Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday Summary

Since this has been an unschooly week I’ll just summarize the eclectic odds and ends we have been working on.


Kieron is doing gif animations now. He downloaded a program to try and add music and sound effect midis to the “movie”. So now he is working on that with a little help from me.

Sean has been working on his storyboard.

Clare has been on a Gilbert & Sullivan theme. She got the Mikado from the library and also a CD with a variety of G&S favorites. She has sung the Pirates of Penzance Tarantara song (what’s it really called? I don’t know) so many times to the little ones that they go around singing it now. Right now the kids are watching Brigadoon.

She also got Manon Lescaut from the library since she gets to go see the dress rehearsal of the real production with a friend’s family next week.

She continues with independent piano study, cantoring at church, violin lessons and is now starting organ lessons. This is a lot of music!

Physical exercise
T-ball for the littlies and hiking daily for the older ones.

Crafts and Constructions

Clare has been sewing a lot. She likes to take old patterns from the 40’s and 50’s and reproduce them.

The littlies are making good use of the waffle blocks and duplos. So messy but worth it… I guess…..


Kieron got the next Young Scientist kit which is about growing things. You will see why these kits are worth 11$ to me when you hear that I have never planted a plant with a child before. Usually they get to a certain age and experiment with planting wildflowers then. Sometimes their dad does a bit of gardening and they help. But this kit has a few seeds and little peat (???) starters and an instruction sheet and with that basic spine, I could easily see pulling together some books about plants for the younger set, and maybe letting Paddy and Aidan plant some beans too. But I know I would never get around to pulling together the peat starters and seeds and other stuff on my own. That’s the hard part for me: the FIRST STEP.
Nature Study — I plan to pull together some simple nature study activities for the younger ones. And Clare is good about taking Kieron on hikes with their drawing notebooks. But since we have snow on the ground right now, no one feels much like going outside, so not much of that has happened.

The view along the side of our house — not much like spring yet.

Early Literacy

The pattern of bringing out the activities in the evening continues. Today Aidan got a pen and wanted to write, so we got out the Handwriting without Tears kindergarten book. To his delight he finally learned to freeform a lower case “n”. That makes three letters in his name he can do on his own now, though he has a compulsion to cross the “n” and make it into an A.

The HWT method uses verbal cues to help with the motor praxis — like “turn the c into an o”, or “kick” the line for the K. He thinks these are funny and they seem to help him. Lissa at the Lilting House has a post up about Visual Phonics. Apparently a kind of phonics through signing? Clare did something like this in her pre-K year at Catholic school. The teacher was just experimenting with the method of reinforcing phonics kinesthetically, using simple signs. My other kids learned to read just fine without this, though not as early as she did. But I have always had this in the back of my mind as a possibility for Aidan. This is how he learned to speak. He had a DK Picture Dictionary he loved and carried everywhere. He would point to a picture, I would say it slowly with enunciation, looking right in his eyes (he is deaf in his left ear) and then say it again with a sign. Or if he was hungry I would say “Want to EAT?” while making the sign for eat, and making eye contact. That was where we left the ASL, because once it got him making the connections — like Helen Keller and the water — he was off and running with language. But maybe it would help to take it up in a similar way again with decoding and spelling.

Special Education Musings

Since this is turning into a special education ramble, I will just mention that I got a book called Relationship Development Intervention for Young Children from the library. Just after I started reading it, I found a post by Tammy G at Aut2BHome in Carolina about using RDI with her teenage daughter. Isn’t that the kind of coincidence that seems to so often happen when you start feeling an interest in something!

The library book looks like it is well worth the “request” process. I am taking notes which I hope to type out sometime. I have already gleaned enough from the introduction so that even if I stopped there it would be well worth the time spent.

What I am vaguely thinking is that I need to put social skills in as at least a meta-branch of the academic curriculum in our homeschool. Yes, the S word! I am seeing that because K and I are both quite introverted and yet basically cope pretty well relationship-wise and have found niches where we can use our strengths, I have just hoped that my kids would similarly just grow into their personas. And generally, the older ones have. And yet, and yet…. I think I could be doing more. This RDI book is really interesting; last time I went and ordered a ton of Social Skills books from the library, I found that social skills was used as a word for what I would call behavior management. Largely it was about teaching kids not to act out. This is not what I am looking for — that kind of management generally comes easily for me. The part I could use some more concrete understanding of is much closer to what I am finding in this RDI book. So probably, more about that some other time.