Monday, July 13, 2015

Volcanoes, Geography and Golden Beads

Week 6 of Kindergarten

Day 24 - Monday

We spent most of the week learning about volcanoes. See more information on this post.

The volcano experiments led to lots of practical life activities - scooping and pouring, washing the table and chairs, and washing dishes, followed by lunch prep.

After all of the excitement of the day, M wound down before bed with her new High Five magazine (Amazon affiliate link). I love that it includes all of the fun activities, puzzles and game you would expect from a Highlights magazine, but also has stories and poems that are on a reading level that is perfect for an emergent reader.

Day 25 - Tuesday

Co-op was all about volcanoes (again, more detail here). M spent most of the independent time exploring continent boxes. She was particularly interested in the Africa box. She looked through all of the souvenirs that my brother and sister-in-law brought back from a trip to Africa. She also matched the Ancient Egypt TOOB figures to the picture and label chart, and looked at the African animal figures. Her exploration of continent boxes often turns into play, but I can tell that she's learning a lot, so I leave her alone. Eventually I'd like to find a way to use the continent boxes as a way to discover topics for introductory research.

I've been trying to encourage more practical life skills, so M helped with folding laundry and peeling vegetables to prepare dinner. M has had a bit of a regression in PL skills since the baby was born last year. She is still perfectly capable of doing things independently, but she doesn't WANT to do things independently. She's having some jealousy issues, and feels like the baby gets special attention. She now wants help with things she was previously doing independently, like picking out her clothes and getting dressed, preparing snacks, and getting ready for bed. I'm hoping that adding in more challenging PL skills will help her feel proud of all the things she can do.

Day 26 - Wednesday

My sister-in-law's Air Force retirement ceremony was this week. The girls and I stayed home, but my husband hand-delivered this card that M worked on. I asked M if she wanted to draw a picture of Aunt Beth on the card, and she asked if I knew what she would wear for the ceremony. This gave us the opportunity to look up military uniforms for different occasions. 

On the inside of the card, she used her "Make Your Own Cards" kit (affiliate link) and her pattern block templates to make a rocket ship.

Later, we worked our way through several reading lessons. M has picked up on a lot of the rules of vowel pairs just through practice, so she flew through these lessons on "long o."

I copied a couple of the practice stories (from Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - affiliate link) into mini books. She read the stories and illustrated the books.

While M was illustrating books, I was printing these free geography cards (Children Around the World from I Believe in Montessori).

I gave the cards to M and let her flip through and see which children she wanted to learn more about. She chose the first three cards, and she took our her globe to see if we could find the countries where the children were from.

I love these cards for several reasons. They have absolutely gorgeous pictures, but I also love that they have an outline of the continent on the front, and then the specific country on the back. This helps M locate the country on her globe because she can find the continent first to focus her search.

We have the Interactive Talking Globe from Oregon Scientific (affiliate link). After finding the right country for a specific card, M could use the different modes on her globe to learn more about the child's country, like the official language, weather, geographical features, and more. She really enjoyed this activity (and I think this could be a good way to focus her use of the continent boxes!).

Day 27 - Thursday

In co-op, we talked about electrical energy. We started with a circuits demo using this cool Energy Stick (affiliate link), which was actually a gag gift that my brother got one Christmas and passed along to us (thanks Matt!!). The kids held hands in a circle to create a circuit, which lit up the Energy Stick. If anyone dropped their hands (broke the circuit), the lights would stop flashing.

Next, I used the conductive play dough (recipe from this Squishy Circuits kit - affiliate link) to demonstrate that some materials are conductors and some materials are insulators. I built a basic circuit with a battery pack and a buzzer connected by balls of dough. I inserted different materials (pipe cleaner, popsicle stick, string, paperclip, etc) and the kids listened to see if the buzzer made a noise. We separated the materials into conductors and insulators, then the kids had some time to experiment with their own "squishy circuits."

After co-op, we did some math work at home. M asked to put her "baby" on her back so she could have her hands free.

We're backtracking on some of the math materials to make sure there aren't any gaps in her knowledge. She was struggling with the tens board over the past couple of weeks, getting mixed up between counting by ones and counting by tens. I decided to go back and focus on the golden beads and matching units, tens, hundreds and thousands to the numeral cards.

Here she's counting unit beads. I put the numeral tiles in mixed order to make sure she wasn't just counting in order. Through this exercise I realized that she's still mixing up 6 and 9, and forgets what the numeral 8 looks like. She knew all of the rest of the numerals, and could easily count the correct number of beads to match each card.

Next, we repeated the same activity using thousand cubes. Again, I put the numeral tiles in mixed order to reinforce her comprehension. She turned this into a building game where she had to build skyscrapers and castles of a certain size.

After we finished math, we did one more reading review game. This game was called "Cross the River" and involved a series of cards with words written on them. One card in each column had the "long u" sound. Only those cards could be used as "rocks" to get across the river. I wrote sight words and other long vowel words on the remaining cards. She read all three words in the column, then placed her toy horse on the "long u" word.

Finally, we wrapped up with some handwriting practice. A friend had suggested using a larger box for our salt/sand tray for handwriting. I tested this out by transferring her purple sand into a 12x12 scrapbook case I had. She really liked the larger format, and worked on several different letters. She is making progress with remembering the proper formation of the lowercase letters, but still has some reversals that she needs more practice with.

That evening, we made a quick trip out to the property to check the progress. We got to talk to "Mr. Wayne" who was finishing up some prep work for the house foundations.

Successes and Challenges

Successes this week - 
  • Volcano study - This really held her interest, and involved all of the major subjects. We have had a lot of luck with unit study - type projects in the past, and I need to find more ways to incorporate these when we find a topic that M is interested in.
  • Practical Life - I feel like we're making progress with promoting independence. I want to talk with her about more chores she might want to learn to do, and continue to make things accessible to her so she can do more on her own.
  • Math - Taking a step back allowed me to observe the root of the problem with the golden beads. It looks like an easy fix, and by practicing and reviewing a few lessons, I think we can move ahead and avoid the frustration she was feeling.

Challenges this week - 
  • Energy levels - I don't know if M is hitting a growth spurt or what, but she has been so overtired. I've been trying to get her to sleep earlier, but she's still acting tired and cranky by about 3-4pm. She won't nap, so I need to look into some calming/relaxing activities she can do around this time to avoid meltdowns.
  • Consistency - Still an issue. Still not sure if I want to create more of a schedule or just go with it. We're off from co-op for the next two weeks, so I may experiment with a morning schedule. 

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