Friday, August 2, 2013

Weekly Learnings

We are back in full swing around here and enjoyed taking July off a little bit from our "formal learning", but now that August has arrived it's time to get ourselves back on a daily schedule. My big boy was gone this week so it gave me the opportunity to work a lot with the little boys and get them going on a new system.
I created this chart for James to mark off all the independent things he can do when I'm unavailable to work with. Knowing that Baby Adam is coming soon inspired me to get James ready for some alone time. Nursing a newborn takes a lot of time so when I'm busy James will have plenty he can do that is meaningful until I can return to work side by side with him. One thing I know about James is that he thrives with a list. He is not happy until everything on his list is crossed off. He loves the feeling of completion and so this helps us a lot! He's already used it for three days this week and it's been great!
I've spent my down time brushing up on my baby knowledge. This book has been a lifeline for me with all our babies (foster ones included) and I read it cover to cover this week in order to be prepared for my little guy.
 The boys are still thriving learning from the "Investigations" curriculum. This week they did counting bags and the jist of the activity is that I give them a bag full of objects, they have to count the objects inside, organize their info, and then record their result on paper. Sounds super easy, but it isn't. First of all it is hard for little ones to organize their counting. Then they have to transfer that info onto paper and that gets tricky, too. This game really helped them learn some organizational skills for recording info and they got better and better as the week went on. Here's Remi counting the dice out of his bag. He naturally lines up the objects he counts and this is super useful for him when he goes back to check his work or looses his place while counting.
 Here he is recording his work on his paper. This gets tricky because it's easy to loose count of how many you've already drawn. What worked well for Remi is that he would check his work by putting a dot inside the objects that had been counted. If he lost count again he would use a different color dot to recount.  
 I still have the boys do tracing every day. James' handwriting is still pretty messy and so this is good practice for him and Remi forgets how to form his letters, but has beautiful hand writing so it's also good for him. Of course with James I always put his sheets in page protectors so he can reuse it, but I still usually have Remi do his on paper so he can take it home.
 With fall approaching I want James to start heading to bed a little earlier. He's been staying up until 9 during the summer, but 8:30 would really make a better bed time for him. So we implemented a new system this week where after I read him his good-night books he can then take books to bed and read until he's sleepy. He has really loved this. The first night he took two books to bed, read them, then passed out. Now he's up to taking 5-10 books to bed and reading all of them before passing out. Here he is picking out his books before bed.
 I didn't get a chance to write with Remi in his draftbook this week, but James wrote a new story about building a fire with his dad and I just adore it. I even sent him to the kitchen table to write his ending by himself and he came back with the last sentence done completely independently. So excited to watch his writing develop. He's an amazing speller and fact teller so this is really good for him to get all his thoughts on paper.
 I still love using the poetry notebooks with the boys and intend on adding in their new memory verses this weekend. I just love to watch them track the words as they read.
 Remi still does the "shake those beans" game at least once a week and it's been great with helping him build his number sense. This game can be used with any number, but it really works well with numbers 5-8.
 Here's James doing one of his math tubs. We have a shelf in our playroom that is only math games and I also have independent games he can play in actual tubs so he can choose what he wants to do. Math tubs is one of his choices off his new system.
 We still use our Horizons workbooks from time to time and the boys do great with them. I'm not a lover of workbooks, but what I love about Horizons is it covers lots of topics like skip counting, counting money, tracing, and has lots of math vocabulary built in to the assignments. These are things we do during the day naturally, but I also like them to do it on paper a bit, too.
 A few weeks ago I wrote all the boys old spelling words on fun little cards and bagged them by word family. Randomly throughout the week I'll have them pull a bag and either read me the words, build the words, or something. It's great for practice and since it's words they know they can read them fluently. I don't let them sound these words out. They have to think about it in their head and then say the full word.
 We have lots of little sight reader books at our house and James loves reading them. I find them in random places: garage sales, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. and buy them every time.
 Here's James doing his "Read to Self" 
 James learned a verse in choir this week and wanted to make a card for someone that he loved. He chose to send one to Randad. Isn't it precious?
 "We love because He first loved us"
Happy to be back in the groove. Not sure how long our groove will last since Adam will throw a kink into our lovely little day, but for now we're smooth sailing in the school department. 

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