2014-15 Looping Schedule and School Goals

This year, we have decided to implement an official looping schedule. In the past, I have naturally looped subjects with my oldest’s high school schedule. This was before I knew that this form of scheduling actually had a name, so this year I decided to make it official with my 4 younger kiddos. I believe this form of scheduling is ideal for larger families.

I have 3 blocks of time during which we loop through subjects. During the first block of time, I work with the twins on math, cursive, and reading. Also during this time, my 2 older kids are working on independent practice items, such as math facts, reading, and typing. Their list of independent practice is rather long and will be a subject for a future post, as I am working on managing this as well.

The second block of time is dedicated to my 2 older kids, during which I loop through their core subjects, such as math, reading, and spelling. Much of this time is spent teaching the kids a concept which they can practice independently. For example, I may take about 15 minutes to teach them how to find subjects and predicates so that they can independently work on their Easy Grammar lessons.

The third time block for looping is when the whole family comes together to work and learn through various subjects. We are working through the Answers for Kids curriculum and God’s Design for Life by the same organization. This is our favorite part of the school day.

Even though it may seem like we may not get to each subject every day with this schedule, the reality is that they are working through each subject, whether during their independent practice time, or even during the family loop. So far, this type of scheduling is working very well for our family.

Below is a copy of the schedule, followed by a subject key.

 Times Looping Schedule
10am-11am Kindergarten Loop 

Math: RS A
Cursive
AAR 1
11am-12pm 3-4th Grade Loop 

AAR 3
AAS 2
LA Teach: EG 3, SL LA 2 and Vocabulary
Math: RS C
12pm-1pm Lunch- Memory VersesLiterature
1pm-2pm Family Loop 

Answers for Kids
The World of Animals
Dave Ramsey
Hero Tales
2pm-3pm Music LessonsContinue Family Loop
3pm-4pm Complete Independent Practice

Key:

AAR: All About Reading

RS: Right Start Math

EG Easy Grammar

SL LA: Sonlight Language Arts

Our school goals for the 2014-2015 school year is as follows:

Subject 11yo 8yo 5yos
Math Right Start C Times Tables Telling Time Right Start C Times tablesTelling Time Counting: 1-100, 10s, 5s, 2sRight Start A
Reading AAR 3 Literature AAR 3 Literature AAR1 Literature
Bible 2 Sam. InductiveAIG 2 Sam InductiveAIG StoriesAIG
Spelling AAS 2 AAS 2
Vocabulary Notebooks Notebooks
Writing TypingIEWProverbs TypingIEWProverbs Cursive: Full name, alphabet, address, phone numbers
Science The World of Animals The World of Animals The World of Animals
Language Arts Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2 Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2
Social Studies Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History
Economics Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey
Music Guitar/Drums Piano Piano

Unfortunately, I am unable to format the charts above, and get them to actually look like they do in my Word Doc, so in order to save my sanity, I am going to leave it as is.

Below is our literature list for the year:

The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene Du BoisAnd finally, here is this year’s literature list:

Detectives in Toga: by Henry Winterfeld

The Door in the Wall: by Marguerite de Angeli

Red Sails to Capri: by Ann Weil

I am hoping that we read many more books than this, but I don’t want to set us up for failure, so we are starting small.

I pray everyone has a successful and rich school year.

Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4 NKJV

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The Week Before Spring Break

The week before Spring Break had a frustrating start, but ended in accomplishments in growth.

On Monday, I spent about 15 minutes teaching one of the twins how to make circles, again! He seemed to have lost all orientation with the top, middle and bottom lines, but only while making a circle. He consistently writes his capital J in the lines, so I know he understands the concept. We also had to spend a considerable amount of time finding 2’oclock when orientated at the top line, although he understands how to find 2’oclock when he writes his o and a from the midline. This twin’s brain was turned off!

Twins practice cursive
To top that off,  my daughter rushed to play through her piano piece and played the entire thing incorrectly. I think she was hoping that I wasn’t listening. Well I was, so I very patiently, with a smile, went to sit beside her in order to help her play it correctly. The minute I sat beside her, she began to cry! If you have been reading my posts, you know the battles that we have had with the dreaded piano lessons. The piece is only 2 lines long!

But the Monday woes were not over. Both my 7 and 10 year old decided to use their checklists as a race agenda. Each child spent about 5 minutes on each checklist item. At one point, my drummer boy took out a book, looked at it, and then marked his reading log off as done. Really! Both practiced their typing for about 2 minutes and my drummer boy played his guitar for 5.

On Tuesday, the twins decided to switch roles in their cursive practice. The one who struggled Monday, did much better with sticking between the lines, but the other had a melt down, because he couldn’t do things his way. When he needed my assistance, he didn’t want it. Then when he messed up, he got upset. I insisted on aiding him, but he resisted. I do, however, always win!

I added times to the checklists and the kids had fun setting their timers. Their work was of a much better quality and there was no melt down at the piano!

Activity M T W F
ELI
Typing 15 Min
Drums 2 songs
Guitar 30 min
Reading Log 20 min
Drawing

On Wednesday, the twins did the ol’ switch-a-roo again! Both did much better at writing in the lines, but this time it was the others turn to attempt to control the situation through whining. The outcome was the same, however. Mom won!

Sample cursive Caleb sample

 

 

 

Thursday and Friday were pretty low key. I did end up correcting the twins grip. One of them actually writes better with the incorrect grip, so I am reluctant to correct much further. I will, however, gently guide him towards it as he continues to practice. The other twin corrected his grip quickly and easily. And these twins are identical?

incorrect grip incorect grip 2 Cursive J Correct grip Caleb incorrect grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for other curriculum news:

Easy Grammar

We started Easy Grammar, Grade 3, a few weeks ago, and we are truly loving it. My daughter and my drummer boy have both memorized the list of prepositions and find the lessons to be quick and painless. I was worried that my drummer boy would struggle through grammar, because of his language processing issues, but he is progressing very well and I am seeing connections forming.

We did have one issue with the order of adjectives to nouns, that told me a lot about how my drummer boy processes and retrieves information.
In the lesson, he had to unscramble the prepositional phrase. The scrambled words read, “old inside an shed.” He unscrambled them to read, “inside an shed old.” I had him read his phrase out loud and then asked him if it sounded correct. He said that it did. Then I read his sentence back to him the way he had written it, and asked him again if it sounded correct. He held to the affirmative. Next I asked him if “the boy young” sounded correct. He thought it did, but when I asked him which sounded better, “the boy young” or “the young boy,” the light went on, and he said that the young boy sounded much better. So then I asked him again if the shed old still sounded correct. He did not connect the two phrases, so I asked him to choose which phrase sounded better, “an shed old” or “an old shed.” At that ah ha moment, he took off, and with only a little more help, completed the lesson correctly and quickly.

ELI

My oldest and my drummer boy have been participating in educational therapy through the Essential Learning Institute for about a year now. I haven’t seen much improvement in my drummer boy’s ability to recall word meanings after an exercise, so I called the therapist for advice.
The therapist decided to move him back several lessons until his word meaning recall becomes more automatic. I had to encourage my drummer boy to persevere through his exercises this week. I explained to him that this will make the brain stronger so that he can learn easier, just like physical exercise makes the body stronger, so that every day life is easier. I believe I was encouraging myself as well, because I am just as sick with this therapy program as he is. The program was only supposed to be 9 months and he would be “fixed.” Honestly, that should have been a red flag right there, but I was suckered in anyway. It is not all for waste though, we have seen tremendous improvement in his language processing capabilities, but is that because of the therapy, or the GAPS diet, or the art classes? How is one to tell? My oldest says that it has helped his concentration, so that is good. Still wondering when it will end though!

Bible/Character Study

We have been studying 1 Samuel and this week we studied the story of Abigail and her foolish husband Nabal. I was amazed that Abigail actually took the blame for her foolish husband’s actions toward David which nearly got them all killed. This was the characteristic trait that I wanted to teach my children. I have been pointing out situations in which they place the blame on another, and ask them to rethink it “Abigail style.” For example, when a younger sibling is playing with legos and leaves the room without cleaning up, and an older sibling is in the room, not playing with the legos, but sees that the younger sibling has left the room without cleaning up, that older sibling should remind the younger sibling of our clean up rule and then help him clean up. Therefore, when I tell everyone to clean up the room, and I hear, “But I did not make the mess!” I can redirect their thinking Abagail style. It is a humbling experience to take the blame for someone else, but Jesus took the blame for us too.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies

This week we also started our first Amanda Bennett,  Twisting Tornado, unit study. It should only take 4 days, but will probably take us 8. My drummer boy is easily distracted this week, probably due to the Zyrtec, but it is either that or allergies, not sure which is worse, so the study is taking longer than it might when he is better focused.

Encyclopedia

This is our first unit study and we have only completed the first day, but I already love it. I especially love how she incorporates scripture. This gets us out of the box of grammar, spelling, and math as separate subjects and connects it all together. It allows the kids to express themselves and critically think about a subject. This study even had the kids use a dictionary. Oops! I may have forgotten to teach that skill. I look every unknown word up on Google. I guess they should learn how to do both, just in case they don’t have a computer, Iphone, or Ipad near by, which is almost never for my kids. I actually had to dust the dictionaries off!

We chose to study tornadoes because the book club we had joined chose weather as the first month’s theme. Not to mention that ever since we had read “The Wizard of Oz,” the kids have been obsessed with tornadoes. More updates to come on this engaging activity.

That’s the skinny on the week before spring break as we anxiously await the arrival of our beloved family.

Cursive Update

I started teaching the twins how to write their names in cursive about 4 months ago. These pictures show their progress.

Caleb Cursive

Joshua Cursive

We have now been practicing strokes within the lines. This has been challenging. I am praying that they do not have vision problems, but it is likely. Both twins have had surgery for strabismus and one of them has had to have it done twice. I am supposed to be patching an eye to correct a lazy eye issue, but have failed miserably at that. The other was diagnoses for glasses by one optometrist, but a second opinion was not in agreement. With the amount of time it is taking for both of them to write in the lines, I am concerned, but hope it is just because they are boys. I am not into drilling them to death, so we only spend a few minutes a day practicing. After they have mastered all of their strokes, keeping in the lines, I will begin to have them write their names on lined paper. In the meantime, I am going to start teaching them how to write their last name in cursive without lines, and then we will move on to the rest of the letters in the alphabet.

Cursive First

Cursive2

I am teaching my 4 year old twins cursive first, using the program with the same name. I used this program with my older 2, the ballerina and drummer boy, but I was too late in finding out the amazing benefits of teaching cursive before I had already taught them print. Now that they know how to write in cursive, my ballerina has turned it into an art form, and my  “intellectually disabled” drummer boy writes more willingly and with much more ease than he does with print.

There are many developmental benefits in teaching cursive first. For starters, it eliminates the dyslexic tendencies of letter reversals. In addition, it’s flowing, connected movements, are much more developmentally appropriate for little one’s fine motor skills.

Although the twins are only 4, they really want to learn how to write their names, so I am using mutlisensory techniques to get them ready. In the colored sand, I have them practice making circles and have even begun to teach them the first letters in their names. We use play dough to practice top, middle, and bottom and to create standard cursive shapes, especially those prevalent in their names. I also guide them in writing letters on the chalk board and they also practice those movements with a pencil on a blank piece of paper. Their fine motor skills are not developed yet, so their movements are large, but they sure have fun trying and always cheer each other on. It is so cute to watch.

My next goals are to teach them the numbers on the face clock and expose them to the house diagram. It may be another year before they are really ready to start this program in its entirety, but I don’t want to quench their desire to learn by telling them that they are not ready. I’ll be updating with their progress. I can’t wait to see their beaming smiles when they are finally able to write their name.