What We Did, June 2010

Things have taken a more relaxed turn this month. The older two have had little interest in sitting down and writing, but this seems to me to be a fair need for a break after some pretty intense advances over the spring. They are still both reading quite a lot–D1 has leaped into chapter books with The Boxcar Children and D2 continues to prefer books of poetry and shorter picture books.

There’s also been a great deal of opportunity for more practical learning. We learned a good bit about money and buying when we went to the used curriculum sale (and I stocked up on many games and fascinating books). We toured tall ships again and D2 had the chance to go on a three-hour cruise. We made new friend at a homeschool weekly play day.

Together they designed materials for and executed a parade for Flag Day–I basically stuck to a supporting role (that, and pulling the twins in the wagon).

D1 has been gathering materials and preparing to do some simple sewing projects. Right now their other grandparents are visiting, and she is planning to work on some with Grandma R. I see a keen interest in fabric and design (that’s really what her “princess” fascination is–a love for beautiful fabrics and clothing) and I’d like to see her develop that in some productive ways. I am getting some library books for her on historic fashions and fabrics.

D2 has been building increasingly elaborate Duplo and block structures, some surprisingly beautiful. He also loves to just tally them up and work out which color of block he has the most of.

We got a used swingset for free and they have been having a great time on that; D1 has finally learned how to pump herself.

We’ve done some math-related games, but mostly just discussed it in real life. D2 worked out on his own that if he would get 1/2 biscuit for eating two bowls of soup, he should get 1/4 biscuit for eating one bowl of soup. On another day, he calculated that three halves of an apple and two quarters of an apple must have come from two whole apples.

We watched a chipmunk die of injuries and then buried it. On a different day I overheard D1 explaining to her siblings how to tell chipmunks from squirrels. D3 and D4 love observing animals, especially rabbits, which are quite common out of our windows, and occasionally deer. D3 saw a picture of a bat in a book and after thinking a moment said, “It’s a crow!”

The older ducklings watched The Princess Bride with us. It was a bit intense in spots, but on the whole I think they enjoyed it. We are looking to do about one movie a month with them.

The last couple of days D1 and D2 have been making a host of puppet-type things, both with their fingers and arms and with clothespins.

We have learned to sing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish and I am inserting the titles of various family members as appropriate birthdays come up. (e.g. “Feliz Compleanos, querida abuelo”.)

In other memory work, our Scripture passage is the parable of the wise and foolish man, along with the song. We’ve also learned “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “Yankee Doodle.”

The older ducklings have a taste for surprisingly long poetry, which they’ve been choosing for me to read out of the Childcraft books. Some we’ve read are, “Lady Clare,” “The Highwayman,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

We finished All of a Kind Family at night and are now nearly through Old Mother West Wind’s Why Stories. I’m trying them out on Seabird along with coloring pictures of old-fashioned ships (found a Dover coloring book at the sale). It may prove too much, but we’re working slowly through it for now–maybe once a week. I’m also trying to start D1 on narration, using Aesop’s Fables to begin with, one a week. I also try to stop and listen to her spontaneous narrations of the books she’s been reading–she’s really enjoying The Boxcar Children.

I’m working on designing notebook header pages for the next school year–we think it’s simplest just to tell them they’re in whatever grade is appropriate for their age so they can answer questions easily and let them work at whatever level fits them. Since we use no graded texts, it really doesn’t matter. I imagine we’ll clean out their old notebooks and put in new pages sometime after Grandma and Grandpa leave in mid-July. I’m hoping having some simple organization will help them understand their work better and develop some basic planning skills. I’m also thinking about making up cards with different possible activities on them that they can use to choose in advance what we’ll work on during school–this will give me time to prepare and also keep some variety in it.

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