The end is in sight! This is our second-to-last week of school before we take a six-week break from almost all schoolwork, though it was hardly a normal week!
Miss M took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills on Monday and Tuesday. Minnesota is a fairly lightly regulated state when it comes to homeschooling — besides filing a minimal amount of paperwork each fall, students age seven and up need to take a nationally-normed standardized test. Any test is fine, as long as it gets done! Some families opt for an oral exam like the Peabody, some families hire a private tester to do a written test, some families purchase and administer a test themselves, and some do what we did — join with other families (in our case, from our homeschool co-op), to do testing in a small group situation.
I wanted Miss M to feel comfortable with written standardized testing right from the start, so there’s less stress and change for her as she gets older and has to take tests that really “count” for something. And I knew I couldn’t administer a test at home. Besides the huge number of distractions in our house (well, three brotherly distractions!), I’m not sure I could be fair and unbiased as a test administrator for my own child! Other than the time involved (3 hrs on 2 days this year, and it will take three days next year when she is a 3rd grader!), the co-op testing situation worked super well for us. Miss M tested with one other 2nd grader, while I read a test to a 1st grader from another family (1st and 2nd grade ITBS tests have most questions read aloud). The boys got to hang out with all the other younger siblings who were not testing, with a few moms who were not reading or supervising a test. We won’t find out the results until July, but Miss M seemed confident and at ease about the testing process, so I am sure she did her best!
Besides the testing all morning on Monday and Tuesday, a big focus of our week school-wise was playing games:
We played games for quite a while on both Wednesday and Thursday (and maybe we’ll do that today too — we’ll see how things go!). The highlight of our game playing for the kids probably a game I created that they named “Phonogram Treats.” I showed the kids Logic of English (LOE) phonogram flashcards, and they got a piece of candy for saying all the sounds of the given phonogram correctly. We cheered on the three-year-old, Mr. K, for saying anything remotely close to a correct sound or letter name and made sure that with enough hints, he ended the game with plenty of candy in his bowl too. We also played a Logic of English game called Dragon from the LOE games book. Mr. E chose not to play with us and Miss M and we found this game was not quite so fun with only two players — but at least it was good practice.
Miss M requested fraction games from the RightStart games book for our math game time. She decided after taking the Iowa test that she had “forgotten everything she knew about fractions”. 🙂 A quick review of the RS fraction chart brought it all back to mind, and we enjoyed “Fraction War” and “One”. Mr E played “One” with us (making rows of fraction cards to equal one), and it was impressive how well he was understanding fractions after just a short introduction to the subject and playing the game with us. Joan Cotter is so right — even Kindergarteners can understand fractions by playing games!
The boys continued the game playing theme on their own by dumping out a variety of card games, and playing a few by their very own rules, including a messy, crazy version of Uno. 🙂
Here are a few other highlights from our week:
1. and 2. We kept things light and fun on Monday and Tuesday after testing. We celebrated completing the day of testing on Monday with our first water gun fight of the year. We celebrated completing the test as a whole on Tuesday with Miss M’s choice of lunch — her favorite take-n-bake pizza and watermelon (our first watermelon of the spring/summer as well!)
3. The boys enjoying their library books
4. The kids decided to hold a “funniest costume contest.” After I refused to pick a winner, they demanded I put the picture on FB to have my friends vote. After not-quite 24 hours of voting, I think Mr. K (the pirate-cheerleader-granny as one friend called his costume) will be the highest vote-getter. Many friends declared it a three way tie and also refused to vote. 😉
5. Artwork created by Miss M and Mr. E. Mr. E drew the toucan-like bird in the upper center of the picture. His drawing skills have taken a massive leap forward in recent weeks! I continue to think I don’t really need to teach these kids how to do art or drawing…they are so creative and talented all on their own!
6. Another week, another trip to Ikea to meet an out-of-town friend. Seriously, we had not been to Ikea for months, and now we’ve been twice in two weeks! This time we met a college friend of mine visiting from Colorado. The kids enjoyed afternoon treats and a movie in the kids area while my friend and I chatted!
7. Our flight unit study continues. This week read read about Charles Lindbergh (book not pictured) and Louis Berliot. I found a PBS/NOVA video about Berliot at the library that we all enjoyed watching together. Miss M completed a few more lapbook pieces as well.
Later this afternoon we leave for a weekend trip to visit my husband’s family in Iowa and hopefully catch up with a few friends as well. As much as I would like to get a bit more school-ish stuff done today, I have a suspicion that today will be mostly consumed with errands and packing as we get ready to go. It never seems like it should take very long to just pack for a two day, two night trip…but somehow it always does!
Have a wonderful weekend!