Monday, February 02, 2009

Quick Glance at Term 2 in Review

This is the nearest I am going to come to a week 20 in review. It's not really what happened last week but just a few things I wanted to remember about learning as interweaving. We are coming into the third trimester of the school year and this is a review week according to my folder system (I LOVE color-coded, visual reminder schemes!). So I thought it might be a good day to do some retrospecting -- it's not an overview, but rather a series of quick glances.


I don't know if you can see this clearly (left). I think you can click on the photo to make it bigger. After we read The Gold Bug last term, Kieron made this code out of cookie cutter shapes. He got the idea because we were making Christmas cookies and Aidan was calling the shapes by letter names and arranging them on the tray.

We also found this substitution cipher program online. It has the Goldbug cipher, and the Sherlock Holmes dancing men cipher, and even a bionicle language cipher. Kieron had fun with it.

I am trying to collect some more things to read to him and to have him read for himself. Here's a tentative work plan for next term. I am feeling like it would be good to go back to some academic work after a very unschooly January for him, but I am feeling like I want to get into it slowly and carefully. Generally I want to move towards him having more a hand in his own work; this is about the age we usually start heading in that direction.


Paddy naturally seems to think in terms of literary "rabbit trails", as I have mentioned in other posts. For example: whenever we happen to read Winter Days in the Big Woods, a picture book excerpt from the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, he tells me he wants to:

  • Make paper dolls (only his have to be soldiers, not fashionable ladies, obviously)
  • Make dough and give him little balls of it to make his own cookies and loaves (we make edible playdough quite regularly already but this is always different somehow because it's *from the book*.


Whenever I read the "Winter in the Big Woods" book to him, I always like the idea of each day having its proper work.... like this.

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday
Market on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

Here's an article about it. I had a "focus" system for several years but it was more complex. Last week, I did a thorough cleaning on Thursday instead of doing a bit each day (or not) all week. It was so nice to have a (relatively) sparkly house and I maintained it all during the weekend because I liked it so much. Realizing this, I made a list of possible "themes" for each day. There are too many, TEN, and only seven days in a week! But sometime I'll list them. I'm tempted to call February "Focus Month" and try doing things like that One Day at a Time.

The corollary of that, in Winter in the Big Woods, is that in the evenings, Mrs Ingalls doesn't feel strange about sitting down by the fire with the baby and cutting paper dolls for her girls. She doesn't think, as I tend to, "Hey, I can get a start on tomorrow's work!" Yet they were probably busier people than we are nowadays, because survival depended on their work. But it probably depended upon their leisure, too.


Now back to the kids' things: A couple more "book threads" of Paddy's.

About a month ago he chose a cluster of Bear books to read. We were reading Winnie the Pooh, and he also chose:


This month, we seem to be on a Magic School Bus pattern. Interestingly, as we repeat the readings of a book he likes he naturally seems to go deeper into the subject. Yesterday we reread Inside a Beehive for about the fifth time and he asked a LOT of very good questions which I wish now I had written down. At first he didn't care much about the end of the book where the authors explain in some way what is real about the books and what is imaginary. But now that seems to be one of the most interesting parts to him.


He's also on a Clare Turlay Newberry trail -- we started with Barkis and then read Marshmallow, Babette and Mittens. They remind me of the Billy and Blaze books a bit because of the soft, realistic drawings, the soft and calm descriptive style, and because they all have a similar theme to each other -- a child about Paddy's age wants a pet and somehow acquires one, and then there is some little mishap that resolves happily.


Aidan wrote this on the garage door with his leapfrog magnet letters.

I wrote a Year 1 Work Plan not so much to start the little ones on more work -- they seem to be learning so much in an unschooly format -- but to give myself a Plan for bringing things into their world. That's always a weak spot of mine unless I plan for it.


So far this term Sean is maintaining something like a 3.7 GPA at school..... Last term he ended up with a 3.0 which wasn't bad considering how different the PS system is from our home school. In some ways this isn't a big deal, but it's nice validation that you can have quite a relaxed homeschool environment and the kid can still do fine with a different system when the time comes .... you don't have to hit them on the head from birth so that they get used to it.


Laura A said...

Oh, I remember Clare Turlay Newberry! We had two: Smudge, about kittens learning to climb out of their box, and I forget the name of the other but it was, like you say, about a boy who loses a pet but finally finds it (maybe that was Mittens). Oh, and when we first moved to New York we used to get one called April's Kitten, about a girl who lived in a tiny apartment (like we had just moved to) and still slept in her crib because there wasn't any room.

Do you know the Meindert de Jong books? I hope I'm spelling that right. If Paddy likes Newberry, he might like Shadrach when he's just a little older. It was a big favorite of C.Z.'s.

Of course, we like the others in your post, too, but I had forgotten all about these, so it was pleasant to reremember!

Willa said...

I think it was Mittens -- we just read that one yesterday. The ones we have are originally Sean's, from when we lived in an apartment in San Francisco, and he loved them, so it's fun to get to reread them now a decade later.

I hardly ever hear anyone talk about C T Newberry --- that's why I mention books on the blog, to get to "book talk" with someone else who likes the ones we like : )