SCHOOL: FEBRUARY 2021

February felt somewhat like a holiday month. Maybe because Dad was home so much? Maybe because we were home for the majority of it?

While it felt like a vacation of sorts, we did get a lot of formal schooling ( I hate that term, but I’m going to keep it there…) completed.

Mae draws like Mum (bottom).

Rae is very happy with the sword she drew, and her handwriting/mixing marker in makes me so happy.

Rae and I did a lot of crafts on her days with me. So many good conversations happen on their individual days with me.

Mae is beginning to memorize the globe by drawing it. She is starting with England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. I imagine it will take her the rest of the semester. She has begun by tracing them – and has now started focusing on just Ireland, until that is committed to memory.

I was going to wait until her early teens to begin this project, but she asked to try it out now, and maybe in a couple of years or less, she will have the world committed to memory.

This counts, for us, as geography, art, and a good brain exercise.

(We got the light board, here)

Mae learned how to braid this month (the string clipped in her hair was one of her first braids) and Rae learned how to do her own pony tail – and gets it perfect more times than not.

“Send this to Dad.”

She bandaged her wooden sword that cracked. It was made by someone in shop class at Zack’s old school.

We cleaned up a spot in the woods for the girls to use as a secret club/fort/hang out spot. We trimmed limbs, raked leaves, and will properly decorate it this spring.

Rae began making a book of homophones and it is adorable.

It is cold in this school space. Some days they learned from the comfort of sleeping bags.

…and coats. Mae has been working on roots and suffixes…as well as elaborating on basic sentences, working on her chapter book, kindly considering working on her handwriting (hahaha), and working through typing lessons – still through typing.com

Rae began doing independent canvas paintings while I painted. We watched Adam Savage build things and movies she likes, like Trolls World Tour.

We have been working hard on our German lessons. Part of that includes a matching game Mae and I put together. Daddy even joins in – Rae is smiling at him in the photo up there. We still use Duolingo, library videos, a workbook we do together, and in conversations between the three of us throughout the day.

We got back into watching Youtube during snack breaks.

Some of the ones from this month include – JURASSIC WORLD: Building the Apatosaurus, ISLE OF DOGS | “Making of: Puppets” Featurette, Saigas are Straight Out of Star Wars, The 500-year history of the pocket, Bananas As We Know Them Are Doomed, Generosity, and all of THE HOBBIT, Production Diaries.

Some of their all-time favorites include: My Mom is an Airplane, The history of the world according to cats, Virsky – Hopak solos (Russian dancers), and How Netflix’s ‘Klaus’ Made 2D Animation Look 3D.

We are going to continue focusing on German and the Middle Ages. Also human health in more ways. The conversations have always been on-going, but I think they would enjoy projects. OH! We are also hoping to spend full days outside again in March!!

SCHOOL JANUARY 2020

I had planned on scheduling more nature drawings for the month, but this life cycle was the only one we got around to. They did, however, study plenty of animals this month – one of which is further down in this post.

Rae chose to practice ‘hands’ on our first day of second semester, and they both did great. Mae did several variations. I’m not sure why I didn’t document them.

We started a few snack breaks with facials and manicures!

Being a Timber Cat!

We tried to go to the park one afternoon for a picnic and a bit of running around.

It was too too cold! We ate half our food and they ran around the little playground for five minutes.

BUT! We saw a dog walking itself with its leash in its mouth and it made the entire fun fail worth it.

We worked a bit more on the doll house!

Some day, I’m going to spend hours finishing the renovations…hopefully in the near future…

We are beginning the European Middle Ages, which should last through 2021 – or at least this semester.

Well, I had a few kings and queens of Britain on the wall and Rae took Mary I off the wall and whipped this drawing up in two minutes while I got the day’s lessons out.

Rae practicing her water-coloring (she tends to use it as you would acrylic) and Mae wrote chapter one of her book she is writing as they watched Disney’s Elephants.

Mae mapping out Chapters 4-6 of “Seabird” for geography.

Using up extra paint. (and enjoying a Moon Pie Grandpa got her at the store)

Trying to see how her braid looks.

One evening, Rae came to me and asked if I would like to go draw with her.

Of course I would.

We spent just over an hour drawing together. Sometimes she would come up with something we would both draw and the rest of the time we came up with our own and oohed and awed over what the other had thought of.

A couple nights later, Mae chose for us to all (Daddy included) to play her favorite game – Settlers of Catan. Rae spent the first twenty minutes painting on the side, while Mae took after her mama in trying to collect all the sheep. We had to pause the game many times for our laugher and competition and she has asked for us to bring back regular game nights.

Oh, and Mum won, in case you’re wondering! Woot!

The girls chose a couple of the biographies for this month and also studied Martin Luther King, Jr. about a week before his birthday.

(The next biographies will be C.S. Lewis and Gina Carano.)

A comfy reading spot.

I heard this author (M.E. Bell) on a podcast last month. She is a twenty-something Irish “Mae” who wrote this short story, The Glass Country – a Narnia-type metaphor full of lovely characters and gorgeous descriptions. We read it in two sittings (because they have questions and I answer each and everyone, always), but it could be read in an hour.

Speaking of Narnia, read the final book in the series this month!! It begins with two characters, a donkey and a chimpanzee. My girls began a discussion about the difference between a monkey and an ape, letting me know they had never learned the difference. That pretty well decided our afternoon.

We watched some documentaries on Disney plus – which specifically cover apes. We also studied the differences between the two and studied the above apes and monkeys.

We may continue talking about the book/series and possibly complete a project on it in February to give the series a proper send off.

This semester we are bringing back Monday/Friday group days and individual days with mom in the middle of the week. One on one is so much fun!

I’m not a fan of stick figures, but Rae’s illustration of Eric the Red’s second journey to Greenland makes me very happy and seems to be a great note to end the post on.

The rest of the week will be spent reviewing the month, reading, playing games, and creating for fun.

We also went on a field trip to the St. Louis Art Museum. We will *hopefully* be going on more field trips next month.

SNOWY DAY AT S.L.A.M.

We didn’t go on any field trips last semester – or the one before. We are still only going out to grocery shop, pick up books from the library, and for our weekly visit to Vovó…oh and the occasional trip to the park. But this semester, we are going to get out and visit more places on unpopular days – like last Friday, it was snowy/rainy and uninviting to most folks, which made it the perfect day to visit the art museum!

photo by Mae
photo by Mae

This is the ceiling in the room where they house Egyptian artifacts. The girls loved it just as much as the mummies.

photo by Mae

Rae brought her sketch book, and would on occasion sit down and draw something she saw that she wanted to remember – or just thought it would be fun to draw.

We are beginning lessons on the Middle Ages, and we are nearly to knights and such, so I was excited to brows that area of historical artifacts and paintings.

They also liked seeing stuff from the Byzantine Empire, ancient Greece, Monet paintings, as well as, finally seeing some Picassos in person. Oh, and as always, Mae enjoyed viewing furniture and room displays from the 17 and 1800s. She is in her element when immersed in history.

We took a lunch break with Chipotle in the back of the van and watched a bit of Anastasia on my phone before heading back in to continue oohing and awing at everything.

SCHOOL : DECEMBER 2020

For school in December, as usual, we took things s l o w. Every year I resist the urge to take the entire month off (as a lot of homeschoolers do). The girls and I would just feel restless with an entire month off. So, instead, we skipped the formalities and honed in on what they felt like learning in the moment. This year they chose Saint Nicholas, winter crafts, new-to-them games, and writing for Mae.

We switched our devotions over to a Christmas themed one, but for the most part, we just stuck with reading the Bible, and expanding on verses.

We also read many many holiday themed books, including one of our favorites, The Quiet Little Woman and a new one for us (per their deep intrigue), The True Saint Nicholas. I loved the timing of this one. His life was intertwined in the history timeline we just finished up, so the girls knew every historical figure mentioned as well as each setting with great detail. Mae (like her momma) was geeking out and was so so glad she could picture everything so well in her mind. It also brought to their minds, our beloved, George Muller – and of course Christ.

For our old best neighbors / For my Vovo.

The girls made salt dough ornaments –

2 CUPS BAKING SODA
1 CUP CORNSTARCH
1 1/4 CUPS WATER

Mix baking soda and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then add water.
Stir with a cooking spoon (wooden or silicone). Fold dough up from the bottom so it doesn’t burn.
It will go from syrup to gravy to pancake batter and the whipped mashed potatoes. Remove from heat. If you’re unsure, stay on the side of softness, dry dough will crumble.

Let dough rest until cool enough to handle. Scoop dough into damp dishcloth or tea towel. Form it into a ball and wrap it in cloth until completely cool (15 minutes or so.).

When ready, knead the dough until it goes from sticky to smooth. If it remains sticky, add cornstarch.

Roll out with a rolling pin or bottle and cut with cookie cutters or a butter knife. Our house was cut with a butter knife, and the star and Star Wars characters we used cookie cutters.

The girls painted them with acrylic paint and I coated them with glossy clear spray paint. (Mandolorain was left matte)

Mae practiced her sling-shotting while Daddy and I worked on the old house.

We have begun an art series on portraits. We will be watching a variety of YouTube videos from many different artists. The first one discussed proportions and placement in detail – things Mum has mentioned, but sometimes they need to hear things from someone who isn’t Mum…

These illustrations were created while watching this video.

Mae asked to do lessons that involved writing, so we worked on creating better sentences quite a bit.

We also began editing her stories, using a thesaurus – boy did we get some giggles out of that activity!

We also taught them new games, such as Clue, shown above. I won the first round, but the following day, Mae won!

We also braved the cold and rain to keep up our walks. It was a chore sometimes. We may bring out the bikes to ensure a quicker lap time on the really cold days.

For German this month, the girls memorized O Tannenbaum in full. It was so lovely listening to them sing along on their own in the car when it would come on. They really enjoyed memorizing a song in German, so we may try a story or poem next…or another song? We still use Duolingo as well as videos from the library and “first-word” books, but for December we focused solely on the song.

I’ll be posting about our Christmas and the rest of our December later this week. I hope your Januarys are starting off on the right foot!

SCHOOL : NOVEMBER 2020

We spent the month learning our second verse of the year, Colossians 3:12.

Part of our history involved the aboriginals of Australia and New Zealand, so we elaborated the lessons with art, documentaries, comparing their colonization to ours, and listening to the Australia movie soundtrack as well as aboriginal music.

The girls both spent time working on paper mache projects – Rae a giraffe that holds treats or other items she wants and Mae made a black bear mask.

While, the girls get lessons very unlike the lessons I had in public school – in regards to the Thanksgiving holiday, and we don’t really see it as something to celebrate…and we are deliberate about practicing thankfulness all year – they did decide to make a thankful pie (They don’t even like pumpkin pie, ha). They started out writing in cursive, but slowly began writing in print.

Mae kept up her hot glue gun practice and made herself a layers of the earth disc.

More pumpkin pie, made out of Play dough.

Amelia also made a layers our the Earth model – out of Play dough. I didn’t get a photo of the inside.

Penelope found the sketchbook I keep in my purse and has been filling it up with gems,

Enthralled with the day’s lessons.

Helping Mum out when my voice gets tired. She usually reads the devotions.

“Morning time” in the sunroom, involves a lot of reading and “keeping busy” (or relaxing) when I am doing the reading.

We finished up our government lessons (for now) by watching and charting the election, and watching speeches one the winning votes came in.

They spent an hour at the library and followed it up with some more reading at the store. They still have 30 minutes to an hour of daily reading time set aside, usually once afternoon school is done, or just before bed. They still both enjoy comic novels and chapter books for their independent reading, while I read them short stories and at least one group novel. November’s book was Narnia’s The Silver Chair. (Narnia foreverrrrrr!)

Mae is still finishing up her portrait. I, and they, still prefer watercolor and gauche paint. We’re working to get less annoyed with acrylic – which is Zack’s go-to.

She did, however, enjoy, making a Christmas tree craft out of scrap wood from one of Daddy’s projects, hot glue, tiny pinecones (gifted from our beloved Mrs. Brenda), and acrylic paint.

There was, of course, much much more, but we have moved onto our very full December, so I’ll leave it here. I hope everyone was able to enjoy a long weekend (or some version of it).

SCHOOLING OCTOBER 2020

Happy November? It’s too soon to tell, but let’s assume it is. Last month’s schooling revolved, mostly, around the election, our country’s history (including various perspectives of various peoples), and our country’s government.

Near the end, we watched Schoolhouse Rock videos and they were able to take the four-minute videos and stretch them, as we filled many gaps, into twenty-minute conversations.

Rae has begun reading and mapping the story of Seabird, via Beautiful Feet Books.

Mae’s/Rae’s

To go along with our lessons on the tundra, the girls each chose to illustrate and learn about moose. I love their illustrations so much!

One of their biographies was on Hayao Miyazaki, one of our favorite animators. As they drew and wrote, they watched a part of a documentary on him that was filmed over ten years (!).

I love that Rae gave him a very funky shirt.

We didn’t have many days where we could/wanted to learn outside, but there were a few and they were lovely.

^Not mad, just being silly.

Math with Rae has been fun this month! We have begun subtraction (of both single and double digits). Turns out visuals is her favorite method. So, we collected her sister’s lovely rocks and some small shells and have been soaring through the lessons.

Reading reading reading. Thankfully, it is still one of their top past times.

I still read aloud to them upwards of ten passages and chapters throughout the day, but my throat gets worn easily and I am more grateful than ever that they are both so drawn to their own reading time.

We have upped our Bible lesson reading and pulled our novel reading back to several short stories (aloud) each day instead. But we will begin novels again in November.

They found the role of eyeball stickers and have had so much fun with them. Anything becomes instantly funny once it wears eyeball stickers.

The girls chose what they would like their president to be like.

Mae chose kind, vegan, a female, fair, smart, and helpful.
Rae chose an artist, nice, a female, and playful.

Zack began making the buildings that represent the three branches of government. They only had time for this one (but will make the others at some point). He took time to help them learn more in-depth, how to use the hot glue gun and an Exacto knife.

In case you’re wondering, this is a flat design with two triangle props on each end in the back.

We are trying to find more ways to incorperate him in our schooling. I hate to involve him in art (no, he is not their art teacher!), but he knows cardboard sculpture like no one else, and certainly better than me.

One of our artist studies was on Robert Delaunay and the girls did their own circle art.

We also studied a bit about Hannah Höch and incorporated her cut and paste method to an ‘about me’ assignment in their devotional.

Next month, we may go back to literal thinking artists, because that is what my brain prefers, but they seemed to have a lot of fun creating their own versions of these, so I may just have to continue to stretch my preferences.

They have also begun learning acrylic painting on canvas. This is Rae’s pick-your-own-theme painting and they each began painting a self-portrait. Shadowing is where they hit a wall, put down the brush and walk away until another day. I will show the final products on another post.

We are spending this day cleaning, regrouping, discussing what we want out of this month, and of course – playing outside in the chilly air!

BITS OF SCHOOL FROM SEPTEMBER

We have converted our upstairs school space into a living room/sunroom. It suits our morning routine needs (somewhere comfy to sit that won’t disturb -or be disturbed by- anyone else in the house), and it provided somewhere to put our couch from the other house!

This change has made for longer morning conversations, and provided a nice comfy atmosphere to begin the day.

We have been going to a library once a week, and while we will probably never bond with any of the librarians as we did in our last town, the girls are cheered up by the amount of new material avaliable to us!

Above, are two of their favorites from this past month. They continually brought them up for weeks after reading them. Hiawatha and the Peace Maker is about forgiveness, and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is a delightful story based on a Yiddish song. It made us want to revisit this favorite the girls wore out years ago.

We continued our tea time two to three times a week, sometimes baking the treats, sometimes buying, if they were unique enough.

Once, they opted out of a midday tea and decided a breakfast of cider and fresh muffins was best for the day! Cold mornings are our favorite!

Nearly every day, our read-aloud time made its way outside, under the trees with the hammock. We would usually take on a bit from a chapter book (Our favorite of the month being George Muller’s biography), as well as three library short stories and our Bible lessons if the morning had been chaotic or slow going.

Davey boy joined us more occasions than Mae could handle, haha. Rae was mighty happy though.

We also took care of a few Tomato Hornworms (which grow into Five-Spotted Hawk Moths). It was so nice to watch them grow and really cool to watch them eat!

We’re picking back up Chess, hopefully we won’t get distracted again and we will begin to master it over the next few months. In this photo, Rey and Kylo were playing very incorrectly.

A still life Rae did of some of her favorite things.

We are trying out two new devotionals. I have the hardest time choosing devotionals for the girls. So many of them address public school problems and ‘a busy life’ that my girls cannot relate to. Maybe there is a homeschool directed devotional?? We are enjoying the science devotional, and have only had to skip a couple (because they are unrelatable), pages in the Fearless Faith. I pre-read so many devotionals in the store, and this one had the least irrelevant topics. We have decided, if we come to a page we don’t like (which is rare), we will discuss something on our minds. So far so good.

Rae is still into Pokémon (more into how they are drawn than anything else). She hasn’t even seen the show, but she knows the characters very well and draws them over and over.

Autumn poetry copy work and paintings. (Mae’s then Rae’s)

A few times a week, Rae will work on a nature drawing, either from an image in a book, or from something tangible we have at home or that she finds outside. “We” are working on her watercolor technique and she does not like it.

Mae tried to bake something once a week in September, and with the holidays beginning any moment now, we are starting to plan some fun treats to make for once tea time a week, or a dessert to accompany supper.

Well, it is about time for me to begin writing October’s school post, ha, so I think I will leave this where it is at. Hope you are all having an incredible month!

PARKS PARKS PARKS

These were all taken back in August (the last one by Rae), but our habit of visit various parks several times a week is still ongoing, well into September.

We plan on adding a weekly bike ride and painting sessions into the mix as the weather begins to cool.

LATELY : JUNE 2020

June really just blew right on by! Here it is July and I am just now getting around to wrapping up the last month.

We tried to continue laying low in preparation for our trip to another state. While I am thankful we are all used to being around each other so much the girls really need to make some homeschooled friends, quick! I am thinking we may have to wait until the spring semester to seek them out though. Quite the bummer.

Below, though, are some parts of our month that were not a bummer!

Zack and I swiftly passed our thirteenth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking the girls for a picnic of our favorite food at the park.

…Don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you, it was delightful and just how we wanted to celebrate.

Birthday treat.

Miss Maybe celebrated a birthday as well! She is seven or eight now? I think we went with eight…

We found a secluded river spot (minus a family down the way that had a dog that loved the girls) and enjoyed a swim for a bit – with Daddy!

Have I mentioned how great it has been actually seeing him on his summer break? It has been years since he has been able to enjoy summer with his ladies, we’re all feeling a bit spoiled.

Family bike rides are now a thing! They both have a bike now, and while Zack and I have many many bikes, we have been using the tandem bike.

Puzzles, and Pokemon, and Lincoln logs. Hours and hours of play.

Rae’s

Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.

“Okay, time to go in and take a shower…”

Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.

A new secret swing set in the woods!

Mae and I have been spending most of our time together. She is such an incredible human being and I am really grateful for our long conversations about anything and everything.

We had, for about two weeks, a sandpiper living nest to our driveway. It was so cool. Something got its eggs and I think it moved down the road a bit.

Mae is still a reading machine. She prefers to read while next to me, so I read while she reads, stopping occasionally to listen to her tell me about her book. It is so wonderful.

Watching the rain.

As part of our pioneer studies, the girls tried a few different honeys and made corn cakes with Aunt Jenny’s homemade jam for breakfast one morning.

Mae’s / Rae’s

We (always, myself included!), spent a few days learning about the Statue of Liberty. They really got involved with it.

We renewed our licence plates! Haha, but more importantly Mae stepped in to learn a new skill. She now knows how to take off and replace licence plates. So, if you’re in need, look no further.

July has had its own fun so far, but the rest of it may entail mostly work on our other house. That should be fun in its own way, but probably not blog-worthy. We’ll see.

We also took a trip to Tennessee, which you can read about here.

PIONEER SUMMER

For our schooling this summer, we (Mae and I) have decided to enjoy the life of pioneers and things that surround that era. We will incorporate pioneers into science, history, read alouds, practical skills/art, field trips (as much as we can), and food.

We are using the free co-op grid from The Peaceful Press as a guide, but we will also use the minds of our girls and see where they want to take this.

Of course, Mae wants to take it to infinity and beyond. Rae is happily one hundred percent involved, but like me, she is a follower, not a leader, so she may not take the reigns much.

As one of the many practical skills, we are learning embroidery more in depth. Daddy is our teacher for this particular one, ’cause he is incredible at it! You can see we were totally off on our technique, as we piddled waiting for Daddy.

Mae and I (while Zack and Rae were at the other house for a few days), took a breakfast to a local park/preserve/historical site. My fellow history buff was in heaven.

We walked a bit of the trail, snooped in the homes (closed for quarantine), read e v e r y plaque, sat on the dock for a bit, and sat on a bench to read our daily bit of On the Banks of Plum Creek, before heading home.

After lunch, we planted a flower garden, laced up a loom for another day, and played a game.

Here is her narration of the chapter we read at the park.

We will also be enjoying late night candle drawing sessions, accompanied by our fall play list or soundtracks -such as Little Women, Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version), or Downton Abbey. This is a child-led activity.

As part of science, they will diagram various animals, starting with a horse. This is Rae’s horse.

Mae sewed a journal to use with her quill pens. (But, Mum lost the ink…and keeps forgetting to buy more.)

We have begun remodeling Grandma DeeDee’s doll house. It is getting a fresh exterior, new floors and fresh wallpaper and paint inside..maybe some crown molding for good measure?

Pioneer cooking – recipe one was hot cross buns at Mae’s request. We used this recipe for cinnamon raisin buns with an orange glaze!

To go along with the buns, we had a breakfast cooked over a fire and an early morning read aloud while we waited for the fire to get just right! (We timed both activities so that the buns were made the day before a sunny morning.)

I bought the girls some slates (per their request) for them to use for cursive practice. (Mae is using Primary Language Lessons -Volume one)

The girls decided they would like to begin at the beginning, with Native Americans – so to begin, we started light, with some crafts and worksheets…

We made Sculpey clay oven-bake beads (Grandma included! Hers are red white and blue) and then made necklaces with them. Mae stuck with the Native American theme and only used primary colors (they are also her favorite colors), while Rae used her favorite colors -pink and purple, and I went with a nautical blue, white, and gray.

Afterward, we (mostly I, on account of the hot glue used to stick on the thick leather) put together a couple rain sticks. They also wrapped leather string and more homemade bead around the tube.

Corn is in season! I bought some to go along with our Sunday lunch, and we saved the husks to make corn husk dolls once they dry out (she soaked them again for five minutes before forming the dolls.) and…

Mae made two on her own (with the help of a Youtube video). Meet Mary and John. Like her mom and dad, they enjoy kissing each other. It’s the best.

I am so looking forward to school in June! I hope your next month is very full and relaxing!