Thursday, March 2, 2023

Homeschool Update: February 2023

Group Activities

We continued working on memorizing Psalm 133 in Latin using these memory cards from Learn Church Latin.

Our read-alouds were: The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum, The Time Garden by Edward Eager, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and Bread and Butter Indian by Anne Colver. 

We continued reading about sculpture in A Child's History of Art and watched related SmartHistory videos.

We returned to reading The Catholic Treasure Box and finished Volumes 16 and 17. 

Our February poetry collection was Poetry for Young People: Robert Browning.

On Ash Wednesday, we began our daily Lenten Scripture readings. They are the readings that correspond to ornaments on the Jesus tree, but we're not doing the tree this year. The girls each have a path from Catholic Icing to color and track the days of Lent. Also on Ash Wednesday, we prayed the Daily Stations of the Cross that I picked up at Mass. We're also singing Ave Regina Caelorum and Stabat Mater Dolorosa every day and watching the daily Lenten reflections from Brother Francis. 


C. continues to memorize The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism.  


M. continued to study World War II with The Story of World War II by Robert Leckie as her spine. She read several historical fiction titles:  The Moved Outers by Florence Crannell Means, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Twenty and Ten by Clare Huchet Bishop, the entire Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola, all of the World War II titles in the You Choose series, and The Battle of Britain by Quentin James Reynolds. 

She also watched various videos: Machine Gunners, Victory at Sea, Uranium (first part only), Race for the World's First Atomic Bomb, The Desert War, Wartime Farm, and Days that Shook the World (Guadalcanal and Kristallnacht episodes). 

C. began to study Ancient Eastern history in A Picturesque Tale of Progress. We covered these sections: 
  • Genghis Khan Conquers Asia (The Mongols in the Gobi Desert; Genghis Khan; The Conquest of Western Asia; Mongol Conquests in Russia and the West; The Invasion of Europe; The Beginnings of Russia; The Ravaging of Russia; European Conquests)
  • The Mongol Conquest of Persia (Travelers to the Mongols; The Attack Upon Persia; Bagdad, Glittering City of Caliphs; A Decaying Empire; The Assassins; The Conquest of Bagdad; The Empire of the Ilkhans) 
She also read: The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman,  The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz, Sindbad by Ludmila Zeman, Sindbad in the Land of Giants by Ludmila Zeman, Sindbad’s Secret by Ludmila Zeman, as well as Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Norse Lattimore and the Illusrated Junior Library edition of Arabian Nights

She wrote a narration about Marco Polo. 

E. and I continued reading  History Can Be Fun , up through colonial America.  She watched more episodes of Liberty's Kids.


M. continued working on 6th grade and Getting Ready for Algebra I in Khan Academy. She also worked on Challenging Word Problems 3 and drilled multiplication and divisions facts on, and completed one chapter per week in Life of Fred: Fractions.  

C. worked on Khan Academy 3rd grade, Singapore 2B, addition and subtraction drill on, and she started Life of Fred: Edgewood

E. continued working on Khan Academy Early Math, using the soroban and rods to assist with addition and subtraction. She drilled "big friends" using  


In addition to their historical fiction reading, M. read Stella Batts: Broken Birthday by Courtney Sheinmel and started Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling and C. read Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Wishing Chair Again by Enid Blyton, and Stella Batts: A Case of the Meanies by Courtney Sheinmel.  

E. read Meet George Washington, Annie Pat and Eddie by Carolyn Haywood, and Nathan Hale by Virginia Frances Voight 

M. and C. finished reading aloud The Half Sisters by Natalie Savage Carlson to Gran over Skype. 

M. completed the exercises in Rex Barks 3-13. C. named the parts of speech in sentences taken from a 3rd grade workbook.  

All three girls wrote Valentine messages to their siblings. C. started writing two stories:  "Max and Maria: The Magical Adventure" and "The Unicorn and the Magical Garden." E. started writing "Victoria and Tim." 


In Middle School Chemistry, M. and I completed these lessons:  
  • Represent Bonding with Lewis Dot Diagrams
  • Water is a Polar Molecule
  • Surface Tension
In BFSU, C. and E. covered these topics:  
  • What is Air Pressure?
  • Air Pressure Inside and Outside
  • Air, Atmosphere, and Wind
  • Air is a Mixture of Gases 

We also went on a walk to do some birdwatching for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes on nicer days and also went to the playground a couple of times. M. and C. both mastered the monkey bars. 


M. and C. worked on Flip Animation. M. started using PaintZ to create digital drawings. C. and E. followed instructional videos on Art for Kids Hub.  


R. swallowed a chicken bone and visited the ER and we all learned about digestion. C. asked about how the nose works and watched a Dr. Binocs video to find out. 


The girls continued listening to The Ring of the Nibelung and they each practiced piano and recorder daily. We did one evening sing-along. 

Read-at-Home Mom Report: February 2023 Wrap-Up

February was a weird reading month. I had several DNFs and lots more books that were just okay. At the start of the month I was unexpectedly asked to come back to my old library and give a workshop presentation and a lot of time and attention went to that. (It was nice to be back in the saddle.) I also made the decision to abandon most of the reading challenges I started in January because they were already getting too tedious. But I still finished a total of 17 books, which is definitely not bad. 

February Favorites 

This month I read aloud three old favorites to my girls: The Mitchells by Hilda Van Stockum, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. They were all delightful and the girls absolutely loved them. I cried at the end of The Winged Watchman, but it was worth it. 

From my own reading, my favorites were:   

The Likeness by Tana French (5 stars)
This is every bit as good as the first Dublin Murder Squad book, In the Woods, and I lingered over it just as long, savoring every word. Absolutely no one writes like Tana French, and this was so suspenseful, and emotional, and intriguing on every level.  

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman (5 stars)
I really enjoyed this nostalgic nonfiction book about the 1990s. It was interesting to revisit world events I'd only heard about as a child with the benefit of adult understanding. It was also really fascinating to think about how much the Internet has changed our culture. 

The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (5 stars)
This was the book the Close Reads podcast read in February, and though I know I didn't get everything out of it, I found it hilarious as well as well-written. The audiobook is exceptionally well done. 

My Phony Valentine by Courtney Walsh (4 stars)
I loved the characters in this feel-good rom-com about a fake relationship between a hockey player and a restaurant owner. I especially loved the family members of the two protagonists. 

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray (4 stars)
This Christian novel is more of a conversion story than a romance, but I absolutely loved the writing and the characters. I'm looking forward to the other two titles in the series.

Tacos for Two by Betsy St. Amant (4 stars)
Spark Flash Fiction's book club read this You've Got Mail inspired rom-com this month. I loved all the details about food trucks and the surprising ways the story didn't quite match the original movie. 

Stand-Alone Books 

  • Bread-and-Butter Indian by Anne Colver (4 stars)
    A fun vintage read-aloud about frontier living based on a true story. 
  • London Transports by Maeve Binchy (3 stars)
    A largely forgettable short story collection bogged down a bit by its heavy emphasis on women's issues. 
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen [ABRIDGED] (3 stars)
    I'm so irritated that the Libby app didn't label this book as abridged. The sexual content was too much for me to ever want to read it again, but I don't feel I can count it as read either.  
  • The Valentine's Hate by Sidney Halston (2 stars)
    This was very boring. I only finished it because I didn't have anything else in mind to listen to. 
  • Maizy Chen's Last Chance by Lisa Yee (2 stars)
    Another predictably preachy and mediocre Newbery honor book. 

Series Books

  • Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs (Lakeshore Chronicles Book 4)
  • Battleshipped by Savannah Scott (Getting Shipped! Book 2)
  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager (Tales of Magic Book 4)

Did Not Finish

2023 is shaping up to be the year of the DNF. I'm up to 15 after only two months. Here are the ones I abandoned in February: 

  • The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley
    Beautiful writing, but way too much about climate change.  
  • Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
    I almost stuck with this one, I just couldn't read descriptions of a teenage girl reading sex scenes alone in her bed at night. I did love this author's adult rom-com The Ex Talk so this was really disappointing.
  • Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund (ARC)
    Too much teen drinking in the first chapter. 
  • I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
    This was a new adult romance that started out cute but then devolved into a lot of description of characters smoking marijuana. I was so bored I gave up. 
  • Love, Comment, Subscribe by Cathy Yardley
    I got a little bit into the audiobook and it just wasn't grabbing me.
  • Reclaiming Motherhood by Samantha Stephenson
    The author made it sound like feeding babies formula and using pain medication during labor were against the teachings of the Catholic church, which of course they are not. This book would be so damaging to a vulnerable new mom.    
  • Not that Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams
    This has such a sexually suggestive first page I couldn't even get through it. 

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 3 months) 

  • The Moved Outers by Florence Crannell Means
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Twenty and Ten by Clare Huchet Bishop
  • Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola
  • All World War II titles in the You Choose series
  • The Battle of Britain by Quentin James Reynolds
  • Stella Batts: Broken Birthday by Courtney Sheinmel
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 

C. (girl, 7 years, 5 months)

  • The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman
  • The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz
  • Sindbad by Ludmila Zeman
  • Sindbad in the Land of Giants by Ludmila Zeman
  • Sindbad’s Secret by Ludmila Zeman
  • Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Norse Lattimore
  • Illustrated Junior Library edition of Arabian Nights
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Wishing Chair Again by Enid Blyton
  • Stella Batts: A Case of the Meanies by Courtney Sheinmel
  • Stella Batts: Who's in Charge? by Courtney Sheinmel   

E. (girl, 5 years, 3 months)

  • Meet George Washington by Joan Heilbroner 
  • Annie Pat and Eddie by Carolyn Haywood
  • Nathan Hale by Virginia Frances Voight
  • John Billington, Friend of Squanto by Clyde Robert Bulla 


R. (boy, 2 years, 11 months)

  • I Wheelie Love You by Hannah Eliot and Denise Holmes 
  • Little Blue Truck's Valentine by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry 
  • Fire Truck by Peter Sis 
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherry Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld 
  • Dinosnores by Sandra Boynton 
  • I Want That! by Hannah Eliot and Ana Sanfelippo 

A. (girl, 2 years, 11 months)

  • All Better, Baby! by Sara Gillingham 
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
  • The Three Bears by Byron Barton
  • A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton
  • Little Sleepyhead by Elizabeth McPike and Patrice Barton
  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 

My husband 

  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager  
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  • Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan  
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 

Up Next For Me

March is Middle Grade March, so I have lots of middle grade books ready to go. My local book club is reading The Silence of Mary by Ignacio LarraƱaga. I'm also planning to read Pygmalion and Diary of a Country Priest with Close Reads. 

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