Friday, May 30, 2008

When the books are on the boat...

It's the end of May and Grade Three is a total and complete loss far from being finished. I'm trying to be okay with that, but truly I'm not.

Sunburst and I worked on a few Old Testament stories before we left the U.S. We were painting the days of creation but only finished the work for day 5 before I started feeling like a chicken with my head cut off and had to really hunker down and finish the packing. All the homeschooling books went on the boat. All the painting supplies. All the beeswax crayons. And most of the toys. I will be delighted to see them all again, like old friends, but we just received word that the updated delivery date isn't until June 28th. --And to think I made it through three overdue pregnancies. Eight weeks has never seemed so long!

I decided to carry on with some lessons to help us feel a bit of normalcy in the midst of this huge transition to life overseas. Without my materials to address the spiritual side of Grade 3, we are focusing on the basics-- mainly math and spelling. Sunburst's reading comprehension is not something I have to worry about. Her spelling, however, leaves a lot to be desired. I often wonder if she is just not a Speller, if that makes sense. Some folks aren't, and it eludes me. Spelling came easy for me from the beginning, so I have to always remind myself to take a step back and remember that other people, including Sunburst, may be wired differently.


To work on spelling, I take 10 words each week that Sunburst writes (either in her journal, book reports, letters, etc.) but can't spell. She likes the idea that they aren't just arbitrary words, but words she uses regularly. We include names, as well, because at the very least you should be able to spell your friends' names.

It's very old school of us, I know, but spelling with Sunburst appears to be a matter of repetition. So she writes each word three times, and then she writes a short story using all the words. It's very cute. Of course she can't stop with just the story, she wants to make it into a little book. The deal with this is that ALL the words have to be spelled correctly in the little books, so I take her story and correct all the spelling and punctuation (learning by example,) and she's good to go.

We reused some packaging paper from our recent IKEA purchases to make a couple of little books, and she illustrated them and copied the text into them. They're very sweet.

After she makes the books, she's ready for a spelling test. She ENJOYS spelling tests. I think it's the strong choleric part of her temperamental make-up. She loves to rise to meet a challenge, be it sports or spelling tests or knitting stitches or screwing furniture together. She loves it. Moonshine, on the other hand, appears to lack this trait so far.


With math we are just revisiting the times table. Like most people we have noticed that if you don't use it, or practice it regularly, you lose it. So we are back to the times table and telling all new stories, just off the cuff, to go with them. I'm able to add in a bit of German language and local stuff in this way as well, a mixed bag approach, that looks something like this:

King Kindman, or rather König Kindmann, didn't like cheese. One day he climbed on his favorite horse and set off on a great journey. He took with him his two, trusty and gallant steeds, each one carrying a large pack on his back. He was going to visit his cousin, the Grand Duke of Basel. When he arrived at the Duke's palace, he stopped to take note of the interesting flags hanging there, before he was ushered inside with the large packs.

How much cheese did he bring with him? Kein Käse. == zero times table

So if there wasn't any cheese in his packs, what was in there? Well, if you must know, there was a huge problem in Basel-- the people there just didn't seem to smile, especially the Grand Duke. All the people instead looked as if they had a pained expression on their faces, and our young king, er König, decided he would bring along some things to help. Maybe no one smiled because they had rotten teeth? Or sore feet? Or too much sun in their eyes?...

The first thing he pulled out of his bag? Toothbrushes. == one times table

Next? Comfortable walking shoes, but oh, you need them in pairs don't you? == two times table

To block the sun, tri-corner hats, of course! == three times table

...and so on.

Moonshine? She listened in and drew some buildings with Swiss flags in the window boxes.


  1. It is sooooo good to read about your stories and ideas again. I had not realized how much I missed these little peeks into your lives.

    ElmTree asked for spelling work a while back, so I took books that told stories with pictures only and she would write her own story. Every time she needed to ask me how to spell a word, she would underline that word. Once the story was done, she would make a list of all the underlined words and that would be her list of spelling words. She loved that. Lately, her spelling has much improved and she LOVES having little spelling bees. I pick random words from books/dictionaries for her to spell and use in a sentence. Lately, though, these have degenerated into total silliness with her spelling everything I say as "S-L-I-M-Y" or "B-U-T-T". She's such a nine year old!

    Book making is a favorite of all the girls...and FaerieFe's current material of choice are toilet paper rolls soaked in water, flattened, folded, and left to dry. These make very sturdy little covers. She then staples little pieces of paper that she has cut to size into the cover. Very labor intensive, but that's part of the joy. A very large part.

    Brilliant idea, as always, for the time tables. I'd love to hear all about your "and so on" as you add to this!

    We look forward to Sunburst practicing her spelling on Post Cards To Her Friends, heh heh!!

  2. EMPTY toilet paper rolls. Just to clarify.

  3. Anonymous7:53 PM

    You have such a wonderful, hands-on approach with your kids. I like how you make stories up to teach them things. :)


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