Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Weekly Report: Weeks 35-36

This is going to be a long post mostly for myself, so please bear with me.  It is going to have a ton of pictures because we've had a very busy and memorable few weeks.  Somehow I managed to squeeze in two weeks of school into that time, but that was definitely not the focus of our month.

The biggest highlight was definitely our trip to Lake Powell and then northern Utah to a family reunion at our old family farm.  I took the three girls by myself and drove the entire trip (over 3000 miles!) without Tyler because he was busy taking finals.  It was daunting and exhausting, but well worth the effort. 
On the houseboat at Lake Powell
In our private cove at Lake Powell
Lydia helping Uncle Ken drive the boat
Adelaide sitting in her own camp chair, very pleased with herself.
Lydia in her element on an old fashioned train
Lydia and Ellie on the train
Eleanor helping Grandpa pick peas at the family farm
Lydia and Eleanor enjoying the hammock at the family farm
Then when we got back home, we went to the splash park and a few days later enjoyed a lot of Independence Day festivities.

Ellie at the splash park
Lydia and Adelaide at the splash park
Swimming at Grandma's house on the 4th of July
Elenaor helping Grandpa blow up fireworks
Lydia and Ellie swinging on a tire swing at the house Daddy grew up in on the 4th of July
Swimming at Daddy's old house on the 4th of July.  They wouldn't leave the stairs, but still had lots of fun!
Now, for actual school-related stuff, we officially reached my goal for Pre-K!  36 weeks of at least 3 days per week was my initial goal.  I've done it!  Going into homeschooling, I was most afraid that I wouldn't have the discipline to do all the work and that I liked it more in theory than in practice.  I've proven to myself this year that I do have the discipline to do what is needed.  We're not starting Kindergarten officially until August 6th, so we'll actually get a few more weeks of school in for PreK.  Right now I'm focusing on revving us up and getting more into the habit of doing school every day.  In Kindergarten, my goal is 170 days of school minimum (this year we did approximately 115 days).

We've started back into our curricula rather than just mommy-inspired lessons.  Lydia is definitely understanding 10s place value much better now, which is a big deal for her.  C-rods are so brilliant for this and really helped.  I've also learned the value of promising M&Ms for every 2 problems she completes.  Her productivity has gone up exponentially.

We continue to slowly go through OPGTR.  Lydia is still working on silent-e words.  Right now our speed is mostly determined by her lack of focus during practice than by her decoding ability.  She just needs to work on fluency, but we'll keep on trucking.  I've also started requiring that we read at least a page out of Little Bear every day too.  Right now she can read about 60% of the words (I help with the rest), and the fact that she has almost all of the episodes of the Little Bear tv show memorized is helping with some familiarity too.

Lydia officially recited "Sweet and Low" today without help or reminders.  It is the longest poem she's memorized yet (16 lines).  I think I will just let her review it for a few more days before she starts something else.  I'm not sure what we'll start next because I sort of want to wait until she officially starts Kindergarten before I take anything new off her list, but we'll see.

Lydia's still doing well with this.  She's doing about 2-3 pages in her HWT Kindergarten workbook.  I really don't expect it to last us for too long into Kindergarten, but it is still good for her.

We're still doing AAS.  Lydia just finished Step 5 and started Step 6 today.  We're still loving it.

And that's our last few weeks.  Before we start Kindergarten, I'll write up my end of year review, but as a spoiler, I'll just say that I am so proud of Lydia and how well she's doing!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Memorization Plan for Kindergarten 2013/14

For PreK, I created what I thought was an ambitious memorization plan for Lydia.  She blew me away with her ability to memorize and I ended up needing to add a lot of content.  This year I have created another ambitious plan for Kindergarten.  I have about the same amount of religious content on this list.  Inspiration for them comes mostly from the Articles of Faith (of which there are 13) and the LDS Scripture Mastery list.  The poems I found are longer and more challenging than last year, but they are fun and appeal to her interests.  Last year, poems seemed to be her favorite thing to memorize, so I may even be adding more to that list as the year goes on.

For facts this year, Lydia will be attempting to memorize a 161 point timeline of the world using the Classical Conversations Classical Acts & Facts cards as our list.  I feel like this is especially ambitious, but I am also OK if it takes us more than one year to complete as I feel like having a timeline memorized will prove incredibly valuable for her.  The CC cards are broken into 4 sets by time period, and we'll be working on one set at a time.  For reference, here is a link to our list for last year, here is a link to how and why we do memorization, and here is a link to the CC Cards we'll be using.

We've completed the ones that are crossed out.  The ones that are italicized are being worked on currently.

  • Article of Faith 4:  We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • Article of Faith 5:  We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
  • Article of Faith 6:  We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
  • Job 19:25–26: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.    
  • Isaiah 55:8–9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • John 7:17: If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.       
  • Alma 32:21: And now as I said concerning faith — faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.       
  • D&C 25:12: For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.       

"Autumn" by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.              

“Dora Diller” by Jack Prelutsky
My stomach's full of butterflies!
lamented Dora Diller.
Her mother sighed. "That's no surprise,
you ate a caterpillar!"

“Knight-in-Armour“ by A. A. Milne
Whenever I’m a shining Knight,
I buckle on my armour tight;
And then I look about for things,
Like Rushings-Out, and Rescuings,
And Savings from the Dragon’s Lair,
And fighting all the Dragons there.
And sometimes when our fights begin,
I think I’ll let the Dragons win...
And then I think perhaps I won’t,
Because they’re Dragons, and I don’t.                                      
"Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers                                
That perches in the soul,                                             
And sings the tune without the words,                                 
And never stops at all,                                  
And sweetest in the gale is heard;                                          
And sore must be the storm                                      
That could abash the little bird                                  
That kept so many warm.                                            
I've heard it in the chillest land,                                
And on the strangest sea;                                           
Yet, never, in extremity,                                              
It asked a crumb of me.                                               
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.                                                
His house is in the village though;                                            
He will not see me stopping here                                            
To watch his woods fill up with snow.                                    
My little horse must think it queer                                          
To stop without a farmhouse near                                          
Between the woods and frozen lake                                     
The darkest evening of the year.                                             
He gives his harness bells a shake                                            
To ask if there is some mistake.                                                
The only other sound’s the sweep                                          
Of easy wind and downy flake.                                                 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.                                   
But I have promises to keep,                                     
And miles to go before I sleep,                                                 
And miles to go before I sleep.                                 
“The arrow and the song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow                                        
I shot an arrow into the air,                                        
It fell to earth, I knew not where;                                            
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight                                 
Could not follow it in its flight.                                   
I breathed a song into the air,                                   
It fell to earth, I knew not where;                                            
For who has sight so keen and strong,                                   
That it can follow the flight of song?                                       
Long, long afterward, in an oak                                 
I found the arrow, still unbroke;                                               
And the song, from beginning to end,                                   
I found again in the heart of a friend.                                     
“The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!                                                 
“The Fisherman” by Abbie Farwell Brown (started 1-16-14)f
The fisherman goes out at dawn                                              
When every one's abed,                                             
And from the bottom of the sea                                              
Draws up his daily bread.                                             
His life is strange; half on the shore                                       
And half upon the sea —                                             
Not quite a fish, and yet not quite                                           
The same as you and me.                                            
The fisherman has curious eyes;                                             
They make you feel so queer,                                   
As if they had seen many things                                               
Of wonder and of fear.                                
They're like the sea on foggy days, —                                    
Not gray, nor yet quite blue;                                     
They 're like the wondrous tales he tells                                               
Not quite — yet maybe — true.                                               
He knows so much of boats and tides,                                  
Of winds and clouds and sky!                                   
But when I tell of city things, 
He sniffs and shuts one eye!      

Facts and Lists: 
  • Classical Conversations Timeline: Ancient World
  • Classical Conversations Timeline: Medieval World (started 10-31-13)
  • Classical Conversations Timeline: New World
  • Classical Conversations Timeline: Modern World

Monday, July 1, 2013

How We Do Memorization

As I've mentioned before, memorization is a very important subject in our home.  I grew up doing very little memorization and I still have a lot of difficulty memorizing anything.  I always regretted this and memorization was one of the first subjects I knew I wanted to do when I decided to homeschool.

In most classical education scopes and sequences, memorization is a very important subject, especially in the younger years.  Some authors/speakers suggest that poetry is the most important source for memorization material.  Others say scripture.  And still others say facts and lists are important, although even these people disagree as to whether the facts and lists should be taught in context with the subject or whether it is good just to memorize them as stand-alones.  I agree with all of these groups!  I think poetry is great because it helps our minds get filled with good language and sentence structure.  Scriptures are important because of the content that is in them, and I honestly believe that one of the ways the Spirit can speak to us is through those words we have memorized.  Facts and lists are important because they create a peg effect: the more familiar you are with a word or topic, the more you pay attention when it is brought up and therefore the more you learn about it.  Thus while memorizing you are creating a "peg" on which to hang information.  I also believe that while teaching memorized pieces in context is ideal, there is still much to be gained from memorizing for memorization's sake.

Children get confidence and self-esteem when they have memorized something that they saw as challenging.  It feels good and is a great accomplishment to memorize something challenging and know that it will never be apart from them again, that it is in their heads forever.  When I was in eighth grade, I decided on my own that I wanted to memorize the Gettysburg Address.  When I had learned it all, I was very proud of myself, and to this day I still remember the Gettysburg Address and perk up when I hear it mentioned.  I want my children to have this experience as much as possible.

That's the "why" of our memorization.  Our "how" is actually pretty simple and doesn't take too long every day.  The key is that we do it every day that we do school, and we constantly review in order to not forget anything.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I mentally divide our memorization focus into three categories: Language, Religion, and Facts & Lists.  Language includes things like poetry, great speeches, Shakespeare, etc.  Religion is mostly scripture, but can include hymns or quotes.  Facts & Lists is the miscellaneous group.  So far this section has included things like the 8 planets, my phone number, the colors in a rainbow, etc.  I try to keep our memorization workload pretty evenly divided between these three categories, although language and scripture tend to dominate in this season of our lives.  I imagine and we do more science and history, though, facts and lists will catch up.  At some point we might include foreign language as a fourth category, but not yet.

What I do is take the three categories I listed and make up a list of things to memorize.  This is the fun part for me.  I use Google searches, Living Memory by Andrew Campbell, various church resources like the Seminary Mastery list, and just ideas that I have to compile what we want to do.  Here is the list I did for the 2012/13 school year (Lydia's PreK).

Lydia's memorization book

After I have the list compiled, I write each item on its own index card.

Cards that she reviews on even days.  On one side is the prompt and on the other is the actual material.
 As poems get longer I might have to rethink this, but for now, this has worked.  I keep all of our future memorization work handy for use as soon as Lydia has mastered old ones.  I also keep a memorization book.  It is actually just a small scrap book that someone gave to us and that I organized according to the Simply Charlotte Mason method.

At first, every day we reviewed our new memorization piece and all the previously memorized pieces.  Once that became too cumbersome, I divided all of Lydia's previously memorized work into equal parts and she reviewed each one every other day, and the new piece daily.  That's where we are right now.

Pretty soon, though, even that will become too cumbersome so we'll put some of the more recent work into the even/odd group, current work is always daily, and older work will be reviewed one day a week.  We'll keep going like this until we have material that we review daily, every other day, weekly, and monthly.  It sounds complicated, but once you get it set up, it is very simple.

Every day while I make lunch for Lydia, we do memorization.  While I make her sandwiches, she goes through her older memorization and then we work on her current piece.  It takes us about 10 minutes, max.  When we review the older pieces, I say the title or scripture reference.  From that, she repeats the title, says the name of the author, if relavent, and then says the selection.  So for "Who Has Seen the Wind," I say the title of the poem and then she says "Who Has Seen the Wind, by Christina Rosetti.  Who has seen the wind, neither I nor you..."  Sometimes she might need the first word to jog her memory, so I help her.

For new pieces, I always read the entire piece to her completely a few times before having her say it back to me.  Then we start with the title and the author.  Here's an example of our dialogue:

Me (after having read through the whole poem a few times): "Sweet and Low," by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  Say that please."
Lydia: "Sweet and Low, by..."
Me: "Alfred Lord Tennyson"
Lydia: "by Alfred Lord Tennyson"
Me: "Now say the whole thing, Sweet and Low, by Alfred Lord Tennyson"
Lydia: "Sweet and Low by Alfred Lord Tennyson"
Me: "Great. Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea."
Lydia: "Sweet and low, wind of the sea."
Me: "Close, but you say Sweet and Low twice and wind of the western sea.  So you say, Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea."
Lydia: "Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea."
Me: "Good, now let's say the whole thing.  Sweet and Low, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea."
Me: Great!  Go ahead and eat your lunch, you did a good job today."

The following day I might read the poem all the way through one and then see if she remembers what we did.  I help her along if she gets stuck.  Usually we try to do about two lines a day, but sometimes it just takes longer.  Often she'll ask or I'll volunteer definitions of words or the meaning of a line.  After we did "At the Seaside," she started calling her little plastic shovel a "wooden spade," after I explained that a spade is just like a shovel.  Sometimes I'll make a motion or say a line in an over exaggerated way to help her remember.  So in "Sweet and Low," it says, "Low, low, breathe and blow."  For "breathe" we take a big breathe and lean way back and for "blow" we lean way forward and breathe out as we say the word.  Or for D&C 82:10, part of it says, "when you do not what I say, ye have no promise."  We always put a big emphasis on the word "not."  There's no trick to it, I just always try to make it easier to remember if possible.  I also always try to stay in tune with what she seems like she wants to do and don't push it too much on any one day.  I want memorization to be enjoyable.  

Doing it this way has made it quite painless, and since we always do Lydia's schoolwork immediately after lunch, it is the first subject of the day and never gets forgotten.

We love memorization and I don't see it going to the back burner any time soon!