Thursday, November 7, 2019

Homeschool Progress Report: October 2019

First Grade

In our second month of homeschooling, we started to iron out our daily schedule a bit more, moving various subjects and activities around throughout the day to the time slot that suits them best. We also took a week off in the middle of the month to go visit my family in New York. Here's what we covered in October.


M. continued making her way through Singapore Primary Mathematics 2B, with multiplication and division by 4s, 5s, and 10s. She has been working on the times table on and off for a while, so some of this was review and we didn't need to dwell a lot on it. At this point, we are mostly just solidifying her knowledge of multiplication facts with drill. In October, M. also continued drilling subtraction facts on Xtra Math and nearly completed the program. Additionally, we read one chapter each week from Life of Fred: Dogs, and M. read the Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander on her own.


We were still focusing on Ancient Egypt at the start of October, and we read a number of picture books to cover various topics, including: Pharaoh's Boat by David L. Weitzman, Hatshepsut,  His Majesty, Herself by Catherine M. Andronik, The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs by Tamara Bower  and Senefer: A Young Genius in Old Egypt by by Beatrice Lumpkin. On her own, M. also attempted to follow some of the instructions in Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book. We also read the chapter about Egypt in A Little History of the World and M. watched a number of supplemental videos, including some walking tours of Egyptian ruins from Prowalk Tours on YouTube, David Macaulay's Pyramid and the Reading Rainbow episode about Mummies Made in Egypt (which we also read in book format).   My mom also snagged a magazine about mummies from a retiring teacher friend that M. enjoyed looking at independently.

We concluded our study of Ancient Egypt by acting out an Egyptian burial ceremony using instructions found in Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: An Activity Guide by Marian Broida. M. decorated a shoebox sarcophagus using hieroglyphics and some real Egyptian art as models, and we wrapped up a doll and buried her inside. We enlisted C. (age 4) and E. (age 2)  to carry bowls of pretend food for the mummy to eat in the afterlife, and all three girls processed through the living room to some music I found on YouTube.

After our trip, we came home and got started on three weeks about Ancient Mesopotamia. Since every book we have on this topic handles it differently, and organizes itself differently, we read bits and pieces from a whole bunch of different resources. Our main texts this time were The Golden Book of Lost Worlds and Builders of the Old World by Gertrude Hartman, but we also supplemented with information about Hammurabi from A Picturesque Tale of Progress. To get a better sense of the history of this area of the world from an archaeologist's point of view, we also started reading National Geographic Investigates Ancient Iraq: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Iraq's Past by Beth Gruber. Supplemental materials included picture books (The City of Rainbows: A Tale from Ancient Sumer by Karen Foster, Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq by Kathy Henderson, and the Gilgamesh trilogy by Ludmila Zeman) and videos from a YouTube channel called History Time and this cuneiform activity from the Penn Museum. Just as the month ended, we also finished Science in Ancient Mesopotamia by Carol Moss.


In Science, we started the month talking about teeth (which was timely since M. had a loose tooth that fell out shortly thereafter). We read about teeth in The Human Body: What It Is and How it Works and watched a few videos on YouTube about going to the dentist and about what it's like to be an orthodontist. We also watched the Weston Woods adaptation of Open Wide: Tooth School Inside. Teeth was also our health topic for the month, but I expect to revisit it again when M. goes for her dental check-up in November.

After teeth, we learned about joints using The Human Body: What It Is and How It Works and videos from Kids Health and Operation Ouch. (Operation Ouch is a UK-based YouTube channel focused on treating injuries, preventing illnesses, and exploring cool facts about the human body. Some of it is too much for M., but the joints video was interesting to her.) She also enjoyed following up our studies with some independent reading in DK's Human Body Encyclopedia, which really does a nice job of summarizing what we learn from other sources.

Outside of our human body theme, M. also watched the video of David Macaulay's Bridges after she became interested in learning how bridges are suspended, and she revisited Walking with Monsters, a documentary about prehistoric reptiles. We also took a field trip to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch on our New York trip.


Collectively, my husband and I read aloud seven different books in October. I read Wedding Flowers by Cynthia Rylant, King Oberon's Forest by Hilda van Stockum, What the Witch Left by Ruth Chew, and started No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. He read Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne, Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Nourse Lattimore, and the beginning of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. On our trip to New York, we listened to the audiobooks of On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

On her own, Miss Muffet read Uncle Wiggily and his Friends by Howard R. Garis, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Daughter of America by Jeanne Marie Grunwell, Stella Batts: Superstar and Stella Batts: Scaredy Cat by Courtney Sheinmel, a short story in My Bookhouse ("The Secret Door" by Susan Coolidge) and Something Queer at the Haunted School, among other picture books. Mid-month, she started The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, and she's still working on it.

We also started reading poetry aloud at the breakfast table some days to afford more opportunities for recognizing similes. Leading up to Halloween, we read Monster Soup and Other Spooky Poems by Dilys Evans and Ghosts and Goosebumps by Bobbi Katz, both found on Open Library.

Memory Work

We are still putting the finishing touches on M.'s recitation of "The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee." She has also been working on reciting the planets, bodies of water, rivers, and countries of Europe, and I've started drilling these after breakfast in addition to my husband quizzing her whenever we're in the car.


M. practiced her instruments most days of the month that we were home, and she continued to work on identifying notes using We also learned a new hymn, "Dear Angel Ever At My Side" and learned about the music of Charles Ives, as well as classical music appropriate for Halloween from the Classics for Kids podcast. Additionally, M. watched the Marine Band's live-streamed performance of Beethoven's variations on The Magic Flute, which she became interested in after listening to the Mozart episodes of Classics for Kids. For Halloween, we also learned to sing Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate.


In October, we finished The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children, and did a few how to draw lessons in Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book and on Catholic Icing's YouTube channel. M. also did her own experiments with creating different textures using crayons.

Physical Education

M. was still able to sneak in a few bike rides in October since it was still so warm out. She also went to the playground and climbed ropes and ladders with friends and continued using the kids' videos from the Ten Thousand Method on YouTube at least twice a week.


In addition to listening to my homemade audio recording of the first ten lessons of the St. Joseph Catechism, this month we celebrated the feast of the Guardian Angels and the feast day of John Paul II. We also discussed the Catholic connection to Halloween. M. has also started reading the Bible aloud to her two-year-old sister in the evenings, and she often recognizes the stories she has read in the readings at Mass.


C. became a bit more resistant to school during October, so she didn't do quite as much as she did in September. Still she is making good progress.


C. has started to practice identifying the numbers up to 50 using flashcards, which she puts in order on the floor. She has also begun learning the numbers that add up to 5 and 10 using marbles as manipulatives.


C. mastered a few more Hooked on Phonics readers in October, but she has now hit a wall where she needs more direct instruction before she can read any harder books. We did lots of practice with stories from The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading focused on words with various short vowel sounds, and next we're moving on to consonant blends. I believe she could do one lesson per day,  but she usually doesn't tolerate more than a few sentences at a time, so it's very slow-going.

Memory Work

C. memorized "Elizabeth Cried" by Eleanor Farjeon during October.   She's finding it easier to memorize longer poems these days. She's also started memorizing the planets.


C. has been working on coloring nicely instead of just scribbling on every page of every coloring book. On Halloween, she also made a variety of festive sticker scenes about witches, owls, and ghosts.


C. started piano lessons with my husband. Her current exercise is "Two Black Keys." She also joined M. for Classics for Kids and liturgical singing throughout the month.

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