MFW ECC Norway

Norway! Quite possibly, our favorite unit so far. Surprising because on the eve of this study’s inauguration, my husband had to call an ambulance to come get me after I began to experience sudden and horrific pain. Two days in the hospital, lots of prescription meds and a slow recovery had me forecasting a pretty dreadful, overwhelming and miserable few weeks of school, but the exact opposite happened. Our village lovingly reached out and made meals, came to visit, took over some of my responsibilities and encouraged us. My husband even went in my place to our Classical Conversations community day and wore the Director’s hat on my behalf.  It blessed me deeply to have such thoughtful love and care poured over us. Even the boys were extra helpful and diligent in their work. While we did not have as many outdoor adventures as usual, we still had a lovely time with our study!

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We spent many, many hours reading this time around. The D’Aulaires have a wealth of books for Norway study and we read them all. Many cups of tea and several knit dishcloths later, we went through the pile and chose our favorites and read them again. We also enjoyed Joanna Spyri’s “Heidi” as one of our overall European books.

Norway/Scandinavian Booklist: 

Welcome Back Sun by Michael Emberly
D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Country Alphabet by Kathy Jo Wargin
Once Upon a Northern Light by Jean Pendziwol
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Norwegian Tales by Ingri D’aulaire
Ola by Ingri D’aulaire
Children of the Northern Lights by Ingri D’aulaire
Leif the Lucky by Ingri D’aulaire
Book of Trolls by Ingri D’aulaire
Katie the Windmill Cat by Gretchen Woelfe
Boxes for Katje by Candace Flemming
Hans Brinker, the Silver Skates
Hannah’s Cold Winter by Trish Marx
My Tour of Europe by Teddy Roosevelt Age 10 by Ellen Marx
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

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Science with ECC continues to be a bit shaky at times. The kids love the science experiments (don’t skip them!) but POE is still hard to get through. So we do what we can and then we take off on our own. The BBC Planet Earth series is phenomenal and we loved the episode on forests. We used tree cards from Tanglewood Hollow and a beautiful crochet tree ring I received from a Montessori Materials swap. My son and I have been knitting tiny crochet bowls like mad lately and we have been using them to hold some of our favorite nature finds.

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While the older boys finished cataloging tree rubbings and leaf samples in their nature journals, my youngest children went with me to the kitchen to make The Homegrown Preschooler’s Herbal doh recipe. We had a lovely time practicing math and practical life skills. The older children went outside and collected pine needles and pine cones to decorate the table. I set out some natural materials like acorns caps, sweet gums, petals and walnut shells. The boys sat and played with doh while I read through books and eventually we switched over to enjoying various Scandinavian composers and musicians.

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Its encouraging to witness the engagement that takes place through living books. Dry textbooks just do not impart the same connection and inspiration. The boys were utterly captivated by the life of the Lapp children and spent many hours learning more about reindeers and the midnight sun and of course, the northern lights.

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Even during their quiet time, I caught them reading in little corners all over the house. I think we all needed to be still for a few days. Don’t get me wrong, by the time my husband returned home they were always bouncing off the walls with pent up energy, but overall, they were content to snuggle on my recovery bed, drink tea, knit and listen to stories. Or at times, day dream while I read and make incredibly accurate laser gun noises under their breath while they battle evil forces in a galaxy far, far away. Ah, boys.

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Towards the end of the week we experienced an actual beautiful weather day! Granted, a massive tropical storm was providing cloud cover for the entire state, but hey! it was nice and cool! So we jumped on our chance and headed outdoors for a picnic. But first, the boys had to get incredibly dirty. They caked on the mud, made leaf crowns, painted each other’s faces, adventured in other realms and had a marvelous morning. They settled onto their blanket as I read aloud from a stack of books I brought outside with us. They watched the clouds for a bit as I read and eventually, they each closed their eyes and just listened to the story. They looked so peaceful all cuddled up together. This only lasted a few minutes before someone threw a punch or tooted or threw grass in someone’s face and the equilibrium was lost. But still, those fleeting moments of silence and peace were magnificent.

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Lastly, we marked the anniversary of our faithful friend’s passing on September 6th. Our beloved pup, Frankie, who was with us for 8 years. It was a hard day for everyone. I am thankful that the boys have had time to grieve his death and I recognize that they are still sad and grieving. Its the biggest loss they have encountered so far and it was a heavy day in the midst of our study. I am glad that we could honor that day the way these boys needed to. Reindeers, Dutch cookies, Norwegian myths, poetry tea time and a walk to our friend’s grave with a fistful of purple flowers.

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Norway was beautiful and its one of those studies I will treasure in my heart because of all we experienced as lived out our week.

We’ll meet again in Paris!

 

MFW ECC Brazil

On the night before we began our study of Brazil and South America, the Olympics began. Totally unplanned. It was so much fun to see the opening ceremony and watch a presentation of Brazil’s history unfold before our eyes.

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We loved hearing the music too! The boys asked me to find some more Brazilian music and we began by listening to Putumayo Kid’s Present Brazilian Playground and the Bossa Nova tunes of Sergio Mendez.

Of course another highlight was the world parade. We tried to find each country on the map as they were announced. I was greatly encouraged to hear how much the boys have already retained.  It also peaked the boys interest in the world flags.

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In an effort to avoid an enormous post covering three weeks worth of school work, I will share how we did our Geography & Culture work for this unit and then a few tidbits and other resources for a few other subjects.

Geography work for South America consisted of several things. First, I made extra copies of a map of South American with clear black line borders and little else. Every day the boys would sit down, and fill in all the countries they could remember onto their maps. Then I would hand them a correctly filled out map and they would check their work. Then they would add two new countries and we would recite the countries again and I would switch back and forth between asking, “Show me ____” and “Tell me what this is?”  I would only quiz them on countries they had filled in so far. The next day, they would receive a brand new map to fill in from memory, check their work and add a few more in. By the middle of the second week of Brazil study, they could fill in the entire map correctly. I learned of this method from Sonya Schafer at the last homeschool conference I attended and its really worked for us.

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We would reinforce our work by building  geography puzzles (note: We purchased ours on Zulily for $19) and using the Geography game that comes with ECC. I love this simple game. The boys have learned so much using it and I like that I can walk away and they are confident enough to play and learn on their own while I work with the other two kids. We often close out Geography time by reading “Around the World in 80 Pages“which gives us a closer look at all the other countries in the continent we are currently visiting.

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Cultural study has taken many forms this year. Again, we have to acknowledge that they cannot walk away from this year experts on every single world culture, so I am not stressing out about reading  every single “Welcome to >Insert Country’s Name<” book the library has to offer. I am looking for my kids to make heart connections with the people in these far away lands. So in the first few days of encountering a new country/continent, I spread out the “delectable feast.” A variety of books about the country. Culture study, a cookbook, travel books, biome information, indigenous peoples book, and a books about crafts or fine arts. I play some culturally appropriate music and they sit down and dig in. Its really important to me that they get to follow their interests and seek out treasure to dig out and claim for themselves. Its so much more meaningful than randomly reading out statistics. They get to notebook whatever they have discovered and then they get to present the information to us.  They often go in completely different directions. This week my eldest went from tapirs to butterflies to brazilwood to the Yanomami tribes to homemade dye. He had to make his own a few days later and paint a rainforest picture with it afterwards.

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As the days progress I incorporate living books about the country. We had several favorites this study that really drew us in and made us feel like we were there! Check out our book list at the end of this post.

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The boys have been keeping science notebooks this year with illustrations and narrations from our work with the Usborne Living Science Encyclopedia. We continue to use Biome cards and animal ecology study work from Pin it! Maps. (Check out the free teaching materials tab!)

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Based off of their interest, they spent several days learning about the variety of bird beaks in the world, while I avoided all of the laundry in the house. They were fascinated by all the new information garnered and when we went for a visit to our local zoo’s Amazon section, they were calling out all the different kinds of beaks they saw.  Some of their new artwork for their ornithology albums came out so lovely. Its especially encouraging to this art challenged mother to see our diligent work paying off little by little. We are still using Drawing with Children since we had to hold off for a long time on it until we were ready. I am so glad we waited! Its been much more fruitful now.

We also got a bit of sensory fun added in with a prepared “Smells of the Rainforest” Tray featuring things like cinnamon, cacao, coffee, hibiscus, etc. (Check out Mirus Toys for sensory activities and bird beaks study)

Last bit of information for science, we found these beautiful insect and butterfly cards for FREE here. (Thanks Eltern Vom Mars!) which we used during our brief look at entomology. We also spent time with our CC Science work, learning all about biomes and consumers.

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During our second week we decided to catalogue all the edible natives in our farm along with all other fruit bearing plants on the property. It was so grand to realize how many dietary options we have should political anarchy ever shut down all grocery stores. Our nature walks have been so brief lately due to the tremendous heat index down here. We are doing our best to get outside in some way, but the time is always short. Unless…

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We hit the beach.

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Now that is my kind of nature walk in the dead of August!!! I know once the tropical weather calms the heck down we will have plenty of time to do more nature walks. Until then, nature walk = farm and beach and books. And that is ok! Next month we will resume our walks and we will be starting “Blaze New Trails” an adventure guide by Holly Giles of The Giles Frontier as part of our nature study experience. We’ll let you know how it goes! (PS If you are studying Little House in the Big Woods this year at all, check out Holly’s “County Fair” study. Its darling and I can’t wait to use it over summer break next year!)

Brazil was a three week behemoth. It was fun, but we were so excited to move onto Norway. A few other things that happened outside of Brazil during our three week study?

LOTS of practical life work. How to change a lightbulb, how to sew a button, how to load the dishwasher, how to get a cookbook and finish a recipe from start to finish (Check out Mollie Kazan’s Honest Pretzels) to name a few.  I am reminded that there are many, many things I do doing the day that could really be taken on by someone else now. Someone much shorter than me and way eager to help and learn. It takes time to teach new skills, but this intentional investment of time is so very worth it!

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The boys are still working on their pottery skills with their teacher and I love the glow they get when working at something difficult and worthy.

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Our knitting projects have all but wrapped up and we are starting to venture out into the world of knitting socks. Four needles!? Yowza! And my second born has started embroidering, which is fun but a bit maddening when he gets stuck and I have to jump in and figure out where he is. My eldest still shows very little interest in this sort of handiwork so he has picked up more Paper Sloyd and is enjoying completing some beautiful work on his free time.

I am grateful once more that my children get to fully experience that wonderful, fleeting bit of magic known as childhood. Not everyone gets to and I am so thankful they have one.  I continually remind myself to make time for them to just be children–to have joy and wonder and space to ponder.

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I am also thankful God brought us to homeschooling. There will be many dropped balls and missed academic goals and fumbled parenting moments, but I am so secure in walking this path God has called us to because of His merciful reaffirmations and bountiful grace in leading us. I have complete faith that Christ has a plan for my children and their lives. They belong to Him. Our calling is not conditional upon how many lesson plans are completed or how many baskets of laundry are completed each week.  I get to beat back the devil’s lies and whispers with the TRUTH of victory already won. Thank God for that! See you all in Norway!

Brazil Book List:
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
The Rain Forest Grew All Around by Susan Mitchell
Up and Down the Andes by Laurie Krebs
Biblioburro by  Jeanette Winter
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
The Tapir Scientist by Sy Montgomery
A Mango in the Hand: A Story told through Proverbs by Antonio Sacre
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl (4th grade +)
Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen
The Umbrella by Jan Brett (Costa Rica, but we were late in reading it. Rain Forest Biome fit though)
Nature’s Green Umbrella by Gail Gibbons
Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth by Eric Carle

Rain Forest by Ben Morgan (SUCH gorgeous photography!)

MFW Kindergarten: Apple

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Our first vowel week was a great deal of fun! My little guy has been quite taken with water color drawings lately.  I had selected a few crafts off of Pinterest a couple of weeks ago in a moment of weakness. The true motivating factor behind the choices? I just needed him to be busy for a couple of minutes so I could hammer out a few phone calls for the Classical Conversations practicum I am hosting next month. The crafts were cute and required zero mental effort on my part (or his). Then I stumbled across this article, and resolved once more to let my son go through his own art process. Letting him think and be messy and creative and free is a better use of his time and energy. So I let him go and he surprised me by focusing quite intently on reproducing several pictures from “The Life and Times of the Apple” by Charles Mecucci on the life cycle of an apple. He fashioned the pages into a book and by the end of the week was able to give a thoughtful, brief narration on the stages of apple growth.

He also had a marvelous time slicing apples this week. I purchased a large sack of juicing apples from the store and he practiced using our apple corer and slicer, the apple peeler, a crinkle cutter and a sharper knife for cross-section cutting. He loved finding the star points made out of seeds in each slice.  We dried a few sheets of these slices in the oven at its lowest temperature setting over the course of the day and once the slices were dried, the boys strung together beautiful apple garlands to hang in the classroom.
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One of the new responsibilities on my kiddo’s list is feeding the chickens and gathering their eggs each day. He is always incredibly eager to do his job. This week, however, he had a few missteps in the execution of his work. I am always reminded that I must be vigilant in correcting these missteps immediately to ensure that his habits are well formed as they are being cemented. It is tricky to do this without crossing into legalism. I don’t want him to feel like he cannot make a mistake, but at the same time, this responsibility requires his careful attention. We ended up scaling back for a few days. I accompanied him on his trips and kept an eye on him as he worked. By the end of the week, we were back on track. I am currently working on the next set of life skills that he will be working on over the next few months.

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Back in the classroom, our work with his letters marches on. He is reaching for this set quite often during his free play as well, so I know he enjoys the challenge. His sand books, tactile letters and white board cards are seeing a lot of use. All of his literay work is presented as a game. He is so proud of his play/work.

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Another great activity we set up this week (and I failed to snap pictures of) was our “How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World”  sensory tour. We laid out a spread of all the ingredients and he had the chance to try and figure out what each ingredient was using only his sense of smell, touch and taste. (Though he was not allowed to taste the raw egg yolk/whites). We giggled a lot and ended up making the most lopsided pie I have ever seen in my life.

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Are you taking advantage of the weekly scheduled nature walks? This is my favorite part of the week! While we try and get out in nature every single day, our Friday excursion is specifically geared for my K student. This week we were on the hunt for pond apples. We found zero pond apples. But we did spy roseate spoonbills, cranes, egrets, ibis, and our favorite, anhingas! We found nests, five-lined skins, apple snail eggs laid out in careful order on the stalk of some pickerlweed, and we were even chased across a wooden bridge by wasps. Oh, the thrill!

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We came home and had a feast of apple turnovers (baked earlier that morning) and vanilla chai tea. We read our favorite versions of the Johnny Appleseed story and closed out our afternoon making apple stamp prints. We halved our apples, dunked them in paint and stamped away! We’ll keep this paper to use as gift wrap later on in the year. My guy was proud to accomplish something that would be used by our family later on in the year.

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On to Nn-Nest!!

MFW Kindergarten: Leaf

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We experienced the most gorgeous weather during our Leaf unit! We had compiled a long list of activities for the week and the majority required nice weather, so you can imagine our thankfulness! Here are a few things we did in addition to our scheduled MFWK work….

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We started the week out by reading “Counting on the Woods” by George Ella Lyon. This is a nature based counting book with lovely photographs and a memorable meter. He carried this book in his mind on all our nature walks that week, repeating some of the rhymes and looking for similar finds.  When we got home he made his own “Counting on Woods” book filled with the things he saw, numbered and recorded.

Later that day we read Louis Ehlert’s wonderful book, “Leaf Man.”

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We bought a pack of double sided punch out leaves from the craft store and made our own leaf men.  He loved this project! We ended up with an army of leaf men, all with their own backstory and role to play. We ended up teaching our leaf men all of our bible lessons this week.

We continue to use our little sand box for tactile letter practice along with our sand paper letters.  His letters are slowly improving as we practice each week.  He works on these small whiteboards first and then we work on our handwriting student sheet which we have a higher standard for. Of all the worksheets in each unit, this one always takes us the longest. We take our time to do our work carefully with great diligence and attention to detail. As one of my Classical Conversations students recently reminded me, “Ms. Elsie, practice makes permanent.” First we learn, which takes time and is often sloppy as shapes and ideas are sorted out; and then we practice, which takes time and requires great effort and excellence.

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As I mentioned, we went for several nature walks during the course of this unit. Our local cypress dome was a must see! We found such a large variety of leaves on this particular walk.

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He loved the cypress trees, but his favorite was the sawgrass. Ah, the river of grass. How beautiful it is.

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By his request, we studied leaves later on in the week. He left the house early in the morning with one of his older brothers in order to collect specimens. We laminated them against white paper and took a half hour to identify them all. He made several water color paintings of different leaves to add to his notebook. We sorted leaves by shape and size and color and texture. We skip counted smaller leaves in various groupings with our songs from Classical Conversations.

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The rest of the day was spent playing. He made several leaf crowns for different family members and spent a few hours playing outside in his “Fern Palace.”

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This evolved into muddy, muddy play with all of his siblings as the afternoon wore on.
We also use The Homegrown Preschooler curriculum in our home and I love how easily everything blends together. It has really kept me on track!  Gentle learning in the morning and non stop play in the afternoon.

There is pressure everywhere to make things much more rigorous at a much earlier age, but the research stands strong that children need play and a later start date with rigorous academics. I am reminded everyday that I do not teach to standardize my children, I teach to bless them with the opportunity to learn in their own unique way in their own time.

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MFW Adventures: The Trails!

 

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We are limping back to life at last! We’ve been sick for the last two weeks and I am ready to get back in the saddle again.  A few days before we fell ill, I happened upon a local listing for a huge solid wood hutch. I’ve been searching a long, long time for one of these bad boys. I was thrilled to find one so close for so cheap ($50). Within the hour it stood in our classroom. It was quite the beast to move! The boys helped me get everything settled before I sat down to finish organizing everything for the week. I had an unfamiliar moment of feeling like we were on top of our game. I was grateful for the way God had provided the hutch, I was grateful for our classroom and for our curriculum. I was finally allowing myself to feel ecstatic over the fact that we had not fallen behind all year long and that the kids seemed to be thriving with the rhythm I had set down for them this year. Really, the week had gone like clockwork. I realized that we had reached an all time high in our homeschool life and it felt really, really good.

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And then a day later, we all fell very, very ill.

We were a miserable, hacking, snotting, petri dish of ultimate yuck.

So now that we are once again, at the bottom of the barrel, allow me to share with you what we did for Unit/Week 26 of Adventures in US History.

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The American Pioneer and Patriots stories this week were fantastic. The kids loved them! The boys wanted to investigate a little further so we pulled out our Geography guide from Beautiful Feet Books and started a study of “Tree in the Trail” by Holling C Holling.
I purchased a bunch of blank books at the beginning of the year and the boys each pulled one out and started their own Tree in the Trail notebook. They drew cottonwood trees and diagrammed their features. We studied their life cycles and habitats. We studied various indian tribes and had a bit of zoology fun with buffalos, pronged deer and wolves. We charted out the trail and studied the arrival of the Spaniards and the westward movement of the pioneers. I am so glad we took on the extra work!

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Here are a few other resources we used and enjoyed:

Santa Fe Trail site has photos, an interactive map, timeline and historical info
Oregon Trail Museum 
Oregon Trail Journal of Francis Parkman

You can find the 1990 version of Oregon Trail HERE and play it on your browser. All the 4th grade feels. Totally played while my kids were asleep! I am so glad to be hauling 2000 lbs of Buffalo meat and be suffering from dysentery once more.

Another game we’ve been playing often is Ticket to Ride. My kids pull this one out all the time and they can play it by themselves which is fantastic!

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We’ve been using Walter Wick’s book “A Drop of Water” for our Liquid, Solid, Gas unit. Check and see if this title is available at your local library. This book really brought a lot of the concepts from the Usborne experiments to life!

We’ve continued with our nature journaling, even in the midst of sickness, thanks to the small collection of little odds and ends that we can study whenever our health or the weather prohibits our usual nature walk. This week the boys took a closer look at the seashore.

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I love their drawings. Its so much fun to watch them grow more and more specific with time and experience. I’ve mentioned before that we had a rough start with art. Its great to see them naturally progressing after such an uphill battle. If the above resonates with you, I encourage you—don’t give up on art!

We started Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War this week. I mentioned to the boys that we only have 6 weeks left after this unit. They were so sad! The rest of the afternoon was spent revisiting some of our old work and looking at our favorite read alouds from the year and reminiscing. My eldest flipped through a book on Native Americans and I found my second born tucked away in the book nook, battle helmet on, reading about his favorite viking. We love you, Adventures!

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MFW Adventures: Morse & Human Body

The boys spent many long and cozy hours indoors this week. Our dry season has turned out to be nearly as wet as the rainy season. Large storms keep sweeping across our area and we find ourselves grateful to be snug indoors with few places to go during the week.

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We finished up our time studying the human body by filling in the last pages of our Dover coloring books and completing the last two experiments in the Magic School Bus Anatomy kit.

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Our Anatomy tray was out quite often and the boys really cemented their identification of the organs. We also brought out our magiscope and looked at hair, blood, cell and saliva samples.

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We brought out one of our very favorite board games, SOME BODY and played a dozen rounds throughout the coarse of the week. We highly recommend this one. Even if your children aren’t old enough to play with the questions cards, they can place the reusable stickers on their body board and become familiar with the layout of our organ systems.

 

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We read three books on Samuel Morse and the boys made these darling Morse code name necklaces out of leftover holiday paper straws and the remaining pony beads from our Native American study.

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They were intrigued by Morse’s designs and spent one rainy afternoon trying to get a piece of twine to absorb an electric charge from the carpet in their bedroom, in order to make the pencil on the other end of the twine write secret messages.  After hours of failed attempts we settled for some work on our Snap Circuits board.

In other news, we finaly, FINALLY, reached our state during state study! (How do people residing in the last two states deal with the wait?) We ventured out at the first sign of sunshine. Our local trails were inundated with water which made our adventure extra challenging for the boys. They adored it!

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We found a fern gully on this particular outing that really captured our imaginations. The boys wanted to crawl under the ferns and set up little homes. I’m half-tempted to move there once the rain stops.

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I am so grateful for our nature walks. They have turned out to be the most enriching part of our homeschool journey. Everything we learn seems to flourish when we step out onto the trail. I love watching the boys make connections between math and music and geography and latin and history and science as they walk along a mucky path listening to the sounds of the wetlands.

When we return home, out come the nature journals and colored pencils. We use prismacolors for our most important work. They are definitely pricey but worth it for the quality of the product. The boys know they must take special care of these art tools and have demonstrated great responsibility in caring for them.

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The insect cards pictured above are $4 laminated printables from the talented Alice Cantrell.

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We are officially 10 weeks away from completing our Adventures. There are many updates to record here. I’ll be posting a few updates in the near future about how we make the most of our nature walks. Week 25 here we come!

MFW Adventures: More States and a State of the Union

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We always start planning the upcoming school year in January. This is partially due to our involvement with Classical Conversations. I have yet to blog much about CC, I’m still trying to get a solid year of MFW and HGP blogging under my belt before I try and add in CC. It is a huge part of our lives and our school year revolves around those 24 week cycles. Next year I will be directing a new Foundations community group in our area, which is exciting and nerve wracking all at once. Its strange to start planning so far in advance when I am still in the midst of this wonderful year I worked so hard to plan last January. But the time has come for the yearly, “State of the Union” and so this is the week when I stepped back and observed all that takes place in our home and in our hearts. For us, education is not simply what we are learning but who we are becoming. The short of it is, we are loving Adventures so far. It has been a perfect fit for our family and I am so grateful for it and for the Charlotte Mason method it employs.

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I am currently in the midst of reading “Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition” by Karen Glass.  It is one of the best homeschooling books I have ever read and I am savoring every single chapter. This book echoes all that we do (and hope to do) in our own home. Its wonderful to pick up a well written book that engages the two methods of education closest to my heart.

Today, I sat on a park bench with my book and watched my 5 year old engage in a self-led physics experiment involving a steep slide and fistfuls of sand. He would walk over every once in awhile to discuss his findings. We talked about friction, inertia, motion and he would hypothesize the results of his next trial with barely contained glee. When it was time to leave, he tidied up the slide, pushed sand off the sidewalk and into the play area where it belonged, and went out of his way to pick up a piece of someone else’s trash and threw it in the garbage.  He did this without any prompting. Twenty minutes earlier I had circled the following passage in the Karen Glass book:

“…Charlotte Mason’s conception of synthetic thinking, or “the science of relations” concerned itself with placing the child in the way of forming relationships with every area of knowledge, so that the question we ask is not “how much does the youth know?” but rather “how much does he care?” When the affections are involved–when we care about a place, a person, or an idea–we are more motivated to act if action is required. When we love virtue itself, we are more likely to behave virtuously.”

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This is what I have loved about Adventures. Not the amount my children are learning, though they have grown by leaps and bounds this year, but the virtue they are cultivating and employing. How much does he care? It seems everything we are studying, all the habit training and scripture study and living books, everything is nourishing these little ones to care, to desire to act rightly.

Here is what the week looked like. We studied several states: Maine, Missouri, Arkansas and Michigan. The boys took great care in opening the tin of special colored pencils used for our States book. They were diligent in coloring each bird and flower to the right specifications. They copied down each state motto in their neatest penmanship. They closed their books and put away their pencils. They brought out the book basket and we went on adventures in four different states while the toddler shrieked in the background and the preschooler called for pretzels and juice. Everyone eventually settled down and we experienced beautiful illustrations and rich prose. The boys played with seashells while we read “Island Boy.” They acted out “Blueberries for Sal” and cooked pretend clam chowder after reading “One Morning in Maine.” We pulled out our Saxon books and halfway through our lesson, I noticed my six year old building cranes and seabirds out of pattern blocks. “Remember that story?” he asked,  “About Obadiah and the seagull?” Off he went to fetch the book. As soon as he completed his math lesson, he picked up Brinton Turkle’s tender and lovely book, “Thy friend, Obadiah” and read it aloud to his siblings, giving special attention and affection to his younger brothers. Thirty minutes later we were on a website looking at the anatomy of birds and constructing their skeletal systems over and over again. This brought us back to our study of Human Anatomy. The boys brought down the Human Organ tray and began reading each three part card and matching them with the corresponding organs from their safari toob, until the toddler stole the large intestine and chaos ensued. We resolved the quarrel and moved on to our Usbourne Encyclopedia and the boys began to question the latin names they kept hearing, so we picked up our latin work and labored over a few declensions. One particular song used to memorize the 3rd declension latin noun endings reminded them of a Rachmaninoff piece they had heard weeks before. We listened to it twice and then one of the boys asked if we could play outside. We dashed out of the house and opened the coop to let the chickens out. Once again we were talking about birds and anatomy while the 5 year old zoomed by on skates humming Rachmaninoff and the 3 year old stomped around saying “Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk,” in his best imitation of little Sal dropping blueberries in a tin pail.

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I am not teaching my children for the sole purpose of ensuring successful performances on tests that cannot measure love, sense of wonder, compassion, joy, faithfulness, goodness, or creativity. As Karen Glass says, “If we answer the question ‘What is man?’ with ‘man is a living soul created in the image of God,’ our educational task will be much different, as we seek to discover all the potential in each child so that he can become everything that God meant him to be. All that we can give him will not be too much nor go to waste.”

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Week 23 was a slower week in terms of topics covered but it was a rich week nonetheless. On these slower weeks, I love to get out into nature with the boys. That prescheduled Friday nature walk is something I make sure to enforce. I make every effort to protect that part of their schedule. In many ways, it is the capstone to all we learn in the classroom.

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Our son’s godfather came to visit with his son and so our nature walk for Unit 23 took place at the beach. It was a nice tie in for all those “salty” books we read about Maine.  The boys tumbled about the tide pools and played in the surf. They collected seashells and felt the sand between their toes. They experienced life and their souls were nourished by the sea air and warm water.  Little scientific observations were sprinkled throughout the day. It happened naturally. “School” is not something they go to and then leave after a few hours. There are no compartmentalized subjects. It is not a chore.

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Learning is life and it brings them joy.

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