School was so much fun!

Okay, I think it always is – but the balance of structure and freedom in choice was effortless this month.

The boys are always wonderful. Even so, I was nervous about how school will work with extra kids. I know homeschool moms are notorious for having large families and even single moms who work outside of the house homeschool, but, it was a frequent concern in my mind while the boys were gone over the summer.

Two months in and it could not be going better! We’re so prepared, relaxed, and in such a good groove. I even have plenty of time to give G lessons. The girls help me out here too, mainly Rae. The preschool years are still fresh in her mind…and he is glued to her hip. Ha. His lessons are always informal – taught as we play, as I believe it should be.

First on our musts for the month was to finish up lingering assignments. So – G helped us finalize our worm project by digging them out of the jar and mimicking the girls’ counting. There were four babies! – and some mighty fine dirt. We kept the dirt and set them loose into the yard.

The kids used part of that dirt to plant some pinto beans. Within a week ^ they were so tall! Instant gratification. Wonderful. We’ve planted them outside with no actual hopes of them surviving.

I’ve mentioned what we are using this semester back here, but now that we’ve been into the swing of things for a while, I’ll give an update to how it’s working out.

Mae is really into our English lessons. Our favorite ‘curriculum’ book at the moment is English Lessons Through Literature Level 2. So much goodness in there. For each lesson, it uses an introduction or review of types of nouns (It moves away from nouns eventually), a chapter reading, poem, a fable, and occasionally the Bible. I think the only downside of it for me, would be that the first book we’re reading through is The Wonderful World of Oz. I’ve never cared for the story but maybe I’ll like the book? It also includes the book in the lesson on nouns. I like that it brings it all full circle.

Our catechism has been mostly studied by verbal discussion. I like when these talks last a long time. So many brilliant questions and comments from these girls!

Mae loves getting on the computer for any reason. She has begun typing her way through Typing Club. (It’s free) So far it is wonderful and simple. Rae is still playing Teach Your Monster to Read and constantly practicing ‘her words’ using flash cards, easy reader books, etc. They’re both becoming such brilliant readers!

We’ve been meaning to make a simple robot for. like. everrr. now, but have yet to. So we made a simple compass (tested against another compass we knew worked – though I’m sure we could’ve used the sun.) in the hopes that any ol’ science experiment business will sooth Mae’s mind for the time being.

Fridays are “kids pick” days. The first Friday, the girls picked to hunt and study mushrooms. The second Friday we took a field trip to the St. Louis Zoo. We researched Scarlet Ibis and made clay models of them.

Fridays are also our day to finish up any leftover assignments and chapter books from the week if there are any. If there aren’t, it’s a free day. Whoop.

We’ve found better ways of working through chores. Such as bringing back the ol’ folding laundry while they watch television routine they had when they were younger. This helps us all out because I’m not so reliable with getting clean clothes put away and they get to watch television during lunchtime when G is here. Keeps their minds moving a bit. I could easily live out of a hamper for the rest of my life, but it sure has been nice having occasionally empty hampers!

We also clean up before G takes his nap instead of waiting until he’s heading home, and our afternoons have seemed quite calmer.

We’ve also really upped our cooking game. We cook three meals a day just about seven days a week, so by cooking game, I actually mean our creativity has been sparked again. It had taken a couple months off.

We baked pizza (complete with made on the spot sauce) and a cake for a mid-week lunch and made extra dough for the following morning’s doughnuts. We got creative, once again, with our oatmeal and muffin ingredients, pancake batter, and still had the gumption to make hearty suppers – such as homemade tomato soup pair with oven-toasted grilled cheese made with freshly baked bread and good cheese. Yum. With more slow-cooked meals in the hopefully cold future, this should only get better!

We’ve been studying important colonial figures this semester. So far, it has just been founding fathers. We’re spending a bit more time on Benjamin Franklin – since there is a bit more to his story. For starters, we researched his inventions. We really liked the glass armonica. Clever fella.

Based on the stank eyes in both portraits, I’m guessing the girls are tired of drawing old white men, so our next person will be someone who is not a founding father.

^ Even one of our nature poems was written by Benjamin Franklin. ^

We accompanied as many lessons as we could with some sort of art activity (surprise surprise). Spent the chilly mornings on the porch for Bible time and the evenings indoors by candlelight (’cause they fancy) finishing up work they intentionally left unfinished so they could work slowly among the candles. The middle of the month was hot so we nixed the candles – but they’re making a comeback this week.

We read a stupid amount of books. Yay! Along with Mae’s independent reading, short stories, biographies, and quick novels –  I read them a few larger novels at an hour a day pace throughout the month and Zack began to work through The Lord of the Rings with them every night before bed – even if it meant they had to stay up past their bedtime. A sacrifice they were happy to make.

I enjoy reading and discussing stories with my girls. They always have so many wonderful, insightful questions. Fall read-alouds require candles!, and background (read : easily ignored) jazz or other classical music (such as Hans Zimmer or Pixar soundtracks), and in the case featured above, it required coloring books. I usually give them an activity to do, such as working with clay, coloring, Legos, or painting.

*We do this while G is sleeping or in the evening after he has gone home.

Mae learned how to use a dictionary! What a big help that will be for my vocal cords! She picked it up instantly. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

She chose yodel to be her first investigated word. She then, on her own, grabbed some paper, copied the definition and drew a man yodeling on the back. She spent the following hour or so looking up her favorite things – Paris, panda, etc. – and investigated random words – Black Sea, month, sign language and so on. She gave a presentation on the words she researched. It was delightful.

We received our first Little Passports package. Our first country is BRAZIL! Can you believe it?! We’ve got this in the bag! Feijoada and guarana for daaaays!!!! Also, black beans and rice for days, but that’s not so unusual for us.

The world map is hung up in the girls’ room and they’ve placed a pin on Brazil. We’re going to learn a bit of Portuguese and figure out some Brazillian desserts as well as investigate everything the package came with. We know plenty about the culture, so will be nice to learn a bit about the jungle areas. We’ve gathered all of our Brazillian items from around the house (Mae’s idea) and done the activity book that came along with it. There is also online stuff on their site, so I’ll have to figure that out. It’s going to be fun!

We’re trying to soak up the last bit of bug weather (though, we’re over the hot weather!). We have seen a ridiculous number of stick bugs and mantis in the past month! Never gets old for me. We also caught a few toads. Some at the river, but most in our yard. We found a caterpillar on our neighbor’s porch yesterday and decided to bring it home. It will become a moth, I believe. We’ve made it a little home and filled it with what the internet says are it’s favorite foods (the evergreen stems, not the leaves Rae put in there). So far so good – which means for, at least the rest of September, we’ll have a class pet. (It’s in our Ikea greenhouse. You can kind of see it behind the Little Passports box up there.)

BUT! I’m ready for the abundance of birds the fall and winter bring our way and believe we’ve done well for ourselves in the way of bug investigations over the past season.

AND! We took our first field trip of the school year! We went to the zoo on a very hot hot hot day. My parents were so wonderful and tagged along to help me manage all four kids. Their presence was crucial! (Zack and the boys’ mom plan on tagging along for future trips)

October will involve more reading, cooking, sewing and piano and less time at the table and most likely, less time outside.

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