Lots going on!

Adrian has just taken off recently. He’s reading a little and he’s really “into” math and grasps the concepts very easily so he’s working pretty far ahead in that subject. I recently checked out a 1st grade curriculum book from the library just to get some ideas and to know what order some things are best to go in (math especially). I’m struggling a lot lately with whether or not to put Adrian in school in the fall. I really, really want to homeschool him, and while his dad SAYS he’s on board with it, he doesn’t take it seriously at all. And I’m not one who thinks a kid needs 6 hour a day/5 day a week instruction at home, but when a kid stays with each parent 50/50, both parents need to be providing good opportunities for learning. I’ve tried repeatedly to get both his dad and his grandma involved, but it’s like it goes in one ear and out the other. I’m also not against a young child simply learning through play. This is what he does the majority of the time at my house. But they are content with him just watching movies and playing transformers. Which is limiting, in my opinion. At my house, he has many other toys and has plenty of opportunities to use his imagination. It’s just frustrating. So I’m going tomorrow probably to tour a charter school in the area. I won’t put him in unless I absolutely love it (and the public schools here are not an option in my eyes), but maybe I’ll at least have something more to consider if homeschooling doesn’t work out.

Adrian is learning to play sudoku. He definitely gets that from me. LOL I love all kinds of number puzzles and he likes to watch me do them. He asked me months ago how to do them and I tried to show him a 4×4 sudoku puzzle but he didn’t get it. This time he got it right away and the 4×4 ones are too easy! But he still thinks they are fun and I’m showing him “variations” like using objects instead of numbers.

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I’ve been working on his learning area for a while. First it was in the living room, then it was in his bedroom (where he doesn’t even sleep) and now I’ve moved everything to a corner of my bedroom. He really likes to do “learning stuff” (as he calls it) at night, before he goes to bed. I think it’s because he’s winding down and he’s more focused. Plus, after Charlie is asleep, it’s just the two of us, so we can snuggle in bed with a book or play on the floor with his math stuff.

Here’s the calendar I got from the Dollar Tree. I can’t afford to go and get anything laminated so I did it myself with packing tape. It’s not professional looking by any means, but good for us. I just put a square of tape on each square on the calendar, then put the sticky velcro on.

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And here’s his whole corner:

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I made him felt play food for Christmas and it was by far his favorite gift. I would have never considered it educational, but he’s learning things like manners (and trying to be “proper” while serving everyone), the food groups and eating healthy, and even writing. His fortune cookie has an opening where you can slip in a tiny piece of paper with a message on it, which he likes to do for me.

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He also got puppets and a puppet theater:

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He still loves puzzles and he can almost do a 50 piece one himself.

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Science experiment: We played with cornstarch and water in a mixing bowl. He’s learned about solid, liquid, and gases so he thought it was pretty cool to play with something that wasn’t quite solid and not quite liquid either.

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So Adrian started reading a little bit about a month ago. He’s been able to make the letter sounds for a while, but then out of nowhere he started blending them and figuring out words. So I found a phonics instruction book at a thrift store which has helped me tremendously because I don’t have the first clue where to start when teaching a child to read. We started with short vowel sounds and he’s got the hang of that pretty well, except for the short “e” sound, which he still tries to pronounce as the short “i” sound. I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it soon though because when he’s spelling something, he can figure it out just fine. He can do most regular short vowel 3 letter words and some 4 letter words with blended sounds like “sp” and “tr”. We did work on long vowel sounds some, but he doesn’t yet know WHEN to use the long vowel sound. But if I tell him what words have it, he can sound them out just fine. Overall, he’s doing VERY well for a not yet kindergartner.

We play a game that I made up where we each write a word on a dry-erase card and draw a picture of it next to it. Then we cover up the picture, the other person has to sound out the word, and when they get it right, we uncover the picture. He thinks it’s a lot of fun and since we take turns, he gets practice with reading AND spelling. One funny little story I just have to share: He kept telling me all day one day that he knew bad word that started with “F”. I told him I did too but we shouldn’t say it because it’s not a nice word. Then when we played our word game that night, he wrote “FUK” on his card and had his hand over the picture. I was thinking, “Oh no! What picture could he have possibly drawn?”, thinking the worst. Like a good sport, I said the word, then he uncovered the picture and said, “It’s a little boy sitting in time out!” LMAO

He can read the first 5 starfall books himself and the beginning hooked on phonics books himself. He writes all the time and is experimenting with spelling words even if he doesn’t know them. Which I’ve heard is a good stepping stone in learning reading and spelling. Even though the words aren’t “right” there’s no denying he’s learning phonics well when he writes things out just like they sound.

Lately he’s gotten disheartened with reading and says it’s “too hard” and he “hates it” so because it’s much more important to me to raise a child who loves to read and not one who reads fluently by K, I decided to back off and told him we’d only do a “lesson” when he wanted one, but he had to do a little “silent reading” everyday and he could ask for help anytime he didn’t know a word. This worked out well and he actually started reading out loud again even though I didn’t ask him to.

The curriculum I got from the library gave me some good ideas about social studies lessons. Adrian loves maps and geography, but as much as he studies them, he gets overwhelmed with all the information in front of him. The curriculum started off with learning about yourself, then your friends and family, then your community, then it moves on to maps and larger scale studies. And it’s worked out well. He made an “All about me” page that we put in his folder. It has a couple of drawings, his fingerprint, and how he described himself and the things he likes (he dictated while I wrote). For friends we talked about what makes a good friend and he listed a few friends he has and why he likes them. Then for family we described a little about each family member and wrote it down (this will be great to look back at later!). For our community studies we listed a job starting with each letter of the alphabet, then discussed why each of those jobs are important. We read “Stone Soup” and talked about how people can work together and help each other and it’s often better than working alone. We also practiced telephone etiquette and pretended to call each other on the phone.

We got to maps just a couple of days ago and I drew one of a small neighborhood with houses, a school, a store, a post office, a playground, trees, and roads. I made a “key” and we talked about how we’d get from one place to another. We talked about North, South, East, and West. He hasn’t quite memorized them, but he’s learning quickly. I have to admit, that’s one thing that stumped me in school…I still had trouble remembering which way was East and which was West in middle school. Embarrassing but true. He seems to remember West and North so maybe he won’t have as much trouble as I did. I found out that he knows his left from his right. I never asked him before and never thought to teach him. But he knows it perfectly. I asked him how he knows and he said “I don’t know”. I tried to get him to explain to me how he remembers (like some kids remember that their left hand makes and “L” shape when you hold it up and other write with their right hand” but he says he “just knows”. Okey-dokey. As long as he gets it. I showed him “real world” directions. We stood facing North and I told him if he walked far enough, he’d get to Michigan eventually. Then we did East, South, and West using states he’s familiar with (New York, Florida, and California).

I also got some ideas for science from the curriculum. He understands science concepts easily but some things I never would have thought to go over with him, like living and non-living things. Which it turns out he already knew, but it’s still nice to know I didn’t completely skip over something that might have been an important building block later on. We read “Are you my Mother?” and listed all the living and non-living things in the book. We have a potato soaking on the bathroom counter, held partially out of the water by toothpicks. He checks it everyday he’s with me to see if the buds have grown or if there’s any new ones. We did lots of work with plants last summer so he knows all about seeds, what they need to grow and how the bees help pollinate, ect, but potatoes are a little different so I figured it would be something new and fun to cover.

I’ve been thinking up some new vocabulary words for him to learn and practice using. I try to pick ones that he’s specifically asked about because the ones he wants to know are the ones he’s going to remember. When I’m stumped for ideas, I just open one of his Transformer books. Those things are chock full of exciting new words! Like, LOADED. I can barely read a page before he’s asking about a word or several. I went through one picture book (NOT a chapter book) and came up with a list of over 50 words that we could study. Yikes! I also look to math lessons for vocab words. Last week we did parallel and perpendicular (I explained why “parallelogram” is called that and I figured we may as well cover perpendicular while we were at it). Also trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, and octagon.

Math. Oh math. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this kid. If I put him in school he’s going to be SO bored with math. He’s just advancing at an amazing rate. And I’m not biased just because I’m him mom. He understands multiplication. No joke. I showed him ONCE what the problems look like and what they mean, and he can do any single digit problem on an abacus or with dots on a paper. He’s stopped using counters for addition and subtraction. Instead he prefers to use a number line. I just started teaching him “Touch Math” the other day and he seems to like that too, so it will be interesting to see what he picks. I never liked all the usual ways of doing math when I was a kid so when they introduced Touch Math in 1st grade, I latched onto it. Almost everyone I know thinks it’s a ridiculous concept when I explain what it is, but I recently learned it’s a real method (not something just made up by my elementary school) and I’ve even talked to other people who use it! So now that I don’t feel like such a freak, I don’t feel like I’ll be hurting Adrian to introduce him to it. At least now he has several tools to work with. He likes fractions and I made up bar and circle fractions on the computer (and cut out and “laminated” the pieces with packing tape, which is my new favorite thing in the world hehe). I also found a really cool book at the library by Hershey, which is basically a whole lesson on fractions using a hershey bar. If any lesson involves junk food, Adrian is game. Just a month ago, he was struggling to count past 14. For some reason, the teens slipped him up. But I bought this $0.70 number board and he started doing much, much better within days.

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He got to 19 two weeks ago and then had trouble remembering 20. Once he got past 20 though, he had them all. He counted to 100 for the first time a few days ago and he was so excited he flung himself into my arms! LOL

Learning about place value with toothpicks. We counted out tens of toothpicks and bundled them, then learned to separate the numbers into columns with tens and ones.

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After learning about place value, we started some simple addition of 2 digit numbers and he seems to understand, but we only worked for a few minutes so we’ll have to see how fast he picks that up.

Charlie enjoys the abacus too:
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She likes to hit the beads and make them clink together. 🙂

I got a Rainbow Resource catalog with my purchase from them. This thing is as big as a large city’s phone book! I see a lot of stuff I’d like but I don’t have the money to spend. I do bookmark the pages just in case though. One thing I thought was cool was the “Handwriting Without Tears” roll-a-dough letters. It basically has cards with the letters on them and you roll playdoh in the shape of the letters. Adrian knows how to make all the letters, his problem is keeping them in the line, or filling the whole line (he’ll either go way above or below, or make them so small they don’t even touch the lines). I was working with him on it one day and he leaned over my pencil just as I flipped it around to erase something and his eye went right into it. And there we were…a handwriting lesson with tears. I thought of the product I bookmarked and thought “Why not? He knows how to use a pencil already, he just needs to remember where the letters go on the lines!” So I made his own little version, with construction paper and….packing tape (this is becoming a theme you see). Here is our finished product:

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I love packing tape!

And big news!  Adrian has his first loose tooth!  He’s growing up so fast!

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