Let me start out by saying that I am LOVING the freedom we have to study what we want, when we want. I had a rough outline of ideas we could pursue this week, but ultimately, I wasn’t sure what the kids would want to chase down.
After community day the boys were quite keen to jump back into their study of explorers. We read Igri D’aulaire’s wonderful book “Columbus” and we also read accounts from “They Put Out to Sea” by Roger Duvoisin, “A Child’s First Book of American History” by Earl Miers and “Stories from America” by Lorene Lambert. The boys laid out a large piece of butcher paper and together we charted the four trips Columbus took to the Caribbean. We also reviewed our photos from our field trip to the Nina and Pinta replicas earlier this year. Make sure you check out their Port Schedule! The crew was incredibly helpful and informative (and PATIENT!)
Along with their study of Columbus we also finished up our study of Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Jacques Cartier. Give us all the explorers!
Each day the boys worked on their geography maps right after breakfast. Later in the day they would use their US History Pin it! Maps to further cement what we were reading. They are spending a great deal of time on Geography lately and it has become one of their favorite subjects. We make sure to devote just a few minutes every single day to this strand, knowing it will make a great difference in their studies now and in the future when they hit Challenge A. We loved our Geography reads this week. Maine alone has so many beautiful stories. You can find the list of what we read over on our initial Quarter 1 post. We managed to read everything under the Geography heading with three different people reading aloud.
Our Latin studies with Memoria Press are progressing well. I loved when the boys opened their lessons books and stared with such dismay at the verb conjugation chart. Then they realized they had already memorized the most important parts through their years in Foundations at CC! “MOM! Its 1st conjugation present tense! O, S, T, MUS, TIS, NT!” “Oh yeah, look at the singular and plural parts: I, you, he, she it, we, you (pl), them! We already know this stuff!” Guys, we conjugated most of the vocabulary, just because we could. They are slowly stretching into their Dialectic phase of learning and its so beautiful watch. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please pick up a copy of Leigh Bortin’s THE CORE. After our initial lesson, the boys take 10 minutes every day to drill vocabulary with each other. These tiny, faithful increments add up to a great deal. Once they are done with Latin they move into their math lesson with Right Start Mathematics. Last week they wrapped up their most recent level and I offered them a few days off before jumping into the next level and they both refused. They could not wait to see what came next. This blows me away because they were constantly begging for breaks from their Saxon work. Now math is something they enjoy and even beg for. We played most of our favorite games last week, playing one or two after each lesson. Check out our IG stories on Instagram this week for a closer look at our lessons in action!
Speaking of lessons in action, the other day someone asked my boys what time they started school. One of the older children said 10AM. I was a bit startled and asked, “how so?” He explained that morning time, music time, and chores felt more like family time and that he didn’t feel like school started until he opened up his Latin book or math book. This made me smile! “When does your learning start each day then?” He tilted his head a bit and responded, “Learning started when I was born and hasn’t stopped. We don’t start learning every day. We just open our eyes and keep on learning like we always have.” These little conversations mean the world to me. I love that they value personalized learning so much. Morning Time is really what cemented that for us. All of those mornings without measure, created a family culture of learning and appreciation for truth, goodness and beauty. It is by far, the most important aspect of our day. Last week we had our final recitations of the Apostles Creed and this week we have begun our study of the catechism. We wrapped up our picture study with Leonardo DaVinci, which was fascinating in light of our reading in Genevieve Foster’s The World of Christoper Columbus. We fished memorizing our latest round of poems using The Harp and Laurel Wreath and we are continuing to enjoy our architecture study through LM Hillyer’s “A Child’s History of Art.”
Responsibilities have risen around here in the last few months. I recently trained the eldest two boys to do their laundry start to finish, which is one of the greatest gifts EVER. (I loathe laundry). It occurred to me recently that one of the reasons my boys are so willing to help me now is because I never pushed them aside when they were willing toddlers. You know the “Me do it” phase most toddlers hit? I let them do it. Even if it took forever, even if it made a bigger mess, even if it drove me crazy. I didn’t do this with any kind of foresight or intentional chore planning for the future, at the time I simply wanted to foster independence. Now I see the real fruit of “Me do it” and that is “I got this, Mom” or “How can I help you, Mom?” or “Whats on the list today, Mom?” All those enormous “Me do it” toddler messes? TOTALY WORTH IT NOW.
This week’s science covered the four kinds of tissue. We delved into our Lyrical Life Science books and learned the song and filled in the workbook. It was simple, straightforward and enjoyable for the most part. Then we walked outside to watch Mama Cardinal feed her brand new hatchlings when one of my little guys let out a cry of sorrow and we all looked at the base of the tree and saw a tiny hatchling, stiff and unmoving. My boys were pierced. I went inside for some disposable gloves and brought him inside for observation. We marveled at him for awhile first. We read a Robert McClung’s book, Red Bird. We measured, studied, observed and recorded our findings: 3 day old hatchling, 6 cm long, fused eyelids, colorful tongue to attract attention, feather tracts in place, parasites in droppings. Then we found a small, empty box of chalk and made the long walk to our favorite oak tree.
They fought over who would get to dig the grave and a few tears of anger were shed. After a group huddle, the older boys dug a small grave and they all gathered around together. Then one of the middle ones started singing “This is My Father’s World” and “For the Beauty of the Earth” while the mosquitoes made quick work of our arms and legs. It was one of those perfect because its imperfect homeschool moments we’ll always remember. The little ones called out their goodbyes and dropped in every flowering weed they could find before covering the hatchling up with dirt. We walked back to the house and we stopped by Mama Cardinal’s tree to let her know where her hatchling was. This small event led to an hour long discussion about life and death, about nature’s life cycles and God’s creation. Somehow, we eventually landed back on cells and tissue.
One of the final components of our school day is our silent reading hour. The older boys are currently reading their Garrard biographies and they are absolutely devouring these books: Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, Henry Hudson and Abigail Adams. We have about twenty left on our shelves and they are bent on reading them all!
We are looking forward to a few days with the Jamestown settlement next week before moving on to PILGRIMS. Stay tuned!