Friday, May 27, 2011

5/21 to 5/27

J's last regional dance competition of the season was this past weekend.  She did great - scored a High Gold award, even when she forgot a whole section of the dance.  She was annoyed with herself, but that morning was crappy and I don't blame her for not being fully there.  Her groups numbers did phenomenally well, with great placements (8th, 5th, & 2nd in the top 10 of all teen groups - competing against dozens and dozens of teen group numbers from other studios).  Now all that's left is the recital and then either a Nationals or something similar in July.  Still not sure what we're doing yet.

Tuesday evening was the big recital rehearsal.  The kids worked on the opening number, ran through the mainstream numbers, and ran some company numbers.  J's group of babies were adorable. They are dancing to Beauty and the Beast and J gets to be on stage with them dressed as a princess.  She's thrilled.  

J got an A on her English essay.  The assignment was to write your own creation myth.   I remember when she told me about this assignment.  She worried about it having to be 3 pages.  I thought she felt it was too much, but her next sentence was, "I don't think I could write less than 4 or 5."  Again, this is coming from a kid who did her own thing as an unschooler for 6 years.  That kind of freedom allowed her to build up a level of maturity and independence where now that she's in high school, she so enjoys putting 110% to everything.  It's pretty cool to watch.

W had his last Sunday School (CCD) class.  His report card was great and the teacher said he is a wonderful student and did great on classwork and tests.  I got a bit teary-eyed with that, because he got a 35% on his last test.  He was upset with himself and felt very stupid.  He'd never told his teacher he was dyslexic.  So, the next week he mentioned it and said that it takes him a little longer to read and needs a little more time to take a test.  W has no issues with it and is comfortable talking about it.  The teacher allowed him to re-take the test the following week.  The first time it was open-book.  The 2nd time it wasn't, but W still got a 70%.  He was over the moon with joy and so proud of himself.  I was too.

He has recently told me that he likes writing.  That was my cue to try a written narration.  He hasn't done much writing except for copywork and maybe some spelling and dictation exercises, but I knew he was ready.  We started with his independent reading book.  He read his 2 pages and wrote 2 sentences of a summary in his notebook.  It had proper flow and correct punctuation.  I was impressed at his style.  We'll do these once a week - more if he wants to. 

Nothing else really new with academics this week.  It's pretty much the same books and we're almost finished with those.  He did his copywork, poetry, narrations, etc.   In math he's doing 3-digit x 3-digit multiplication now.   We still use only the textbook for TT5 and he now zips through a lesson in about 20 minutes.  I'm glad we already have TT7 -  I wouldn't want to buy a whole new program if he's only using the book.

We've had a really great year so far.  I'm looking forward all the activities coming up in June!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

5/14 to 5/20

It was a rainy week here in NYC.  We didn't go to Chess or Wayfinders.  We did catch up on some academics, though. 

W's new idea is to read 6-8 pages a day of his book (Cricket) instead of just 2.  He said he would still read 2 pgs at a time, but do this several times a day.  Sounds good to me!  Let's see if he does it.

He has gotten over the hump of long division.  I don't know what it is about it that makes kids crazy, but we faced a wall with it as well.  I believe the answer boils down to practice and patience.  One of the reasons I love Teaching Textbooks is that it's a spiral math program that keeps returning to previously learned concepts - unlike a mastery-type program where I think W would forget what he learned the year(s) before.  Getting to do a few long division problems in the middle of each new lesson was what really helped.

I feel W is just about ready to start on written narrations.  I think it goes hand-in-hand with AO Year 3, since by that time, so much great literature has been read and narrated.  I'm curious to see if what he writes down  will be as nicely flowing as when he narrates out loud.  I'd like to try doing one a week for the next month, then 2 a week starting in September. This is probably the third time I'm saying I'll get to this, but we're really going to give it a shot this week.

The Weekly Academics:

An Island Story (Richard the Duke of York, King Henry VI, War of the Roses), Robin Hood (Finished chapter 3), Joan of Arc (finished!), Seabird (Chapter 18), Excellent narrations of all readings, Spelling Skills 4 (Long O words, definitions, synonyms, capitalization), TT5 (2 digit x 2 digit multiplication, estimation, review of circles, quadrilaterals, & long division, and Math Quiz: he got 100%!), A Year of Poems (poetry & copywork), A Cricket in Times Square (2 pages/day), ScienceSaurus (the meaning of observation).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dance Competition

April Competition Pic
This weekend we were in New Jersey at our 2nd to last dance competition of the season.  There were a total of 19 different studios there competing from all over NY and NJ.

J was in a solo, a duet, 3 small group numbers, and 3 large group numbers.  She performed Friday evening and then again on Sunday morning.  Adjudications were given on Friday night and overall placings were Sunday afternoon.

Solo (lyrical):  Overall Teen Solo Winner
Duet (hip hop):  Overall Teen Duet/Trio Winner
Small Groups - this means there are 4 to 9 dancers in that number:
          Jazz: Overall Teen Small Group Winner
          Modern:  1st runner up overall
          Open (combines dance styles):  2nd runner up overall
Large Groups - more than 10 dancers in the number:
          Open:  Overall Teen Large Group Winner
          Jazz:  1st runner up overall
          Tap:  2nd runner up overall

"Overall" means that not only did they win in their particular category (e.g. Teen Jazz Small Group) but got the highest score for all teen numbers in ANY category.  Needless to say I am so proud of J and her whole dance team.  I screamed and cheered so much my voice is gone today.

The last competition of the season is next weekend.  By then we'll know which Nationals we are doing in July. 

W found another little brother from another studio and hung out with him for hours, playing DS and trading Pokemon cards.  I'm so glad about that.  These things can get real boring for a 10-year-old boy.  K spent the weekend at my moms in Long Island.  They went to the mall, got their hair cut & colored, wrapped favors for my sister's baby shower (that will be in June), and just enjoyed some great girl time.  K's prom and graduation is coming up and she's been busy preparing for that.  She gave herself enough time for her new hair to "settle", her prom dress is at the tailor getting altered, she's making her hairstyle and mani-pedi appointment soon, the party bus is paid for and ready to go, and the after-prom 4-day vacation trip is awaiting them.  K is an amazing planner. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

Although I had wanted to get to Ambleside Online Year 3, before the start of W's 5th grade, I'm starting to realize that for him, AO3 and 5th grade will be great together.  I have come across so many people who prefer to do this.  And with W's mild dyslexia, holding off on the readings is probably best.  He is just starting to come into good reading flow.  He reads well independently and his comprehension is great - even with difficult Shakespearean language.  This past year has been so amazing.  The strides W have made in all areas is unbelievable.  I love AO.

I have recently decided to increase the rigor a bit.  Up to now we've always gotten to the academics when we could, on days without classes or trips.  The classes and trips always come in waves, peaking in fall and spring, slowing down a bit in summer and winter.  This is probably why AO2 took 2 years to complete instead of 1.  I don't want that to happen with AO3.  So, we're going to try adding in more seatwork time. 

W wants to spend more time in Manhattan, visiting places he loves or hasn't been to yet.  I don't want to curb our field trip/outing time (because there's just so much to do here), but I also want to leave room for everything else.  I work from 6pm-10pm, so evenings are out.  Early mornings are doable.  We normally start academic stuff at around 10:30am, but there's nothing wrong with starting at 8:30am, right?  I'm up at 6:30am getting the rest of the troops out of the house.  W is usually up before 8:30, so I think that's what we'll do.  

Right now W's regular weekly outings are late enough in the day so an early start could actually work.  W said it was a good idea.  He is more of a morning person anyway.  Ok, good.  So now I'm going to stop worrying about taking so long with AO2.  We can relax and enjoy the final weeks of it.  W will continue with TT5, Word Study & Phonics, and daily independent reading throughout the summer.  He'll be going to day camp every day starting at the end of June, so spending about an hour on academics each day shouldn't be a big deal.  He definitely needs to keep up at least the bare minimum over the summer before starting AO3 in the fall. 

I feel good about it, W thinks it'll work out well, and I'm looking forward to summer and starting AO3 in the fall! 

Friday, May 06, 2011


It was a beautiful day for "doing Manhattan" this week.   The sky was blue, the trees and flowers were in bloom, and temperature was just right.

Tuesday was our weekly Wayfinders get-together.  The kids spent 3 hours doing some cool improv games and playing Capture the Flag - which is always more fun with 40+ kids.  W could do this every day.  He spent a good while at the end analyzing Pokemon cards and battling friends with them. 

On  Thursday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We went a few months ago on our own, but this time we were part of a homeschool group tour.  I love tours - you really get a good idea of the whys and hows when looking at something.  This was a group of about 15 4th-7th graders and we focused mainly on Ancient Egypt.  We walked through tombs and temples, learned about Hatshepsut, and discussed some of the mummification process.   

This week's academics include: 
AO Readings w/narrations:  Robin Hood, Seabird, Joan of Arc, & Pagoo, A Cricket in Times Square (independent)
Math: TT5 - long division, radius, diameter, circumference, quadrilaterals (rhombus, trapezoid, parallelogram).
Word Study:  Short & long vowels, Hard C/G, Soft C/G
Poetry/Copywork:  Christina Rosetti poems.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

National Museum of the American Indian

Today we went on a homeschool group trip to the National Museum of the American Indian.  It was a wonderful workshop on Bentwood Boxes.  The kids were shown a cute movie about how the night sky became lit with stars, the moon, and the sun by being let out of an old man's cedar bentwood boxes by his grandson.  We were then brought into an area where we saw masks, boxes, and glass depictions of the story.  Finally, the kids were part of a workshop to make their own bentwood boxes, stenciling a traditional picture onto the front of it.  We hadn't been to that museum in a few years.  It was great to go back. 
The Sphere before 9/11
The Sphere after 9/11
 A bunch of us then headed over to Battery Park.  The kids ate a quick lunch and ran around and played.  The park keeps a remnant from the World Trade Center - a large brass sphere sculpture that was destroyed when the buildings came down.  It breaks my heart to see that.  In front of it is a memorial plaque and the eternal flame for the victims of 9/11.

 In the afternoon, W started his first of a series of advanced beginner chess classes in Brooklyn.  It was a quick 15 minute subway ride from lower Manhattan.  There was about 12-15 kids total.  I have been looking for something like this for a long time. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

In a Nutshell 4/23-4/29

Academics this week was pretty much the same as last week.  We read, he narrated, did copywork, math, etc.  Nothing new really.  Wayfinders was great.  He loves it.

K went to speak to an advisor at college.  She now has all her classes and schedule ready for the fall.  In about a month she goes to an orientation and gets her ID card.  It's a pretty campus and she can't wait til the end of August to start.

J had another dance competition this weekend.  This one was in Long Island and we stayed overnight at my mom's.  Her solo placed 5th overall, her duet placed 4th overall, and she was one of only several kids chosen to go on this big 6-day trip to.....New York City.  Sigh.  The next competition is in 2 weeks in New Jersey.  We'll be staying at a hotel for 2 nights.  I love competition season!

Next week is busy and I've been bringing the camera everywhere - so watchout!  LOL