Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Day in First Grade - Part Two

In my last post I talked about the first hour of Bubba's typical school day. If you missed it, catch up here.
Now, let's continue.

After Bubba finishes all his getting started activities he begins his computer work. It begins with logging into the school's website for attendance. Then checking his school email and my school email. Then the fun can begin.

Bubba logs into Little Lincoln. This is the curriculum the school uses. His computer time is split into four cycles. He has an Adventure in Midlandia followed by a video teacher and then, occasionally, a game.

Adventures in Midlandia is a radio story that is about five to six minutes. It takes place in a land called Midlandia where a group of animals, who behave strongly human, live. They are lead by Chief Tatupu who guides the kid council on a new adventure every week. The kid council consists of eight human children who visit Midlandia two at a time every day. The kid council helps the Midlandians solve problems that are happening in the community or help to outwit the Midlandian trouble makers - the Inks. The story also ties into what the next video teacher is going to be talking about.

There are five different video teachers. Mr. Reed Moore: the reading teacher, Ms. Marianne Mapple: the Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Walden: the writing teacher, Mrs. Triggle: the math teacher and Dr. Algae: the science teacher. Each teacher has a five minute segment to introduce or expand on a topic.

After the video segment there might be a game for Bubba to play. There are usually two games in one day to be played. The games reinforce key concepts of the day. Bubba looks forward to the games as he sees them as a break from school rather than key learning times.

Finally to complete the cycle he has a few workbook pages to complete or sometimes a science experiment or an art project.

Now repeat that three more times.

Sometimes Bubba likes to mix it up and he'll do all the computer work first, then all of his workbook pages. This tends to lead to whining though. He really likes doing all the computer work at one time. (Secretly, so do I. It allows me to have more time to get some work done uninterrupted.) However, Bubba does not like having to do all that writing at one time. When we proceed with school this way he asks for lots more breaks and school ends up taking longer. So, usually, we we finish a cycle completely before we move on.

Bubba has three courses outside of Little Lincoln. On Tuesdays we add his Arts Alive course. This is a self paced arts program. It does not have to be done on Tuesdays, that's just when it works best for us. Each unit focuses on a theme. Each lesson takes that theme and talks about it in music, drama, literature, art or dance. The sixth lesson in the unit is a spotlight on an artist. So far we have seen a musician and a children's book illustrator.

On Thursdays, Bubba has an Elluminate session. In this class he logs into a virtual classroom and has a more of a traditional "brick and mortar" type of learning. His teacher that oversees all of his work logs into the class and teaches all the students who log in math and/or reading and writing. Bubba loves it. He logs in and wears his headset that has a microphone attached. The teacher puts things onto the screen for the students to look at and answer questions. She can have the students answer by "raising their hands" or can call on them and allow them to talk with the microphone. She also splits the students up into small groups to work on a worksheet together. Bubba is having fun with this and is now shooing me away from his computer so he can do it on his own.

The last course that Bubba has is his gym class. There is a lot of leeway with this course. He needs to complete a certain number of hours of physical activity. I have to admit we have not started this yet. Being a very active five year old boy, I am not concerned. I could have logged some things into his log book already, but haven't yet. So long as he is active it counts as gym hours. He could take a lesson (dance, martial arts etc.) or do things on his own (wii dance, running laps, etc).

That completes a school day. Princess sleeps through most of it which is helpful. Next year, I plan on starting her in some school time too. With Bubba I used a great curriculum called Letter of the Week. It is a free curriculum by a homeschooling mom of four. I also adapted her Country of the Weekand Science of the Week curriculums for Bubba this year. We add it when school is over quickly or if he is bored on weekends. I am also looking into Confession of a Homeschooler's Pre-K curriculum also called Letter of the Week. This is only $10 for a full year of activities and games. I will make this decision next summer, when I can better determine what Princess will be ready for.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Day in First Grade Part One

Bubba is really enjoying first grade. His day begins with waking up about 8 o'clock, getting dressed and having breakfast. Then Bubba and Princess play together for about an hour. About 10 o'clock, Princess is ready for a nap and Bubba begins school. While I am getting Princess ready to go down, Bubba pulls out all of his getting started activities to start without me. Getting started activities include a newsletter, calendar, weather report, word wall, tally sheet, money jars, math journal, writing journal, pattern journal and dictionary. Phew, that sounds like a lot, but it only takes about an hour.

With so much to do, I made a check list to help keep track of what has been done.

His newsletter is pre-written by me, copied from my Guide Book. A typical newsletter will tell him what we will be doing in school that day, ask him to fill in the blanks of what today is and what yesterday was, and give some kind of encouragement for the day. This is noticeably his least favorite activity.

This is the first page of a typical newsletter.

I added to his calendar routine. The curriculum only requires going over what today is: month, day, year, and singing the days of the week or month of the year song. I took a white board with writing lines wrote in perminate marker an outline for him to fill in. It includes today's full date, what today's weather is and what his prediction of tomorrow's weather will be. 

At this point we are using phonetic spelling. He wrote that it is sunny outside.

This leads into the weather report. This year it varies from month to month as to how he tracks the weather. At first, like last year,  he filled in a chart reporting on the weather. Currently, he is filling in a graph telling what the temperature is. He loves going to the local media site to find out today's weather and current temperature.

Tracking the weather
Tracking the temperature

I was really skeptical about the word wall. We didn't do it last year but I thought I should give it an honest try this year and Bubba really enjoys it. I took a poster board and labeled it Aa-Zz. Every Monday we add new words to the poster. The words we add are the sight words he will be working on this week and the dictionary words he will be learning this week. He loves putting the words up on the wall. The rest of the week he reads all the words.

Proper names have been hidden to protect the guilty. Uh, I mean innocent.

The tally sheet is a real simple way to track what day of school we are in. It is another white board that he adds one tally mark to every day and then counts the tally marks to determine how many days he has been in school.

Bubba likes to use lots of colors!

The tally sheet leads right into the money jars. Well, cups really. I took five paper cups and labeled them pennies: 1c, nickels: 5c, dimes: 10c, quarters: 25c and dollars: $1. Every day he adds on penny to the penny cup. When he gets five pennies he trades them in for one nickel, two nickels for one dime, etc. Then he counts how much money he has. This is also how many days he has been in school.

Looks like tomorrow we get to do a lot of trading!

Bubba's favorite activities are his journals. In his math journal he has one word problem to solve everyday. The problems range from addition and subtraction to patterns and number words.

In the begining I drew the basic picture for Bubba to add to. Now he does the whole picture himself.

In his writing journal I have started a sentence for him to finish and then he draws a picture to illustrate the sentence. These are usually silly things like "My favorite kind of pizza is..." or "When I grow up I want to be..." This is a hit or miss for him. Sometimes he gets really into it and sometimes he doesn't like the question and doesn't want to do it. I am finding I love his answers and this is going to be a great keepsake!

This is Ruffman. The superhero he created.

The pattern journal consists of a pattern I have started for him that he needs to continue everyday. He spends a week on each pattern, adding one or two more things to the pattern.

The dictionary is a notebook that we add new vocabulary words to every Monday. I write the word and the definition and he illustrates it. The words added to the dictionary are concepts we will be learning about that week in school. Although he doesn't always understand the concepts yet on Monday so I am thinking of changing this activity to Friday after he has spent a week on them. Words we have added to our dictionary include: citizen, community, work, matter, mass, motive and force.

Well that is our first hour of school. I will talk about what he does for the rest of school in my next post.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cyber School Report

I just read a great report on cyber schools in Pennsylvania from The Commonwealth Foundation. It dispels many myths and misinformation out there. If you are truly interested in cyber schools, it is a very interesting read that will help you defend your position with facts and figures.

See it here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Messy Fun

This week we had lots of messy fun. It began with painting.

Bubba was supposed to make "feelings" faces. I cut out four circles, one yellow, one blue, one red and one pink. He was supposed to paint the faces showing the feeling each color represents.

Bubba is painting his "happy" face.

Princess got in on the action. I drew faces on her circles and let her finger paint on them. It took a little convincing to get her to try it, but once she started, she didn't want to stop. She was still painting long after Bubba lost interest.

Princess is painting her "angry" face.

Later in the week, Bubba practiced writing his spelling words in pudding. To be honest, this wasn't the assignment. He was supposed to make the words with clay. However, he had played with clay the day before and I was afraid he'd lose interest too soon.

Refering to his spelling list.

Princess had a ball playing with pudding too. She obviously wasn't writing words, just having fun playing with the texture and making a mess. She also dicovered that pudding tastes a lot better than paint!

"Momma, when I clap it goes EVERYWHERE!"

I remember writing in pudding when I was in elementary school and I had so much fun, I wanted to pass on that memory. It was a hit! This is definitely something we will be doing again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is a mixture?

Today's science lesson was about mixtures. A mixture is a combination of several ingredients that can be separated into their original substances.

Wow! That is really technical for a first grader. This is what we did to break it down for our experiment. We started with our fruit bowl. (Which is rather empty since it is the day before grocery shopping.) We observed how the lemons and limes were mixed together. Then Bubba separated them into their original groups. Two lemons and two limes.

Next we took some sugar and put it into the bottom of a pitcher and I added some hot water. Bubba watched as I mixed it all together until the sugar was dissolved. We observed that the sugar could not be removed from the water. Therefore it was not a mixture.

(We then added some tea bags to the sugar water to make some sweet tea. No reason for it to go to waste!)

Next, I gave Bubba a cup of popcorn, mini marshmallows, pretzels and raisins. He poured them all into a bowl and stirred them together.

We observed that it was a mixture because we could separate it into it's original parts. Which Bubba then proceeded to do.

After he was done sorting everything back to it's cup. Bubba poured everything back into the big bowl and we shared this yummy snack. (Made even a little sweeter since Princess was sleeping and he didn't have to share with her!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

School On The Go

We are a one car family. Once a week I drive Bruischi to work so I can have the car to run some errands. This past week I had a FANTASTIC idea! I took most of Bubba's morning activities with us for him to do in the car. Okay, I admit it is not a new concept for any school at home family, but it was a first for me. I have taken his school work with us on vacations and when visiting family, but never for the drive to and from Bruischi's work. GENIUS! That is almost two hours in the car that is usually "wasted" time. Add to it that I have to run my errands and leave in time to pick Bruischi up, the day usually turned into a non school day. Thanks to that little light bulb, now Bubba can get some work done in the car, do his computer work while Princess takes her nap, and get his workbook pages done while we are driving from place to place doing errands! I am so excited!
And, because she has such an early sence of fairness, since Bubba was "coloring" Princess had to color too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Ups and Downs

Yesterday was rough! Princess was sick on Sunday and still wasn't herself yesterday. She refused to nap and every time I tried to put her down she would scream. Therefore school for Bubba took a lot longer than usual. We normally begin the day about 9. Bubba will do his "Getting Started" activities while I play with Princess. By 10, she is ready for her nap and Bubba is ready for me to help him sign in to the school.

Yesterday, because Princess was so cranky and moody, I was not able to give Bubba my undivided attention. He did his best. He listened to all his "Adventures in Midlandia" and watched all his video teachers, but he could not get the workbook pages done with all the commotion with Princess. We took lots of breaks and finally decided to wait for Bruischi to come home to finish his workbook. Ahhh, that was a weight off of both of us. Bubba was excited that he could take a very long break and I could focus on Crankasaurus Rex (AKA Princess). Poor Bruischii didn't know what he was coming home to.

Today is much better. Princess is almost back to normal. She went down for her nap with very little fighting. Bubba did all his "Getting Started" activities quickly and with out arguing. Now he is on to his computer work.

This week the focus is on feelings and family traditions. Today, Bubba has decided his favorite family tradition is going to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. This surprised me with all the Holidays coming up, Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Christmas. He drew a picture of lots of fireworks exploding in the air while singing the "Veggie Tales" theme song. (The fireworks were singing it, not him. You have got to love that imagination!)