Sunday, October 18, 2015

This Week in Homeschooling: Week 5-6 Theme: Mail Carriers

So the circumstances in our house have changed, which has caused our plans for the year to change quite a bit. On September 29th I was diagnosed with cancer and over the next few months I will be getting chemotherapy every two weeks. If you're interested in following my cancer treatment journey you can do that here.

The great thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. So now I'm just not putting a lot of pressure on myself, or on Elanor, to finish a certain number of lessons a week. I'm probably also throwing out the theme idea, at least for a while.

All that being said, we did get a few things done in the last couple of weeks. So here they are!


We have moved on from rhyming and on to other things. This is kind of a blessing in that she totally wasn't getting the rhymes, but I also worry about just going on and not focusing on rhyming anymore since she never actually learned it. For now I'm just kind of talking about rhyming whenever I think of it, and she's watching a lot of YouTube videos about rhyming. 

Now, in addition to doing the capital letter of the day, there are games about counting words and syllables. Elanor loves counting, so she is really into it and she's getting pretty good at it. It's nice to do something she's good at. She's also still having a lot of fun decorating the letters. We did M, N, O, and P. 


The first week we were continuing to do the color/shape theme. It was getting old for me, but Elanor was really enjoying it. She actually got really good at coloring in the lines and at some point she started giving all the shapes faces, which was really cute. 

This week we actually started to do some handwriting. Two different pictures required her to trace horizontal and vertical lines, and she did a pretty good job. The second picture she did without any instruction from me whatsoever. Then she worked on drawing crosses. I thought she did amazingly considering this is something the OT says she is having trouble with. Next week we will start with the letter "L." First letter! It's very exciting! I think I will have her practice making it with the wooden letter blocks first, and we can try drawing it on the little chalkboard that came with out Handwriting Without Tears Kit. 


Things got a little difficult because we started actually writing numbers. I don't think this is something Elanor is ready for, but we went ahead and did it anyway. I think her fine motor isn't quite as far along as some of her other skills, so I'm thinking we will be practicing this for a long time before I actually require her to do it on her own. Still, we managed to do 1, 2, and 3. 

Theme: Mail Carriers


We read A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier. It was about an animal mail carrier who is very sad that he has never gotten a letter. He befriends a bird who he finds in a mailbox. Later, the bird goes south for the winter and sends Leo his very first letter. It was very cute and it talked about mail carriers. It seems to have made an impression because Elanor has been walking around pretending to wear a hat and saying she's a mailman. So that's something. 


"A Day in the Life of a Mail Carrier" 

I actually learned a lot from this video and I totally suggest you watch it if you are at all interested in what it's like to carry the mail. I don't think Elanor really cared about it much though. 


Elanor's and her grandmother got together and wrote some letters to her other grandparents and then went to the post office and mailed them. They also bought Batman stamps, which she was all over. It was a very cute idea and she was really excited about it. Plus, I think she learned a lot about the mail. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Week in Homeschooling: Week 4: Ants

So this week's theme was supposed to be mail carriers, but as I said last week I couldn't get a book on them in time so instead we did something I could get a book on: ants. It ended up being a pretty good school week in the midst of a pretty terrible week in general.


We moved right along this week to J, K, and L. 

As you can see they had cute little craft ideas for all of them, like the hair on the llama, and drawing the ears on the jack rabbits. Elanor got a bit carried away with the glitter paint on the K there, but in the end who can blame her. Nothing beats glitter paint. 

In addition to learning about letters, we had a couple more lessons about rhyme. Elanor did so-so. She still can't make up a rhyming word on her own. However, we played a game where Ziggy the Puppet kept getting the words wrong in her favorite book (Let's Go Lobstering) and she was able to provide the correct rhyming word. However, I think that tells us more about how much she loves the book than how good she is or isn't at rhyming. The final lesson this week was not about rhyming but rather about sentence length, so I wonder if that's what we will be working on from now on. If so, I think I will have to keep sprinkling rhyming in because Elanor has most definitely not mastered it. 


This week was even more of those pictures where you learn about colors and shapes. I would think we'd both be getting tired of them by now, but something amazing happened! I started laying out the handwriting page the night before and Elanor started actually doing them completely on her own without me even asking. She did that for all three last week and even did one of the ones for next week early! Go Elanor!

(She made these into people. I loved it.)


We started unit 2 this week, which is about counting things up to 5. Elanor is doing great! She was even able to count down from 5 when asked. For some reason she seems to mess up on some of the worksheets that involve drawing lines from one thing to the other, but I think that's more about fine motor skills and visual acuity than her actual ability to do to the work. She seems to have this counting thing down. Thanks, years of iPad apps. 

 Along with textbooks and activity books A and B, I also bought the number cards right from the Singapore Math website, which were very helpful and I totally recommend them.

Theme: Ants

One of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility. We changed this weeks theme to ants at the last minute and it went completely fine. 

Book: ?

I honestly don't remember what the book was and who it was by. I accidentally returned it to the library without recording this fact. However, I can tell you that what I liked about it the most was that it was short and sweet. Every sentence had one short declarative sentence on it like, "Most ants are black or brown." or "Ants have 6 legs." These facts were all very helpful to talk about again while we made paper ants for our craft. 


For the craft this week we made ants out of old egg cartons and pipe cleaners. This is not something I got from Pinterest, although I'm sure it's on there somewhere. Elanor actually did it before in her Sunday School class at the Northern Virginia Ethical Society. However, she was only 2 at the time and I think she got a lot more out of it this time. 

Elanor's ant is brown because, as she reminded me, most ants are brown or black.


This week we went with the tried and true Magic School Bus series. We watched the episode entitled, "The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in the Pants," in which Keisha learns a very valuable lesson in teamwork...or something. Mostly we all learn about ants and how they live in colonies. Elanor loves Magic School Bus (mostly the one about bees) and she loved to watch this episode a few times this week. 

Next week's theme: Mail Carriers! For real this time!

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week in Homeschooling: Week 3: Police Officers

So despite some hiccups related to health problems I'm having, this week actually went by relatively easily. Elanor loved the theme, and now she will talk your face off about p-ees ocifers every chance she gets. :)


This week we moved on to G, H, and I. 

G was my favorite because it was so complex. She cut out the "seaweed" at the bottom herself and had a great time with the sparkly gold paint. 

This is probably the most plain one we've done so far, but Elanor generally loves painting so she was still super into it. We also practiced drawing H's in spilled splenda. 

Oh wait, maybe this one was my favorite. As you can see, I had cut out that fabric to be a scarf for the I, but Elanor decided it was a dress instead. Also she accidentally spilled a bunch of glue on the bottom of the picture so we decided to add cotton balls like it was a snow bank. Yay, creativity!

We also did some more rhyming games this week, and this time they did not involve the cards. Early in the week I thought she might actually be getting it but it was clear to me by the third lesson than she was not. She is just not capable of coming up with her own novel rhyme. Luckily rhyming lessons seem to continue for some time, and if she doesn't get it we can keep trying those lessons long after they are no longer part of the daily curriculum. 


Apparently this page with a color and shape theme will never ever end. That's all we had this week and that's all we'll have next week. Since I have the ultimate power as a homeschooler I could just stop doing them, but I kind of appreciate the monotony this week. Like most autistic kids Elanor enjoys a routine, and I do too, so we'll keep doing it for a while. 


We finished United 1 this week, which was all about sorting and finding the differences between things. I'm kind of sad that it's over because Elanor was so incredibly successful at it and it took almost no time every day, but I know that we need to move on to more challenging things. Next week is more about actually counting up and down from 1 to 5 and back. 

Theme: Police Officers

This was a part of a greater job theme idea that I had. Basically I will have several different times this year where we learn about a type of job that people can have. This week specifically has an added safety benefit. I want Elanor to not only learn that she can be a police officer, but that police officers can help her when she is in trouble. 


We liked this book because it talked a lot about different ways that police can help their community. Best of all, it rhymed! We must have read this 6 or 7 times this week. 


This is a random movie made by a little kid with horrible production value but Elanor LOOOOVED it. We watched it about ten times then she went on to talk for hours about how police can save us from robbers and don't let us drive fast. So, mission accomplished. 


I broke down and used Pinterest. I hate Pinterest, but this is the kind of thing that it is actually for. I don't really know anything about Pinterest. Once I figure out how to link my page I will because I have some apraxia resources and some theme craft resources on there. 

Look at how good it is!!! She colored and glued it all by herself with only minimal help with the cutting! I was beyond impressed with it. 

So next week's theme was supposed to be mail carriers but for some reason I couldn't find a mail book at the library so I ordered one for next week. I did find a book about ants though so guess what, next week's theme is now ants! Flexibility!

Monday, September 21, 2015

This Week In Homeschooling: Week 2: Rosh Hashanah

Last week was our second week of K4. It was a bit tougher than our first one because the new school year sheen was gone and neither one of us was as excited. We still powered through it though and we are settling into our new routine. We managed to complete 3 lessons each of reading, handwriting, and math and we completed all of this week's theme which was Rosh Hashanah.


We moved right along this week, learning about D, E, and F. Once again there were cute little ideas about how to do each of the craft sheets.

For D we were to cut out a little fabric dress for the dog.

For E we used Elanor's fingerprints to make peanuts.

 For F we used her fingerprints to make a fish. 

We also played rhyming games involving cards provided for each lesson. This was actually kind of cool. When I first got the All About Reading Kit I had a ton of little cards to break apart and then place into this little box with dividers. Now, once I get to a specific lesson all the cards for that lesson are waiting for me.

I really value the organization!

Elanor really likes this game called "Get Out of the Wagon!" where you place three words, two rhyming one not, in this drawing of a wagon. You have to determine which word doesn't rhyme and then you can yell "Get out of the wagon!" at it. I think the yelling part is her favorite. We also played a couple of memory games involving Ziggy the puppet, and of course she loooves him.

Elanor seems to be doing slightly better at rhyming this week. Next week there will be some new rhyming games not involving the cards, so we'll see how that goes.


For some reason Handwriting is the hardest thing to get Elanor to do, especially because this week we finished the point and scribble phase and moved onto the coloring phase. Elanor is not a fan of coloring. I'm not sure if it is because it's hard for her or just because it's boring. I'm not really a big fan of coloring myself, so I understand. We try to do it first thing in the morning, when she is at her best, and if she needs to stop and take a break, we do.

Here she is taking a break from coloring her reading papers to arrange marker tops. 

As I said, we moved from point and scribble to coloring this week. One of the pages even involved drawing lines. The first page we did was coloring in some little bugs. 

Then the line drawing.  

I thought she did a pretty good job. I know for a fact this is something they work on in occupational therapy.

The last page was all coloring, with emphasis on colors. Elanor has known her colors for a while now, even before they worked on them extensively in the Calvert Pre-K curriculum, so I didn't really talk about that too much. 

The next few pages are all very similar to this one, but with different colors. I'm not really looking forward to it, but I do think it's good for her to practice trying to stay in the lines, and it's generally good for her hand strength.


This week we continued to work on section 1, which is about sorting. Each section has 9 parts and a review, and this week we did parts 1.5, 1,6, and 1.7. Elanor did great and she really enjoyed it! She's always asking me to "do math."

This coming week we will be finishing up this section and completing the review. The next week's section is on numbers 1-5, so that should be a little more challenging.

Theme: Rosh Hashanah

When I was first starting to map out the weekly themes I printed out a calendar of religious holidays so I could pick a few to do besides the standard Halloween, Christmas, etc. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was already on my radar though, because my family is Jewish. We ended up doing the whole thing in one day, the day that actually was Rosh Hashanah, and it worked out well. 


All the Rosh Hashanah crafts seemed to be apple related, due to the fact that on Rosh Hashanah Jewish people eat apples and honey for a sweet new year. Elanor can't actually eat apples because of her dysphagia, but that doesn't prevent her from using them for art. We decided to go really simple and old school and use apples as stamps. 

She did a few more, but this was the one I liked the best. It was a great sensory activity because she got to get paint all over her, which she loves. 


I found Happy New Year, Beni by Jane Breskin Zalben by searching for "Rosh Hashanah" in the library catalog. I wasn't disappointed. It gave a quick synopsis of what Rosh Hashanah is, and some of the cultural traditions that surround it. It even had a nice little moral at the end about forgiveness. Definitely everything I was looking for this week. 


Our video this week is from Shalom Sesame, an English version of the Israeli Sesame Street, Rechov Sumsum. I found quite a few cute videos from Shalom Sesame, including a play on Hannah Montana called Rosh Hashanah Hannah. In the end I decided on this one, which touches on the whole apples and honey thing, but also talks about the shofar which is another important aspect of Rosh Hashanah. A shofar is a ram's horn that is blown to usher in the new year. The video I used is called "The Sticky Shofar." 

There are three parts but it is really easy to find all three on Youtube. Elanor really liked the puppets and she recognized some of her friends from Sesame Street, so it was a hit. Maybe she even learned something.

Next week's theme: police.