Classroom Update and Year End Review 

Classroom Update and Year End Review 

The school year is winding up and the weather is finally starting to show some promise. After the wettest winter in recorded history, the Pacific Northwest is beginning to dry out a bit. Although I’ve typically ended our “formal” school days in May, I extended it into June this year for a few reasons. First, DJ’s homeschool co-ops and piano lessons don’t end until mid-June. Second, the local schools don’t finish until late June due to all the snow days this year. And third, DJ has been at a crucial point in his reading, and I didn’t want to interrupt that with summer vacation. As it is, we’ll likely continue to do daily reading throughout the summer. 

DJ’s ability to read is growing with leaps and bounds. He can now read “emergent readers” fairly fluidly. The stories he’s able to read are finally becoming less clunky and he’s starting to realize just how many words are in his environment that have things to tell him. He’s about a third of the way through Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and he’s finished the sections on silent-e long vowel words as well as sections on ch/sh/th/ph/wh and on soft-c & soft-g. Although the program does not teach sight words, I’ve had him read a list of “first grade sight words” and he already knows most of them. He’s comfortable reading Set Two of the Miss Rhonda Readers and can read Scholastic Level D with assistance. 

On the science front, we have completed 10 chapters of Basic Fundamentals of Scientific Understanding, the most recent being A-3: Air has Mass. The picture shows our experiment where we balanced two empty balloons and then filled one balloon with air to show the air made it heavier. I have really appreciated using this book this year. DJ is so inquisitive about the world around him and this book is just the right level to help me answer his questions. 

DJ’s most favorite subject continues to be math. He continues to work on addition with the addition finger charts and addition snake game. For subtraction he has finished the subtraction strip board and is ready to begin the subtraction finger charts. And he’s using the stamp game mainly for multiplication and division. He also continues to work on skip counting with the bead chains and hundred board. In the first picture above you can see where he took print outs of the hundred board and crossed off all the multiples of 2’s, 3’s, 5’s & 10’s. He especially loved the pattern the 3’s made. 

The newest addition to our math shelves are these fraction circles. They are 10 metal circles divided into 1/1, 1/2, 1/3 etc up to 1/10. I had been eager to buy these since I first learned of them years ago but held off due to the cost. But as I was unpacking them the day they arrived, I realized how late I was in introducing them to DJ when HE gave me the first presentation for them while I removed the wrappings. Hah!

In the photos, DJ first learned the notation for fractions with a numerator, a dividing line and a denominator. He then labeled all the pieces with the proper label – two 1/2’s on the halves up to ten 1/10’s on the tenths. 

Then in the lower picture. He used the 1/2 circle to find the equivalent fractions of 1/2 which would be 2/4, 3/6, 4/8 & 5/10. You can see he’s testing the sevenths. He has 3/7’s in the 1/2 space but it’s not enough, so he’s already trying to see if he can fill that gap with a 1/10. 

In addition to our work at home, DJ has been active in a number of homeschool co-op classes this year and I am so grateful for our homeschool community. On Tuesdays he has had a few Rad Science classes with teacher Mike (who is awesome). On Wednesdays, DJ has three classes including LEGO WeDo Robotics, Sports Exploration in the gym and Hands on Math. Finally on Thursdays, the local YMCA has a homeschool Swim & Gym program where DJ is learning to swim. 

On the musical DJ continues to enjoy his piano lesson and is about to perform in his second piano recital. He amazes me how easy music comes to him and how much fun he has with it. And he’s developing a very clear preference for music he hears on the radio based on tempo and rhythm. He definitely prefers songs that “make his feet dance” as he says. 

So, that brings you up to date on what we’ve been working on in the classroom. Behind the scenes I’ve been gearing up for the beginning of our Montessori Elementary journey that will begin next fall. Although I had thought I would have one more year of primary as DJ’s kindergarten year, it has become increasingly clear that not only is DJ at the end of the primary curriculum, he is also transitioning in the way he thinks and behaves.  So I have purchased Keys of the Universe, the elementary albums I will use, have been studying Montessori elementary theory and have been preparing elementary materials and charts. You’ll see this in the classroom next fall. 

In the meantime, have a great summer!

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