Monday, January 31, 2011

Homeschool Begins

We started homeschooling in early November. I decided to use a curriculum called Five in a Row for our main studies while supplementing with phonics, math and handwriting from other sources. Five in a Row is so fun to use. It uses children's literature as a basis for each weekly unit. For five days you read a children's book and then do a social studies, language, art, applied math or science activity. The books are extremely well-chosen. They hold up well to repeated readings and the activities in the manual are practical and thought-provoking, as well as appealing to a child's curiosity as they open new worlds. The lessons are easy to prepare, too; though I've got lots of stuff I've kept from my teaching days that have been fun to use for additional enrichment. And there are about a jillion homeschool blogs with so many interesting ideas that it's easy and practically irresistible to branch out and stretch out a unit to longer than five days.

The first book we "rowed" was The Story of Ferdinand. I think I won't describe each and every activity we did, but instead describe a few of the highlights. One was an art lesson on size and distance. We have a collection of felt people that came in handy for this. I gave K and T each one to hold and we went outside with the camera. One child stood close to me and held up her person while the other stood a ways back with his person, and I took a picture of the two of them. The nice thing about digital cameras is that you can immediately see the picture you took, and from looking at the camera screen K could quickly understand how far away objects become small. They are also higher up on the picture plane. We tried a picture with one of the children even farther away, back by the fence, but though we could really see how small the felt person was in real life, it barely showed up in the picture.

After taking those digital pictures, we went inside and created some drawings to show large close objects and small far away ones.

I also made power point slide show of pictures of Spain. It looks to be a beautiful country with old cities and lots of castles. We watched You Tube videos of castanet playing and flamenco dancing. I printed out some the slide show pictures for inspiration, and with help K constructed a bull ring out of blocks. She enjoyed re-enacting the story.

Finally, there is a pasture, one of the last bits undeveloped green in our corner of suburbia, that we can see from our house. Some bulls happily graze there-- steers, actually, but we didn't get into the difference. We took a mini field trip to see them, K and T enjoyed observing them, taking turns with the binoculars.

When we were there many of them were sitting down, chewing their cuds. This presented its own bovine teaching moment. K thought the cow digestion process was pretty funny. T thought the whole experience was pretty interesting, too. Except, after we had been there a little while a garbage truck rumbled by. It picked up garbage from the houses across the road and he was transfixed by that, pretending to use the binoculars to watch.


Aandwsmom said...

I love the Five in a Row concept!
I am working on applying it for my middle schoolers, esp. with Star Wars books.
And Ferdinand was and still is my favorite book!LOL

Crazy Online Homeschooling Mom of 2, Daycare Mom of 4, Chicken Mom of 15, 1 Puppy, 1 Psycho Cat and possibly a Partridge in our pear tree!

SarahElisabeth said...

Thank you for this. We are hoping to row Ferdinand next week and I was looking round for additional ideas especially for little ones. I hadn't found many posts on Ferdinand so was delighted to see this-especially like the idea of using a camera to talk about perspective.