Monday, August 10, 2009

First Day of First Grade

I must say today went rather well. I feel like I set just the right amount of work for the day and was right on the mark with where Will's strengths and weaknesses would be. There were, of course, a few last minute changes and additions, but overall it went as I thought it would. I am quite pleased! This will be a long, detailed post, but I wanted to record our first homeschooling day.

Yesterday, Will mentioned that we should raise a flag to let everyone know that it was the first day of school. I told him that I didn't have a flag, but that we could decorate a poster board to make one. He immediately came up with all kinds of ideas, so I knew that would be an impromptu addition to the day's work. :)

The day started with him waking before the other two boys and joined me in bed. He asked if we could read the next chapter in his Wishbone book, so I did. Then he asked about school and I said we could get started right then if we wanted. I suggested we start off with something easy and he agreed. I pulled out his phonics book and did the first three lessons. During the third lesson, he asked if that could be the last one and I said sure... especially since I had only planned the first three for the day. (The lessons are very short and quite easy in the beginning... we will eventually taper off to a single lesson each day.)

The other boys woke up and they all played while I warmed chocolate "milk" on the stove. They played inside and outside together very nicely this morning. They began with a short game of hide and seek and then I found them outside with a wagon hooked up to a tricycle. Very inventive little boys I have! :) They were also quite a bunch of curious little rascals as I put my new all-in-one copy machine together!

Will came inside and asked about breakfast. I told him that while I was cooking the sausage he could practice his handwriting. He was not pleased. He does not like to write. At all. He likes to draw but not write. Nonetheless, I sat down next to him, gave him a worksheet and helped remind him how to start and end the basic handwriting patterns. I only planned this sheet for the day as I know he hates it... sure enough, after just a few tries, he wanted to be DONE! I nudged him on and he finished his sheet, although not to the best of his ability.

There really wasn't a lot of emphasis on forming letters in kindergarten. He starts his l's and i's at the bottom of the page and goes up. He starts and finishes his o's on the "east" side of the letter and goes clockwise. While I suppose this isn't a big deal for manuscript, it will make the transition into cursive a lot harder. He really wants to learn cursive, too, so we're needing to back up a little bit and relearn some of the basics. When he was finished, I had him look back over his work and choose which ones looked the best. We put a star over the top of his choices (he really liked this part!).

After the handwriting sheet, we had our usual breakfast of sausage, dry cheerios, and fruit. While the boys ate on the couch, I read them a story about a country mouse and a city mouse. I asked questions about the differences in the country and the city and made conversation about how we just moved from the city to the country. Will made very good comparisons between the two and said that he would like to live in the country better because there are fewer laws. LOL! (I think he must be referring to the fire ordinance because he wants to build a bonfire and we told him that we are still in the city limits and can't until we move further out in the country. That brain is always going!!!)

After breakfast, he commented, "You mean that in homeschool I can stay in my pajamas while I learn?" A happy revelation for him, although he decided to get dressed sometime later in the day.

They all went to play outside again while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and started a load in the dishwasher. Sometime later, Will popped his head back inside and I asked him if he wanted to get started on his "first day of school flag". He was interested, so I brought out the new markers, crayons, and colored pencils along with a white poster board (and more paper for the other boys to draw on). We talked a little about what we wanted before we got started and I helped with the lettering of "Boys' School". He wanted to make the letters of "school" like WordWorld. So we made the "S" into a slide, added a bell to the "h", turned the "l" into a pencil flying a flag, etc. We took several breaks and he continued to come back to the flag to add more through the day. He added a train (of course) for the children to be picked up in. Then came the Christmas tree, snowflakes, and icicles. LOL! He wanted to hang it outside on the fence, but when I explained that the markers would run in the rain, he agreed to his window instead.

Before lunch we sat down and talked about community (unit study from Moving Beyond the Page). We discussed all the different buildings in a community, who works in them and why they are important. There were two worksheets that went with this. He was supposed to fill in the blanks next to the buildings on the paper: "The ________ is important because _____________." I knew he wouldn't be interested in filling in the blanks and had already planned on this being an oral exercise, but he filled in the word "school" and the word "church" before he decided that he had had enough with that pencil. Once he put the pencil down, we had a really good conversation about the buildings. I especially like his answer about the fire department: "The fire department is important because they put out fires and because they seem to be able to do just about ANYTHING!" So true... when in doubt, call the fire department!

Lunch crept up on us and Will had requested spaghetti for his first day's lunch. We ate together and then I had each of the boys pick out a book that they wanted me to read. After the three books, I pulled out a "Dick and Jane" book and had Will read a chapter aloud. Reading is another thing he is not really confident with, but it will come with practice. I have already seen improvement over the summer without any formal teaching.

Before his nap, he saw a treasure box that I had purchased and wanted to know what was inside. I told him he would find out after his nap. He whined about, so I gave him a 3 second glance into the box of wooden blocks and spindles. I think that just made his curiosity worse! :) Anyway, we all laid down for a nap. I'm not really sure if Will slept or not, but he at least stayed in bed for about 30 minutes or so.

He got up wanting to get out the treasure box, but I suggested math first while his brothers were still asleep. I knew he'd fly through this. Math is his thing, although I don't think he knows that yet. We went through two lessons in no time at all. It was mostly review, but I wanted to make sure I was accurate in my assessment of where he was mathematically. We used (new) mini dinosaurs to count and group. After our lessons, he played happily with the dinos and then moved on to building with the wooden blocks and spindles.

After all the boys were up from their naps, I let them turn on a DVD as it was now really too hot to play outside. Grandmother came over for a visit and Will showed off his flag. We talked about how we still had a Bible lesson on Joseph to do before our school day was over. Today I was just planning to do an intro to the story and some labeling of a map. I asked him what he knew about Joseph, which was quite a good bit; however, I did stump him when I asked him what Joseph's father's name was. :) So, we had part of our Bible lesson while Gran was here!

After she left, we all did our own thing for about an hour and then I had to start planning supper (pancakes, bacon, and fruit). I got the bacon and fruit going for an "appetizer" to hold the boys until I could get to the pancakes since I was busy pulling out my new laminator! More curiosity from the boys on why I would want to melt plastic onto paper. :)

Before I got to the pancakes, I pulled out the map that we needed to label with the Mediteranian Sea, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, and Cannan. I had a correctly labeled map and a blank map side by side with freshly laminated labels. Will compared the maps, found and labeled everything correctly. If he needed help, I would tell him which direction to look from the previous label, ie the Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea. So we also got some good mapping skills in during Bible study, too. :)

Then we ate some chocolate chip pancakes to round off supper and I decided that he really needed a "first day of school" picture... Mr. Goof gave me this chocolatey grin:

Then there were baths and pjs for the boys, followed by family prayer and in bed by 8:05 pm.

It was a great day! The only thing I didn't do that I wanted to do was read the actual bible story from the Bible, but Will pretty much already knew it, so we'll dive a little deeper tomorrow as we continue the lesson.

At some point tomorrow, I need to do laundry, too. I have three baskets full of clean clothes that need to be folded and put away... not to mention all the boxes of stuff that need to find a home from the move. It will all come together in it's own time, I'm sure. I'm trying to be content with where I am and enjoy the moments that I've been given with these boys. Today was the best day I have had with them in a really long time. I know I didn't mention the other two boys a whole lot in this post, but they were here and definitely not neglected. :) I hope to incorporate something with them, too, but first I want to make sure I'm getting Will off to a good start.

My favorite comment from Will today was, "You know what, mama? Homeschool was a good idea! Taking Fridays off is even better!"

Love it!

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1 comment:

mom24 said...

Sounds just perfect for a 1st day of hs! Aren't you amazed at what you can get done and taught?

The one page handwriting sheet looks great - you want to push them a bit further than they would choose to go themselves but also only give them enough that you can demand excellence as well (rather than having it turn into busy work, ya know?).

I would definitely suggest fixing the small directionality errors he has in the circle and the l's so that they don't become a habit. My 6.5yo Rachel (1st gr) did/does the same things. I took a black marker and put a smiley face on her left thumbnail and named it 'Mr. Thumbkin.' She holds her hand like she's hitch hiking for the cue. From there I always remind her to start lines from his 'head' (meaning the top) to his toes and circles that run 'to' him (meaning counter clockwise) 'because circles love him.'
I hope you all continue to have fun! I know that his reading will steadily improve until he hits that 'click' point and takes off on his own (don't fret though since every kid is so very different in this timing)!