Sunday, September 6, 2020

Homeschool Progress Report: July/August 2020

We do some kind of schooling all year round, so we did continue many of our subjects straight through the summer. In a normal year, this may have included some field trips, but with the pandemic, we stuck mostly to read-alouds, workbooks, and computer programs.


M. (6 years, 9 months) practiced her mental math skills using Mental Math Kids Can't Resist, and she continued with the Intensive Practice book for Singapore Primary Mathematics 2B (for review), while also starting Primary Mathematics 3B. To save paper and to make it possible to re-use the workbook in the future, we scanned the whole thing and she has been using a stylus and the Kami app on her Chromebook to write her answers on the pages. I then use the stylus to mark wrong answers, and she corrects them right there on the page.

On Khan Academy, M. has reached the fourth grade level. These past two months, she focused on adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions and mixed numbers, multiples and factors, basic geometry, decimals, graphing, and line plots.

We also printed a set of multiplication flashcards to replace Xtra Math, as M. was no longer doing the work and was instead waiting for the program to give her the answer to each question. We have been slow in getting started using these, but they will be a daily part of her routine this fall.

C. (age 4 years, 11 months) also has a set of flashcards for addition and subtraction facts which I bought for her at Dollar Tree, and she also spent her summer doing most of her math on Khan Academy. She is at the 2nd grade level, which covers topics such as analyzing shapes, measuring length, line plots, bar graphs, and picture graphs, time on a number line, counting money, adding four 2-digit numbers, and adding on a number line.

For fun, both M. and C. also spent time using geoboards and pattern blocks.


In the first half of the summer, M. was still finishing up her first year of history. We covered Christianity using several books: National Geographic Kids Who's Who in the Bible, National Geographic Kids The World of the Bible, The Parables of Jesus by Tomie dePaola, The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie dePaola, St. Paul The Apostle: The Story of the Apostle to the Gentiles by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, and The Holy Bible Adapted for Young Catholic Readers edited by Elsa Jane Werner and Charles Hartman and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky and the Provensens. The National Geographic books are great except that neither of them contains an image of the crucifixion. (Was this decision made to protect children from seeing violence? That seems preposterous and likely at the same time.) The St. Paul book was also excellent for illustrating what life was like during the early days of the church, but it was too long for a read-aloud. I intentionally did not use In Bible Days by Gertrude Hartman because it felt oddly antagonistic toward Christians. 

M. and C. also watched The Witnesses Trilogy (God With Us; The Messengers; and To Every Nation) on, which they loved. I would definitely recommend all three films.

After Christianity, we covered the Fall of Rome in A Picturesque Tale of Progress, stopping just before the reign of Emperor Justinian, which is where we will pick up this week when we begin the new year.

For the month of August, we decided to do a "quickie" unit on U.S. History, using all the books we've collected on various topics and time periods. Here is our reading list: 
  • Meet the North American Indians by Elizabeth Payne
  • Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker
  • The Men Who Found America by Frederick Winthrop Hutchinson
  • The Columbus Story by Alice Dalgliesh
  • On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
  • Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters
  • Samuel Eaton's Day by Kate Waters
  • Giving Thanks by Kate Waters
  • Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
  • The Legend of New Amsterdam by Peter Spier
  • The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman
  • Mary Geddy's Day by Kate Waters
  • George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer
  • Six Silver Spoons by Janette Sebring Lowrey
  • And Then What Happened Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz
  • Paul Revere's Ride illustrated by Paul Galdone
  • Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley
  • George the Drummer Boy by Nathaniel Benchley
  • Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
  • The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Ormonde de Kaye, Jr.
  • Locomotive by Brian Floca
  • Who Let Muddy Boots into the White House? A Story of Andrew Jackson by Robert Quackenbush
  • Quit Pulling My Leg: A Story of Davy Crockett by Robert Quackenbush
  • Stagecoach Sal by Deborah Hopkinson
  • The First Book of the California Gold Rush by Walter Havighurst
  • Quick, Annie, Give Me a Catchy Line!: A Story of Samuel F.B. Morse by Robert Quackenbush
  • The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F.N. Monjo
  • Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary
  • Meet Robert E. Lee by George Swift Trow
  • The Silent Witness by Robin Friedman
  • Mark Twain? What Kind of Name is That? by Robert Quackenbush
  • Who's That Girl with the Gun?: A Story of Annie Oakley by Robert Quackenbush
  • Along Came The Model T!: How Henry Ford Put The World On Wheels by Robert Quackenbush
  • Coming to America by Betsy Maestro
  • Klara's New World by Jeanette Winter
  • Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone
  • First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea
  • The One Bad Thing about Father by F.N. Monjo
  • Don't You Dare Shoot That Bear: A Story of Theodore Roosevelt by Robert Quackenbush
  • A History of the United States for Young People by Arensa Sondergaard
  • Empire State Building by Elizabeth Mann
  • Letting Swift River Go by Barbara Cooney
  • Meet John F. Kennedy by Nancy Bean White
  • Moonshot by Brian Floca
  • American Adventures: The Battles
  • American Adventures: Westward Journeys
  • American Adventures: Voices for Freedom
  • American Adventures: Troubled Times

Additionally, I showed M. and C. multiple episodes of Reading Rainbow featuring historical fiction picture books ("Ox-Cart Man," "Watch the Stars Come Out," "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch," "Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express," "Follow the Drinking Gourd," "Ruth Law Thrills a Nation," and "My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States") and several other videos available from the public library through Just For Kids Access Video, including a few by Weston Woods ("Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?" by Jean Fritz, "Martin's Big Words" by Doreen Rappaport, "Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln" by Jean Fritz, and "The Pilgrims of Plimoth" by Marcia Sewall, and one from Sunburst Visual Media featuring colonial American reenactors ("Plymouth Plantation.") They finally finished watching Liberty's Kids, too.

This looks like a lot, but it was really just a quick read-aloud session each day, followed by a video, and no other formal work. They did play a lot with their historical figures from their various Safari Ltd. Toobs, but that was of their own volition and not part of school per se.


We didn't do a lot of formal science during the summer months. There was lots of impromptu studying of insects, flowers, trees, birds, etc., but no sit-down lessons. We did watch some episodes of Wild Kratts and some videos from Sci Show Kids.

Reading and Writing

For M., the big books of the summer were Tik Tok of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Legend of Pocahontas by Virginia Watson, and Redwall by Brian Jacques (which she is still reading.) She also wrote a letter to a bookseller friend my husband and I met on Goodreads who has kindly sent us several books.

C. read mostly Carolyn Haywood and books in the Dan Frontier series.


Hygiene is still the main focus here: brushing teeth, washing hands, brushing hair, etc. All three of our big girls also talk about "the germs" that prevent them from going anywhere , and they have experienced having to go out wearing a mask a few times. They also play a game I can't stand called "The Covid is Strengthening," where they just run around shouting that into pretend phones.


In July, we finished listening to all the episodes of Classics for Kids. For the rest of the summer, we sang for fun, sometimes hymns and sometimes folk songs. Both M. and C. practiced their piano and recorder lessons daily.


We had our twins baptized the first week in August, so there was lots of talk about that, and we watched the Brother Francis baptism episode on to prepare. We also watched Mass online every Sunday and introduced the Morning Offering prayer into the girls' morning routine.


Aside from projects the girls came up with themselves and birthday cards for my sister, Grandma (my mother) provided most of the art for the summer during her visit the first week in August. She had them make lighthouses from plastic cups, jellyfish from paper plates, and butterflies and unicorns using chalk pastels. She also left us with a lot of the supplies she used to use at her summer camp, including a ton of markers.

Physical Education

Summertime PE is usually just going out the playground by our house as much as possible, but the HOA closed it for the entire summer, so instead the girls rode bicycles, ran laps on the deck, galloped hobby horses to the mailbox, and on a couple of occasions met friends at a county park to run around.

Stay tuned...

For us, the new school year starts on Tuesday. I'm going to start the year trying to post an update like this weekly, on Saturdays, and see how that goes for a bit. 

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