Progress Report: Grade 2 & Kindergarten (2009/10)

Progress Report 2009/2010, Cinder’s Grade 2 year and Flora’s Kindergarten year

LEARNING PLAN OVERVIEW

Key Objective: To continue to foster Cinder’s love of learning and exploration; to continue to foster Flora’s love of learning and exploration

Evaluation and assessment: Project, Portfolio and Progress-based, Qualitative

Focus for Cinder: Hands-on experiments and experience in natural and physical science, physical activity and health, exposure to wide variety of books, events and people

Focus for Flora: Plenty of opportunities for art, music and dramatic play, physical activity and health, exposure to wide variety of books, events and people

Note: Our overall approach to Cinder and Flora’s learning is holistic and integrated. The breakdown below into subjects is for the purposes of the CBE learning plan and progress report only.

PROGRESS REPORT SUMMARY

It’s been a full year for Cinder and Flora, during which they did an awful lot of exploring, playing and learning. Cinder has continued to gorge on science, theoretical and practical. He has also widened his focus on numbers and mathematics―his progress there has been considerable. His building skills, with Lego and other materials, have also continued to develop, as has his skill with clay creation and painting. He has demonstrated some progress with drawing and printing, making comic-style drawings (usually of explosions) with text, as well as writing―with help―short notes to family and friends. He continues to love being read to, and spends a great deal of time alone with books. He has compiled a list of 100 words he can read, and his decoding skills continue to improve. He has learnt to swim independently and is learning to dive; he has “retired” gymnastics, but he continues to work on his rock-climbing. He takes excellent care of his new baby brother, he is teaching his little sister math, and he continues to demonstrate a love of nature in all of its cuddly and buggly forms.

Flora has spent the year focused on practicing reading and writing, starting journals and diaries, and developing very complicated play plots and stories for her toy animals. She is a competent phonics decoder and can pretty much read anything she focuses on, although she is more comfortable with individual words than with sentences. She loves to be read to and to read to herself and to her baby brother and her animals. She has done some basic addition and subtraction work and is very focused on learning to tell time right now. She has been very interested in Egypt this past year, and is now on China. Her drawing and exploration of colours has been pretty amazing. She has continued her gymnastics and music classes, and started guitar and ballet. She continues to demonstrate a love of nature and in particular animals, and currently plans to be a vet when she grows up.

Activity highlights for 2009/2010 appended as calendar to end of report

NATURAL AND PHYSICAL SCIENCE

Objective: To explore and experience the natural world, and to gain through experience an understanding of its underlying laws

Cinder: Building, mixing, blowing up, taking apart, reading and re-reading Horrible Science books and magazines: science exploration has been part of almost every day for Cinder this past year (again). Add to the mix a steady diet of Mythbusters’ episodes, a couple of Mad Science workshops, and attending every offered seminar at the Homeschoolers’ Days at the Science Centre, and you’ve got the ingredients for a growing scientist. Cinder has “retired” dinosaurs this year (“I just don’t really like them that much anymore”) but they’ve led him to an interest in volcanoes and thus geology, evolution, etc.―such a privilege to watch his path unfold.

Flora: Flora got a lot of secondary exposure to “hard-core” science via her brother, but her forte has remained empathetic relations with animals. However, she has shown an affinity for basic chemistry this year as well, and enjoyed the Mad Science workshops she attended.

Key Resources
Mythbusters DVD series
Horrible Science series of books (Scholastic UK), including Nick Arnold’s The Stunning Science of Everything, Horrible Science magazines
Experiments from Adventures with Atoms and Molecules
Mad Science workshops on states of matter and molecules
Homeschoolers’ Days at the Science Centre
Drumheller’s Tyrrell Museum and Reptile World
Vancouver Aquarium

LANGUAGE

Objective: To continue to foster love of books and reading, and to provide plenty of opportunities for developing communication skills with a variety of media

Cinder: Cinder has continued to crack the literacy code in his own unique way and at his own pace. He has completed “Race to 100”: a compilation of 100 words he can read. Of these, he can read and write 50 very easily; with the other half he needs to focus on decoding them, but can do so consistently. He has created many comic-style drawings this year that include some action words and dialogue, as well as crafted a “script” for a Lego movie. He has also started memorizing and acting out dialogue from favourite books―especially the Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie Series. He’s also demonstrating increasingly sophisticated decoding ability, i.e. asking how to spell something so he can look things up in indexes of books, writing down passwords or website addresses for future reference, copying names of Lego sets etc.

Flora: Flora continued practicing reading and writing this year through being read to, reading to herself, her big brother and her animals, writing journals and notes, doing word-searches, cross-word puzzles, and making up stories, and she continues to excel in this area. She also enjoys memorizing songs and entire books.

Key Resources
Mo Willems and Melanie Watt books
Dozens of other fiction and non-fiction books
Note: we started the year by reading selections from Five in a Row, and they were pretty uniformly disliked by both children

MATHEMATICAL SKILLS

Objective: To foster comfort and familiarity with numbers and number games

Cinder: Cinder has a very strong mathematics sense, and grasps introduced concepts easily. Through his various games as well as his saving/change jar, he has explored the basic functions of addition and subtraction (through to three digits), number recognition (through to four digits), multiplication and division (through to 10s and beyond), fractions, ratios, percentages, negative and positive integers, etc. The emphasis this year remained on oral or tactile practice, and we have done no “book” math.

Flora: Not a big area of focus for Flora this year, although she has sporadically worked on some basic addition and subtraction. Her focus has been trying to sort out the second-minute-hour-day-week-etc chain of time, and she has intermittently been obsessed with the concept of zero.

Illustrative anecdote: May 30, in the car. C: Mom, is three fives 15? M: Yes. C: If you double that, is it 25? R: No, it’s 30. If you double that, it’s 60, if you double that, it’s 120, if you double that, it’s 240, if you double that, it’s 480. If you double that, I have to think about it a second… it’s almost 1000… 920? No, 960.

Key Resources
Farmville, Mission Addition, Slimey Subtraction, Batman Multiply and Divide, Jedi Math
Change jar
Board games
Note: I had anticipated we would spend more time exploring math through literature: neither child was the least bit interested in this, with the exception of a few weeks we spent revisiting the Sir Cumference series by Cindy Neuschwander

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH

Objective: To provide Cinder with as much physical activity as he needs to be a healthy and happy child

Cinder: Cinder continues to exercise himself like mad. He participated in a gymnastics drop-in program in the fall, but in the winter this was replaced by rock-climbing. He loves swimming and continues to excel in this area; the plan for this summer is formal diving classes. He has started practicing rope jumping and playing informal soccer with the neighbourhood kids.

Flora: Flora continued her formal gymnastics classes and swimming, and tried a ballet class. She has also gotten much better at climbing trees, and has started rope jumping.

Both children have learnt a great deal this year about baby needs, growth and health, and continue to be interested in cooking. They’ve also designed and planted their first vegetable garden.

Key Resources
Inglewood Aquatic Centre
Stronghold Climbing Centre
The great outdoors
The kitchen

SOCIAL STUDIES, HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY

Objective: To expose Cinder and Flora to the diversity and complexity of the social and cultural world of the present and the past
Once again, not an intended area of focus for this past year, and yet one that kept on manifesting itself. There were Flora’s two immersions into Egypt and then China, Cinder’s continued interest in airplanes and by extension world wars, conflicts and politics, regular visits to the Glenbow and other museums, and, of course, the experience of the world via books and DVDs. Both children have a very good grasp of basic geography, and a basic knowledge of “ancient” history.

Key Resources
Homeschool days at the Glenbow Museum
Travel: Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Edmonton, Manitoba
Festivals: Aggie Days, Global Fest
Dvds (Canadian Geographic Kids, National Geographic, Arizona Smith Scholastic Series)
Military Museums
Bombardier Museum at Nanton

THE ARTS

Objective: Exposure and enjoyment

Cinder and Flora participated in several arts-related activities and projects this year including (i) a homeschool art class at Wildflower Art Centre (October & November 2009), (ii) a family arts combo class at North Mount Pleasant Art Centre (January-March 2010), (iii) Artisana craft co-op (November-March), (iv) homeschool art and clay class at Wildflower Art Centre (April-May), as well as continuing to work on various projects at home.

Drama and theatre did not play as big a role in our lives as in past years and as we had expected, but Cinder did attend the Green Fools workshop at the CBE, and Flora enjoyed her Storybook Ballet class at the City of Calgary (January-March). We all attended and enjoyed two of the Sunday Symphonies for Kids concerts at the CPO.

Both children fell in love with the Mo Willems’ books, memorized several of them, and enjoyed putting them on as “plays” for family. They also created a one-minute play for the Glenbow Museum one minute film contest called Fish Eat Fish. Additionally, they will be attending a one day workshop by the Calgary Young People’s Theatre on June 23rd.

Cinder: While creating with pencil or paint is not Cinder’s activity of choice very frequently, when he has expressed himself in this way this year, the technical progress he has made has been pretty considerable. Some example of his work are in the portfolio.

Flora: In addition to continuing her Orff music classes, Flora finally convinced us to buy her a guitar and started taking guitar lessons in January and is making good progress. She spent the first six or seven months of this year drawing unicorns; she then diversified to giraffes, and is now drawing all sorts of pretty funky things. Some examples of this work are in her portfolio.

Key Resources

We continue to be extremely impressed by and grateful for the arts programming offered by the City of Calgary at the art centres. The Discovery Room at the Glenbow Museum is one of our favourite places in the city and a place where the children get to try their hands at some lovely art.

flora
(Photo credit: vikisuzan)

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