Sunday, June 22, 2014

Camping Memorial Day Weekend

We enjoyed our (almost) annual trip to Egg Harbor City Lake Campground for Memorial Day weekend. 

It was a chilly weekend but that didn't stop the kids and Daddy from swimming in the lake.  I thought they were crazy considering it was cold enough for me to sit on shore wearing a hoodie.

Vicki lost her first tooth right before we left for camping.  She came up to Daddy to check her loose tooth and it wasn't coming out without hurting so daddy thought it would be a few more days.  Instead Georgie yanked it out for her.  The tooth fairy came to the campground on our first night.

The kids had a great time doing the events around the campground, like a flashlight lollipop hunt on the beach....

and an ice cream social.....

and playing Angry Birds in the tent after getting caught in a sudden rain storm....

going to Longport Beach and jumping in the waves.....

Vicki tried a toasted marshmallow for the first time that she could remember, while Georgie tried one for the very first time (he didn't like it, she did).

hanging out reading in the play tent...

and feeling sad when it was time to go home.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wrapping up another school year!

The kids have finished up another school year!   
They will continue to do some school over the summer.  Mainly “Bridge” –type workbooks, reinforcement of math facts (division for Georgie, addition/subtraction for Vicki), and lots of reading.

This was a very interesting year, starting out with my return to work, the brief attempt to continue our usual book-based work before switching to Time4Learning for a few months while staying at grandma’s house.  Then a return to home and much of our previous curriculum after the New Year with a private educator (our wonderful governess/nanny, Jennifer).
Despite the chaos the kids have actually had a really good year.  They are both still working above the grade level they would be in public school, and they have enjoyed a very active extra-curricular schedule for the past few months. 

Here it is, our wrap-up of the 2013/2014 School Year (and a few comments on what we may do for next year)!!
VICKI (rising 2nd grader)

Language Arts
HWT:  At the start of the school year (July), Vicki was about 2/3 of the way through the kindergarten HWT book, was very resistant to writing outside of her workbook and even when writing for fun, did nothing but scribble.  Since then she has finished the entire 1st grade book, and only has a few more pages left in the second grade book.  She is also doing her own writing for the rest of her school work.  Lots of progress in just one year, but at this point I don’t think she’s ready for cursive so we will probably do more copywork to continue practicing print writing (if it seems to be needed, she does quite a bit of writing at this point).

Reading:  At the start of the year, Vicki was doing a little bit of Explode the Code, and we had just started All About Reading.  She was doing fairly well with CVC words and had just started blends.  Other than her AAR readers and partner reading some Dr. Seuss, she wasn’t reading too much on her own.  She advanced very quickly while doing Time4Learning and she’s now reading for at least an hour a day.  She has worked her way through quite a few Junie B. Jones, Magic Tree House, Rainbow Fairies, and some Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton.  I did the San Diego Quick Reading Assessment and she scored at the 5th grade level.  I don’t think she is ready for the smaller print and lack of pictures in higher level books but she’s definitely doing great with decoding.  Her reading caterpillar hit the wall so she is now keeping a reading log.
Grammar:  She wasn’t doing any grammar at the start of the year, except some games like Very Silly Sentences, because we concentrated on phonics and reading.   In January she started with Scholastic DoDEA Grammar, Usage and Mechanics Grade 1.  In April she switched to Evan Moor Grammar and Punctuation since my Scholastic download had gotten corrupted and I could no longer download it online.  She is about half-way through the 1st grade Evan-Moor.   She may be ready to go right into the second grade book in September since there is a lot of repetition in the lower grades.

Reading Comprehension:  Reading comprehension is another one of those topics we weren’t covering at the beginning of the year to concentrate on phonics.  In January, she started with Scholastic 1st Grade Basic Skills: Reading Comprehension and Reading Skills (done mostly orally).  We only used the pages that consisted of reading a short passage and answering a few questions.  She did very well and moved on to the 2nd grade book in February, which included pages on synonyms, antonyms, sequencing and answering questions about a passage.  By this point she was doing her own writing and proceeding very well, but when she finished the 2nd grade Scholastic book and switched to Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension we started with 2nd grade.  The Evan-Moor passages are longer, have more details and the questions, while mostly multiple choice, required more thought.    She is currently up to Week 8 (out of 30) so will probably continue with 2nd grade in September.
The Wand:   Vicki has completed through Level 2, Issue 1 in The Wand (which puts her about ½ way through).   The Wand includes activities in grammar, spelling, comprehension, and vocabulary and is geared toward K-2nd grade (advanced for 5-6 year olds, targeted for 7-8 year olds) so Vicki is right in the group it is meant for.  She will probably continue working through the rest of The Wand and then switch to Writing with Ease 1.

Additional Language Arts:  Late in the year, we introduced a few other LA activities.  Scholastic: Success with Vocabulary: Grade 1 and spelling using Scholastic Week-by-Week Homework Packets: Spelling Grade 1.  Vicki has been doing well with both and I really like the vocabulary.  In the fall, I want to start a phonics based spelling program.   I already have All About Spelling, Level 1 and Level 2 but I don’t think Vicki needs something that involved.  We will probably try out the Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write (same program Georgie uses).  It looks like she could go right into the 2nd grade level.

Math Mammoth:  Vicki has worked through all of MM1A and most of MM1B.  She is completing the shapes and measuring chapter, which leaves adding/subtracting within 100 and coins.  Since she is doing a separate workbook on time and money, it may not be necessary to complete the coins chapter, and since there is a lot of review with addition, she may be able to start 2A in the fall.   
Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math:   She has finished the 1st grade book!  We will probably continue with the 2nd grade book in the fall since this provides a nice, ongoing spiral review of concepts.

Additional Math:  In addition to a Disney Time & Money workbook, she has also been working through Scholastic First Word Problems: Time & Money, Scholastic Practice, Practice, Practice: Addition & Subtraction, Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy: Grade 1 (same program George uses, a nice introduction to logic problems), and Solve the Riddle Math Practice: Addition & Subtraction (same ones Georgie did).  This is probably the first time Vicki has started using programs originally purchased for Georgie. 
GEORGE – (rising 4th grader)

Language Arts
Cursive Writing:  George started the third grade Handwriting without Tears Cursive book in June of last year.  He finished it in April, and since then has been practicing using Scholastic Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes and Riddles.  He’s also been doing more of his other school writing in cursive.   While I really like HWT, I don’t think he needs more instruction, just more practice, so that’s the way we’re heading for him.

Spelling: George was finishing up the third grade Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell & Write in August of last year.  Since then he has completed the 4th grade and started the 5th grade workbook.  These books provide a nice mix of traditional spelling practice (copy the words), phonics rules, grammar and creative writing.    He almost always scores 100% of the spelling tests and it also shows in his writing.  For fifth grade, he’s had words like pitcher, trouble, station, beautiful, journey, neighborhood, everyone, surrounded, countries, quickest, guarding, purpose, ordinary, approach, tomorrow, knight, variety.  He completed through Unit 6 before stopping for the summer.  
He learned about Harriet Tubman, had a writing assignment to pretend he was a newspaper reporter when an alien was spotted in a cornfield, had to come up with five interview questions for Lance Armstrong, and learned about Knights and Pages.

Reading Comprehension:  He just finished up Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension 4th grade, just in time for summer break.   He will continue with the fifth grade book in the fall.
Vocabulary:  He started the year doing the third grade Evan Moor Word A Day.  He completed that book and moved on to the 4th grade book about mid-year.  He gets practice using the dictionary looking up each word before answering the questions.  In addition to the multiple choice questions, the fourth grade book has writing assignments using some of the words.  George’s selections included:  “When I lose computer time I get cantankerous”, “I’m wearing an orange dapper suit”, “I am very gregarious” (he really is), and “It’s so tedious doing schoolwork”.

Writing with Ease: George has completed through Week 22 of WWE1.   I think we’re going to continue with WWE2.  He is certainly doing a lot of other writing and grammar but I like the exposure to classic literature and we don’t have anything else that includes dictation work.  He has come a long way with copywork this year.  Below is a sample from September and one from May.  Big difference.

Reading:  George has been doing a lot of reading.  In addition to one hour of required reading during school, he reads each night before bed, and will pull out a book whenever he’s bored.  He’s been reading a lot of Hank Zipzer books by Henry Winkler, Geronimo Stilton, and has just started Eerie Indiana series by Mike Ford.

Additional Language Arts:  Late in the year (following another Scholastic Dollar Days sale actually) we introduced some additional “fun” language arts.  More Proofreading Practice Please! which has helped George apply the grammar, spelling and punctuation he is learning in other programs, Scholastic No Boring Practice Please: Spelling which goes over general spelling rules like syllables, suffixes, plurals and silent letters one rule at a time.

Math Mammoth:  George finished up MM4A back in April and they took a break to work on solidifying his recall of math facts.  He is doing very well with recollection of multiplication facts but is having more trouble with division facts.  He will continue to work on getting the facts down well, and move on to 4B in the fall.
Skill Sharpeners Math – Grade 4:   George started doing the Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math workbook around April to add some mixed review and practice.   It gives him additional word problem practice, and topics such as coordinate graphing, calculating area, computation practice, fractions, and measurement.

Algebra Readiness Made Easy:  George finished up the 5th grade book but was starting to really struggle by the end.  We decided to hold off on the 6th grade book for a while, and possibly even re-do the 5th grade book in the fall.
Logic Puzzles:  He started out the year doing a variety of logic puzzles from Scholastic Logic Posters, Problems and Puzzles which offers a variety of types of puzzles.  His favorites are definitely the grid puzzles.  Once he finished the Scholastic book (some of them for the second time), he started doing some grid puzzles from a Mental Floss logic book.  He likes them so much, he’s started making up some of his own. 

Additional Math:  George has learned how to do Sudoku puzzles, starting with 4x4 puzzles he has now moved on to the 9x9 grids.   He also started doing Evan Moor Daily Word Problems, Grade 4 in the hopes of getting him in the habit of actually reading the directions and writing down his steps.  Math is starting to get hard enough that he makes mistakes trying to do it in his head.  He is also doing some math facts drill using Scholastic Fast Facts: Multiplication & Division and Super Sudoku Math: Multiplication and Division.

The kids have been making great progress in their school work but they’ve also been having a ton of fun.
In addition to swimming lessons (Vicki is now swimming underwater), they’ve been bowling, ice skating (both are doing great), fencing (Vicki has a real knack for fencing!), fishing, and camping.  They’ve studied Vikings, Electricity, and been to the National Zoo.

Posts on all that will be coming soon!