Monday, October 20, 2008

October School Update

School is still going really well, I think we really made excellent choices when picking our curriculum. Of course we spent quite a bit of time researching our options and really focused on ones that seemed geared towards Gesserine's strengths.

Reading: Most of it had been review because she already knew her letter sounds, but since we were starting with a new approach I didn't want to start in the middle. I also wanted to emphasis the sounds making sure Gess said them correctly. This last week though we began working on word blends which was something new. We started with Sa, Se, Si, So, Su. For the first time Gess was listening for more than just the first letter of the word, she had to listen for the first blend. We spent the whole week on just these beginning blends and by the end of the week she was doing pretty good recognizing the proper blend. Now we will begin adding letters to the end of the blend. She is getting good with her worksheets and can do some of them on her own now.

Remember, even though she is just now learning phonics, she has been reading by sight for a few years now. Her sight vocabulary is awesome and her ability to sound out new words on her own is amazing. Now granted its not all that consistent and she still gets many wrong but that is sometimes because the words have letter sounds she has not yet been taught such as long vowels, ph, sh, th, etc. Well, we began the Book-It Reading Program this month which is sponsored by Pizza Hut. The kids must read so many books or pages each month and if they do it they earn a free personal pan pizza. Gesserine's goal is that she must read 12 books a month. Before you panic like my mother did, realize these are early level one reader books. However, this last week she read Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You! This was the longest book she has ever read on her own. It was awesome! Not only could she read it but making the sounds in it are so helpful for speech! So far she has read 8 books and I am sure she will be earning her pizza soon!

Math: So far it has still been pretty much all review too. She has had to build, say and write numbers 0-9. She is sometimes given the number to build, other times she has the item built and has to give the number. She has also had to recognize and count, rectangles, triangles, and circles. Her counting at that level is great. I was also going to work on dice spotting so she could recognize numbers 1-6 without having to count them. There was no need. She can already do that! Whether its on dice, a worksheet or an object, she can easily recognize small numbers. We have a couple more weeks of review type skills and then we will be introducing new material! We will be learning place values! I am so excited. She really loves doing her Math and always says "Math U See" when its times. She also likes watching the DVD with me that introduces each new section. We have also introduced some addition to her even though its not yet in her workbook since she plays computer games that require it. We make our own math problems with objects and I will be sharing that activity in the future.

Writing: I ordered and received her new Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. We have only had the chance to do it for one week, but it went really well I think. We are working on letters that begin in the top left corner. We started with F and this week we do E. She is also getting better at writing her name. If only she could master that pesky "s." Her G and E though are awesome! I am encouraged that she will have all her capitals mastered soon and maybe even begin learning how to make those smaller ones. Not only does HWT have a hands on approach that is very helpful they also have workbooks geared towards helping with consistency. They also have many other teaching ideas and strategies that help special needs learners. Notice how in her workbook she was able to trace every other letter. They say, "In books where children copy a whole line of letters, the letters get progressively worse because they're copying from their own copies. Children get better results if they practice with a model for each copy. The workbook has a model letter in every other gray block, and children write just one letter beside the model. The result is better letters." That sure explained our problem with Gess. Her first letter would be great, but by the end it was hardly recognizable! Here is a picture of her workbook page.



Notice that the top shows them how to make the letter with blocks and then on a chalkboard slate. She has those and does that before using the workbook. The slate and mat even have smiley faces in the corner to help them know where to begin the corner starting letters. Then they have them make the letters in gray blocks. This is shaded to resemble the slate they are familiar with using. It all transitions them to writing on paper. This is a great tool for them to learn proper letter size and works better for Gess than typical preschool writing tablets. Last year they had much larger areas to make their letters, but Gess, as you can see, is finally able to make her letters stay in the smaller blocks. Her motor skills are improving, and we will be getting lots of good practice with this material.

Science: We have reviewed basic colors and shapes but have also learned about finding them and using them in our world. She is now learning the concept of things like big and little, rough and smooth, soft and hard, narrow and wide, etc. She has taken two Science quizzes so far and got a 94 on each of them! Of course her exams were oral which is how we do her lessons as well.

Social Studies: She has also had one quiz in Social Studies for which she also scored a 94! It too was an oral exam. So far she has learned ways in which we communicate with others, how God has made her special and cares for her, about our family and what they do. Now we are learning about manners and being polite and kind. Next we are going to learn about communicating with sound.

She finally started AWANA and finished her beginning Gate book! While she did really well playing the games, doing the memorizing and staying with her class, after about 45 minutes she was done. That seems to be about the key timing for her in any group activity. So anyway, I tried keeping her there with me in the office at that point, but that didn't go well so from now on I just leave and take her back home to daddy. I hope by the end of the year that she might be making it to the end though.



Her ballet class is still going really well and we will be able to sit in next month and watch them! I can't wait for that! We have done some art, though that is one of my weaker areas, however I found a great blog to help with some ideas for it: Art Projects for Kids. She is improving her cutting and gluing skills as well and we are still doing speech activities on a regular basis. That sums up this month's school update.

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