinks might happen. She guessed that it would turn bubbly.

We added the dish soap and it definitely had a reaction, but it did not bubble up, instead it mixed all the colors in a fun and swirly way. She said it looked like tie dye... and I'd say she is right! When we dropped the dish soap in all the food coloring came swirling to the top of the milk and starting mixing up. We looked up the reason, surface tension, and found a great description HERE.

So simple and so worth it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Owl Pellet #2

Holly & Bryan dissected a second owl pellet together. This pellet had different measurements to start from the first one Holly did which was a good indicator to what might be inside. This pellet only had one critter versus two like the last pellet did. She found that very interesting!

This critter Bryan and Holly have determined was a pocket gopher - from what we could tell looking up more photos of skeletons or pocket gophers... I'd say they are right!

Again, she had so much fun doing this activity. Holly learned a lot from start to finish!!!