Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

2nd Grade Week in Review August 23, 2011

We were camping this weekend, so I have a lot of posts to catch up on.  The first post is Jedi’s week in review for last week.


Art–In art last week, we built upon the lesson on shapes & forms, and began sketching without looking at the paper (and instead, looking at the object you are sketching).  This was a good exercise for Jedi…he is usually very perfectionist with his artwork, and this was a good exercise in letting go of that and just following what your eyes see.

Jedi trying to determine his sketching strategy

Life Sciencein life science, we talked about genes.  The first lesson of the week was on dominant & recessive traits, and which traits he got from each of his parents.  Jedi learned that even though he looks like his daddy, he actually shares a lot of the individual traits with me!  In the second lesson, he learned that everyone has different fingerprints.  He played forensic detective and investigated fingerprints of family members to see who had the “mystery fingerprint” that was printed on his science paper.


Working on his genetics assignment--trying to figure out what genes he shares with each parent


Using the hand lens to classify each of his fingerprints

Chemistryin Chemistry, we continued our work with atoms, this time determining whether temperature influences the speed an atom will move.  We dropped food coloring in each of three dishes of water (1 boiling hot, 1 room temperature, and 1 ice cold).  Jedi learned that food coloring atoms travel much faster through boiling hot water, dispersing evenly in under 2 minutes.


Watching the food coloring disperse throughout the water

Math–in math, we continued our work on multiples of 5, 10, and 15.  This week, we used coins to see how many ways we could make 10 cents, 15 cents, and 20 cents.  We finished the Rightstart transition book (that transitions between 1st grade and 2nd grade), and now we are beginning our actual year’s lessons.

Counting the coins, and trying to enter the same amount onto the abacus


Spelling/English/Handwriting–in Spelling, Jedi finished all of his short vowel sounds and CVC words, and began working in initial and final blends.  This was where Jedi finally started having some pretty big difficulties, as he has trouble hearing blends in words.  He did just fine with most of the CVC words, but beyond that, he is still having a lot of problems.  So, at least now, we know where to start with him (we know he’s at least a year behind in spelling…now we know where the dividing line was between what he knew and what he had fallen behind in).  Jedi also continued his journaling every day.  In English, he worked a lot on reading comprehension.  We’ve learned that he can read very very well, but he often loses the comprehension aspect.  He does seem to comprehend fiction far more than non-fiction.  Giving him the list of questions ahead of his reading the paragraph seemed to help a lot since it gave him something to focus on.


Typing–This is one of Jedi’s favorite activities.  He has now learned all of the asdf row, and is working on the row of letters right above it.  Almost all week, Jedi asked for extra typing time because he really enjoys the program he’s using!

Jedi, typing his writing assignment into the computer to edit


History–In Ancient History, we continued our work on Ancient Egypt.  Jedi learned about pharaohs and mummies, and began learning about Egyptian Mythology.  He really enjoyed the myth on why the Nile River floods yearly!  He also mapped Ancient Egypt, including the Nile River, Nile River Delta, & Upper/Lower Egypt.


Completing his map of ancient Egypt

Ohio History–This week’s Ohio History lesson was more like “Ohio Geography”.  Since the other neighboring midwest states play a big role in Ohio’s history, Jedi worked on  mapping all of the midwest states.

Mapping the midwestern states

Geography –In Geography, we completed our unit on South Africa.  Jedi learned to play mancala, a game played almost everywhere in Africa.  He also learned about South African animals.  At the end of the week, all of the kids helped to prepare a South African meal for dinner–bobotie, yellow rice, & mealiebrood!


Setting up the mancala game

Cutting the apples for the bobotie


Pouring the milk on the bread for the bobotie


All of the kids helping to make the meal


Bobotie, fresh from the oven


Yellow rice, bobotie, and mealiebrood


Doing a little extra work this week... He was practicing his woodworking skills to build a car.


Montessori Monday August 15, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 6 months old

This week, we followed up on our zoo field trip by putting out several works related to zoo animals.  Both Bug and Monkey *loved* this, and they just love animals.  It also worked out well that we are studying South Africa as part of our geography unit, and thus also studying Africa, and African animals!

To help Monkey with her alphabet, I found this *fabulous* product called “The SENSEational Alphabet” by .  This book is absolutely wonderful, especially for those children who may have sensory issues, learning disabilities, or other issues.  With Monkey’s soon-to-be likely diagnosis of autism, along with her sensory issues, this book really helps her learn the way she learns best.  This book hits so many different learning styles–the letter is written on each page, there is a button where the name of the letter and an example of a word starting with that letter are pronounced, each letter is written in Braille, then there is an object on each page to look at.  Often, these objects either have something to smell or something to touch/manipulate.  So, for example, for the letter A, she would see “Aa” and a picture of an apple (which happens to have some tactile texture to it for her to feel), then she could press the red button to hear the “A, a, Apple”.  Then, if she knew Braille (which she doesn’t. LOL!), she could also feel the letter A that way.

Bug and Monkey working with the SENSEational Alphabet book.


To go along with the zoo field trip from last week, I put these animal ice cube trays out, with a zoo themed set of chopsticks. The chopsticks are used to put a pom pom into each opening in the tray.


We try to coordinate Jedi's geography lessons with the girls, so we have a shelf out to focus on South Africa (and in the continent of Africa as well. I have several books on Africa and South Africa, the language card for South Africa, some wooden animal masks from Africa, some musical instruments, and some small stuffed animals that were purchased from a friend who went to Ethiopia.


Using the sandpaper numerals to count zoo animals


Monkey working with the African animals


Close-up of the animal masks


Monkey as a zebra


Bug with the musical instruments


Monkey working with the trinomial cube


Taking a break from the school room to play in the water from the rain garden


Using the water to water the flowers


A butterfly in the rain garden that monkey found


Monkey and Jedi making Vietnamese Summer Rolls for dinner one night


Working with the zoo animal three part cards


Monkey putting South African traditional dress onto the African paper dolls


2nd Grade Week in Review

Life Science: This week’s life science theme was the 5 senses.  The first lab, Jedi studied touch and sight, while trying to determine if you can train your senses to respond more quickly to a stimulus.  To do this, I held a ruler about an inch above his hand.  As I dropped it, we recorded the number of inches the ruler fell before Jedi caught it.  Now, this was a bit tough for him because autism keeps him from having the quickest reflexes and a high level of eye hand coordination.  But after about 10 trials, he was able to improve slightly, from allowing the ruler to fall 10 cm to allowing the ruler to fall only 6 cm.


For the second lab, I set up a station for touch, smell, sight, taste, and hear.  With the exception of sight, all of the stations were closed in a container that couldn’t be peaked at, while Jedi was blindfolded.  At each station, he had to try to guess the object using only the sense being isolated.  The point of the lab was for Jedi to determine which sense he trusted the most, and which one was most reliable…for him, sight won on both accords.

Jedi testing out his five senses to find out which one was most accurate.


Earth Science: This week in earth science, we learned about the water cycle (how the water that is on the earth today is the same water that has been on the earth since the dinosaurs, and how the water goes from ground to air to cloud and back to the ground).  We also learned about the states of water (solid–ice, liquid–water, and gas–vapor or humidity).  To do this, Jedi observed ice, room temperature water, and then the steam that rose from boiling water.  To create condensation, he then cooled the steam (by putting a cookie sheet of ice on top of the boiling pot of water, and then again by filling a glass with ice water).

Jedi learning about the water cycle and solid/liquid/gas/condensation/evaporation by using ice cubes, water, and the stove.


Math: In math, Jedi was learning how add numbers to equal multiples of 5.  He was supposed to add mentally, but he had a lot of difficulty with that.  Using the abacus, he was able to do it a little more easily, but still needs to practice some more on that concept.

Using the corner cards (cards with 1 number on each side). He had to put cards together so that any numbers that touched equaled 5, 10, or 15.


What it looked like after Jedi finished his pile of cards.


Handwriting: This week, I pulled out two books on journal prompts for Jedi.  Since he has so much trouble with handwriting and spelling, I want him to have short bursts of writing to practice with so that he at least can practice getting ideas on paper, without having to worry about making it “publishing quality”.  One book he works with daily and each day gives two choices for journaling–I have him pick whichever one sounds most interesting to him.  The other book has a short sketch that he can do on a particular fantasy/fiction topic, and then a space for him to write one or two sentences describing his sketch.

Working on his journal prompt about a funny dream.


Computer: On the heels of the handwriting blurb, his therapists and I have decided to have Brandon learn to type so that he can use a word processor for assignments where he needs to write more than a couple words.  With the word processor, he will be better able to recognize when a word is spelled wrong, and then he can choose from the correct spelling when the spellcheck gives him a choice between several words.  Jedi learned the first 8 keys of the keyboard this week, and really did quite well.  When he started, he was getting 3 (non-sensical) words a minute, and by the end of his 30 minute lesson, he was up to 12 (non-sensical) words per minute with near perfect accuracy.  We’re hoping to get him typing well enough to have typing assignments be written into his IEP in October (yes, he’s homeschooled, and has an IEP as part of the Ohio Autism Scholarship program…otherwise, he wouldn’t still need an IEP.  Just thought I’d clear that up in case anyone was confused!)

Working on his first typing lesson


Art: This week in art, Jedi continued his lessons on an object’s shape and form.  With a charcoal pencil, he sketched the contours of his toy snake, filling in accents using only straight lines.  He also worked on color blending.  Using red, yellow, and blue watercolor crayons, I had him draw whatever he wanted to…the only rules were he could only use those three crayons, and for every other color, he needed to create it through blending two or more of the three crayons he had.

Using watercolor crayons to work on color blending. He was only allowed to use red, blue, or yellow crayons for this.


Using charcoal pencils to sketch the contours of his snake.


History: In history, we worked on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and learned about the first writings from Ancient Sumer and Ancient Egypt.  He learned about papyrus (and then we were able to observe it’s relative, the nutsedge, in our own yard!).  He then learned to write and decode messages in hieroglyphics.

Creating a secret message using hieroglyphics


Geography: In Geography, we started on our 2 week unit on South Africa.  We learned about life in South Africa, including the form of government, main languages & religions, how to say ‘hello’ in one of the South African dialects, and what type of currency is common there.  We also started learning about the animals & musical instruments used in South Africa, and listened to a South African children’s nursery rhyme.


English & Spelling: In spelling, Jedi finished up learning about the short vowel sounds, and also started learning about ‘consonant teams’ (two consonants that are together and form a sound, such as ch, sh, and th).  In English, we learned about nouns & verbs, as well as putting the events of a story in order.

Working on his English workbook