All Girls School

From the theater
December 18, 2007, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Bubba, history, websites

This week we are gearing up for the theatrical release of National Treasure 2. Bubba fell in love with the first one and we have been anxiously awaiting the sequel. I thought that since this film is about John Wilkes Booth’s missing diary pages, it would be a good idea if she had a lesson on the subject of the Civil War and all that surrounded it. I kept it as simple as I could, because I didn’t feel like anything more than a surface explanation would be necessary at this point. So, we started with discussing slavery and what that meant. We then looked up a map showing the Mason-Dixon line and talked about which states were considered Northern and Southern. We looked up Abraham Lincoln’s biography as well as John Wilkes Booth’s. She and I discussed the assassination and even read the actual diary entries. We ended up having to discuss tyranny and why Booth felt Lincoln was a tyrant. She was very interested in the Underground Railroad, so I foresee a unit study on that in our future. She was also fascinated to learn about the fight over whether Kansas would be considered a free state or a slave state and wants to learn about the battles that took place here so we can visit some of the sites. (Next month will be Kansas’s birthday, so it will fit nicely into our lessons on the state’s history.)

I was excited at her excitement. We looked up the movie’s main site and explored there a little bit. We watched the trailer and there were a bunch of games that she enjoyed playing.  I can see her being a history buff like myself (or at least a historical fiction fan).


Thank you, Mad Libs
December 14, 2007, 9:29 am
Filed under: Bubba, holiday, reading, writing

Seriously, what better way to learn the parts of speech than with Mad Libs? The girls have always loved doing them, we’ve just always asked them for “an action word” or “a thing, anything at all”. This time, I had Bubba read me the first page of the Mad Libs book which describes the different types of words that they would ask for. We discussed them until she felt comfortable and then dove in. We happened to have a book about different holiday songs, so it was timely, too. I read one to her and had her fill in the words, but I would only ask for exactly what they called for (verb, adjective, etc.). If she forgot what one was, we talked about it until she figured it out. The next time around, she filled it out for me, but I made her describe what kind of word she was asking for (if she asked for an adverb, she had to tell me that it was a word that described an action, usually ending in ly). We had a lot of fun reading them back to each other, even if poop and poopy were used predominantly throughout some Christmas classics.

Mid Year Check Up
December 9, 2007, 7:04 pm
Filed under: Bubba, curriculum

Last summer I looked up the curriculum for first grade in our state. I wrote down the main learning points for each subject and saved them on the computer. Because I knew there would be a long slow learning curve on both of our parts, I didn’t reference it at all. I mean, I remembered some of the items, and I tried to incorporate those, but mostly I just tried to figure out how to make it work for us. But, now that we are hitting the halfway mark in this school year, I felt that it would be a good idea to gauge where we’re at in respect to her peers. I was expecting us to be way ahead in some areas and to not have touched others. I was correct.

We’re well ahead in many areas of math. It has always been her favored subject, so we just keep going and going with it until she’s satisfied. We;re going to continue with fractions for a while longer and move on to multiplication after the holidays. She can do multiplication with her fingers right now, even the bigger ones like 9 x 9, but I’d like her to get to the point where she’s not using her fingers for it.

Her current social studies has centered on learning about different cultures and periods in history. The local first grade curriculum focuses on things closer to home like courtesy, rules and responsibilities. These are things that we’ve worked on her whole life, so I don’t feel very compelled to make a unit study on them. Other things, like map work and identification are things that we haven’t done a whole lot of, so that’s something we can work on after the new year.

I will admit to falling short in science so far. I have no real excuse for this, other than her interests not lying in this subject. As I mentioned before, she chose to study weather for a while, but soon found it held very little interest for her. So, I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to incorporate more science. The local curriculum consists of learning the scientific method and identifying properties of objects as well as observing animals in their environments and watching life cycles. Those are all things that we can easily cover, especially this spring when we can be outside observing these things first hand.

In regards to reading, she’s reading well above her level, but in looking at the curriculum, I see that I need to be going over the specifics of the structure of sentences with her. She intuitively understands these things, but I need to be putting words to the different parts of sentences. Other than that, we’re golden in reading.

Bubba’s writing is good and age appropriate, but I think that if we really work on it, it can progress even farther. Again, just like in reading, I need to be identifying the structure of things so that she can focus on them specifically instead of just writing in a way that feels correct. So, working on reading and writing together should improve them both.

As far as the arts go, she’s continuing her guitar lessons and we do lots of drawing and crafts, as well as some rudimentary biographies on artists.

I hate to compare or progress with that of the public curriculum because I am really happy with what we’ve accomplished this year. But, since there’s still a slight uncertainty that I will always be able to homeschool, I feel better knowing she will at least be at the same level in all of these subjects if she was to return to school. (Plus, I will admit that in my “first-year-of-homeschoolin brain”, I feel better being able to quantify what we’ve done in some way.)

‘Tis the season
December 5, 2007, 11:27 pm
Filed under: baby, Bubba, christmas, girlies, math, mimi

Here’s an outtake from our home photo shoot for this year’s Christmas card. It took four times as long as I had anticipated, but that also included updating my address book and fighting with the local store’s online uploading instrument. Here’s an outtake…

But, we’ve started the season officially. The advent calendars were broken out on Saturday and the girls have been thrilled with their little chocolates every morning. The older two love helping Baby find the correct day on hers. We’ve pulled out the book that I have been waiting for this month to read, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I loved this book when I was a kid and found it earlier this year, I think it was at the library’s used book sale. We’ve gotten two chapters into it and Bubba and Mimi were both listening intently. It’s a pretty short book, though, so I imagine that we’ll be through it soon.

I believe that all of our math will be about fractions this month, well, fractions and measuring. I plan on doing quite a bit of cooking with the girls. Because some people on the receiving end of these gifts do read here, I can’t lay out my plans, but it involves yummy candy and cookies. I would like to break out my lefse griddle and whip up a batch because I absolutely adore the stuff. Unfortunately, it’s really time consuming and I’m not sure I will be able to squeeze it in. That may have to be a project for the new year.

We’re going to be discussing all of the different holidays that happen this month, even Pearl Harbor Day. I don’t know that we’ll get terribly in depth on any of them unless one sparks her interest, but we’ll go over their main points. I think we’re also going to do a crash course in table manners and etiquette that she can show off at our holiday dinners.

The whole weather unit was a bit of a bust. It didn’t interest her the way she thought it would, so we finally just returned the books. Maybe in the spring when we are constantly under a tornado warning she’ll have some more interest in the clouds and such.

We spent a long drive home in the car singing all of the Christmas carols that we could remember (and butchering the ones that we were a little fuzzy on). Pretty soon they’ll print a map in the paper of all of the highly decorated neighborhoods and we’ll load up on hot chocolates with whipped cream and cruise around looking at the lights. We did it last year and hope to continue the tradition from now on.