02 December 2013

Homeschooling Notes, November 2013

Month five of our school year is over! Once again we started with a loose plan, stuck with some of it, deviated a little, but had fun and learned along the way. Following are some highlights of our second grade class of one (Agent E) for November. Of course, our kindergarten student (Agent J) sits in on most of what we do, but I've included a few separate notes on her progress at the end.

Still warm enough for a little outside dirt time
Math

The plan for this month was fractions and percentages. And we did some of that: basic fractions like one half, one third, one quarter; knowing that two thirds of something is the same as four sixths of something; one half is the same as fifty percent; etc. (Legos rock for this kind of stuff, BTW.) 

But, then Agent E decided she wanted to go back to money and we spent a bit of time on that as well. She has a container of coins she organizes by denomination, counts, pretends to buy stuff with. 

We also introduced the idea that adding/subtracting is the same no matter how many numbers you have. For example, adding/subtracting a three- or four-digit number is the same process as adding a two-digit number, and you just keep carrying/borrowing over. She still finds these a bit tricky, which leads me to believe a review of place value (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands) might be in order.

I think it's also finally "clicked" how easy it is to count by tens from any number (e.g., how 37 plus 20 is 57 because you just count by tens twice; previously she would try to count it out or have to write it down). 

Reading/Writing

We pretty much had a month of reading here. We did more of that than anything else, and even subjects we usually "study" with something written (i.e., something I can put in a binder at the end of the day) we simply read, read, read about. 

I also had this brilliant idea that we "needed" to work on writing, but couldn't figure out where to start. Agent E took care of that by deciding on her own about a week or two ago that she wanted to start writing a story. So she asked for some writing paper from the office and did just that. (It's a work in progress.) So I guess I won't worry about her becoming interested now, LOL.

The silly Brian P. Cleary books resurfaced as well, this time exploring antonyms, synonyms, and irregular plurals.

Science

For science this month we looked at bugs, insects, butterflies, and other creepy crawly things. We read some basic bug books from the library and our own bookshelf (still loving those book party books). Agent E also revisited a few of our favorite websites, including National Geographic Kids and the National History Museum (London).

Any time is good for a little dress up
Social Studies

Agent E is loving the Liberty's Kids series. We are almost halfway through (20 of 40 episodes). It's funny because we often just have the DVD playing while we're doing something else (like art time) and I wonder how much of this are they really paying attention to? but it never fails that sometime later one of the girls will mention something they remember from an episode.

We've also read several books about the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution (and specifically, the Bill of Rights).

We also found a very cool US states/capitals crossword puzzle and also tossed in a few other printouts from education.com for good measure.

Art/Music

We went back to studying composers this month, and have been reading a little at a time from Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull. The Senior Agents were happy to see two female composers included. (They had been asking.)

Also took a few new Bach and Beethoven CDs out of the library . . . which we promptly put aside to listen to John Williams Greatest Hits 1969-1999 instead. 

Miscellaneous

Last month my MIL introduced Agent E (and to some extent Agent J, although she wasn't as into it just yet) to sewing. Together they made a felt bear and my MIL even made a blanket for said bear. This month Agent E decided she wanted to practice her stitching by making a pillow for one of her stuffed animals. We're also working on weaving; we just made a very tiny scarf for one of Agent J's favorite stuffed critters. 

Planted the seed of a new movie franchise obsession: Indiana Jones. (Or, as Agent J prefers, Han Solo in a hat.) So far we've only seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, which the Senior Agents found very interesting and not at all scary. (I hadn't seen it in a long time, and I cringed at a few parts, thinking ooh, maybe this was a bad idea, but they loved it.)

This of course led to roughly 27,000 questions about movie production, actors, archeology, capuchin monkeys, Egypt, the 1930s, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the discovery of a whole new crop of books! (And we haven't even considered the Young Indiana Jones book series yet.)

Of course we talked about Veterans Day (which the Agents have declared "Daddy Day"), Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and St. Andrew's Day.

Agent E with Argos and his new pillow
Kindergarten

We continued with our very relaxed Agent J style kindergarten plan. She reads a lot (mostly first/second grade-ish book choices) and spends a lot of time writing out letters and words (often captions for her crazy drawings). Her current favorite question is how do you spell . . . ? 

Agent J has taken even more of an interest in what her sister is doing for school. So much, in fact, that I'm beginning to think for next year (first grade for her, third grade for Agent E) I might try to follow the same "curriculum" (we use that word loosely around here) and adjust for grade level as necessary. This will also make it easier on Momma, as we will be moving to a state with much more stringent homeschooling guidelines than what we have now. It will make reporting much more simple if they are doing two versions of the same plan.

Up for December

So far Agent E had decided she wants to study dinosaurs again, plus inventors/scientists and evolution. We will probably continue watching Liberty's Kids and talking about US history, as that seems to be a favorite topic of late. We do not plan on taking any specific time off around Christmas, but we do have another Disney adventure planned for January.

I've determined that perhaps we just need to some sort of math workbook that Agent E can work through at her own pace. Most of the second grade ones we've found include things we've already covered, so I found a third grade and fourth grade edition. There will be some things in the third grade book that will be easy for her, and some things in the fourth grade book that we haven't even addressed yet, but overall I think she will enjoy being able to flip through them and choose pages at her leisure. 

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