Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 11/16/20

Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018):  "Sighted" by John Mole, "Space Poem" by James Carter, "That Stormy Night" by Berlie Doherty, "Thunder and Lightning" by James Kirkup, "Silver" by Walter de la Mare
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "Why does a whale spout?"; "What's the difference between frogs and toads?"; "How do insects breathe?"; "What is the purpose of a firefly's light?"; "How do bees make honey?";  "How does a caterpillar become a butterfly?"; "How do silkworms make silk?";  "Why aren't spiders caught in their own webs?"; "How do ants eat?";  "How do earthworms eat?" 
  • Lesson 11 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism:  "The Catholic Church"
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Maya with a Doll by Pablo Picasso
  • Kyrie XVI from Missa XVI
  • "Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night," sung using the picture book by Peter Spier and the recording by Burl Ives
  • "Mars, Bringer of War" from The Planets by Gustav Holst 
  • Math flashcards (numbers 1-10 for E., addition and subtraction for C., multiplication and division for M.) 


History 

M.'s topic for this week was the Byzantine Empire. She also finished watching Secrets of the Castle with Ruth, Peter, and Tom and Our Little Frankish Cousin of Long Ago by Eveline Stein. C. read Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter by Sally M. Walker aloud to me, and we also made it to the end of The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Rudolph F. Zallinger. C. also watched An Illustrated History of Dinosaurs from PBS Eons. 


Table Time

There weren't many formal activities during the week. I did allow the girls to paint over the weekend, and then they made Thanksgiving sticker scenes early in the week. Thursday was my birthday, so we did a lighter school day, and on Friday, we had another masked outdoor playdate with our next-door neighbors' grandkids. 


Math

M. spent most of the week correcting mistakes in problems she had previously done in Singapore 3B. C. continued to work on adding tens and ones and then corrected some mistakes at the end of the week. Both girls did Khan Academy math every day. C. did Life of Fred: Butterflies Chapter 7 and M. did Life of Fred:  Honey Chapter 2. 


Science

Our topic in BFSU for this week and next is drawing and reading maps. On Monday, we read a book called Mapping Penny's World by Loreen Leedy on Open Library and I guided M. and C. through drawing a map of our kitchen and dining room. On Tuesday, they each chose a room to map themselves. M. mapped the living room and C. chose the kids' bedroom.  On Thursday, we read Types of Maps by Kristen Rajczak on Hoopla. On Friday, my husband had M. and C. each draw a blueprint for a building to be made out of blocks next week. 


Reading and Writing 

We almost finished Knight's Castle, leaving just the final chapter to be read on Monday. My husband continued reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. M. continued (and finished) reading Ballet Shoes Noel Streatfeild and C. and I started reading Sarah, Plain and Tall together. I started reading My Bookhouse: In the Nursery aloud to E. and babies R. and A. listened in. 


Music

M. and C. practiced recorder and piano each day. On the weekend, we had a family band while the little ones napped, with my husband on guitar, M. and myself on ukulele, and C. doing vocals. We sang "Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night" and "Over the River and Through the Wood." 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 11/9/20

Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Weather or Not" by Roger McGough, "The Fog" by F.R. McCreary, "Fog in November" by Leonard Clark, "Winter Song" a Southern Paiute song translated by John Wesley Powell, "Pine Tree Tops by Gary Snyder, "The Storm Crown" a Southern Paiute song translated by John Wesley Powell
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "Why does a male bird have brighter colors than the female?";  "Why do birds sing?";  "What keeps a duck afloat?";  "How do fish breathe?";  "How do flying fish fly?";  "How do salmon go upstream to spawn?"; "Which snakes are poisonous?"; "Do rattle snakes rattle before they strike?"; "What is the largest snake in the world?" 
  • "I Had a Little Rooster" from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996):  Le Gourmet by Pablo Picasso
  • "Panis Angelicus" sung from the Vatican II Hymnal
  • Weather observations
  • From The Story of Peer Gynt retold by E.V. Sandys, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1941) : Chapter 5, "'Go Around the Other Way'"; Chapter 6, "The Auction"; Chapter 7, "Troll to Thyself Be Enough"; Chapter 8, "Peer Gynt Finds His Kingdom"  
  • Math flashcards
  • Lesson 10  from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism:  "The Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit" 


History 

M. continues to do history with Daddy. This week, she started watching episodes of Secrets of the Castle with Ruth, Peter, and Tom. She also read Medieval Feast by Aliki, read both versions (picture book and easy reader) of Castle by David Macaulay and watched the associated PBS video, read Sabuda and Reinhart Present Castle: Medieval Days and Knights by Kyle Olmon and Tracy Sabin and finished reading Picturesque Tale of Progress: New Nations I. She also experimented with building a castle of her own using Build a Castle: 64 Slot-Together Cards for Creative Fun by Paul Farrell, which was sent to me for review and ended up being a perfect supplementary event.  

C. started to lose interest in the dinosaurs, but we powered through a good portion of The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Rudolph F. Zallinger, including the section about Tyrannosaures rex. That leaves only the sections about discovering fossils to be read next week. We also looked at some 3-D representations of dinosaurs on Google using a feature from Jurassic World 


Table Time

On Monday, we had a 2-hour outdoor playdate with some friends we hadn't seen at all since the start of the pandemic. On Tuesday, the girls made necklaces using beads and string one of my former teachers sent me as she was cleaning out craft supplies. The rest of week during this time, they mostly played with dolls or colored.


Math

C. continued working with adding tens and ones in Singapore 1B. She started estimating and rounding in third grade on Khan Academy. She also did Life of Fred: Butterflies Chapter 6.  

M.  did Life of Fred: Honey Chapter 1 and worked on a review section in Singapore 3B. 


Science

Using BFSU and EESE as guides we discussed the rotation of the earth and how this creates night and day. We watched Earth's Rotation and Revolution from Crash Course Kids and The Moving Stars of the Northern Hemisphere. M. and C. took turns spinning in a rotating chair while looking at a fixed point on the ceiling to help them understand why the north star never seems to move. We also read Time Zones by Ryan Nagelhout to explain how the sun's movement helps people decide what time it is. 


Reading and Writing

C. finished reading The Little Leftover Witch. We continued our lunchtime read-aloud of Knight's Castle and my husband continued reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle after dinner. M. is reading Ballet Shoes. E. discovered Dr. Seuss and also enjoyed Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer. C. practiced cursive strokes. 


Music

M. and C. practiced recorder and piano each day. 

Book Review: Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs (1933)

Invincible Louisa is a juvenile biography of Louisa May Alcott, which won the Newbery Medal in 1934. This book covers events in Louisa's life that inspired characters and events in Little Women as well as other influential experiences that shaped the author. Through this book, young readers gain an understanding of the impractical ideals of Bronson Alcott (Louisa's father), the steadfast love of Abba Alcott (her mother), her relationship with her sisters, her work as a Civil War nurse and how she came to make a career of writing. 

When I read Little Women a couple of years ago, I didn't quite love it as much as many other readers do, but I did become fascinated by the Alcott family and the circle of people they knew in Concord, Massachusetts. Early last year, I read We Alcotts by Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe, which was my first introduction to the life of Abba Alcott and her husband, Bronson, and ever since I've wanted to read more about Concord. I challenged myself to read five Concord-oriented books in 2020, but Invincible Louisa is the only one I've picked up so far. Thankfully, it was thoroughly engaging and has inspired me to try to finish this challenge before January.

The writing in this book is of very high quality but it still reads fairly quickly. It was interesting to see the real-life events and people that were included in Little Women as well as the things that went differently for Louisa than for Jo, her Little Women counterpart. It was also inspiring to see how the family handled financial difficulty and uncertainty, and also how Louisa's work during the Civil War changed her and matured her. Though I had read about many of these things from Abba's perspective, seeing them through Louisa's eyes added dimensions to my understanding of this family.

My girls (and boy) are still a few years away from being able to appreciate Little Women, but when they do finally read it, I'm excited to be able to share this book with them as well. It's definitely a worthwhile companion to the story, as well as a well-written biography on its own. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reading Through History: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (1955)

Nathaniel Bowditch planned to attend Harvard, but a series of events in his young life sent him on a different path instead. First he was indentured to a chandler, then he worked as a surveyor, and after that he became a supercargo on a merchant ship. All the while, he taught himself the subjects that interested him using books, later making a name for himself as a navigator when he uncovered errors in various navigational books sailors of his day relied upon heavily. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is a fictionalized account of Bowditch's story that won the Newbery Medal in 1956.

This book is a wonderful celebration of learning which provides an excellent role model for self-motivated education. The way Bowditch pursues his education against all odds, even when his dream of attending Harvard becomes impossible is admirable and inspiring. Loving learning for its own sake is something I want to instill in my children, and this book provides the perfect vehicle for explaining what that looks like.

I also appreciate the way the book addresses how very knowledgeable and well-educated people ought to act around those with lesser knowledge or education. This exchange between Nathaniel and Elizabeth on pages 82-83 of the book sums it up well:

"I know. I'm just like a chair you stumble over in the dark." Elizabeth said. "It isn't the chair's fault, but you kick it anyhow."

Nat blinked. "What are you talking about?"

"Your brain. It's too fast. So you stumble on other people's dumbness. And - you want to kick something."

Nat felt his face get hot. "But I shouldn't."

Elizabeth agreed. "No you shouldn't, because even if people are dumb, they aren't chairs, are they? They do have feelings."

I have at least one child who will benefit greatly from understanding this "chair in the dark" analogy as she gets older.

The writing style also makes this book very readable, despite all the technical sailing and navigational jargon. I never felt like I couldn't grasp what was happening and I found it very easy to picture things that happened at sea despite never having traveled on the ocean myself. I had been putting off crossing this book off my list of unread Newbery winners because I didn't expect to like it, but now I'm sorry I waited so long. This was a joy to read.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Ulysses and Me: Then and Now


When I was a sophomore in college, I registered for an Irish Literature course.  I had a few different reasons for wanting to take the class, but one of the biggest was that Ulysses by James Joyce was on the syllabus. I didn't know very much about Joyce's work, but my dad had often quoted lines from Ulysses to me, and I was fascinated by Bloomsday, the yearly celebration of Ulysses held on June 16, the date on which the book is set. Though I had struggled with my classes up to that point, failing to comprehend the reading and finding classroom discussions completely overwhelming, when it came to Ulysses,  I was determined to put in the effort to be able to appreciate the book because I had this personal interest in it.  

Every evening during the week I was working on my paper about Ulysses, I sat in a dull white study carrel in the basement of the college library, poring over the book and piecing together an argument on the theme of  Leopold Bloom and "seeing ourselves as others see us." I felt really invested in the assignment, and it seemed to me that I was doing a good job. I didn't expect an A - I received only a handful of those my entire college career - but when I turned it in, I thought it was my best college-level work to date. 

Unfortunately, when the paper was returned to me in class, it became clear this was not the case. There were very few comments overall, but a note on the front page summed up what my professor had thought: "This is largely based upon a misreading." Maybe if I hadn't spent all of my free time on this book for a week, I could have let that comment roll off of me, but doing that amount of work and finding that it made no difference at all to the way my paper was received was so disheartening that I took it very personally. The papers I had written for other classes, using half the effort and without reading the book, had been better-received than this one that I cared about and therefore slaved over.  The result was that, for the remaining 5 semesters of my college career, I never read another assigned book. I wrote papers without doing the reading and all of them received better feedback than my analysis of Ulysses. 

At the time, my reaction was to wonder, "How would anyone know if they misread Ulysses or not?" But knowing how well-respected my professor is in the field of Irish literature, over time I had to accept that if anyone would know, it would be him. So from that I concluded that the problem was me. Classics were too  hard for me, I probably wouldn't read them correctly if I tried, and therefore there was no reason to read them at all. This conclusion, combined with some other disappointing feedback from members of the English department's creative writing faculty, probably played some part in my pursuing a career as a children's librarian. It ended up being a wonderful line of work for me, but my attraction to it was definitely connected to the fact that it would make it very easy to justify reading only children's and YA books.  

During my years working in the library I occasionally read a mystery novel or a Fannie Flagg book or something else that wasn't that demanding, but I almost never picked up a serious adult novel, and I claimed this was because there just wasn't time to keep up professionally and read grown-up books for fun. Really, though, it was partly because I assumed adult books were still beyond me. I read hundreds - and sometimes over a thousand - children's books per year  - but I wouldn't touch a classic with a ten-foot pole. 

I left the library world in 2013 when I became a mom, and for a few years, I kept on with reading books for kids, thinking I would stay active in the field through blogging about children's literature. But after I had my third child, I started realizing that being with kids all day and only reading kids' books didn't leave much room for variety in my life. Slowly, but surely, the tide of my reading life began to turn. 

First, I joined a Catholic moms book club. We primarily read spiritual works, but slowly started sneaking in some classics as well. Given that this wasn't an academic environment and I wouldn't have to write a paper, I started reading the books. I never had anything particularly astute to say about them (and I still don't), but the difference was that now no one cared. I was free to find whatever meaning I could in the books, and to not worry about whether I missed something.  

Next, I started listening to What Should I Read Next, and doing more classics-oriented read-alongs on Instagram, including "2020 Classics," the goal of which was to read 20 classics between mid-2019 and the end of 2020.  With the pressure off and the expectations low, I was suddenly reading adult books with the same hunger I had previously devoured books for kids. I didn't love everything (Pride and Prejudice was not for me), but I found myself willingly reading things that I had avoided like the plague after my experience with Ulysses. I managed to read Middlemarch, Kristin Lavransdatter, Jane Eyre, Adam Bede, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and other books I had previously dismissed. 

Then, I joined a read-along on Instagram for Crime and Punishment. As we were all introducing ourselves, someone in the group mentioned Ulysses. I told a brief version of my story with this book, and the next thing I knew, there was a read-along being organized for Ulysses and I was part of the group.

I jokingly told people that I wanted to revisit Ulysses to purge the demons I still associate with my English degree, and that was partly true. But more than that, I was curious. Would I misread the book again? Or would I find it easier and more comprehensible after reading all these other classics? The read-along group fell apart almost instantly, but armed with paperback and library audiobook, I decided I would read and/or listen to every word of the book, even if it took months.

I began reading on Bloomsday this year, June 16. I started out listening to the audiobook at normal speed and following along in the book. I did 15-20 minutes per day, and kept to the read-along schedule for the first month or two. Then I took several long breaks from reading it, interspersed with days where I would read just a page or two or speed up the audiobook to 2x and get through a bit of it. In the first quarter of the book, I highlighted quotes and reveled in references to Irish music and the Catholic faith that were familiar to me. I let the language wash over me like poetry and it did start to make a kind of sense. 

As the book went on, though, it became clear that it was not for the faint of heart. Ulysses is a book that changes genre, tense, point of view, and format without warning. There are allusions upon allusions to Irish culture, politics, history, literature, and art, along with sexual content, religious imagery, quotations from poetry, and many other things I know I didn't even recognize. I had obviously been wrong to ever think I hadn't misread this book, as I most obviously had, but now I started entertaining a new question: Was it fair to think an undergraduate was going to do anything other than misread it?  

The last quarter of the book became such a slog that I cranked the audiobook up to 3x speed and just zipped through it as best I could. There was a play and a chapter written as a weird kind of Q and A. The final chapter contained no punctuation at all and had frank sexual talk that I would typically avoid. Reaching the end brought more relief than pride. But it left me with an answer to my question.  

Could a college student ever do anything other than misread Ulysses? Honestly, I don't think so. 

To truly appreciate Ulysses, you either have to have the exact same knowledge of all the topics James Joyce studied and knew well, or you have to spend your life acquiring said knowledge and then applying it appropriately to the text. Perhaps progress could be made over a four-year period, but in a semester-long course for sophomores? No, there is no way, even if I had spent every waking moment of my life in the library with that book, that I could have gotten more out of it. I have no idea what the comments on my classmates' papers were like, but I suspect that if they read the book "correctly," it was either an accident, or they did a lot of research of other people's arguments and commented upon those. (We were always expressly told not to do this, and therefore I thought it was cheating, but looking back there is zero chance that everyone but me completely understood this book. They definitely read up on it. My refusing to do so is an example of what my late father always called "letting school interfere with your education.")

I will probably never stop being disappointed that my career as an English major caused such a terrible setback in my reading life, but 16 years post-graduation, having conquered this book for the final time, it no longer feels that significant. If I had it to do over, I would probably have chosen a state school and saved my money, and I definitely would not have majored in English, but even so, I got here in the end, and that's the most important thing. I think I will keep my copy of Ulysses for now, as a souvenir of sorts, but if it ever gets read again, it won't be by me. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 11/2/20

 Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "The Night Will Never Stay" by Eleanor Farjeon, "Skyscrapers" by Rachel Field, "Fox" by Kathy Henderson, "Autumn Fires" by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Fires are flaming" by Anonymous, "November Night" by Adelaide Crapsey, "Flint" by Christina Rossetti
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "Can animals understand each other?"; "Do animals laugh or cry?"; "Can animals taste?"; "Can animals see in color?"; "Why do animals hibernate?"; "Why does a cow chew its cud?"; "How long have dogs been domesticated?"; "When were cats domesticated?"; "Why is the lion called 'King of Beasts'?" 
  • "Buffalo Gals" from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Two Young Girls at the Piano by Pierre-Auguste Renoir 
  • "Panis Angelicus" sung from the Vatican II Hymnal
  • From The Story of Peer Gynt retold by E.V. Sandys, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1941) : Chapter 1, "Peer and Asa Have a Quarrel"; Chapter 2, "At the Wedding Feast"; Chapter 3, "The Woman in Green"; Chapter 4, "In the Hall of the Mountain King"  
  • Lesson 9 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: "The Holy Spirit and Grace"
  • Weather observations
  • Flashcards: addition and subtraction (C.) and multiplication and division (M.) 


History 

C. and I continued reading The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Rudolph F. Zallinger, and we watched some more supplementary videos:
M. read The Man Who Loved Books written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (Putnam, 1981)  and watched The Secret of Kells (Madman Entertainment, 2010). C. joined her for the movie just for fun. She also read about the vikings in A Picturesque Tale of Progress, Leif the Lucky by Ingri D'Aulaire
and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire (Doubleday, 1941), A Viking Settler by Giovanni Caselli (P. Bedrick Books, 1986)  and in a section of Barbarians! written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Robert Byrd (Dutton, 2009). She  wrote and illustrated a narration about viking ships and watched these videos: 

Table Time 

On Monday, we colored calaveras for All Souls Day. On Tuesday, we played Lucy Hammett's Nature Bingo and the girls talked to my sister briefly on the phone. On Wednesday, the girls colored again.  On Thursday, we went to the pediatrician (health class!) during this time, so we weren't home for any formal activities. On Friday, we went to the used bookstore and listened to the audiobook of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild in the car. M. took her weekly long walk with me on Saturday morning. 

Math

C. moved into the next section of Singapore 1B, which is about adding tens and ones. M. did the entire Graphs section in Singapore 3B. Both girls did Khan Academy.

Preschool

E. mostly did puzzles during school time all week. At her naptime, she requested Dr. Seuss read-alouds and Goldilocks and  the Three Bears by Jan Brett. 

Science

The week's theme was materials. On Monday, we made a list of items made of wood, plastic, stone, fibers, etc. On Tuesday, we talked about the properties of different materials. On the remaining days, we watched various "How It's Made" videos: 
C. and I finished reading our Happy Hollisters book and she started reading The Little Leftover Witch by Florence Laughlin. We finished reading aloud The Witch Family (with help from the audiobook) and started Knight's Castle by Edward Eager. My husband is still reading aloud The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle and the Saturday night audiobook was Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood. 


Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily.  They also got new tutus from Grandma and did some dancing around the basement. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/26/20

Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Where Would You Be?" by Karla Kuskin, "Mice" by Rose Fyleman, "The Bird of Night" by Randall Jarrell, "Midnight Visitors" by Irene Rawnsley,  "The Pumpkin" by Anonymous, "The Bat" by Theodore Roethke
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "What is the eye made of?", "How does the ear work?", "Why are there different types of hair?",  "What are fingernails made of?", "How do we talk?", "Why are some people left-handed?", "What causes hiccoughs?", "What makes people sneeze?",  "What is hay fever?",  "What causes headaches?", "What is a 'cold?'", "How do we get fever?", "What is cancer?" 
  • "Squirrel Nutkin" from Sing Through the Day: Eighty Songs for Children compiled and edited by Marlys Swinger, illustrated by Nancy and Brenna McKernan (The Plough Publishing House, 1999), sung along with this YouTube video
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): A Tough Story by John G. Brown 
  • "Panis Angelicus" sung from the Vatican II Hymnal
  • "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg
  • Lesson 8 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Weather observations 

 

History 

C. finished reading Life Story and we started reading The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Rudolph F. Zallinger. We watched these videos to expand on what we read: 
M. continued to read about monasteries and illuminations. She colored several illuminated letters and watched Illuminations: Treasures of the Middle Ages


Table Time

On the weekend, M. sewed a small pillow with my husband's help while C. and E. came with me to the Dollar Tree and each spent a dollar of her birthday money. On Monday, my husband carved our jack o'lantern.  On Tuesday, we went to the park with friends. On Wednesday, the girls created sticker collages with Halloween stickers and listened to Golden Records Spooky Halloween Hits. On Thursday, we colored. On Friday, I took M. and the babies for the usual walk, and C. and E. stayed home to play.

Math

C did the entire section in her math book about telling time, which covered times on the hour and half-past the hour. M. started working with conversions involving gallons, quarts, and pints.  

Preschool

E. did some coloring in the Learnalots Let's Learn Preschool activity pad she got for her birthday. She has been pointing out the letters she knows on every piece of print she finds. 

Science

This week, we talked about the particulate nature of matter using Early Elementary Science Education and BFSU. We watched a few videos: 
M. finished Mossflower. In addition to the Happy Hollisters book she is reading with me, C. also read Halloween Treats by Carolyn Haywood. I also read aloud The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes and the girls listened to The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson. My husband is reading aloud The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle after dinner each night. 

Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily. They also danced to Halloween music and listened to Halloween songs from Super Simple Songs on YouTube. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 11/2/20

Finished Books


This week, I finished four books.

Rekindled: How Jesus Called Me Back to the Catholic Church and Set My Heart on Fire by Mallory Smyth highlights a lot of the negative experiences many cradle Catholics had growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, and why it's worth staying in the church anyway. I wasn't crazy about the way the book was structured but the content was spot-on. I got this book from NetGalley and I hope to post a review later this week.

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs is a solid women's fiction novel about a woman putting her life back together after spending a year in a coma. I had kind of a book hangover after this one - I need more women's fiction like this, with flashbacks to high school and a small-town judge as a character, and no explicit sex.

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much and Cockatiels at Seven are books 8 and 9 in the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews. Both were fine three-star reads, and the tenth book is Christmas-themed so I'll have that to grab when the Christmas reading mood strikes after Thanksgiving.

Currently Reading 

I'm listening to These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon and reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp for book club.

Up Next

I downloaded Us Against You by Frederik Backman from Scribd. I'm also planning to read Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge with the Goudge book club on Instagram and A Lost Lady by Willa Cather for another Instagram read-along. 

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Read-at-Home-Mom Report for 10/26/20

Finished Books

I tied up a lot of loose reading ends this week, finishing several books that I've had ongoing for weeks and even months. 

Though I can't say I got much out of it, I finally finished Ulysses after 4 months of reading and listening on and off. I'm working on a blog post about this whole reading experience and my history with this book.

I just need to write a review of Pegeen, and then I'll be returning it to its owner. It was not as good as the first book of the trilogy, but I liked it better than Francie on the Run.

Who Does He Say You Are? by Colleen Mitchell, which looks at the women of the Bible from a Catholic perspective, ended up getting a five-star rating. I was originally reading it with a group on Instagram but couldn't keep up with the level of discussion, even though the reading itself was very easy. I ended up finishing the last few chapters all in one go, and I actually thought those were the best of the book. 


The Lazy Genius Way was another hit for me. Kendra Adachi's advice is practical and applicable to families and homes of any type. I felt the same way about this book as I did about Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler - it was truly helpful self-help.

Falling Together had some dramatic moments that were a bit over-the-top for me, but overall I loved the nostalgic feel of the story, and the fact that it was about friendship as much as romance.
 

Magic by the Lake was our lunchtime read-aloud. I was impressed by how many allusions this middle grade novel makes to other works of literature. I'm pretty sure I didn't even catch them all.
  

I previewed The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson to see whether it would be a good audiobook for my kids to listen to at bedtime on Halloween night. It's not as good as the wonderful The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but I've decided they can listen to it. 


Currently Reading 

I'm still (slowly) reading  ARCs of Rekindled by Mallory Smyth and The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg. I'm also about halfway through  The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp for book club, and I'm past the halfway point in the audiobook of Family Tree by Susan Wiggs.


Up Next

I have the audiobook of These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon checked out from the library, and I'm planning to start The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes as my read-aloud with my girls this week.


I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/19/20

 

Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "An Autumn Greeting" by George Cooper, "Blowing from the west" by Yosa Buson, "Leaves" by Elsie N. Brady, "The Autumn Leaves" by Wes Magee, and "Fog" by Carl Sandburg.
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "What makes us hungry?", "How do we digest food?", "Why do we perspire?", "Why do we get thirsty?", "Why do we get tired?", "What causes our dreams?", "How does our blood circulate?", "What is skin?", "Why do people have different-colored skin?", "What are freckles?"
  • "Squirrel Nutkin" from Sing Through the Day: Eighty Songs for Children compiled and edited by Marlys Swinger, illustrated by Nancy and Brenna McKernan (The Plough Publishing House, 1999), sung along with this YouTube video
  • "Panis Angelicus" sung from the Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Playful Pizzicato" by Benjamin Britten
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): The Nut Gatherers by William-Adolphe Bougeureau
  • Lesson 7 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Memory work: "Witch Cat" by Rowena Bennett (C.) , "Halloween" by Harry Behn (M.)

History

C. and finished reading First Days of the World by Gerald Ames, and watched several more Eons videos: The Age of Reptiles in Three ActsHistory's Most Powerful Plants, and The Humans that Lived Before Us. We read some more in Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton as well. 

M. finished Science in Early Islamic Culture by George Beshore with me, and read about St. Benedict and Benedictine monasteries with my husband. She did a narration about St. Benedict and did this coloring page to accompany it. 

Table Time 

On Monday, we made birthday cards for my father's sister. On Tuesday, I took C. and E. out with their bicycles and M. worked with snap circuits.  On Wednesday, we listened to The Boxcar Children on audio and colored these Halloween paper dolls, and I also cut out these vintage Boxcar Children ones. On Thursday, we took out the Care for Our World Playset that my mom sent us at some point, and we listened to Winnie the Pooh. On Friday, I took M. and the babies for a walk and we ended up meeting my husband and C. and E. at the park, where all three girls rode bikes. 

Math

C. finished all the pages we had given her for math, up to the end of the geometry section in 1B, and she is moving onto the section about telling time. M. continued to work with liters and milliliters, including doing some actual measuring. Both girls did Khan Academy every day and Life of Fred on Wednesday.

Preschool

E. read some books about witches (The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches and Witches Four), did some of the Eric Carle puzzles she got for her birthday last weekend, and also colored in an Eric Carle coloring book. She also tried the spelling and counting puzzles she got for her birthday. She asks every day what she will do during school, but then resists doing whatever is offered. 

Science

This week we talked about the atmosphere. We watched quite a few videos: 
The girls also asked about "really short adults that are the size of kids" so we watched this video in which kids chat with a little person about her life. (Not all of the videos on that channel are suitable for my kids. I don't let them watch unless I've previewed.)

Reading and Writing 

M. continued with Mossflower and C. continued with The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery. We also finished our read-aloud of Magic by the Lake. 

Music 

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/12/20

Morning Time 

  •  Poem from Sing a Song of Seasons by Sara and John E. Brewton (The Macmillan Company, 1955): "Columbus" by Leroy F. Jackson, 
  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "The Mountain Peak" translated by John Wesley Powell from a Southern Paiute song, "Rain Poem" by Elizabeth Coatsworth, "Rain Sizes" by John Ciardi, and "First winter rain" by Matsuo Basho, translated by R.H. Blyth
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "What was the first musical instrument?", "How did basketball get its name?", "When did boxing begin?", "Did baseball really originate in America?", "What was the first motion picture?", "Who invented television?", "How do we grow?"
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • "Dingle Dangle Scarecrow" from 1,2,3—Boo! by  Marylee, sung with the recording 
  • "Panis Angelicus" sung from the Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Hornpipe" from Water Music by George Frideric Handel
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): The Railway by Edouard Manet 
  • Memory work: C. is memorizing "Witch Cat" by Rowena Bennett and M. is working on "Halloween" by Harry Behn. C. recited the planets and M. recited the countries of Europe. 


History

C. continued studying natural history this week. She is especially interested in prehistoric animals, including trilobites,  amphibians, and early reptiles. We read from Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton and First Days of the World by Gerald Ames and watched videos from the PBS Eons channel, "The Trouble with Trilobites" and  "Why Triassic Animals Were Just the Weirdest

M. read about the rise of the papacy and Pope Gregory with my husband early in the week. In the second of the half week, since we were ahead of schedule, we went back in time a bit to read Science in Early Islamic Culture by George Beshore.  


Table Time

On Monday, I printed out these geoboard pattern cards and M and C worked on copying them onto their geoboards. M. did fine, but C. took a while to warm up to it. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had markers, crayons and oil pastels out for drawing, and M., C., and E. all created a variety of art pieces. On Thursday, I gave them felt pieces for making different Halloween figures and they followed the patterns provided and then invented their own creations. On Friday during this time, I took M. for a long walk with baby R. and baby A. and my husband took the other girls out to ride their bikes.


Math

C. continued working on beginning multiplication in Singapore Math. She also worked on Khan Academy and read with me from Life of Fred: Butterflies. M. finished her review and moved on to the Capacity unit in Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B, which is about converting milliliters to liters and vice versa. She is still working through Life of Fred: Goldfish and fourth grade math on Khan Academy. 


Preschool

This was not a big school week for E. She did some coloring, and happily pointed out familiar letters on the covers of books, but there wasn't much formal activity. She's been enjoying our Halloween  books, including Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea.  She and M. have also been reading together a lot. They enjoy the Bink and Gollie books and they read Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle aloud to Gran on Skype.


Science

Our topic for the week was gravity. We again used Early Elementary Science Education as our guide to the topics presented in BFSU, and we discussed why things fall to the ground when dropped and why the people in Australia don't fall off the Earth, the difference between horizontal and vertical, and the uses of a level and a plumb bob, and how gravity keeps the planets in orbit around the sun, and the moon in orbit around the earth.


Reading and Writing

M. wrote a narration about Charlemagne, and continued reading Mossflower. C. and I started reading The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery aloud together. C. also wrote two thank you letters for birthday presents. M. also did a few pages in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3


Music

Both M. and C. practiced piano and recorder every day.


Physical Education

M. did a three-mile walk with me and the stroller on Friday, while C. and E. went with my husband to ride their bikes.

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/19/20

Finished Books




I flew right through the second Mitford book, A Light in the Window, on audio and I've already borrowed the third one. I love them so much.

I ended up having some issues with Chuck Klosterman's takes on a lot of things in I Wear the Black Hat, and many of his arguments have not aged well since the book was published in 2013. I gave it two stars. 

My husband had me read A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith. It reminded me of the movie My Girl, and also of the book On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer. It handles the subject of death very honestly but tastefully and the writing is strong. 

I read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham with two friends on Instagram, and I absolutely loved it. This one I'm hoping to save to review here on the blog. 

I also loved Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs and plan to do a review. One of my goals this year was to read five books related to Concord, Massachusetts. This was my first one, but now I feel a renewed desire to complete that challenge.


Currently Reading


I'm still reading Pegeen by Hilda van Stockum but hope to finish soon. I'm also nearing the end of Ulysses. I took a bit of a break from Rekindled by Mallory Smyth, but it should be quick to finish once I pick it up again. I also started listening to Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos and I'm reading a digital ARC of The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg.


Up Next


I have to remember to start The Story of the Trapp Family Singers pretty soon because my book club moved up its meeting date from the third Thursday of the month to the second. We're meeting even earlier in December, so I'll also need to leave a good amount of time to get to the December book, The Reed of God Caryll Houselander, even though it's a re-read. I also really wanted to read Murder Makes a Pilgrimage by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie this month because it's set this time of year, but I may not get to it. 

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cozy Halloween Picture Books Old and New

In our family, Halloween has always been more of a cozy celebration than a spooky one. We typically make donuts, drink apple cider, have the kids parade around the house in their costumes, and, of course, read festive stories. Today's post lists some of our favorites as well as a few new titles that have been added to our collection for this year.

The Little Kitten is a recently published picture book by Nicola Killen about a little girl named Ollie, who, while out walking with her cat, Pumpkin, meets a lost kitten. Ollie and Pumpkin look after the kitten, feeding her and making friends with her until she can be reunited with her surprisingly magical owner. The illustrations are key to appreciating the true identity of the kitten's owner, and the reveal is subtle. My five-year-old missed it completely and had to be shown exactly what to look for. Still, it's such a sweet and gentle read that it's worth reading twice to get the full effect. 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything isn't explicitly connected to Halloween, but it's a fun read about not being scared. A little old lady walks home from picking berries, nuts, and twigs. On the dark path, she encounters various articles of clothing, each of which makes a signature motion that repeats throughout the book. When the clothes are finally accompanied by a scary pumpkin head, the little old lady takes measures to ensure that she won't be bothered by this menacing outfit ever again. My kids love to act out this story, as they perform movements to imitate each article of clothing.

In Bears and Boos by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker, the focus is on sharing, as the bears discover a costume trunk and accidentally leave out one of their friends as they all choose costumes. I have to confess that the rhyme scheme and rhythm feel a little bit off in this one, but the illustrations are absolutely adorable. My three-year-old has been the ideal reader for this book, as she is just the right age to be learning to share without hurting other people. She also really loves the end papers in the book which feature a gathering of smiling ghosts.

Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea is a holiday title in the Gossie and Friends series. Each of the characters from the Gossie series appears here in costume as they celebrate Halloween together, prowling through the chilly autumn evening and sharing treats together. The Gossie books are always a huge favorite with my toddlers, and even my older kids still like to revisit the characters.

Room on the Broom is a rhyming story by English writer Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler. In repetitive verse, it tells the story of a witch and her cat. As the wind blows the witch's belongings off of the broomstick one by one, each item is rescued by a different creature who inquires whether there is room for him to fly along on the broom. After the broom is full of animals, the group encounters a dragon whose defeat requires quick-thinking teamwork. My three-year-old loved this book so much last Halloween that she has been reading it weekly ever since. 

In Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Farmer Brown dislikes Halloween, and is maybe even a bit afraid. His animals, on the other hand, love to celebrate, and they dress in costumes, trick-or-treat, and host a big party. This book is a good one for defusing Halloween fears, as the spooky figure outside of Farmer Brown's house proves to be something far less sinister than he suspects, and he joins the fun in the end. 

Finally, Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw is another pleasant rhyming story. The sheep put on costumes to collect treats from their farmyard neighbors. Afterwards, they trick some unsuspecting wolves who would otherwise have had them for dinner. As with other titles in the series, the humor and wordplay are the highlights in this one. My three-year-old is a big fan. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Candlewick for the review copies of The Little Kitten and Bears and Boos, respectively.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/5/20

Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Conkers" by Clive Samson, "The farmer flings" by Anonymous, "The Scarecrow" by Anonymous, and "Cliche" by Alison Chisholm 
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "When were rockets first used?", "How was glass discovered?", "Who invented the thermometer?", "Who invented the microscope?", "Who invented the camera?", "Who invented the automobile?", "Who invented the airplane?", "How was the telephone invented?"
  • "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Arkansas Traveler" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): The Old Stagecoach by Jonathan Eastman Johnson
  • Listening to Rodeo: Hoe Down by Aaron Copeland
  • Lesson 5 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. did ask Gran her questions about her family history, but after that she was tired of thinking about it, so we shifted gears and jumped right into natural history. I know this is really science, but since we're using it as a prelude to ancient history next year, it feels right to think of it as history for her purposes. We read a couple of pages each day from Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton and First Days of the World by Gerald Ames. She absolutely loves it. We also supplemented with YouTube videos: "Where Did Earth Come From?" from SciShow Kids and Earth & Its History from turtlediary. 

M. read about the Franks and Charlemagne, and she also heard part of The Song of Roland. 


Table Time 

On Monday, we did a craft where the girls glued googly eyes and drew faces on foam acorns. On the other days of the week, I took different combinations of kids for a walk. On Tuesday, M. and baby A. went with me to deposit our ballots in the board of elections drop-box. On Wednesday, C. went on a hunt for acorns with baby R. On Thursday, we went to the dentist and then I tried taking all three big girls for a walk. but M. kept running off, so she was forced to go back home while I took C. and E. On Friday, I took M. for a 3-mile walk on her own. 


Math

C. started the second Life of Fred book, Butterflies, and M. continued in Goldfish. C. started basic multiplication in Singapore while M. finished with pounds and ounces and moved onto review. Both girls also did Khan Academy daily.


Preschool

E. played a few Halloween games on Khan Academy kids, and we read picture books together, including a new review copy, Bears and Boos by Shirley Parenteau. My husband also worked with her on holding up the proper number of fingers for the number three. We (along with C.) discussed fire safety on our walk. 


Science

We had mostly finished our BFSU lesson on energy, but we reviewed everything from last week and then talked about how energy moves. C. is especially attentive to these lessons, which I'm pleased about because I don't always think of her as being very science-minded.  


Reading and Writing

C. finished Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood. M. continued reading Mossflower. M. worked on worksheets about proper and common nouns and plurals in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3. On Saturday night, they listened to the audiobook of Half Magic; during the week we're still reading aloud Magic by the Lake, and my husband is reading Robin Hood after dinner.


Music

Both M. and C. practiced recorder and piano every day. 


Physical Education

In addition to our walks, the girls also did the 10-minute exercise video from the Ten Thousand Method one day.  


Monday, October 12, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/12/20

Finished Books


I started this week by zipping through Three Stuffed Owls, a vintage teen mystery from the Carson Street Detective Agency series by Keith Robertson. I didn't love it quite as much as The Crow and the Castle, but it was well-written and funny and I thought it would pair well with  Owls in the Family. The dialogue was probably the best part. 

After that, my husband handed me Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop insisting that I read it immediately. I previously enjoyed All Alone by this author so I had no objections, and I was definitely not disappointed. This is a great story about a group of French schoolchildren who assist in hiding a group of Jewish children from the Nazis. 

A friend on Instagram was reading The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and I realized I didn't remember much about it from my previous reading 15 years ago and decided to listen to the audiobook to refresh my memory. I remember loving it a lot more the previous two times I read it (once as a kid and once in library school), but it was still enjoyable. My friend mentioned that she had compared it to Wonder and I see the parallels, but I think The View from Saturday is the superior book by far.


At Home in Mitford
 by Jan Karon was my other audiobook for the week. The audio recording was 20 hours long and yet when I reached the end of the book, I was disappointed and wanted more! Thankfully, this is the first of a long series, and they all seem to be available through the library. 


Currently Reading

I'm still listening to I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman, but it's taken a back seat to the Mitford books. I'm almost 15% of the way through the second Mitford book, A Light in the Window.

This week, I also started Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, which I'm really enjoying and Pegeen by Hilda van Stockum, which I borrowed from a local homeschool mom. 


Up Next

I have a buddy read of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham planned with the same Instagram friend who read The View from Saturday. For book club in early November, I also need to read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp. And those ARCs continue to linger unread...


I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/28/20

 Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Apples" by John Siddique, "New Sights" by Anonymous, "The Leaves Are Green" by Anonymous, and a short excerpt from "As You Like It." 
  • Poem from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon: "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "How did candy originate?", "How was fire discovered?", "Who invented matches?", "Who discovered electricity?"
  • "Now Thank We All Our God" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  •  "Cindy" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Interior of a Ropewalk by Charles Bird King
  • Painting from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon: Haystacks - End of Summer by Claude Monet 
  • Listening to The Happy Farmer by Robert Schumann
  • Lesson 4 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • Memory work: C. mastered "The Fairies" by William Allingham and M. mastered "If" by Rose Fyleman. Both girls recorded their recitations on video.
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. worked on learning the names for the different relationships on a family tree and began mapping a family tree of her own. We got stumped on my husband's side of the family a little bit and wrote down some questions to ask Gran during our weekly Skype date. 


Table Time 

On Monday, we skipped this time because we met up with our friends in the nature study group. On Wednesday, we skipped it again to celebrate C.'s birthday. The other days of the week we colored Archangels (for Michaelmas on Tuesday) and played with Legos.  


Math

M. and C. both started working on review sections in their respective Singapore workbooks. C. finished Life of Fred: Apples. M. worked independently in Life of Fred: Goldfish. They also both did work on Khan Academy. 


Preschool

E. enjoyed sorting buttons in a muffin and stringing beads on pipe cleaners. She colored one page in her Melissa and Doug alphabet pad. 


Science

The BFSU lesson for the next two weeks is C-1 Concepts of Energy I - Making Things Go. Using Early Elementary Science Education by Shannon Jordan as our guide, we discussed four different types of energy - heat, light, movement, and electricity - and categorized different actions based on the type of energy that causes them to happen.  We also talked about how energy changes from one form to another and emphasized the fact that matter never becomes energy and vice versa. 


Reading and Writing

C. started reading Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood. M. finished Redwall and has moved onto Mossflower. She also read Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla.


Music

Both M. and C. practiced recorder and piano every day. 


Physical Education

During our time with the nature group on Monday, all three girls ran around with friends and played some sort of game involving bodyguards. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/5/20

Finished Books


In the last two days of September, I read more than half of September by Rosamunde Pilcher in order to finish it before October. It really picked up as it got past the halfway point and I wound up giving it four stars.  


I recommended Feed by M.T. Anderson to a local friend and decided to listen to the audiobook so I could discuss it with her. I think it's actually more disturbing and interesting now, in the age of Tik Tok and Instagram, than it was back in 2002 when we really only had Facebook. 

The Nantucket Inn and Nantucket Neighbors by Pamela Kelley are entertaining women's fiction novels that I listened to on Scribd while I decided what I really want to read this month. I'm not sure these books even had any real conflict or character development but they were easy to breeze through. They were easier for me to read than Elin Hilderbrand, but very similar to her books in terms of content.


Currently Reading 

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman took a backseat to other books this week, but I plan to get back to it and finish it before the audiobook expires on Libby. 

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon is an audiobook I picked up because someone on Instagram recommended the series for having a "fall vibe." I'm totally hooked. The story is gentle and wholesome, but also funny, and I love the writing. (My one qualm: I feel like toilets are mentioned a lot. It feels weird.)


Up Next

I have a stack of books on my desk and I'm still trying to decide where to start. Two options are Three Stuffed Owls by Keith Robertson, a vintage middle grade mystery I've had on my shelves for a couple of years now, and Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, which my Instagram friends chose over Walden by Henry David Thoreau as my "friend pick" for a bingo challenge.  

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/21/20

Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Windsong" by Judith Nicholls, "Auguries of Innocence (Excerpt)" by William Blake, "Summer Goes" by Russell Hoban, "Noisy Noisy" by Jack Prelutsky, and "The Swallows" by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "How did medicine start?"; "When did people start cutting their hair?"; "When was soap first made?"; "Who invented shoes?"; "Who made the first false teeth?"; "How did forks originate?"; "When did man begin to drink milk?"; "Where did ice cream originate?"
  • "Lead Kindly Light" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "The Wabash Cannonball" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Portrait of Baby with Dog by Joseph Whiting Stock
  • Listening to Hungarian Dance No. 2 by Johannes Brahms
  • Lesson 3 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Liturgical year: Padre Pio (9/23)
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • Memory work: M. recited "If" by Rose Fyleman and C. recited "The Fairies" by William Allingham
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. spent the week carefully copying all the events we decided to put on her timeline onto a large piece of paper in chronological order. On Friday, she added some illustrations.

M. read about Mohammed and the development of Islam in A Picturesque Tale of Progress. She wrote and illustrated a narration about Mohammed and filled in a chart listing the five pillars of Islam. 


Table Time 

One day, I moved the girls outside to do kinetic sand during this time. The other activities for the week were lacing cards (which only M. wanted to do), the "Doll People Dress Up!" coloring page from this set of printables (which M. and C. both loved), and sticker collages. 


Math

M. and C. did the usual Singapore and Khan Academy math work. M. is still doing weights and measures (mostly kilograms) in Singapore 3B and C. is still working on addition and subtraction in 1B. They also did a chapter each in Life of Fred on Wednesday. M. is in Goldfish and C. is in Apples. 


Preschool

E. is kind of a preschool dropout right now. She likes the idea of school, but would prefer that it consist primarily of snacks and videos. She doesn't like most of the things the older girls did at her age, so I mostly just say yes when she asks me to read aloud and offer activities when she seems receptive.  


Science

In our second week with Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, we did Lesson B-2: "Distinguishing Living/Natural Nonliving and Human-Made Things." This included organizing this set of items into their proper categories and discussing how we can tell by looking at something whether it is alive or not. 


Reading and Writing

M. continued working her way through the worksheets in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3, and she also wrote a few more sentences in her story about Mr. Albatross. (See last week.

C. and I finished our shared read-aloud of The Boxcar Children

We also started a new lunchtime read-aloud: Magic by the Lake Edgar Eager. 


Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder for 15 minutes every day this week.


Physical Education

We have been skipping the daily exercise video in favor of running on the deck. I think that is likely to continue until the weather turns uncomfortably cold. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 9/28/20

Finished Books

 I finished three adult novels this week. 


The first was Finger Prints by Barbara Delinsky, which I zipped through on audio. Because I'm more used to reading mysteries rather than romantic suspense, I was a little bit annoyed when I was able to easily figure out who was secretly causing problems for the protagonist, who was in the witness protection program. Still, I like Delinsky's writing, and in general, I like reading these backlist titles from 30+ years ago. This book also gave me a chance to use my free trial of Audible Plus. 


The second book I finished was Beartown by Fredrik Backman. This was my first time reading a book by him and though the language and subject matter were rough, the writing was excellent. This book started out strong and actually got even better as it went along. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Us Against You, and it looks like there is a third book in the works for 2021 as well. I'm also really impressed that Backman isn't even 40 but has already written so many novels and seems to have a lot of perspective on various stages of life, including some he hasn't yet lived himself.


And finally, after nearly four weeks, I finished Green Dolphin Street! Every time I read Elizabeth Goudge, it seems to take forever, but the payoff is always so good. I gave this one five stars and would read it again even though it was such an undertaking for me. I wish that I had the brain power to join in the discussions more on Instagram, but I never feel like I have an answer to the questions that are posted, and I usually end up just reading other people's comments. 


Currently Reading 

I'm still determined to finish September by Rosamunde Pilcher by the end of September, even though I have 400 pages to go. I really felt like I needed the audio to help me out so I got a free trial at Audiobooks.com because none of my usual audiobook apps had it. I had some issues with the app because I was out of data on my phone and didn't realize the book didn't download all the way, but now it is fully downloaded and I'm hoping to listen to a lot of it to try and get it done by Wednesday night.

The other book I started is a nonfiction I heard about on an old episode of What Should I Read Next? and that's I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman. This is an exploration of villains and how we feel about them. It's a great palate cleanser after reading a lot of fiction this month. 


Up Next

I have several books from Netgalley I didn't touch at all in September. I think I may need to do a weekend ARCs-only read-a-thon to get through them.

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/14/20

We mostly stuck to the same schedule for week two of the school year with just a couple of exceptions. One was that we "skipped" school on Monday morning to go with some friends on a nature hike through the woods. C., especially, really took to the whole thing, climbing fearlessly over fallen tree trunks and otherwise diving headlong into the natural world. The other change was that M. is now doing English while C. does math and math on her own with me at a later time when all the other kids are busy or asleep. She was just sitting and staring off into space otherwise, so we made the change on Friday.

Morning Time

  • Poem from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon (used for the nature hike): "Autumn" by Emily Dickinson 
  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Plum" by Tony Mitton, "I Had a Little Nut Tree," "Magpies" by Judith Wright, and "Seven for a Secret" by Anonymous. 
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "When were books first made?"; "Who invented cartoons?"; "How did our system of counting begin?"; "What makes money valuable?"; "How did coins get their names?"; "How did we get our system of measurement?"; "When were the first police organized?", "What is the F.B.I?"; "How did fingerprinting start?"
  • "Lift High the Cross" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Polly Wolly Doodle" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk (accompanied by Daddy on guitar on Friday)
  • Painting from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon: Squirrels in a Tree by Archibald Thorburn
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): The Oddie Children by William Beechey
  • Listening to Symphony No. 5 First Movement by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Lesson 2 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Liturgical year: Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15), Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian (September 16), St. Robert Bellarmine (September 17), St. Joseph of Cupertino (September 18)
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • Memory work: planets, days of the week, months of the year, birth dates, address, phone number, 50 states, countries of Europe, four directions, 13 colonies, four marks of the church, poems (M. is working on "If" for Rose Fyleman , and C is working on "The Fairies" by William Allingham. They have both almost mastered them.)
After morning time, we went outside to record the wind, sky color, temperature, humidity, precipitation, animal activity, etc. The girls were supposed to do this independently but they were misbehaving so much I have to go out with them. We skipped the exercise video each day, but we had hours of outdoor playtime on Sunday and Monday, including M.'s first-ever game of kickball. 

History

I read our schedule wrong last week and did two weeks of history for M., so this second week was pretty relaxed for her. She illustrated her narration about the Empress Theodora and made her own list of laws modeled after the Code of Justinian, after which she watched "Why We Have Rules." She also watched Khan Academy's video about Hagia Sophia and another YouTube video about the Byzantine Empire. (Note: this video looked great at first glance, but when I previewed it, I heard talk of Justinian's sex life and had to pass.)

C.  watched two YouTube videos explaining timelines ("Timelines for Kids" and "Timelines Introduction"), started listing events for a timeline of her life and, on Friday, began to copy them in chronological order onto a big piece of paper. 

Table Time 

This week's activities at the dining room table were sticker collages, drawing with chalk, stringing beads (which they all refused to do), and a memory game involving a spinner that caused many tears when M. won the first round.

Math

M. and C. did the usual Singapore and Khan Academy math work. M. is still doing weights and measures in Singapore 3B and C. is working on addition and subtraction in 1B. 

Preschool

E. was not as interested in doing school this week. She did a few minutes of Khan Academy Kids each day and played with magnet letters. We read a couple of picture books: First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and On Market Street by Anita Lobel.  She also asked to do some questions from My First Brain Quest and she agreed to do a coloring page a couple of times. She spent a good amount of time playing with our large collection of finger puppets as well. 

Science

This was our first week of Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding and we did lessons A-1: Organizing Things into Categories and  A-2: Solids, Liquids, Gases. We mainly just discussed these topics, but one day, I gave each of the two girls a tray of random objects and asked them to organize them into categories. Another day, my husband had them write down various categories that our family members could be placed into and then had them play a "Guess Who?" style game where one girl thought of a family member and the other one asked category-based questions to narrow down who it might be.

Reading and Writing

M. is still working her way through the worksheets in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3. This week, she focused on spelling homophones. She said her favorite exercises were the ones requiring her to find mistakes in existing sentences and correct them. She also started writing a story entitled "Mr. Albatross: A Detective Story." 

Here it is: 
One day Mr. Albatross was going for a walk. He passed a tree under which was a man's body. Mr. Albatross went over to the tree and shook the man,  but he didn't move. He didn't talk either. He just lay there silently. Then Mr. Albatross said, "Methinks you are dead." The man said nothing, but a voice said, "I am lord of these trees." Mr. Albatross looked beyond and a saw a row of trees stretching all the way to the west. "And I came to you in the form of a man."

C. and I read a chapter of The Boxcar Children together each day. She also worked on some writing about her experience on the nature hike. For her, I'm primarily working on slowing down enough to comprehend what she's reading (a problem I had as a kid) and developing a love of writing.

We also finished our lunchtime read-aloud of Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. 

Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder for 15 minutes every day this week.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 9/21/20

Just a quick Monday update. I didn't get to write up my post about how our school week went yet, but I still wanted to sneak on and share how my reading went this week.

Finished Books

Thanks to a challenge on Instagram to read 500 pages in three days, I finished two books over the weekend. 

The Lord God Made Them All is the fourth memoir by James Herriot about working as a veteriniarian in the English countryside before and after World War II. It wasn't as good as the first book of the four,  but it captured that same spirit as the author related anecdotes both amusing and heartfelt about the farmers he encountered over the years. It was definitely better than book three, which focused too much on the war for my taste. 

Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs was a standard "second chance' romance, but with some added layers of family strife. The hero and heroine have both lost their mothers -he, recently, and she, as a child, back when they knew each other the first time around. Both struggled to come to terms with how their own relationship went wrong while also trying to untangle the truth about their families. Since reading The Lost and Found Bookshop earlier this year, I have a newfound respect for Wiggs's writing, and in this book, I could see hints of the same themes covered in the newer book. 

Currently Reading 

I'm still reading Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge and September by Rosamunde Pilcher. 

I also started Finger Prints by Barbara Delinsky on audio. I've never read anything by her, but the premise, about a woman in witness protection, appealed to me. 

I also sampled a bit of Beartown by Fredrik Backman on Scribd, and I think that's going to be my next book after I finish September and Finger Prints.



I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 9/14/20

I'm Back! 

For the past year, I haven't been posting regular updates about my reading at all. Last year at this time, I was in the throes of first trimester nausea with our twins, and all the formatting and such that was required to create these posts just felt exhausting. Then, in March, the twins were born just days before everything was locked down due to the pandemic, and posting weekly still felt too burdensome. With this new school year, however, I decided it was a good time to revamp my reading life to make room for a better homeschooling schedule and for time to devote to writing. Now that I expect to be reading fewer books, it seems much easier to post about them here. Since I already have a feature where I talk about reading with my kids, I'm going to stay away from kids books in these updates and instead focus on the adult books I'm enjoying (or not.)


What I've Read So Far This Month

All but one of the books I've finished so far in September have been audiobooks. 

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The one that wasn't was Bless Us, O Lord: A Family Treasury of Mealtime Prayers by Robert M Hamma, which I received for review on Netgalley from Ave Maria Press. It looked good on the surface, but I thought it had some issues that bumped my rating down to 3 stars. My Goodreads review explains my qualms.

Three of the audiobooks I've finished have been cozy mysteries. 

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One for the Books by Jenn McKinlay is the 11th book in the Library Lover's Mystery series, and it features Christmas and a wedding. I read the first 9 books of this series in print, but have found the last two really enjoyable on audio and will probably continue reading them that way in the future. I wasn't that into the mystery, but I liked all the details surrounding the main character's wedding and the way her friends and neighbors were incorporated into that storyline. (My review on Goodreads.)

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Death with a Dark Red Rose by Julia Buckley is number 5 in the Writer's Apprentice Mystery series, and it's another one where I love spending time with the characters. I liked the way this one shifted focus to a previously minor character and allowed her to take center stage some of the time. I would not read this book out of order, as it does spoil earlier mysteries in the series, but it's really enjoyable for long-time readers. (My review on Goodreads.)

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Telephone Line by Julie Mulhern is book 9 in the Country Club Murders series, and it wasn't my favorite. The wit and humor were there, but the plot felt dull. I typically give books in this series 4 or 5 stars, but this one only got three. (My review on Goodreads.)

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Finally, I listened to Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler for the second time. (The first was when it came out in May.) This is my book club book and we'll be discussing it this Thursday via Zoom. Not many self help books genuinely feel inspiring, but this one truly is. And it's very funny too. (My review on Goodreads.)


Currently Reading

I have seven books going right now. 

Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge HCDJ BCE | Green dolphin,  Elizabeth goudge, Book worth reading

My main focus is Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge, which I'm reading with a book group on Instagram. (I also won my copy in an Instagram giveaway.) I have been dividing the sections according to when the discussions are to take place, and then I read a set quota of pages per day. Her books are slow and descriptive, which I love, but they take me a long time to get through. 

September | Rosamunde Pilcher | Macmillan

The other book I really want to finish this month is September by Rosamunde Pilcher. Obviously, if it goes over into October, that's not the end of the world, but I do like the idea of sometimes reading a book during the time of year in which it's set. 

I also have three audiobooks in various stages of completion. I'm listening to Who Does He Say You Are?: Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels by Colleen Mitchell for another book group on Instagram, as well as Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs and The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriott. 

Theoretically I'm also reading Ulysses by James Joyce, but I haven't touched it in a couple of weeks.

Finally, I've been reading my way through Flannery O'Connor's short stories through the course of the year, and I'm still sticking with that plan.


I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?