Sunday, September 13, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/7/20

This past week was our first week of the new school year. This year we still only have one official school-age kid, M. (6 years, 9 months) who is in first grade according to the school district and second grade for our purposes. C. (4 years, 11 months) misses the cut-off for being in kindergarten this year by about four weeks, but she's reading and doing first grade math for fun, so there is no reason to wait, and we are calling this her kindergarten year. E. (2 years, 10 months) wants to be included, so she is doing a bit of preschool every day too. 

Because there are now five kids in our family this year we created a detailed schedule showing what needs to get done not just for school but in terms of chores as well. Chores, academics, meals, and play time rotate throughout the day, stretched primarily over the hours between 8 am and 3 pm.  Here's a summary of what we did during our school time this week. 

Morning Time 

We're beginning each morning this year with a morning time which begins over breakfast and continues for about 45 minutes. The girls come to the table at 8 and say the morning offering and the pledge of allegiance. As they eat, I share different items of interest with them. This first week, morning time included:

  • 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 Magic Seeds" by James Reeves, "Spin Me A Web, Spider: by Charles Causley, "Hurt No Living Thing" by Christina Rossetti, and "Dew on a Spider's Web" by Dorothy Snow 
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "How did Halloween originate?"; "Who first thought of the alphabet?"; "Why don't we all speak the same language?"; "How did the English language begin?"; "Who invented the pencil?"; "Who discovered how to make paper?"
  • "Immaculate Mary" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Kitty Alone" sung from The Fireside Book of Children's Songs by Marie Winn and Allan Miller, illustrated by John Alcorn (Simon & Schuster, 1966)
  • Paintings from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Edward VI as a Child by Hans Holbein the Younger and  Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zúñiga by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
  • Listening to Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 Movement 1 by Johann Sebastien Bach 
  • Lesson 1 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Liturgical year: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8), St. Peter Claver (September 9), St. Nicholas of Tolentino (September 10), Sts. Protus and Hyacinth (September 11)
  • 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, poems (M. is working on "If" for Rose Fyleman , and C is working on "The Fairies" by William Allingham).
Morning time concluded each day with the ten-minute exercise video from the Ten Thousand Method on YouTube. Our phys. ed. requirement was further fulfilled this week by an afternoon of sports with the local homeschool community. 


M. has picked up right where we left off in July, with the Byzantine Empire. This week, we read the chapter in A Picturesque Tale of Progress entitled "The Eastern, or Byzantine Empire," which included the following sections: "Justinian and Theodora, the Circus-girl Empress," "Byzantine Life and Art", "The Justinian Code," "Christianity in the Days of Justinian," "Justinian the Warrior and Builder," and "Struggles with Lombards, Slavs, Avars, and Persians." (I misread the spreadsheet where we mapped out our history plan for the year. Those last two sections were meant for this coming week.) M. wrote a narration about the Empress Theodora.

C. is starting the year with My Backyard History Book by David Weitzman (Little, Brown, 1975). We read the opening pages of the book, including the section on names, and then looked up the first names of people in our family and read the information provided in What's Your Name?: A Book of First Names and What They Mean by Beth Goodman, Nancy E. Krulik (Scholastic, 1991). 

Hands-on Activities

This year, we have set aside an hour each morning for all three girls to do the same hands-on activity together at the table. This week, these activities were play dough, watercolor painting, pattern blocks, and making a weathervane. 


Both M. and C. continued their work on Khan Academy. They also worked in their Singapore workbooks. M. completed exercises 5-8, and half of 9, in Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B working primarily with units of measurement and convering between centimeters and meters, meters and kilometers, and feet and yards. C. did more than 20 pages in Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A, dealing mostly with place value, and simple addition. Each of the girls also did a chapter of Life of Fred on Wednesday. C. is still in book one, Apples, and M. is in Goldfish. 


While the older girls work on math, E. has her school time. This week, she heard Mr. Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham, Just Me by Marie Hall Ets, Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio. We sang songs using a song cube I created using a dry erase die from the Dollar Tree, and she played a few games on Khan Academy Kids. We also sang "Five Little Pumpkins Round," "I Went to Visit the Farm One Day," and "When Cows Get Up in the Morning" with the flannel board, and practiced identifying letters using magnetic letters and the Melissa and Doug Alphabet Activity Pad.


We are gearing up to restart Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, this time with both M. and C. This week, we did our preparation for beginning to gather data about the weather for a lesson we will do next year that requires a year of data. My husband was in charge of this, and he showed them how to use a thermometer, how to identify the color of the sky, how to figure out which way the wind is blowing, where to find the times of sunrise and sunset, and where to look up high, low, and average temperatures for a given day. He also created a simple tool for measuring barometic pressure. 

Reading and Writing

M. is doing language arts worksheets from a workbook my mom sent us, Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3. This week's topics were alphabetical order, antonyms, and plurals. C. practiced reading aloud from a McGuffey Reader and The Boxcar Children. Both girls practiced writing in cursive. M. wrote her narration in cursive, and C. practiced strokes. During lunch, I read aloud from Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, and my husband read at dinner from Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle.


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

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