Saturday, June 20, 2015

End of Year Wrap-up

The kids have finished up another year of school and have had an amazing year.  Vicki will continue with Math Mammoth through the summer while George will work on specific math skills out of workbooks.  Both will continue with daily reading and journal writing but mainly they are going to be swimming (they both jump in and swim underwater now!!) and bike riding (they both can ride now!!) and enjoying the summer.  Both kids will be taking a few weeks of 1/2 day camp - George through the local university G&T program, Vicki through our town rec program.  We also plan to spend lots of time at the lake trying out their new kayaks.



Vicki completed Level 2, Issues 1, 2, 3, 4 and Level 3, Issues 1,2 in The Wand.  These involved reading and doing grammar and writing activities with Frog and Toad Are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, Harry and the Lady Next Door, Owl Moon, Chicken Soup with Rice, Big Max: The Worlds Greatest Detective, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Olivia Goes to Venice, The Golly Sisters Go West, The Story About Ping, and Zack's Alligator.

She finished all of second grade Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension, all of second grade Evan Moor Word-A-Day, and all of second and third grades in Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write.   Like George, spelling seems to come fairly easy to her.  The Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write also covered grammar, punctuation and creative writing.

Early in the year Vicki did all of the second grade Evan Moor Grammar and Punctuation, finished up Scholastic Success with Vocabulary Grade 1 and gave No Boring Practice Please! Spelling and More Proofreading Practice Please, Grade 3 a try.  She wasn't quite ready for the proofreading practice and we put it aside after just a couple weeks.

In Math, Vicki completed all of Scholastic Success with Addition & Subtraction Grade 2 by November, and finished up Scholastic Practice Practice Practice Addition and Subtraction that she had started last year.

She solidified her time and money facts using Evan Moor First Word Problems: Time and Money, finishing that up in October.

Her main programs for the year were Math Mammoth and Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math.  This year she finished up Math Mammoth 1B, all of 2A and about 1/2 of 2B.  She will continue working on MM through the summer at a slower pace.   For Skill Sharpeners Math she finished all of Grade 2 and started Grade 3.

In addition, she completed Evan Moor Daily Word Problems Grade 2.


George completed Grade 5 in his Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension, finished Grade 5 (started last year) and all of Grade 6 in Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write (we're looking into other options for next year since Evan Moor only goes to 6th grade).

For extra practice in applying the spelling and grammar skills he learned, George also did Scholastic More Proofreading Practice Please and completed the third (started last year), fourth and fifth grade books.  He also completed Scholastic No Boring Practice Please Spelling which was considered a 4th through 6th grade book.

For Vocabulary, he completed the fourth grade level (started last year) and about half the fifth grade level of Evan Moor A Word A Day.

George completed Writing With Ease 1 and through Week 14 of Writing with Ease 2. 

For Math, George completed Math Mammoth 4A and 4B, in addition to Evan Moor Daily Word Problems Grade 4, Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Grade 4 and through Unit 4 of Grade 5.  He also did lots of Logic puzzles and Sudoku, including making up his own logic puzzles.

In addition, George took his first class at our local universities gifted and talented program and "passed" with flying colors:

The Student's work has merited the grade....A
The Student's overall classroom performance has been....Excellent
The Student has actively participated and contributed to classroom activities and discussion....Always (not a surprise to anyone who knows George. Speaking up is definitely not his problem).
The Student demonstrates mastery in the important competencies of the course.....Excellent
Comments: George did well with the content presented in class. He is bright and a hard worker. We worked on classroom environment behavior and he improved over the semester.


The kids did units on Explorers, Plymouth Colony and the Colonies for US History this year.  For Science they covered Simple Machines, Electricity, Health and the Solar System.

They did Literature Pockets on Aesop's Fables, and Folktales and Fairy Tales.

They did book reports and file folder reports on the Food Groups, Earth Day, Arbor Day, The Weather, Columbus, Autumn Harvest, All About Me, and Black Americans.

We  took field trips to a Maker's Day event, an Arboretum, a Safari Adventure, and a Butterfly Bonanza (still have to write up that last one).  They joined me at Take Your Kids to Work Day and learned about advertising, and went into New York City for the St. Patrick's Day parade.

They spent the year doing swimming at the Y, ice skating, bowling, archery, fencing, choir at church, and art at a local museum.  We tried out a couple 4-H groups (including one really fun hike that I still need to write up) and decided that George Sr. (aka Daddy) and I would start our own STEM group in the Fall (more on that later I'm sure).

All in all, they had a great year.  This was the first full school year with Jen as their teacher and they made great academic progress, met some wonderful new friends and got to know some old friends better, learned new skills, and still had time for lots of fun.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Solar System

The kids finished up their solar system unit just in time for summer break.   They used a variety of resources and books for this study, primarily Science Essentials: Solar System workbookREAL Science Odyssey: Earth & Space and the Intellego Unit Study - Earth and Space: Astronomy.

The Science Essentials workbook includes a brief reading for each chapter, puzzles, games, quizzes, experiments and lots of vocabulary. 

As they worked through each chapter, they also filled out a comparison chart for each planet showing it's size, location, composition, # of moons and color (from RSO) and KWL charts (from Intellego).

The first chapter was an overview of the solar system - what a solar system is, what is found in our solar system, information about the Milky Way galaxy.   Since everything in the universe is made of matter they did a demonstration using the microwave to show the different states of matter for water.

They worked through chapters on each planet, learning about it's position from the sun, the origin of it's name, interesting facts about each.  For each planet they also made a model using Styrofoam balls that they put together into a solar system model at the end.

For Mercury, they showed how craters are formed by dropping rocks into a pan of dirt, sand and mud. 

For Venus, they showed how the carbon dioxide atmosphere trapped heat by heating up a jar in the sun.

For the Earth, they learned about how the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth.

They also did a couple of demonstrations about gravity, including making a scale....

and dropping various objects from the same height to show they hit the ground at the same time.
They wrote a diary about a trip to another planet.  Vicki's: "Day 1, I was landing when I saw a volcano.  It started to get dark.  Day 2, when I woke up a volcano erupted.  It was interesting.  Day 3, That night I heard something  Roar, it was the engine.  Day 4, That afternoon I heard something. Day 5, that mourning I took a jog.  Day 6, that noon I took a look at the engine.
George's "Venus Experius. Day 1, Things aren't at all well.  We forgot the camera and Bippo is panicking.  We lost 6 whole chocolate bars to calm him down..  Day 2, I'm supposed to be having lunch but Bippo is missing.  Day 3, Bippo is STILL LOST!!! Day 4, We gave up and caught Bippo raiding the fridge.  Day 5, We set off back home."
They decided what they would bring on a trip to Saturn.  Vicki chose hygiene products (brush, toothbrush, soap) a flag, food, water and a space suit.  George picked tools, food, books, and a star map.
After the planets, they learned about the Sun.   They compared the relative size of the Sun to the relative size of the Earth by comparing a one inch piece of yarn to a 108 inch long piece of yarn.
They also made a solar oven, a sundial, and learned about eclipses.
They learned about the moon, including the various phases of the moon and tracking it for one month.

Next they learned about some stars that were not our Sun, constellations including creating their own, the Milky Way.
They learned about comets and made their own comet kites....
and about the differences between asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteorites.
They learned about the history of space exploration and wrote a story as if they were on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr.  
Vicki's story:  "I was talking with Edwin until Neil fell into a crater.  We found rope and lowered it with Edwin tied to it when I let go by accident.  Then they were both stuck till I found a ladder.  Then we all collected moon rocks. Last we went home."
George's story: " 'It's dark here', I said.  We saw space rocks sized from a mouse to an elephant to a butterfly.  And BIIIIIG craters!  Not much else...."
They finished up by discussing whether they thought there might be life on other planets (both thing there is) and making up their own aliens.
During the course of the study they watched the Magic School Bus episodes about space, and read lots of different books.

This finishes up science for this school year other than possibly some nature hikes and field trips.