Saturday, July 9, 2011

2010-2011 School Year in Review

I know that most of you have been on summer vacation for a while now but 1. we don't technically end our school year until August because we school year-round and 2. public school just let out two weeks ago here. So let's agree that this review isn't really all that late, ok?
We'll start with Buzz-

Phonics and Language Arts: Buzz started off the school year in September being in lesson 12 of The Reading Lesson. He was able read some simple books (like Bob Books) but reading still wasn't coming easily to him yet. In October when he reached around lesson 15, his reading just took off! All of a sudden he flew through the rest of the lessons left in the book and could read just about anything that we put in front of him. He went from reading Bob Books and easy readers to reading The Chronicles of Narnia in a matter of weeks, pretty amazing!

Halfway through the year he started Explode the Code as an add-on for phonics. I ordered him books 2 and 2 1/2. To be honest they are too easy for him, but I didn't know that they would be quite so easy when I ordered them and they serve as a good review regardless. He finished Book 2 and is about 3/4 of the way through Book 2 1/2.

Around the same time that he started Explode the Code we also started First Language Lessons. I really like this book! It's a gentle approach to grammar and includes poetry and narration as well. While I wouldn't say Buzz loves it, he doesn't complain about it either. The book lasts for two years. We made it though the first half of the first year and will keep going next year.

For creative writing I cut a hole in a shoe box and filled the box with slips of paper with random words written on them such as helmet, cow and castle. Buzz (and Boo) would draw a slip of paper from the box and dictate a story to me that contains the word on the paper.

Spelling: Buzz didn't use a formal spelling curriculum this year. Each week I made a list of ten spelling words. The first day of the week he would practice writing the words. The second day he would write sentences for each of the first five words on the list. The third day he would write sentences for the last five words and on the fourth day he would take a spelling test.

Math: He also didn't use a math curriculum for most of this year. We did a lot of math games and activities and I made worksheets with word problems to go along with our read-alouds. A couple of months ago he started Mathematical Reasoning. He'll be working on it through the summer and will finished early in the next school year.

Bible: I don't consider Bible a "school subject" so a lot of our bible time is separate from school but we did read a section from Day by Day Devotions most days at the beginning of our school time.

Social Studies and Science: At the beginning of the year we rowed a title from Five in a Row almost every week so our social studies and science lessons were built in to that. About halfway through the year we started focusing on other things and stopped doing FIAR. For the rest of the year both our social studies and science were mostly interest led or based around themed units that we were doing.

Boo tagged along with just about everything that Buzz did except for doing her own phonics and math.

Phonics: Boo showed interest in learning to read around Christmas so we started The Reading Lesson in January. She is currently in Lesson 15 and her reading has taken off much in the same way as Buzz. She is currently reading every American Girl book that she gets her hands on as well as The Doll People trilogy.

Boo started Explode the Code at the same time that Buzz did. She finished Book 1 and is working through Book 1 1/2.

Math: We started the year with Boo working through Skill Sharpeners Math for grade K. When she finished that book she started Mathematical Reasoning for kindergarten.

Read-Alouds: Our read-alouds this year were:

A Bear Called Paddington
Because of Winn-Dixie
Elmer and the Dragon
Encyclopedia Brown
How to Train your Dragon
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
My Father's Dragon
Nim's Island
Owls in the Family
Paddington at Large
Prince Caspian
The Borrowers
The Doll People
The Dragon in the Sock Drawer
The Dragons of Blueland
The Meanest Doll in the World
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
The Runaway Dolls
The Tale of Despereaux
Toy Dance Party
Toys Go Out
Zoo School

 We also read many Magic Tree House, Judy Moody, Stink, A to Z Mysteries and American Girl books aloud but since they are such quick reads I didn't include them in the list.

Buzz's favorite read-alouds of the year were Mr. Popper's Penguins and Zoo School.
Boo's favorites were Nim's Island and all three books in The Doll People series.

This year was a big one for both Buzz and Boo in that they both learned to read (really well!) this year. We started the year rowing a Five in a Row title almost every week. We all really enjoyed rowing but when we moved to our new house in January we stepped back from FIAR and transitioned to a more workbook centered approach. This probably would be misery for a lot of kids but mine both love workbooks and worksheets and I think we all really enjoyed the second half of the year even more than the first. I didn't (and still don't) dislike anything about FIAR, I just felt like a change. I plan to get back to rowing next year, just not every week, all year long. We found some great pieces of curriculum that we plan to continue with. Check back latter this summer to see my plans for next year!

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