Tag Archives: school

Change Can Be Good

In her own words…

All about getting glasses in her Main Lesson Book.

All about getting glasses in her Main Lesson Book. Uphill.

I think kid cursive looks like that super curly ribbon used on packages. I had to get glasses too but mine are taking longer because BIFOCALS. I am ancient. Hah!

I’m working on a hat for a friend’s Mother-in-law who’s having chemo. We picked Little Flower Hat for the pattern. I’ve learned a new cast on and everything!

Uphill From Here, Cursive in Grade 3

Cursive on the wall.  (command clips hold ALL THE THINGS)

Cursive on the wall. (command clips hold ALL THE THINGS)

I’m pretty sure I mentioned that we were going to work on cursive over the summer rather than waiting for the new school year? Oak Meadow Grade 3 jumps right in with copywork, and it felt like cursive was one of those skills that would work better for Ellie if we took a slower, more deliberate approach. I ordered two cursive workbooks (I needed to brush up on my cursive too) and a teacher’s manual from Handwriting Without Tears.

Things I Like and Why I Picked “Cursive Without Tears” (in case you Googled for a review):

  • examples are clearly visible no matter what-handed the student is
  • clean, straight-forward, easy-to-read script (room for personalized embellishment later)
  • examples are straight up and down, allowing for a personal decision about the way to slant later
  • if you use unlined writing paper (Waldorf style), you’ll be happy with the double lines to guide letter formation
  • lesson progression makes sense
  • because of the way letters are introduced, students practice real words early in the program

It was everything I’d hoped. We completed a lesson a day (mostly just on weekdays) and she was writing letters to Gran by the end of the summer.

Since we’re just beginning the writing assignments in Grade 3 and have just started to write on paper without guiding lines, I am still supporting her writing practice. I’ve had her dictate her sentences/paragraphs to me (at the end of last year, she was writing rough drafts on her own), I write them out in cursive, and she copies them over into her Main Lesson Book. This way, not only does she have a reference, she can see how the whole word/sentence looks compared to the whole. We’ll do this for another week or so in order to build a little confidence (and stamina) with unlined paper. Main Lesson Books can be intimidating when they are brand new and empty.

Ellie notes that when she was printing, her lines of handwriting tended to “go downhill” on the page. With cursive, the lines go uphill. This tickles us.

Have I talked about Main Lesson Books? If I haven’t, I’ll do that soon. It’s a neat idea.

Grade 3: Lesson 1

our classroom (part of it)

our classroom (part of it)

hard at work

hard at work

we're going to work with chalk all year (not OM, we just want to)

Sea Scape. we’re going to work with chalk all year (not OM, we just want to)

I’ve got a blue bear that’s been sitting on my desk all week waiting to be photographed and yarn for two special orders has arrived.

Maybe Grade 3 will be more productive for me – it’s really too soon to tell.

Oak Meadow Grade 2 (the handy stuff)

Emily’s Hot Tips for Oak Meadow Grade 2

  • Go ahead and get both a big wall map and a globe. They are equally important to an understanding of geography.
  • If you don’t like to be outside or if nature makes you feel creepy, Oak Meadow Grade 2 is not for you. An enormous chunk of the Science coursework involves the out-of-doors. It’s a good idea to find some local nature spaces ahead of starting school, you’re going to visit them a lot.
  • Start saving those Ranger Ricks and All Animals now. You’ll need them for collages. Your library may have old issues of animal-filled magazines in their freebie stack. The Best Friends Animal Society publication was also a great critter picture resource.
  • Your local public library will be hugely helpful. I’m sure this is true for any curriculum. There are many opportunities and suggestions for enrichment so making friends with your librarian (and getting library card upgraded to ‘educator’) is a really good thing. If your library system has an on-line catalog that allows you to place items on hold, you’re ahead of the game.
  • My one ‘I wish I had done that differently’ is not giving Social Studies its own Main Lesson Book. The recommendation is that Social Studies and Language Arts be combined while Math and Science each get their own book. Between the enormous volume of work associated with Language Arts and my personal dislike of having Ellie’s writing and illustration juxtaposed with the occasional map of ancient Mali, the combined Main Lesson Book has been a little bit of an angst-maker. By the time I figured out how much this would bug me, it was too late. This is obviously a personal preference and your mileage may vary.
  • Speaking of Main Lesson Books, I switched from the beautiful (and expensive) Waldorf-style books to hard-backed, artist’s sketch books after four lessons. Language Arts had already filled up one book and I did the price tag and storage difficulty math. One decided advantage of the traditional Main Lesson Books is that they are slim, allowing wrists and arms to rest easily on the table. This is a great thing for beginning writers, but Ellie did fine with the thicker sketchbooks. Again, it’s a personal preference.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your little plastic animal collection. For everything.
  • Several of the Lessons could have been tied into Girl Scout Brownie Skill-Building Badges if I had been paying attention (First Aid, Hiking, Painting, and Bugs come to mind). Keep your eye out if you have a Girl Scout.

Things That I Paid Money To Have That I didn’t Really NEED Need
But Ultimately Made Everything Nicer

  • Amazon Prime
  • White board – We use it everyday. It saved paper, helped with gross motor skills, and was all around great. Much less messy than a chalk board and extra nice if you or your child (or both) have a skin condition like eczema (chalk dust can wreck your skin).
  • Project Trays – Oak Meadow prefers a wet paper watercolor technique, so these are great for that. They are also wonderful for storing clay projects to let them dry, collage bits, nature table stuff that likes to shed, you get the idea. Ours came from here.
  • Command Clips!! They hold all the things! Including things you want to hang from the ceiling! I like our curtain wire set-up from IKEA a lot, but I probably would have been OK with a couple rows of command clips.
  • If you are considering a Walt Disney World vacation, this is the year. The Animal Kingdom is the ultimate Oak Meadow Grade 2 field trip – everything we studied in science this year as well as a good bit of Social Studies was reinforced on this trip. Also roller coasters.

Ellie’s Suggestions

  • Having cats is great because they can come to school with you and you can observe them for Science.
  • Having a white board is really cool.
  • Get good colored pencils! It’s nice to draw with really really good ones. (she used my Prismacolor collection)
  • Take all the chances to go outside.
  • Fred
  • Oak Meadow (which I think means that she enjoyed the coursework)

Welcome to Summer Vacation

Oak Meadow Grade 2 is a wrap. We had 172 school days and nine billion happy memories.

The first event of summer? Brownie Hiking Badge!

She made GORP,

It's her own recipe.

It’s her own recipe.

researched hiking gear (visit to the Bass Pro camping and hiking section), practiced her observation skills (counted bugs), picked a route, and kept track on the map.

Matching actual location to map location.

Matching actual location to map location.

Between camps and badges (and finishing this Mermaid pattern arrrrggghhhh), there’s plenty to keep us busy all summer.

Second to Last

It’s the second to last day of Grade 2.

For fun, Ellie took the front wheel off a very, very old bike.

She's taking it all apart.

She plans to take it apart completely.

And built a tent.

Yes.  That is a gorilla in a dress.  Her name is Beatrice.

Yes. That is a gorilla in a dress. Her name is Beatrice.

It’s pretty much summer already.

Animal Classification

Ellie sorting tiny plastic animals again

I love these little things.

For the purposes of Grade 2 science, animals are classified as: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods.

I also mentioned cephalopods because octopuses are amazing.

I deeply regret not having any plastic protozoa. No one seems to make them.