Friday, May 6, 2022

Homeschool Update: April 2022

In the interest of simplifying my record keeping, I've decided to switch to monthly homeschool updates. I'm also going to focus less on the routine of our day and more on the materials we use for each subject. From time to time, I might make some separate posts to record how we divide up our days, but I'm finding that these posts are most useful as an archive of what we used to teach certain subjects and at what grade level. 

April included Holy Week and Easter Week, as well as an abundance of playdates that required a lighter workload. It was also the month in which we submitted our homeschool review forms to our umbrella organization. Both M. and C. have "completed" this year in terms of paperwork, but we will press on regardless. 


From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "There are so many ways of going places" by Leslie Thompson, "To the Dandelion" by James Russell Lowell, "Stocking Fairy" by Winifred Welles, "On Easter Day" by Celia Thaxter, and "From a Railway Carriage" by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Music Appreciation 

M., C., and E. continued listening to my husband read aloud Carmen: The story of Bizet's Opera by Robert Lawrence. When they finished the book, they watched a production of the opera on video. After that, they listened to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Beethoven's  Eroica Symphony On YouTube M. and C. watched the Keeping Score documentary about the Eroica Symphony. 

Art Appreciation

During the final days of Lent, we looked at many of the paintings and sculptures related to Christ's Passion that are included in the Vatican Art Deck and the Louvre Art Deck. We also took a close look at da Vinci's The Last Supper, using this article from Catholic Icing to point out key features and to learn about the Apostles. We watched this video about Caravaggio's Deposition of Christ.


We finished our lunchtime read-aloud of The Golden Name Day and then read Carvers' George by Florence Crannell Means.  This was a fascinating book, and it also complemented our study of plants for science. After that, I started reading aloud The Secret Garden. 

C. read The First Men in the World and The Fantastic Flying Journey, and then moved on to Redwall. She is enjoying imagining the voice of Cluny the Scourge and has announced she would like to be him for Halloween. I also read aloud Floating Island by Anne Parrish to her, and we both really enjoyed it. It combines all the best elements of our other favorites: The Doll People and Baby Island. In Grammarland, C. worked on nominatives and prepositions. 

Independently, E. read Busybody Nora by Johanna Hurwitz, My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, In a Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz, and Warton and Morton by Russell E. Erickson. To her, I read aloud All About Sam by Lois Lowry. We have now started Here Come the Elephants by Alice Goudey. 

M. has been diagramming one sentence per day from Rex Barks. She creates the diagram in Google Drawings and then shares it with me so I can check it. She is also working on doing pages in the Macmillan McGraw-Hill Treasures grammar curriculum. 


M. finished The Year of the Horseless Carriage after reading these sections: Napoleon: Emperor; Beethoven; Richard Trevithick; Robert Fulton; James Madison; Napoleon: Defeated; and George Stephenson. 

Then she started Abraham Lincoln's World and read these sections: The Year 1809; Napoleon The Next Emperor; Because of England and Napoleonl; Young Creoles of Venezuela; Ships and Trips and Businessmen; Tecumseh, the Falling Star; Sam Houston Becomes the Raven; The Year 1812 in North America; 1812 in South America; To Moscow and Return; Don't Give Up the Ship; Andrew Jackson, the Indian Fighter; A Boy and a Fish; Napoleon Defeated; The Very Young William Gladstone; Just Before and After the End; Back to the Kings Again; Trails to the West; Abe Moves to Indiana; Robert Lee of Virginia; Harriett Beecher, the Preacher's Child; What About Missouri; Steamboats and the Law; Kit Rides to Santa Fe; Benito Juarez, a Boy of Mexico; Toda America es Mi Patria; Citizens of the World

She also read No Other White Men by Julia Davis Adams, Violet for Bonaparte by Geoffrey Trease, The Slave Who Freed Haiti: the Story of Toussaint Louverture by Katharine Scherman, The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant. She looked through The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark by Rhoda Blumberg.

C. finished with Ancient Greece and began studying Ancient Rome. In Builders of the Old World, she read The Wooden Walls Save Athens, The Golden Age of Pericles, Lovers of Wisdom, Greece Loses Her Freedom, and The Gifts of Greece to Civilization, followed by The City of the Seven Hills, Early Roman Heroes, Rome Becomes a Republic, How the Early Romans Lived, Going to School in Rome, Rome Conquers All Italy, Rome and Carthage, How the Later Romans Lived, and Cornelia's Jewels. 

We also read aloud In Search of a Homeland, the children's retelling of the Aeneid by Penelope Lively, and then started Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld, and C. watched Virtual Rome and Ancient Rome 101


We finished BFSU Volume 1. The girls monitored the beans they planted in baggies, tracking their progress with drawings until they germinated. Only E.'s grew leaves and a stem, so we mainly focused on that one.  M. and C. also picked a few random weeds outside and we brought them in to identify and learn about them. We also read about some wildflowers from a Fandex Family Field Guide.  

M. and C. watched these videos: 

Our read-aloud of Carvers' George was also part of our plant studies, and we found this clip of his voice to listen to so we could better understand the author's descriptions of his distinctive speech.  


C. finished Singapore Primary Mathematics 2A and moved on to 2B. 

M. worked on Challenging Word Problems 3 and geometry proofs using worksheets found online and Geometry by Harold R. Jacobs.

E. used flashcards, rods and the soroban to learn about place value. 


M. and read the nutrition section from The Body Book for Younger Girls. She also came to the twins' check-up with me and watched their exam.

Physical Education

M., C., and E. rode bikes on most of the nice days. M. and C. went on a couple of bike rides with Daddy. All three girls played on the trampoline at our friends' house, and they visited the Adventure playground for a playdate.  


M., C., and E. did chalk designs in the driveway and colored Easter-themed coloring pages.


We attended the Novus Ordo Easter vigil and then Mass in the extraordinary form on Divine Mercy Sunday. We read aloud Catholic Children's Treasure Box volumes 1 and 2. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Read-at-Home Mom Report: April 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

40 Re-reads Before 40

I re-read five more books for my 40 Re-reads Before 40 project. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (3 stars) was one of the few adult books I read when I was working as a librarian. The first time I read it, I thought it was brilliant. This second time around, with much more reading experience under my belt, it just didn't seem as remarkable. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (5 stars) is a YA novel about Felton Reinstein, whom puberty transforms into a high-performing athlete practically overnight. Herbach is a master of first-person narration, and this was just as good the second time around as the first. I read A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (4 stars) in eleventh grade and re-read it this month with Close Reads. I definitely got more out of it this time than I did as a teen - the emotions of the characters resonated much more strongly. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (5 stars) was a new favorite that I discovered in 2019. This time I listened to the audiobook. It's such a charming read for book lovers. Finally, after a friend asked me whether Avi would be a good author for one of her kids, I was reminded of Nothing But the Truth (3 stars). My memories of this one were very different from what is actually in the book. I usually don't like full cast audiobooks but I actually enjoyed the production of this one. 


I completed three read-alouds with my kids in April. The first was part of my 6-year-old daughter's history studies. In Search of a Homeland by Penelope Lively (4 stars) is an illustrated children's retelling of the Aeneid. I didn't love it as much as I loved the Rosemary Sutcliffe retellings of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but it was still good. I also read aloud Floating Island by Anne Parrish (5 stars) to the same child. This was like The Doll People meets Baby Island, with a clear vintage feel. I read aloud All About Sam by Lois Lowry (5 stars) to my four-year-old. She absolutely loved it and wants to read the rest of the series. 

Challenges and Book Clubs

I read The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (4 stars) throughout Lent with a small group of Close Reads listeners. I liked it, but I didn't love it the way I loved The End of the Affair. My local book club chose The Seven Last Words by Fulton Sheen (5 stars) for our April book. I struggled to get into Fulton Sheen's writing in the past, but I absolutely loved this book and will probably read it again during some future Lent. The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman (5 stars) was my pick for the Buzzword Reading Challenge, the April prompt for which was  big and little. I have never read a Waxman book I didn't love, and I especially enjoyed this one because of the child characters. For the Read Your Bookshelves Challenge, I needed to find a book with my initials in the title.  I ended up reading a romance novella set during Thanksgiving, Thankful for Love by Kristen Ethridge (4 stars) which does include K, R, and F.

The #WorldFullofBooks group on Instagram read poetry in April, and I ended up getting really into the theme. I finished The Divine Comedy (5 stars) on Easter with 100 Days of Dante. Then I listened to Three Simple Lines by Natalie Goldberg (3 stars), which is her memoir about discovering and attempting to write haiku. Then I read a novel in verse, The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle (2 stars), which was too heavy-handed with its feminist message, but which I decided to finish anyway because it counted for the Goldberry books challenge prompt of a biography of a non-American. I finished out the month will three poetry collections borrowed from the public library: Felicity by Mary Oliver (4 stars), The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins (3 stars), and And Short the Season by Maxine Kumin (3 stars).

Review Copies

I read three review copies this month. Birdie's Bargain by Katherine Paterson (3 stars) had some questionable theology in it that would keep from me giving it to my Catholic kids even though I like the writing. All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle (5 stars) was an unexpected 5-star read about a mother-daughter relationship that is challenged when they go on a reality show to find a new love connection for the mother. To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters (4 stars) is the third book in a regency romance series. I haven't read the first two yet, but this one was so funny and well-written that I'm planning to go back and listen to the others. 

Nonfiction Mood Reading

My mood reading was very eclectic during April. I picked up three nonfiction titles. This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson (5 stars) is a great spiritual read about how to find God in our lives in times of darkness. Clarkson isn't Catholic, but this book is very Catholic-friendly. I saw a lot of praise for it on Instagram and it was absolutely well-deserved. I think this is Clarkson's best book to date. I borrowed Present Over Perfect (3 stars) on audio from the library after hearing Shauna Niequist on What Should I Read Next? There were some good little nuggets to be gleaned from this, but I felt like I always had to be on guard against all the self-help rhetoric, some of which is contrary to Catholic teaching. I chose to listen to Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott (4 stars) based on how much I enjoyed her previous book, I Miss You When I Blink. I enjoyed this one as well, but it wasn't a 5-star read like the earlier title. 

Fiction Mood Reading

Friendshipped by Savannah Scott (3 stars) is a clean romantic comedy I learned about on Instagram. I have been trying out a few different authors and series, and this one was a fun palate cleanser.  Billy Miller Makes a Wish by Kevin Henkes (5 stars) is the sequel to The Year of Billy Miller. I listened to the audiobook to preview it for my kids, and I'm pleased to say I have no qualms about letting them read it. I listened and read along to Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher (5 stars). I had one false start with it where my mind wandered and I had to start over, but it ended up being a 5-star read. I just love Pilcher's writing style. I ended the month with the next book in a favorite series I have been neglecting, Stayin' Alive by Julie Mulhern (4 stars). As is often the case with mysteries, I loved the setting and characters but have already forgotten everything about the murder. 

As for the rest of the family's reading...

A. (girl, 2 years old) 

  • E is for Easter by Greg Paprocki 

R. (boy, 2 years old)

  • Ollie's Easter Eggs by Olivier Dunrea
  • National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals
  • Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams 

E. (girl, 4 years old)

  • Dan Frontier series 
  • Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin 
  • The Golly Sisters Go West by Betsy Byars 
  • Hooray for the Golly Sisters by Betsy Byars 
  • The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino
  • Hot as an Ice Cube by Philip Balestrino 
  • Snakes are Hunters by Patricia Lauber 
  • The Pig War by Betty Baker 

C. (girl, 6 years old)

  • The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell 
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques 
  • Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay 

M. (girl, 8 years old)

  • No Other White Men by Julia Davis Adams
  • Violet for Bonaparte by Geoffrey Trease 
  • The Slave Who Freed Haiti by Katherine Scherman 
  • The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant 
  • Andrew Jackson by Clara Ingram Judson 
  • Make way for Sam Houston by Jean Fritz 
  • Cody and the Secrets of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

My husband 

  • The Fort of Gold by Eilis Dillon
  • Dan Frontier Goes to Congress by William Hurley
  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberley
  • People of Pineapple Place by Anne Lindbergh 

Up Next For Me

My big focus for May will be on reading Gone with the Wind for the Goldberry reading challenge where the prompt is to read my mother's favorite book. I also want to read The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer which a friend gave me for Christmas, and I need to read Captain of Dragoons by Ronald Welch for  a discussion with my husband and that same friend. I'm also doing a short story read-a-thon hosted by Chantel Reads All Day on YouTube. 

I'm adding this post to the link-up for An Open Book at