Mid-Term Progress Report 2011/12: Cinder’s Grade 4 year & Flora’s Grade 2
Recap of Objectives for the Year
Cinder’s Focus and Objectives
Cinder wants to continue to practice Tang Soo Do through the fall, and to return to a more “rigorously regular” swimming schedule. He also wants more science experiments this year, but fewer external lessons or workshops. He plans to continue working on his reading skills via the Terraria Wiki and “that awful spelling program I hate.”
Flora’s Focus and Objectives
Flora wants to do art, colour, take a clay class, do more art, draw, and, oh yeah, take another year of music class. She plans to continue learning all about animals, spend lots of time with her friends, add to her Museum of Natural Mystery, and keep on learning about Greek myths, and maybe other myths.
Parents’ Focus and Objectives
Over-arching: “we want Cinder and Flora to continue to learn and to love learning as they grow and develop into loving, capable, intelligent and productive people.”
For Cinder, our key goals are to support him as best we can along his literacy path, to re-sharpen our awareness and attention to his high physical needs, to ensure we’re feeding his hunger for science, construction, and activities with a tangible goal/product at the end, as well as to respect his need for non-social time (while structuring some opportunities for some social time).
For Flora, our key goals are to provide her with the space, time and supplies she needs to create and imagine, to ensure we’re feeding her hunger for story and imaginative play, to stay aware of the fact that she does not need as much physical activity as Cinder―and indeed, that amount exhausts her―and to provide ample opportunities for her to play with her friends.
For both: 1) To introduce some more tangible and regular handwriting practice, to provide them with the tools they need for their other activities and explorations. 2) To return to a more predictable week in the fall, anchored on a weekly basis by external activities.
An interesting and well-paced fall. Flora remains focused on art and drawing, and has leaked some of her enthusiasm onto her brother, who has increasingly been picking up pen and paper to draw zombies, sharks and other scenes of action and disaster. Cinder has upped his Lego interest by entering Lego contests at the public libraries. He continues to play Terraria and reading the Wiki with us is part of his daily reading practice. Both children have recently discovered Mathletics and we have added that to the mix. Flora continues her music lessons and Cinder Tang Soo Do. Brief highlights of some of our projects/themes thus far follow.
Handwriting. Both children worked through Book A of the Getty/Dubay Italic Handwriting series, and are currently doing select pages from Book B. Flora enjoys this; Cinder does not, but does it for extrinsic rewards.
World Map Learning Wall. We’ve put up a giant, unlabeled world map in our kitchen, and every few days―and some days every day at every meal―the map is the focus of discussion. The children have learned about continents, oceans, seas, the source of the Nile and the Amazon, the world’s 10 largest countries, who Alaska belongs to and why, the tundra, etc. They’ve also cut out and pasted animals in their places of origin, tracked their grandparents’ Australia-Asia trip (more on this below), discussed the Equator, the poles, etc.
Australia. The children’s grandparents went on a month-long trip to Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Cinder and Flora took the opportunity to learn a great deal about Australia, reading various down-under books and watching videos about life in Australia and Australian wildlife, and exchanging almost daily e-mail message with their grandma―on her side full of Australia adventures, on their side full of advice about what venomous creatures to avoid. We plotted the course of their travels on the map, and collected all the photos they emailed us into a book.
Crocodile Hunter. Their grandparents brought them back a nice collection of Crocodile Hunter DVDs (Steve Irwin nature how), and this is now the core of Cinder and Flora’s “nature studies.”
Heros of Olympus. In early fall, Cinder and Flora revisited Ancient Greece―and segued into Ancient Rome―with the reading of the two latest Rick Riordan books in the Percy Jackson serieis, The Lost Hero and Son of Neptune.
Charlotte’s Web. Flora read and listened to Charlotte’s Web for weeks―she still pops it on her i-Pad in the background when she draws or builds―and fell in love with Wilbur and Charlotte. Cinder endured it as best as he could.
Bone. The real literary adventure of the last term was Jeff Smith’s Bone, all nine volumes of which have been read and re-read by us to them, by Flora individually on her own, and with Cinder in secret, repeatedly.
Drama. Both children have attended all the fall Y-Stage plays and enjoyed them tremendously―especially Aga-BOOM! They were both enrolled in the Evergreen Theatre drama class in the fall; Cinder withdrew after three classes, bu Flora completed it and enjoyed it.
Orff Music. Flora continues her Orff Music practice, which she enjoys very much, and continues to become more adapt at reading music and playing her record.
Tang Soo Do. Cinder continues his Tang Soo Do practice very diligently. He’s also become interested in archery, and has had a couple of sessions.
Terraria, Minecraft and Skylanders. These are the three video games that the children―in particular Cinder, but also Flora―have enjoyed this past fall by themselves and with their friends. The Terraria Wiki continues to be Cinder’s primary reader, and Terraria and Skylander multi-player modes are one of their favourite ways to play with each other, some friends, and even their dad.
Mathletics. Flora binged on Life of Fred, the elementary series, early in the year, while Cinder showed no particular interest in anything math-related. Then, their school friends introduced them to Mathletics. I signed them up below grade level―grade one and three respectively―as they’ve never done any formal math or math drill, and they’re loving it. The below-grade level work is too easy―but it means they’re getting fabulous scores and very positive feedback, so we’ll keep them at it a while and use the “make this harder” options when they want a challenge.
Lego contests. Cinder entered two Lego contests, and Flora one, this fall, and they both enjoyed the experience and handled the creation, competition, and not-winning aspect of the process very well.
More of the same, keeping what works, shedding what doesn’t.
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