Saturday, November 7, 2009

This Week at the Super Awesome School

In spite of several disruptions this week we did get some schoolwork done. It's never as much as I planned, but that's why I plan everything in pencil. My plans are always based on the assumption that we'll have a routine, uneventful school week, and of course that never happens. This week brought us unexpected visitors, a zillion boring-but-necessary errands, and an opportunity to get H1N1 shots (and you can believe we dropped everything for that!)

Anyway, here are some highlights from the week...

Since we have been on such a candy binge lately, I thought it would be fun to learn about its history. We read Sweet: The Delicious Story of Candy by Ann Love and Jane Drake. We liked the chapters about the earliest known candies, and the cool timeline running along the bottom of each page. After reading about candy around the world, we had to google "Jeddart snails" and "Edinburgh rock." Unless you're from Scotland, now you will have to google them, too!

The kids loved My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, so we read the sequel, Elmer and the Dragon. We hope to read The Dragons of Blueland soon. We also read Cynthia Rylant's wonderful book, The Van Gogh Cafe. (If you haven't read it, go get it RIGHT NOW. Well, read the rest of this post, and then go get it.)

One afternoon, it was warm enough to sit in the hammock and read Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Every time we got to the end of a chapter, the kids said, "Keep going! Keep going!" We read eleven chapters in one sitting!

We are still working on quick recall of multiplication facts. There are lots of tricks and gimmicky gadgets out there (and I have spent money on many of them) but the truth is, the only way to learn them is to practice them. Unfortunately, there is no way to make that fun. We've tried saying them out loud together, starting at a whisper and then getting REALLY LOUD; we've recited silly poems; we've pulled out the Math-U-See blocks and skip counted together; we've said them in silly voices; and we've made various math fact crafts. We are all royally sick of multiplication, but I have to admit, my own recall has improved with all this practice! (When I was in elementary school, I could never remember 7 x 8 or 7 x 9 for some reason. But ask me now, Mrs. Garrett!)

We also took the Math-U-See blocks outside and did some perimeter and area calculations on the front porch in the sunshine. I threw in a bit of subtraction and division practice, too.

Yesterday, we tried our very first independent day. I made a checklist for each child and prepared some activities for them (a modified version of the workbox system.) There were a few worksheets, but I tried to make it mostly hands-on projects. They made pictures with their magnetic tangrams, used the geoboards to create symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes, designed their own cornucopia and wrote about it, and did some independent reading. It worked pretty well--I was available if they needed help, but I was also able to work on some projects of my own.

Last night Dudeman's friend slept over and the kiddos stayed up way too late, so today was fairly low-key. We had planned to rake leaves, but, you know... I'll pencil it in for tomorrow!


The Stone Age Techie said...

Thanks for putting me in your blogroll - I'm honored to be a part of it.
And now, I am off to explore your blog, it looks wonderful!

Sparklees said...

Thank YOU for all the GREAT ideas posted on your blog! I plan to steal--I mean borrow--them soon!


Michelle said...

We also loved My Father's Dragon. We have enjoyed books by Cynthia Rylant, but haven't read the Van Gogh Cafe. I'm going to see if we can get it at the library right now! Thanks!

Sparklees said...

Hi, Michelle. Sorry I didn't see your comment or I would have posted it sooner! I hope your family enjoys Van Gogh Cafe as much as we did!