Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Right-Left Brain and the Power of Movement

Our lesson today started out as a normal spelling lesson--we spelled a few review words and went over some of the mastered rule cards--all was going well with my 12 yo son. Then I opened the book and picked up where we left off--the 2nd dictation sentence. Usually he enjoys the dictations. Today he started rubbing his eyes and saying that they were tired. He tried to write the first sentence and couldn't remember how to spell "while." I encouraged him to leave it and finish, then come back to it. He tried wale and ended up with whale.

"That says 'whale.' What would need to change to make it say 'while?'" I gently asked.

"My brain won't work right today!" he exclaimed, frustrated. A lot of his letters were drawn over several times (in pencil), messy, and pushed together. He changed 'whale' into 'while.'

We were only a few minutes into our 20 minute session, but I said, "let's take a break?"

That threw off my structure-loving son--what? "We can't do that! I won't finish!"

Yep, son, we're going to march now. Marching wasn't on his top ten list of things he wanted to do right then. I made sure that he was alternating arms and legs--right arm with left leg, left arm with right leg, etc... He assured me this was no break and would make his eyes more tired. I said "try it!" and continued marching. He marched up and down the hall a few times, then tried leaps with alternating legs/arms. I told him crawling was good for crossing the right/left brain barrier and he grinned and got down and crawled a bit!

A few minutes later we were back at our lesson, another dictation sentence. I had a changed son. His mood had lightened considerably. His letters were neater, bumped the lines, didn't run into each other--and everything was spelled perfectly. I gave him high praise and encouraged him to put just a little bit more space between his words for the next dictation. He ended up writing 9 sentences in the remaining time! All were much neater than the first one, and none of them had spelling errors. Way to go!

Have any of you experimented with right-left brain activity or exercise as a break when your kids are struggling?

Merry :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Need to save a couple hundred?

On Mother's Day, Dave informed our dear little cherubs that their mother is priceless...and that they'd be getting the bill soon, LOL!

The kids tried to guess how much it would be & one of them said, "1.1 million dollars?" I said that sounded pretty good (Dave said it wasn't enough!).

Then when we were cleaning up, my sooo sweet son asked, "Can I help clean anything else?"

"Oh thank you honey, that was so sweet of you to ask..." I said, to which he replied,

"That ought to be worth a couple hundred off!"


Well, I might take some off for that, and for the menu (made by dd) :-)

Merry :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My daughter made me cry today...

She & dh went out to get me a rose, and she sang a song she made up:

There is no one richer than me, richer than me, richer than me. There is no one richer than me, because I have a mom who reads to me.

There is no one richer than me, richer than me, richer than me. There is no one richer than me, because I have a mom who teaches me.

There is no one richer than me, richer than me, richer than me. There is no one richer than me, because I have a mom who loves me.

(She got the idea from a poem we read the other day, "The Reading Mother" by Strickland W. Gillilan--in the Glorya Hale collection, An Illustrated Treasury of Read-Aloud Poems for Young People. Such a great poetry book!)

"The Reading Mother"

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.

by Strickland W. Gillilan

Keep reading to your kids :-)

Merry :-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Getting Organized with Workboxes!

It's been a week since we started using Sue Patrick's Workbox System, and I thought I'd post some pictures!

She strongly advocates using shoe-box style bins, but we didn't have the space for that, so here's what I opted for instead:

That's in our kitchen! The tower drawers can be easily added to, another plus for me! We have 8 right now, but I think we really need 10-12 to be able to break things down sufficiently, yet still throw in some fun stuff :-). (After all, the fun stuff is what motivates!)

Here's a close-up of the drawers fully loaded and ready to go:

I debated whether to go with the velcro numbers--I was afraid my 12-yo might think they were a little childish. But, since the drawers are not easily-removable like bins would be, and the visual of seeing that work is getting done and being able to tell at a glance where you are & how much is left is an important part of the system. I had to at least try! So I was VERY careful in how I introduced the concept to him. I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if you could just look at the drawers and know without opening a bunch of them where you were working and how much you had left to do?" (Gee, Wally, that sure would be swell!) Well, he was sold then!

Here are the drawers in action:

So here's what they do--As they complete each drawer, they have to turn in any written work to a box on the kitchen table, and return any books or supplies (like their Bible or a reader, or their personal whiteboard markers & erasers for AAS!) to the drawer it came out of. THEN...and ONLY THEN, is that drawer finished. That's when they can remove the numbered velcro sticker and put it on their progress chart for the day--here's Zach's chart in progress:

The charts stay on top of the carts, which conveniently are a divided tray that fit their pencil boxes too.

I chose to put a few extra velcro stickers in 2 of the little boxes. We have stickers for:

Clean room/make bed (they do this before breakfast)
Music Practice
Family Service (assigned chores they do each day).

Here are Anna's stickers:

We've had a schedule for years, so this really hasn't enabled us to get more done in less time like it might for some. But I started it because we had occasional missing books, and because the kids would forget to turn in work sometimes (and I would forget to tell them, or I would forget to correct work that day...). So I really like this system for the accountability and organization it's given us, and I'm hoping it will be a good, long-term solution.

All done for the day!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Growing up...

Anna is finishing AAS Level 2 tomorrow. I'm feeling kind of nostalgic--she seems so old since her birthday last month, she's letting her bangs grow out now, and I wonder how much longer she'll be my "little girl." She's only 10, and yet the days seem to be slipping away. I want to treasure each one of them! Not so long ago, she was my "Raggedy Anna!"

With the dolls and clothes my grandma made!

Now she says she's too old for coloring books (and she could probably SPELL coloring books, LOL!).


Congratulations, Anna!

Mom :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Spelling Emergency!

My son (who is in 6th grade) has come so far since starting All About Spelling! Just a year ago he was having trouble keeping the word "from" straight in his mind--he would often reverse the o and r, and write "form" by mistake. Now, only 2 days ago he was writing sentences in Sunday school, and he spelled "emergency" correctly! He was as surprised as I was, and so happy when I praised him. We started AAS in May of 2008, and he's now in book 3. We're both so pleased with the progress he's made.

Edited to add:  Not long after this, he won the "most improved speller" award at our homeschool spelling bee!  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

All About Spelling Review Update

My kids still enjoy All About Spelling, and their writing has improved so much. They can spell more words and if they do make a mistake, usually the mistake makes phonetic sense--no more simply "decorating with vowels" or adding extra letters because the word might need more!

They have a lot more confidence now and both have told me that reading is more fun too. I think AAS has helped with word-attack skills for bigger words, as well as helping with their speed. Zach actually read a huge Indiana Jones novel (with all four books in it). Back in September he told me that the first chapter in one of the books didn't make sense and didn't belong. After discussing how that couldn't be true, he put the book up for awhile and re-read it in November--and told me that now he could read it all and that it DID make sense! Zach is now in Level 3, and Anna is nearing the end of Level 2. Click to see my original review.

Winter, 2012: Hard to believe my kids are in Levels 5 and 6 now! My oldest is in 9th grade and has decided that writing isn't so hard any more. He spells words like "experience" correctly in his rough drafts and doesn't have many words to correct as he revises. He continues to say, "All About Spelling is the only spelling that worked for me." My 7th grader has started taking notes for science and history so that she'll learn more--100% HER idea! And sometimes she writes for fun as well. I feel like AAS has freed them to be able to write by making spelling easier, and through the dictation and Writing Station exercises.