Cranberry Bogs and Mud Puddles

Sophie by the pond

Sophie by the pond

Monday

Since I planned for an outing this morning, I tried to get the girls to do their school work quickly. Both did math and writing. Neither did any reading. We got home just in time to make dinner, so no read alouds today. Oh well. Nature walks count for a lot and so does hanging out with new friends.

We went to the cranberry bog nature trail behind Bass Pro Shop in Foxborough. We’ve been meaning to go walk it sometime, but never got around to it. Until today when Foxborough was a handy halfway rendezvous spot for a meeting with friends. We saw turtles swimming under seas of lily pads and big frogs and minnows and cranberry bushes and all sorts of lovely flowers and trees. And Bella spotted a snake.

We had a picnic lunch and the kids played. And after our long outing we stopped by Dom’s new work briefly to see his office for the first time. And the lovely church too. We had to stop and admire the stained glass and identify all the saints.

Bella and Abby examine the pond behind Bass Pro Shop

Bella and Abby examine the pond behind Bass Pro Shop

Anthony poses

Anthony poses

Pink water lilies

Pink water lilies

Lilypads

Lilypads

Turtles

Turtles

Sophie and Lucy with a new friend

Sophie and Lucy with a new friend

Stroll in the woods

Stroll in the woods

Lunch break

Lunch break

Tuesday

Why, oh why is it so hard to get two little girls to do three tasks each? Reading, writing, math that’s all I ask. But it’s like pulling teeth. Today Sophie did math and writing and no reading. Bella did a tiny bit of math and some copywork and a little reading. I suppose I should be happy with what I get, but I’d really like to move Bella to doing two short reading sessions a day. And her math time feels really unfocused and like we’re not really doing enough.

Well, once I’d got them to do that much we took a break and I read them the first few chapters of Pagoo. And then the beginning of The Story Book of Science.

Then after lunch we headed to the library. A lady we know from church has been doing a series of cool science lessons but we always seem to miss them. Today was the first day we made it. Todays hands-on lessons were about magnets and electromagnets. The kids got to play with a variety of magnets, make an electromagnet, make a telegraph switch, make a speaker, and make a little engine. There was also a computer demonstration about morse code. It was very fun and educational. Bella’s highlight was making a speaker. Sophie loved playing with the magnets. The boys found it mostly over their heads and after watching a bit and toying with the magnets, they retired to read books. Lucy wandered about and almost stole some of the magnets.

When we came home we read the last chapter of Pegeen and the last two chapters of Beyond the Heather Hills. So sad to see two beloved books come to an end. But they at least had happy endings and we can move on to more, more, more. I do have to decide where to go next. I think we’ll just jump on into the Charlotte books and enjoy the Boston connections.

boys on iPad

boys on iPad

Wednesday

Sophie decided to start with reading today “so we won’t forget.” That worked pretty well as a plan and after she read me a chapter of Fox and Crow she did a page of Miquon math and a page of copywork in her workbook.

Bella started with a page of copywork while Sophie read to me. It was very messy and had a bunch of letter reversals. She said her eyes hurt. And that the rainy day made her sad and made it hard to concentrate. Of course sunny days also make it hard to focus since she wants to be outside then. Basically, she’d rather be outside.

After that she and I did some math while sitting on the couch. We were going over the first two pages of the Singapore 1B placement test to see where she might fall. We tried the 2B yesterday and it was much too hard, though we had fun working the first few problems together. She could follow if I explained and we used manipulatives. She was able to get the first part of the 1B until we got to multiplication, which we haven’t covered. Though with a quick explanation from me, which she grasped readily, she was able to work the problems readily.

Then she read me a couple of Bob books. Followed by a few read alouds. I read a few chapters of Pagoo (surprised to learn that barnacles are crustaceans!) and then a few chapters from the Story Book of Science.

While Bella and I worked I let Anthony, Ben, and then Sophie each have a turn with the iPad since it was pouring outside. They played some Starfall and who knows what else. Then Bella having finished her seat work took a turn and decided to do the Musical Instruments ebook. Looking at a bagpipe from Northumbria got us talking about bagpipes in general with references to Wee Gillis and Martha Morse which led me to looking up where Martha lived on Google maps. We discovered that Glencaraid is a fictional place but we found Perth and Crieff and Lochhearnhead and the Isle of Skye and generally explored the area both in map and satellite views. Next time maybe we’ll see if there’s a street view.

Then after lunch we read the first Charlotte book, Little House by Boston Bay. Then St Patrick’s Summer. And Minn of the Mississippi. And a chapter in St Louis and the Last Crusade, Bella following along on the globe as he went from France past Sardinia and Sicily, past Crete to Cypress and then after a long winter there on to Egypt. It was a little dizzying how many places we travelled and maps we looked at. I had a moment of almost vertigo.

Bedtime stories: Mother Goose rhymes and something else, I forget because Dom was reading it.

Muddy day

Muddy day

Muddy Sophie

Muddy Sophie

Thursday

The girls did not want to settle to work this morning. Or rather they started fine but quickly got derailed. Sophie balked after a few math problems and became totally nonverbal and non responsive. Eventually I did coax her to do her copy work.

Bella did her copy work and the we did some reading practice and then we did a few more math problems on the Singapore 1B placement test. After a few she got overwhelmed and started crying. I get so very frustrated with this. Her poor little brain just seems to get overloaded and I don’t know what to do. Part of me thinks she needs to just learn to push through it and part of me can’t stand being mean and doesn’t want her to be traumatized and hate math because I force her to try when she’s overwhelmed. So I usually push her to do a bit more and then give up.

After our morning school time we headed to the grocery store.

Afternoon reading with Bella (the other kids were all outside): a few chapters of Minn of the Mississippi and a few of Pagoo; a chapter of Little House by Boston Bay; several chapters from Story of the World– The Council of Trent, the story of Copernicus and Galileo, the chapter about Shakespeare (where I noted that MacBeth was probably written during the reign of King James and not that of Elizabeth as the book suggests_. We skipped the chapters about the Reformation and the Tudors.

Sophie did finally read me a Bob book. I never did get to my hoped-for second reading session with Bella or any more math. If we don’t do it in the morning, it probably won’t happen. Neither Bella or I have our heads in that place in the afternoon.

Bedtime reading: my sister read Make Way for Ducklings to Sophie in an accent that would be perfect for a Tennessee Williams play. I read Bella the chapters about peas and lilies from Shanleya’s Quest.

Lucy with her blankie

Lucy with her blankie

Lucy with a cup

Lucy with a cup

Friday

Started the day with Mass. Which is always a good way to start. Actually with Morning Prayer and getting the kids rounded up. Then Mass.

After Mass we came back home and I tried and tried to get the girls to focus. But they were out of their routine and kept asking for a bit more time to finish this game and then got distracted and then needed a snack.

I finally got them to each do some math and to read to me. No copywork. Oh well.

Bella and managed to both do a reading lesson and practice reading from a Bob book. My goal is to have both a lesson and practice reading every day. I’m not sure she’ll be up for it. Bella and I finished the Singapore 1B test and she got most of the questions right, though I had to write answers for her much of the time and I helped her work out some of the problems. She often understands the task and knows the answer but gets overwhelmed by externals. So I’m thinking if I decide to go with Singapore, she’d be in 2a. Though it might be worth review of some of 1a, I don’t know. We really enjoyed Saxon K. Bella wanted to do math and thought it was fun. I want to find a curriculum that is just as fun in the upper grades. Less writing more mental math, more manipulatives for kids who need or want them. More play and games and less grunt work. I wish I were good enough at math to just wing it, but I’m not. So I’m still looking for what will work for her.

Sophie did a page of Miquon and she’s still slowly plugging away at it with occasional moments where she’ll have a little leap of insight. She’s definitely a much less abstract thinker than Bella. Math is where I can see the age gap the most.

Sophie read I Want My Hat Back and did a credible job. I gently prompted her that at some point she might enjoy reading to the boys and Lucy. Right now she doesn’t want anyone watching her. But I’d love to prod her toward a more independent reading and toward feeling comfortable with an audience. I think the idea of reading as an act of service may appeal to her.

We read Little House by Boston Bay and Pagoo. And with Bella I read St Patrick’s Summer and had great discussions about sacrifice and prayer.

Farmer's market by the sea

Farmer’s market by the sea

Lucy and Sophie

Lucy and Sophie

8 Responses to Cranberry Bogs and Mud Puddles

  1. Jocelyn August 23, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Have you ever looked into Math-U-See? I haven’t, but from what I have heard (all very good), it sounds like it may be along the lines of what you are looking for for Bella.

    I got Saxon K last January – one of the reasons was because of how much you liked it. (I did Saxon Math in the higher grades when I was homeschooled, but I didn’t know what the younger grades were like, as opposed to a workbook.) I liked it as well. We only got through about 20 lessons (new baby, some of the prep set me back, summer…), but the kids really liked the linking cubes and pattern blocks. It was a little too easy for our 6 yo son – almost more appropriate for our 4 yo daughter. I think I’m going to do it slowly with her, and Saxon 1 is in the mail for our 6 yo now; we’ll see how it goes!
    Love your learning notes!
    All the best with your foot; I hope it heals well. God bless.

    • Melanie Bettinelli August 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      Thanks, Jocelyn.

      So many people have praised Math-U-See, but I admit I’m turned off by the math instruction via video format. Maybe I should reconsider, but it’s hard to get over my prejudice. I’m also looking at Singapore and thinking of looking at Khan Academy.

      My approach to the Saxon K when doing it with Bella at six was to skip over some of the redundant lessons and to add a bit more, I did a lot of improvising, but I liked having it as a foundation to build on. I do wish I’d had it to do with Bella when she was five, although for her it worked at six with a slightly accelerated pace. But she has very short attention.

      K was perfect for Sophie at 5, though we finished up pretty quickly and then supplemented with Miquon math over the spring and summer.

      I’m looking forward to doing Saxon 1 with Sophie this fall and Saxon K with 5 year old Ben.

      • Jocelyn August 26, 2014 at 1:22 am #

        Oh, yes; for some reason I didn’t realize, initially, that it was teaching with videos. My mom mentioned once that she didn’t like so much video instruction for school. I haven’t thought that much more about it, I don’t know.

  2. Jocelyn August 23, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    Also, have you heard Andrew Pudewa’s talk, “Nurturing Competent Communicators”? I think you might enjoy it; I highly recommend it. I love how much reading aloud you do, about so many interesting things.

    Jocelyn

    • Melanie Bettinelli August 24, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

      Jocelyn, I just listened to it. Thank you so much.What a great lecture!

      Indeed it confirms me in my decision to spend as much time as I do reading aloud.

      I especially appreciated his thoughts about memorizing poetry. We don’t repeat it nearly enough, I realized. I love his Suzuki method and want to adopt it. Oh I want to write a whole blog post about this lecture.

      • Jocelyn August 26, 2014 at 12:55 am #

        Oh, that would be wonderful! I admire how much you already read poems with your children. His talk as well as your blog have got me appreciating poetry more and wanting to share it with the kids.
        They can really memorize much faster than I can!
        I was kind of thinking of making a binder something like this:
        http://edsnapshots.com/2013-2014-curriculum-and-plans-morning/
        And I’ve had my eye on “Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization” (Book and CD) for a while now.

  3. scotch meg August 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    FWIW, I wouldn’t worry too much about fun for math in the upper elementary grades (4-6). Saxon does use manipulatives and some projects right through third grade. After that, I know it’s hard to believe, but kids are actually ready developmentally for more of a routine and challenge, which Saxon does provide. You could also decide to take two years to do Saxon 4/5 with a kid whose attention wasn’t good.

    An alternative I haven’t heard you mention is Life of Fred. When my youngest needed a second year of pre-Algebra, a friend suggested Life of Fred, which reads like a story and covers concepts well without excessive drill. I am not sure how I would feel about the Life of Fred style for the age of memorizing multiplication tables, but after that – great!

    I did make my kids do memory drills for multiplication. They each spent a month writing the answers to the multiplication tables on a daily basis, kind of like copywork. But you could accomplish the same result with many different methods – flashcards, manipulatives, random questions during the day. Doesn’t matter as long as they end up knowing them, because being able to pull the answer to 7 x 8 out of your head makes more advanced math (which is so much more fun) easier.

    • Melanie Bettinelli August 24, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      I thought I’d mentioned it previously. Yes, we did Life of Fred for quite a while this past year and Bella really loved the format. We got halfway through Dogs, which is the 4th book, when Bella got frustrated (the book said not to go any further until you’d memorized the addition facts) and we decided to give it a break. After that we went back to alternating between Saxon 1 and the first Miquon book.

      Bella’s just going into third grade this fall. When I did the Singapore placement tests, she’s going into 2a. So she’s probably a full year behind in math, which doesn’t really worry me, because she’ll probably catch up at some point.

      We never did finish Saxon 1, so I’m slowly trying to see that she’s mastering the concepts, but without as much drill and repetition. She just can’t handle too much repetition. I’m still trying to decide what to do when we’ve finished that. I know she’ll move beyond the concrete stage eventually, but I suspect she may linger there a little longer than other kids.

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