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.

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Woodworking-The Marble Maze

Marble Maze

Parks received a set of tools this year for Christmas.  Thus, I thought he would have fun doing a block on woodworking and using his tools.  Well as luck would have it, Sims is taking a Wildlife Biology class on Tuesdays this month which is the day that he used to work with my dad doing physics.  I am sure my dad would love to work with Parks on woodworking-right?

Of course.  🙂  Last Tuesday was their first day working together.  I found a project on The Creative Homemaker blog on how to make a marble maze.  This was the perfect first project.  The first week, ,my dad and Parks worked on measuring out the maze, squares, measuring, and drawing straight lines.  They also used the drill to predrill the holes for the nails.  Parks’ homework was to paint the maze.  We used tape to keep the squares nice and square (this was the only part that I helped with.  I helped him place the tape).

Today, they finished up their maze.  They nailed the roofing nails into each corner.  There are a lot of nails in this project, but Parks got through them all today.  I thought he would need the rest of the week to finish it up.  Adding rubber bands around the nails was the final step.  Parks is very proud of his maze.  He is also very excited about his next project!

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We are done with “school” for the year which means that it is officially SUMMER in our book!  This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!  We control our schedule.  We are in NC and the law here states that we must have “school” for 9 of the 12 calendar months.  We do not have a day count or anything, but I have kept count.  We completed 179 days of school (this excludes all holidays that we took off and other random days here and there that we took off).

Of course, the last day of school was on our calendar.  However, there are still several days marked on the calendar with classes.  The kids were not to keen on this but they are getting over it fast!  Sims is still finishing up his Aquatic Ecology class and Parks is finishing up his Soil classes.  Then they all have one more class on bioluminescence and one more hike.

So here is the rundown of the year!

Sims finished fourth grade!  He learned NC history and geography, grammar, the Norse Myths, Zoology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology, Geocaching, Biology, Fractions, Decimals and Percents.  He made HUGE gains in his independent reading comprehension which was one of our goals for this year!  He also found that he actually does enjoy reading for pleasure.

Sawyer completed second grade!  She learned about several Saints, folktales and fairy tales, multiplication, Biology, Geography, grammar, Jakata tales and Anansi tales.  She also wrote several stories and poems throughout the year.  She is my writer and she learned a lot more about the technicalities that go into writing this year.

Parks is headed into the big leagues next year!  He finished kindergarten!  Parks worked on fairytales, folk tales, adding, subtracting, telling time, cursive and reading.  This was his first year out of “school.”  He did a good bit of deschooling this year and finding where he fits into the mix.

As a family, we celebrated Labor Day, Halloween, Diwali, Michaelmas, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Valentine’s Day. and Easter.  We read several books together including: To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Because of Winn Dixie, The Whipping Boy, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bridge to Tarabithia, Three Cups of Tea, The Magician’s Nephew, Pippi Longstocking, Dolphins at Daybreak, Robinhood, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Twenty-One Balloons, Paddle to the Sea, Frindle, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Cheaper by the Dozen.

Now to finish up the school yearbook and to experience some new adventures!


Three Blocks in April

We are headed into our last block of the year!  I cannot believe we have almost completed two full years!  The month of April has been a lot of fun; although a little tough too.  Many times, the blocks cross over each other and we can do some lessons together.  This month, everyone had a very different block!  Sawyer completed a block on the Jataka and the Anansi Tales.  Sims completed a block on human anatomy.  And Parks worked through the first Life of Fred Book called Apples.  Each kiddo has thoroughly enjoyed this block and has done a lot this month.  Instead of trying to cram it all into one post (which may be very long and boring), I am going to break them up into three different blogs (shorter and hopefully, slightly more entertaining).

The Jataka and Anansi tales are not only entertaining and humorous, but also full of history and lessons.  The Jataka tales are stories native to India that tell the previous lives of the Buddha in both human and animal form.  The first two weeks of the month, Sawyer went through The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Turtle Who Couldn’t Stop Talking and The Turtle Who Saved His Own Life.  The Jataka tales are perfect for the 8-year-old moving into the 9-year-old change.  All three of my kiddos are talker to the second story really hit home for all three of them.

The last two weeks of the month, Sawyer moved onto the Anansi Tales. The Anansi Tales are historically West African and Caribbean folklore.   First, she learned about how Anansi became a spider.  Then she learned about many of the tricks that Anansi did such as Anansi and Tying the Tiger, Anansi and the Talking Melon and Anansi in Tiger Soup.  Anansi is a very tricky spider who has the ability to become powerful even as a little spider by using his wit.

Another aspect of these stories, we enjoyed was comparing them to many of the other stories we have read throughout the year.  Anansi is very similar to the Coyote who read about in several Native American folk stories.  The same themes keep emerging and it is fun to see her realizing the similarities.  I look forward to going into more history of the stories when we go through these again with Parks in the second grade!