Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First month of first grade

Well, we've been in first grade for almost a month. I guess it's time to write something about it! The books trickled in slowly, and now we have all but one book. We just slowly added new subjects into our days as books arrived and it seemed to work well. It was a gradual adjustment to what our year will look like.
I can say that, in general, I'm very happy with what I've ordered, and how things are shaping up. Crumpet, on the other hand... Sigh. He is just not an easy kid, and really, he's meant to be unschooled. I'm not able to let go of all control though, so we will continue on this path.
I'm looking forward to having his best friend go to kindergarten next week for 2 reasons:
1) T arrives at our house at 8:15 every morning ready to play, and I have to send him home several times during our school morning until we are done and Crumpet can actually play.
2) Crumpet will see that T spends 7 hours 5 days a week at school, while we spend 2 hours 4 days a week, doing school work. Maybe, just maybe, it will click that what we are doing is not child abuse. Probably not though...
Anyway, here's what we've been up to:
Explode the Code 4: For several subjects, I found the ordering websites difficult to navigate and difficult to figure out Crumpet's level. When this arrived, I got nervous because it looked to be way above Crumpet's abilities. He has done beautifully on the first lesson though, and I think it will work out fine. We are only managing one lesson a week because Crumpet hates worksheets, but really, a lesson a day would be possible for most kids...
All About Spelling: Crumpet HATES this program. It's all about repetition and review, his biggest enemies! Spelling requires repetition and review though. Sigh again. I like the way the program is put together, and the fact that it combines several styles of learning. Unfortunately, we end up skipping a lot of it and he just spells the words for me. So far, he knows them all but I'm sure this will come back to haunt us later.
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind: I love this program. So easy and such short lessons. Crumpet has memorized the first poem and done the first narration, and we are learning about nouns right now. It's a nice, gentle approach to grammar. I'm not entirely sure if Crumpet is learning any of the grammar, but we'll find out in time...

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears shall not be without tears for us. Every day, something gets thrown across the room, or torn to shreds thanks to a certain someone's hatred for handwriting of all types...

Math: I don't know if I mentioned that the charter school wouldn't let me buy the Horizons math program I had chosen. Apparently, Horizons is a religious curriculum. What?? How can math be religious? Anyway, I found a way to buy McRuffy's first grade math through the school, and honestly, I'm relieved. It's what I'm comfortable with, and I know we like it. Also, having seen that half of the Horizons manipulative set consisted of flashcards, I'm pretty sure I would have had trouble selling the program to Crumpet. The McRuffy manipulatives arrived and were greeted with great joy because they look like toys. I think it will be a better fit for us.
By the way, we spent the summer working with the Funnix math computer program, which they were giving away for a little while. We really enjoyed most of it, and it gave us some different ways to think about numbers and addition. We only made it 1/4 of the way through the program before our McRuffy books arrived, so we may return to it later. Our only complaint is that the lessons move really slowly and there is, um, a lot of repetition...

History: This is our last week of our homemade prehistory study. We've read tons of books, seen some movies, and visited the fun Ice Age exhibit at the mall that they set up for kids during the summer.
We will be visiting the dinosaur exhibit at the local museum this week, and creating a timeline of what we learned. We've enjoyed this topic immensely.
Our Story of the World books have arrived. I went WAY overboard and ordered most of Pandia Press' History Odyssey activity books for history, as well as the Story of the World activity books. We can't possibly do it all, but now I have plenty to pick and choose from. I think we are going to love history this year.

Geography: We ordered Beginning Geography, which is a book of worksheets, but they are fun worksheets, and so far Crumpet is enjoying them. I also decided at the last minute to order the Expedition Earth curriculum from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. This is a fun curriculum full of the info, activities, and recipes that I tried so hard to gather for ourselves during the last year. I could never keep up, though, and let geography slide. Now, I have it all done for me! We purchased four of the extra books she recommended:
Encyclopedia of World Geography by Usborne (Geography Information)
Living World Encyclopedia by Usborne
A Trip Around the World by Carson-Dellosa (Country Activities)
Another Trip Around the World by Carson-Dellosa (Country Activities)
I LOVE the Trip Around the World books! Great projects and recipes! I wish I'd known about them before! The encyclopedias are also great to have.
Our first craft of the year was a papier mache globe. This was so messy that it challenged even my mellow attitude to craft mess... But Crumpet loved running his hands through the glue and adding paper strips to our globe. The final product is a bit goofy looking, but it was fun to make!
This curriculum has a serious religious component, but it's easy to turn it into a secular program, if you want to. Geography will continue to be one of our favorite subjects.

Social Studies: I ordered our textbook from Houghton Mifflin, but their website is impossible to navigate, and they are absolutely unclear about labeling each of their products. I ended up with the activity book instead of the textbook. When I called, their representative could not tell me what to order to be sure I receive the textbook. So I ordered what I hope is the right thing, and we'll see what arrives in a few weeks...

Science: We are using Nebel's Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding and so far, I'm happy with it. The experiments are simple and fun, and there is lots information and support for teaching the topics. I love that the book does not underestimate the child's ability to learn science. I love that it works in a sequential manner, slowly building on previously taught information. Every topic is connected. And I love the list of extra books at the end of each chapter. The reading is great reinforcement for what we are learning.
One of our first topics was the study of Air. We took the opportunity to go fly a kite! We found a phenomenal place to fly a kit here - I've never had any success before. At Sandy Beach on Oahu, you can sit on the ground, and the wind just whisks the kite up for you. Easy, and so pretty. People had some gorgeous kites! (We had an embarrassing Wonder Woman kite that we found in a geocache.. Very entertaining to watch my husband take a turn with it!)
In other news, we've been hiking
and getting incredibly muddy:

Crumpet has been loving tormenting our little dog visitor.
Crumpet had his first sleepover. His friend, T, spent the night at our house. We set up the tent and the 2 boys and I camped out in the backyard. So fun to see them have so much fun!

And we are renewing Crumpet's passport, just in case... Look at this amazing photo! He looks so grown up!
Wow. I haven't written about school in ages, so there was a lot to catch up on. I'll admit that school days can be incredibly challenging here, but we do have amazing, fun days too. There are moments that I think boarding school is going to be our only option for survival, but most of the time, I love watching this little boy soak up information, and I love being able to spend my days with him.


  1. Wow, you've been busy! Crumpet sounds so much like Anna when it comes to worksheets. I am sort of happy that she is going to go to school where someone else will deal with her reluctance in writing and spelling. Great passport picture - Crumpet looks so big!

  2. So funny that different things work for different people! The two things that we looked at but really didn't like are First Language Lessons and Story of the World. My kids like worksheets (especially H), they both now have beautiful handwriting, and they don't mind repetition as long as we don't dwell on it too long. Sounds like you are accomplishing a lot in spite of how hard it is. I have heard so many moms talk about how hard homeschooling is and it is reaffirming that just because it is hard doesn't mean it isn't right. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that passport picture!

  3. My kids go back and forth on repetition. I'm impressed at all he's doing.

  4. My eldest was meant to be unschooled too, but I just can't bring myself to go that route either! I just keep reminding him that he'd be doing a lot longer days if he was in public school and he changes his tune real fast. He's almost 8 though so easier to reason with this year.

  5. I wanna add, Horizons math is not religious at all! It is made by a christian company but there is nothing religious in the math program.

  6. I was on the fence about All About Spelling because of everyone's rave reviews but glad I didn't get it now! Our 5 years hates repetition also but I think she'll figure out the spelling on her own.