Monday, September 12, 2011

First Day of School

The kids have been asking to start school for several weeks now. I have been putting it off as long as possible, as usual! This has less to do with school itself than it does with wanting to prolong summer and the long, lazy days I quickly become used to every year. However, it's finally time and I can't put it off any more. I am always amazed to see how a few months off can really improve everyone's skills. Handwriting changes for the better, or a math concept that seemed just out of reach in June comes easily. Growth in their brains and rest for their bodies helps across the board.

Emma is now in second grade--whatever that means as a homeschooler. I should say, I report Emma for second grade, but in all actuality I know she works mostly above that level. I got an interesting thing for writing this year for her. Over the years of buying curricula for the kids, I have noticed that finding good language arts programs are difficult for us because all my kids are great readers and they all have enjoyed writing too. So if it is labeled second grade, it's usually...boring! Spelling words are the "cat" and "man" variety, and writing is being able to write a three word sentence. Reading involves picture books--and not very interesting ones at that. So I need to find creative solutions in the language arts department.

I found something for Emma this year called "Writing Styles Photo Prompts," by Edupress. It's a simple pack of 5x7 photos of a variety of things. Animals, family groups, kids playing, a beach, a snowy landscape, etc. On the back of each card there are three writing prompts that demonstrate different writing skills. You could write a story about the family going camping, or a letter to this grandma, or a newspaper article about this county fair. You get the idea. Emma has been looking at these pictures for weeks now, deciding which ones are her favorites and which she'll choose first. My idea was that each time we do these lessons, I'll let her pick a card, and then she can choose which assignment on the back sounds best to her. The point is to get her writing, and I don't really care if she tends more towards creative writing, for example.

I was not surprised when she chose the card with two dolphins racing and jumping through the ocean, since dolphins are a big favorite of hers. What did surprise me is her choice of assignment. Two of them were creative: imagine you're a baby dolphin and tell about your underwater adventures or, pretend to be a dolphin trainer and write how you train your dolphin to do your favorite trick. I would have bet money she'd have chosen the baby dolphin story. However, she chose the third: Use an encyclopedia or book to find out about dolphins and write a short article telling about what you learned. Here is what she wrote: (I left the spelling/grammar mistakes in--she is only 7, after all!)


Dolphins are very smooth. It helps them to glide across the water. The fins are used for changing direction fast when chasing there prey. Dolphins have a toothy beak, helping it to grab hold of there prey. Compared to the adult human body, Dolphins are pretty big.

Dolphins are very loyal. If a Dolphin is sick, another from the Pod pushes the Dolphin up to the surface for air. The dorsal fin helps to keep the Dolphins steady. I think Dolphins are beautiful animals.

I guess we'll be reviewing homonyms and capital letters this year!