Friday, April 18, 2008

And so Another Week Goes By…

Sometimes I really wonder how the times flies by so fast. We are already two full weeks into term! It's not been an exceptional week in any way, the usual plodding on. We have some things the children are really enjoying atm - the EMC History Pockets on Ancient Greece being a big hit J We managed to fit in a bit of IT work this week, outside of the usual use of the computer. We spent an hour learning how to use PowerPoint. It is my aim that by the time my children leave their primary years they will be reasonably proficient in the use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint (maybe Publisher, but I only have an antiquated version of that and whatever you can do with it you can do in PP and/or Word pretty much anyway!), such that they can put together a presentation of their learning, a decent printed 'essay' and know how to assemble a database of information should they need to. We use these books - they are simply brilliant. They are a little out of date, but with a little know-how can be adapted easily enough and essentially if you did what it says in the book you would achieve what it sets out to teach, just by a longer route than necessary as many of the shortcuts available now weren't available when they were written. The main thing is though the kids love it - fiddling around with fonts and colours feels more like play than work J

One outstanding achievement this week came from Joel. After four years of grammar books and spelling books, etc and very little actual written work coming from him I decided it was about time he put all that learning down and showed me what he can do, especially as he had got his days muddled and ended up with 2 hours of English to do in one day. SO I set him the challenge of writing me a story this week - about anything he liked. He asked my permission to write a 'scary' story, which I gave on the proviso that there was no 'magic' involved. He sat down, without complaint, and with a little prompting on where to start he began to make a plan. He did that for 1/2 hour or so then took a break. When he came back to it he was raring to go and sat and wrote solidly for an hour! Then he took a break - a shortish one because he was itching to get back and finish the story. This is my boy who hates to write, but just as he immerses himself in the book he reads he was able to immerse himself in his own piece of writing - for the very first time J After a bit he announce he was done. I praised him for working really hard, but I didn't read it through until much later on that evening. I was amazed at the quality of his writing. There was description, action, atmosphere, speech, good use of punctuation - everything I would expect from a child his age. The only thing missing was a middle to his story! He had a fantastic introduction and build-up and a really great ending, but the actual 'middle' bit was missing - as I believe is so common for kids his age. So on Wednesday we sat down together and picked our way through the story. I was also amazed that at this point he didn't throw one almighty wobbly, but I explained that our first draft, no matter how excellent it is, is never the very BEST that we can achieve, so we were going to 'edit' his story - pull it apart, improve it and put it back together - and that he needed to write it's middle! He was so proud of his work he really WANTED to make it even better and sat down with me. He did a fantastic job of replacing repeated phrases, thinking of different ways to say 'said', adding to the description where he could and generally tweaking it. Then he sat and wrote another 100 or so words at the middle bit - again very good. On Thursday he typed it up (and then re-edited it for all the missing punctuation which he missed when typing) and finally tonight he got to read it out to us all at T-time, which he was thrilled to be able to do. All in all he wrote 460 words (word-count on the 'puter told us that!) and he is one happy little man. At one point he was even heard to mention that he might like to be an author, but he did think again on that one!

I'm hoping now we have made a break-through on the writing issue - now he knows he really CAN!

Another outstanding achievement of the week came from Jake, who came home with "Pupil of the Week". Over the Easter break the children in his class had to write a 3 minute speech on anything they liked. They had to memorise it all, having only bullet points on an index card to refer to. Jake chose to do his on Chocolate and he worked very hard on it. I was astounded how well he could remember the names and dates and the whole ins and outs of the chocolate making process. This is the boy with serious auditory memory problems and yet he could do this without batting an eye: I guess it wasn't auditory though, as much as oratory- something he is all too good at!! Although there were 25 speeches in all for his class, HE was the one who got pupil of the week for his J I am so proud of him for that! I don't know if he got it because his was the best as such, or whether he got it because he had obviously worked so hard to make it interesting and good - either way I am happy - and so is he!

Other achievements;

Caleb put together a four word sentence: "More juice Daddy - Pleeeease!" His speech has made a leap and is now coming along nicely and there is so much less frustration there now as he can generally make himself understood - AT LAST!!

Ellie is really enjoying her ABC Lapbook and seems to be beginning to remember her sounds from it J As part of it she had to do three little free-hand drawings ('d' is for drawing) and drew me these (hope you can see them). This was another one of those totally breath-taking moments when I realised she can really draw!! She has never drawn anything like this before - it's all been scribbles. She doesn't even draw people much like most kids do, so when she announced she was going to draw a butterfly - AND THEN DID, and then a bee - AND DID, and then I suggested a house and she did a great job of that too, well….I was absolutely gob-smacked to say the least - and VERY PROUD of her too!!

Abbie lost her two top front teeth - I guess that's another mile-stone! She looks so cute - in a gappy kinda way!

Ah Well … enough already…best go wash up!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ellie's ABC Lapbook - so far!!

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Result of OUr Squirt Painting!

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No Gender Training Here!!

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Aren't kids funny creatures! Just when you think you have them sussed...

Today Joel was doing a maths activity on graphs. It involved the other children too and was basically 'the memory game'. They had to see who could remember the most objects out of 10. I had no doubt that A would do best (and she did) and that P would really struggle. Initially with the removal of single objects from the tray P couldn't see what was missing hardly at all - probably once out of 20 times she got the answer. Then I removed the tray entirely and asked them to recall the whole lot. JI did the worst (typical 9yo bouncy-brain!) and P remembered all but one! I was amazed. This girl is so like her eldest brother it is unbelievable. She has definate memory problems (JA has auditory memory problems) and will forget an entire lesson 5 minutes after it is taught, even if she has done some practical work on it. I always thought she was a tactile learner - now I'm beginning to wonder... HOW did she remember the 9 things? She wouldn't be able to tell me so I guess I'm just going to have to figure it out! Reading has been a real struggle. JP only helped her a little, with its songs and stories, but Headsprout did the bulk of the work this time - and it's visual! Am I going to have to go and buy a mass of multi-media materials for this little one? A visual learner - now that could be a lot more expensive, as most of the materials I have are either auditory (cheap and chearful, but I don't have that many coz it's not our style), or tactile - rods, bricks, shapes, cubes, lapbooks, magnetic words & letters... I could go on and on! She is learning with what we use, because there is of course there is a visual element to it, but I'm wondering if there is something out there that could help her more? I've toyed with Maths-U-See in the past and decided against (more financial outlay), but now I'm thinking again... If she is visual it might be what she needs, but how different is it to Miquon? I need to investigate.

6 years in and still I don't have this home-ed lark down cold! LOL I don't think I ever will. Some days you do one thing and its brilliant the next it falls flat - and vice versa! One day I might find a 'rut' that works for us all - but I doubt it! It feels like this is an ever evolving form. No one year looks quite the same as the one before or the one after, but the kids are learning, growing and developing enquiring minds & a love for Jesus - what more could I ask? :-)

Our morning has consisted of Maths activities (memory games), trampolining (PE), reading quietly, Bible study - CD and book called "When Dragon Hearts were Good", which came out of a short discussion the boys had with Paul at breakfast table about age of the earth! And now they are all doing Dance Mat (PE again and Music - coz it involves a lot of 'listening to the beat') and C is in here with me doing a peg-board picture (ancient things with plastic 'pegs' and a white square board with loads of holes in. It was actually mine when was a kid!).

So is the shape of our Thursdays and the kids really look forward to it. The rest of the week is pretty intense, so so do I!!

Now I need to go make lunch (left over lasagne for those that want and tortillas for those that don't) and tea (cook the chicken, coz tonight's tea only needs to be heated under the grill for a few mins) and then find something fun for the kids to do this afternoon (I really should be more organized) while I sort out the mountain of washing there always seems to be in this house! I have an idea to do 'squirt painting' in the garden if the rain holds off long enough for me to get it sorted. Basically collect old Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles - the really big ones with the valve-lid - fill with watery paint of various colours and then squirt at huge sheets of paper (back of wallpaper is great if you have some- which I don't, but the Ikea big roll of paper is good to). This is definately an OUTSIDE messy activity that is best done when the grass needs cutting - so all the painted bits get cut off, or when it's about to rain - to wash away the mess! We've not actually done it before, but I'm sure they will all love it!!

While I'm here - this a picture C coloured on poissonrouge yesterday - I thought it was very lovely. As he paints one side the symetry is done for him, but all the same - the colours and placing of them is great for a not yet 3yo I thought :-) I love that website and I can't keep him off of it. It has done wonders for his mouse skills and now he uses it independently. Before he started using it he had no mouse skills at all, but this was such a high motivation for him he learnt really fast!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I am busy putting together an ABC Lapbook for Ellie (and the kids that come after her!). I'm uploading all the files over here;

You might need to sign up (free and junk-clean) to get it if you are interested, but the site is well worth being part of :)

The RSS feed is linked here.