Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

(Almost) Patiently Letting Me Take a Pic!

 This week, we decided to register for an EPGY math class.  Eli loves using the computer for reading activities at, and he is excited about using the computer for math. I want him to continue to move forward in reading and in math, and felt like he needed something a little more structured (especially with my busy season at work approaching). We ended up registering for the Kindergarten math course (with the ability to test into the 1st grade level), and he started it today...and really enjoyed the first bit. We had some problems trying to do it with the iPad, so I will probably have him use the desktop from now on.  Using the computer should add an interesting dimension to what he's already been doing. There's nothing quite like being inundated with addition/subtraction facts (and questions!) fairly constantly...although he's not yet figured out how to do sums greater than 10.  I'm wondering if this will satisfy his curiosity and slow him down...or if it will have quite the opposite effect.  He did practice counting by 10s to 100 and telling time on an analog clock (whole hours only).

We've definitely had some struggles this week with time management. It's been a little hectic with some major life changes coming our way, and we're trying to manage all of our "irons in the fire." Unfortunately (and I'm sure you've noticed) the camera was somewhat missing in my hands this week : (.

In other news, Eli did start back at gymnastics, for the first time in about 2 years. He enjoyed the class this week, though he complained that he liked the boys' class better (he's now in a preschool group with mostly girls).

In geography, which is definitely a favorite here, we reviewed what a "canyon" is and the difference between a mountain and a volcano. We continued with "50 States Friday" (today was Arkansas) and we reviewed Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona.  Eli picked out a book on CD at the library about the 50 states and has been listening to the book over and over....even though the storyline is fiction, there are a lot of interesting facts about the states included.

After beginning to teach himself piano this week, Eli has asked to take violin lessons. We were gifted a tiny (1/16) Suzuki violin that Eli's uncle played when he was a tiny tot, and Eli has been so excited about it. It does need new strings, so we took it to the music store and ordered them. Hopefully, we'll have it fixed soon. As far as lessons go, Patrick and I will need to really discuss it. Eli's already out of the house two nights a week for activities, and I really think another activity is one too many. I think we're both hoping to maybe find someone to do occasional lessons - at least for now, while he's in such an exploratory phase of learning. In the meantime, we will encourage him to continue working on piano.

We had a great drawing lesson this week. Eli found some magnolia leaves on the ground and we brought them home to study.  We discussed (and drew!) the almost elliptical shapes of the leaves, along with the stem and the veins of the leaves. We finished the activity by doing some leaf rubbings with crayon, which was not as big a hit as I thought it would be - Eli definitely preferred freehand drawing.  Later, we also did a color wheel in Mason jars. We used drops of food coloring in 100mL of water in each jar, and arranged the jars into a color wheel.  It was really pretty! Color experiments have been a huge favorite lately.

Unfortunately, though, Eli has been really complaining about the work he has at his daycare/preschool. He's been having behavior issues at school. His teacher definitely does not understand how to work with a child who behaves like a typical 3 year old, but who has the mental abilities of a much older child. The teacher is having the children repeat work on letters and numbers that he's already done, and he's beyond bored. We're hoping that by sending work from home, he'll be happier and more engaged in what he's learning. He's almost ready to move up a reading level, and it's SO MUCH FUN to hear him read aloud. He's usually quite proud of himself, too. He has a near-obsession with books, and it's delightful to see. In the meantime, Patrick and I are doing everything we can to encourage him (without pushing him too hard).

Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday, January 26, 2015


Eli has shown a lot of interest in music in the last few days. On Saturday, he got his tiny electric piano out for the first time in a while. He'd been watching a Pororo video about musical instruments and got inspired :). I found his music books for him (that haven't been touched in quite a long time!) and he went to town. I helped him on Saturday with learning where some of the notes were and with reading the book. In the beginning books that he has, all notes are labeled with their letter name (and so is his keyboard). I showed him how to play the first song...all of about 4 measures, using only one hand. He quickly was able to memorize and practiced getting his fingers to do as he wanted them to. After twenty minutes or so, he was done.

Today, he went for his piano immediately after we got home.  I went over the next song with him, and showed him what a "rest" means. We started talking a little bit about "long" notes and "short" notes. Then, I let him alone to see what he would do. To my surprise, he not only stayed and practiced the same song a few times, he began to flip through the book and find other songs to play.  He only practiced for about 10 or 15 minutes, but in that time was able to figure out several of the little beginner's songs. He seems interested enough that we designated one of his school drawers for his piano books. I'm hoping he'll practice a couple more times this week...but really don't want to force him. He's been asking about playing the violin, too...because (once again) he saw one on Pororo. I wish we had a Suzuki class in our area!  I'm hoping my Patrick's mom might have an old one leftover from her music-teaching days, so that he can at least explore the feel and sounds for himself. In the meantime, we'll wait for summer to see if he's still interested then. I think a gymnastics class will be PLENTY to keep him occupied for the rest of the semester.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week feels like we accomplished a lot, for the first time in a while. We also had some interesting conversations with Eli.  It's so funny when he comes home from pre-K and says things like "I'm a little concerned that my teacher wasn't listening to me today. I really wanted to play with trucks and she would only let me play with dinosaurs today."  This is verbatim...and it's an excellent summary of why we don't depend on the preschool to meet his academic needs!

Eli's favorite activity from the week was making a batch of gluten free brownies....YUM!  We had him read the directions (with help), but he was very independent with the measuring and mixing. I definitely love having him in the kitchen, and he really enjoys it, too.

This week, we also saw a lot of this:

And a TON of this:

Eli is still really loving his SNAP kit. He's done about a fourth of the projects and has favorite ones that he likes to go back and repeat. This week, we learned some really cool stuff about how police car sirens are wired (even I was excited about that one!).  He's not only picking up new vocabulary from the set...he's learned a little bit about addition, too. Using the grid, coordinates, and snap-style wires has led to him generalizing a few addition facts (like 2+2 = 4 and 5+1 = 6).

In other news this week, we took Eli to try out a gymnastics class for young kids. Unfortunately, we apparently ended up in the wrong class, so we're going to try the correct class next week. Even still, Eli really participated, thoroughly enjoyed himself, and was happy with his decision to do gymnastics instead of trying t-ball or soccer. I hope he enjoys the correct class as much as he did the one he actually attended.  If he hadn't been more than a foot shorter than all of the other boys, he could have stayed in it!

This is also the week that we discovered the educational value of items like this:

Earlier this week, Eli was snacking on chips...and began reading the bag.  The hysterical part is that even though he can definitely sound out the words on the bag (and pronounce them correctly), he doesn't know what most of them mean. After reading the bag (and subsequently asking what the words "Lays" and "Classic" meant), he asked what the numbers at the bottom were (the weight of the chips in grams).

It's been really sweet, though, that Eli's reading is improving to the point where he is starting to try to read everything he sees. He knows enough phonics to figure out the majority of words he comes across, though he doesn't read with much speed. We are currently reading "Frog and Toad All Year" together and he is loving the free readers from StarFall.  This week, we watched the "vowel team" video that they have...and he's been pointing out vowel teams all week.  He also worked on the sight word "one," which means that he now knows the number words for 1-6, 9, and 10.  We've heard a lot more spontaneous spelling and sounding-out from him as well. In the car on Thursday, he amused himself by repeating the word "kid" several times, the broke down the sounds..."kuh....i....duh". He went from thinking about the sounds to saying "kid" is "k......i.....d". 

We introduced the concept of 1,000 this week as well. We are using wooden base-10 blocks to represent numbers, and did a couple of bigger addition problems (like 1,232+1,421 and 345+821) using the blocks for a model (this is similar to the Montessori sequence for mathematics). We also practiced demonstrating how there are 10 tens in a hundred and 10 hundreds in a thousand.  Eli definitely needed help with this, since he's just now learning to use the materials.  I am planning to create some number cards he can use to go along with the blocks...but it may be a while before I have the opportunity.

Eli has now gotten to the point with his computer skills that he was able to start using language software for Korean. Yay!  This is the one thing we do that he doesn't initiate....but I believe that it will be good for him in the long run. We did some work in his Korean workbook, too, and he's learning the Korean consonants (he does love the workbook). He is being exposed to some Spanish in pre-K and is soaking it up!

For "50 States Friday", we concentrated on Arizona.  Eli and Patrick used play sand to build their own version of the Grand Canyon in a tray. Patrick explained in very simple terms the Colorado River's role in creating the canyon, and Eli was enthralled. For our Japan study, we looked at bento-style lunches and Eli helped make one for his lunch on Tuesday. 

The weather was unseasonably warm again, so we also managed to fit in a tiny bit of this during the week:

I'll be happy when we have some longer, warmer days so that Eli can spend more time in the saddle.  He only got to ride for 15 minutes or so...but had a blast. He's quite confident, but he definitely needs practice!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Super WHY" No Longer Super

Yesterday, Eli got some TV time and used it to watch "Super Why."  For the first time, Eli actually got frustrated at the show and shook his head sadly, saying "Poor Wyatt STILL doesn't know his letters.  I don't think he'll ever get them." 

If you've never seen the show, the main character, Wyatt, frequently asks "What super letters do you see?" Wyatt pauses after the question to give kids a chance to think.  Because Wyatt always asks what the letters are, but a different voice reads the letters, Eli has decided that Wyatt has no idea what they are. Eli's firmly convinced that Wyatt will never be able to read his letters...because (according to Eli) in the last two years, Wyatt still "needs help." Come to think of it...I don't think I've ever seen Wyatt read or write without the help of his friends, his "magic" pen or his "super" computer....Eli might be on to something! At least Eli learned a lot from the show, even though Wyatt, apparently, has not.

I think we're heading to the end of his interest with that particular thankful that Sesame Street is still beloved in our household, and that there are other really cute kids' shows out there!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Home" School Weekly Wrap-Up

This week was hectic again!  I think life will probably stay that way for a while, especially since we have some additional/extra family stuff going on (all positive!).  Adding in the fact that all 3 of us have a cold, means that none of us have been very productive this week!

Project 52 pic of the week

Still, some things DID get done!

Eli began working on his Level 1 Korean workbook.  He's currently learning the Korean consonants.  He had a blast with the workbook last night, and I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures!  I'm actually going to try starting him on Rosetta Stone soon, without the reading/writing component (for now).  If anyone knows of a kid-friendlier version of Korean language software, let me know!  Eli's also interested in learning Spanish, so I might begin exposing him to that, too...but we'll see.

He spent a little (very little) time working on reading and math this week. I think that he may be in a period of consolidation for reading, but I'm not sure. He's wanted to be read to a LOT this week, but hasn't been interested in reading for himself. We discovered (and now love) the Disney Storybook app for iPad. I bought some tokens for the app, and have doled them out to him one at at time for him to choose books. He can have the books read to him repeatedly, and he loves it. I think he listened to the same book at least 20 times last night.  This is the app he usually goes to first when he gets iPad time (which is about once a week).

We did start "Fifty-States Friday" in our house. We are going alphabetically through the states, finding them on the puzzle map, tracing the name, and looking up an interesting fact about the state.  So, far we've done Alabama and Alaska.

We've been studying the country of Japan this month at home. This week, we looked at the Japanese Flag and painted one!

Eli has been really excited about painting anything lately, especially when it comes to mixing colors, so we began learning about the color wheel and primary/secondary colors.  This activity was a HUGE hit and he told me that he wants to do it again and again!

We started with a hand-drawn color wheel.

Our primary colors in the palette...I did one, too, to demonstrate for Eli.

The finished color wheels.
The rest of our week (at least the sunny part of it) was spent doing things life this:

Now, off to the coffee shop, so that I can get my weekly caffeine fix!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday, January 12, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up

This week was a little different and we really didn’t do much schoolwork. When writing this post, I realized that “we really didn’t have time to do____” came up an awful lot.  It really was a crazy-busy week. Eli spent the night with his grandparents on Wednesday (they picked him up from school after Tumblebus), and they took him to a little place called Tiny Town. Eli got to drive a miniature car through a mock-up of a town, and he got to play a ton of games. He learned a lot and had a BLAST! 

We did manage to do some work on phonics (  Eli loves the website, the animated storybooks and the games on the site…it’s usually the first thing he asks to do when he gets home.   He’s now figured out most “silent e” words and most vowel digraph words (ai, ay, oa, and ea).  It still takes him a while to decode, so we’re careful to only work on reading when he wants to. I want it to be something he enjoys doing…and so far, so good. He’s not really worked much on sight words lately, but when I quizzed him at the end of the week, he still knew at least 60 of them (which is a couple more than last month). 

We really didn’t intentionally work on math this week. Eli got out a math workbook Wednesday morning before school and worked through several pages. He was primarily focused on writing the numbers and the number words. He recognizes the numbers words “three”, “four,”  “five,” and “six.”  I’m hoping that he will learn the number word for “one” this week. I’m going to present it as a sight word and have him practice writing, drawing, and spelling it.  I’m hoping to get him to work in his Kumon book this week. The one that he’s using right now is 100% dot-to-dot puzzles and color by number exercises…and he loves it!  I’m currently looking to purchase a set of base 10 blocks (decimal mods) to help him eventually learn to represent and add numbers up to 1000 (which he calls 10 hundred).  He currently can add/subtract within 10 competently.

Eli did work on his SNAP kit once this week, and seemed to really enjoy it, but hasn’t focused on it as much, since we were really busy.  We also missed our Japan lesson this week. We started it, but Eli lost interest part of the way through, and we stopped. We’ll try again later; it was a Pinterest activity on replicating the painting “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”. We DID do the 50 States Friday…and Eli learned about Alabama and Alaska (we’re going alphabetically).  We’re only (technically) supposed to learn the name and location of about 1 state per week….but Eli got excited and did two.  He’s still learning the difference between cities, states, countries, and continents, but definitely understands that a map is a shows distance between real places.  

The highlight of the week was when we managed to FINALLY do the sewing project he’s been begging to do…we made a small Star Wars pillow!  I made one for Patrick, then I helped Eli make his own.  He learned about folding and pinning the fabric, sewing the edges (I ran the machine and helped him guide the fabric through), and stuffing the pillow (he did this part with Patrick – and loved it!). Then, he watched me sew it closed.  He and Patrick have enjoyed using them, and they ended up pretty cute!  While I had the machine out, I also went ahead and made Eli a pair of pajama pants.  His length is close 4T/5T in pajamas…but his waist is still 2T/3T. 

Whew! That’s more than I thought it would be! And other than a slightly horrifying conversation in which Eli cheerfully told me that he wanted to cook his teacher into a burrito…that was our week!

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Home School" Week in Review

We've really not accomplished a lot today...or this week for that matter! I was planning to do my first "Week in Review" post today for our home schooling lessons...but this sums up a lot of our week:

Here we have a delightful combination of a  "Myth-Busters" marathon, puzzle-doing, and Lego-building.  Shall I go so far as to say our dear tiny one refused to leave the house this afternoon unless we recorded the "Myth Busters" episode that he was watching?  We're not sure how much he understands...but he sure loves it anyway!

We did start talking about one of the 12 countries we'd planned on studying this year: Japan. We'd originally planned to sign up for a subscription box that contains materials about a new country each month...until we saw one of the boxes and realized that it was nowhere near the depth that Eli would want/require. So, we're off to create our own "country boxes." We started this month with Japan because we have family living there, and we have a lot of information and materials to get him started.  He's been playing with his toy bullet train and track sent to him from Japan...eating Japanese snacks (dried anchovies mixed with almonds), etc. Today, we looked up a picture of the "real" bullet train in Japan and Eli noticed "a mountain" (Mt Fuji) in the background of a lot of the pictures. I showed him other pictures of Mt. Fuji and we discussed how it was similar and different than Stone Mountain (in GA). Since Mt. Fuji is technically a volcano, and Eli wasn't sure what a volcano was, we decided it was time for a science experiment.

First we gathered the materials. Soap, vinegar, water, baking soda, a glass pie plate, and a plastic beaker.

Then, after the mixing...

"Whoa! Look at all the bubbles!"

"Can I eat it?"
After making sure he knew NOT to eat it (because of the soap in this particular recipe), we DID tell him he could touch the bubbles and play with them!

Pleased with the eruption (so far...)

Topping off the beaker to keep the eruption going...

At first, he didn't like the feel of the bubbles popping on his hands, so we kept a rag nearby.

Then he began to enjoy playing with the bubbles...

And pouring them from tablespoon to beaker...and back again!
It's really funny to me that Eli still loves (LOVES) Montessori-style sensory activities (and this definitely is one)...yet can operate on a much higher level when he wants to. He actually really enjoyed the activity on multiple levels...seeing the "volcano" erupt, talking about the difference between a mountain and a volcano, to playing with the bubbles independently (for more than 30 minutes!).  So far, studying Japan is a hit, and we have several more Japan-based activities coming up.

In the other academic areas, we've not done very much this week. Eli is still begging to do his SNAP kit (we're doing about 2 projects a day), and he has really, really gotten into experimenting with paint. We've done a lot of painting (with everything from fingers to paintbrushes to leaves) with a few different types of paint (but mostly tempura and water color) lately. He really likes trying to mix colors to make new ones. I have some definite painting projects coming his way next week!