Monday, July 20, 2015

Golden Beads, Concrete, Watercolors and a Covered Bridge

Week 7 of Kindergarten

Day 28 - Tuesday

As I've been saying for the past few weeks, we're struggling with setting up a schedule. We're in limbo right now because we're between houses and we don't have all of our belongings (a good bit is in storage). Since this is a short-term housing situation, we are trying to make do rather than spend the time and money to really set up the space to meet our needs. 

I haven't found a great way to set up the kitchen to allow M to be as independent as she can be. Meals have become stressful, especially breakfast and lunch, which seem to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r! I want M to take more responsibility for preparing her own breakfast and snacks, and I'm hoping that this will encourage her to focus on eating her food. 

We talked about all of this on Monday, and came up with a game plan. I let her choose two options for breakfast that she could prepare independently (she chose a bowl of cereal or a bagel with cream cheese). I prepared the ingredients so she would have access to them. I pre-measured the cereal and put it in a container on the pantry shelf (she was concerned that she would spill if she tried to pour from the cereal box). I also filled her small pitcher with milk and put it on a low shelf in the fridge. She can reach her bowls and spoons, and also has access to fresh fruit.

After breakfast, I gave her a list of "task cards" to help her stay focused on getting ready. She had cards that said "Put pjs in hamper," "Go to the potty," "Get dressed," etc. (We talked through her typical morning routine on Monday as we made the cards.) This allowed her to get herself ready independently without getting distracted like she usually does, and allowed me to put the baby down for a nap before we started her work period.

We started the work period with more golden beads review. She placed the appropriate quantities of hundred squares and then ten bars to match the numeral cards that were placed in mixed order.

She is still occasionally mixing up 6 and 9, and sometimes forgets the numeral 8, so we did a 3 period lesson to practice. She was much more confident after finishing this lesson.

Next, she sorted all of her golden beads in the appropriate sections of her operations mat.

And finally, we put her practice to the test as she matched the numeral cards to the quantities on her mat.

After math, she chose to do the next reading lesson in OPG (affiliate link). She ended up doing several lessons in a row, all focusing on different spellings for the sound "ue" (as in glue).

She followed this up with some handwriting practice in her journal using the sandpaper letters as a guide.

That evening we drove to our new property to check on the progress. We were there when the dumpster was delivered, and M got to watch the truck's hydraulic arm lower the dumpster to the ground. Once the dumpster was placed, M helped me walk around the yard and pick up all the trash that had been left behind by the construction crew. This gave us the opportunity to talk about pollution and the importance of caring for our environment.

Day 29 - Wednesday

M made her own breakfast again Wednesday morning, and helped me pack a picnic lunch to take to the property. We spent the morning waiting for the concrete truck to arrive to pour the foundations. They were a few hours behind schedule, but luckily I had some water color paints in the car. M worked on color mixing and experimented with wet and dry brush strokes. 

When she got bored of painting on paper, I suggested that she try painting on other surfaces - leaves, sticks, rocks. She particularly enjoyed painting leaves, and was able to make some leaf prints by pressing blank paper on the painted leaf when she was finished.

The pump truck and concrete mixer finally arrived, and we spent the rest of the morning eating our picnic lunch and watching the progress on our house.

After lunch, we stopped by for a short mini-co-op session. M checked out her friends' new President Guess Who? game, then worked together with her friends to complete addition problems on the strip board.

When we got home, M had some quiet time in her room, and chose to work on puzzles. She completed several small puzzles, and followed the directions to create different shapes out of her puzzle eraser set (like the heart in the picture below).

Day 30 - Thursday

M chose to work on math again, starting with building numbers with her golden beads. I offered to do a lesson on addition, but she said she wanted to practice counting instead.

She moved on to the hundred board. She is still having trouble recognizing numbers larger than 30, but she was able to use the control chart to check for accuracy as she worked. She also took out a blank chart and wrote the numbers as she added them to the board.

Once she got to 29, I took out the golden beads and talked her through which number would come next. (After twenty-nine would be twenty-ten. What would twenty and ten look like? Here's twenty - two tens - and another ten. Then she realized that that was the same as three tens, or thirty.) I continued to add one more golden bead on the mat next to her so she could count the beads to determine which numeral tile to find next. She made it up into the 40s before she got tired and put it away.

After lunch (yes, still in pjs), she worked on a closure book, including buckles and laces. She asked me to give her a lesson on braiding, which I did, but she didn't quite follow the pattern and ended up mostly twisting two strands together. I need to get a braiding board with different colored strands of yarn to make it easier for her to see.

Later, she helped me with a ton of cleaning around the house. I vacuumed while she cleaned up her own room, and then she asked if she could mop the floors in the kitchen and bathroom. 

Day 31 - Friday

On Friday, we met some friends at Campbell's Covered Bridge for a morning of splashing in the creek and walking through the woods.

There were TONS of tadpoles in the shallow areas of the creek. M watched them for a while, and found a few froglets with legs too. There were lots of other critters to watch as well, including butterflies, damselflies (we learned that dragonflies have their wings open at rest, and damselflies have their wings closed at rest!), blue tailed skinks, and various insects. 

M enjoyed reading the interpretive signs to learn about the history of the covered bridge. The bridge, constructed in 1909, is the last remaining covered bridge in South Carolina. We talked about the function of a grist mill, which used to be on the property adjacent to the bridge, and read a story about the previous owner of the land.

That afternoon, I helped M bake zucchini bread. She took the lead and did most of the baking on her own! She read the recipe, found the correct ingredients, helped to measure the ingredients, peeled and grated the zucchini, crushed the walnuts, operated the mixer, and filled the muffin pans. And, of course, she helped taste the finished product!

Successes and Challenges

Successes this week - 
  • Independence - We had a conversation about why it is important for M to learn to do things for herself. She gets jealous that the baby gets more help (which she views as extra attention). We talked about things that she could do for herself, and also talked about things we could do together so she would still have one-on-one time with me.
  • Math - There were lots of mini breakthroughs with the golden beads. She is making connections between the various materials, becoming more confident in recognizing the numerals, and most importantly, is choosing more challenging work that she didn't want to attempt before.
  • Schedule - We're attempting to designate a "school time" so M knows what to expect in the mornings, and have more flexibility with the schedule in the afternoons. This seems to be working well so far.

Challenges this week - 
  • Keeping up with interests - M changes her mind by the minute it seems! I have a to-do list a mile long with ideas and materials to make based on the topics M says she is interested in. I need to find a way to narrow down the topics and pick something she can stay focused on rather than jumping from topic to topic.
  • Patience. I think I'm doing decently well in this area, but it has been difficult. I have to sit on my hands a lot, especially as she works with the math materials, to keep myself from interfering. I'm practicing my observational skills, and trying to determine when she can figure things out on her own, and when she needs a tiny bit of help to keep moving along in the right direction.

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