Homeschooling, spring 2017, age 8

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Reading

I don’t do anything official for this at home beyond encouraging her to read for pleasure, which she does (quite happily). Her interests are mostly nonfiction, books about friendships, gentle mysteries, and animal stories, though she has a good interest in historical fiction too. I don’t put much stock in Lexile numbers, but I’ve found that ~700 she breezes through very comfortably, but she can stretch above that easily too (when the book is interesting enough).

I, once again, briefly used this “reading level assessment” and she could once get through the 6th grade words but got hung up on the 7th grade list.

The local co-op has a literature class that she participates in which uses classics and other books. They’re encouraged to read them at home before class, though the teacher reads them aloud as well, and then they discuss and go through some basic comprehension. While she’s grouped in the lower elementary and the reading level is well below what she is capable of, I think it’s a great practice for this sort of work, and next year she’ll likely be in with the older kids at the co-op based on age/grade.

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Writing

There is also a writing class at the weekly co-op where they cover different topics like types of words, haiku poems, how to count syllables. They have free writing in class, and two homework assignments each week–creative writing (literally anything goes), and formal writing where she writes a paragraph from an outline that she makes.

Math

We’ve been pretty much just using Prodigy Math, an online game that I know a lot of families use as a supplement, but I’m comfortable using it exclusively for now. It automatically assesses her math level (which the home screen is currently telling me is 4th grade). She’s proficient in any-digit addition/subtraction, conceptually understands multiplication/division and is beginning to memorize those facts naturally (I allow her to use a multiplication chart instead of being limited by lack of rote memorization), basic metric conversion, fractions, and more that I’m just not remembering.

I love the reports that are available from Prodigy, and even just quickly logging in shows me how many questions she’s answered each day this week, and what topics have been covered. I’ve created my own account and play at the highest level of math and we “battle” each other, which she enjoys. She mostly loves all the extras in the game–pets, clothes, decorating her home–but she tolerates the math that’s involved, so I’ll take it.

We also continue to play math games such as Math Dice Jr., Balance Beans, and Mobi Max. I’m hoping she gets confident enough for Sumoku soon, and regular Math Dice.

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Science

We’ve continued to slowly work through REAL Science Odyssey – Earth and Space as a formal curriculum, and have made it mostly through all of the planets, and after that it’s stars and the book is done. I really like the pick-up-and-go aspect of this curriculum…there’s very little that I have to prep in advance. Typically when I know our schedule will allow for science I look at the book the day before, make sure we have any supplies required, and that’s it. I plan to do their Chemistry book next, and likely Physics after that. In my head the idea of cycling through those three for elementary school makes sense, but we’ll see what actually plays out.

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Other science-y stuff continues to happen informally and with much curiosity. We continue attending nature class with our homeschool group, and though we took a break over winter from the Jr. Naturalist program, we just signed up for spring again at our local nature center.

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Art

An art class is also included in our weekly gatherings at the library, and they vary from painting to drawing to repurposing recyclables. She also enjoys crafting a lot of miniatures for her dolls for play, as well as drawing along with the Art Hub for Kids YouTube videos.

History

She still has Story of the World Volume 1 and 2 (ancient times through middle ages) on her little iPod and listens to them mostly while she relaxes in the bathtub (LOL). She likes historical fiction books such as Little House on the Prairie, and has started reading a new series, Goddess Girls. I’m unsure of that series’ educational value, but it’s making Greek mythology relatable, and for an 8 year old that’s good enough for me.

Music

Lily continues to play violin and is working on completing the final song in the first Suzuki book. The goal is for this song to be her recital piece in a few weeks!

Physical Education

Also tied in with music is her ballet class. They’re currently preparing for the spring recital which she LOVES. She also takes gymnastics classes through the park district. We’ve recently started wall climbing indoors at a gym together and she excels at that with all of her monkey-bar-upper-body strength!

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Miscellaneous

Her Girl Scout troop at the local grade school is having fun being Brownies this year. They meet at least monthly and her troop leader is kind and creative with their activities.

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She has also started attending an independent learning center for ~4 hours a week. Now, this place is difficult to describe. The director is trained in Montessori and gifted education, as well as child psychotherapist, who decided to create this amazing space for homeschooled kids. We use it as an enrichment activity, like how kids in public school would have pull-out gifted services, but some use it as a bridge to eventually enroll in a brick and mortar school again. It’s a magical place that collaborates between director-led and child-led goals in a small community setting, and we are so lucky to have found it and for Lily to be able to participate.

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We just wrapped up Lily’s 8th birthday week of celebrations and I am so incredible proud of the kid she’s growing into. She seems to be shedding most of her little-kid qualities and I just absolutely love parenting her.

Year-long knitting

As the new year approaches I find myself thinking of year-long projects to start and (hope) to finish throughout the whole year of 2017. In my searching I happened across the Year in Temperatures and Knit the Sky projects. I thought (and over thought) about how to do these. I just love the conceptual idea of knitting the sky, one row a day, and adding a rainbow in when I see a real-life rainbow. But that would require also having an entire rainbow of compatible yarn on hand. And if I was going to have an entire rainbow anyway I might as well knit the weather as well!

So, I am!

Rebecca and I have decided to knit the weather together–her in Colorado after her January move and me in Illinois. It should be a neat way to compare the differences. I’ve purchased my yarn from Knit Picks and am eagerly await its arrival.

Here are the colors for the temperatures…

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And here are the colors I chose for the sky…

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Both projects will require just one row per day. So far I’ve been picturing a simple stockinette tube with the strands run up the middle and then likely kitchener joining it to be round like a super-sized cowl. That way I won’t have to weave in 365 loose ends, which I would very much like to avoid.

For the sky I will simply observe during my day and pick what I deem the best choice. For the temperature I’ve organized the colors in 10F degree  increments. If you’re joining, please feel free to adjust to your area’s climate!

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I also anticipate falling behind, because that’s easy to have happen, especially on a long term project such as this. So I have created a one-page print out of a whole year calendar that can be used to document one or both projects in order to more easily play catch-up.

One project, row per date:

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Both projects, two rows per date:

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We would love it if you joined us on this knit-a-long! Or get creative! I’ve seen blankets done with this concept, even cross-stitch! I love that there can be so many variations of the same theme–observing and documenting the year.

Camper got a little make-over

The little pop-up camper looked like it could use some customizing, so it got some valances and pillowcases. There’s a quilt top ready and waiting to be quilted before the next season, too!

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Beginner quilting lesson

Lily requested to sew with me, so we set out to learn some quilting skills. I set her up on my machine with the speed turned down and the 1/4″ foot on, and she did great!

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I helped by clipping (not pinning) the pieces together for her, and she just slow-and-steadied the whole quilt top.

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I helped with the actual quilting process, but the pride is still evident…

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She has plans for more!

Homeschooling, fall 2016, age 7.5

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Reading

I still don’t touch this formally as she is an avid reader. She enjoys a variety of reading levels, from “too easy” for her ability to well beyond what I would ever imagine her reading and comprehending.

Once again we briefly used this “reading level assessment” and she could get through the 6th grade words easily and hung up in the 7th grade lists. Her compressension has tested around mid-3rd grade.

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Writing

I’m trying to get better at adopting the Bravewriter lifestyle again for our family. Tuesday Teatime is difficult to remember; maybe we’ll do it as a family after dinner instead. Her handwriting is still tediously slow which means she prefers to dictate to me which I’m trying to feel more positive about because I’m pretty sure the more confident independent writing will come with time. Lily will also attend weekly homeschool classes again held by a group of families at our local library. This includes a writing class where she completes assignments in class and at home each week. She did well with this class last year!

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Math

We have found that Math in Focus is a good fit for her! It is Singapore-style math workbooks and we completed 2A and a lot of 2B over summer. Conceptually she’s ready to advance more but the computations and memorization aren’t quite there, so we’re going to circle around with some review and introducing concepts through stories like Sir Cumference and activities like Family Math. We also play math games such as Clumsy Thief and Mobi Max. I’m trying to convince her that memorizing her math facts will make those games easier 🙂

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Science

Science-y stuff continues to happen informally and happily. Nature class with our homeschool group is a great exposure to a lot of things, as well as being a part of the Jr. Naturalist program at our local nature center. We have also begun to slowly work through REAL Science Odyssey, Life as a more formal curriculum.

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Art

An art class is also included in our weekly gatherings at the library, and they vary from painting to drawing to repurposing recyclables. She also enjoys crafting a lot of miniatures for her dolls for play, as well as drawing along with the Art Hub for Kids YouTube videos.

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History

Story of the World Volume 1 on audiobooks is still a hit, and I have also added volume 2 on her little iPod. We’ve begun to do some activities from the Story of the World 1 activity book. She’s still into reading historical fiction for pleasure, so I will continue to encourage that. Over summer we began reading the entire Little House series and she is a HUGE fan. We will also once again attend a monthly class at our local history center which touches on various topics from Abraham Lincoln to Frida Kahlo.

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Music

Lily is still playing her violin. She started in October of 2014 and has continued to practice just about every day since then. I’m continually amazed by how much she keeps improving at (what I consider) a difficult instrument. So many strings and a bow and fingers!

Physical Education

Also tied in with music is her ballet classes at the local park district. She has also chosen to begin gymnastics classes again. Oh, and monkey bars are a pretty consistent favorite pastime 🙂

Miscellaneous

Lily is also once again involved in Girl Scouts at the local grade school with friends that live on our street (amongst others who attend that school). The troop is bridging to Brownies this year! We make sure to schedule playdates with friends at least weekly. Im confident life will has hit a good weekly groove again once fall really gets going.

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Door County, Wisconsin

We had a great trip with my parents! The Farm was wonderful to visit, as always, and the weather was so pleasant for exploring nature and shops and fun. This was our second trip up there and I feel like it was even better than our first. We’re already planning the next one!

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