Monday, February 21, 2022

Homeschool Update: Weeks of 1/31/22 and 2/7/22

We had friends over for story time on February 2nd, and they ended up sharing a cold with us.  Since we didn't do very much school during the time we were all sick, I've combined these two weeks into one post. 

Morning Time 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "The Way Through the Woods" by Rudyard Kipling, "Open Range" by Kathryn and Byron Jackson, "In the Hours of Darkness" by James Flexner, "Freedom" by Jessamyn West, "Postman,"  "My Heart's in the Highlands" by Robert Burns, and "I'd Love to be a Fairy's Child" by Robert Graves.  

Music: We started reading Joseph Haydn, The Merry Little Peasant by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher and listened to some of the pieces included. 

Singing: We practiced singing the US Naval Hymn "Eternal Father, Strong To Save." 

Art Appreciation: From Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake, we discussed a painting from Seasons of Splendour by Michael Foreman, A Scene from El Hechizado por Fuerza by Francisco de Goya, Night in the Park by Edward Hopper, a painting from The Adventures of Pinocchio by Robert Innocenti, The Garden Enclosed by David Jones, Clown by Ken Kiff, and Exhibition of a Rhinoceros at Venice by Pietro Longhi. 

Catechism: The girls watched Saint Brigid of Ireland for her feast day on February 1st and the Story of St. Scholastica for her feast day on February 10th. We practiced singing Ave Regina Caelorum. 


C. and I continued reading from In Bible Days. We covered these sections: "Crossing the Desert," "At Mount Sinai,"  "The End of the Wandering," "The Conquest of Canaan," "In the Days of the Judges," "The Kingdom Established," "David the Hero King," "Solomon in All his Glory," "The Kingdom Divided," "Great Prophets," and "By the Rivers of Babylon." She also worked on the Moses and David Bible Activity Sticker Books I found at Dollar Tree, and she read Ruth, Moses, and Joseph and his Brothers by Maud and Miska Petersham. 

M. covered all of these sections from George Washington's World

  • To the South Seas with Captain Cook
  • Oxygen
  • The Steam Engine
  • His Majesty George III
  • Frederick the Miser and Louis the Waster
  • Marie Antoinette, the Little Austrian Princess
    Lafayette, a Young French Nobleman
  • Italy, the Land of Beauty
  • A King and a Painter of Spain
  • Pirates
  • The Empire of Turkey
  • Poland
  • Enter Napoleon Buonaparte
  • The Empress and the Sultan
  • Home to China
  • Japan and the Passing World
  • Holland and Her Trade
  • Alexander Hamilton, Boy of the West Indies
  • John Paul and the Hated Slave Trade
  • Spain's New Colony
  • Over the Mountain with Boone
  • Rebellion in Massachusetts 
  • The First Congress
  • The Battle of Bunker Hill
  • John Adams Selects a Commander

She also started watching 1776 and she read The Marquis de Lafayette: Bright Sword for Freedom by Hodding Carter. 


We worked on BFSU Lesson A-1, Rocks, Minerals, Crystals, Dirt and Soils. Independently, M. and C. each looked at Rocks and Minerals by Caroline Bingham. I read aloud Let's Go Rock Collecting from the Let's Read and Find About Science series.  We also watched a variety of videos: 

While they were sick, the girls watched a few episodes of BBC Wonders of the Solar System


C. drew a kitten following video instructions from Art for Kids Hub. She also drew a snow bunny. M., C., and E. made Valentines for family members and mailed them. 


M. worked on conjunctions exercises from Simply Grammar and watched Conjunction Junction. Then she did Rex Barks Exercise 1-6 and Simply Grammar p.70, about prepositions, and watched Busy Prepositions. She also watched The Tale of Mr. Morton to help her with Rex Barks exercise 2-1, which was out first foray into diagramming with this book. 

In Grammarland Caroline listened to Chapter 5: Mr. Adjective, Chapter 6. Mr. Adjective Tried for Stealing, and Chapter 7: The Quarrel between Mr. Adjective & Mr. Pronoun & Little Interjection, and she watched the Schoolhouse Rock videos about pronouns and interjections 

M. worked on an original story entitled "John the Thief."  

C. finished On the Banks of Plum Creek

E. read through a whole bunch more of our easy readers - too many to name. Her favorites are the Oliver and Amanda pig series and the Mildred and Sam series. She also enjoyed In a People House. She also read a few lessons in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. 

At lunch, we read aloud Amos Fortune, Free Man.


C. worked on multiplication and division in Singapore 2A and did some soroban practice. M. worked in Challenging Word Problems. Both girls did Khan Academy almost daily. C. finished Life of Fred: Cats. M. did two chapters in Life of Fred: Kidneys.

Preschool Skills

E. continued doing some exercises in her cutting workbook. 

Instrumental Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder every day. E. had a piano lesson with Daddy. 


From experience, we learned about how colds are spread.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Homeschool Update: Week of 1/24/22

Morning Time 

Poems:  From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "Father William" by Lewis Carroll, "Big Brother" by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, and "A Comparison" by John Farrar. 

Music: We finished reading Mozart the Wonder Boy by Opal Wheeler and listened to these pieces: 

We continued singing "Mozart's Lullaby" from The Fireside Book of Children's Songs

Art Appreciation: We looked at Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by Honore-Victorin Daumier and Saint Paul on Malta by Adam Elsheimer in Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake. 

Catechism: On Friday, the girls watched The Story of Saint Thomas Aquinas and listened to Pange Lingua Gloriosi and Adoro te Devote


C. and I continued reading In Bible Days, focusing on these sections about Moses: "Seven Years of Famine," "Let My People Go," and "Out of Bondage." She worked on a Moses sticker book I found at Dollar Tree and watched a clip from The Ten Commandments showing the parting of the Red Sea. 

M. read these sections from George Washington's World

  • Pontiac, the Patriot
  • George III
  • George and Martha Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson and His Mountain
  • The End of the Seven Years War (1763)
  • Goethe Sees Both Sides
  • Catherine, Empress of the Russians
  • Voltaire and His Pen


This week's BFSU lesson was C-7: Push Pushes Back. We went over the information in the corresponding chapter in Early Elementary Science Education and watched the first ten episodes of Eureka Physics.


C. worked on Grammarland Chapter 4, "Serjeant Parsing's Visit to Schoolroom-shire." She finished reading The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle and started On the Banks of Plum Creek. In the evening, we started reading aloud The Golden Bull by Marjorie Cowley. 

In Rex Barks, M. did exercises 1-4 and 1-5 and an adjective activity from Simply Grammar. She read Catherine the Great by Katharine Scherman, The Flight and Adventures of Charles II by Charles Norman, and Captain Cook and the South Pacific by Oliver Warner, and she started Stowaway by Karen Hesse. 

E. has been zipping through the easy reader collection. She read 40 books in January, including: 

  • Because a Little Bug Went Kerchoo by Dr. Seuss writing as Rosetta Stone 
  • Who's A Pest? by Crosby Bonsall 
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss 
  • Piggle by Crosby Bonsall 
  • The Adventures of Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • Come and Have Fun by Edith Thacher Hurd 
  • What Have I Got? by Michael McClintock
  • Thunderhoof by Syd Hoff
  • Chester by Syd Hoff 
  • Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner 
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall 
  • I Am Better Than You by Robert Lopshire 
  • Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire 
  • Who Will Be My Friends? by Syd Hoff
  • A Fly Went By by Michael McClintock
  • Tales of Oliver Pig by Jean van Leeuwen 

We also read a story from More Milly-Molly-Mandy.

At lunch, we started Miss Plunkett to the Rescue by Jane Flory as our read-aloud. 


C. worked on multiplication and division in Singapore 2A and did some soroban practice. M. worked in Challenging Word Problems. Both girls did Khan Academy almost daily. Both girls also did chapters from Life of Fred on Wednesday. E. reviewed "little friends." 

Preschool Skills

E. continued doing some exercises in her cutting workbook. 


C. continued her sign language course on Udemy through the local public library, but has decided to take a break. 

Instrumental Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder every day. E. had a piano lesson with Daddy.


M. went to the orthodontist and we got instructions on how to turn the key in her palate expander. C. watched several "I'm no Fool" safety videos from Disney on YouTube.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Reading Through History: Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, illustrated by David Small (2021)

In the 1920s, twelve-year-old Suzy has big dreams that reach far beyond her family's Michigan farm, but most of her relatives aren't too keen on entertaining them. When her uncle returns home after some time away, however, he introduces her to former circus performer Madame Marantette. The next thing Suzy knows, she is caught up in the world of ostrich riding, risking her parents' disapproval and her own physical safety in order to pursue a talent that might yet send her out into the wider world. 

This novel reminds me of Newbery winners of decades past. The writing is top-notch, the characters are well-drawn, and the story is memorable. Bird has written a protagonist with a unique, strong voice that really drives the story, and the bits of local color and historical references also help give young readers a full image of Suzy's life and time period. The book has a truly timeless feel to it that is missing from many newly published middle grade books.  

I have not read this book aloud, but I found myself really wanting to do so as I was reading it silently. It has all the makings of a real crowd-pleaser: first-person narration that sounds like a real kid talking, lots of heart and humor, beautifully written dialogue and some really great action scenes involving the ostrich. If I read this again, I will do so in audio format so I can appreciate the language even more. The illustrations by David Small also add an extra layer of charm to the story. His style is perfectly suited to the mood of the book and really complements the author's writing style quite well. The cover caught my eye before I even realized who the author was, and the interior artwork is similarly engaging. 

It was so refreshing to read Long Road to the Circus and not be bogged down by politics and other agendas. This is what children's literature ought to be: well-written, fun, inspiring, and kid-friendly. I hope this won't be the last middle grade novel from Betsy Bird. 

I received a digital ARC of Long Road to the Circus from Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers via Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Read-at-Home Report: January 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

I finished 22 books in January, which is more than I read in any single month of 2021. I have decided to just read however much I feel like reading this year and not worry about trying to read under a certain number. I'm pretty pleased with the variety of these titles, and I no longer feel guilty about the fact that almost all of them were audiobooks that I listened to at triple speed. I regret nothing.  

Started in 2021

The Family Under the BridgeThe Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson (3 stars) was my Christmas read-aloud with my six-year-old. We finished it just after the new year so it got counted as my first read of the new year. I also read most of the Bible in 2021 along with the Bible in a Year podcast. I fell behind over Christmas, so I didn't finish the podcast until the first week of January, so the Bible got counted as a 2022 book as well. 

40 Re-reads Before 40

A Separate PeaceTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Rainmaker

My big reading project this year is counting down to my 40th birthday in November with 40 re-reads. I kicked off the challenge with three favorites from high school. A Separate Peace (5 stars) was assigned reading in tenth grade and To Kill a Mockingbird (5 stars) in eleventh grade. Both were every bit as good as I remembered, though A Separate Peace was much more stressful this time around because I knew what was going to happen and was just waiting for the tragedy to occur. I read The Rainmaker (4 stars) in 9th grade for fun, and I was pretty surprised at how well that held up, too. The only thing that was different was that, with the benefit of age, I saw the main character's naivete much more clearly; to fourteen-year-old me, the twenty-something protagonist seemed so wordly and sophisticated.  


The Enormous EggThe Vanderbeekers of 141st StreetMozart, the Wonder Boy

I read The Enormous Egg (5 stars) with my six-year-old in the evenings. It was a re-read for me (thought not for my project) and it was fun seeing her reaction to it for the first time. At lunch time, I read aloud and also played some chapters from the audiobook from The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (4 stars) by Karina Yan Glaser. I had originally read this when it first came out, and since it doesn't have objectionable content, I decided to share it with my kids. They enjoyed it enough that I plan to preview the sequels to see if they are appropriate too. Mozart the Wonder Boy (4 stars) was the spine for our January composer study in our homeschool.

Challenges and Book Clubs 

ShakespeareThe Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian NationWait Till Next Year: A MemoirYou Can’t Be SeriousDeath on the NileThe Other Side of SilenceThe Girl Who Drank the Moon

I read Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (5 stars) for the #bardalongbooklclub2022 on Instagram, but really struggled to break into the discussion. This is a problem I have with most Instagram discussion groups, and I'm thinking of just quietly dropping out and reading the plays on my own for the rest of the year. This book was very enjoyable and I wish it had been around when I was in college. It covers everything I wanted to know and was not taught in my college Shakespeare class.

My local book club read The Benedict Option (3 stars). I had some issues with it, mainly because of the author's doom and gloom rhetoric about the future and because he didn't present a clear method for establishing a Benedict Option community. It was great fodder for our book club discussion, however. 

The theme for #WorldFullofBooks on Instagram was memoirs, and I read two. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (5 stars) reflects on her childhood as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and it reminded me so much of my dad who told many stories about the Dodgers when I was growing up. You Can't Be Serious by Kal Penn (4 stars) was mostly very funny - and the author's audiobook narration was entertaining too - but there were a few vulgar jokes that I could have done without so I only gave it four stars. 

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (3 stars) was the January read on the Close Reads podcast. I loved the discussions on the podcast, but didn't love the book. I'm coming to realize detective fiction may just not be my genre. 

I'm also doing two challenges with monthly prompts. The Read Your Bookshelves challenge is hosted by Chantel Reads All Day on YouTube, and the January prompt was a book with a quiet word in the title. My husband suggested The Other Side of Silence by Margaret Mahy (3 stars), and it was good right up until it took a bizarre turn 30 pages from the end. What a strange story. The Buzzword Reading Challenge is hosted by another booktuber, Books and Lala and the prompt for this one was the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. I read The Girl Who Drank the Moon (3 stars), which is also a Newbery winner. It was fine, but not very memorable. 

Mood Reading


Love Stories in This TownFurious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper LeeEight Perfect HoursA Deadly EditionJulie of the Wolves

Finally, these are the books I picked up on a whim throughout the month. 
  • Love Stories in this Town (3 stars) was a collection of short stories that focused heavily on infertility and motherhood. Some stories were great; others not so much. 
  • Furious Hours (5 stars) is a nonfiction book about a true crime book Harper Lee started writing and never finished. It made me really interested in Harper Lee's life and also made me want to read more Truman Capote. 
  • Eight Perfect Hours (5 stars) is a romance novel, and I was really surprised by its emotional depth. I normally don't like books that rely heavily on coincidence but this one made me gasp in happy surprise and it is probably my favorite book of the year so far.
  • I DNFed A Deadly Edition (2 stars) months ago when I had the digital ARC from Netgalley but tried it again on audio this month. I ended up giving it two stars, and I'm probably not going to continue the series. 
  • Julie of the Wolves (3 stars) is another Newbery winner. It was not at all what I expected, and thought the writing is strong, the ending felt unsatisfying. 
  • Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne (4 stars) is a romance novel I had from Netgalley. It's based on My Fair Lady, except that the male character plays the Eliza Doolittle role. I like this author's writing a lot, and I appreciate that many of her romances are clean, but I didn't like this quite as much as her 2021 release, To Sir with Love.

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

R. (22-month-old boy): 
  • Gus by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Trucks by Richard Scarry 
  • Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Green Tractor by Kersten Hamilton 
A. (22-month-old girl): 
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar's First Winter by Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Breakfast by Eric Carle 
E. (4-year-old girl): 
  • Because a Little Bug Went Kerchoo by Dr. Seuss writing as Rosetta Stone 
  • Who's A Pest? by Crosby Bonsall 
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss 
  • Piggle by Crosby Bonsall 
  • The Adventures of Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • Come and Have Fun by Edith Thacher Hurd 
  • What Have I Got? by Michael McClintock
  • Thunderhoof by Syd Hoff
  • Chester by Syd Hoff 
  • Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner 
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall 
  • I Am Better Than You by Robert Lopshire 
  • Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire 
  • Who Will Be My Friends? by Syd Hoff
  • A Fly Went By by Michael McClintock
  • Tales of Oliver Pig by Jean van Leeuwen 
(These are just some highlights. She read 40 books in January!)

C. (6-year-old girl): 
  • The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting  
  • Sarah Somebody by Louis Slobodkin 
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (still in progress)
  • First Grade Friends series by Miriam Cohen  
M. (8-year-old girl): 

  • Catherine the Great by Katharine Scherman 
  • The Flight and Adventures of Charles II by Charles Norman
  • Captain Cook and the South Pacific by Oliver Warner 
  • Stowaway by Karen Hesse (still in progress) 
My husband: 
  • The Lamplighter's Funeral by Leon Garfield
  • Mirror, Mirror by Leon Garfield
  • Moss and Blister by Leon Garfield
  • The Cloak by Leon Garfield 
  • The Valentine by Leon Garfield 
  • Labour in Vain by Leon Garfield 
  • The Fool by Leon Garfield 
  • Rosy Starling by Leon Garfield 
  • The Summa Domestica by Leila Lawler 

Up Next For Me

In February, I'm planning to read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner with Close Reads (which could also count for the Buzzword Reading Challenge prompt of a book with a pronoun in the title), The Tempest with the Bardalong Book Club,  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje as one of my 40 re-reads, The End of the Affair by Graham Green for the #WorldFullofBooks modern classics theme, Amos Fortune Free Man by Elizabeth Yates as a read-aloud, and A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings, which I have on audio from Netgalley, and which will count for the Read Your Bookshelves challenge prompt of a book with love in the title. 

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