Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up Week 5: Spanish, Pens, and Whiteboards

We finally started Spanish this week (Yippee).  Even though they have done some Spanish in the past, I'm starting from the very beginning (a very good place to start!)  We are using Getting Started with Spanish as our main program.  Each day, I write the lesson(s) on a chalkboard, go over the vocabulary with the kids, discuss pronunciation and spelling (especially the unusual things like tildes ~), and they copy everything into their notebooks.  I'm hoping the combination of looking, reading and writing will help retention.  In addition, they are playing on Duolingo for 10 minutes each day and we will be watching episodes of Spongebob and Pokemon in Spanish on Hulu.  

I have them set up as my "friends" on Duolingo so I can see their progress.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to set them up to be friends with each other.  On the one hand, the competitiveness may have them working harder.  On the other hand, they already compete about EVERYTHING and I'm not sure I want to encourage that with school.

We had a meeting of our 4-H STEM club this week.  The kids did a catapult/trebuchet challenge.  We had some amazing designs that can be seen here.

The kids have been taking swim lessons at our local Y for the past few years, but of course until now I haven't really had the opportunity to be there during their lessons.  We don't do lessons over the summer and last spring was a little chaotic.  So, I was very interested to see how lessons were going this year, especially for Vicki after her amazing summer on swim team.  And I wasn't happy.  Both of their classes were very full (9-10 kids), they spent a lot of time waiting for their turn to start laps or waiting for the rest of the group to finish, and there wasn't a lot of instruction.  Vicki's class was better than Squidy's, but not by much.

We decided to try lessons through a local aquatic club.  They were less expensive and promised smaller classes.  Plus instead of 30 minutes like the Y, they were 60 minute lessons - 30 minutes as a group and 30 minutes of individualized help.   The main thing we asked them to work on was Vicki's diving (because this is the main thing holding her back on team), and Squidy's comfort and strokes.  It's been two weeks and it's been going really well.  They were even able to get Squidy to give diving a try!

The rest of Vicki's week:

As I mentioned previously, I decided let Vicki do her spelling test on the whiteboard this week instead of orally.  It definitely went much better and she enjoyed it.

She only had two more units left in the Grade 5 Evan Moor Spell & Write.  Once she finishes, we'll start right in with the Grade 6 book.  When she finishes that, we are done with spelling except for corrections in other work.

I let her switch from pencil to pen for all her schoolwork.  I originally offered her a pen because she broke the point off her pencil twice in five minutes.  Then she couldn't find the sharpener that she had just used.  Then the pencil didn't have an eraser (because she basically eats them off).   Then she didn't have another pencil.   She decided she liked using pen - "I like writing with a pen.  It gives it more official meaning."   I like that we won't be going through 10 pencils a week.

Neither of the kids is struggling at all with Vocabulary from Classical Roots.  Vicki is doing the 4th grade book and so far all the words have been familiar to her.  We are alternating this with Spectrum Writing since neither program will take all year.  I'm not sure if we will start the next levels if they finish early or just move on to other activities.  I am hoping to incorporate some Brave Writer this year.

Vicki just started the 4th grade book for Math Mammoth and keeps complaining that it's "soooooo HARD!".  She seems to have trouble mainly with the mental math "tricks" and with reading the instructions carefully.  When we sit together, she is able to do it without any problem.

She is still really enjoying the stories in Mosdos Press Ruby but isn't appreciating the workbook assignments quite as much.  ;-)

She spent this week reading Redwall.

Squidy's week:

Unlike his sister, Squidy does NOT want to use pen.  The idea of making a mistake and not being able to erase it bothers him a LOT.  :-)

He is finding Math Mammoth 6 easy so far.   It's mainly been a review of the four operations and place value.   He made up his own mnemonic for the order of operations - Pete Eats Many Daisies At Supper.

Zacarro Challenge and Jousting Armadillos have been a little bit more challenging.  He's finding Zacarro the easier of the two and actually corrected me on the Venn Diagram questions (I was thinking the "only" was implied, as in "there are only 4 kids who like dogs".

He has hit the Logic chapter in Beast Academy 4B and LOVES it.  He has always loved logic puzzles, so this chapter should go fairly quickly.   This is the last chapter in 4B and we'll start right up with 4C.  I like working with Beast Academy behind their main program (Math Mammoth) because it's such a different approach, but he also hasn't used it that much in the past couple of years.  I'm not sure if we'll continue once he finishes 4D since we may be fully into Algebra at that point.

He finished reading Caddie Woodlawn ("eh, it was okay"), started and finished Homer Price (took him one day), and started The Secret Garden.

Next week we are taking a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC to finish up our Prehistory/Evolution study.   By the end of October, I'm hoping to start Ancient History and Microscopy.

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