Tuesday, 16 July 2013

School Time

Yesterday Iona decided that she wanted to play schools with her toys. It always amuses me how even home educated children who have never seen the inside of a school want to play it, but I guess it's just the number of TV programmes and books which feature it. Anyway, she told me I had to be the teacher, and told me exactly what to say to her toys, while she observed and moved them around. After a while of her toys being told off for being late for school I saw the perfect opportunity for a bit of impromptu learning, so brought down her cuddly toy clock with the hands set to 9:00 and asked her what time this was for the start of school. She insisted on changing the time, so after telling her the new time I drew this for her:

(the name of the village was Iona's idea). I then suggested we write a register of the toys' names to mark if they were there or not. She didn't quite get the idea, and insisted on writing a separate page for each toy, but it was all good practice in writing.

After a couple of hours of "school" I was tiring, so when Iona mentioned that she'd watched "The Mr Men Show" with Daddy in the morning (while I nipped to town to buy my brother's birthday present) I had another brainwave. I asked what Mr Man or Little Miss Iona might invent. She suggested Mr Food, so I explained that almost all the Mr Men have names which describe them, i.e. are adjectives. I drew my own invention:

(red cheeks courtesy of Iona) then Iona came up with her own, Mr Hungry:

I was pleased because, off the top of her head, Iona decided he would have an open mouth and crumbs on his chin, and then drew a tongue in too. She also quickly drew Miss Sun:

She copied "Miss" from my picture, but figured out "Sun" for herself (she still reverses z and s fairly often). She then drew another figure and told me it was Miss Bossy:

I think this comes from having read "How to Be a Friend" over lunchtime; we got it the other day from a charity shop and I've left it lying around, as Iona is currently struggling with whether she wants friends as she has to share with them! This "strewing" worked: I think Iona would have rebelled if I'd suggested she read it but she picked it up herself and let me read it all through to her, leading to some good, if short, discussions.

Finally, Iona decided to again write me a few notes in the evening. The first said this:

It took me a lot of time and miming from a silent Iona to finally figure out that it said "I've lost my voice"! OK, so there's room for work on spelling and separating words, but I love that she sees writing has a point and she's keen to try it all the time.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Going autonomous

As you can tell looking back at this blog over the years, my approach to home education has tended to be based around unit studies / projects, with lapbooking seeming to be a very good way to present the work done (mostly by me in the early years, it has to be admitted!). After we finished doing the Letter of the Week (or fortnight!) studies a couple of months ago, Iona said she wanted to know how people lived in other countries, so I jumped in with trying to study a country a week with her. We learned about Iona's choice of countries (although the last couple were the ones from her list that they had resources about at our home ed group library) - Brazil, Italy, France, and India. I could tell, though, that she was beginning to lose interest by India, and didn't even try to get her to do a lapbook about it, as I had for the others. When I asked her which country she wanted to do next she said she didn't want to do any, so I think I may have overdone my enthusiasm for project work.

In an attempt to avoid putting her off learning I have now decided to pull back a bit more and let her learn even more autonomously than before. There have been mixed results with that this week, although in this heat I defy anybody to work very hard! On Tuesday morning she got out the stencils that she started using the day before, and all on her own produced this:

Apparently it's 2 robots saying Hi and something else (not sure if it's "What are you?"), a cat saying Miaow, and an apple saying Help, as well as a rather nice tortoise. I think the ladder-like thing to the right is supposed to be a path. I explained about speech bubbles in comics (she's still very keen on animation), and we haven't looked back since!

The next picture shows how keen she became on speech bubbles:

Unfortunately the picture is not too clear, but there are numerous speech bubbles with exclamations such as "Aaa", "Help", and "Imcumin" [I'm coming]. After this I showed her the exclamation mark in some print sentences and explained its use. The next picture, which I can't find, showed 2 robots, one with a filled in eye (like Zommer on Moshi Monsters), and the little robot is saying (in her own inimitable spelling) "Aaa a zombie robot Mummy!". She also added lots of other exclamations, complete with exclamation marks.

Her next picture featured 2 new characters that she's started drawing a lot: Tom and Abbey. In this picture they were singing ("Lalala"), and joined by her and me. Unfortunately she refuses to accept that the sound at the start of words like "the" and "this" is "th" rather than "d", so writes "this" as "dis". She has also decided that "is" should be "iz" (fair point!), although she does sometimes spell it correctly. My favourite misspelling in this picture is my name, Angela, which she always puts as "Anjl"! I do sometimes, while praising any words spelled correctly, and the effort made, point out how to spell the sentences correctly; at the bottom of this photo you might be able to see my correct writing of "This is Tom" and "This is Abbey". However, I try hard not to quash her enthusiasm, and I am beginning to notice some improvement in both her spelling and her reading.

Iona's drawing day wasn't yet over, and she drew several other large (all today's pictures are on A3 paper from the scrap store) pictures, including a self portrait and some pictures of her Pumpkin P family for the animated film she's working on:

She was so engrossed in her drawing that we didn't make it to the library for the 2:15 story time as planned, finally leaving home at 4:30 to visit the library and choose some books of her own choice (rather than mine for whatever project I had planned), then play in the nearby playground.

For a few days she seemed largely uninterested in drawing or writing, preferring to play intricate games with her small figures and dolls' houses. Today, however, she showed me this note which she had written in bed last night to her Ben 10 toy:

Apparently it says "To Ben Ten I hop[e] yoo [you] hav[e] a luvle [lovely] bsta [birthday] Luv [love] Iona". I was quite impressed as I could read it without much difficulty, and she can obviously now spell CVC words, at least. I have, however, reminded her that you is spelled "you"!

Overall, I am reassured that the more autonomous approach is not going to lead to her neglecting reading and writing, although I have found that some days I may need to remind her that doing something a little more academic that playing with her toys might be fun too.