November was not as full as I had hoped it would be. I barely had a voice for about two weeks, so I had to get creative when I was feeling up to teaching anything a bit formal. Thankfully, during those two weeks, the weather was decent so the girls could get out of the house and didn’t develop the dreaded cabin fever this early in the season.
Science this month involved animals. It meant I didn’t have to talk, just prepare lessons and let David Attenborough fill in the gaps. Ha. Mae took it upon herself to investigate more by digging through books we own and *approved* Youtube videos.
We only made it through one, shorter group read aloud this month. (I had three chapter books set aside) But it was a great one!
Mad Mattr seemed to be the activity of choice during group read-aloud time.
The girls had lots of copy work, which has not been as big of a priority this semester. So much writing! Rae was not thrilled and will surely be bummed to find out I liked the results and plan on bringing it back full force.
We also played more games in a single month than we ever have.
Rae even made her own Candyland game! She made paper people go with it, but we used legos because it made it more fun (and that way she could be Lloyd). Her candy spots were peanuts, a lollipop, Twizzler, and an ice cream cone. The characters on the board were the four of us. I’m definitely framing it when we’ve worn it out.
Mae took to writing songs. Whether they amount to something or not, I thought it would be good practice for writing and identifying the notes.
Rae keeps to herself and never really needs help with anything no matter the subject. However, if I sit with her while she works, she becomes the biggest chatterbox and laughs at all her own jokes. It’s the best.
Throughout the year, we read up on and talk about native Americans. The girls and I are fascinated by them. In November, we have formal lessons about them in preparation for Thanksgiving. Because I couldn’t talk much, we are probably going to continue researching them into December, because I think of too many projects I want to they would like to work on and there is always more to say.
We read a few books from the library, but my favorites are some we own –
We really hit our stride in October. Maybe I said that for September? I don’t know, but October felt so full and lazy all at the same time. My ideal blend of goings-on.
We learned a ridiculous amount about Vikings which took up most of our history and geography. Aside from that, we continued to focus on reading, grammar, and math as our core subjects.
Below is a bit more of the additional school-related things.
One big change we’re trying out is rotating days. I teach Mae Mondays and Wednesdays (Grammar, math, reading, writing, sewing, and whatever she adds to it.) and Rae on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Grammar, reading, math, drawing, and whatever she wants to add to it).
They also cook all the meals on their days (especially supper). We meet each day for lunch/tea time and work on Bible lessons, German, and our group read aloud – this month focused on mysteries such as Nancy Drew and Box Car Children.
Fridays, we are all together and accomplish our history, science, and anything else they want to do, like play board games, go for a walk or bake a new-to-us thing. We all cook breakfast and supper together on this day.
It has been so nice having an entire day one-on-one, and I can tell they enjoy a bit of scheduled time alone to work on what they want. Sewing, scrapbooking, crocheting, drawing, painting, Barbies and babydolls, PBS computer games, Legos, and archery have been some of the things they chose during this time. Mae also chose to watch folks make things on youtube. Primitive Technology and Evan and Katelyn are two of her favorites.
Mae read Sarah, Plain and Tall as one of her independent read alouds.
I always love my time listening to her read. I no longer have to chime in with help – unless the writer chooses a strange name – but she is someone who discusses the book all the way through. So many questions and comments come from her. It makes me happy to see what she finds funny.
As a kid, I loved watching the movie at my Vovo’s house, so as a surprise, I ordered the movie to give her when she completed the book. Watching it with her was just as fun! She really liked that most of their words were verbatim from the book. She’s so cool. She was most excited about the scene where they go swimming in the pond. It did not disappoint.
While the weather was still decent, we made a point to go on a few picnics a week. We may yet decide to hold some soup and cider picnics before the month is up but with so much rain and snow in the forecast, I may chicken out.
Rae has officially begun typing lessons along with her sister!
We use typing.com and they enjoy it…and enjoy seeing their progress…and having their own account they get to sign into. Ha.
This month Mae began writing. She has always had a desire to write stories (and tell stories). I decided to forgo the struggle of letting her work through her limited spelling vocabulary and now I type her narration and show her how to use Google docs and format a book, save it and print it so she can ease into doing it all solo.
I had her write a book a week. About two weeks in, we started up the fireplace – which meant we pulled out old newspapers for kindling. She typically saves the newspapers we receive and reads through them and does her best to memorize the weather for the week. One afternoon, she told me she wanted to write a newspaper and already had the day’s hourly weather written up (which she figured out independently). How could I say no? We drew it up in Photoshop and printed four copies, one for each of us (She gave a couple to Zack’s friends, too).
I have given her the job of creating one at the beginning of every month so we know what is going on and what we have to look forward to!
When she was done designing her newspaper, we began her first sewing lesson. She has done a lot of hand sewing and used the machine a ‘tweensy’ bit but she wants to be great at it. So! great she shall be. (And her legs are finally a good length!)
In the first photo, she is getting used to the speed by stitching rows and rows of straight lines while also turning the fabric to make the stitch continuous.
After she felt comfortable and was less mad with power (she makes everything in life hilarious), I helped her make the cutest bento bag for Rae’s American Girl doll.
She wants to open a small shop/sale (yard sale style). I told her if she works hard this winter she can have one with her homemade goods. She knows how to make scrunchies so she will be making a ton of those and bento bags (normal size) and hopefully many more things.
I can already tell that most of her winter schooling will consist of creating anything and everything her beautiful brain thinks up.
We became obsessed with checking in on the bears in Alaska via this live stream. We keep it up at all times and run to see them a few times each day. Sometimes the girls bring their copy work to the desk so they can watch them while they work.
We got back into nature journaling! I love drawing natural and true things (my imagination does not exist when it comes to fiction), so I am all for drawing animals, trees, flowers, shells, pinecones, etc…sometimes even people.
After reading and watching Sarah, Plain and Tall, the girls chose sea shells as our nature drawing subject. Rae really wanted me to take a photo of her drawing set up juuuusst right.
She is so detail-oriented when it comes to drawing. Zack and I are constantly in awe of the doodles she brings us.
I don’t have a photo of it, but her colorings of the shells were immaculate and even more detailed.
Mae doesn’t care for drawing or coloring, but she took the time to draw two angles for each shell!
She sighs at the thought of drawing and d r e a d s coloring.
However, she adores writing and Rae loathes it. Haha.
One week, for our composer and painting lesson, we held off until nighttime, ’cause it was somewhat of a spooky one. Some of you may have seen the videos of it in my Instagram stories.
We listened to Night on Bald (Bare) Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky over and over and over while we discussed Mussorgsky, came up with stories for the music, and at the very end of our talks I told them what it was really about – so I didn’t steer their stories.
For the assignment, we all chose a type of mountain and who was climbing up that mountain. Rae chose a pointed snowy mountain with skiers and Santa overhead. Mae chose a candy mountain with gingerbread men climbing up it. I chose a trash mountain with a raccoon climbing on it.
Elwood P. and Miss Maybe joined us, too.
It was kind of windy, so we used the propane lantern instead of candles. It kept us nice and warm, as did the girl’s hot chocolate.
We took many walks about town, but our favorite place was definitely the new addition to the already very long bike trail in town.
Mae happened to be sick on Rae’s day at one point. I got her a real nice set up back in the bedroom and thoroughly enjoyed my morning alone with Rae.
We did whatever she wanted to – worksheets, youtube stories, coloring, and Legos…with an episode of Adventure Time to accompany her breakfast. It was so nice hanging out with a six-year-old doing only six-year-old things.
Mae got back into the habit of e-mailing grandmas while she was sick.
We often found ourselves crocheting and knitting while watching cozy fall movies. Some of our favorites were Fly Away home, You’ve Got Mail, Little Women, and Harry Potter.
They also began to find joy in practicing cursive white listening to calm music (by candlelight, of course). They really like soundtracks – Little Women, Wall-E, Inside Out, The Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, and Downton Abbey are a few favorites.
I have too many grand ideas when it comes to themed lessons. Thankfully, Zack also has a habit of dreaming big and graciously helps me with any and all ideas I wish to see through. Like this longhouse.
I had planned for the girls and me to make this at home, like all of our other clay projects, but this needed a mind that understood the ins and outs of how clay sets and the best techniques to use. I wanted this to be both purposeful and last a long time. I designed it to be a candle holder and I’m pretty sure it will look perfect on the school table come Christmas time.
Zack ended up doing ninety-nine point nine percent of the longhouse project. It was a bit too much for the kids on account’a hot glue and dedicate fake moss being the main necessities when it came to aesthetics.
It worked out though because Zack seemed to have fun making it (like, a lot of fun!). It’s not often he gets to create just for the joy of it anymore (although, technically, this was a request he completed for me).
We made leather shoes. (The tutorials are here and here)
Mae says they are “So comfy!” with or without socks.
We also did a ton of research on the internet and read bits from various history books we have around the house.
We may make this Kubb set and learn the game, but I didn’t get around to it before I fully exhausted myself with Viking biz. (Exhausted from enjoying so fully). It is also for sale on Amazon, but that’s kinda cheating and Mae would feel jipped out of a sweet whittling opportunity.
We also had planned on making cardboard helmets (without horns as they did not actually have horns on their helmets) but it wasn’t necessary and cardboard equals kindling during this time of year.
We’re going to take a slight history break and study Abraham again for a little bit. But then, in November we will begin relearning about kings, queens, and medieval times – as well as current monarchy situations around the world. But, I’ma drag those lessons out for a couple of months and pace myself…if I can.
We already spend quite a bit outside, but this year we are attempting to be outside for several hours a day together, no matter the weather. At the very least, half an hour on the coldest of days.
We began the official ‘everyday’ goal in September but got out and about plenty in August.
We have been enjoying walks/bike rides along various bike trails here in town.
This, I believe will be what out outdoor time involves on the rainy and snowy days.
We also go up to our favorite park a couple times a week. We often have a picnic lunch at the lookout spot or under a tree by the water. Afterward, we spend about an hour walking around the spring and the river. It stays cool by the water, but not so much at the playground. So, if it is not too hot, they will spend the last hour swinging and sliding and making up new games.
We spent three entire days swimming in the river. Some days got really hot, so we took advantage of having the place to ourselves, save a couple of other homeschooling families on one of the days.
Another one of our favorite spots for wandering, reading, and painting has been the lake in town.
So many cool critters – and it is another cool spot on a hot day!
There were many other breakfasts, lunches, and evening spent outside left unphotographed. Our time outside and freedom to go where we want, when we want has made all the difference in our moods. I hope we can keep it up!
These past two months have been SO incredible, especially in regards to our schooling. I have been enjoying this year (the first two months of it) more than any other time in our homeschooling past, which gives me so much hope for every year beyond this one.
Not that they are accomplishing any more or less than before. We have found a good rhythm, and we are enjoying being together – and somehow have avoided becoming overwhelmed (by design).
The results of drawing with Momma’s notsogreat vision were adorable and made her laugh so hard she couldn’t breathe.
We started the school year with Zack teaching (as he learned along side her) how to build a motherboard. She was in her element. She’ll take any excuse to take something apart and put something together. She’s a tinker like her daddy.
Poetry is still their favorite copy work. We haven’t had any biographies yet, but they will in October.
We spent a full month (or more?) studying Greece. They did a lot of art studies, crafts, larger-scale projects – like the Parthenon, above – they studied how the Greeks began as a nation as well as how their discoveries have helped us today. We read about some of their myths, gods, about the Odyssey, Illiad, Troy, and Alexander the Great.
Here are some of the short videos they watched to tied certain lessons together:
We enjoyed reading several books, including The Horse and His Boy as we continue weaving the Narnia series among our other read alouds. While that is one of my top three Narnia books, we didn’t do a large project to go with it as we did with previous books.
The girls each picked a skill they want to focus on daily (Monday through Friday).
Mae picked archery and Rae picked drawing techniques. Right now, Mae practices an hour a day and Rae is working with me on drawing faces. We have done the face as a whole and are now focusing on the eyes.
Rae has really increased her interest in Legos over the past couple of months. You’ll often find her building as we do lessons that only require listening and verbal narration.
We have always done some form of art every day, but this year we have begun studying famous artists and their work as well as How to Study Art.
We have been posing for portraits and taking ourselves out into the world for landscapes.
On this particular day, we go to witness a bald eagle fly overhead, swoop down, catch a fish and observed it as it landed and ate the fish! Amelia even included the bird in her painting (you can see it there in the final image.).
The girls also went on two field trips – one with Mom to the zoo and one with Mom AND Dad to see a play and we took them out to lunch.
A week or so ago, I had a book club meeting and had to bring the girls to Saint Louis with me, so we -in our usual fashion- tried to make the most of our required travel. We left that morning and drove the two hours north to the zoo.
We left at lunchtime for my mom’s house (an hour west of the zoo) and spent the afternoon with my parents before I had to drop them off with Zack’s mom and head to bookclub. It was a big day! We also spent the night, since Zack was busy with something all day Saturday and we wouldn’t see him anyway.
It was a perfect day to walk around the zoo! It was just us, a few older couples, and two classes on a field trip. Even the parking lots were empty when we arrived. So quiet!
You may notice in some photos that Rae is not wearing shoes…welp, she wore the wrong shoes and developed a blister before we made it into the zoo. oye.
So, she walked barefoot like the ferrel homeschooled child she very well may actually be…
Rae took most of the photos I decided to post of the animals. She really liked that blue-black bird. It posed quite nicely for her until she began to walk up to it.
The orangutans ( mom and her child) walked over to the window as we showed up and played hide-and-seek with each other! The animals were on their a-game for us that day!
The cheetahs and hyenas were even out! A once every ten years occurrence, in my experience!
The cheetah walked out just for us (or so I think) and was gone again before anyone else turned the corner.
The hyenas just stared us down and thoroughly looked as though they desired to eat each and every onlooker.
Rae found a little seat within a rock ledge and decided it needed to be scaled for a posed photograph.
Rae’s favorite animal was not out and about, so here she is next to the sign.
She sure is cute.
Can you spot the sea lion? It just bobbed like that for so long!! Maybe it was sleeping?
We didn’t get to visit as much as we would’ve liked too, but we did see a ton of flamingoes really close and the girls didn’t have to wait for other kids to finish using the giant misting fans. Ha.
Our state is full of places that hold “homeschool days” and places that give cheaper tickets/better seats to homeschool kids. I’ve always wanted to live a million other places, (not that anything is wrong with our state, it’s just in my nature to want to be anywhere but where I am), but I have yet to find a place better suited for the way we homeschool than here.
The Daniel Boone home was having a homeschoolers-only day last week! We planned this a month in advance so that Zack could make sure he was able to go with us. So, the four of us took the drive and made a day out of it (and it didn’t rain!).
The first thing we did when we arrived, was a garden scavenger hunt/nature drawing. Zack joined in, too!
Afterward, they got to color their sketches and we got to guess the names of unique vegetables (we did pretty good!).
Zack was enthralled with this old kiln. It stood next to a potter’s house (an actual house no one used, of course).
Our favorite part was the woodshop! The three guys presenting in the shop were all funny and very informative. We could’ve spent an afternoon hanging out there.
The church was so beautifully restored. Zack could’ve spent a good deal of time exploring the little details – even the clock was incredible!
The church station involved music. The group before us played a different song, and we could tell the lady took time to make her lesson historical and interesting. We all learned what a limberjack is and the girls got to ‘play’ one along with the song. She sang a rhyme from the late 1700s while playing the dulcimer. She was such a happy and fun lady.
The girls got to make Indian cakes (old fashioned donuts, basically) and learn about open hearth cooking and watch their food being fried in front of them, in a really old cabin! The ladies at this station were a lot of fun, also – and so patient with the kids!
Mae’s face! Zack’s face!
The girls put honey and cinnamon sugar on their Indian cakes. Most kids stayed and ate their donut at the table, but a new group of kids had just walked over, so we took ours to the house that was paired with the cabin. It was breezy and quiet and just about the loveliest snack time there ever was.
Next stop for us (it was a go where you want when you want situation) was the Inn. They had a display of rifles from the era, a lesson on different guns and their purposes back then, and a demonstration (just powder, no bullet) of the loading and firing of the rifle which I’m sure Zack remembers the name of, but I don’t, sorry. It was loud!
The man said they also bring out the canon sometimes! That would’ve been cool, too.
Rae was hot, so the girls ate their lunch on the porch and then we took a tour of the two-room Inn. Also very interesting! Particularly, the beds/bedroom. The dining area (one of the two rooms) was cool, too, but Rae wanted to go sit down again, so I left with her. I hear Mae liked it.
At the General Store, we learned about the traveling of the wooden shoe from Holland to France and then to the states. The original steel-toed boot. (The Dutch brought them over too, they just pretty well stayed in and around Pennsylvania).
We also learned about currency in those days. He lived in the time when the treasury was being established but it would be a while until it spread out this far west, anyway. He supplied paper money from Rhode Island, Connecticut, and other areas in various amounts- which led to a talk about bartering versus trading.
The girls got to learn about grinding up corn and wheat to make flour and they each got a turn grinding up corn for cornmeal and learned where grits come from!
I didn’t take any photos of the candle dipping station, ’cause it was packed with tons of kids, but the girls each got to dip their own candles (which we’ll either keep for memories or use this fall)!
After that, we were pretty exhausted, but we walked next door to the final place, Daniel Boone’s home (He only lived in Missouri the last twenty years of his life – which I learned from Google, not the tour). We couldn’t miss seeing the big ol’ house.
This girl was also tops at her engaging storytelling and questioning skills!
We bailed at the kitchen tour. We let the girls spend some of their money at the gift shop before taking the long drive home.
– There was also a dressmaking station where they learned about wool, making yarn from it, and they got to make a craft. It was crowded, so we skipped it. Mae was bummed, but maybe we’ll go there first next year.
We completed nearly every lesson outside this month! It felt like summer school. A welcomed change from the typical rainy April (though, we got plenty of that, too).
Rae, fine-tuning her chopping skills.
Me, holding my breath pretending I don’t doubt her abilities one ‘tweensy” bit.
Frodo, tossing a worried glance my way.
We are still trying to catch up on our Little Passports packages. We began our month studying Australia, so, we had to use up an afternoon just tossing Mae’s (authentically Australian) boomerang Rae got her for Christmas.
Along with boomerang practice, we had a picnic and studied lichen on headstones and trees, to go along with our study on symbiosis.
After finding a small book of phrases in Hebrew among our book collection. Mae has taken it upon herself to learn it and greets nearly everyone with a “Shalom!”
Their new devotional, I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God, goes over forty of God’s names while also highlighting major stories from the Bible, and discusses how it applies to our lives in this current time (simply, for younger kids. Mae often adds her own elaborated examples).
We finished Luke last month, and have begun back at Genesis. Unless I decide otherwise at some point, we will just read on through the Old Testament (skipping Psalms, as we read those last fall)
One of our many days spent at the river. On our days outside, away from home, we keep it simple. I will bring along a Bible, the devotional, a chapter book or a few short stories for Mae to read aloud for her independent reading, a chapter book for me to read aloud (This will be one of the Narnia books for the next few months), and workbooks – – generic all subject worksheet types, our history reading and workbook, or one of science hands-on books)
Some poem painting to go along with our Australia lessons. (The beans are to add a bit of aboriginal design)
Mae is in a baseball phase, so we did a study on “Babe” Ruth.
^ She grew roots just by leaving it in a cup of water for a goodwhile.
The girls also practiced reading, cooking, math, and piano each morning.
NARNIA: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
For chapters six and seven we added a study on beavers.
The girls made shields and practiced some archery for chapter eleven.
We still have a few more chapters to go. We will end with a tea party just as we began with one.
We are really loving these book studies!
Zack has three or four weeks left before the summer break, but we will, of course, keep going. I’m scheming of some fun things we can do and ways he can join in, while trying not to neglect May.
For most of February and March, I was really depressed. Not in a scary way, just in the way that people get when it has been winter and gross for too long. I, of course, try and make the best of the gross weather and make it fun for the girls and myself, but I need HEAT.
My beautiful husband said one day, “You should get in the car and go somewhere warm for a week or two.” (Yes, please!) I took this idea seriously. I obsessively weather dot-commed the locations of everyone I knew. Some were warmer, but for at least a month, it was raining nearly every day, everywhere, just as it was here.
Public school spring break here in the north happens early. My niece and nephew had it before spring even began and Zack’s began the first day of spring. Boo.
I took advantage of our do-whatever-we-want homeschooling lifestyle and waited until our town was gifted a full week of warmth.
We needed it.
Below is what we did with that time…
Day one, we put together a pioneer kitchen – complete with every kitchen necessity, a clothesline, homemade detergent, dish soap and pan for a sink. We stayed outside always, enjoyed beans from a can and cornbread for lunch. We ate most of our meals out here during that week!
Day two we grabbed muffins from “the Amish place” for breakfast, old-timey treats from the General Store and a picnic at the river (as well as hours of play)
We also licensed the vehicles, which was actually fun because of the ladies who work at that particular office.
Once we arrived back home, Mae set up a general store next to her kitchen, we ate supper in her kitchen, and they played and played some more.
This photo was taken on day three. ^ It is of Rae telling me a story. She had complained about bugs every minute for the entire day, so I told her to sit next to me and tell me a story that had nothing to do with bugs. She told me such a great, creative store about a giraffe who lived on a mountain.
Maybe was sitting on the other side – as close to me as she can get.
Day three, we ate more meals pioneer style, handed out lawn mower rides, spent plenty of time on the porch telling stories and time in the hammock reading stories.
We topped it off with a picnic and kite flying with Daddy.
We went out for milkshakes and cheese fries on day four. They had been asking for cheese fries for a while. They ended up just digging through for the cheese-less fries. We made a stop by the library where they picked out every book the library had on baseball – and they got to stamp every book with the return date!
We made paper mache birds! We painted them a couple of days later. That night we held a movie night – Sandlot, complete with grilled hotdogs, Cracker Jacks, and sunflower seeds *with shell*.
We packed so much into those four days (and the weekend before it, that by Friday, we just wanted to sit. We grocery shopped and cleaned the house (boo), but basically just lounged in and around the house.
I began planning the following week’s lessons and that afternoon, our friend, Nick, arrived. He spent the night and went canoeing with Zack on Saturday!
We love having something to stretch our creativity and give us a goal to reach. Whether that is in regards to school studies or designing and building their bedrooms, mastering the correct ratio of water to flour in a loaf of bread or simply sorting and organizing the next season’s clothes. The girls have built up a healthy habit of doing.
Each season I try and have a large project for us to mull over and accomplish.
With our geography method this year (Little Passports), we have a large scale project each month (because we want to make it one). But they have so many requests for what we should learn, that our project to general subjects ratio has become very uneven and we spend most of our time each week fussing over crafts and Biblical metaphors and immersing ourselves into the cultures of others.
Well. This semester, we are beginning (again, more slowly this time) to read through The Chronicles of Narnia series – my favorite series / stories. – and we’re lovin’ it!
Another portion of our month involved Saint Pat’s / a study of Ireland. We usually study the country and occasionally mention Patrick. (One year we studied it for three months! ‘Cause we really like Ireland.)
The girls illustrated a few Irish Proverbs. Clearly, someone stole the other’s idea on that last one. Ha. I like the bear addition…and the dog in the attic? They cute.
They trapped a Leprechaun by enticing it with honey and a dirty penny.
Mae immediately declared we needed to try to catch more so that he could have a family. Model Magic and Momma’s free time don’t grow on trees, so I let her know they prefer to be alone.
They danced to Irish folk and rock music a lot. They jigged to all genres I supplied. Many an ankle were harmed during this activity.
I tried to create one on one time with Rae. That usually involved listening to her read me stories. And. Girl. Can. Read. If we weren’t reading she always chose either worksheets or to draw next to one another – sitting as close as possible.
A few times each week, the girls both would practice following a recipe all by themselves. The only issues they had was allowing the butter to get too warm while making cookies (I should remember to refrigerate their dough before baking it) and they aren’t the strongest mixers, so I had to help them finish up their mixing (we don’t have an electric mixer of any kind).
I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and watching them, shamelessly eavesdropping on their conversations.
For a side project, the girls made a soda bottle ecosystem. We let them get some fish and a snail for it (the reason for the larger juice bottle instead of a second soda bottle) and they planted poppies in the top bottle. The poppies already have little sprouts!
Zack is on spring break this week. The girls and I are saving our spring break for a week that is fully warm, but, while in St. Louis for a few days, we visited the zoo – ’cause the sun was out and we can’t help ourselves. I gave the girls a map and they led the way. My favorite part was watching two hippos walking above their pool and then witnessing them jumping (as much of a jump as they can accomplish) into the water.
More on our time outside this month, back here in my last post.
I am so eager for April! We have several new curriculum books to crack open and many fun lessons planned. AND! our spring break!