Book Nook: Charlie and Noel

Advent starts on Sunday! So I thought I’d talk a little about an Advent book. I purchased Charlie and Noel on the recommendation of a friend, and I look forward to reading it with the children. It tells the story of Charlie, who hates the waiting of Advent and just wants Christmas to arrive. Noel, though, helps him learn more about Advent and Christmas. The story has a different chapter for every day in December leading up to Christmas, so it works perfectly for this year, when Advent starts 1 December. Each chapter ends with suggestions for activities you can do with the kids, too. I think we’ll enjoy reading it together.

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Sunday Snippets – a Catholic Carnival

This week’s question: for what are you most thankful? I know it sounds cliché, but I’m so very thankful for my family, and all the blessings we’ve received. My youngest has made it through his first year with no surgery. All three kids are such joys and blessings. My husband is wonderful. My parents have helped us a lot. I sometimes forget to just remember what I have and “count my blessings”, but I truly am blessed.

I missed last week, so here are the highlights from the past fortnight. There’s a short review of a children’s version of The Odyssey, to start, as well as one about King Pom. Then I talk a little about easy babies (or not). I shared seven things about me that you may not know. Finally, I talked quite a bit about homeschooling and Common Core: here, here, and here. Have a good week and God bless!

Check out RAnn’s for the full carnival.

Common Core Doesn’t Allow for Individual State Needs?

One particular charge I repeatedly hear against Common Core puzzles me. The claim is that State and local school boards know what their students need best. While that makes sense, the following implication that using Common Core means State needs and history can’t be taught doesn’t. The standards do not dictate the curriculum or content, provided one can meet the standards using those materials. For the most part, the same texts could be used without a problem.

There are no standards for social studies and science at the elementary level, so those should remain unaffected. It should not mean those things aren’t taught, though I know in practice that will happen. I know that because my sister and I both experienced it teaching in Florida, where our schools decided you could only teach what was on the FCAT. This is tragic and wrong, but not really the fault of the standards.

The standards for social studies and science for grades 6-12 do not specify content, either. Rather, they deal with topics such as identifying and evaluating various types of sources, which is necessary for any topic. The local and State boards should still be able to determine the content itself.

So unless I’m missing something, I don’t see why adopting the Common Core standards necessarily means that the State and local school boards can’t continue to determine the actual content taught. It shouldn’t be a problem at all, if properly implemented. I know it probably won’t be properly implemented everywhere, unfortunately, but that problem isn’t with the standards in themselves.

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

From Leo’s first birthday, I’ve tried relaxing a little bit on the forbidden foods (dairy, soy, eggs, beef, pork, alcohol, nightshades, fats). Well, I’ve really only relaxed with soy lecithin, small amounts of hard cheeses, small amounts of eggs, and the fats. But, I’ve noticed an increase in gallbladder attacks lately. He really hadn’t had one in ages, but they’re becoming more frequent. After the one today, I’m resolving to be better at avoiding the forbidden foods again. It’s not worth causing him pain, and it’s heartbreaking holding a screaming, pained toddler who doesn’t understand the pain.

I have another reason to go off those things again, too, as I’m donating milk for a baby with similar digestive issues. She doesn’t have gallstones to my knowledge, but definitely can’t tolerate dairy (possibly bovine protein and not the lactose).

— 2 —

I was talking to a lady after Mass today about feast days for the kids. I commented that I don’t really have one, when her daughter asked about St Susannah. I hadn’t thought to see if she had an actual feast day listed! When I was looking, I found an African martyr, a St Susita, whose feast day is my birthday! I may have another patron. :-). I couldn’t find much information on this Saint, though.

— 3 —

Speaking of patron Saints, a friend draws Saints for people every year just before Advent. A different friend draws virtues and continents for people to work on and pray for, respectively. This year, my patron is St James the Less, my virtue is obedience, and my continent is Africa. My first thought when I saw “obedience” was “but I don’t want that!” Sounds like it’s exactly what I need to work on, given my reaction.

— 4 —

I also might have to get stricter about the foods we keep in the house. While Kieran and Charlotte are great about ensuring they don’t drop things that Leo can’t eat, Leo dislikes being left out. He doesn’t understand why they can eat things which he cannot. It isn’t as much of a problem if I’ve made two dinners, as I have to do when the older kids want French onion soup (pretty much weekly), but at snack times it can be hard.

— 5 —

I love jigsaw puzzles and miss working them. My mom and I used to work them all the time. But with three kids and three cats, I don’t see me working a puzzle soon.

— 6 —

I sometimes forget that not everyone can read music. I had piano lessons as a child, but even had I not, we all learned basic note reading in my public elementary school. I’m not at all an expert, but I can get by. It certainly helps when I’m helping Kieran with his violin practice.

— 7 —

I was reading something about being introverted recently, and it said you’re an introvert if you have a continual inner dialogue. Now, I have long known I’m an introvert, and I do have that constant inner dialogue. I didn’t quite realise, though, that extroverts don’t have that inner dialogue. It makes sense when I think about it, I just hadn’t thought of it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Progress Report: Maths

Since I trust the research showing that it is best to delay formal mathematics until age 10, and since the standards assume formal mathematics from an early age, I didn’t expect Kieran to have mastered as many of the Common Core standards for this. He actually has had some workbook-type exposure to addition and subtraction, by his choice, and he quite likes it. The minute he shows any frustration, though, I direct him to something else. We, of course, encounter numbers all the time by counting things, measuring for cooking, and looking at clocks. So, all that in mind, let’s see how he does:

Know number names and the count sequence.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.1 Count to 100 by ones and by tens.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.2 Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1).
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.3 Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).
Count to tell the number of objects.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4a When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4b Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4c Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.5 Count to answer “how many?” questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1–20, count out that many objects.
Compare numbers.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.6 Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.1
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.7 Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals
.
Understand addition, and understand subtraction.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.1 Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).
CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.4 For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.5 Fluently add and subtract within 5.
Work with numbers 11-19 to gain foundations for place value.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.NBT.A.1 Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.
Describe and compare measurable attributes.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.
Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.1
Identify and describe shapes.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.1 Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.3 Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three-dimensional (“solid”).
Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.B.4 Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/“corners”) and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).
CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.B.5 Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.B.6 Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, “Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”

I’m a bit surprised, actually. I don’t have to submit a portfolio, but it’s nice to know I could if I had to do so.

Progress Report: Language Arts

The debates on the Common Core standards continue. The standards are a frequent topic of conversation in my family, since my father has long worked with standards-based educational reform. Even though I prefer a Sudbury or Montessori approach to education, the standards are often in the back of my mind. Now that we’re nearly through our first official year of homeschooling, I decided to go through the CC standards and see which have been mastered thus far. The ones that have been struck through have been mastered.

Key Ideas and Details

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.2 With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3 With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
Craft and Structure

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.4 Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.5 Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.6 With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
(RL.K.8 not applicable to literature)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.9 With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
Key Ideas and Details

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.2 With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.3 With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

Craft and Structure

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.4 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.5 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.6 Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.8 With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.9 With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
Print Concepts

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1a Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1b Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1c Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1d Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Phonological Awareness

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2a Recognize and produce rhyming words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2b Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2c Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2d Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.1 (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2e Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.

Phonics and Word Recognition

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3b Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3c Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3d Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.
Fluency

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.4 Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.
1 Words, syllables, or phonemes written in /slashes/refer to their pronunciation or phonology. Thus, /CVC/ is a word with three phonemes regardless of the number of letters in the spelling of the word.
Text Types and Purposes

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
Production and Distribution of Writing

(W.K.4 begins in grade 3)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.6 With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question
.
Comprehension and Collaboration

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1b Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.3 Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.
Conventions of Standard English

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1b Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1c Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1d Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1e Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1f Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities
.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2a Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2b Recognize and name end punctuation
.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2c Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2d Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
Knowledge of Language

(L.K.3 begins in grade 2)
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4a Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4b Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5a Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5b Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5c Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5d Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts
.

So, not quite halfway through the year, and using an approach of exploration and exposure instead of a set curriculum, and he can meet mot of these. Not bad. Now, the standards aren’t perfect, mainly in that I disagree with insisting on formal reading/math education so young. The research has shown that a child will learn to read on his own given the proper exposure and opportunity. But I also recognise that the way most schools work require a student to read early in order to succeed in school.

Book Nook: King Pom

It’s always fun to read different versions of fairy tales as conceived by different cultures. Usually the easiest to find is the “Cinderella” story, but we recently found King Pom and the Fox by Jessica Souhami, which is a “Puss in Boots” story. I honestly don’t know which came first, but it’s been fun reading them. It also makes for a good lesson plan to compare and contrast the stories. An older child could create his own version after reading the two, as well (a younger child can create one, too, but might need help writing it down).

In case you were wondering, the applicable Common Core Standards for this are:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.3 Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.