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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Montessori Monday November 1, 2011

 

Heeey, made it under the wire this week! 😉  But at least I am posting Montessori Monday on the right day this week…

This past week has been a whirlwind at our house.  Both Jedi and Monkey are in the middle of their IEP process, and so there are a lot of appointments, meetings, and evaluations going on.  Monkey had an occupational therapy evaluation this past week as part of her autism diagnosis and we learned a lot of really interesting things…a lot of it gave us some insight into some of the difficulties Monkey’s been having.  We still have a few more questions, but at least now, we’re on a good path.  It is forcing us to look ahead to next fall when Monkey starts kindergarten.  We will likely be transitioning out of the pure Montessori-based homeschooling and get into a little more structure, simply because we not only need to accurately assess where Monkey is due to some deficits and difficulties she has, but she needs a bit more structure.  So, if anyone out there has a really good kindergarten curriculum, let me know!  We need it to have a strong multi-sensory and hands-on approach (as little verbal information as possible since one of her main deficits is auditory processing).  We are also Roman Catholic, and so if the curriculum is not secular, we’d like it to at least be Catholic-friendly. 🙂  Let me know any suggestions you might have!

And on to the review of Monkey and Bitty Bug’s week!

One of Bug and Monkey's favorite works--using tweezers to pluck the kernels off of the Indian Corn

 

Using the dot markers to make orange, yellow, and red "leaves" on the coffee filter tree

 

The girls using watercolor paints

 

Matching the mineral to the card

 

I found these cute little bead sets at Mich@els. Bug and Monkey loved stringing the Halloween beads onto the elastic to make their own necklaces!

 

This clay is some black sand clay I made for Jedi to use for one of his projects. Monkey took the rest, pretended to knead it into a loaf of bread, and then practiced her cutting.

 

Bug beading her necklace

 

Montessori Monday January 24, 2011

Monkey is 3 years 11.5 months old

Monkey was back in the school room full force this week!  I’m amazed at how much Monkey attempts to do each session.  Although equally surprising is that she doesn’t choose what I thought she’d want to choose…she’s not really into the pink tower or the knobbed cylinders anymore, for example–she liked them a lot a few months ago, but as she heads closer to 4 years old, she seems to be picking work that requries more attention to smaller details–for example, she *loves* the work with the minerals.  And while she was very much into learning letter sounds and writing her name before Christmas break, now she seems to be more into the math works.  Part of me wonders if it’s just the natural learning process to skip from one thing to another and then come back to something, like writing, that they were interested in earlier.  But part of me wonders if holiday breaks make one forget what they were so interested in before break.  if so, we’ll have to fix it next year so that we’re spreading the school year out more and only taking a couple days off at a time for breaks instead of two weeks.  It also might be why children in tradition school seem to lose a bit of progress with major breaks…

Here are some pictures of what Monkey’s been working on this week….

Continuing with our unit on minerals, I made some 3 part cards witht he names of all of the minerals. For this week, I only put out the control cards so Monkey can match the mineral with the picture, but later I'll put out the other parts of the set. On the back of the 3 part cards are descriptions of each mineral, what the mineral is used for, and whether the mineral is found in Ohio.

I put out a snowman lacing work this week as well. This work is courtesy of Musings of Me (http://thoughtsofesme.blogspot.com/). She comes up with the best themed units every month...I always look forward to what she comes up with!

We also worked on learning the parts of a fish this week, as we start our work on vertebrates.

We also worked on naming some animals that are vertebrates. I got out some of our animal x-rays so that Monkey can see what the backbones on various animals look like.

Bug so graciously let us use her light table for the x-ray work, which made for a really cool science lesson!

I *love* this entire book series--we have most of the series. I brought out the books that focused on vertebrates so the girls can see the bone structure of the animals.

Bug and Monkey looking through more of the science books.

This month, we are studying the art of John Constable. I printed out a few of his works, and then printed out some coloring sheets so that Monkey can color her own versions of John Constable's paintings.

We also worked on sorting which clothing items one would wear in each season. This is especially useful for my little one who thinks she doesn't really need to wear a coat when it's 10 degrees outside!

 

Montessori Monday & Tot School Tuesday January 19, 2011

 Tot School

Bitty Bug is 2 years old, Monkey is 3 years 11 months old

This week was a little light on the school work, for 2 reasons.  The first reason is that Bitty Bug turned 2 years old this week!  She was very proud of it being her birthday and talked about it for weeks leading up to the big day.  And then, when her birthday arrived, she decided to wear a princess crown all day and tell everyone that it was her “happy birday” all day long!  What a sweet pea!  She also made it very clear to everyone that she is not a baby now…she’s a big girl.  And she doesn’t let you forget that! 😉

There’s also another reason this week has been pretty light on the school work.  I was actually knee deep in paperwork, phone calls, and medical appointments all week because……

We’re expecting another little one! 

Kind of. LOL!  I’m not pregnant…but we are expecting a little one.  We’ve been accepted into the China Special Needs program to adopt a toddler girl with special medical needs from China!  We should be able to finalize the adoption and go to China to bring her home around the end of this year or the beginning of next year.  So, needless to say, the first stages of the adoption process involves a lot of time consuming paperwork.  But, I managed to finish most of it last week, so schoolwork is getting back to normal now.

Even though it was a light week, we still did do a lot of learning.  Here are some pictures from this week…

Monkey added a couple planets to her solar system lessons this week. In addition to the Sun, we also have Mercury and Venus out. I have the 3 part cards, a model of each planet, and a few easy reader science books on space in the astronomy basket.

Bug hammering golf tees into clay

Bug really enjoyed exploring the musical instrument cabinet this week as well!

Two weeks ago, we started exploring minerals with monkey. This week, we continued the minerals exploration by grinding salt with a mortar & pestle in order to show that some minerals are not as hard as they look! In the process, she also learned that some minerals are edible. 😉

Bug using small tongs to move foam snowflakes from one dish to the other

Practice with cutting jagged lines

Bug trying to match the place setting pictures with the real objects.

Bug and Monkey working with the island, lake, and isthmus landform trays

 

Montessori Monday January 12, 2011

Monkey is 3 years 11 months old

This was our first week back in the schoolroom since before the holidays, and Monkey was able to jump right back into things with no problem at all!  I didn’t bring out many new works this week because I wanted her to be able to review some of the things we did over the past few months.  It’s actually kind of amazing how much she was into the basics when I took away all of the “special” holiday-themed lessons!  She didn’t seem to miss them at all (I’m not sure if I should be happy that she can easily go back to the basic works, or sad because those special lessons take so long to develop! LOL!)

Here are a few pictures from the past week (please remember that I’m no longer posting pictures of the children that make them easily identifiable due to this blog being so public.  :-/ )

We started a unit on the solar system this week. The first lesson was on the sun. Because my universe set doesn't have a sun in it, I had to make this one out of a foam craft ball.

One of the girls' new puzzles. This one sorts by color and shape! It's actually fairly difficult for all three of the kids (although Jedi obviously gets it after a little work!)

Working with the locks & keys

Working with the screwdriver boards

I found these neat sequencing cards at T@rget. There are quite a few of them in the box, with each set having 3 pieces (beginning, middle, & end)

Exploring minerals with a magnifying glass, and matching them with the control card

Reviewing the three sandpaper letters she was working on before break

Matching the geometric solids with their bases

Working with matching textures, while blindfolded!