I'm posting the notes I was taking over the past month or so. I was going to try to back-date them, but that seems a little silly. The dates may not all be exactly correct, but here are the posts:
Math suddenly became easier. The girls' attitudes toward sitting down and working has really improved, and it's made a big difference. Emma worked through a bunch of problems, mostly dealing with fractions and percentages. Once she's got her mind around a problem, she does away with it pretty quickly. It's strange that she sees herself as not being very good at math. I think she's seeing it in terms of the calculations, which are hard for her, instead of the conceptual aspect, for which she's got a real talent. It's wild to see how different Emma and Soren's conceptual styles are. Soren uses objects and visualizations to grasp a problem, while Emma's methods are more internal. Emma will sometimes invent notations (tick marks, usually) that represent something abstract about the problem. Soren's problems this week were a little challenging for her, especially the number lines where the marks were more than one whole number apart. I reviewed the idea of number lines and coordinate systems with them for a while to build up that understanding.
Soren and I have been spending some of our Thursday nights together in serendipitous educational pursuits. We picked up a pocket handbook about insects, and she read the first 25 or so pages to me, then I read to her for a while. I was amazed by how many words she can figure out. She managed "abundant", "protective", "immature", "reproductive", "intricate", and "anatomy", to name a few, and almost got "nutritious" and "iridescence". We learned a lot of cool things about insects -- the stages of development, how some winged insects "pump up" their wings with blood after they emerge into their final stage of development, and how incredibly many types of insects there are. We were both kind of grossed out by the tarantula hawk wasp, that stings large spiders with its egg-laying tube and injects eggs into them. Soren, of course, thought dung flies were pretty funny.
Over the weekend the girls and I worked on English. Soren worked in the spelling book, which involved some difficult alphabetizing, and Emma did a whole ton of worksheets, covering abbreviations, alphabetizing, vocabulary, punctuation, and capitalization. She worked really hard and had a great attitude about it. Soren took forever to do a couple of pages in the spelling book, because she insisted on using a ruler to section off the paper she was writing her answers on, so there would be a "cell" for each answer. I've found that it hurts more than it helps to try to nudge her out of this sort of thing. It requires some patience.
This Thursday, Soren and I went to the craft store and got Sculpey. We had fun, but of course there is always the opportunity for learning. She figured out how to set the toaster oven to the correct temperature, even when the temperature she wanted wasn't on the dial, by interpolating between the existing numbers. I pointed out that the oven dial was a lot like a number line. She rolled her eyes.
We had a very busy day going, so we had to do a lot of learning on the run. We did a vocabulary list of strange words like "macerated", "fontanel", "mollify", and "diabolical". Actually it all started with the word "diabolical", because Emma asked Soren if she'd ever heard of the "Dewey Diabolical System". She was completely serious. We talked about the Spanish word "diablo", and learned how that word came from a common root. That, of course, led into some Latin and Greek roots. I need to find a way to make Latin and Greek roots a little more fun. The girls are endearingly intent about memorizing things. It's definitely not their strong point, though. One thing that worked pretty well was to try to make up sentences with more than one word using the root.
This Thursday, Soren and I did artwork. She learned how to draw a curve using a series of straight lines, and how a convoluted contour flattens out if you keep re-drawing it below or above (hard to explain -- hopefully I can post a picture). The big hit, though, turned out to be "kaleidoscope" drawings. We started out by making quadrants, then trying to "mirror" what we drew in one quadrant in the other three. After that, we drew things inside a right angle, then scanned the drawing into my computer, and used flipping and mirroring to make the other three quadrants. Soren has so much artistic talent. Her only shortcoming is a lack of patience -- which is really not that surprising for an eight-year-old kid. It's easy to forget how young she is sometimes.
Another extremely busy weekend. We went to Brown's Berry Patch in Waterport and got pumpkins to carve. And of course we had to carve them right away. We found some time Sunday, though, to go through some Greek and Latin roots. I thought it would be interesting to do roots with the same meaning in both languages, so we did bio/vivo, mega/magnus, and techne/artis. A good time was had by all, and I think some of it even stuck. Soren seems to learn well while she is doing something else with her hands (in this case, shrinky-dinks, of which she produced at least ten this weekend). I kept thinking she wasn't listening, and I'd ask her what the root was. She was right with it every time. They practiced their instruments for quite a while on Sunday as well. They are getting so good. Soren does slurs on the violin so naturally. And I love how she sways while she's playing. Emma is starting to get more control of volume and tone. The oboe seems like such a tough instrument, especially for someone with such small hands. She's doing really well.