Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

2nd grade week in review March 21, 2012

The past several days have been standardized testing days around here.  Most homeschoolers around us seem to choose the portfolio review option (Ohio gives three options for homeschoolers: A nationally normed standardized test, a portfolio review by a certified teacher, or another assessment agreed upon by the school district and parents).  Because Jedi has a form of autism and is on an IEP, I wanted some solid data about what he has learned and what he still needs to learn, so we chose to do the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  We get our results in 2 weeks or so, and I’m looking forward to seeing where his strengths are (I’m already going to guess science and social studies are going to be strengths) and where he might need additional help (I’m guessing spelling, listening, and math since those things are all affected by his dyslexia and auditory processing issues).  Not only will the tests give me a starting point for next year, but it gives us some solid data for his IEP team.

Now most everyone who knows me might be very surprised–I am fairly anti-standardized testing…or rather, against how standardized testing is usually done.  I don’t believe that teaching to the test and using test scores for school funding are good uses of the test.  But, to get data on how to help a child or to tailor their education to accentuate strengths and intervene with weaknesses seems to be a good way to use the test.  We did not teach to the test this year and Jedi didn’t even take a practice test or any “test prep” materials.  Jedi didn’t even know he was taking the test until a couple days before.

He took the test by himself, allowing him to concentrate on his test instead of having to face anxiety about the proctor going too fast for him or not understanding something.  His IEP has several other accommodations for  testing that he didn’t even have to make use of.  I’m really proud of how well Jedi seemed to do and how seriously he took the test.  And it didn’t hurt that he got to go outside and play after each sub-test. 🙂  It was pretty laid back and relaxed–20 minutes of testing, then an hour of playing outside to refocus him. 😀

 

Here are some pictures of Jedi’s week before he started the tests…

 

Jedi, working on his new ipad. He now uses an ipad and wireless computer for worksheets (using an app designed for writing on PDFs) and all writing assignments. This helps Jedi a lot because he has so much trouble with handwriting and spelling. (Stay tuned for a post in a few days about educational apps for the ipad, as well as apps for special needs students!)

 

Jedi doing a painting about light and dark contrast. He put down some masking tape and then painted over the whole paper. Then after it was dry, he pulled up the tape to reveal the light spaces.

Working on his Ancient Greece history pocket. He did a lot of learning about ancient Greece, the Trojan War, and Greek Mythology.

In science, Jedi worked on observing seeds. He dissected a dicot (bean seed) and labeled the parts, and then labeled the parts on a monocot (corn seed).

 

Coloring some pages on the Trojan War

 

Learning about minerals and crystal formation. He is looking at dry epsom salt here. After this, he mixed it with water and then poured the mixture onto a cookie sheet with some black construction paper. We put it under a desk lamp for a couple days to dry.

 

After it dried, it formed a crystal that looked like etched glass.

 

Jedi also did an art project where he made a stamp out of cardboard and foam.

 

Using his handmade ink stamp.

 

 

 

Montessori Monday March 19, 2012

Montessori Monday

 

First off, thank you to all who replied last week.  You gave me some good things to think about.  As a result, I have some new blog post ideas swirling around in my head. 🙂  Look for them actually in print on here soon. 😉

Bug and Monkey have been really busy busy this past week, both in the school room and outside.  The weather in central Ohio has been absolutely gorgeous lately, so I’ve been able to just keep the back door open and let the kids go outside any time they want.  Bug is already starting to get a little tan from being outside so much!  You really can’t beat mid to high 70’s, sunny, with a light breeze…before the first day of spring!  There have been a lot of bubbles blown, mud pies made, and puddles hopped in. 🙂

Here are some pictures of some of the other things the girls have been working on.

Bug and Monkey using little plastic animals to make footprints in the flour.

 

Animal tracks crayon rubbings

 

The kids traced an outline of a bat with white pencil. Then they used the pin punch to punch holes in the outline.

 

The kids also learned about beavers and beaver dams. Here, Monkey is looking at a picture of a beaver dam and making her own out of brown paper strips and glue.

 

The final product!

 

Matching rubber animal track replicas to the picture. We also named all of the animals. Because we always look for tracks in our neighborhood when we're walking, the kids could easily name some of the birds, the deer, and the coyote. 🙂

 

Learning about what seeds need to grow. Here, Monkey and Bug were working on sprouting bean sprout seeds.

 

Working on rhyming words.

 

Monkey has been *begging* to start having circle time (I think she learned about it from Blue's Clues. LOL!) So, I picked up this really awesome pocket chart from Lakeshore Learning. The kids especially love finding the appropriate clothing for the weather and doing math problems with the gumballs. Bug works on counting and sorting, Monkey works on addition, and Jedi works on multiplication.

 

Putting pipe cleaner shamrocks into a spice jar.

 

Learning the colors of the rainbow.

 

And stacking the rainbow into a tower!

 

Stringing colored beads onto the rainbow pipe cleaners

 

Sorting using the leaves of a shamrock

 

Hole punching with the shamrock

 

I put some yellow and blue food coloring in some shaving cream to work on color matching. They also used the shaving cream to paint shamrocks.

 

Monkey has some touch aversions, so she started by putting her hand in a bag to mix the shaving cream.

 

She took her hand out of the bag to paint with the shaving cream, but she wasn't exactly thrilled about it.

 

 

 

 

2nd grade week in review March 5, 2012

In addition to Monkey’s busy week in sports, Jedi had a big week too!  We traveled to the World Tang Soo Do Association’s Region 22 Championships in Dubois, Pennsylvania recently with our Tang Soo Do school.  Jedi and I both competed.  Jedi won the silver medal for his age/rank division in open handed forms, and the bronze medal in sparring!

Jedi & I at the competition

 

Our medals and belts with the official championship shirt.

 

Jedi was also having a rough week and we’re still not quite sure what went on.  During his co-op, he had a major meltdown, resulting in him running away from the class and having a meltdown in a closet.  During the Tang Soo Do competition, he also had another meltdown.  And then in his religious education class, he had to leave after having another meltdown.  It’s been a really long time since Jedi’s had such a high intensity level of difficulty due to his autism within such a short period of time.  He seems to have shaken whatever it was and had a really good week after it.  But it’s always a reminder that no matter how much progress he seems to be making, there are still those days, weeks, or months where we can’t figure out what we need to do to get him on the right path.

Right now, spelling is one of his major sources of difficulty.  He seemed to be doing ok with All About Spelling, and each lesson, he gets almost all of the words right.  But we noticed that after that lesson was over, he retained under 10% of what he was taught.  His spelling is still on the level of a kindergartner, even after all of the work we’ve done.  He’s in the process of officially having a dyslexia diagnosis tacked on to his autism diagnosis (they tend to go hand-in-hand).  While he is an excellent reader, he has a lot of trouble with handwriting and spelling, and tends to reverse numbers in math.  We do have several things coming up that should be helpful–we are in the process of securing a tutor that specializes in these issues with special needs child.  He is also in the process of getting funding for an ipad 3 and wireless keyboard that will allow him to type everything and use a spell check/word processor to reduce his anxiety and frustration with writing assignments.  He will, of course, continue to have to write and to practice his areas of deficit, but he also needs to be able to move on to his level in the other subjects, and the spelling/handwriting issues tend to hold him back.

Anyhow…  Here are some pictures from Jedi’s last two weeks in the schoolroom.  He’s done much more than this, but I don’t often have the camera with me. 🙂

Last Monday, we celebrated John Glenn's orbit around the earth. We watched the live twitter feed that Ohio State University was hosting. This allowed Jedi to see the timing of each part of the orbit. OSU provided audio, video, pictures, and news articles in the feed! We also watched When We Left Earth, which is a wonderful documentary on the history of space travel.

 

Some of the audio recordings we listened to.

 

Jedi using the ink and brayer on foam to create a space-themed print. After spreading ink on the foam, he put a piece of paper on it to transfer the image.

 

The final product!

 

Reading about the Persians

 

Making a print with tempura paint and vegetables

 

His vegetable painting!

 

Learning the parts of a flower

 

Dissecting a flower

 

We found these wonderful dry erase books. Jedi wanted to learn cursive writing (it seems somewhat easier than printing for him) and loves working with these books!

 

Finally getting to use a calculator--he's wanted to learn how to use one all year! After we practiced making change, he got to use a calculator to check his work.

 

Watching animated videos on how to type knots. One of his assignments this past week in his co-op nature survival class is knot tying.

 

Jedi has a really really really hard time with watercolor painting. If the colors blend, he melts down about it (food can not blend, paint can not blend...it's just the way he thinks). So, we got him to try it again this week, and that took a lot of effort for him. He was practicing a cloud-making technique where you painted the blue, and then blotted it with a dry paper towel to make clouds.

 

Working on his subtraction table.

 

Doing some simple subtraction facts.

 

In science, Jedi learned how to float an egg using a whole lot of salt in some water. This also lead to a discussion about the Dead Sea. Jedi now wants to take a field trip there...not sure that's in the lesson plans. 😉

 

 

 

 

Montessori Monday

Montessori Monday

Apparently I’m a week behind. 🙂  It occurred to me on Friday that I never published my posts from last week.  So, I’ll just combine them this week.

Monkey had a really busy week last week…in addition to schoolwork, she also switched to a new gym for gymnastics and had to to try-outs to find out what class she will be in.  She also tested for her next Tang Soo Do belt!  Monkey did very well at both–she’s such an athlete!

Monkey practicing at home for her tryouts.

 

Doing some bar work during her tryouts

 

Monkey at her Tang Soo Do belt test.

 

Here are some pictures of Bug and Monkey’s time in the school room the past few weeks!

For Mardi Gras, we brought out all the mess and dazzle we could. 🙂 The girls making purple, yellow, and green collages with glitter, feathers, and confetti.

 

Bug's collage

 

Monkey's collage

 

Monkey so happy to get to play with the glitter!

 

The kids also observed the first week of Lent. Here, Bug's looking at a picture from the Children's Catholic Bible about Jesus and the crown of thorns. Then, using some clay and toothpicks, she's making a replica of the crown of thorns.

 

We also started Operation Rice Bowl with the kids. Last week was Madagascar.

 

On Friday, we make a meal from the country we learned about. This is Vary amin'anana --a dish native to Madagascar.

 

Everyone in the family also wrote out their Lenten promises.

 

We also started the pre-k level of All About Reading. Here, the girls are making letter A's with wiki sticks.

 

Bug chatting with the zebra from the All About Reading kit

 

Painting blueberries on the letter B beehive.

 

Bug practicing her beading.

 

Using vegetables and tempura paint to stamp pictures and shapes.

 

Monkey also wanted to learn how to load the dishwasher. She decided she really likes this job!

 

Bug also decided she wanted to work with duplos this week (all the kids did a lot of work with legos after their schoolwork was done.) This is her first creation--an airplane!

 

Bug watercolor painting.

 

2nd Grade Week in Review February 21, 2012

Filed under: Lower Elementary — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:34 am
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Last week, all three kids started back up at their homeschool co-op classes.  Jedi said he LOVED his classes!  He goes once a week and takes a class on weather, gym, art around the world, and nature survival.  Co-op means one less day of work at home though, so there will likely be fewer pictures–in part because of that one less day, and in part because we worked even harder to get all of the work done the rest of the week, so I didn’t always have the camera with me.

Jedi’s also been practicing his Tang Soo Do even more the past couple weeks.  This weekend, he and I compete in the Region 22 Championships.  Jedi is once again competing in forms and sparring.  Last year, he tied for 3rd in the region for forms. 🙂

Here are some pictures from Jedi’s week in review…

I did manage to get quite a few pictures of his art lessons this week. He learned two different ways of print making. The first way was to spread ink with a brayer onto waxed paper.....

 

...then he drew a picture onto the ink with a blunt object (he used a child's chopstick).

 

After that, he put a sheet of paper onto the ink and pressed it down.

 

Finally, Jedi peeled the paper off the ink. Here's Jedi's picture of a tie fighter.

 

For history, Jedi learned about the rise and fall of Babylon.

 

Jedi also drew what he thinks the Hanging Gardens of Babylon looked like.

 

Jedi's 2nd print-making activity. This time, he spread the ink on the wax paper with the brayer. Then he put some paper on top of the ink and drew on the back of the paper.

 

Jedi's monoprint!

 

In math, Jedi learned to count money up to $1.00. He also learned how to make change.

 

Jedi also continued working on journaling and spelling–he finished All About Spelling Level 2!  We do need to go back and review to make sure he remembers it all though–he does have a hard time remembering the concept even he can spell the word correctly the day we study it.  (All About Spelling isn’t like a typical spelling curriculum that has a list of spelling words they study for a week.  AAS teaches concepts instead.)

 

Montessori Monday February 13, 2012

Montessori Monday

The girls had a busy week in the schoolroom this week.  They really loved having all of the work pink and purple for Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that easily lends to a lot of collage making and other crafts, so the girls really enjoyed themselves.

It’s also becoming pretty clear that Monkey wants to move towards more of the kindergarten-level work.  She’s been spending a lot of time choosing to focus on math, for example.  She really doesn’t want to follow the the typical math sequence.  In fact, she’s demanding that we give her pages of addition problems to do with the bead rack every day.  She LOVES addition.  On her ipod, she gravitates towards the math games (Monkey Preschool Math is a good one!  It’s her favorite!).  She even found the math pages in her Hello Kitty coloring book, and independently started doing all of the math problems.  I think we may have a little math loving girl on our hands!

Here are some pictures from the girls’ week of school.

Monkey received a bunch of wooden craft kits for her birthday. I think she might have done them all in one day--most of them involved paint and glitter, so she pretty much dedicated an entire day to finishing every last one because she couldn't decide which one she liked the most. 🙂

 

Tonging conversation hearts into an ice cube tray.

 

Free writing/drawing

 

Collage materials for making Valentine's cards.

 

Making bracelets out of pipe cleaners and beads.

 

Bug LOVES to peel and break crayons. So much so, that we always have an abundance of broken crayons. We decided to create some heart shaped rainbow crayons. (One warning...I bought these heart-shaped trays a long time ago. I completely forgot they were not baking trays. Let's just say it's a good thing I checked on them when the crayons were melting--the pans were not heat safe. Oops!)

 

Monkey helping to peel crayons.

 

Bug happily helping prepare the crayons.

 

We put the trays in the oven at 250 for about 5 minutes, and then put the pans instantly outdoors (it was cold, and I actually wanted to attempt to save the pans. Thankfully, cooling them down quickly saved the pans from being destroyed. LOL!!!) Here are the final products!

 

Bug working with the conversation hearts.

 

Monkey making Valentine's cards

 

Lots and lots of glitter!

 

Pink paper snipping

 

Monkey working on math.

 

Shaving cream!!! Bug, of course, loved it. She played with it for hours. Monkey hated it. She has some pretty bad sensory issues, but she also hates feeling left out. So she voluntarily tried it. For about a minute. After that, she went and scrubbed the heck out of her hands...

 

Monkey's "I'm pretty sure I'm going to throw up" face. I'm not sure why she even volunteered to stick her hands in it, except that she saw Bug having fun. Now, she can't figure out what Bug loved about it...

 

Watercolor painting!

 

While Bug was using watercolors, Monkey wanted to paint on the easel with tempura paints. 🙂

 

Jedi's 2nd grade week in review February 9, 2012

Also a little late…but better late than never! 😉  Here is Jedi’s 2nd grade week in review!

This first art project Jedi did last week was kind of a rough one. He was supposed to paint a picture, then cover it with diluted black tempura paint. When it was dry, he was supposed to use a scratching tool to reveal the picture. It was a nice idea in theory, but the end product did not work like the instructions in Artistic Pursuits said it was supposed to work. This caused a lot of problems with Jedi. He just couldn't recover from the disappointment of having the project not turn out. With his autism, we've had several instances of that this year, where something doesn't go as planned and he simply can not recover. So, we took some time and brainstormed what else he could do to make his efforts not go wasted...something else to use the project for to turn it into something good. This was a really good exercise for him...really really difficult for him, but good practice in frustration tolerance and adapting to when things don't go your way.

As part of Jedi's lessons on minerals, I gave him a box of 10 geodes to break open. He LOVED this activity. It was like a mini treasure hunt for him. He kept saying "I'm so surprised these didn't cost a million dollars. Look how valuable these look!" LOL! He's too cute!

 

Jedi pounding open the geodes with a hammer. (After the first one, he made the wise decision to go do it on the concrete patio instead of the kitchen floor....)

 

Another science activity was classifying birds into categories (water birds, flightless birds, perching birds, predatory birds, songbirds, etc.). To do that, we took a trip to the zoo to classify all of the birds we saw. Jedi recorded the name of each bird, categorized it, and then took a picture of each bird to put in an album.

 

Jedi did another art project (that turned out much better than the last one!). This time, the lesson was about how many colors of oil pastels, especially light colors, will stand out better against dark paper.

 

In history, Jedi learned about the Phoenicians. After reading about the Phoenicians, he wrote some messages using the Phoenician alphabet.

 

The Phoenician alphabet

 

Jedi began working on simple subtraction this week too. First he worked on subtracting by 5's and 10's and then worked his way up to simple single digit subtraction.

 

Jedi also worked on his daily journaling.  I also had him do some creative writing.  He ended up writing a story (20 pages, with a sentence or so on each page).  Last week, he wrote it on paper, not worrying about spelling or handwriting (due to his dysgraphia and spelling issues, we don’t have him do more than one task at a time–he can either do handwriting, spelling, or creative writing.)  This week, he is working on typing, editing, and illustrating his story.