Sunday, January 18, 2009

A New School Year

And so beings a new school year.. We don't start at the same time as the district schools, and we don't keep their schedule either. Which means we school from January through November, with the majority of December "off" so we can truly celebrate the season. While all of our new school books aren't here, we're off and moving today anyway.

Jayden is an eager beaver to join in school, shockingly enough he wasn't too upset that his new math book isn't here yet. Instead we did a lot of hands on fun to be sure he was "up to speed" for the level of math I intend to start him at. Which means he counted to 20 for me, counted to 100 by 10's, counted backwards from 10, wrote the date (with a bit of help), sang a song about the days of the week (or at least a few). Then I sent him off on a treasure hunt where he had to seek out a circle, triangle, and square. It took him a while to find the triangle, but he did it. We also practiced a few A,B and AA, BB patterns. We might pull out the tangrams and dominos tomorrow.

He was equally eager to jump into his phonics lesson of the day, which wasn't a huge surprise for him as he started this program just before our brake. He's as proud as can be that he knows the song, nearly in it's entirety. And, despite only learning to write the letters and the sounds at this point, he's sounding out a few basic words. 

Morgan was eager to be back to the books as well. I know, I have strange kids, what can I say? It's been a while, and considering the gap of time we had off (we didn't keep up with as much of our math as we normally would have in December) he didn't do too badly. All though he did have a minor melt down when he was counting by 2's today. Nothing a few rounds of Rack-o can't cure, I'm sure.

He's really progressed with his reading, which is an awesome thing to behold. Considering the beginning of last year it was a struggle from start to finish for a meager 10 minute, or less, lesson. Today, despite not having done any formal reading, he picked up his reading book and managed six pages with very little trouble. He was slightly distracted by his brother, but once we took care of that all was well. We have a few common words we need to work on, but other then that I was very pleased!

Last year we intended to row our way across the entire world, but fell a bit short. We've opted to pick up right where we left off, which puts us back in Europe with Italy.  Our main book is Papa Piccolo, which is really cute, if not slightly difficult to read due to the Italian in it. The book on the right with the four boys on it is a library book, but is part of a series of books entitled Letters Around The World. It's an EXCELLENT series of books for kids on a variety of different countries. We own a few of them. Inside the book is written as though your child is pen-pals with the child from the chosen country. There's always a recipe, pictures of the money, flag, etc. My kids really enjoy them.

We wont' be staying long in Italy before moving on to Spain, but while we're in Italy the boys will be learning about:

  • Marco Polo
  • Sight (5 senses will be new for Jayden, review for Morgan)
  • Italy
  • Gondolas
  • a variety of art forms
  • drama 
To tie in with our study of Italy we'll be listening to The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. It's a terrific book with so much description about the streets in Venice, and Italy in general. We've seen the movie a couple of times, and while it's good, it has nothing on the book. I suspect the boys will be playing this book for weeks to come.

We'll be adding in some artist and musician studies this year too. The boys are excited to start learning to play piano (lessons start when the books arrive...) and I thought it would be a great opportunity to start studying a few of the great composers. Mind you, Morgan's true passion is guitar, and we figure once he has a basic knowledge of note reading down we'll progress to guitar. Jayden's passion is most certainly drums and horns. Oddly enough each of them has been drawn to a certain type of instrument from the time they were babies. Morgan has always been in awe by guitars (in fact Murray Wiggle was his favorite due to the guitar!) or any other stringed instrument. Where as Jayden has always been fascinated by drums and brass.

Morgan LOVES art, and I don't feel we do as much with it as we should. We're hoping to start a new art program this year too. What I had really hoped to do was find him some lessons locally, specifically with someone who would be very willing to take the time and teach him how to use water colors. After studying GrandFather's Journey last year, Morgan truly fell in love with water colors and is dying to learn to use them properly.

It took a bit of searching to find a program that we thought would work for us, but we have finally (or so we think) done so. The program is called How Great Thou Art. We'll be using the I can Do All Things book with video. You can actually purchase the book as a downloadable book, but we want the videos as well. We may end up purchasing the downloadable one and then the videos separately to save on shipping, we'll see what happens there.. I've heard some wonderful things about this curriculum and I can't wait to try our hands at it.

For our artists study we'll be using one simple book entitled: Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art in the Styles Of The Great Masters. How's that for a mouthful? This will be a once a month thing, all though we'll probably discuss our artist through-out the month, we'll have one day where we'll sit down and do the hands on approach. Yup, we're looking forward to another fun fill school year...

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