Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why is Foreign Language So Difficult?

I don't post often about teaching foreign language. Actually, have I ever posted about teaching foreign language? I might not have. That's odd considering how big a focus it has been for us.

The Kid seems to have her dad's aptitude for languages. She certainly didn't get it from me. She has requested to learn Spanish, French, and any language with a non-Western alphabet (a squiggly language, in her words). We've been focusing on Spanish with a bit of French thrown in here and there.

If you ask about beginning Spanish material for young kids, you can get several resources - Salsa Spanish, Little Pim, a variety of vocabulary board books, Song School Spanish, The Fun Spanish...  So once you get through those, where's the list of intermediate/advancing beginner resources? I've researched, asked, begged, and so far the crickets are chirping in response. Nothing.

It's even worse for French, when even the suggestions for beginner level materials are scarce. I'm glad we decided to wait on anything else, as I doubt Arabic or Mandarin would yield better results.

This is really just a little mini-rant. I'll come back in the next few weeks and post what we have done and are doing for Spanish, just in case it is helpful to anyone else. If anyone wants to write a good foreign language program that starts around kindy level and progresses through fluency, I'll buy it. I don't even care what language it teaches.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

BFSU: Sound and Vibrations Unit

Resources: Magic School Bus episode (this one was very basic, may be good if this is the first time this topic has been introduced to your child, otherwise just for fun)
Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations
Blood and Guts by Linda Allison

Lesson 1: BFSU C-2: Sound, Vibrations, and Energy (I covered this in one day due to my plan to use a kit for demonstrations. If not using the kit, cover in two lessons and do demonstrations.)
Lesson 2: Magic School Bus In the Haunted House

Lesson 3: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 2
Lesson 4: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 3
Lesson 5: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 4
Lesson 6: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 5
Lesson 7: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 6
Lesson 8: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 7
Lesson 9: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 8 and 9
Lesson 10: Science in a Nutshell kit: Sound Vibrations, activity 12
Lesson 11: Blood and Guts by Linda Allison, read pages 97-104
Lesson 12: Blood and Guts by Linda Allison, do any chosen demonstrations on pages 97-104

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ancient History: Cavemen, First Towns

This unit is currently in progress and will be updated with resources as we use them.

We started the unit by reading:
  • Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History pages 108-109
  • Story of the World: Chapter 1
Nonfiction books we enjoyed:
  •  It's Disgusting and We Ate It!: True Food Facts From Around the World and Throughout History by James Solheim (641.3 So) - pages 16-25 cover some foods eaten in Ancient and Medieval times
Fiction books we enjoyed:
  • Magic Tree House #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age by Raymond Briggs - silly cartoon-style book about a boy who keeps trying to invent things that won't be invented for thousands of years after the book is set, and the people around who think he is ridiculous for doing so
  • Stone Age Boy by Satoshi Kitamura - a modern boy falls into cave times. Light reading with brief factual bits about what people did and ate.
  • Boy of the Painted Cave by Justin Denzel - tells the story of a boy who wants to be a cave painter even though his lineage doesn't allow for it. This one is a longer, more complex story aimed at ages 8+ but worked well as a read aloud for us.
Documentaries we enjoyed:
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams - a little lengthy for The Kid, we watched about half of this. She and I both liked seeing the video of the pristine images from so long ago.

Activities we enjoyed:

Other resources that we didn't get to or aren't on our recommended list, but might be worth mentioning:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cave Paintings

We are getting underway studying Ancient History, beginning with a unit on cave dwellers and the Stone Age. We took advantage of a lovely spring afternoon to get a little messy with this project!

Our "cave" was a large piece of packing paper taped to the shed:



Our painting materials:
- A large bowl of mud mixed with a bit of Crisco (in place of animal fat)
- A bowl with a bit of crushed charcoal. We added some crumbles of charred wood from the fire pit once we took these outdoors.
- A bowl of blackberries to smush up to add some color



And some cave paintings!



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ancient History by Region

We have completed our prehistory study and plan on covering Ancient History region by region during first and second grade. I'll list the best resources we find as we go along. The outline is on this page and the resource lists will be linked from here.

I know it is more common and popular to study history chronologically rather than regionally, and there are many programs and schedules available for this. For this first pass through Ancients, I decided to focus on the culture of Ancient people rather than the timelines. We are using a timeline to add events to in order to see the progression through history.

I don't schedule most of the resources we use. When we start a unit, I gather books and documentaries and we jump into the pile and go through things by interest. We do start each unit with reading from the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History and Story of the World to give us a basic framework.

  • Cavemen, First Towns
  • Southwest Asia/Near East
    • Sumer and Akkadians
    • Babylonians
    • Assyrians
    • Israel
    • Persia
  • Africa
    • Africa
    • Egypt
  • South Asia/India
  • East Asia/China
  • Americas
  • Europe
    • Europe
    • Greece
    • Rome

Friday, March 27, 2015

Michael Clay Thompson: Island Level "Schedule"

Michael Clay Thompson loves language and this is clear in his educational materials. I have to assume he does not love schedules because in the many books in Island Level, there is not one schedule. We completed our main lesson once per week, with the extra practice or Practice Island scattered in on other days. See additional notes at the bottom of the list.
  1. Grammar Island 5-28
  2. Grammar Island 29-44
  3. Grammar Island 45-64
  4. Grammar Island 65-74, extra practice on page 169 in TM
  5. Grammar Island 75-87, extra practice on page 171 in TM
  6. Grammar Island 88-94, extra practice on page 173, 177, 189 in TM
  7. Grammar Island 95-114
  8. Grammar Island 115-126, extra practice on pages 179, 190 in TM
  9. Grammar Island 127-135, extra practice on pages 181, 191 in TM
  10. Grammar Island 136-158, extra practice on page 192 in TM
  11. Music of the Hemispheres 1-37
  12. Sentence Island 7-56
  13. Building Language 3-39
  14. Sentence Island TM 268-269, one assignment of student's choice
  15. Building Language 40-48
  16. Sentence Island TM 268-269, one assignment of parent's choice
  17. Music of the Hemispheres 38-47, pages 162-163 in TM
  18. Sentence Island 57-108
  19. Building Language 49-56
  20. Sentence Island TM 278-279, one assignment of student's choice
  21. Building Language 57-64
  22. Sentence Island TM 278-279, one assignment of parent's choice
  23. Music of the Hemispheres 48-63, refer to pages 154-155, 164-165 in TM
  24. Sentence Island 109-146
  25. Building Language 65-74
  26. Sentence Island TM 292, one assignment of student's choice
  27. Building Language 75-81
  28. Sentence Island TM 292, one assignment of parent's choice 
  29. Music of the Hemispheres 64-79, refer to pages 154-155, 166-167 in TM
  30. Sentence Island 147-188
  31. Building Language 82-85
  32. Sentence Island TM 304, one assignment of student's choice
  33. Building Language 86-93
  34. Sentence Island TM 304, one assignment of parent's choice
  35. Music of the Hemispheres 80-103, refer to pages 154-155, 168-169 in TM
  36. Sentence Island 189-226
  37. Building Language 94-101
  38. Sentence Island TM 314, one assignment of student's choice
  39. Building Language 102-109
  40. Sentence Island TM 314, one assignment of parent's choice
  41. Music of the Hemispheres 104-105
  42. Sentence Island 227-256
  43. Building Language 110-117
  44. Sentence Island TM 324, one assignment of student's choice
  45. Building Language 118-125
  46. Sentence Island TM 324, one assignment of parent's choice 
  47. Music of the Hemispheres 106-116, refer to pages 154-155,170-171 in TM
  48. Building Language 136-128
  49. Music of the Hemispheres117-130, refer to pages 154-155, 172-173 in TM
Notes:
  • I include the extra practice in Grammar Island within the lesson in the list, though we did them during a different time slot than the main lesson. 
  • We did not do all of the extra practice, just enough to know my daughter understood. 
  • Likewise, we did not do all the writing activities in Sentence Island, just enough to have fun with the concepts.
  • We do BraveWriter-style poetry teas. We talked about what we had learned from Music of the Hemispheres during the poetry teas and related it to the poetry we were reading.
  • Beginning with week 11 (as soon as we had finished Grammar Island) we completed two sentences from Practice Island per week.
  • If you are looking to do copywork or dictation, the sentences in Practice Island can be used for short passages.
  • I do realize that 49 lessons does not fit into most people's "school year". I don't really think in school years, so this simply doesn't matter to me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

BFSU: Foundational Units

These three mini-units can be done in any order. Keep them simple. They are meant to help lay a foundation for later concepts, so they must be understood, but they will be reinforced repeatedly as you progress through the program.

Introduction to Gravity
Resources: Magic School Bus episode (was a good example of gravity having an effect on weight)

Lesson 1: BFSU D-1: Gravity I: The Earth's Gravity. Horizontal and Vertical. Part 1
Lesson 2: BFSU D-1: Gravity I: The Earth's Gravity. Horizontal and Vertical. Part 2
Lesson 3: BFSU D-1: Gravity I: The Earth's Gravity. Horizontal and Vertical. Part 3
Lesson 4: Magic School Bus Gains Weight


Introduction to Energy
Resources: Magic School Bus episode (just for fun)

Lesson 1: BFSU C-1: Concepts of Energy I: Making Things Go, part 1
Lesson 2: BFSU C-1: Concepts of Energy I: Making Things Go, part 2
Lesson 3: BFSU C-1: Concepts of Energy I: Making Things Go, part 3
Lesson 4: Magic School Bus episode: Getting Energized


Introduction to Living Things
Resources: None. I did use the Science in a Nutshell kit: Is It Alive? for this, but can not recommend it for several reasons. I recommend doing this lesson as written and saving the possible expansions for later topics in Thread B.

Lesson 1: BFSU B-2: Distinguishing Living, Natural Non-Living, and Human Made Things, part 1
Lesson 2: BFSU B-2: Distinguishing Living, Natural Non-Living, and Human Made Things, part 2
Lesson 3: BFSU B-2: Distinguishing Living, Natural Non-Living, and Human Made Things, part 3