Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Plugging Along and Reading Tons More

I am finally really reading the book, The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, and it has change my perspective on reading aloud. We now read aloud daily, for hours. Literally. And I plan on continuing this trend indefinitely. Even though I feel positive it still too early to see any results from this changed schedule, other than my voice sounding like it is about to give out at the end of the day, I am starting to wonder if improvement may indeed already be noticeable. 

My little one used the word "explosive" this morning. He is a boy and he was referring to something analogous to bathroom humor. But, I was pleased to hear him use "explode" in the adjective form.  And my daughter, who is THE reader, is reading more these days. Yes, even more than the hours I spend each day reading a loud to her. 

We finished reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White this week and are half way through The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson. We read a lot at meal time.  Because I eat much more quickly than the kids, and tend to finish sooner, we are able to use the time between the point at which I finish my meal and the distant point at which the kids finish theirs, to read aloud. Reading aloud doesn't make them eat any faster, but sometimes it does entice them to eat more of what is on their plate. 

So far, the kids love my reading aloud. We read chapter books as well as picture books. We read after meals, in the afternoon when I am feeling too tired to accomplish other things, and before lights out. If you are interested in all the academic and life long benefits of reading aloud to children, please read this book. I do hope that in the end some of the positives Jim Trelease identifies in his book rub off on my children. 

Now, onto other more literary and less literary topics.
I guess we'll begin with the more literary topics. D is beginning to pick up his reading schedule. Here he is reading from a set of Bob books and I don't remember which set. These aren't my favorites, but he things they are fun.
D is also really reading our early reader biome readers from Waseca. Please take a moment though, and just look at those chubby baby feet!
D is also spelling. I am not sure why he didn't put "bee" since he has spelled this word in the past, but here he was following along with our silent "e" long vowel sound lesson. He also spelled: name, line, sale, robot (he had learned another open-syllable rule to spell this one,) line, bone, and a bunch of other words I am not remembering right now. He was so excited to be included in a "big-kid" lesson.

He can't spell as quickly as T or S, but he will probably become a better speller than his siblings.
We take our spelling lessons from All About Spelling. We are about a third of the way through level 2.
These drawings were a result of our Story of the World reading. This is a bunch of rice chasing Anansi the spider. This illustration was inspired by the Ancient Africa chapter and the story of Anansi the Spider and the Imaginary food. 

In a nut shell, Anansi is starving in his African village and goes in search of food in the desert. He comes upon a cassava village where everyone is a cassava root. They say, "we'll cook ourselves so you can eat us." Just as Anansi is going to eat the cooked cassava, he sees in the distance a plume of smoke and asks the cassava what that is. They say it is the plantain village and so Anansi, who loves plantains more than cassava, goes in search of that village. He comes to the plantain village and they beg him to eat them. Before he eats the plantains he notices another plume of smoke and the plantains tell him it is the rice village. So, Anansi goes in search of the rice he desires to eat even more than plantains. When he gets to the rice village and is about to eat the rice, he sees another plume of smoke and asks who lives in that village. The rice say that they do not know, but Anansi departs anyway in hopes that it is a food much better than the rice he loves to eat. In the end, he ends up in his old village, with nothing to eat and can never again find the cassava village, the plantain village, or the rice village. The moral of course is that you should eat what you are given. 

The kids all drew pictures of the Anansi in the rice village. T drew the first picture of rice people chasing Anansi imploring him to eat them.
D decided that the rice people needed houses and they would all be boiled in a large pot.
S also drew a pot and rice people chasing after Anansi yelling to him that he should eat them.

These illustrations were an interesting spontaneous work. Since this day, they have been asking for more books about Anansi. But alas, our library stinks and the four books about Anansi's adventures were all checked out when last I looked!! (I could have just as easily used another word there in place of "stinks." S and I were reviewing synonyms today and I could have used one here. Hint: it rhymes with "pucks.") Anyway, I have them on hold so maybe the librarian will be able to get his/her hands one of them for me.
Here, S is practicing her cursive handwriting. Her handwriting is okay, it is really her troubled spelling that makes her writing confusing. Still, there are a few symbols she needs to work on, like M and N. This book is mostly a relaxing activity for her, and I find myself reminding her that she has already developed a handwriting style and that she need only review forming a couple of letters. 

S and D are using the New American Cursive Handwriting book 1. I've decided that T is past this stage and his handwriting is just what his handwriting is. For the record, he prints, though he can write in cursive.
We are back to the Challenge Math by Edward Zaccaro. The first chapter was super easy and fun for him. The second chapter dealt with converting units of measure and this posed a bit more of a challenge for T. 

He still has a lot of difficulty articulating his processes. He has the numbers in his head, but they never come out of his mouth. When he comes up with an answer that is incorrect it is difficult for me to understand where he went wrong because I can't follow his process. I plan to continue to work on the narration aspect of word problems. Who knew that narration would be a vital part of math word problems?

This is how S figured out she knew how, or rather remembered how, to add and subtract fractions with like denominators that result in sums and differences of less than 1. She simply took the card, 1/2 +1/2 and said, "oh, that is a whole."
D finished dynamic multiplication on the stamp game. He was very excited about this.

T is working to finish up this division stuff. The album suggests that the child finish this work by the age of 8. Well, T is almost 10. (And no, he doesn't like the fiddly beads.) We will get there...we will get there.
On the flip side of the age range, D began division today. I made a mistake and thought that ninja division was first up. Nope, regular golden bead division is first up. So we did that, WITH unit ninja guys. Here, D is dividing 2,884 by 2. He collected the golden beads that comprise the dividend, or the amount we are to divide up. Then he set up two green mats, and two green unit ninjas to represent his divisor, or the number by which he will divide his dividend.

Then he distributed his 2,884 golden beads among his two unit ninjas, starting with his largest category, the thousand cubes. 
He found that a single ninja received 1,442 golden beads and consequently, 2,884 divided by 2 is 1,442.
 Later we explored exchanging and remainders.
Here we began with 6 thousands, 5 hundreds, 3 tens and 2 units and D divided these golden beads among three unit ninjas. 

After each ninja received two thousand cubes, as you can see in the shot above, D realized that he had only enough hundred squares to give each ninja one. The rule is that everyone must receive the same amount. One ninja may not receive two hundred squares while another ninja receives only one.There were two extra hundred squares and he exchanged them for a smaller category to continue his distribution. He exchanged the two extra hundred squares for 20 ten bars (10 ten bars for each hundred square) and then began to distribute the ten bars. He figured out that he would have 2 ten bars left over after each green unit ninja received 7 and he then exchanged these two ten bars for 20 unit beads. Then he continued his distribution. In the end, each unit ninja received 2, 177 beads and there was one bead left over. I told him that the one bead we had left over was our remainder.
I think we will be practicing this for a bit before moving on to real ninja division.
We also did a small bit of polygon and angle review today. I plan to review most of what we learned last fall before moving on to more geometry topics.
D likes to get in on the geometry stick action.


  1. It warms my heart to see our "ninja division" carrying on :) I'm so glad someone else enjoys our brand of crazy.

    Speaking of hadn't read the Trelease book yet? That book is HUGE in our lives. I think I had it on my blog on in a list of the three books I can't live without in our homeschool. My copy is getting pretty worn out. I also use "Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families. It has books on it that aren't in the Trelease.

    1. So now I'm curious as to what the other 2 books are that you can't live with out? I need more books to read...ha!

    2. Yes, the ninjas get another go around, after being kept in a box for three years because the kid in the middle thought ninjas were icky and wanted bows. :)

      Nope, haven't read anything lately.
      And now this book is huge in our lives too. I've already gotten at least one other person to purchase it in the last week as well. I'll look up that other one you recommend too. I was a bit surprised at what Trelease included and didn't include in his "Treasury" and am interested in finding other books for read-aloud.

      You probably have already figured this one out, but being a newbie at this, I just made this revelation the other evening while reading with D that Dr. Seuss books are for adults to read aloud to kids. They aren't meant for children to read as first readers. As you are stumbling over words and sounding others out, how can you hear the rhythm and rhyme that is so uniquely Dr. Seuss? Impossible. These books are for adults to read to kids. Thank you Trelease for finally pointing this out to me.

    3. I only found this post about "reading books" on your blog.. besides Susan Wise Bauer's book, which other books are the ones you can't live without?

      I guess I could go on living without them because I am already without them and still living...but maybe they'd enhance something....

    4. Okay, you couldn't find it because I now remember I didn't say that in a post on my blog, I said it in an interview I gave that was published on another blog in 2012. I'm surprised I even remembered that I said it. That blog is now defunct. But, I found it on the WayBack Machine. The list I gave is horribly out of date now because four years is a long time in the lives of my kids at this age. I gave a list of 6 things I would keep if I had to keep only five books (I know, fuzzy math). Trelease, Gettman, Dwyer Pamphlet, "Young at Art" by Susan Striker, and Burton White's "How to Raise a Happy, Unspoiled Child." My kids have outgrown the Gettman, Dwyer, "Young at Art," and the Burton White. I LOVE the Burton White and credit it for why my kids are so self-motivated (unless we have company and they are afraid to take anything out for fear of making what mom would call 'a mess'). I'll be gifting my boys with Burton White when they have kids. I wouldn't suggest the Gettman anymore now that ALBUMS are actually available. Were you guys doing this back when there were no albums?

      Dr. Seuss was very specifically written for children to read, but I agree with what you said. They are based off of something like the Dolch sight word list which doesn't make for a very Montessori-friendly early reader. Terrible for decoding. However, sight words COULD be learned in this way if the parent is reading as you said. Here is the story of how that came about: The Cat in the Hat’ resulted from a theory Seuss had that the ‘Dick and Jane’ children’s books were so boring, reading levels were down in schools because kids refused to read them. To fix this, a director at Houghton Mifflin sent Seuss a list of about 350 words kids should know and then challenged him to write a book kids couldn’t put down with only 250 of those words in it. In the end, the book uses 220 of the words most used by children.

      Me Too's favorite Dr. Seuss book was and always will be "Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb."

      I have to think a bit and see what my new "can't live without" book list would look like. The first three books on it would be the SOTW activity book reading lists, the Trelease, and the WWE literature suggestions. I used to really like "A Montessori Classroom" for the feel of what early elementary could be like but we've outgrown that too. Funny that all of my must have books are reading lists.

    5. Most Dr. Seuss books are 2nd-4th grade reading level ;)

  2. Oh, when I want to check out a book I check first to see if there is an audiobook I can check out instead. Only one in every eight books or so that we read is available on audiobook, that's why I check first. We listen in the car. It helps us power through more literature and save my voice a bit. We usually have a book my husband is reading to them, a book I am reading to them (not counting history reading during our work periods, there are more of those), and a book in the car.

    1. I've pondered this audio book option. I've never listened to audio books. Well I take that back, I've listen to one story on audio book. But since we aren't in the car very much, Thank the Lord, I am not sure how much this would help, or rather hinder us. I have a feeling we'd be stuck in the garage in the car for "one more chapter" all the time. Sometimes we have a ton of errands to do in the car on weekends, but it isn't every weekend. Many weeks the kids are in the car less than 45 minutes, broken up between dropping someone off, going to CGS and then returning home. And the one being dropped off, is in the car even less.

      Maybe we'll be in the car more over the summer. How do you manage it when you need to stop the car and get out right after the cliff hanger?

      I do agree that this would help save my voice. Do your vocal cords toughen up all after hours and hours of reading? Good thing I am not a university professor.

    2. My student just came. I'll come back for this one.

    3. Hmm. I thought you might be able to get a good chunk done on the way to and from flute lessons :) But, perhaps they are not all in the car for that. We put the audio book on any time we will be in the car 15 minutes or more. I just stop it when I stop it. If it's in the middle of a word, the kids just find that amusing. If the kids are really into the story they sometimes ask to bring it inside. How long it takes us varies. We just got through 101 Dalmations in a week because there was a driving trip. It took us three weeks to get through some other books.

      My voice does alright. I think you might be in Abbie goes overboard mode right now. I probably read aloud anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half a day.

      Good news is, you are not signing up for a commitment to audiobooks for life. You can check out one, try it, and see how it works out.

  3. Hey, we are working on fractions too! We haven't touched them in about 6 months and then reviewed all the operations yesterday. I thought it was so funny because whatever problem we worked out, the answer ended up being 2/6, which was a 1/6th and a 1/6th piece and Cat exclaims, "hey, that's one third!" I was floored but Montessori works so I should not have been surprised.

    Glad you are also reading aloud to the kids. We only read from a very big children's bible during the day (and the real bible) and then either a classic or some other book at bedtime. It definitely does NOT total up to hours worth of reading but the kids really do enjoy it. They are very disappointed if we ever have to skip it. Maybe I should get that book, it's on my list. But then that will just be another book to add to my pile of current reading! Or I could go with MyBoysTeacher's advice and just play more audio. Hmm, I'll need to think about this.

    1. We've needed to find something to read at dinner time when T and daddy are at Lax practice. So we've delved into some Bible stories too. I am not yet sure I like these translations and I don't remember where I got this Bible book. Anyway, it is a nice break from the short novel reading and T doesn't miss anything.

      Yes...those fractions. Yeay that Cat remembered those equivalencies! Maybe it is me projecting my sentiments here that fractions are boring, but the kids don't stay with this curriculum thread. Each time we revisit, they just get it, and then move onto another work. Humn. Maybe they need more challenge. Or cut up quesadillas help too.

    2. The audio helps, but like I said, only one in every eight fiction read-alouds are audio books. The Trelease says audiobooks are fine as long as they are in addition to a diet of the parent reading instead of replacing all of the parent reading. It sounds like you are doing a lot of daily reading so should be fine!