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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for Language

Geography: Format

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food.

Books

Preparing for French

prepping french
My task today was to prepare for French. We’ve been doing it with another family, but we haven’t returned to it since our trip. It was about time:-) Initially, we’ll re-do a number of activities (we’ll certainly re-do the topics!) So today, I simply had to print some sheets, find the animals, and print the words for a new carol:-)

Just My Type

We do copywork. I made the decision to teach cursive first (sadly after I had made my sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet:-( ) I’ve been making do with the typefaces that I have on my computer (I looked at the available copywork making pages online, but I’m not a fan of D’Nealian or Zaner-Bloser, and I’m fussy about the ‘arrangement’ on the page… at the stage Puggle is at, I want to be able to have each line of text followed by the lines for him to write on, rather than having a block of text at the top followed by the space for all his writing).
So, I decided I was going to have to do it all manually—set up the lines on the page, so I could just add the typing. But I figured if I was to be going to the effort of setting up the lines on the page, I should see if I could find a typeface that really suited me. (I had chosen Snell Roundhand, but the lowercase s was completely wrong!)
So I did a search. I found all sorts of scripts that were possible, then I found the ‘school’ category. And in there I found Écolier! It’s one of the French school scripts, and is closer than anything else to what I was looking for. And best of all? It comes in a set that includes the plain typeface, a dotted version, and two that have guide lines included! Now, I don’t have to fiddle with lines, I can just size the text appropriately for the child, put in blank lines where they need to be (which will have the guide lines included, at the appropriate size!) and then press print!
Beautiful copywork sheets with our current texts providing the words:-) Now I want to remake my sandpaper letters:-)

(Edited to add the site I used to find it, in particular the Script->School category. There are many font sites out there, so it’s worth trying a few. My only issue with what I have is that because it’s a free typeface, some things are unavailable. In the one we’re using, it’s quotation marks (although it does have apostrophes, so I’m using two of those), but in all the others, it also misses out ‘o’s. They do appear on the screen, but they don’t print. I am still trying to find a non-trial version, but it works well enough for now.)

Copywork

I just wanted to put in a plug for the AOCopywork list. If you’re doing copywork, and are reading any of the Ambleside Online book suggestions, you’ll find copywork already selected (there may still be a couple of books not done). (You will need to join to be able to access the copywork.) There are generally a couple of possible examples from each chapter (the examples are selected within fairly strict parametres… so if you’re reading it at a different level to the AO suggestion, it may not be as helpful… but if you are, they should be an appropriate length, and use appropriate grammar and vocabulary).
I joined a couple of years ago, and selected copywork for a couple of books (Swallows and Amazons, and Anne of Green Gables), thinking it was a way of contributing back to the homeschooling community who had already provided me with much food for thought:-) But until now, I haven’t used any… But Puggle has reached the stage where he’s got a grip on his letters, and is ready for something a bit more meaty—and we’ve just finished ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ (and he’s loved it!) which is one of the Year One suggestions:-) A perfect match:-)

Paper Dolls

The new topic we’re doing for French is clothing. So I thought it would be a fun idea to find paper dolls for the kids to dress. Ideally, I wanted some they could colour themselves. I found I was rather overwhelmed with options! Eventually though, I found this collection which seemed to work:-) I collected them together on a couple of sheets, and we gave them to the kids.

They loved them! We were quite surprised at just how much they did:-) (I knew Puggle was looking forward to working with them, because we recently started reading Little House in the Big Woods, and in the chapter we read just recently, Ma Ingalls had made paper dolls for Laura and Mary. And Bilby too, just because of the doll aspect, I think.) The bigger kids kept working with them for most of the rest of the afternoon, and Puggle got them out again as soon as we got home:-) All together, they were a great success. I plan to print out some more blanks for them, just to have around:-)

Geography: India

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals. (Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, King Cobra, Indian Walking Stick, Peafowl, Dhole)
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft
Second Saturday: Food.

Books
(These were the ones that seemed particularly useful, as were the two biographies above.)
Taj Mahal
Welcome to India
India (Festivals)
India (A World of Recipes)
Tiger Child

(other books we had, they seemed reasonable and age appropriate [I left more at the library:-)], but they as useful as the above books)
Indian Food and Drink
Indian Subcontinent (I know that’s not the listed title… but it’s the book we had—just with a different title)
Jamil’s Clever Cat: A Folk Tale from Bengal
Demons, Gods & Holy Men from Indian Myths & Legends
We Come From India
Country Insights: India

Shakespeare in Art

Later this year, we’ll be reading Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. Our copy is unillustrated (I believe the Baldwin Project has images in their version). I thought that it might be nice to find some art to look at as we read them (each one is only about three pages long). Thinking this might well take me a while (and being interested to see what was out there!) I started looking. In a remarkably short space of time, I came across this site. The creator has done a fabulous job of collecting and organising images associated with the plays—it will be a simple matter for me to choose two or three for each play covered in the book to look at as we read!

Words!

So I really didn’t succeed particularly well with the language section for China—but Little Pim (one of our French resources) just sent out notification of their Valentine’s Day Video. And not only is it in French, but there’s Chinese as well!

Geography: China

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals. (and the panda)
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) (Hmm… haven’t done this)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. (well, inventions)
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) (Something on Chinese New Year—how’s that for happenstance! It’s in the week after we finish, which is break week! Maybe we’ll just see what we can find then.)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. I’ve printed the instructions for lanterns, fireworks and a dragon. He can choose what he does. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food. We’re going to cook Fried Wontons with Dipping Sauce, Steamed (perch) with Ginger, Chicken in Vermicelli Fried Nest,  and Watermelon and Lychee with Ginger Sauce (or some variation thereof).

Books
Ancient China
Beijing
China
China: The Culture
Chinese New Year
Marco Polo
Taste of China
People’s Republic of China
Tibetans

Geography: Japan

First Monday: Location. (Continent, Bordering countries/oceans, hemisphere)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) (ETA: See in the comments for some music links! Thanks Purrdence!)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
(This book appears to cover a large number of the topics I want, and seeing as we’re starting later than I’d anticipated, it will be ideal:-) )
Second Saturday: Food. We’re going to cook Chicken Kuwayaki, California Rolls, and Monkey Maki. We’ll probably use the leftover sushi rice, and bits of the chicken to do Onigiri the next day. (We use an egg-cup to help shape the balls.)

Books
I was surprised how few appropriate books I could find (mind you, I failed to do my prep work, so I was searching at the library, and remembering dewey codes, and chasing kids).
Japan in Colors

Geography

Last year at Co-op, one of the mums ran a series of activities focussing on different countries. Puggle loved it! Another mother mentioned the existance of My Family Feast which was on TV at the time, and we watched that week’s episode—Puggle was hooked (even asked for it for Christmas, and Uncle R. kindly gave it to him:-) )
I figured that we needed to do some sort of exploration of the world, because he was obviously keen:-) So I decided that we’d spend two years and ‘do’ a number of different countries. I’m sticking with the continents (we’ll skip Antartica, there’s not so much of the culture side… Certainly not enough for the three months each of the other continents will take), and doing three a year. This year we’ll do Asia (Japan, China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma), Europe (France, England, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Scotland) and Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Congo). Next year we’ll do North and South America, and Australasia (I still need to fine tune our country choices). At the same time, I’m trying to make/aquire some of the Montessori-type materials to do with Geography (I’m drooling over the puzzle maps, but haven’t done anything about them yet), and I plan to put together a continent box for the continent we’re covering.

Given he’s in year 1, and this is only part of what we’re doing, I didn’t want it to be too heavy, so we’re staying in each place for two weeks, doing a little bit each day. I’m also going to borrow a stack of library books on the country, so they can be accessible (thank goodness for online reservations! I request everything that looks ok, then flick through the stack and only borrow the dozen or so that seem most interesting—and I don’t have to wander the shelves with the kids in tow:-) )
First Monday: Location (Continent, Bordering countries/oceans, hemisphere)
First Tuesday: Flag
First Wednesday: Language (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals
First Friday: Music (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People
Second Wednesday: Language
Second Thursday: Culture (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food (we’ll go to any specialty stores, and then we’ll cook a feast—and eat it of course:-) )

Fortunately, countries are often used as themes, and with the internet, it’s really easy to do a search and find all (or most) of these things—at an appropriate level! It does take a little while… but not too long. I print them in one hit, and file them in the appropriate folder, ready to go. And if I come across something for one of the other countries we’re planning to do, I can print it then and put it in that folder.

Educating Puggle 2009

Technically, this would have been his Kindergarten year.

Although I lost it in terms of blogging what we did, we did keep doing a lot. (The things I talk about below probably aren’t everything I could mention… they’re just the things that were a standout one way or another.)

Things that worked
Story of the World
Puggle loved this! I had heard good things about the audio version, so we got it in addition to the text, and I’m very glad we did! At random other times of the week Puggle has asked to listen to it, and grabbed the book and followed along (more and more accurately as his reading has improved:-) ) We haven’t done all the associated activities. This is our first time through, and he’s quite young yet (certainly not writing in any reliable way), so I’ve mostly just set him some colouring in. But he talks about what he’s heard, and he goes searching for food (like the nomads) or brings up new facts when related things are being discussed (and I really haven’t done a great job about noting those occasions—I can’t think of any now:-( )
Right Start Maths
This hasn’t precisely ‘filled his day with joy’, but he has worked happily with it, and has learnt a lot. It does work for him, but I am still developing strategies (and working on the timing) to allow me to work with him without the other two needing me:-) Bilby is better when she has her own tally sticks and abacus, but Cygnet is starting to require attention at this sort of time. Bilby likes to sing along with the songs as well:-)
Song School Latin
This has been a blast:-) Both Puggle and Bilby sing the songs, and Puggle has enjoyed working through the book. I really like the songs (well, with one exception:-) The Silly Sally one sets me on edge, but that’s not bad:-) ), and I love the range of sounds they’ve used:-) The activities have been nicely pitched (we’ve done a fair bit orally, especially at the start of the year, and used lines to join things rather than writing words out… but it’s worked well). He has been able to be somewhat independent with this. First day of a new chapter I’ve worked with him, but the rest of the week he’s managed on his own.
BlackBelt Recorder
I had not planned on getting anything for recorder. I can play a bit, and we have a couple of beginning recorder books. But we weren’t actually settling down to do it. A friend mentioned this, and I noticed it when I was at Wooldridges, and it’s only $10 (for the student book), so I picked it up. It has been great! I think a big part is the accompanying CD. I have the current tracks in our daily playlist, which means he hears them, and because they have ‘big’ instrumentation, it was actually still fun even when he was only playing 2 notes:-) Now that he’s playing actual songs (nursery rhymes), it’s a blast:-)
Workboxes
This is one of those posts I have meant to do for about the last 6 months, and haven’t got to. I would still like to put it in, with all the links I collected when reading about it, but I doubt I’ll finish the post I’d intended.
Earlier this year (about May), I came across some references to Workboxes, a daily organisation system that swept portions of the homeschooling community by storm. I read a number of blogs on the topic, and thought it looked quite workable, then read a friend’s copy of the book and decided to go for it. Unusually for me, i didn’t leap in all guns blazing, instead I used stuff we had, and printed off copies of other people’s ‘setting up’ sheets. I waited until the start of the next block, rather than beginning in the middle of one. And we gave it a go.
And it worked for me. So then, for the next block, I invested the effort to set it up ‘properly’, to make things look ‘right’.
Essentially, you have a given number of receptacles for each child (Puggle has 10, because we had inherited 2 sets of 5 drawers, and they seem to be of a suitable size, Bilby has 5, and i structure hers rather differently). In each draw, you put all the things that are required for one activity. Pretty much, Puggle starts every day with the same four boxes. Copywork (activity card, a pencil, timer, copywork sheets), Latin (activity card, pencil, Song School Latin book, any extras required for the day’s activity), Maths (activity card, pencil, workbook [sometimes], abacus, blocks/cards/tallysticks), Recorder (activty card, his recorder, my recorder, Black Belt Recorder book, pencil and sheet if there’s an activity I’d like him to do). The rest of the boxes are filled with other tasks for the day. This usually includes some independent reading, some read alouds (often beeswax to accompany them), it often includes a meal to cook, art or craft to do. Each day of the week has a focus for the afternoon, so those activities are in here.
I think it works so well for us, because it forces me to get all the little bits organised ahead of time (think about what food he might be able to cook for example, and then print out the recipe), and think about which of those activities need to be done at particular times, and which he might be able to do independently. All that means that he can get on with stuff himself.
Doing it strictly, the child is supposed to work through in order, and complete everything. I haven’t been particularly fussy about that this year, although in 2010 I expect that will probably change.
As I said, I haven’t done Bilby’s the same. I no longer number hers at all (mostly because Cygnet kept stealing the numbers, and Bilby ran off with the velcro that stuck them!) and I pretty much load them for the week. I’m not so happy with how hers worked, but when I stopped putting anything in them, she complained:-)
Activity Cards
The one thing I did take the time to do when trialling Workboxes initially, was to make up activity cards. I printed a pile of titles and images (clipart type) onto coloured paper (4 to a page), cut them out and laminated them. This means that I can write the relevant activity on them, and then wipe it out and write a new one. This has been really useful with the work boxes, but I would anticipate being able to use them just with books as well (like bookmarks).
French
Another post that hasn’t happened:-(
For a couple of years, another friend and I have talked about finding a native speaker to play with all our kids, in French. This year, she finally found someone! Unfortunately, scheduling difficulties meant that we gave up after two meetings. But when we decided to stop, we also decided that we would still get together (at a more suitable time, thus enforcing weekly French use). We pick a topic together, and brainstorm a list of related words (we started with Food, we’re currently doing a combination of (farm) Animals and Christmas, and we’ll go on to Wild Animals shortly after we return). We’re then taking it in turns to lead… we all sing to start, we do a bit of ‘conversation’ (asking everyone in the circle their name and how they are… the babies don’t generally answer:-) ), introduce the new words, move to the table for an activity, sing a song to end. We try to speak as much French as we can while doing the activity. We’re finding our school based vocabulary is not quite sufficient! We’re having to look up ‘glue’ and ‘sticky tape’ and ‘popsticks’:-)
We’ve been really amazed at the way the kids have not only picked up the words and can answer them when asked, but at the way they are choosing to use the words in their everyday lives—any fruit we have introduced is now pretty much only referred to by it’s French name (in our home). One of the reasons we think this has worked so well is because the kids of the two families enjoy playing with the words with each other:-)
We’ve only been doing this about six weeks (I think?), so we’re definitely still in the establishing phase, but so far, it’s an absolute delight:-) Part of that is the fact that we’re getting in a playdate (the kids play when we arrive while we get organised, we do French, then they play more) with friends… but part of it is how the kids are responding—and the joy of doing something we’ve been meaning to do for ages:-)
As a support to this, we acquired a copy of Little Pim. It’s designed as a language immersion tool. The little films are short, about 5 minutes, and there’s 7 in each set (well, I have to confirm that… we’re on the second, but the total thing seems to say it’s 30 minutes long… something in that maths doesn’t quite work). Each little film introduces a few words on each topic. The first is Food:-) They’re designed for 2-5 year olds. Bilby is bang in the target group. She loves them—and uses the words (there’s some overlap with the words we had been doing, but there are some which have only been introduced via Little Pim, and she’s using those regularly:-) ). Cygnet doesn’t do anything with the words, but he loves to watch. I am looking forward to hearing him starting to speak and seeing which of the words he starts using:-) Puggle still enjoys it, but where the others will watch it as often as I show it (and would like it more, as far as Bilby is concerned), he likes to watch it, but really he’s not so interested in repeated viewings (although, he has yet to complain about it being on!) He was the first to start using the words from the DVD.
One thing I’ve found really interesting is the way the kids control the language use at home. Most of the time, they don’t mind particularly what language we use (I try at times to use French through the week—when I feel I have the vocabulary:-) ). I’ve been surprised though, by the times that they (Bilby in particular) will call “Maman” instead of “Mama”. If I don’t pay attention and answer with “Yes”, she gets rather put out, and reminds me that she spoke in French. The same happens in the reverse (where I answer “Mama” with “Oui”), but less often:-) They will talk to each other and choose to use the French pronunciation of their names to signify that they are speaking French (their vocabulary is still fairly limited). And Puggle in particular has started playing with his animals in ‘French’. He moves them around and has them talk in nonsense syllables, but they are not ‘English’:-) (We have been reading picture books in French all year, so they do have a sense of the sound of the language, and they are reasonably accurate at identifying when non-English speakers are using French—although, they tend to default to non-English=French when in doubt).
All of this to say that French is finally happening in our house:-) And it’s fun, and the kids are using it in real ways:-)
Copywork
I’m taking this very slowly. Puggle’s fine motor control is what you’d expect of a 5 1/2 year old boy, and as such, I’m not anticipating rushing into lots of independent writing. We’re still working our way through the phonemes (it’s doing double duty at the moment, being the way we’re teaching sounds), and he’s tracing.
I made the decision (after some more reading, and talking with Puggle) to switch to cursive rather than print. I’m not going to bother with print, on the assumption that he will pick up printing as he goes, and if we’re going to invest the effort into learning to write, it might as well be cursive. One phoneme, a couple of times a day (two times generally, unless he makes a big error) seems to be working nicely. Because we started with print, that does tend to be how he writes when he’s working independently, but we’ve only been doing cursive for the last couple of months, and we’re still working through the basic letters.
Cooking
He’s been doing a lot of cooking this year:-) Most weeks (when we’re workboxing) he’ll cook dinner at least once, and he’ll usually help with another dinner as well. He’s also well and truly able to get breakfast and lunch for himself and Bilby (except for cutting the bread… he can do that, but the slices aren’t very uniform—and the remaining loaf is also somewhat hacked… so I prefer to do it until he’s larger). He is developing a recipe book, which contains meals he can cook independently. I still tend to chop the onions (hard and spherical makes me a bit nervous), but he’s moved this year to being able to light the (gas) stove, and cook on it. He has put things in the oven, but not lit it (it can be idiosyncratic) or taken anything out (they tend to be too heavy for him to manage with the added challenge of heat). His chopping is becoming more uniform, and his stamina to complete recipes is improving. The workboxes has been the reason I’ve been happy to have him do this. Because I set it up the night before, he can begin sufficiently in advance of the time we need to eat—he tends to need to start about two hours beforehand!
This will require a little tweaking in the new year. Since we moved French, it’s now on the day on which he tended to cook, and so he hasn’t done so much in that time. But that’s just logistics on my part:-)
Reading
He’s moved from strength to strength:-) Although he had reached ‘reading’, last year, he still required a reasonable amount of support, and on his own, he tended to look at books rather than read them.
Over this year, he has reached the point where he can’t help but read:-) We have a pile (30 or 40?) of early readers (about a dozen pages, with 4 lines per page, and lots of pictures) which will occupy him for some hours. He’s now able to read chapter books on his own, although, he tends to still see them as a bit too big to attack. Somewhere along the way I realised that he is able to read in his head. I asked him about it, where he’d learnt it, and he told me he’d watched Dada reading:-) It does mean I have to actually get him to read to me occasionally, to check he’s reading correctly (he still does the ‘guess based on the first letter of the word’ thing at times). But he is at a stage where he can read independently, and generally understand what he’s reading—and that’s a great thing:-) I didn’t assign him any reading this year, aside from as reading practice, but next year, I expect to be able to give him something to read, that we can then follow up. We’ve continued to read aloud to him though, and I expect this to continue. (I’ve also really enjoyed watching him read aloud to both Bilby and Cygnet:-) )
Swimming
Sadly, Puggle got too old for his previous swimming school, so we had to move. We’re now at StateSwim. While I wouldn’t say we love it (it’s certainly not as much fun, and not as personal as his original), he does enjoy it, and is progressing nicely. He started at the end of term one in Torpedoes, and is now a Dolphin. We do expect a longish stay in Dolphin, because the purpose of this level is to develop freestyle breathing. He is relishing this challenge, however!

Things that didn’t work
Blogging plans
When I managed to get my plans typed up (in WordPress) by the end of Break Week, I was able to blog them. What I found though, was that if I managed to type them up in the running sheet for the week, and get the workbox planner sorted, I tended not to get to blogging. In actual fact, I could largely copy and paste, but I do like to include links to the texts, and that’s the bit that tends to take the time.
Probably a start would be to improve the layout of the information I include. If I can just copy and paste, rather than switching the order of things between my planning documents and on the blog, that would help, then I could just have the links (which don’t change all the time) in one place and add them in. We’ll have to see how that goes. I’d like to keep blogging my plans… but it’s probably not one of my top priorities, because I do have that information elsewhere.
Blogging progress
This on the other hand, is something I do want to do. It fell by the wayside about the same time as blogging plans, but mostly I think, because I hadn’t mentally switched to ‘it doesn’t matter about the plans’, so it became one more thing in a large pile, rather than a separate thing that needed blogging. I don’t require myself to be very detailed, but I really do want to make a few notes each week about what we did, what we didn’t get to, and what developments occurred. I think I can probably manage that (I did in 2008!), but I need to slot it into my week properly.
Mat Time
The arrival of workboxes pretty much signalled the end of Mat Time as a regular thing. My idea of Mat Time was that it was things that were common to both Puggle and Bilby, with just a bit extra for each of them. Most of Puggle’s extra things ended up happening in his boxes and in the early part of Quiet Time. But the common things, and Bilby’s extra’s rather stopped. This is mostly about setting the rhythm for the day… and it obviously needs some work. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to fix this yet… but it’s a fairly high priority.
Singing
This disappeared a bit with the end of Mat Time. And a couple of the folksongs that I didn’t know. I need to find another solution for the French nursery rhymes… they’ve been a bit hit and miss. Hopefully though, that will sort out as we go through in French.
Composer Study
My failure to source the tracks and add them to the daily playlist is to blame for this… I think it’s been the same problem as I’ve had before. I guess the answer is to make sure I source the pieces earlier in the year.
Nature Walks
We’ve done better at Nature Study, as Puggle likes to be outside and look around him, but Nature Walks continue to elude us. As seems to be a common theme with the things that haven’t worked, it’s all due to my scheduling—or lack thereof.
Art
With the exception of Watercolours (which have been a revelation! We use the dry pans, and Puggle can do all the set up required for he and Bilby, basically getting water, and the clean up. That means they can paint whenever they want to, pretty much!) art has been a bit hit and miss. I keep intending them to do activities from the Art Ideas book, but haven’t yet managed to arrange things in a workable fashion. I did get a large tray from IKEA just before the end of the year, and I’m hoping to set work out on it. Art is probably a good candidate for that.
Memorisation/Recitation
This hasn’t worked in any formal sense. I stopped putting the poems on the TV cabinet, and we stopped repeating them at different times. Earlier in the year, when Puggle was listening to the iPod during Quiet Time, and I had managed to find some of his pieces on Librivox, he was actually doing pretty well. I think this is should be solvable… It’s merely habits I have to reacquire—and I can now add a copy of the poem in one of his boxes. I do need to begin working with him on the Recitation aspect… he will happily let fly with something he’s memorised, but rarely at a pace (or volume!) that allows others to enjoy it!

Generally a good year—and the advantage of writing it all out like this, I can see the common themes:-)

Song School Latin

He _loves_ Latin. SSL has been a good choice. We’ve done some of it orally (or mostly skipped the ‘copywork’ elements), but there’s a lot of circling and colouring and the like… that, combined with the songs makes it ideal for a kindy/preschool aged programme. I do plan to use it again when Lyra reaches this stage (at this point I’m thinking that won’t be until 2012—which is when she’d be the year before year one).(I got him to do everything in lead pencil, and we may well repeat the programme next year)

I’m still undecided about next year. I want to look at Lively Latin (even though it’s one of the slightly older early programmes). It seems to be high interest, so it might work in the meantime… Minimus might be gentle enough for a meander for a year. Or we could just re-do SSL, possibly with Lingua Angelica to supplement—basically to sing along with (I know, it’s more religious than Paddington would like, but supplementary materials are hard to come by in Latin! And singing is something that definitely works for us:-) )

It does have the Christmas chapter in the middle of the book (and uses that vocabulary to build on, so you can’t really reposition it), and is US-centric(you know, ‘fall’, and snow in winter, motto of the US… that kind of thing)… but that’s pretty liveable. But the songs are great, and they love to sing them just for fun:-) (Lyra regularly sings the Vale song:-) And I had to make a point of teaching her the English alphabet, when I realised she was singing the Latin song so reliably:-) ) The Student Book is self-contained (it includes the CD with all the songs in both Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciations, and I really like the range of instrumentation and styles of the songs!)

Useful Clipart

I’ve been doing a lot of sheets lately, for which I’ve wanted outline images (we’re doing fruits and vegetables for French at the moment). This site has been really great! Most things have had multiple images, so I can choose based on which is most appealling:-)

I like to use outline shapes partly because we have a black and white printer, so colours are a bit of a waste (and the print in greys, which can be a bit distracting), but also Puggle (and to a lesser extent, Bilby) has hit a stage of wanting to colour, so it’s useful for that.

Options for Early Childhood Latin

(Thanks to Amber for her question! I’ve finally finished this post—about 10 months after starting it! Except that, it just keeps on growing! I’m going to post it, although I will come back to edit it when new programmes come to light—or when I remember them!)

So, the plan is that we will (have!) start(ed!) Latin more formally next (this!) year. We’ll take it slowly, but we’ll start. Of course, given that I haven’t done much Latin, I will definitely need a curriculum. That means I need to choose one.

So, what are the options?

There are a lot more than a few years ago when I started thinking about this:-) Then, there was pretty much one choice aimed at K-3.

We started our Latin journey with a term of lessons with a local teacher. Although Puggle enjoyed them, I wasn’t really happy with them, as it seemed to me the teacher wasn’t familiar with ‘kindy’ type kids and their capabilities. We did start doing nursery rhymes there, and we spent another year doing a new nursery rhyme every fortnight (all the rhymes are in the sidebar under Songs We Sing: Latin. I haven’t yet done the next step though, which is to record them all as podcasts. But, Latin pronunciation is easy! Each letter makes one sound only!)

It seemed foolish to stop latin, and so I wanted to move on a bit, but I didn’t want to get into things too heavily. After doing a pile of research, I found that there were basically three programmes aimed at about 5-8 year olds. (There’s possibly a fourth, which is even Australian, but the info on it is pretty sketchy—and from memory it may involve audio cassettes. It may also (from memory!) be very Christian, which wouldn’t work for our family… so I discounted it.)

Of those three, Elementary Latin didn’t have many reviews, and while the content makes it directed towards younger students, the little I can see suggests it’s fairly reading/writing centred. It consists of Student Workbook, a Teacher’s Edition and an audio CD.

Prima Latina had been my original choice (partly because when I began looking it was the only obvious one around). However… it seemed to be fairly workbook reliant (although I know of a number of people who have used it orally with young children—which I would have done if I chose it for Puggle this year). It is also fairly heavy religious content, which isn’t so good for us. On the other hand, I believe it’s a pretty reasonable intro to some of the grammar elements (basically, it’s the first half or so of Latina Christiana I, just slowed down). It consists of a Student Book and a Teacher’s Manual. There is also a Pronunciation CD available, and a set of Instructional DVDs.

Song School Latin only had a fraction of the reviews of Prima Latina, but it is quite new. Most reviews seemed positive, and I liked the idea of basing it around songs. I didn’t worry about getting the Teacher’s Edition, and I haven’t felt the need for an answer key (and I don’t think that’s because I have an interest in language, it is pretty obvious what the answers are). It is pretty light on the grammar side of things (it talks a little about nouns and verbs, but that’s pretty much it it), which is a weakness, but given I’m using it for Puggle when he’s so young, I’m happy enough with that. It does have the Christmas chapter in the middle of the book (and uses that vocabulary to build on, so you can’t really reposition it), and is US-centric (you know, ‘fall’, and snow in winter, motto of the US… that kind of thing)… but that’s pretty liveable. But the songs are great, and they love to sing them just for fun:-) (Bilby regularly sings the Vale song:-) And I had to make a point of teaching her the English alphabet, when I realised she was singing the Latin song so reliably:-) ) The Student Book is self-contained (it includes the CD with all the songs in both Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciations, and I really like the range of instrumentation and styles of the songs!)

For slightly older children, there are a few more choices.

Minimus is aimed at 7-10 year olds. It gets a lot of rave reviews, although it’s apparently much more complete with the Teacher’s Resource Book—which is horribly expensive (about $100 Australian!) It seems to be often used as a supplementary text, because it’s supposed to be a fun programme. I’ve certainly seen the Pupil’s Book, and it looks to be high interest (it’s done in a cartoon form). It is structured similarly to a modern language programme, and covers a lot of day-to-day stuff (food/family/home etc). There’s also an Audio CD available.
Minimus have also published some early readers in support.

For 8-10 year olds, there are several choices. I haven’t looked closely at them all (I keep finding new ones! Here is a collection of reviews which covers more courses.)

Lively Latin has been getting rave reviews. I’ve been leaning away from it mostly because it combines History (and English?) in with the Latin (although you can apparently skip them with no dramas, it seems a bit of a waste to pay for a programme if I plan to skip 2/3 of it!) However, a friend of mine has recently begun it with her 8 year old, and they are rather enjoying it. I’m looking forward to having a look at her copy—I haven’t completely ruled it out. It’s available as an online version (download and print), CD, or in hard copy and CD.

Latin for Children probably would have been my first choice. It has got a lot of positive reviews, and looking at the sample info (which included some YouTube type footage) Puggle was very excited. I’m now a little wary though, because of some comments on one of my lists that suggest the grammar is not all it could be (as in, it contains some errors). This worries me a bit, because the comments were also applied to SSL (which is published by the same people), and I can see (well, hear) the errors in that (there are two ways of pronouncing Latin… SSL includes both versions on their CD… but they make some errors in the Ecclesiastical versions of some songs. Not an issue for me because we use the other form—and I’m confident that I could sing over the top [as I do for the alphabet song, they pronounce ‘zed’ rather than ‘zee’:-)],) it makes the charges plausible. And I’d rather go for something that will be accurate! It is also more overtly religious than SSL (which is basically just the Christmas chapter).

Latina Christiana consists of a Student Book, Teacher Manual and a Pronunciation CD.

After that? There’s about a dozen options—although I haven’t separated out which ones are ‘continuing’ programmes, and which are for beginners (although, possibly it doesn’t matter much, if they’re beginners ones, we can scoot through the early stages as a revision). I’m not looking too closely, as they are probably three years at least away from us—and who knows what else may be around by that stage?!

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