Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One less tooth & other happenings

Usually, the kids wake me up on weekend mornings with things like, "Mom, can we watch cartoons?" or they put cold toes next to my warm legs. But on the 19th, Luke woke me up with a big eye-full of tooth. It is hard to focus on a small white tooth at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Especially when your vision is as poor as mine.

This picture here is from Saturday, when we tried to yank it out with a piece of thread. I've never tried this before (on myself or my offspring) and I will never tried it again -- wet thread does not wrap around tooth and stay there. It was a waste of time!

And here's the Sunday morning version of Luke:

Isn't he cute? He has at least three other very loose teeth, and I suspect he'll look like a jack-o-lantern soon as his top left tooth is very wiggly.

School-wise, we are plugging along, enjoying our read alouds outside on a warm sunny day (we hit 80+ on Tuesday!) We are in week three of our TOG Civil War studies. We read the Gettysburg Address today, and dissected its language and prose to understand Lincoln's meaning. Talk about vocabulary development. We also learned that Lincoln authorized the Medal of Honor (now called the Congressional Medal of Honor) during the Civil War. I'm needing to remind myself that the information we're learning about is an introduction to the Civil War and a 4th grader does not need to understand nor know about each and every battle during the civil war. I've got Joy Hakim's History of US book 6 on hold at Barnes and Noble and am looking forward to a more age appropriate introduction to the global themes of the Civil War.

Does this mean I'm not happy with TOG? No, not at all. I just realize that I need a spine book beyond DK's Eye Witness books. They provide good information on topics related to the Civil War, but it is not helping me to get an overview of this time period. For example, this week's geography thread guided the student to learn about several (5 or so) sites of battles: Gettysburg, Antietam, Vicksburg, 2nd Battle of Bull Run...and one other I cannot recall at the moment. However we didn't really touch on those at all in the reading for this week. Now, I'd read the teacher's notes, so I underlined/ highlighted key points to tell Ben , but it was frustrating to have threads to teach without any guidance in resources. I'll have to ask on the TOG forums about this.

We're doing a little TOG group with another family, and I have really enjoyed the small group learning setting. Today, we did mapwork and each of the two students had to present to the other some information. Ben had to present to S. (for privacy's sake) about what a Union soldier would carry in his pack. S. had to prepare a care package for a soldier and she wrote a letter from a soldier to his family at home. What I appreciated about doing this was the opportunity for Ben to have to talk to someone else and prepare information for someone besides me. This just adds another layer to his schooling and I'm thankful to have this opportunity with the C. family.

Luke is motoring with his reading skills. I'm so pleased with what he is learning. This week we're working on two-syllable words with open and closed syllable constructions (such as be/long). This is challenging to him, because he has to remember that these words have long and short vowel sounds, but he is getting it, especially after I've made him use his tiles to spell the word (I'm italicizing this for my own benefit). When I do this, he sees more easily where the syllable division is, and where the long vowel sound needs to be pronounced. After this lesson (which may last for a while, as I want him to be real solid at this step), we'll be breaking into VCe words (vowel-consonant-silent e), then I know he'll be taking off like a rocket.

Three weeks ago we did our first round of standardized testing. Ben took the CAT/5 (California Achievement Test) with two other families at a friend's house. It took us 4 morning for 2 - 2.5 hours each time. We'll have the results mid-May.

Ben is also finishing up his piano lessons. His final recital will be May 29. Next fall, he'll be moving on to the elementay band program at our local public school. He wants to play the drums. I'm reliving high school all over again --- my brother practicing the drums under my bedroom while I'm trying to do homework. He used to practice with headphones on, beating the rhythm to some song being played on his boom box (hello, 19080s). I can still hear the rhythm in my head, and you all should be happy that I cannot type out the snare, base drum and cymbal sounds. Because I'd do it if I could, just to help you get a taste of my life back then.