Friday, September 28, 2012

September 23-29, 2012

Good week for school.  Not so good week for health.  We're passing a stubborn cold back and forth, so this will be brief.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 42-45 (writing the number 38, covering a design in different ways; writing the number 39, counting by 10s to 100; writing the number 40, subtraction facts - subtracting one; Written assessment #8, writing the number 41, counting dimes)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 93-96 (review of the long-e vowel pairs; the vowel pair IE as /ī/, Y alone as /ī/; Y plus a silent E as /ī/, sight word: eye; I alone as /ī/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 107-114 (XKZ review, uppercase and lowercase alphabet, punctuation marks: periods and commas, review of punctuation and writing a sentence)

Another great week with 90%+ of his total mands above full prompt!  This week, his therapist also began working with him on imitation skills and listener responding.  Next week, we switch to a three day per week schedule.  I think he'll be just fine with it.


Not too much progress on shapes this week.  Her colors are still 100%.  I'm mainly using various shape sorters as teaching tools.  When I use our shapes beanbags, she's very focused on the color instead of the shape.  She does much better with a different kind of toy altogether.


Poor Pete is sick this week, too.  He's also wearing socks on his hands because he won't stop scratching his head.  He looks like a cat attacked his forehead right now, despite the fact that I'm clipping his nails as short as I can get them each night.  I hope this phase passes quickly. 


Saturday is the feast of the Archangels.  Last year, we did a coloring page.  This year, I thought about making an angel food cake, but none of us really like it.  So, instead I'm going to make a devil's food cake and add a St. Michael cake topper.  Works for me!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 16-22, 2012

This week, we got a pretty big break.  Oliver's therapy center had a two-day conference, so he had two extra days at home.  That meant three days of not having to get up early to get him out the door on time.  It was pretty nice, honestly.  His time there is worth the inconvenience, though.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 39-41 (writing the number 36, weighing objects using nonstandard units; Written Assessment 7, Oral Assessment 4; writing the number 37, addition facts - adding zero)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 90-92 (the vowel pair EA as /ē/; review the vowel pair EA, sight words: do and who; the vowel pair IE as /ē/, sight word: friend)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 101-106 (Xx, Kk, Zz)
We are quickly approaching the end of the kindergarten-level handwriting workbook.  At our current pace, I'd say Henry has another four to five weeks of pages to do.  Now, the first grade handbook is still manuscript, but the letter formation is smaller.  I think he'd be able to handle it, but I don't want to rush him.  I think we'll switch over to light copywork each day when he's done with the current book.  I have plenty of kindergarten writing paper for him to practice on, so I can just pull a sentence from a favorite book and have him practice his handwriting that way.

Henry is also about six weeks away from the point in OPGTR where it's recommended to begin a spelling program.  I do think he'll be ready to start Spelling Workout A at that point. It's a very gentle progression; the first 12 lessons only deal with letter sounds and beginning and ending sounds of words.

Based on all of this, our school "day" should look like this by mid-November:

Saxon Math 1 - 30 minutes (or one lesson) per day
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - 10 minutes per day
Spelling Workout A - 10 minutes per day
Handwriting/copywork - 10 minutes per day

Additionally, Henry will do at least a half hour of independent reading at or below his instructional level each day.  He'll also listen to stories above his level for at least a half hour per day, either read by me or from our growing audiobook collection.

If he continues at this pace and if he continues to demonstrate mastery, we'll be starting First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 1 sometime around mid-January.  At that point, I'll need to assess Henry's language arts ability as a whole and see if he's ready to take on the complete Well-Trained Mind recommendations for level 1.  Will he, at roughly 5 1/2 years old, be ready for this?
And, if he is ready for that, we'll probably go ahead and start easing in to history (the Ancients) and science (animals, the human body, and plants) with our chosen programs of RC History and Elemental Science. Exciting times are ahead!


As I stated above, Oliver only had two days of therapy this week.  Both days were good ones, though.  At least 90% of his mands were above full prompt during both sessions and his problem behavior was minimal.  At home, he's still signing for pretzels independently, and for bananas and crackers with minimal prompting.  This morning, he manded milk independently too!


Jane has her colors down, thank you very much! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, black, and pink - all easily identified and she's even saying the names intelligibly.  I think it's time to move to shapes.

We're still carschooling, but she just thinks she gets to watch fun videos when we go to pick up Oliver.


Three months old and filling out his 3-6 month clothes like they're going out of style.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 9-15, 2012

One of these days, I'm going to feel caught up.  Proactive.  In control.  Probably not anytime soon, but a girl can dream.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 35-38 (writing the number 32, identifying morning, afternoon, evening, and night; writing the number 33, measuring length and width using nonstandard units; writing the number 34, adding one to a number; writing the number 35, sorting items and creating a graph)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 88-89 (review of the long-a vowel pairs; the vowel pair EE as /ē/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 95-100 (Yy, Ww, V/Y/W review, uppercase alphabet)
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 4 (Actions and Attitudes - The Ten Commandments
In tadpole news, our experiment has come to an end.  The first tadpole we put in the tank seemed to be doing poorly and we never saw it eat.  We thought that maybe it was too little, so we put him back in the fountain.  There was a much bigger tadpole still in the fountain, so we caught that one and put it in the tank.  It seemed to be doing fine, but one morning we came down and saw it looking listless.  We decided to put him back and spare us any amphibian blood on our hands.  Maybe the house was too cold for them.  At last check, both tadpoles are happily swimming around in the fountain.  We'll just keep an eye on them out there.

On a happier note, in the midst of all the hoopla over the new Kindle Fires, we saw that there is now a large selection of free classic e-books with accompanying free narration tracks at  I downloaded all of the sets.  Amazingly, it's over $250 worth of professionally-narrated audiobooks!  They're read by actors like Elijah Wood, Anne Hathaway, Kenneth Branagh... nice stuff.  I also decided to try out the membership, which gave us two free credits.  I used one to get a narrated Bible.  I think that will be nice for daily readings.  The second one got us Branagh's narration of C.S. Lewis's The Magician's NephewHenry started listening to it yesterday, during his handwriting practice time.  He loves it.  He listened to more today during handwriting.  We stopped at the beginning of chapter 4, but we'll pick it up again tomorrow.

Is it too early to talk about Christmas?  If it is, oh well!  I'm planning on getting one of the new 4G Fires when they're released in November.    The plan for now is that Oliver will get my current Fire (loaded with lots of new games) and Henry will get a new (non-4G) Fire for Christmas.  The features are going to be great for both school and fun.  Henry will be able to read books, play educational games, listen to audiobooks, and watch kid-friendly shows.  Oliver will have lots of games to play, as well as greater control on Starfall, which requires a mouse on the PC, but works well with the touchscreen on the Fire.

I'd been looking at getting one or both boys a LeapPad 2 for Christmas, but they can have much greater functionality with the Fires for not much more cost.  Plus, the new FreeTime controls will allow me to manage how much time they can spend on any activity.  Also, Henry's barely kindergarten age and our bookshelves are already bursting at the seams.  If we're going to get this family through high school without the house collapsing, we're going to need to use more e-books. 


Ollie continues to progress in therapy.  During today's session, 89% of his mands were above full prompt.  33% were completely independent!  It's amazing to see him really communicating.  He's doing so well with manding that they're going to start moving him into his actual program goals soon.

Next month begins the new fiscal year for our insurance, so Oliver's schedule will change to 3 days a week.  I hope that the change doesn't slow down his pace.


Before the terror began...
Sweet Baby Jane turned two this week, although she's been working on those Terrible Twos for a few months now.  To celebrate, I decided to take her out for some one-on-one time while our sitter was home with the boys.

We started out at a local craft store where Jane picked a plaster triceratops to paint.  She had a lot of fun with it and it was great to see her enjoy herself without anyone (ahem, Henry) trying to take the project over.

After the painting, I planned on taking her to lunch and then to story time at the library.  Those plans were waylaid by Toddler Tantrum I and II.  Somewhere between the craft store and ordering our food, a switch was flipped and she went from all smiles to inconsolable sobbing (at the restaurant) to screaming and kicking on the floor (at the library).  Needless to say, our outing was cut short.  Of course, by the time we got home again, she was back to smiling.  And I thought girls were supposed to be easier than boys. Ha!


Charming us all, even his crazy sister.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 2-8, 2012

Another week in the books.  Barely.  Matt was out of town over the long weekend, so it was just me and the Horde for five days.  Let's just say that I'm still catching up on sleep.  And sanity.


This week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 32-34 (writing the number 29,ordering numbers to 20, adding one to a number; writing the number 30, writing number sentences for some, some went away stories; writing the number 31, counting backward from 10 to 1, adding one to a number)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 85-87 (the vowel pair AI as /ā/, the vowel pair AY as /ā/, the vowel pairs EA, EI, and EY as /ā/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 89-94 (Hh, Rr/Nn/Mm/Hh review, Vv)
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 3 (I am Special to God Who Made Me)
I'll add in here that I'm really amazed at how well Henry is doing with OPGTR.  He's really reading.  He's able to use his phonics knowledge to sound out unfamiliar words.  He's not just barking at the page, though.  He's laughing at the funny stuff, asking for definitions of words he doesn't know, summarizing the little stories... reading!  One of his latest lessons had this little "story:"
The king did state, "I shall test a brave man of strength.  I shall send him on a quest.  Can he quench the flame that is a mile wide?  Can he save the life of the man stuck in the Black Depths?  Can he run the maze and slice the strong rope that no man can cut?  I shall grant a prize to this man.  He shall be the next king!"
He read it and understood it and found it rather thrilling.  We'll make a reader out of him yet.


Oliver had another really good week.  He's got the 'pretzel' mand down pat.  He's using 'cereal' also.  His therapist is really happy with his progress, but the best part is that I can tell Oliver is really happy with his progress.  He gets so excited when he is able to communicate with us.  I can't tell you how many pretzels we went through over the last week!

We received this chart yesterday.  It shows the progress he's making with independent and partial mands.  It does not show, however, that he completed 39 independent mands yesterday!  He did another 24 independent ones today.  Huge. 

I love seeing this.  My biggest frustration with ST and OT was that it seemed so haphazard.  It never felt like there was a clear progression of therapy.  His sessions were (at least to me) very random.  I love that the ABA therapy program is so focused, and so logical, and so documented.  It's making a huge difference for Oliver and we can actually see what's going on.


Jane's still working on orange and still carschooling.  LeapFrog Letter Factory was the pick this week and she's happily imitating all of the letter sounds.  This weekend, I'm going to quiz her a little and see how many letters she can correctly identify.

Wee Miss turns two next week, although she entered the Terrible Twos about six months ago.  She's getting so big, so fast.


He is just all smiles lately.  I try to get pictures of him with his big grins, but he gets a puzzled look on his face every time he sees the camera.  He's getting to that age when he wriggles like a puppy whenever anyone talks to him.  That and the full-body stretches are my favorites.

Tomorrow is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.  We're going to read from Mary: The Mother of Jesus.  We'll probably forgo the cake this year, though.  It was a bit much last year when we had Jane's birthday cake a few days later.  I think we'll make a construction paper cake and decorate it instead.