It's that time of year. You know the time of year where I freak out and wonder if we are doing enough at home. Although this year it is really just a small voice in the back of my head that is pretty easy to ignore because when I really look back, she isn't lacking in character or knowledge/experience. Nope. In fact, she has a great character and her experiences thus far have varied so much and have really enriched her life. She is knowledgable about many thing and very enthusiastic about learning so I have practically no worries.
But after deciding to implement more time specifically for play, I started wondering if 2-3 hours a day was enough to "work." Yes. In fact it is. If we just did the bare minimum, we would accomplish all these things in a year:
She will read (at the minimum the Kit Mysteries, Stuart Little, a Biography on Thomas Edison, a Bible Study called Battlefield of the Mind, and part of the Tinkerbell Series.) But I KNOW it will be more than that. She will write on a pretty much daily basis as needed. She will practice her addition and subtraction, fractions and money-because I know that I know that I know we will be playing board games and half our board games are math based or at least involve adding up the dice. She will complete a project for the History Fair, Geography Fair, and Science Fair. Her topics (could change) are History-Inventors of the Past, Geography-Egypt, and Science-Undecided. She will finish her Art Gallery, Movie, and Board Game. She will learn more about swimming. She will bike ride regularly. She will practice and learn chess. She will continue her own outside interests with the family such as boating and hiking and camping. And she will go lots of places with CHEA and AHG. I know one of those places is the Huntsville Space Station. I do believe this is all just Fall semester alone. So we will see where Spring and Summer bring us.
I also pasted her progress report down below, and I was blown away by the fact that my little descriptions barely even skimmed the surface! The lists of books and activities are just examples and don't truly show the amount of in depth learning and conversations we had unscripted. But it still unbelievable the amount of "work" we got done in a year. It doesn't even include all her play and individual projects! And I know, without a doubt, next year will be the same.
Samantha Anne Mays Progress Report 2014-2015
Curriculum Description: Samantha learns using a relaxed custom curriculum meant to teach her the basic concepts of each subject and allow for growth in areas that interests her most. She uses a range of learning tools and experiences from books, games, and movies to real life and hands on activities. Samantha choices her own units of study, which is then extended to include all the core subjects as well as other areas such as Bible Study, Arts, and Music.
Samantha has completed a variety of unit studies (of her choosing) this year.
How Things Work: Samantha briefly worked on a study at the beginning of the year where she experimented and read as much as she could to see How Things Work.
Activities: Experiments, How It’s Made Videos and Books
Dogs: Samantha really enjoys dogs and has two of her own, so she chose to complete a short study on dogs. During that time everything she did was about dogs, from looking up images of dogs to consistently looking up questions about dogs. Her goal was to train her newest dog to sit, stay, and roll over on command.
Activities: You Tube Dog Training Videos-Zac George’s Channel, Clicker Training, Care and Observation
Books: Marley and Me, Bad Dogs, and various informational books about dog breeds, caring for dogs, and dog training and competitions
Art: Samantha’s main unit of study this year has been art. She has covered various form of art from sewing and knitting to drawing and painting. She has used numerous mediums to make her creations and finds her inspiration in many different places from outdoor scenes and nature studies to imitating another artist’s work. She has even been inspired by classical music selections. (Her favorite artists to imitate are Van Gogh and Monet.) Samantha’s art unit brought about so many opportunities for art exploration. She spent time in many areas looking for inspiration and paying attention to details, asking questions to help her get a more accurate idea of what she is painting or drawing. She would ask about what kind of stone the statues in the Chickamauga Battle Field were made of. She would question the History of places we went. She would ask why the water flowed a certain way and if it would be wrong to paint it the other way. She noticed bugs in the grass and wanted to know if they came in other colors. She would see the sunset reflecting in the water as she fished and would ask about why the reflection happened or why the Canadian Geese across the water were so aggressive. Were they nesting? Her art has brought her closer to the world around her and made her more aware of her surroundings over the past year, which has given her a depth of understanding that only art can give a person.
For her big project, Samantha spent the entire school year preparing an art gallery to display several mediums of work for all her friends and family to see. The gallery contained clay statues, sewing projects, drawings, and many, many paintings-watercolor and acrylic. She will continue this project into next school year.
Sewing: Samantha continued to hold an interest in sewing from last year and has learned many new skills. She can thread a needle and has been practicing needlepoint in order to make her sewing more precise. She can also prepare her sewing machine and use it with minimal assistance to complete a project. Some projects she has completed include a pillow, cat outfit and doll clothes.
Crocheting: Samantha also showed an interest in learning to crochet this year and went to her grandmother for assistance. She started by learning to cast on and hand placement and can now finish a complete chain. She hopes to be able to complete a dishcloth in the next few months.
You Tube Videos: Samantha has taken her art to a new level by making her own instructional videos, usually containing instructions on how to make Play-Doh figurines based on video game characters-inspired by the sweet treat You Tube channel Nerdy Nummies by Rosanna Pansino. Samantha has also made videos on cake decorating, clay making, and magic tricks. Samantha goes through the process of planning: what to make, how to make it, gathering materials, rehearsing what she will say. Then I assist her in filming the videos, sometimes taking several takes for one scene. She has her own You Tube account and has learned to post her videos/upload, name, and type a description. (She follows a few channels such as How It’s Made, the History Channel, Zac George, and Nerdy Nummies. She also enjoys browsing the videos on You Tube for art videos and other topics of interest.) Samantha will soon learn how to edit videos on her own.
Drawing and Painting: Samantha loves drawing and painting and practices several hours a day. She loves reading How To books and looking up videos to help her understand how to make things look more realistic. She has started a few projects including several of her own books.
One day she spent at the library looking for Children’s books about foxes to get an idea of the illustration style she wanted to use. She named her book The Fox and the Chicks. She illustrated the cover, typed the story with some assistance, and completed the pictures inside using sketch pencils and charcoals.
Her paintings have made a marked improvement over the last year. She is learning to control her brush strokes better. She can mix colors to make the colors she wants. And she knows the effects each type of paint makes. Some of the projects she completed with painting include her own interpretation of Starry Night, her favorite painting by Van Gogh and her painting interpreting The Four Seasons classical music by Vivaldi.
She has studied on Impressionism artists, sparked by her interest in the storybook called, Katie Meets the Impressionist. She subsequently signed up for a Homeschool class on Impressionism and toured a museum exhibit that included paintings from famous Impressionists like Monet.
Books: Katie Meets the Impressionist, Katie and the Sunflowers, Artist to Artist, several “How To” books
Birding: Samantha participated in a group fundraising event through Audubon Acres called Bird-A-Thon. As a participant, Samantha used was to identify as many birds as possible and collect pledges based on the number of species she identified. Samantha learned how to use a field guide for identifying not only birds, but also other animals and plants in the Southeast area. She learned to use binoculars to see far away objects. Samantha set up and observed several different types of bird feeders including a Humming Bird feeder and homemade toilet paper roll with seed feeders. Samantha participated in some group bird watching activities at Gilbert Stevenson Park.
Geography Fair: Samantha completed a geography project on England this April and displayed it at the CHEA Geography Fair. Samantha researched information including the country’s flag, population, climate, culture, native animals, and government. Her finished project was a tri-board filled with information she found, which she presented to a group of about 15 children and 20 adults.
Field Trips: One of Samantha’s big field trips this year was to the Downtown Chattanooga Bluff View Art District. Samantha took a walk through Downtown Chattanooga, an art focused area. As she walked to the Art District she saw many statues, some that were abstract and others that were merely statues of people. She read about each one and talked about it, what she liked, what she didn’t like, what it could mean. Once she entered Bluff View, she visited the River Cress Art Gallery where there were many different styles of art. Each medium of art was in in a separate room. There was a glass room, a room with pottery, yard art, wood, paintings, drawings, etc. (Samantha found inspiration in an oil painting on wood and was determined to learn to use oil paints. She received a set of oil paints for Christmas and has been experimenting with them ever since.) After the art gallery she discussed what it must be like being an artist, starting out as an artist, how to get displayed in an art gallery, the prices of art, art styles, mediums, and interpretations.
Samantha started the year being able to read simple sentences without having to stop and sound out each word. Most of her reading has evolved into recognition more than phonics. By December Samantha was able to read storybooks on her own and intermediate elementary chapter books (8+) with some assistance. She practices her reading throughout the day without being prompted by challenging herself to read road signs, text messages, instruction manuals, game boards, etc. She also challenges herself to spell out the word she is trying to convey when she talks as opposed to saying the word. She writes out lists, stories, and prayers, spelling the best she can. By the end of the Summer, she was had greatly improved, but still has not broke the barrier to being a completely independent reader.
Samantha has read a variety of texts including those listed above in her unit study topics, hundreds of easy reader books, children’s classics, cookbooks, poetry books, historical fiction, and books about topics she is interested in such as books about horses and gymnastics.
She listened to and assisted in reading chapter books such as Marley and Me, The Samantha American Girl series including Meet Samantha, Samantha Learns a Lesson, Samantha’s Surprise, Happy Birthday, Samantha, Samantha Saves the Day, and Changes for Samantha as well as the Samantha Mystery series including The Curse of Ravens Court, The Case of the Stolen Sapphire, and The Call of the Loon, the Kit American Girl series including Meet Kit, Kit Learns a Lesson, Kit’s Surprise, Happy Birthday Kit, Kit Saves the Day, and Changes for Kit, The Boxcar Children series including the first Boxcar Children and part of Surprise Island, and Who Was Leonard DaVinci?.
Samantha also began her own books, which included several Tinkerbell Story collections and the beginning of the fairy book, “Rani and the Mermaid Lagoon.”
Grammar and Punctuation: Samantha has a firm grasp on tenses as well as a beginning understanding of punctuation. She knows what periods, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks are for. She is beginning to use capitalization and punctuation in her writing when she writes letters to friends, notes in her diary, or when writing her own stories.
Activities: Samantha takes bi-weekly trips to the Library. Each visit she checks out 20+ books, some related to her unit studies and others not. Some she reads individually and others are read to her in a variety of environments such as the Library, home, outside, and in the store or car.
Side Notes: Samantha is excelling in her reading without being coerced into practicing or showing interest in certain books. Samantha goes to the Library by request where she is able to find the books she is looking for with little assistance (just spelling). She has several book series that she enjoys and reads continuously. Even when Samantha is being read to, she enjoys following along and pointing out the words. I have sometimes found her reading ahead of me in her head. It was too difficult for me to keep up with all the book series she wants to read, so she has taken it upon herself to read some of her chapter books to herself at night before bed.
Samantha began the school year true counting to 100. By December she was able to true count to 1,000 by 1s and 10s. And can, although does not when prompted, count by 2s and 5s. She has continued to work on her addition and subtraction fact memorization and by December was familiar with most of her addition facts from 1 to 10. By August, she was able to complete most one digit facts quickly in her head. Those that she could not, she was able to do on her hands. She also began working with double and triple digit addition, including “carrying the 1.” To help her better understand the concept, we covered place value by learning expanded form and using an “underlining method” on the marker board.
Samantha has continued to be exposed to and learn a little about fractions. However, by August, she still a has limited understanding of what a fraction is. For example, she understands that if the pizza is cut in half, we both get one piece. And that when something is divided into 3 pieces it is called “thirds” But she does not understand how to complete word problems with fractions and has limited knowledge on how to write out a fraction. (Although, she can occasionally read them out of a recipe book.)
Samantha continued working with money this year by becoming more familiar with the value of each coin, how to add totals in columns, and how to skip count to add money. She knows how many quarters equals 25 cents, 50 cents, and a dollar. She also knows how to give change in quarters back from a dollar. She can add cash easily and can read totals and prices. She still struggles to add quarters, dimes, and nickles together, but is in the process of learning it. She is around money daily whether she is making a purchase herself and receiving change, watching others make a purchase, going to the bank, and watching budgets be made.
She has also been made familiar with the use of debit and credit cards as well as checks as forms of “currency.”
Activities: Samantha learns math through playing board/card games such as Go to the Dump by Right Start Math, Smath, Math War, Math Mat, and Race to a Quarter. She frequently plays computer games such as funbrain.com, fun4the brain.com, powermylearning.com, and cool-mathgames.com.
Side Note: Samantha struggles with math at times because numbers are a hard concept for her to grasp. This year, we came to the conclusion that she needs to complete lower level maths in order for her brain to understand the concepts taught. Samantha is slowly learning mathematic basics as she shows readiness signs.
For Science this year, Samantha has been focusing on Earth (Geology) and Life (plants and animals) Science as well as basic Physics.
Earth and Life: Samantha has been camping and hiking on several occasions. She has been to many different parks and trails in the southeastern part of the United States. Samantha is familiar with some of the plants and animals in the parks and is continuously identifying every plant or animal she sees in her Audubon Society Field Guide. She has learned about which insects are poisonous and which are safe. She has learned about some of Earth’s formations (caves, stalactites and stalagmites, mountains, plains, etc.) and she knows how to identify them on the map. (Beginners Map Reading) She has learned about weather patterns and causes for specific patterns, while being stuck in the rain many times. She has also learned to start predicting the weather. She has watched and assisted in building fires, giving her better understanding of its properties and uses.
Samantha has also spent much of the warmer months fishing where her understanding of fishing as a sport and fish behavior has really surfaced. Samantha has learned about which types of baits which fish like the most. She has caught and held a fish and seen the different types of forms they come in, and also identified them in her Guide. She can name many of the common species by sight and can tell you how to handle each one.
Samantha, just like in previous years, assisted with a small garden this Spring. The garden included potatoes from seed and bell peppers from plant. Samantha helped to plant them in containers, watered them, and watched them as they grew. She helped to harvest the potatoes also.
Physics: Samantha has performed several experiments, some that were preplanned and some that she came up with on her own. She uses the scientific method to carry out her experiments. Some of the preplanned experiments included Elephants Toothpaste, Density, and Goop.
Her own experiments include mixing things up in the kitchen to see what happens. Two of her successful experiments include baking soda mixed with vinegar and a mixture she made to dye flowers blue (using food coloring).
Samantha has covered some Medicinal Science, holistic form. Throughout the year Samantha has learned more on how to make and measure the PPM of colloidal silver. She has also begun learning about essential and carrier oils and how to mix or diffuse them to help with illness or injury.
Samantha has completed several Nature Studies every month. She has a nature journal and art set with pencils, colored pencils, pastels, and water colored paints, any of which she can use in her portraits. She has used each of these individually as well a mixture of them together. Topics range from unit study related, such as dogs, based on what she has heard, or seen in pictures and videos, to nature related topics based on close observation such as the top of the clouds from the Chimney Tops Trail in Gatlinburg.
Samantha has also used a variety tools throughout the year. She has used measurement tools such as a ruler, scale, and measuring cups/spoons, as well as observation tools like a magnifying glass. Microscope, and binoculars. She is learning more in depth how to use these tools and why we use them.
• Bird-A-Thon (See Unit Studies)
• Nature Sketch Book
• Caring for Pets
• Fishing Trips
• Camping Trips
• Everyday Questions
Civil War: Samantha’s carried her focus on the Civil War through the first part of the school year.
Activities: She continued to look through non-fiction books, watch documentaries online, and visit local sites. (Our area is full of Civil War History including the local Battle Field which has many statues with inscribed histories and stories on display as well as a museum where they show a historically based film, put models on display along with several gun cases full of era guns, and put on reenactments.)
Field Trips: Samantha took a trip to a local reenactment at the Western Atlantic Railroad Tunnels. She was able to visit several tents set up to tell about popular sports and hobbies of the time such as archery and quilting. She sat through an outdoor reenactment and asked questions about the battle. She also was able to tour the WAR Tunnels museum, which included Civil War relics such as guns, bullets, and old letters, and even walked through the actual tunnels.
Early 1900s: Once Samantha completed her Civil War study, she started began studying the Victorian time period, starting in 1904. She read several of the American Girl Samantha books, which tell the story of a little girl growing up in the Victorian era. We made the study come to life while looking through a book that discussed all aspects of the Victorian era: hobbies, clothes, toys, etc. She also cooked recipes from a Victorian recipes book.
Great Depression: After completing her study on the Victorian era, Samantha began learning about the Great Depression. She read several American Girl Kit books, which tell the story of a little girl growing up in that time and enduring many of the hardships families of those days did. The readings sparked many questions and subsequent discussions about the Great Depression including questions about Herbert Hoover, President Roosevelt, the stock market, soup kitchens, and more.
Geography: Samantha knows all over her US States and is working on reviewing the oceans and continents, at the same time that she is trying to become familiar with placement of countries. She has also learned about map keys and legends, direction, and geographical feature maps.
Activities: See Unit Studies England
Physical Education: Samantha stays active during the day by playing outside-doing flips, running, playing games with friends, playing on the playground, learning to skate, or simply taking a nature hike. She also spends much of her time on her trampoline practicing her gymnastics.
Samantha participated in a homeschool gymnastics class for the second year through Southern Adventist University. This year, however, she only attends class once a week for an hour. She was placed in a mixed class that put emphasis on form for basic exercises including rolls, cartwheels, headstands, stall bars, trampolines, ropes, and other exercise.
For Spring semester, she continued gymnastics and also began swim classes through the University. In swim class she learned the basics floats: back float, front float, jellyfish, tuck, etc. and strokes. She passed Level 2 Swim in April. During the Summer, after lessons ended, she continued to swim at least twice a week where she mastered most of the skills she learned in Level 2 of swim. In September, she will begin Level 3 swim class.
She also began playing outside on her bicycle. She learned to ride with two wheels and has been riding at parks with the family regularly the last few weeks. Next year she plans to ride more trails.
When the weather warmed up closer to Summer, Samantha began boating more with family and friends. She has learned to tube and is beginning to learn wakeboarding. Samantha enjoys exciting physical activities on the water the most.
Music: Samantha is surrounded by a variety of different music in her everyday life including Gospel, Classical, Rock, Pop, Country, and traditional music from other countries.
Her favorite music is Classical Music, with her favorite artists being Vivaldi and Beethoven. (She enjoys Bach’s softer music.) She could sit and listen to Classical music for hours and hours. Many of the more famous pieces she has memorized and likes to create art to accompany the music.
Art: (See Unit Studies: Art)
Fine Arts: This year Samantha attended a play called Seussical Musical. Samantha thoroughly enjoying seeing a live play in theatre and intends to see more. While at the play, we discussed casts, scenes, acts, and other stage procedures and vocabulary. Leading up to the play, Samantha completed a small study on Dr. Seuss. She spent many of her days reading as many of her books as she could find. She even spent a day at the library sorting through and reading all the Dr. Seuss books on the shelf.
Technology: Samantha has started learning many basic programs on the computer including Paint and Word Processor. She has been allowed many hours to just play around with the programs and explore the buttons.
Now that Samantha can read and spell and enjoys writing her own books, she showed interest in learning to type. She practices and plays games on http://www.freetypinggame.net/ By December she knew where her home row keys were located and knew how to place her hands and reach each key without moving her other fingers. She can type at an average of 12 words per minute, 8 words adjusted speed. Her practice tapered downward when warm weather began. Although, she still remembers what she learned.
· Playing on the Computer, Wii U, etc.
· Taking objects apart.
· You Tube Channel (See Unit Studies Art)
Home Economics: Samantha is able to do a variety of housework with little or no assistance. She understands the basic concepts of cooking/baking from scratch, simple cleaning, and household errands. Samantha has ample knowledge about the health benefits of eating organic foods. She is familiar with the process of making household detergents and cleaners. Samantha goes grocery shopping on a regular basis and knows to look at the labels and ingredients and what to look for. She has been taught the benefit of buying from local farmers and is encouraged to do so. Samantha is also learning ways to be more economical with her money.
Bible Study: Samantha has a basic knowledge of the Bible and some of the stories in it. She knows who her creator is and what he sent his Son to do for us. Recently we have begun putting emphasis on reading the Bible for herself and interpreting it based on its Hebrew origins.
During Easter/Passover, Samantha completed a family study on Exodus. To begin, she attended a Seder at a friend’s house where she learned about Jewish traditions and customs. (Samantha’s friends are not Jewish, so the Haggadah was adjusted accordingly.) The book of Exodus was retold. Games were played. Songs were sung. And prayer was the main focus of the day. With assistance, Samantha completed reading Exodus in her Adventure Bible.
As part of the holiday celebration of Christmas, Samantha was retold the story of Jesus’s birth. She also decorated the Christmas Tree using traditional ornaments and homemade garland.
For Easter, Samantha was retold the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. She dyed eggs using natural dyes (carrots, onion skins, spices, etc.), as well as made traditional pace eggs.
Volunteer Work: Samantha assists in volunteering three places: Women’s Enrichment Center in Dalton, West Side Elementary School, and Christ Chapel Share and Care Mission Food Bank in Ringgold.
WEC: Twice a month Samantha assists me in volunteering at the Women’s Enrichment Center. This year she has been able to complete more simple office work such as making copies, licking envelopes, and placing stamps.
WES: Samantha takes bi-weekly trips to WES during the school year where she helps with clerical work such as making copies (like at WEC) or classroom assistance such as making work samples.
Share and Care Mission: Samantha volunteer sporadically at the food bank filling bags for families in need.
Special Field Trips: Ripley’s Believe it or Not Gatlinburg, TN, Cades Cove Smokey Mountain, TN Ruby Falls Chattanooga, TN, Pumpkin Patch Riceville, GA, Apple Picking Elijay, GA Pioneer Days Audubon Acres Chattanooga, TN, Strawberry Picking at Sims Farm Ringgold, GA, and Hunter art Museum Chattanooga, TN
Conclusion/Main Goals: Samantha is on track and met her goals for the 2014-2015 school year.