Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Week of Learning

WOW. What a week. One minute I would feel like we were accomplishing tons, and the next minute I would feel like it was impossible. :) Overall, the week went really well. We finished nearly everything we had set out to do. Hopefully, we'll tie up a few loose ends tomorrow.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday were full learning days (as in a solid 3 hours per day). (Actually, that sounds kind of funny. Every moment is a learning moment, literally. I guess that was the amount of time we spent "book learning"!) Monday was wiped out with Eli's difficult trip to the doctor, followed up by lots of TLC and ice cream. Wednesday was our outing day. Friday was just playing and reading in the morning and shabbat preparations in the afternoon. So, this is what we did:

TEFILLAH (prayer)
Our current morning routine is modah ani, negel vasser, reishit chochmah, tzitzis, torah tziva lanu Moshe, and shema. This has been our routine for quite a while. (TRANSLATION of above: prayer that says we are grateful our soul has been returned to us; morning hand washing; beginning of wisdom...; the brachah for putting on tzitzis; song celebrating Moshe bringing the torah to us from G-d; shema is the central prayer of Judaism - the first part is just 6 words: listen, Israel, Hashem is our lord, hashem is one).

Next week we'll be adding mah tovu. I hope to add a new tefillah to our routine every four to six weeks or so, or whenever the new tefillah is well-integrated. At bedtime we do shema, and this week I will be adding hamalach hagoel (a song that asks for protection from the angels) as a lullaby that I will sing to them.

KRIYAH (Hebrew reading)
We are winding our way through a thorough review of the alef bet letters and their sounds. We are up to samech (about 2/3 of the way through). This should be finished by Rosh Hashanah.

IVRIT (Hebrew - oral)
We are using the book Shalom Ivrit. It will do for now. It's really intended for kids in 3rd or 4th grade or so going to a weekly Hebrew school class. We have our puppets Zevi and Tzemi (Wolfie and Wooly) teaching the lessons. It's pretty fun, especially since we added Tzemi this week. We started learning masculine/feminine verb endings so needed a boy and girl puppet. The focus of the chapter has been on shabbat. In addition to verb endings we're also working on the prepositions in, on, next to, and under and the concepts of avodah (work) and menuchah (rest). It was pretty fun! And the kids can't get enough of Tzemi. She's sweet and young and silly. Zevi is old, a little bit more serious, and a little more tired than Tzemi. :) We also learned the song Yom rishon, avodah.

PARSHA (torah reading of the week)
The first day we read the summary of the parsha in My First Parsha Reader. It gives a good overview of the parsha, and introduces most of the key vocabulary. After that I pick and choose various stories from The Little Midrash Says. This week we focused on: Avshalom's rebellion (as an example of a rebellious son), the mitzvah (commandment) of hashvat aveidah (returning a lost object), and the mitzvah of shooing the mother bird away from her nest before you take her eggs. We just read the stories, no special projects or anything.

CHAGIM (holidays)
We read the book Rosh Hashanah with Bina, Benny, and Chaggai, which gives a good overview of the dinim (laws) and minhagim (customs) of the holiday. We learned three Rosh Hashanah songs - Tu, tu kol shofar; L'shana tova tikateivu; and Tapuchim ud'vash. We also did our apple-picking field trip (we eat apples - tapuchim - on Rosh Hashanah). We practiced the traditional Hebrew greetings one uses on Rosh Hashanah too.

TORAH STUDY - Bereishit (Genesis)
We are doing our 2 pasukim per day journey through Bereishit. I've learned a lot and it's a good discipline for me if nothing else! Amirah has picked up many of the vocabulary words. I can read the Hebrew thoroughly now through verse 12. I would guess Amirah understands a good 50% or more of it. We certainly got a lot of new vocabulary words under our belt!

READING (English, that is!)
We are working our way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It has been working really well for us. I had dismissed it in the beginning of my searching for a good reading book because it has some unusual orthography to teach the sounds, but it has actually been very effective. We are now on lesson 33 of 100.

We read Little House in the Big Woods, and tonight we started on Little House on the Prairie. We couldn't get enough! In the coming week I'm hoping to make tin lanterns punched with a design in nail holes to copy something they did in the book. I would also like to make one or two of the things they cooked (johnnycake and maple candy perhaps). I would also like to dip candles. Lots of "would likes". We'll see! There are lots of good ideas that I got from this classroom guide. We read the short bio of LI Wilder that was included. We'll see how many projects we can do in the next couple of weeks, especially with Rosh Hashnah coming. Oh, well. We can always use maple candy on Rosh Hashanah! :)

We also started and finished a Grade 1 Reading Comprehension book. It had 40 or so 1-page stories (mostly non-fiction) with questions to answer. Amirah loved doing it so we zoomed through the book. It even asked a few more abstract questions like "What was the main idea of this story?" and "Why do you think xyz happened?" It was pretty fun.

We're using Letters and Numbers for Me, part of the Handwriting Without Tears Program. Amirah is a bit of a reluctant writer (if you can really call someone that at age 5!!). Her small-motor skills are still developing. She was very late to walk and do smaller movements. This program is great because it has a multiple of large-motor ways of learning the letters (see the website for more info). We started over the summer. She has worked on all of her capital letters, but is finding the curves of the lowercase letters much more challenging. We'll probably be working on the book for another two months or so. Anyway, this week we did pages 45-51 (w, t, some words, a, d, g, and a couple of sentences). It's completely up to her how much we do in a sitting, as long as we do at least one page. We typically do 1-3 pages per sitting. When she's just eaten, had a good night's sleep, and has been moving around, she finds the writing a lot easier. I try to do it first after breakfast. She definitely has far less patience for this than anything else, so I'm following her lead completely.

We got only about half the math done that I had planned, but we all love doing math! All the kids gather round the table at math time and get some of whatever manipulatives we're using. This week we were counting nickels (and counting by 5s). We also re-visited counting dimes (and counting by 10s). And pennies/1s. We did penny, dime, and nickel dances where we put Avi in the middle and danced around him singing in a sing-song (a la Ring Around the Rosie) voice and counting by 1s, 5s, or 10s. We would all fall down when we got to ONE DOLLAR and tickle Avi. Those were a hit. We also worked with tangrams and found various ways to fill in various shapes using the tangram pieces. It was a blast. Amirah could have done that forever had we not run out of tangram sheets. I'm sure I can find more tangram puzzles online somewhere.

We started some memory work. Right now we are working on memorizing "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has 3 verses of 4 lines each.

Much of this we got on dvd this week, from Planet Earth and How Birds Eat (great footage!!). We supplemented with reading some of our ocean books about the very deep parts of the ocean. We also read about crayfish in our favorite 100-year-old (almost) nature book - Handbook of Nature Study. We've had fun watching the crayfish at Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store. I'm hoping to manage a field trip to a pond so we can catch one ourselves and observe it for a little while before putting it back. We used to catch them as kids by tying a piece of liver to a string and dipping the string in the water. They don't let go and you plop them into your bucket. I wonder if we can go to any pond and catch them? I'll have to call someone at Metro and find out...

Sherwood Orchards & Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge. YEAH!

OY! After reading all that I don't see how we could possibly have fit any more in. I felt bad we hadn't done a big art project, or anything in the way of music other than singing a few Rosh Hashanah songs. I see now that we did PLENTY. I don't know if I'll be able to take an hour every Saturday night to type all this up. It should be easier since I won't reference books I've already referenced, etc. I'd say the first week went pretty well. Can't wait for week #2!

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