Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Amirah's Secular Studies

Having already gone through what we're doing for kodesh (religious) studies this year, now I'll outline some of our plans for 2nd grade secular studies.

First Language Lessons - 2nd grade
LOVE this series. Very simple and very thorough and it takes only a few minutes per week. We skip all the dictation and writing exercises since it duplicates things we do in our Writing With Ease book.

Writing With Ease, Level 2
Level 2 takes a great leap forward, rather suddenly it seems to me. In the reading comprehension/narration sections the student is asked to answer many more "why" and "how" kinds of questions instead of "who" and "what." They are also asked in a semi-directed way to pull out the essential elements of a story by boiling down the main plot to 1 or 2 sentences. The copywork is also longer, but Amirah is really good at noticing fine details. Copywork has been very effective. The author's premise is that students should always have correctly-written models in front of them. Any mistakes are immediately corrected so they don't get "practiced." No inventive spelling here. I never saw the value in it when I was teaching in a school setting either.

Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading
A couple more weeks of this and we should be DONE! It's been a long journey through this book and we're looking forward to wrapping it up. Right now we're working on three-syllable words that aren't compound words (i.e. contractor, episode, etc.). In the beginning we tried so many different reading books, and finally this is the one that truly won out. Eli is progressing through it now too, but more about Eli later! After we finish this, we'll be doing readaloud practice from the old-fashioned McGuffey Readers. These books include lessons in elocution and diction too! We'll start with Book 2 which is 3rd/4th grade reading material.

Spelling Workout B
For a while I was using an old-fashioned speller book, but the prep time was more than I wanted to spend on spelling. This book is just fine. The first word lists are very easy, so I'm giving her a spelling test, working on the 1 or 2 words she misses, having her do the proofreading and sentence-writing practice then moving on to the next unit. Right now we're doing 2-3 units per week. I'm guessing this will take half the year, then we'll move on.

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting
We're beginning cursive now. Fun words like wee, wit, it, and we. :) Miri really likes the flowing letters and how it feels to write them. Much more than she likes printing, it seems. The first half of the book is printing, the second half is cursive. Her printing was pretty good, but it's getting a little sloppier now so we may go back and do some more focused practice.

We recently read through four Nancy Drew books (HUGE hit!), and we are now reading Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry. Excellent writing, as usual, and much to everyone's delight this one starts out with a mystery too.

Singapore Math 2A (Workbook & Intensive Practice)
I can't say enough how very much I love these books. The method is rock-solid and encourages very flexible mathematical thinking. Right now we're working on place value for 100s, 10s and 1s and learning how to make and say all those 3-digit numbers. Many things we do "off the books" with manipulatives. Mostly I just improvise this. There is a "Home Instructor's Guide" which is reportedly useful, but I'm still going off the cuff. I hope to carve out some time to actually READ the guide, but for now we're doing fine without it. The guide really requires some set aside sit-down time and scrutiny! In October, we'll start doing the companion Intensive Practice book too. (And intensive it is! Harder than the regular workbook.)

History: Story of the World (Middle Ages) &
Echoes of Glory: The Story of the Jews in the Classical Era

Well, the Roman Empire has fallen and most of the Jews have returned to Babylonia. We've navigated the splitting off of the Christian Church and the ties to Judaism being formally cut, and the absolute desolation of the Jewish people after the destruction of the Temple. Story of the World includes very, very little Jewish history during this very rich period, so we will be much more heavily supplementing than we did last year. I think some chapters we'll just be skimming (maybe one readthrough and that's it). The main reason I buy the student workbook is for the maps, but I'm also discovering that the coloring pages are a really nice way for the littles to share in our history activities, so together we're making up a book of our history studies. I really consider history optional at this age, so beyond reading the chapters, asking comprehension questions, and doing mapwork we don't do too much else for now.

Exploring Creation with Zoology 3 (Land Animals)
So far so good. This book definitely (so far) includes a lot more specifically Christian theology than the previous books, so we tend to skip whole sections (as in 1/2 to 1 page). This week we are learning about Family Canidae (coyotes, dogs, foxes, jackals, and wolves). One of Miri's favorite subjects! I would like to get a big wall poster up so the kids can add pictures they make of all the different animals we study in Zoology 3. So... hopefully this week!

Every Monday, I'll be posing a mystery from One-Minute Mysteries and by Friday we try to solve it. This week is our first one!

I also got a Dover book of tangram puzzles and a box of challenge cards for pattern blocks (K-2). Just to add a little more spice!

Art projects: informal drawing every day; formal drawing 1x/week. Lots of oil pastels, chalk, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, pens... I wish we had more art time!

Music: I'll be starting a weekly class for Amirah and 4-5 of her friends after the chagim. We'll do about 1/2 recorder and 1/2 drums, xylophones, movement, etc. (plus everything all together too!). I also want to introduce 1-3 new folk songs each week.

Nature study: I'll be giving them each a small drawing book that we take with us on our outings (after cooler weather comes!). We'll draw whatever we see around us. Lots of interesting nature here!

P.E.: This one has me slightly stumped. I do NOT want to do the dinnertime sports thing 3x/week. I cherish our nightly, unhurried dinners together and think they're very important. We really need to get my punching bag rehung and re-institute Family Exercise Night. That was really the best. We do get out for bike rides (when cooler!), and I'm bidding on some rollerblades for Amirah on ebay. Folk dancing is good too. Our nature walks are usually a good 3 miles so that adds up too. We'll figure it out.

Field trips: We have several memberships at places around town for a nice variety of indoor and outdoor activities, and there are several places around town we have yet to explore. We've done some letterboxing around here and I'd like to do more, and I also want to try geocaching which we haven't done yet. We'll also be doing monthly 2-hour homeschool classes at Ogeechee Canal. Great walking place!

That's the gist of it! Keeps us plenty busy, but everyone is happy and humming along.

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