2014-2015 Year End Wrap up: Fourth Grade

The 2014-2015 school year proved to be a fun year FILLED with activities.  The three kiddos finished up grades 2, 4, and 6.  I reviewed our grade 2 plans in my last post.  Today, I will look back at fourth grade.  I have to admit that I love teaching fourth grade (which is even funnier because my mom was a fourth grade teacher).  Now I made excellent and achievable goals for my second grader but I didn’t do as well with my fourth grader.  Below are the goals that I set for her for fourth grade.

Sawyer (fourth grade): 1) Independent with writing a well-thought out and planned paragraph 2) increase in critical thinking  3) increase awareness of cause and effect 4) time management skills 5)Begin vocabulary 6) Learn organization skills essential to learning

Sawyer rocked the first goal and wrote not just a well thought out paragraph, but she wrote a fascinating, fun-filled paper on wolves.  Unfortunately when she went to write the final draft, she couldn’t find the rough draft-goal number 6.  I am thrilled that my dad and I both were able to proof read her paper. She “taught” about wolf behaviors, habitats, and life through a narrative that was fun to read and kept me engaged through the whole paper.  We tried using clip boards, our travel bags, folders……nothing has worked yet for her.  We will keep trying! Sawyer also did demonstrate critical thinking skills and increased awareness of cause and effect. She also started learning vocabulary.  Time management definitely improved but is far from mastered.

Onto the fun parts-curriculum:

Spelling: Sawyer is a strong speller.  Thus, I did not focus a lot of time on a spelling curriculum but more on spelling in her main lessons.  She worked through book C of Apples and Pears.  Her favorite part of the series is the sentence writing (which is the exact opposite of the boys).

Grammar:  We chose Growing with Grammar this year for grammar practice.  The fourth grade book is slightly different from the second grade books.  Sawyer had a lesson book and a workbook.  The lessons were short and could be read in a few minutes.  The workbook did an excellent job mixing up the type of practice.  After each lesson, the student completes two pages in the workbook.  You know that I am not a big workbook lover, but in this case-everyone was content.  No one really complained about grammar.  It was very straight forward and well explained.

Math:  Sawyer loathes math.  I am not sure why because she is fairly good at it.  She does not feel confident on her math skills but she  does well.  For her main math lessons, she used Teaching Textbooks level 4. She also did a couple of the Life Of Fred books.  She does love Life of Fred.  I am hoping to help increase her confidence in her math skills over the summer.

Main Lessons: We followed the Waldorf Essentials fourth grade curriculum for the most part pulling in the appropriate resources as needed.  She learned geography terms, NC geography and history, man/animal studies, the Norse myths, geology and multiplication.  All of the main lessons were fun and thought-provoking.  Together, Sawyer and I found amazing literature to read about each main lesson.  We also really lucked out with a few local class offerings that taught about the Catawba Indians (a Native American tribe who inhabited our area) and about NC history.

Enrichment: As with Parks, Sawyer took a lot of classes this year.  She took classes in wildlife biology, adventure journaling (following the methods of Lewis and Clark), gymnastics, violin, African drumming, horse back riding, archery, fencing, and art.  She also worked on knitting, sewing and whittling  throughout the year.

Sawyer grew up a lot this year.  I love watching her develop into a beautiful (on the inside and out) young lady.  I look forward to next year and to seeing what she  accomplishes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

2014-2015 Year End Wrap Up: Grade 2

I enjoy writing this post each year.  I always feel that we could have accomplished more or that we should have worked more on an area until I take the time to reflect.  We had a fantastic year filled with many fun activities.  I will work through each grade over the next few posts.  Now onto the review of how grade two actually went!

My original goals for Parks:

Parks (second grade): 1) Read instructions independently 2)Reciprocity in discussions (he likes to take over the discussions) 3) journal 4)begin reading silently 5)work independently for 30 minutes 6)increase his independence with communicating his emotions and needs

Believe it or not,  Parks met all of my goals (note, that these are not his goals but mine.  He makes his own goals for the year and we discuss them).  He continues to struggle with reading endurance, however he did wonderfully with reading his activities/instructions which allowed him to work more independently than he has in the past (yes, I know he is only in second grade, but I need him to be comfortable with working by himself a little bit).  He also asks people questions and is doing very well with actually conversing with people instead of just talking to a person.  The fourth goal was just recently accomplished-sort of.  He continues to fight me on reading stories himself but he finally opened up to the idea of using Learning Ally to listen to audiobooks on his own.  He loves it!  Goal 6 was Parks’ biggest undertaking this year.  He works through a lot in his brain-ie, it never stops thinking!  He has worked very diligently this year to be aware of his emotions and what he needs.  He can take a break when he needs it and is able to walk away/verbalize when he begins feeling overwhelmed.

Onto curriculum.  I know this is what everyone wants to know about this time of the year.

Spelling: We started the year using Apples and Pears.  He began to complain almost instantly.  We worked through it for about two months and then took a break.  I noticed that he began taking interest in spelling words that he used in daily life correctly so I went with it.  We are now using All About Spelling in conjunction with the cursive Montessori movable alphabet.  So far, it is going well. He is also enjoying Spell Well as an independent workbook.

Math: Parks star year off with Teaching Textbooks level 3.  The work was a good fit but he did not enjoy doing math on the computer.  Thus, we made another switch (the lesson to be learned here is that there is not one curriculum that fits all-unfortunately).  We started out with going through the Life Of Fred Cats books until I found a good fit for him.  He ended up working through the Math Mammoth level 2.  Overall, he enjoyed Math Mammoth.  We did break out the Montessori bank game and beads throughout the year to have some manipulatives.

Grammar:  I know, I know-why is a second grader doing grammar?  Well, mainly because he enjoys it.  He chose to work on grammar first most days of the year.  Everyone used the appropriate level of Growing with Grammar.  We LOVED this series.  Overall, it was very easy to adapt.  Some days, Parks was ready and willing to write out the answers.  Other days, he wasn’t so he could simply cross out what was incorrect and write above the sentence (such as “rewrite the sentence using the correct usage of capital letters) or insert the appropriate punctuation.

Main Lessons:  We continue to love Waldorf Essentials.  For Parks’ main lesson blocks, he worked on maps, heroes, trickster stories, stories from the Buddha’s Apprentice and geology. During the main lessons, Parks worked on comprehension, narration, copy work and art.  The main lesson times are cherished as they are the most intimate part of schooling.  We have lots of discussions as we each work on our drawing, painting or sculpture together.

Enrichment:  We are a little over zealous in this area.  🙂  Parks took classes on physical science, chemistry, woodworking, orienteering, geocaching, drumming, horse back riding, gymnastics and art.  Of course, he participated in our weekly hiking adventures as well.

I am very pleased with where he ended up this year. Throughout the summer we will continue to work on a couple of activities such as spelling and reading.  I will give an update on those later as we just began three weeks ago on our new curriculum.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Woodworking Block

Woodworking Block

Our first block of the new year is finishing up.  Parks worked with wood this month.  He received a set of real tools for Christmas that he wanted to put to use!  The cub scout’s pinewood derby was another nice activity that coincided well with this block.  I used the book, “Woodshop for Kids” by Jack McKee as my starting point.   The author’s introduction explains how to simplify activities and to trust children with real tools.

Then, Parks and I went to the library to get books on tools.  We also looked on Pinterest and through the Woodshop for Kids book together looking for activities.  He chose to make the marble maze, a balloon powered boat, and a top.  I went through the marble maze in a previous post.  Parks and his grand-dad worked on the balloon powered boat this week.  While they were working, I ran the other two kiddos to a class.  When I arrived home, this is what I saw in my kitchen.  LOL.

No one was around but I did hear them in the bathroom.  My first thought, “Ah man, someone cut themselves with the saw!”  Thankfully, I was completely wrong.  They were in the bathroom filling up the tub to run the boat!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The top was an easy and fun project.  Parks simply cut a dowel and inserted it into a wooden wheel.  It works beautifully and will be even prettier when he finishes painting it!

Top

Of course our lives wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a spontaneous activity happen that fit within the block!  One afternoon this past week, we attended a class at Latta.  While we were there, one of the staff was cutting bamboo into small pieces in preparation for the Fairy Festival happening in a week.  He gave the kids a lesson on splitting bamboo with a machete, cutting bamboo with a hacksaw and cleaning out the inside.  Each child made a bamboo cup that they have been using all week.

All in all, I believe Parks enjoyed woodworking.  He is ready to work on his own-at least, in his own mind.  🙂

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

LEAF!

LEAF!

I am a bit “behind” on my blog due to our annual LEAF festival trip.  We arrived home late sunday evening after another amazing festival.

The LEAF festival is, on the exterior, simply a music and arts festival.  However, you experience so much more.  We arrive the night before the festival begins each year in order to have one day of escape.  The camp appears fairly empty, although all around you people are setting up booths and stages.  The stillness of the evening allows you to listen to nature, see the stars and explore the camp before it comes to life on Friday evening.

Every year, the festival amazes me even more and in a different way.  Last year, the kids made bows and sold them.  They met lots of other children and played with them throughout the weekend.  This year, the kids sold bows again.  Instead of getting excited about the financial gain of selling bows, they got excited seeing their bows throughout the camp and hearing from children who purchased their bows last year.  Evidently, their bows hold up well over time-which they enjoyed hearing.  The kids did not meet a whole lot of new children but they did see lots of familiar faces.  We even connected with several families who live in our area.

We experienced art in many ways.  We listened to and felt the music.  We awed over phenomenal handiwork from metal works and hand-made instruments to beautiful scarves and tapestries.  We witnessed mother nature’s canvas as the leaves change colors.  All around us, we had a world of color.

If you ever get the chance to go to your local art and music festival, jump on it!  You may feel slightly out of place if you are not artistic but that is the beauty of them.  Everyone there is unique.  My youngest kept asking for the meaning of things.  You may look for this too.  However, I have found that sometimes it is best to experience art, see how it makes you feel, accept it and move on.  You may find things you love, and you may find that you do not connect with it.  Your children may find something that they connect with which is such a lovely gift.

And before I forget…Happy Diwali everyone!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Making time for Art

Art according to www.dictionary.com is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”  To me, art is a way to express yourself and your feelings that is out of the ordinary.  As I have written in previous posts, one of the areas that appealed to me with Waldorf education is the importance of art and handiwork in the everyday curriculum.  Our typical week involves at least two days of creating an art piece in our main lesson books depicting what was discussed or taught.  When I initially looked at the curriculum, I immediately thought, “Sims will not like this but Sawyer and Parks will love it.”  Well, Sims has completely blown me away with how much he loves to depict what he has learned.

Beginning in January, the kids also started taking an art class through our local parks and recreation department.  So far, they have learned about Monet, Renoir, Matis and a local artist who uses collage and mixed mediums.  Every week the kids look forward to this class and learning about the different artists.  They have even brought out a lot of our art books at home with the many different artists they have learned about.  The kids also started music back up this semester with Sawyer on the violin, Sims on the drums, and Parks taking an intro music class in which he learns piano, violin, recorder, drums and the pipe organ.  We have been at it for about 6 weeks now.  This week I began to feel overwhelmed and to think that maybe we should back off.  Then I heard them play their instruments and saw how much they enjoy the art of music.  Now, their “art” of music is far from the definition above and to most I am sure it is more like noise.  However, I know how much they enjoy it and can see how they are using it to express their feelings.

Another exciting part of our homeschool is art appreciation.  Just as the kids see the beauty in nature and take the time to observe nature, they also see the beauty in art and take the time to observe it all over.  They are able to discuss what they do and do not like about an art piece and how it makes them feel.  (Unfortunately, they also are able to tell their siblings how their music makes them feel which is not always the nicest…smile.)   They are also realizing the talent, patience, and perseverance it must take professional artist to create such amazing masterpieces.

How do you incorporate art into your homeschool?  Do you see value in it?