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.
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.
Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.
Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Homeschooling just gets better and better for me as a mom and a teacher. It has always been some version of good, but -and maybe it is something that has come with time and experience – at this moment it feels as natural as any other part of our lifestyle. Maybe the most natural part.
This month, in this place, has brought such a ‘home school is life’ feeling that so many homeschoolers talk about. The three of us are pretty at peace here.
We now have our computer in the schoolroom, and it is a nice addition. The girls do some online stuff (typing, math, games), and we are able to watch educational programs when they suit our lessons…and when they don’t, like when we discovered two families of eagles via live cam (1 and 2) and became obsessed with watching them take care of there babies.
Mae also enjoys filling some of her free time with Age of Empires 3 and Prodigy math, while Rae prefers PBS games.
We converted our fish tank into a worm farm. Very exciting.
We also started composting again. We ordered seed, and are planning an indoor growing area. We are still waiting for a major job to get done in the yard before we can start a garden, but we should at least have a flower patch again this year. We’ll see.
An ongoing family project has been the creation of country flags. We have ten or so to go until we have covered the ones (still in existence) we have studied about so far. The humidity (on the one warm day this month) got to the tape we used and they began falling down -as Mexico is doing in this photo…
When we moved in the girls requested a disco ball for the school room, and boy is it great. We really enjoy the morning sparkle.
We are an art family. I’m sure that is no surprise to anyone. We work on some form of art every day. In this house, there are so many areas to do such work. As a result, the girls and I have really upped our art…intake? We are doing larger-scale projects without dread of clean up or lack of proper space. It is so much fun!
During the first half of the month, we didn’t use the schoolroom at all. There was construction going on right outside, so we completed formal lessons on the couch (ours downstairs) and spent hours upon hours in what we call the ‘workspace’ creating larger-scale projects and did zero watercolor painting and only one nature drawing (unheard of!).
Rae has, however, drawn and painted plenty everyday on her own.
We found a spot for our swing! I was bummed when the ceilings in our area downstairs were too short (for our tall girls anyway), but I really love it in the school area. They rotate days so there is no arguing over who had it last.
We finished up our second run-through of The Story of the World – Volume 1 (Nomads to the end of ancient Rome), this time with study questions. Mae has inherited my interest in history. She even requested we have history lessons each day!
I highly recommend The Story of the World series…and the workbooks, but they are good even without. So far there are four volumes. We’ll begin Volume two (“The Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance”) this week.
We are still continuing our German lessons. I am looking for other ways to branch out with German, but I am coming up short.
We are also beginning some large scale projects. Mae will be working on one about our state, while Rae will be working even closer to home -using ideas we found here.
We (They, as I haven’t started mine yet) started building small cardboard homes – based on @houseinhabit’s homes. We still have at least a month’s work to do on them (they dream big). We are waiting on some molding clay to arrive in the mail so they can add food, bowls, etc. inside.
Mae is completing a ‘pioneer barn’ house, Rae is working on a New Mexico adobe style house, and I am torn between a Hobbit hole, Irish farm complete with sheep, and a row of Amsterdam-style homes…or all three…so I’ll finish mine sometime next year, haha.
We also read through two Narnia books (Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair) this month, began rereading On the Banks of Plum Creek, dug deeper into grammar lessons, as well as progressed farther into math (multiples for Mae and double-digit addition/ subtraction for Rae). We have begun to bake again, and even tackled French macaroons! Mae hopes to try her hand at English coconut macaroons soon.
The rest of May will involve a lot of their Missouri projects, finishing their homes, reading, reading, and more reading, and we will make preparations for our garden(s) and draw up blueprints for summer plant life. We are mostly excited about our flower patches, but we will attempt a few food items. Nothing extravagant though.
This semester, along with working through multiplication and division, Mae will be running her own bookstore! …on paper…
She is so good at it!
I thought the ‘mark-up percentages’ and taxes would be too much, but she began doing problems like $6.80 marked up 150% in her head! She is learning how to write a check, which may be irrelevant by the time she is old enough to use such things, but I am glad it is included. She pays bills each month out of her monthly ‘allowance’ as well as choose which books and how many of each to order before taking the orders she receives for the month. (It also includes a cheat book for parents, just in case)
We have gone from our once a week schedule of working our way through, to twice a week. She loves it that much. The curriculum lets her run a bookstore for 12 months (or quicker if she wants but it is set up for January through December)
The program is Your Business Math. Rae says when the time comes (it is recommended for 3rd-6th graders) she wants to run a pet shop. I wouldn’t have figured her as someone who would want anything to do with it, but she is. What do I know…
The girls have really been doing well on their nature drawings. Rae has been making all of her animals Mexican (traditional, sombrero-wearing Mexicans- like in Coco), and it is adorable. Her stork is also wearing a vest and holding maracas.
The birds were from a lesson on estuaries and the hippo is from a poem Rae did as her daily copy work. We also skipped our ‘no meat’ schtick and ate salmon like Grizzly bears to go along with our estuary study. Raw salmon Nigiri is our favorite way to eat it – Mae says the bears would like it too.
Lastly, Mae picked out a wooden crossbow to build at the store. I had plans to help her, but Zack saw it and got really excited at the thought of building it with her. It was mostly Zack doing the work (some parts took patience and a little strength), but she joined in a bit and watched the process…and has really enjoyed shooting the pegs across the room!
I may do an official February school related post, but lately, I haven’t stopped to grab the camera, so who knows. I hope I do. I always like to look back on things they have (We have) done.
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.