Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Underway (Part 1)

Everything has started up again and we are finding our new rhythm for this fall!

It's been nice that Blondechick, B18 and B14 are all up and out of the house by 7:30. I usually wake up about the time they are all leaving, and then I have about an hour before B8 comes groggily downstairs. I would love to say I use that hour ever-so-wisely, but it seems I barely get my coffee made before it's gone! I usually read Jesus Calling, at least, but maybe I need to intentionally NOT check texts and emails until a little later. (Ah, but there is never a good time for that!)

We started our Classical Conversations curriculum this week, and so far I am loving it! Chicklet is memorizing more easily than I thought she would, and B8 is competitive enough to try hard too. Each day we've picked something to study more in-depth, using books we already have. For example, this week they are memorizing the seven biomes. So one day we looked at Usborne's The Great Animal Search to see pictures of animals living in the desert, the tundra, the tropical rainforest and elsewhere; another day, they watched a Magic Schoolbus episode about deserts. We studied maps and the globe as we memorized and identified the seven continents and four major oceans. Since we are starting with the Middle Ages in history this year, we reviewed ancient history by flipping through The Usborne Book of World History, and we read about the crowning of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III, which is our "history sentence" for this week. I also read from A Child's History of the World about the fall of Rome, which began the medieval period, while they colored coloring pages from our collection of Dover coloring books (which we make copies from and never color in).

I am appreciating how efficiently we can do our lessons without books. I can be cooking dinner and sing out, "What are the 8 parts of speech?" and they think it's a game to rattle them off. We can skip-count at lunch time or in the car--no book required. Once I have things memorized, I can easily drill them without looking at anything. (I guess I will learn a lot myself this year!) Chicklet11 has some additional grammar memorizing to do, plus 1-2 short writing assignments a week, but it all seems very manageable so far.

In addition to memorizing facts in various subject areas, they are doing math (Teaching Textbooks for both) and reading to themselves for at least one hour. We also read aloud together from the Bible--we are reading through the book of Mark right now--and I read aloud to them. I'm reading a page or two a day of Paddle to the Sea (a lusciously illustrated book about a little carved wooden canoe that makes a long journey through all five Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean). We've also been reading a section or two daily from a Childcraft book called How Do We Get Things?, and we are reading Leif the Lucky, since the Vikings came up in The Usborne Book of World HistoryToward the end of the week, when we have things pretty well memorized and have explored the concepts already, they have spelling, handwriting and vocabulary workbooks we can add in, plus science activities. But it's been so refreshing to look at the  week as a whole, rather than checking off boxes daily. Workbooks seem so tedious compared to the hands-on and lively discussions we've had this week.

The "big kids" are all having good school experiences too, I am so thankful to say. More on that in Part 2!

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