Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning Update - Secular Studies

It's been a while since I wrote about our learning... Here's a little update.

MATH (Saxon 2)
We switched books about a month ago now (from Singapore to Saxon), and it's continuing to go very well. Amirah has really sped up on her math facts, we've deepened our knowledge of a few concepts, and her enthusiasm is high. We've gotten through about 40 lessons in 16 lesson days, so going at a good clip. I really do like the Singapore approach better, but it just didn't work as well for her. After finishing Saxon 2 we may give Singapore another go. I really think it was not enough speed with her math facts that was hanging her up in Singapore. We'll see! It's so wonderful to have the flexibility to switch a curriculum if it's just not working.

COMPOSITION (Writing With Ease)
I just love the way this series gently brings along a student's ability to become a good writer. It really only takes 10 minutes per day. Our lessons currently consist of this:

Day 1: Story, narration questions, and three questions to help summarize the plot (i.e. "What was the main problem?" "What happened next?" and "How was it resolved?"). The student then summarizes the plot in 2-3 sentences and the parent writes it down.

Day 2: Copy a sentence from the story. Usually the sentences now include multiple punctuation marks and are sometimes two sentences long.

Day 3: The sentence from Day 2 is now given as a dictation sentence for the student to write down after hearing it twice.

Day 4: Same as Day 1, but with a continuation of the story.

Day 5: The student picks one sentence from the previous summarization to have as a dictation sentence.

(In the text, Day 4 and Day 5 are actually done all on one day, but I prefer to break it up.)

GRAMMAR (First Language Lessons)
This book continues to just take about 5 minutes per day, 2x/week. There has a lot of emphasis on parts of speech, and we're now about to go onto adverbs!

READING (McGuffey Reader 2)
Amirah gets some great readaloud practice from this book. We often take this in the car for her to read her daily story to us on our way to somewhere else. We can get a lot done by "carschooling." She also just reads all kinds of things to herself all day, so I don't really keep tabs on her specifically about how much reading she's doing - it's plenty!

STORY OF THE WORLD (Medieval History)
Vikings, Old English, the feudal system, and later this week we'll enter the crusades. Oh, what a time for the Jews. We've made Viking ships, listened to part of Beowulf in the original Old English (and read an adaptation of the story in modern English), painted castles, and built blocks and more blocks out of plaster of paris and will soon BE"H make a model of a castle. At the dinner table I said out loud, "I wonder if any Jews ever lived in a castle..." Amirah's response? "Of course, mama. In a dungeon!" We've learned how Jews essentially lived outside the feudal system, being neither serfs nor lords (and of course not clergy!). They were pretty much the only merchants, and received variable treatment (sounds like a euphemism!) by the societies in which they lived. And knights were no friend of the Jew; one would just hope to survive an encounter with one on the road.

Amirah LOVES spelling. I just hand her the book while I'm working with Raizel and Eli and she plows through a whole chapter at a time. Our favorite part? At the end of each lesson, there's a section where there is a list of 5-7 words that aren't on the spelling list, but follow the same rules. Of course, you're supposed to follow the RULES and write on a topic the book suggests, like "Use the following words to write about a trip to the dentist." Well, phooey, it's more fun to write things like:

"The greedy, shy canary is not satisfied with a cherry."

"I always enjoy Monday, but I go astray."

"I nibble on a gentle eagle, then I sparkle."


"I like a nice whale sandwich with a bit of cheese and it tastes good."

Now that's FUN!

ZOOLOGY (Exploring Creation with Zoology 3)
We concluded our study of hooved mammals, and are now on to snakes and lizards. Most of our science study for zoology has consisted of reading books on our currrent subject, looking up youtube videos (previewed by mama after checking the sources!), and watching any David Attenborough shows that relate to our studies. Sometimes what we're studying also lines up with the little classes at Skidaway Island State Park, and that's always nice (and I really mean "little." We're usually the only students!). We also draw the animals we are learning about (hence the cows in a previous post, and snakes coming up next BE"H!). Amirah adores any science learning we do.

Drawing, drawing, and more drawing as you've already seen. Amirah has also really been into making beaded necklaces and bracelets. We found many very nice glass, wooden, and shell beads at Walmart, so she spent some of her own money getting a box of wooden beads. Most of art relates back to either history or science. Today we drew castles with silver pens on black construction paper. More fun!

I was going to write about our kodesh studies too, and about Raizel and Eli too, but I'm ready to end this for now! Time for a long winter's nap. Good night, all!


Jennifer in MamaLand said...

I just got FLL and I love it! I'm raring to go, but I'm going to wait until her reading is a little smoother. She's not really in Grade 1 yet.... I'm thinking of it as Grade "SK-and-a-half."
Also raring to go on the history, but forcing myself to enjoy this year of not-so-formal-schooling.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

p.s. I love those sentences! Spelling would be a joy with phrases like that in your brain...

(who DOESN'T go a little astray on Mondays? :-))))

alpidarkomama said...

I know the "raring to go" feeling. :) I definitely go a little astray on Monday! So, do you think we should go to sleep now?????? :)

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

p.s. Tagged this post for the Jewish homeschooling blog carnival #5! Come on over!