Wrapping Up Our First Week!
This year is going to look a little different from years past, so we’ll probably be making constant adjustments. My plan this year is to focus on my preschooler (making sure to include my Kindergartner who didn’t really get much of a preschool experience), while helping my 2nd grader develop some independence. I have my ideas about how that’s going to happen, but I’m sure it will end up looking quite different by the time we get through the year.
This week in our Preschool
I actually didn’t plan on doing much this week with Arianna, so the fact that we did anything at all was pretty amazing. (Keep in mind that in addition to juggling life with 4 kids 7 and under, I’m 31 weeks pregnant and we just moved 3 weeks ago. I’m giving myself lots of grace!) When we started the week, this is what our school library looked like:
The only thing I’d managed to unpack was our Five in a Row (FIAR) books. Arianna asked me to read her Harold and the Purple Crayon, so we pulled it out and I basically just “rowed” through the FIAR (Vol.2) manual with her and Elijah. It wasn’t nearly as elaborate as the last time we rowed Harold, but I think that will probably be the case with a lot of our rows this year. After all, last time I was only trying to do school with one child, not three. My goal is to row two books a month.
It was fun seeing the kids get excited as the week went on and I managed to get more books unpacked. They loved rediscovering old favorites, and I was pleased to see them getting into some new books that had gone previously unnoticed as well.
I honestly am not planning to do a lot of science this year, but we actually did quite a bit this week. In addition to reviewing a book of science units, we started Our Weather & Water, one of the three books in God’s Design for Heaven and Earth, our main science curriculum this year. I chose to start with this book because I knew that between our move and the baby coming, our first term needs to be pretty light, and out of the three books for the year, this one interested me the least. I figured we’d just read through it and not spend a lot of time on extras.
To my surprise, the three lessons we covered this week all caught Ian’s interest, and we ended up having a lot of fun doing the activities for each one.
- We looked at a weather report for our area and discussed the different features. Then we looked up different cities around the world to see what things were like there. When I asked Ian what places we should look at he immediately wanted to see what the weather was like in Japan. We looked up Tokyo’s forecast, and it was fascinating to know that it would be raining there for days while here things are hot and sunny.
- We talked about different components of air and experimented with a candle burning under a jar. We hypothesized about how long the flame could last under different sized jars. Ian discovered that if he lifted the jar off as soon as he saw the flame getting smaller, the new supply of oxygen prevented it from going out.
- We balanced two empty balloons and then blew one up to show that it was heavier when full of air, even though air seemed to be weightless when we first thought about it.
I don’t know that we’ll always spend so much time on our science curriculum, but it was definitely a fun part of our week.
My main goal for this week was to help Ian and Elijah become familiar with their independent learning routines so that they’ll know what’s expected of them this year. I created checklists for each boy, and told them that as long as they’re caught up through each day’s work they’ll be able to play outside with neighborhood friends, join us for family movies, etc. If they want to work ahead and finish their work early in the week, they can choose to do that as well.
When I signed Arianna up for Reading Eggs, I also renewed both boys’ accounts even though they both finished the main reading lessons long ago. There are still plenty of things for them to do, and for now I’m letting them choose between lessons in the Skills Bank (spelling), Storylands (reading comprehension), and Reading Eggspress (more advanced reading comprehension). I also let Ian spend time in the Story Factory (creating his own story) for one of his two lessons this week.
Both boys are back to daily drills on xtramath.org. (They were dismayed to see how much their scores had worsened after a month off!)
Elijah is continuing to work through the 1st grade lessons on CTCMath.com.
Ian started Teaching Textbooks Math 3, and I think it’s going to be a good fit for him this year.
Ian started the Veritas Press Self-Paced History Course on the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. I had heard wonderful things about these courses before we signed up, so I’ve been eager to see what it was going to be like. I was a little surprised by how much information was introduced this week (they’re geared for grades 2-6, so it was definitely a bit of a leap), but Ian really enjoyed the format of the course and did better than I expected as far as following along and picking up details. And the memory song is already doing its job; I’ve found it running through my head day and night.
My goal is for him to be totally independent in the online portion of the course (we all enjoyed following along on the TV though), but I may make some substitutions for the literature assignments since we’ve already read several of the books that are scheduled for the year.
A few final thoughts
I’d say we’re about 60% up and running at this point. Our only Bible lessons this week were our family devotions in Old Story New (we just finished up week 26) as well as introducing some new catechism questions, but I’d like to do a bit more with the little ones (like breaking out the flannel board set and doing some crafts) as we settle into our routine.
I haven’t fully decided on what we’ll be doing for Spanish, so we’re not starting that yet. Also I’d like to have Ian go through the next level of Spelling You See (as soon as I find what I need to make that happen–it’s in a box SOMEwhere), and Elijah is going to start working through the Horizons 1st Grade Penmanship set from Alpha Omega Publication as soon as it arrives.
We’re enjoying several products right now, so watch for these reviews in the next few weeks:
- With Lee in Virginia (audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions)
- Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Susan Kilbride
- Horizons 1st Grade Penmanship set (from Alpha Omega Publications)
- The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins (founder of Classical Conversations)