Friday, May 7, 2010

Social Playtime

Yesterday, Aidyn accompanied me to my writer's club meeting. Since Tabbitha has a painfully adorable and chipper little girl, Aidyn found himself an active playmate. The two chased each other, built up and smashed blocks, and shared a viewing of Cars. Good times!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Elves and The Shoemaker--Day One, Two, and Three

During this unit study, we have read two versions of The Elves and the Shoemaker, multiple times. After one such reading, Aidyn and I talked about elves and decided to craft one. I printed out a hat, pointy ears, and a collar. Aidyn drew a face on a white sheet of paper and proceeded to decorate the accessories with bright colors, stickers, and rhinestones. Afterward, he glued all the pieces where he saw fit, and we waited for it to dry. An hour later, Aidyn elected to hang it in the middle of the living room wall.

The next day, we read another version of the story, with only slight differences. We continued talking about the story, answering both of our questions. Later, Aidyn watched a cartoon version of the story that we have. This account was almost wholly different. But Aidyn enjoyed all the versions.

On another day, we read other story about shoes, in general. If the Shoe Fits was about the youngest born son who tired from receiving old hand-me-downs from his brothers. On his 9th birthday, he gets new loafers and is pleased to look so new and sharp. The problem occurs when an older bully confronts him for wearing loafers and trying to "look rich." So he decides to toss the shoes in the closet, forgetting them and growing all the while. It's not until a girl's birthday party does he remember his shiny shoes, but trying them on, finds they are too tight. Eventually he gifts them to an uncle who got a new job as a waiter.

We also read Red Dancing Shoes which exhibits a young girl who is given bright, shiny red shoes by her grandmother. The girl is inspired to dance just by wearing the new shoes. Her and her older sister run errands to show off the new shoes. Dancing, skipping, and running, she loves her red shoes until she slips and falls in a mud puddle. She thinks that having dirtied her shoes mean they have lost their dancing skills. However, an aunt helps her clean and polish them back to health, and thus her dancing is restored.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Elves and the Shoemaker Unit Study

For letter E, we are focusing on a specific story entitled The Elves and the Shoemaker. In preparation for Five in a Row, I wanted us to practice rowing with a singular story and various projects and lessons revolving around it.

Yesterday was our first read-through of The Elves and the Shoemaker. During that preliminary read, Aidyn asked all sorts of questions to familiarize himself with the story.

"Why do they have pointy ears?"
"Why do they climb in the window?"
"Why do they help him (the shoemaker)?"
"Why did they leave?"
"Why are they small?"

We discussed the answers to the above questions and more. We talked about the value of helping people and the unexpected rewards that sometimes goes with it. But the key is, that the elves did not expect a reward; they were helping just because there was need.

Today we will re-read the story or another version of the story and add a mini-lesson related to it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Daring Letter D Among Other Things

Although this week is devoted to the daring letter D, we have mostly been enjoying spooky stories, as selected by Aidyn. He's at an age where the safe spook of a story thrills him, and hearing the creepy narrations (voiced both by David and I), bubbles him up with excitement.

As it turns out, we moved away from letter units and focused more on a singular subject from that letter. For instance, I made a vague connection with D by selecting books about the dark. All of the books chosen pertain to darkness though not all repeat the word enough to cement the phonetic sound of D. It doesn't bother me; I prefer this kind of learning. Our letter units might stay, and they might not. I may select a specific subject (or ask Aidyn to) that begins with that letter, but drilling the phonetics is not the priority.

This week, I have also selected our kindergarten curriculum that we'll be starting in August (if Aidyn were born just 29 days early, he'd be in public kindergarten this August). After much research, reading, comparing and contrasting, we have settled on Five In a Row (FIAR). Focusing on literature, it also introduces geography, ethics, values, science, history, and such. At the core of it is the joy of reading and the kindling of the warm connection that reading together provides. Since I've selected the curriculum, I have been hunting for the supplemental books for steals. I found a handful yesterday for about 75 cents each! My goal is to find the rest of the books (or make sure the library has them) by August.

Yesterday evening, I also introduced Aidyn to a new math manipulative called a Geoboard. The concept is simple enough. One one side of the board are pegs in the shape of a square with several pegs on the inside; on the flip side, the pegs formed a circle with one peg in the center. The idea is to stretch rubber bands on the pegs. Aidyn soon learned that he can make a straight line with a rubber band. Then, he discovered that pulling the rubber band to a new peg created a triangle. Playing with the geoboard, Aidyn experimented with different shapes (some I didn't even know the names of!) and made "pizza slices" with the circle side. At this stage, my only motive is to familiarize him with geometric shapes and lay the foundation for mathematics. I hope that this hands-on approach will help him grow to like and understand mathematics.