Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little by Little

We are slowly adding in a few more elements to our homeschooling. Here's the latest:

We borrowed a few beginning French CD's from the library with songs and a picture dictionary, and now we are all learning French! Sure, it's more practical to learn Spanish, but I know the kids will eventually learn Spanish. I've always wanted to learn French and then take a trip to Paris; lofty goals, but it doesn't hurt to dream, right?

We are going to do a little suitcase project with France. We will explore the cuisine, the customs, the must-see buildings all through books and the internet. We will "pack" our 8 x 10 construction paper suitcase with our own research on these topics and then make the hard sell to daddy that we need to go visit someday!! :)

We also added independent reading this week. I have assigned a book to each of the girls to read; you can find wonderful book lists from I am adapting the list for my girls since I want to ease them into the more formal and complex language of some of the books.

Ellie has a reading journal that she will fill out as she reads; she will identify the genre, title, author, settings, characters, key events, the central question, the solution, her favorite character and why, and new vocabulary words. I hope to have her read many great books this year, including The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Caddie Woodlawn, Pilgrim's Progress, Swiss Family Robinson, and Pollyanna. These books have such rich characters and quality writing; I can't wait for her to get into them! We will explore other genres as well besides realistic fiction, but right now that's her favorite.

For Chloe, her reading will start with simpler books; she has begun reading Stuart Little. Oral narration will be the way I can assess whether she is really understanding what she is reading. Here are some narration questions I will ask her after she reads each chapter on her own:

"Tell me all you know about x, y, z according to what you've read"

"Explain how. . ."

"Describe anything new you just learned from this chapter"

"Tell me five things you learned about. . ."

"Tell back the story (passage, episode, chapter) in your own words

"Draw a picture of. . ."

We will see how it goes with both of them!

I found a great website: that allows you to customize handwriting worksheets! It is awesome since Ellie needs to work on her cursive and Chloe needs to work on her handwriting in general. For Chloe, I am basically turning the handwriting worksheet into a spelling sheet, using words that she consistently has trouble with as she writes during her independent writing time. I will also be taking the spelling lists off the public school's website since they post their grade level spelling lists online! I can use the handwriting worksheets for Sophie too, which is a plus!

Today we took our 2nd nature walk, but rather than sketching what we saw, we took a ziploc bag and filled it with different leaves from bushes, trees, and other vegetation as we walked. We went to Taychas Trail which follows West Rowlett Creek in a natural forest area within the Hunter's Creek subdivision of Frisco. The girls loved discovering the variety of plants!

What I love about nature walks is that it teaches the girls to be observers. Normally they would just run past the natural surroundings straight to the swing set at a park, but asking them to look for differences in trees and vegetation suddenly opens up the world right in front of them. We didn't have time today to look up each leaf and classify it as Charlotte Mason would have you do, but we are looking forward to doing that tomorrow.

That's it for tonight. Bonne nuit everyone!

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