Monday, September 11, 2023

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

August Favorites

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
I did a slow read of this book with a group on Instagram that took most of the summer. Because of trips and other summer activities, I fell behind a few times and went long stretches without reading, and I know the stopping and starting caused me to miss things, but I loved the main character, Isabel Archer, and the writing, and I liked knowing I was reading a novel that was loved by one of my favorite writers, Flannery O'Connor. 

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Though this is quite different from the other novels I've read by this author, I really enjoyed the reading experience. The way Greene incorporates religious themes into the story is similar to the approach he takes in my favorite novel of his, The End of the Affair, but in a totally different setting.  

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
This was the stand-out book of the month. The audiobook is read by Meryl Streep, the story involves many references to Our Town, and the author manages to tell the story of two timelines in a single narrative. I have read a few other books by Ann Patchett and felt they were just okay, but this was truly delightful. 

Zero Days by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware is an author who has always been very hit or miss for me, but this ended up being my favorite of hers. She builds suspense in such an organic and believable way, and I didn't want to put the book down. Imogen Church who reads the audiobook is also excellent. 

Share Your Stuff, I'll Go First by Laura Tremaine 
I gave this 5 stars not for the self-help angle, but because I enjoyed the memoir-style anecdotes the author used to illustrate the different areas about which she suggests women share with each other. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Welcome to Beach Town by Susan Wiggs (4 stars)
  • Must Love Flowers by Debbie Macomber (4 stars) 
  • The Life Council by Laura Tremaine (4 stars)
  • Hello, Stranger by Katherine Center (4 stars)

Short Stories

  • The Girl in the Plane by Katherine Center (5 stars)
  • All Roads Lead to Here by Abby Jimenez (5 stars)

Series Books

  • Wishes (Heartbooks Book 1) by Brittany Eden (4 stars)
  • Well Matched (Well Met Book 3) by Jen De Luca (4 stars)
  • Below the Root (Green Sky Trilogy Book 1) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (4 stars)
  • Positively, Penelope (Skymar Book 2) by Pepper Basham 


  • The Midnight Horse by Paul Fleischman (3 stars)
  • Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum (5 stars)
  • The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension by Joy Hakim (3 stars)

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 9 months old)

  • Americans to the Moon by Gene Gurney 
  • Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
  • Moonshot by Brian Floca
  • The War in Vietnam by Don Lawson
  • Women of Courage by Dorothy Nathan
  • The Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Coughing Dragon by Nick West
  • The Space Shuttle by George Fichter

C. (girl, 7 years, 11 months old) 

  • More All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor 
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar 

E. (girl, 5 years, 10 months old)

  • The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
  • The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem
  • The High Hills by Jill Barklem

R. (boy, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Anthology of Aquatic Life 
  • Shimmer and Splash by Jim Arnosky
  • If You See a Kitten by John Butler 
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle 

A. (girl, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell 
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle 
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell 

My husband 

  • Fingal's Quest by Madeleine Polland
  • Pictured Worlds: Masterpieces of Children’s Book Art by 101 Essential Illustrators from Around the World by Leonard Marcus 
  • Dexter by Clyde Robert Bulla

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Homeschool Plans: 2023-2024

This school year will be my fifth official year of homeschooling, and I will have three students - M., C., and E. Because these three girls have fall birthdays, they all did a year of kindergarten the year they turned five, so while the state of Maryland classifies them as 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten, we think of them as being in 5th, 3rd, and 1st, and they work at all different levels in all different subjects. 

Social Studies 

M. has completed the first phrase of the trivium, so she will be doing the Ancients at the logic level this year. E. will be doing the same time period at the grammar level. 

M. will be reading The World in Ancient Times textbook series, including the volume of primary documents, and we will discuss the material and supplement with related video series, including Between the Rivers, History of Ancient Egypt, History of India, From Yao to Mao, Ancient Greek Civilization, History of Ancient Rome, Maya to Aztec and Lost Worlds of South America. 

With E., I will be reading aloud A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer and supplementing with  most of the same picture books and videos M. and C. read their first year.

C. is in year three of the grammar stage, and she will be studying the Late Renaissance and Early Modern periods with Daddy using books by Genevieve Foster and the same videos and supplemental reading M. used two years ago. 

Together, all three girls will learn about important geographical and architectural landmarks from The Book of Marvels


We designed our own physics curriculum for Meg with Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher as her spine. She will be watching video demonstrations starring Julius Sumner Miller and simulations from PhET at the University of Colorado, and doing experiments independently using Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid. 

Though we are still technically using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding as our science curriculum for C. and E., I wanted a change, so we chose The Golden Treasury of Natural History as our spine for learning about our main subjects of plants and animals. At the end of the year, we will do a quick unit on magnetism to finish out the two-year course we've been on. 


M. will continue her work with Rex Barks, as well as with Vocabulary from Classical Roots. She will also be writing narrations to accompany her history, with the goal of learning to identify and communicate the main ideas of the chapters she reads. 

C. will begin sentence diagramming this year. She will also do some narrations.

E. will work through Grammarland by listening to the lessons and completing the worksheets for each one. She will work on narrating her history and science lessons. 

Additionally, we will have daily read-alouds. The plan is to have one historical fiction and one realistic or fantasy title going at all times. We will also read one Shakespeare play per month and do a weekly poetry lesson from Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston. 


All three girls will begin Latin together this year. We'll be using Getting Started with Latin. We will also continue to memorize prayers and psalms in Latin and to attend the Latin Mass once a month. 


The girls kept up with math all summer, so everyone is already well into their work for this year. 

M. is doing algebra on Khan Academy and will be doing the review sections of Singapore Primary Mathematics 5A. 

C. is working on third grade math on Khan Academy and Singapore 3B. 

E. is working on Early Math on Khan Academy and will be working on Singapore 1A. 

M. will move into Life of Fred: Decimals and C. will begin Life of Fred: Farming. M. and C. will continue to drill math facts using online flashcards, but we will be reducing the frequency from daily to weekly. 


E. will begin her two-year preparation for First Communion using The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism. M. and C. who have received First Communion, will move into the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1, and we will take that at whatever pace they can manage it. 


M. will be finishing The Body Book for Girls, and C. will begin to read it. 

E. will study human body systems using the resources from Kids Health. 


This year, art will mainly be covered by the material in The Book of Marvels, but the girls will also create art using how-to-draw videos, craft kits, and various media. 


All three girls will continue playing piano and recorder and learning to sing. E. is using the Denes Agay Primer and Hands on Recorder, C. is using Denes Agay Book 2, 50 Graded Studies for Recorder, and Recorder Time, and M. is using Denes Agay Book 3 and The Recorder Guide.

Music appreciation will most likely include a mix of ballet, opera, and musicals.

Physical Education 

We got a good jump-start on PE with all three girls practicing their swimming at the pool this summer. They will continue to ride bikes and play on the playground, and hopefully they will get a chance to practice more with their basketball. We may also reintroduce the morning warm-up exercises they did a few years back. 


R. and A. are three and a half, so this year is preschool for them. We will be doing some good read-alouds and making sure to review their letters and numbers. I expect their learning to pick up a lot more in the second half of the year, as they are still quite young compared to their sisters when they were starting preschool. 

Homeschool Update: Summer 2023

Group Activities

The girls continued to work on memorizing Anima Christi. We also chose seven additional prayers to practice on a weekly rotation: 

  • The St. Michael Prayer (Sunday)
  • Memorare (Monday)
  • Hail, Holy Queen (Tuesday)
  • Come, Holy Spirit (Wednesday)
  • Apostle's Creed (Thursday)
  • Glory Be (Friday)
  • Domine Non Sum Dignus (Saturday)
Our June read-alouds were I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Janet Grey and Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum. Our July read-alouds were: Shadow of the Hawk by Geoffrey Trease, Summer at Buckhorn by Anna Rose Wright, and The Road to the King's Mountain by Margaret Ann Hubbard. Our August read-alouds were: The Midnight Horse by Sid Fleishman, Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum, and Bambi by Felix Salter. (E. had a very strong emotional reaction to a certain chapter in Bambi.)

Our June poet was Carl Sandburg. In July, we read American Poems from the Poetry for Young People series, and in August, we read Animal Poems from the same series.

We read children's versions of Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest. The girls watched animated and live-action productions of the plays as well as Kiss Me Kate


M. continued reading about the 20th century using The Century by Peter Jennings as a spine. She is ending August with the Reagan presidency. 

She has read many history and historical fiction titles: 

  • Ben-Gurion and the Birth of Israel by Joan Comay
  • Other Sandals by Sally Watson
  • The Garden by Carol Matas
  • Exploring the Himalaya by William O. Douglas
  • The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert
  • The Korean War by Tom McGowen
  • The Korean War Soldier at Heartbreak Ridge by Carl R. Green
  • The Shoes from Yang Son Valley by Yong-ik Kim
  • The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi 
  • Echoes of the White Giraffe by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Rowan Farm by Margot Benary Isbert
  • Alexander Fleming by Richard Tames
  • The School Segregation Cases by Janet Stevenson
  • Brown v. Board of Education by Diane L. Good
  • The Story of Jonas Salk and the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine by Jim Hargrove
  • You Choose: The Civil Rights Movement by Heather Adamson
  • Americans Into Orbit by Gene Gurney
  • Walk in Space by Gene Gurney
She also watched a variety of videos, including episodes of Days that Shook the World and the following documentaries: 
  • Korea: The Never Ending War 
  • Festival of Britain 
  • Planet Earth: Mountains (about Mt. Everest)
  • Exploring the Himalayas
  • Nine from Little Rock
  • Space Race 
  • Suez: A Very British Crisis
  • Cold War Roadshow 
  • The Man Who Saved the World 
  • Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment  
  • Martin Luther King and the March on Washington 
  • Dancing in the Street (part of episode 3)
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon 
  • People's Century: Freedom Now 
  • Simple Justice: The History of Brown vs. Board of Education  
  • Polio Crusade 
C. finished her history in June with the printing press and Shakespeare. 

She read:  
  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen
  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberly
  • Crossbows and Crucifixes by Henry Garnett


M. continued Algebra Basics and Get Ready for Alegebra I on Khan Academy. She continued working through Life of Fred: Fractions and she drilled multiplication and division facts daily.  

C. moved into Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and finished Life of Fred: Edgewood. She also drilled her math facts daily. 

E. continued working on Early Math on Khan Academy. 


M. and I finished reading  The Story of Science: Newton at the Center and then read The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension. All three girls watched some episodes of Watch Mr. Wizard. 


M. continued working in Rex Barks and Vocabulary from Classical Roots A. Everyone read independently all summer. 


The girls rode bikes and practiced their swimming. All three girls improved their swimming skills. M. and C. can now go in the deep end independently and E. is almost there. 


We finished reading A Child's History of Art. The girls made birthday cards for their aunt and a friend whose birthday party they attended. M. made paper cube animals. 


Everyone practiced piano and recorder all summer, and occasionally did some singing.