05 November 2009

school with elle: day31.

her commentary: the sun got a haircut.

book 8 of the BOB books.

transcribed entry:
"It's a big rainstorm and thunder's coming. It's nighttime and the kids can't sleep. The moms and dads came into the kids' room. Then they could all fall asleep happily ever after, the end."

29 October 2009

school with elle: day27


i've found that elle sometimes forms her letters in a haphazard fashion, adding on bits here and there till the resulting figure meets her satisfaction. we did a few more pages of her handwriting book to make letter formation a bit more expeditious.

[it boggles my mind, but she loves this exercise.]

28 October 2009

school with elle: day26

one of our activities on this day involved constructing a cardboard guitar:

...so that elle could rock it out.

26 October 2009

08 October 2009

school with elle: day23


one of the day's activities was baking banana muffins. usually we mix the chocolate chips into the batter, but on this day we divided them evenly over the tops, counting out how many should go on each muffin to give them all an even amount of chips. a very tasty lesson in early division concepts.

28 September 2009

school with elle: day 17.

part of our chalkboard activities each day includes recording the weather. i love elle's rendition of a windy day:


today we played an outdoor game where elle matched number words (one through ten) with their numerals. she used a combination of letter-sound correspondence and the process of elimination (plus a bit of guessing) to decode each word. [i helped her with the word one and reminded her that th makes the stick-your-tongue-out-sound, but the rest of the decoding was hers.]


this is a perfect example of how something that would bore her to snores on paper is Tons of Fun outdoors (notably when the writing utensil is sidewalk chalk).


we read a few books and poems with illos too pretty not to photograph:


three cheers for school!

25 September 2009

school with elle:day16.

[disclosure: okay, so i'm having trouble keeping up with this here blog. (i antedate the entries to match the school day i'm transcribing, so you can't necessarily tell how far behind i am posting. but trust me, i am WAY behind.)

in an effort to keep this place afloat, i'll stick to highlights of our schooling, and i might skip some of our days altogether when life is a particularly special brand of crazy.]

following our garden field trip, elle and i did the normal calendar/chalkboard routine and then made a book of her favorite parts of the trip.


she drew ink sketches (below is the turtle crafted from rocks) and filled in the outlines with watercolors.



when the pages dried, i bound them together with a single line of stitching on my sewing machine to finish the book. the best thing about these books is that elle can then revisit each trip and activity whenever she wishes.

24 September 2009

day15: garden field trip.

elle and i spent a drizzly morning at a local children's garden.

we delighted in pale green strawberries

new tomatoes and papery bark

white flowers in a moon garden

miniature train tracks, bright leaves

a pizza garden (bell peppers, tomatoes, oregano, onions, basil) and an alphabet garden (L had lambs ear, D daisies, B black eyed susans), plus a critter garden, a sun garden, and a rock garden (not pictured)

a cherub with a penchant for books

and a smallish enchanted woods.

elle's favorite bit was the sleeping grass (which i had only ever seen in hawaii prior to this trip); when one strokes the fanned leaflets they curl and close to protect themselves. we spent quite a while at this raised bed, and even had to drop by for a second visit on the way out.

"goodbye, sleeping grass," she said when i coaxed her into leaving. "i mean, goodnight!"

23 September 2009

school with elle: day14.


after the usual routine of calendar, chalkboard, snack, and journal, we did a bit of stamp art and played a syllable game (another activity i created during a kindergarten ed class). in this particular game, elle picks an item, we say the name of it, and then we clap the number of syllables in the word. she then places the item next to the card that illustrates the corresponding number of claps. (you could easily do this without any of the manipulatives; simply gather items from around the house and clap their syllables, placing them in groups according to their claps. this actually sounds like a better idea, in my opinion.)

next elle read her first BOB book, and i enjoyed seeing the strategies she uses to decode the text. i had her point once under each word as she read to ensure that she closely attended to the text, and i prompted her to go back to repeat a sentence for meaning if she initially read it in a halting fashion. she definitely picked up on meaning, as the pages with mat and sam sitting on each other cracked her up.

**note: these books were loaned to us by a friend, and i'm not heralding them as the most effective manner to equip a child with strong literacy skills. i do have my preferred methods i'd use in a traditional classroom setting, but from my observation, just about all literacy philosophies are at least moderately effective at teaching most children to read and write.**

for our last activity, elle wrote a note to grandma owens, writing down all the sounds she heard. (she did write her entire name, but in the photo above i blocked out everything but the beginning L.) we placed the card in an envelope, addressed and stamped it, and walked it out to the mail box. we got to talk a bit about how the address tells the post office (and later the mail carrier) where to deliver the letter.

21 September 2009

school with elle: day13.


calendar, chalkboard, snack, journal.

potato project: we visually recorded the growth of our potato plant, and elle dictated her observations to me.

magnets: elle gathered small items from around the house, and we tested them to see which items stuck to a magnet. we separated the items into three groups: sticks, doesn't stick, part of it sticks. (without getting into the more complex realms of ferromagnetism, paramagnetism, and diamagnetism,) we learned that simply speaking, not all metal is magnetic. copper, lead, aluminum, magnesium, platinum, silver, and tungsten don't seem to stick to a magnet.

next, we magnetized a needle by rubbing it with our magnet in the same direction twenty times. we then placed the needle on a piece of paper in a glass of water, and it reoriented itself to point north. this allowed us the chance to briefly talk about the earth's magnetic field.

we ended our morning with eric carle's THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR and russell hoban's A BABY SISTER FOR FRANCES. i adore all of the frances books; that girl (or, er, badger) has such spunk.

18 September 2009

school with elle: day12.





today we did our calendar time, chalkboard activities, and journaling. then elle made a card for the friend of a friend in the icu of our local hospital, and we headed over with daddy to visit with this young man.

not a typical school day, perhaps, but valuable nonetheless.

17 September 2009

day11: five senses walk.

thursday we took another mini field trip, this one with the objective of utilizing our five senses.

we began by reading FIVE FOR A LITTLE ONE (chris raschka) to identify our five senses and discuss how we use each sense.

next, i told elle we'd be heading outside to use four of the five senses: smell, hearing, sight, touch. we'd save taste for indoors, since we need to be discriminating about what we put in our mouths.

we drew a line to divide a piece of white paper into four sections, and we attached the paper to a clipboard. i labeled each section with a word representing one of the senses.

we trekked out into a dazzling september morning and smelled acorns, air, and clusters of tiny purple flowers:

we heard crickets, the wind, and the buzz of a plane overhead:

we saw birds, an ant carrying another ant, and a lone green leaf:

and we touched a berry, grass, and the bark of an oak tree:

elle drew each item in the corresponding portion of her paper, and i recorded her verbal observations about the item.

we headed back indoors and tasted cocoa powder, salt, and brown sugar.

after recording those observations as well on the back of her paper, we transferred the information from our clip board to a small book.

elle's completed book read as follows:

(cover) 5 senses

1 smell
They smelled like sweet candy and soap.

The acorn smelled like salt and flowers.

The air smelled like fresh wind, grass, and bark.

2. hear
The wind sounded like leaves breaking in half.

The plane sounded loud like a bee buzzing.

The crickets sounded like little birds.

3. see
The birds looked black and white. Their wings were spread open.

The leaf was green and pointy like a triangle.

We saw an ant carrying another ant. They were reddish brown.

4. touch
The grass felt like pieces of hay. It was soft and a little bit wet.

The bark felt like big curving hills with nails on them.

The berry felt like a blanket.

5. taste
The salt tasted like the ocean at the beach.

cocoa powder
The cocoa tasted like chocolate and salt.

brown sugar
The brown sugar tasted sweet like cookies and cinnamon.

16 September 2009

school with elle: day10.


calendar: per usual
chalkboard: per usual
snack: orange slices and whole wheat banana muffins
numeral ordination: more of the math manipulatives i made in my kindergarten ed classes. this one is very simple; elle just places the numerals in ascending order.
dollhouse play: elle's younger cousin was over visiting during this time, so we did a bit more play than normal. dollhouse, furniture, and dolls from plan toys.
addition: more k ed math manipulatives. elle solves the addition problem by placing the specified number of fish in the water, adding the designated number of fish, and counting the total. we talked about how the plus sign means "and." so 2+3 could be read "two and three."
sidewalk art: another activity with elle's cousin, we drew chalk pictures and labeled them.
journal: elle writes her name, the date (she identifies most of the sounds in "September" on her own), draws her entry, and dictates a description. today's entry featured a medical invention.
read: THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG by eugene trivizas and helen oxenbury.
movement: we danced a bit to faith's silver elephant by rosie thomas.

14 September 2009

school with elle: day9.


calendar: per usual
chalkboard: per usual
handwriting: we worked on letter formation for upper and lower case letters, a through c. (admittedly, i'm not a huge fan of isolated instruction in letter formation, and i try not to place too much emphasis on "correct" formation since handwriting is merely a tool for communication.)
journal: elle writes her name, the date, draws a picture, and dictates a story or description. today's entry featured a girl with a raging case of chicken pox.
read: HOW I BECAME A PIRATE by melinda long
math concepts: fractiles 7: elle created her own circular pattern, allowing us the chance to talk a little about rotational symmetry.
math concepts: using geomags, we formed several basic geometric forms: a cube (also one kind of square prism), a triangular prism, a triangular pyramid, a square pyramid. we discussed the shapes making up each face and counted the faces of each form.

11 September 2009

school with elle: day8.


calendar: per usual

chalkboard: per usual

globe: today we identified canada on the globe, then looked it up on other maps. we read snippets and viewed photos of canada in THE TRAVEL BOOK.

journal: name, date, picture, dictation.

read: KNUFFLE BUNNY by mo willems

potato plant: we observed the growth on our potato, and recorded the changes in our potato journal.

10 September 2009

school with elle: day7.


calendar: the usual

chalkboard: ditto

snack: yogurt and oranges

journal: today her dictated entry read I drawed a super doggy and his name is Barks. He has to save a princess named Maria and he hears something and he says, "Oh boy! That's a big, bad dragon!" He has laser eyes.

finger puppets: elle drew/colored a girl, duck, reindeer, dog, and alien. she was mighty pleased with these little friends, and performed several puppet shows for me.

COUNTING CROCODILES: this tale of a clever monkey is told in rhyming text and stunning illos. if your child happens to be working on one-to-one correspondence, this book could be a useful practice tool.

memory: LIFE ON EARTH matching game by eeBoo.

09 September 2009

school with elle: day6.


calendar: date, counting the days in the month
chalkboard: we wrote Today is Wednesday, September 9, 2009. (we talked about when to use uppercase letters, and discussed the purpose of spaces between words. we practiced using two fingers to help space our words apart when writing.) we read our sentence together, reviewed the days of the week, and observed/recorded the weather.
snack: graham crackers, apples, peanut butter.
journal: name, date, picture, dictation.
THE COMPLETE ZOO ADVENTURE: (this is a faith-based resource with information on animals, culminating with a trip to your local zoo. be aware that the text portrays a strong bent toward biblical creationism.) we learned that flamingos get their pink hue from their diet.
apple subtraction: elle picks a worm (bearing a subtraction problem) and solves the problem by placing apples on the pie, removing the designated number of apples, and counting those remaining to derive an answer. (i admit that this is not my favorite approach to math concepts, but i have a bunch of these games from my kindergarten ed classes, and elle loves them and can do them independently, so every once and a while we pull one out.)
elle reads: QUIET LOUD by leslie patricelli. mostly, elle has the text memorized, but she does self-correct using beginning consonants.
i read (not pictured): PRAIRIE DOG AT HOME ON THE RANGE, a small leap frog nature book imparting factual tidbits on baby prairie dogs in a narrative style. informative, easy to listen to, and fascinating to elle.
resist painting: we briefly discussed how oil resists water, and what the word resist means. elle drew a picture with oil pastels, then painted over it with watercolors.

04 September 2009

school with elle: day5.

calendar: date (yesterday's, today's, tomorrow's), days of the week, counting the number of the days in september thus far. we also talked about the word day, how it is spelled, how we can find it and hear it in the word today and in the name of each day of the week.

chalkboard: wrote Today is Friday, September 4, 2009. read our sentence together while elle pointed once under each word. observed/recorded the weather.

journal: name, date, picture, dictation.

journal, day 4.

several books: first up, 365 PENGUINS, a neato eco-math tale that's quirky to boot.

nifty book.

next, WHILE WE WERE OUT, a gentle south-korean import with a funny ending.


potato plant project: we skewered a potato and suspended its bottom half in a jar of water, hopeful for sprouts. we plan to observe and record its changes and growth.

hoping for sprouts.

happy exploring!