Must post this before our trip to Taiwan or I will never remember what we did. Not even going to bother putting in links this time around.  January kind of flew by because my brain was in my computer half the time, planning for our Taiwan trip.  I’m surprised the kids got anything done.

Thumper

• English –
• Grammar  – IXL reviewed parts of speech, literary elements, Finished NAMC Language Curriculum Year 1!, poetry rhyming, literary elements, metaphor vs simile
• Books –The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (AR 4.1), Tales from the Odyssey (AR. 4.8-5.3)
• Writing – Writing With Ease 2.23-2.24
• Spelling – Evan Moore 2.13-2.17
• Chinese –
• Reading – 說給兒童的台灣歷史 audiobook, Little House in the Big Woods
• Writing – 來玩寫作的遊戲 chap 11-?
• Math – measurements (volumne, distance, length, weight, data & graphs, venn diagrams, unit conversion,angle measurement, parts of a circle, parts of a right triangle
• Science/History – skeletal system, circulatory system, respitory systemBrains On Podcast
• Others – Violin 3.2, rainbow loom, Picasso Art in Action Coop, Jazz, swimming, Orff music class

Astroboy

• English
• Reading – AAR Book 2 #17-#35
• Grammar – reviewing parts of speech
• Chinese –  Chinese dinousaur books, 說給兒童的台灣歷史 audiobook
• Math – division memorization, fraction equivalence, angles, names of triangles
• Science/History – same as sister
• Others – swimming, Orff music class, Picasso Art in Action Coop, Jazz

Thumper

We didn’t make much progress in January except continuing our focus on measurements and geometry.  Last year’s test scores told me I’ve kind of been neglecting that area of math.  Hey, the trainer never went over measurements so I kind of pretended it didn’t exist?  And I didn’t take geometry class so I kind of neglected too.

Thankfully I’m discovering that Thumper’s learning style is that she understands concepts very quick.  I can explain something just once and she gets what I’m saying.  Then I just have to leave her to IXL or projects and she can practice till she actually learns it.

We just got this year’s test score back and she kind of jumped a lot due to these 2 areas.   With IXL telling me what Common Core teaches, I see that Montessori geometry can go up to 9th grade and high school level, all in elementary.  This is all fine by me because from the albums, geometry is actually fun!  Not the dry AB, CD line, angle A, angle B mind numbing problems in high school.  So I would love for her to learn it concretely while she still love concrete materials.

I shall try very hard to move her back to concrete math in February.

In science we’re focusing on human body parts this session.  The kids have been having a blast with the hands on experiments/projects I found.  And I finally figured out the right format for 6 children.  I realized after one particularly good class that I needed to group the kids together in such a way so that I focus on 4 kids, 1 pair of which can mostly work by themselves, and then another mom focuses on the other 2 kids.  This allows some actual attention on the younger kids and moves everyone along.

The other “weak” part from her test score is related to knowing the vocabulary of literature, and inferring meaning (literary elements).  I’m undecided as to how I should approach this as I think a lot of it comes from reading. But knowing the nomenclature for the literary elements is important as well.   As I asked Baba, the test gives you hard vocab and asks you to infer meaning.  If you’re a kid who reads a lot and has a huge vocab, don’t you just seldom infer?  Clearly she picks up words from reading, so clearly she knows how to infer.  So then I don’t much care if she cannot answer the questions.

So what’s the undecided part?  As I like to tell the children, tests are for finding out what you don’t know.  So I’m just not sure what it is I don’t know about the language curriculum that maybe isn’t covered in Montessori albums but is needed.

We’re also getting stuck in Writing with Ease because it’s working on some mechanics of writing (using quotation marks).  So instead of doing 2 chapters a week, we were back to 1 chapter a week.  In addition, she’s now learning how to summarize without prompts and there were a few tear inducing weeks because it was so hard.  I have to say, once again, how much I love Writing with Ease and I see how it works on writing without actually writing, which suits perfectly for my spelling challenged child.

Astroboy

With Astroboy, we’re just zooming by in our All About Reading book 2, doing 2 chapters a day.  I can see now that I should have used this curriculum with Thumper, the All About Spelling wasn’t really enough as a supplement.  But, I can also see how Astroboy just has this fairly logical brain that allows him to understand phonic rules fairly quickly, see the patterns of word lists, and be able to apply that concept to future word lists.  His sister got around this when she read word lists by using her prior knowledge of words and guessing.  She could not quite apply patterns.  Yet, unlike his sister, he cannot for the life of him remember what I mean when I say, short /i/ sound or long /i/ sound.

I continue to be amazed at how different curriculum just suit different children better.  And the more I understand how the kids learn, the more I can see which curriculum suits which kid better.

Sadly, phonics is just about all we manage to do it seems.  Phonics and IXL.  I still don’t understand why it takes the child 3 hours to get ready for school, when I’m not there to nag remind him when he gets distracted.

We’re finally starting our study of Taiwanese history by listening to audiobooks, and watching travel shows on Youtube.  I’m hoping this will make the actual sightseeing part more relevant for the children.

Lastly, both children really got into a song by Ella Fitzgerald that I put on the other day, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.  It’s probably a very good song to use in language class as it talks about different ways of pronouncing a word.  They begged to listen to it day after day till they could sing it.

Then I played Ella’s C-Jam Blues and explained to the kids how she used her voice as an instrument and had a dialogue with the trumpet player as she was singing.  Astroboy especially loved this song and wanted me to play it over and over as well.

On days like this, when we happen upon something that I love and get to show the children, I super love homeschooling.

I’m only a month behind.  Not too bad.  I lost my mojo 1 week after I came back from our vacation and writing a flurry of stuff.  I guess it didn’t help that we got into a car accident (all’s well) and I had to deal with the fall out from that.

The kids are doing A LOT of IXL now.  I feel kind of bad.  But as the homeschooling podcasts I listen to says, we go through seasons in our homeschooling life, due to, you know, life.  So no need to beat myself too much for it.

Thumper

• English –
• Books – Story of Dr. Dolittle (AR 5.1)
• Writing – Writing With Ease Book 2 Weeks 21-23
• Spelling – Evan Moore Spelling 2.9-2.12
• Chinese – Characters – 童話莊子
• Reading – 水滸傳 (4th), 說給兒童的世界歷史 audiobook completed
• Writing – #200-210, Writing with Ease (童話莊子), 來玩寫作的遊戲  chap 8,
• Math – decimal multiplication, fraction multiplication, division review, similar/congruent/equivalent
• Science/History – reptiles, amphibians, dissected frog!, birds
• Others – Art class (studied Russo), monarch butterfly fieldtrip, swim, Christmas holiday hike in the city, rainbow loom

Astroboy

• English
• Reading – Primary Phonics level 2 reading books, AAR Book 2 #10-13, Magic Treehouse finished (audiobooks)
• Grammar – prepositions
• Others – cursive writing
• Chinese – 神奇樹屋 #9-#35, Sagebooks characters writing, Reading 123 小火龍 series, 說給兒童的世界歷史 audiobooks
• Math – division memorization, fraction add/sub same denominator, frac multiplication whole number, triangles
• Science/History – same as sister
• Others – same as sister,

Maybe I will really try to keep it short and sweet this month.

A few weeks ago, we visited my parents and siblings.  Watching the children interact with my parents and their friends completely in Chinese, I was reminded why I wanted the children to learn Chinese; foremost is the ability to converse comfortably with native speakers, second is ability to read, and lastly writing.

It also really hit me during our visit that Thumper is really ten.  That was the age that I immigrated to the U.S.  Though day to day, it feels like we’re doing the same thing on the CLE front, that I still obsess about how to teach Chinese and whether or not the kids are learning enough, I realized during this trip that in the back of my head I had always had age 10 as a crossover point.

At age 10, I had full on English immersion in school, though I continued reading Chinese books at home, writing letters in Chinese for 2 years (then subsequently forgot how to write Chinese completely), had a very Chinese environment at home, and served as translators for my parents.  My English was good enough because I read so much.  But in hindsight, it was not quite enough for the level of writing that my sister always seemed to have just by virtue of immigrating here at 7 instead of 10.  Only after college did I feel like I had a good command of the language.

Someone told me once that it takes about 10-15 years to master a language to a native level.  Apparently from some research somewhere.  (Don’t quote me on it.)  And looking at my experience, I have to agree.  It really did take me 15 years to finally understand the pattern of English speech and writing.

As Thumper gets to the teenage years, I find myself using English to explain concepts that, while I might be able to say in Chinese if I really really tried, they feel inherently an English (American culture) idea, and English seems a better fit to express them.

All this to say, during this trip I made peace with the fact that we’re switching over to English this year for Thumper.  In fact, because I’m also working on Astroboy‘s spoken English, I feel like I’m saying a sad little goodbye to Chinese while all these new parents sprout up on FB, sharing ideas on implementing CLE, wishing I were at the same place they are.

I tend to be wordy. I also tend to lose interest quickly. (Explains so much why I have such trouble homeschooling sometimes.) So I must have started 5-10 posts on various questions people ask me, or questions they post online in FB groups, but I never finish. Because as a reader, I like to skim and think, “What’s the point of your post again? Just get to the point!”

But I have so much to say! So today, I’m going to try a Q&A format instead! Hopefully I can keep the answers short.

Q: What does your homeschool classroom look like?

Our homeschool has gone from the lovely pic I have online at my FB Page to this after downsizing to a 1000ft apartment last year.   I only just unpacked and reorganized 80% last week.  You can click on the pics for a close up.

Age: 7 & 10 (Suitable for 1st grade and up)

As we shift our focus onto English this semester, I’m finding myself encountering some typical issues with learning Chinese as a second language: no time and inability to move up a level.

The children spend a lot of their free time listening to English audio books.  I’m not stopping them because that’s my focus this semester: upping both kids’ English comprehension to the next level.  But as a result, it feels like the Chinese is just keeping pace.

Though both Thumper and Astroboy continue reading Chinese books as assignments and bedtime reading, I know better.  English aural input has a huge impact.  I can see it in the books they choose to read.  Thumper can’t quite make that jump to higher level, more difficult Chinese.  When I ask her what certain words mean in the mid to upper elementary books she’s reading, she often doesn’t know.   Astroboy is reading higher level Chinese books, but only because he’s already listened to the English audiobooks.

In any case, since we have no time with all that focus on English curriculum during the work period, a new plan of attack is needed.  To that end, I’m having the children watch newscast after dinner every night, for about 30 minutes.

Gah.  November ran away from me because I started feeling overwhelmed by the lack of prepping in science co-op.  We did one week of half homeschooling, where we did some Evan Moore tests because it was the end of our 6-7 week session, then took Thanksgiving week off.  Last week was getting back to schedule and it was hard.

Never again!   I learned my lesson.

Even though I felt so refreshed after my two weeks off and am once again feeling way more motivated (notice all the blog posts I’m doing again), the kids are not.  They just want to do rainbow loom and pearler beads every day.

Next time, we’re going to do light schooling and I will make them still wake up by 7:30am, so that they maintain a routine.

Thumper

Astroboy

You know homeschooling is getting to you when it’s taking more than a month to post the monthly summaries.  The funny thing is, October went super duper well.  But came November, I started losing steam.  It doesn’t help matters that we can no longer sit at the sofa because it’s piled up with homeschooling crap stuff.  I start losing my mind when my environment is messy.

But, “Onwards and upwards!” as they say.  Here’s what the kids did last month.

Thumper

• English –
• Chinese –
• Math – factors, LCM, GCF, division worksheets, research measuring temperature and report, decimal place values, geometric solids

• Geometry – solids nomenclature, 5 types of angles
• Science/History – What plants need to grow, Parts of plants (roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruits), Clock of Eons
• Others – violin book 2.5-2.7, Mission San Juan Bautista, Mission San Jose, Harvest festival, sewed halloween bag, made Deviled Eggs, Pomegranate picking fieldtrip, made Greek Pasta, carved pumpkin

Astroboy

• English
• Grammar – nouns vs pronouns, articles, ./?/! command review, capitals, periods, sentences, pronouns, apostrophes and contractions, adjectives,English –
• Chinese – zhuin writing, started on Sagebooks characters writing #1-#5, 怪傑佐羅力 40 books, 神奇樹屋 #1
• Math – tally, calendar, multiplication memorization, division by 1 digit, 2 digit subtraction review, long division introduction, Chinese math work book first grade, building decanomial poster project, equivalent fraction, geometric solids nomenclature
• Science/History – same as sister
• Others – Mission San Juan Bautista, Mission San Jose, Harvest festival, sewed halloween bag, carved pumpkin, carpetry class.

Changing it up once again, I want to post pics of some of their work this month.  But of course first I must talk about it a bit because my eyes glaze over at these lists.  (I basically give this list to my ES.) (more…)

Age: 7.25 & 10

Science Co-Op Session 3 Week 2: Timeline of Life, Reptiles

Agenda:

• Story on reptiles
• Reptil Worksheet

Ahhh, winter.  I feel so unmotivated to prep.  Every week I’m thankful that neither Fleur nor Eclectic Mama has any expectations for the class.

This week we were supposed to study amphibians by dissecting a frog.  But one student isn’t here.  So instead we had a super laid back class.  Just as well because this week the children, especially Astroboy, are crazy.

Age: 7 & 10

Once Astroboy has mostly mastered his multiplication through various work such as Reflex Math and Speed: Multiplcation, I whipped out the 24 game that I bought from Amazon months ago.

We’ve been playing it in the car for a few months, of and on.  It’s a great road trip game if your kid likes games.  Thumper, not so much.  So she only joins when she has no better things to do in the car.

What is 24

I first learned about 24 from my public school teacher classmates in Montessori training.   It’s a way for kids to practice mental math and get their basic math operations down.

Each card in the 24 deck has 4 numbers.  You’re supposed to figure how how to use +,-,×,÷ to get these 4 numbers to 24.

For example, if you see 1,2,3,4, you can get to 24 by

• 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 24
• (1+2+3) x 4 = 24
• (3 x 4) x 2 x 1 = 24
• (3+1) x (4+2) = 24

Yes, the 3rd and 1st one are the same but to the kid who hasn’t learned commutative property, they think it’s different.

The cards have 1-3 dots to denote difficulty level. (more…)

Age: 7

Wow.  That title is quite a mouthful.  But I am too lazy to write two posts that essentially say the same thing.

Once he turned 7 this school yearAstroboy finally started on formal handwriting work.  Prior to this, he wrote a little, mostly because of zhuyin lessons.  But if he got tired or didn’t want to write, I tended not to push him.   I didn’t want to push writing before the kids had their pincer grip down, and sadly, my kids never had their pincer grip down early because we did very few art activities.