Today we started our final math block of grade 1. We'll have one block after this, a nature-themed adventure block to wind down grade 1, but this is the last block with new academic content. Well, it is somewhat new - we introduced the four processes earlier this year using the Christophers 1st Grade Syllabus, but I want to do it again, using Enki this time. I don't think I was prepared to teach it last time, and we kind of rushed through. It was also before we set up the schoolroom, and J-Baby was't comfortable in the breakfast nook and balked at any writing.
We'll go a full month, 7/31 - 8/30. We have a Friday and Monday we are taking off for a camping trip, so the block will go 4.5 weeks. We're doing 4 days of focused work a week, because we don't do anything academic on Thursdays other than read a nature story. Really, I don't see how this block could be finished in 4 weeks following a 3 day week.
Our practice work will consist of handwriting practice, sight words, word families, and reading (BOB books and Hop on Pop). New this month we will start tidying the schoolroom together each afternoon before moving to our projects.
I moved our projects around to see if I can find a better fit for our days. I had originally planned watercolor painting for Thursdays since it is a light day academically, but we were always so wiped out from park day that we didn't do it. So I moved that to Tuesdays, and decided on modeling for Thursdays, as for now we use plastalina and beeswax, which don't require much preparation. I switched handwork to Fridays; right now it is rather intense, but eventually I see handwork as a relaxing activity that will be a nice way to wind down the school week.
One thing I did differently this week was to plan the painting and crafts, instead of just thinking I'd do it the weekend before (which I wouldn't do, and then I'd scramble to come up with something that was fun but not nourishing). So we'll read a painting story on Monday afternoon during our "settling-in" time, and we'll paint Tuesday afternoon. Each story has been chosen and put into the active binder. I chose 5 crafts from the kindy craft book, mostly working with tying knots and braiding. I think this will be good work for us, as finger knitting has been difficult and the boys need more work with their hands. For modeling we will do some of the beginning exercises from Learning About the World Through Modeling by Arther Auer.
I thought about movement, music, and sensory integration. We're going to resume our morning walk, but make it shorter. I like the walk because it gets us into the fresh air and it seems to be the best way to incorporate rhythmic counting. Today it was nice and cool and so refreshing to get outside and walk. I personally enjoyed the yoga DVD we bought earlier this month, but it didn't seem to be a good format for the boys. I will learn some of the movements myself and then lead them without the DVD. That will be a nice alternative to the walk when it is either too hot or too rainy to go outside.
We definitely need to work on sensory integration, so I chose one new SI activity to learn each week. That's a bit ambitious, but we can always back off if it doesn't work. Today we did Cobra (from the kindy base sense activities) 3 times. What child can resist pretending to be a snake? I just modeled it 3 times and they caught on to what I was doing. I much prefer not stopping and explaining what I am doing, although T will ask. I just whisper "watch me" or even just point to his eyes and he quiets down.
I also planned a circle. I have gone around and around thinking about this. In some ways the essential energy of circle is being met organically throughout our day, but I do want to spend some time with academic verses/games and foreign language. Also, T and I really enjoy circle, and I don't see that we should deny ourselves that just because J-Baby doesn't always participate. Anyway, here is our circle, although I'm not going to type out all of the songs and verses. The starred (*) items are new material; they are familiar with the rest.
Opening stretch and verse
Ring Around the Rosy (1st stanza - this usually bring J-Baby into what we are doing if he balks at the beginning)
Lirum, Larum (finger exercises from a Kindermusik CD, done lying on our bellies)
Ring Around the Rosy (stanza that ends in "we all stand up")
*Number Qualities verses
*(Even and Odd dance to be added week 3)
Pito, Pito Colorito (from Cante Cante Elefante!)
*Buenos Dias (from Cante Cante Elefante!)
Being the dreamer that I am, I also planned a weekly recorder lesson, and daily recorder practice as part of our "settling-in" time. Of course, "settling-in" is something we haven't successfully worked into the rhythm before, so we will see how it goes. My plan is to use the recorder to gather them in, do a short (5 minute) practice, and then read to them. At that point dinner should be nearly ready, so they will wash their hands and set the table while I finish any last minute preparation.
I did leave form drawing until January, as I really think J-Baby is too young. We aren't gardening yet, because of time and weather. I have to accept that there are are many things that I would like us to do, but to do them all wouldn't be nourishing to us as a family.
I spent all day Sunday doing the planning, although I had been thinking about it for some time. Papa kept the boys busy and also took them on an 8-mile nature hike. They came across a rattlesnake with a mouse in its mouth on a narrow portion of the trail, and after waiting quite a while for it to leave Papa finally had to get a long stick, hold it between the path and the snake, and tell the boys to run (for those unaccustomed to rattlers, it would be highly unlikely for the snake to drop its kill and attack the boys). It was a big adventure! Papa says he's never seen a rattler in that area, and he rides there almost weekly. Now for Papa, seeing rattlesnakes is pretty common, as 2 of his weekly rides go through rattler habitat. But the boys were thrilled with their first rattlesnake "in the wild".
Anyway, my Enki day was exhausting! I participated in both conference calls and did all that planning. By last night I was thinking that I had overdone it and that there would be no way to accomplish everything we want to do each day, but this morning I felt better and I reminded myself that my plans and schedules (based on our natural rhythm) are maps and not prisons.
My time is up. Quiet time is over, and it is time for a snack and our Monday project, which is actually running errands.