Monday, March 9, 2020

Homeschool Progress Report: February 2020

Since we're expecting the twins any day now, and our homeschool umbrella was ready to start doing reviews, we spent the last bit of February compiling our oldest daughter's work and preparing for our very first review. It took place this first week of March, and we were in full compliance. Though we won't need to go through that process again until next spring, I will continue to post here year-round, as we plan to continue school as normal even during the "off season" and it was helpful to have my notes on hand when we were filling in our review form.

First Grade with M., age 6


We started Singapore 3A as February started, and it was much smoother sailing than the start of 2B. I noted right away that the textbook and workbook look more mature, which I think helps M. take the work seriously. I also think each exercise is a little bit lengthier than those appearing in the first two levels, which allows for more practice of each new skill. M. also really loves the fact that many of the exercises involve codes, crossword grids, and coloring activities. It's just more engaging for her to do math when it feels like a game. 

M. has been struggling to focus during Xtra Math, and she even got caught typing in the wrong answer so that the program would give her the correct one. Now when she drills her math facts, my husband stays with her and makes sure she stays on task. I notice improvement in the ease with which she is able to recite certain times tables, so it does seem to be working. My take is that she's just getting tired of the same format all the time.

We have also dug into Life of Fred: Edgewood, which has so far involved many of M.'s favorite topics from the previous book, especially functions. She's also working nightly on Khan Academy, on which my husband is introducing her to angles and triangles. She is likely to completely all the third grade work on the site in the next few weeks.


At long last, we finished our slog through Ancient Greece! This is the first civilization we covered this year that I didn't feel we covered as coherently or as thoroughly as we could have. We did spend a lot of time on it, but a lot of that time was spent using trial and error to figure out how best to implement the materials we have. My second daughter is not as history-minded as M., so I will definitely need to work on planning better for this segment of the year when it's her turn the year after next.

In February, as we closed out the unit, we read about Socrates in Wise Guy by M.D. Usher and completed this notebooking page comparing and contrasting his beliefs with those of Plato and Aristotle. We also finished Men of Athens, which M. claimed to love, despite half of the material definitely going way over her head. Independently, she read The First Marathon: The Legend of Pheidippides by Susan Reynolds, and she wrote a lengthy narration explaining what happened to Pheidippides.

Next, we jumped right in to Ancient India, reading three books one right after the other: Ancient India by Virginia Schomp (an excellent overview which really got M. interested in the caste system), National Geographic Investigates Ancient India (which was not as strong as the other volumes we've read from this series), and Science in Ancient India by Melissa Stewart (which was not as exciting to M. as other Science of the Past titles because the Ancient Indians didn't get as much wrong as some of the other cultures, and she prefers to laugh at old-fashioned superstition.) M. also wrote a narration about the Arabic numerals and created a chart explaining the different levels of the caste system.


We continued studying plants and experimenting with the microscope. M. read From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons and created some diagrams of flowers and seeds. She also researched orchids and a few other flowering plants and filled out plant report sheets with my help. With the babies coming, I've been moving through science intentionally slowly because after things settle, I want to start involving four-year-old C. in our science lessons as well and I don't want to get too far ahead before we include her.

Reading & Writing 

For most of February, our read-aloud at lunchtime was Far Out the Long Canal by Meindert de Jong, and all three girls (yes, even two-year-old E.!) absolutely loved it and are still talking about it. Toward the end of the month, we started The All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, mostly because we currently have all girls and I don't that will still be true in a couple of weeks. M. loved this book and seemed to identify most strongly with Sarah, who represents the author's childhood experiences. 

Independently, M. read a ton of picture books just for fun, but her actual "assigned" books were several titles in the Oz series. She absolutely loves them and can read one in an evening if given the chance.

One of my goals for our homeschool in the future is to have time every day for creative writing, so I decided to introduce the idea in February. She took to it right away and wrote a rather lengthy story about the "Woo Woo girls." We asked her to rename the family because we felt weird about "Woo Woo" and she ended up calling them the Roughtoddly (pronounced ro-toddly) family instead. I don't think we're quite ready to make this kind of writing a daily thing, but I do want to work up to that. 

Memory Work

M. finished memorizing "Velvet Shoes" and recorded a video. 


In addition to the usual recorder and piano practice, M. also listened to Classics for Kids episodes about George Gershwin and Scott Joplin. Gershwin was an especially big hit, and there have been repeated requests to hear Rhapsody in Blue again. There were also a variety of impromptu dance parties this month during which M. and her sister C. acted out some interesting pantomimes. 


We continued our slow read through Looking at Pictures, reading about such topics as color, perspective, and layering of paint. M. really loves the level of detail given by the text, and she also enjoyed it when I let her watch an episode of Bob Ross so she could hear the names of some of the pigments we discussed.

M. also continues to draw constantly. Her recent interest is in drawing her sisters' favorite book characters and letting the younger girls color them in.

Physical Education

Most of the days that I had doctor's appointments in February, my husband took the girls to the park so M. got in lots of free play for P.E. I also made sure she did her exercise video at least once a week. 


I have started quizzing M. from the St. Joseph Catechism's first 10 lessons by having her choose a number at random and then asking her the corresponding question. We also celebrated Mardi Gras with paper masks and pancakes and got a strong start to Lent by beginning a daily routine of Bible readings, chanting the Divine Praises (in English), coloring ornaments for a "Jesus Tree" that we have not yet assembled, and counting to 40 before starting to eat each meal (as suggested by Kendra at Catholic All Year). We're also singing Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the hymn for this month from Traditional Catholic Living and Ave Regina Caelorum, the Marian Antiphon for this time of year. 


I'm hoping M. will soon be able to write her narrations in cursive because her cursive writing is much nicer and easier to read than her print. She has really made great progress this winter.

Pre-K with C., age 4 


C. is a huge reader now, and she is reading and re-reading our collection of I Can Read books at quite a fast rate. The highlights of February were the Oliver and Amanda pig series and the Hattie Rabbit books by Dick Gackenbach. She also likes to read picture books aloud to herself or to her younger sister, and most of the time, she is willing to read a few word lists from The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading as well. She takes such in joy in reading, and it has been so much fun to see her come into her own as an independent reader. 


C. is still working with Khan Academy, and she is starting to show more independence. She has mastered kindergarten and has moved on to addition and subtraction. We also started giving her exercises to do in the Singapore 1A workbook and I have never seen a child so happy to be a student. We're also having her practice using the soroban using drills from and Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 Activity Book

Memory Work

C. memorized and performed "White Fields" on video and is now learning "A Spike of Green" by Barbara Baker.