Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Colwyn's Progress Report

Here's the progress report we submitted for Colwyn, for the previous school year:

READING: Our literature based program this year has involved reading to Colwyn a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. In addition to the two dozen or so picture books we check out from the library every other week, we have read several chapter books, including Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series and R.L. LaFever’s Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist series. Besides these family read-alouds, Colwyn reads consistently at a third grade level, and reads a variety of books independently.

WRITING: Colwyn can easily form all lower case and capital letters. He writes notes and letters spontaneously, and also writes thank you notes and birthday cards frequently. Colwyn also enjoys making books, writing and illustrating his own stories. For a book club we attend, Colwyn produces journal entries and reports on the books he reads.

MATHEMATICS: This year, Colwyn completed the Singapore Primary 1A and 1B workbooks. Topics covered include addition, subtraction, ordinal numbers, number comparisons, common shapes, comparing and measuring length and weight, picture graphs, adding three numbers, multiplication, division (sharing and grouping), fractions, telling time, and money. His math workbooks were greatly reinforced by real life applications including cooking, shopping, board games, and using our family calendar.

HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES: We use the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History as a basis for our history studies and progressed through the sections on ancient civilizations. We supplemented his learning through many fiction and non-fiction books checked out from the library. He also read many mythology books, including Roman and Norse myths, and a child’s version of Gilgamesh. Colwyn has also participated in monthly Earth Scouts meeting that have focused on human rights. He has completed several service projects including earning money for Heifer International, making blankets for Project Linus, sending cards and pictures to soldiers overseas, and holding a bake sale to raise money for Save the Children’s relief efforts in Japan. He has studied several modern countries using Highlight’s Top Secret Adventures and has supplemented that learning by planning mock vacations to each of those countries (planning which includes finding airfare, lodging, choosing historic sites and/or attractions to visit, tallying costs, and budgeting).

SCIENCE: Colwyn’s science education this year has focused on earth science. He has studied volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and plate tectonics. He has studied geology and panned for gemstones and fossils, which he then identified. He participated in several science club activities, the topics of which included magnetism, human physiology, and early humans. He supplemented the human physiology lesson with library books on various topics, including the circulatory system and reproductive system. He also studied animal husbandry, physical and behavioral adaptations in wild animals (focusing on African species, but also applying his knowledge to local species). Besides this more formal science education, Colwyn enjoys observing nature (specifically living creatures we find in our neighborhood) and experimenting with a variety of media outdoors. He has also studied freshwater pond ecology and helped plan, install, and maintain a freshwater pond in our backyard.

THE ARTS: Colwyn enjoys creating artwork using a variety of materials, including crayons, markers, colored pencils, water colors, and tempera paints. He also likes to be creative with clay, Play-Dough, and recycleable materials like boxes, plastic containers, and so on. He has made gifts for friends and family, puts on puppet shows, and likes a wide variety of music. He has learned about stop motion and created several short movies. In addition, he has made music videos and helped with the video editing.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Colwyn has completed the Song School Latin curriculum this year. He has also assisted in teaching his younger siblings American Sign Language and continued to grow his ASL vocabulary.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION: Colwyn loves riding his bike, going for walks with his family, and exploring the hiking trails at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. We attend weekly park days in warm weather where he plays boisteriously with other homeschoolers. In cold weather, we make frequent trips to Monkey Joe's and often coordinate private rentals of Strike One for our homeschool group.

HEALTH: Colwyn understands and practices good hygiene and personal safety. He has learned a great deal about good nutrition and has helped grow nutritious vegetables and fruits in our yard.

FIELD TRIPS: Field trips are an important part of Colwyn’s education. Our field trips this year have included everything from visiting Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut, to the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, to attending concerts in Boston, to the Essex Ship Building Museum, to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Moms Need Gyms

This morning, I tried to do some floor exercises. I lied down and got to the eighth sit up before my 15 month old climbed onto my belly. First, he smooshed his face to mine and gave me several slobbery kisses. Then he spun around so his feet were kicking my face, then laughed hysterically at the way my belly moved up and down while I laughed. I managed to distract him with some toys and finished my sit ups. Then I figured I could do some leg lifts while I was lying on the floor. As soon as my leg started moving, he made a beeline for me. He grabbed onto my leg and did his best to keep it on the floor. I'm quite out of shape, so I really don't need any extra resistance, especially not the full weight of a 26 pound toddler.

We also had some trouble when I tried using the weights for upper body exercises. He either wanted to hold them, or kept getting nearly bonked by them, or just insisted on being held.

Well, I got the exercises done in the end, so that's what counts, right?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Art

This summer, we were able to attend a wonderful art program put on by the local library. Each week, they created artwork based on the art of a certain region - things like Aboriginal dot art, American quilts, and Chinese fish kites. Here are some pictures of what they created:

The kids had a great time. It was one of the few times they've consented to participate in a class where I wasn't involved and not really even present. They could see me for much of the time, and come get me if they needed me, but I wasn't in the room with them. Lachlann especially thrived on the praise from the librarian. He was very insistent on making sure she knew he was done so he could hear how much she loved his artwork.

Yesterday, we tried a project from the Story of the World activity book. I'm not really a fan of Story of the World - it's a little too Christian and a little too dry. But the activity book is wonderful. It's much easier to skip any activities we don't like, and there are so many creative ways for the kids to explore history. For example, yesterday the kids made cave paintings:

They really enjoyed themselves. We listened to shamanic drumming while we worked. Tomorrow we'll add some white and red highlights to the paintings.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birthday Cakes

I sat down at the computer with a half-written blog post about our plans for this coming year floating around in my head. Then I saw that my last entry was about Niall's birthday party, with a picture of his cake. It seems more natural that I write about some other cakes I've made recently.

Yesterday was Lachlann's birthday party. He chose a dinosaur theme, much to my surprise. We played a few games, whacked the you-know-what out of a pinata, swam, ate pizza and cake. This is the cake I made:

It was quite the hit, and I was very pleased with how it turned out. Usually I'm at least a little disappointed with how my cakes turn out, so this was a nice surprise.

For Fiona's birthday, I made a Snow White cake. Again, everyone really loved it, but I was less than thrilled. I really should have used fondant. Here's a pic:

You can also see the Snow White dress I made her, which looked great on her. She still wears it frequently.