What We Did This Summer

Let’s give this (“this” being using this blog as a record of our learning activities in order to easily be able to write my end-of-year report) another try! I thought I’d start off our school/not-school year by recapping a few neat things we did over the summer.

We started off in June by taking a little day trip from Calgary to Blackfoot Crossing. It’s about an hour’s drive from Calgary, east on the Trans-Canada. I have wanted to go for a couple of years now, but we made more of an effort this time and actually set a date, as I had already started our learning plan for fall (in June?! What has gotten into me?) and it included learning about the First Nations of Canada and especially our region. I wish we had gone sooner, and we will definitely go again! It’s an absolutely beautiful site, and readily apparent why it has been a sacred site for centuries. You’re driving through dry prairie, nothing too exciting, and suddenly the prairie gives way to a lush valley and the scenery is gorgeous. Above it sits the interpretative centre (top righthand corner of the photo).

The view of the river valley at Blackfoot Crossing.

The view of the river valley at Blackfoot Crossing.

In the interpretative centre, we learned about different aspects of the Blackfoot culture, such as dances, migration, dwellings and traditions. We learned about residential schools (I added a bit of my own information to the write-up, which was very diplomatic) as well.

Our favourite part was strolling around outside, checking out the stone mounds, noteworthy sites and the traditional dance competition area. There is a walkway up to a lookout point (the vantage point of the photo above), and from here we could see pelicans circling, deciding where to land on the river below.

Blackfoot Crossing 2

In July, Neko spent a week in Edmonton with friends of ours. She was lucky enough to attend Odysseo, the Edmonton Science Centre, and the Alberta Legislature. She took the full legislature tour, which, happily, is in the Grade Four curriculum.

August was a blur of day camps and swimming. She can now jump off the diving board and swim to the edge, and dive all the way to the bottom of the pool, both of which are huge for her.

And the day before school started (September 15), we attended Homeschool Day at the Telus Spark. Neko attended the Junior Architects class and the tour of the building which covered all the aspects of their LEED certification. Great options for a little girl who dreams of being an architect or designer!

Junior architects building a wobbly tipi from PVC pipe at Telus Spark.

Junior architects building a wobbly tipi from PVC pipe at Telus Spark.

She also experimented with gears on the gear wall in the Creative Kids Museum (and later in the week went over gears and pulleys in her workbook), and of course the crowd favourite was the new Brainasium outdoor playground! The 63-foot slide was a blast.

63-foot slide in the Brainasium park

63-foot slide in the Brainasium park

IMG_3485

On the climb up.

Next up! Back to school! It’s been a hectic week!

Alphabetization??

When I wrote “Alphabetization” on Neko’s Learning Plan, I found myself amiss under the heading of “Resources.” Ummmm… I don’t know. How does one teach alphabetization? She’s not a Virgo, like me, compelled to organize all her books by either alphabetization or colour. And I’m not about to have her sit down and do worksheets on alphabetization.

But only a week later, Neko has announced that she’d like to do a research project. She didn’t use those words, of course, but there it was. She wanted to learn all about the rainforest, and write about it. Great!

So, we pulled out some reference books from her shelves, and she asked how she was going to find rainforests in any of them. “Well,” I responded, “You use the index.”

Bingo! As if sent by the Universe, here was my first lesson in alphabetization! I showed her how to use the index and explained how the entries are alphabetized. For the rest of this research project she has embarked on, she’ll have to practice this new skill.

I love how sometimes, the answers just come to you.

(For the record, I mostly just left that part of the learning plan blank… trusting that we’d figure it out. 😉 )

What This Blog Is Now

I wish this were an update, fully documenting what we’ve been up to, or how awesome homeschooling has been going (for the record – it has!). However, I’m just writing a quick post for now to update and say that this will be one of my primary forms of record-keeping for Neko’s Grade Three homeschooling year.

She has begun a blended program that is half public school, half unschooling – she will be in a school setting one day a week, with a second day every other week, and some Friday sport days and field trips as well. The rest of the time, she is unschooling as she has been so far.

Neko's first day of Grade Three. So thrilled!

Neko’s first day of Grade Three. So thrilled!

While not a full update, I’m happy to report that her reading and writing are up to grade level, and I would say that her math is close (more importantly to me, she finds it fun and we don’t fight about it. She has no context for math as punishment nor difficulty. And that is my longterm goal.). Science and social studies are not a concern, as they never have been. Phys ed, music, art and all the rest are going great (how could they not be? So fun!!).

Our learning plan for the year is complete, though I freely admit that I’m not beholden to even my own plans, and these are nothing but loose goals. That said, we’re aiming for the following this year:

Math: units of measure, charts and graphs, describing quantities to 1000 using different methods, multiply to 5×5, beginning division concepts

Language arts: proper spelling (moving away from just phonics), learning to access reference materials (dictionaries, encyclopedias), punctuation, capitalization, alphabetical order, story-telling (describing characters and setting), using electronic library catalog, typing skills

Science: build and test structures, describe and classify rocks and minerals, explore the nature of sound, plant growth and changes, waste and our world, magnets

Social studies: nothing specific aside from Hawaiian culture (we’re going to Maui this winter) – we generally wing it with social studies.

Physical education: improving swimming skills, winter sports – downhill skiing or snowboarding, gymnastics, hiking

Fine arts: guitar basics, appreciate different styles and media in visual art, experience the performing arts, create art using different media and techniques, understand and appreciate rhythm, explore a variety of folk dances

We’ll be tracking Neko’s progress through this blog, her personal student journal, a portfolio, and of course parental observation and even the odd worksheet.