Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Off school this week, but still learning!

Technically, the kids are off school this week...their last break for we wrap up the last two weeks of school...but they're still learning!

We had lots of fun this morning. I am using a book called Early Learning Activities (ISBN 0785361871), which is a combination of 3 smaller books (Bright Start, Circle Time Activities, and Get Ready to Read), to do some fun learning things with Holden. I like the Bright Start section of the book, which breaks up learning activities by age for 2-, 3-, or 4-year olds. Today, we did the Alternative Art Canvas and Stop and Go games. For the art activity, I gave him a variety of differently textured surfaces to color on with crayons and watercolor paints to see how differently the colors and mediums would turn out on those different surfaces. We used constructions paper, a brown paper bag, a piece of cardboard, foil, waxed paper, and tissue. Holden really liked this activity and had lots of fun. During stop and go, he mostly watched me moving and freezing and laughed his butt off at me! LOL. It was worth it to hear the belly-giggling! I just love it when he laughs like that. Then I opened some bags of brightly colored pom-poms and gave him an empty compartment box and had him sort the colors for me. He did great with that and was mad when it was over!

I have a book from The Mailbox Magazine publishers called Science In A Box for grades 4-6. I selected the experiments on sudden surface changes and gathered the material in a clear plastic shoebox. Hayden and Haylee took it outside and erupted a volcano, complete with red "lava" out of an empty water bottle. They loved that! That experiment never gets old around here. The next part of the activity simulates the movement of the tectonic plates and how it affects houses and things on the earth's surface (using houses and hotels from Monopoly). We'll be doing that part after lunch!

Holden is also dabbling in Sonlight's Core PK 3/4 here and there. We read a few stories this morning from the 20th Century Treasury for Children and bopped to some songs from Wee Sing Nursery Rhyme Songs. He always enjoys that. I've scheduled out the books and songs in the free version of Homeschool Tracker since I prefer to have a schedule for all things school-related. The Core only comes with a parent guide that lists the readings and activities by quarter as a checklist type of thing. Since we're just dabbling in it right now (Holden just turned 2 after Christmas), I like that I can easily reschedule the activities in HST. I don't work on this with him every week, and often, I do it when the other kids are off school, so HST makes it easy to keep rolling the items forward on the schedule as needed and gives me a nice 1-page schedule I can print out for the week when we're ready to work on it again.

I haven't quite figured out how to handle school for Holden yet. In thinking ahead, I wonder when to start "real" school with him. The other kids started Sonlight Core PK 4/5 with K math, phonics, and reading when they were 3 yrs. and 10 mos. old. Their birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart, so timing-wise, it worked out the same for them both. Our school year runs June to June. Holden, however, has a winter birthday right after Christmas. So by public school requirements, he would be delayed in starting school until he was 5 yrs. 8 mos. old. So with late June as our starting point, he would be about 4 yrs. 6 mos. old when he started Core PK 4/5. That's about 8 months older than the other 2 kids were. I don't really want to start him at 3 yrs. 6 mos. unless he seems ready, but since they all start school at such an early age anyway, I can't imagine he'd be ready by then, but maybe he will be. The alternative is that he starts mid-way through the school year when he is 3 yrs. 10 mos. or maybe 4. That would put him in the middle of his school year when the other two are finishing theirs, but I'm sure it matters since we teach school year round anyway. I don't know. I guess I haven't worked it all out in my head just yet. It matters, though, because it affects what material I'm covering with him right now. I have SL Core PK 3/4 as well as Abeka Nursery Curriculum for both 2's and 3's, and also the Abeka Language Development course for preschool. I could really spread all that out and easily fill in the extra time with it, but I don't know if I want to do that. If I follow it as scheduled, and then he's not ready to move on, then I won't have anything to occupy him in between. So I really need to spend some time figuring it out. I guess I need to talk it over with Steve and get his thoughts on it, too, but he generally leaves all things school-related for me to decide and doesn't really have an opinion.

So anyway, that's where we're at. The kids have 2 weeks of school left before they move on to the next grade. Haylee will be starting 1st grade, and Hayden will be starting 6th grade. I'm debating whether or not to go ahead and set up Holden's workboxes. I think I might work on that this week. Then I'll have to be more purposeful with his activities, and that's probably better, because he's really getting to be distracting to the other two just playing and not having structured things to do during school time. He wants to play with THEM is the problem!

I'm almost done with my mass copying and setting up of binders for the new school year. I've already put all the new materials in the school cabinet. Yesterday, I stopped in at Ollie's Bargain Outlet in Hampton and picked up a great bargain...they had a Hooked on Spanish kit on the "oops" scratch and dent shelf on clearance. It was marked down to $3.75 and said it had missing items. The box was all crushed, and it was taped up all over it. I opened it up to see what was missing, but the packet inside was still sealed, and everything was in it. So that was a real find! It retails for $40 on the HOP website. It's for ages 4-6, so I'm going to let Haylee use it this year since she is starting Spanish. I'm also waiting for The Complete Book of Spanish for Grades 1-2 to arrive for Haylee to use over the next 2 years. It's a great big workbook of beginning Spanish vocabulary activities that Hayden did in 1st and 2nd grade, and he really liked it. It's very colorful. Once that comes in the mail, I can get it scheduled out for Haylee and then her schedule will be finished and I can print it out and be ready for our new school year. All of her other stuff is already ready to go.