What We Did, July 2010

The first part of this month was devoted to a long visit from the other grandparents, so we focused on spending time with them. D1 did her first sewing project, a sleeping bag for a stuffed animal, and D2 has been inspired to start one as well.

We also took a trip up to Whidbey Island for a family reunion, traveling on the ferry, the older kids went with all the grandparents to Mount Rainier and got to play in the snow in bare feet and short sleeves, and then we all went to the zoo one day. We spent most of our time looking at the arctic animals (who were surprisingly active despite the heat), which tied in nicely to the books we had been reading the previous month. D3, as usual, was the one most interested in watching the animals, but we all got a kick out of the musk ox who was busy charging a plastic barrel as if in a fury.

We’ve still gotten in a few library runs. The “Mercy Watson” series was a big hit for fun reads. D1 is at a stage where she can read longer books, but finds it enough of a strain that she rarely finishes them. Instead, she does more re-reading of books I’ve been reading aloud, high-level picture books–especially fairy tales, and comic books. They’ve both been looking over Tintin comics with a lot of interest.

D1 also has been poring over books on historical fashions and is fascinated by paper dolls and the like. I’m trying to help her find a productive outlet for her princess obsession. I’ve gotten some books for D2 on big cats, especially tigers, and we are watching a DVD documentary on big cats.

For read-alouds, we’ve been doing Little House on Plum Creek, continuing Winnie the Pooh, read most of Homer Price and have started Ozma of Oz. I’ve been reading a book of stories from the Amazon called The Great Snake and we’ve read some other books about Mexico, Central, and South America: Erandi’s Braids, Mama and Papa Have a Store, Jabuti the Tortoise, The Frog with the Big Mouth.

A free swingset has given us a new reason to be outside, and both of the older kids are beginning to learn to pump. We watched The Sound of Music as a family and pretending they are the Von Trapp children has been a favorite game ever since. (Even though D2 spent most of the movie asking when anything was going to happen.)

Bible stories have made it through to the Exodus. They are beginning to be able to tell back yesterday’s story. D2 especially has made noticeable leaps in his ability to internalize and make use of stories he has heard. I’m working directly with D1 on narration using Aesop’s fables, but only once a week.

We’ve had discussions on ethics (Was it OK for the nuns to steal parts from the Nazi’s cars to save the Von Trapps? What about the Wheelers in Oz saying they would kill anyone who stole from them? Relative values of life vs. property), causation, atoms, fractions, and lots of other things.

We cleaned out their three-ring binders and made a small notebook of sample pages they made this year. I created header pages for different subjects (a general one, then Bible & Memory, Words & Letters, Numbers & Patterns, Long Ago & Far Away, Nature Notebook, Art & Design and Special Projects) so they would have a logical way to organize papers for the new year. I’ve decided to simply tell them they are in the grade that best corresponds to their age (D2 technically won’t be old enough for Kindergarten until next year, as he won’t be 5 until the end of September, but I see no point in delaying him that far), so their notebook shows D1 as in First Grade and D2 as in Kindergarten. Since we don’t use any graded materials, it really doesn’t matter except to have a quick answer out in public and to help D2 not expect so much of himself as to get frustrated.

Because of all the other activities, we switched our songs and memory work in mid-month, so we’ll probably continue these through August:

Memory: The Apostle’s Creed

Hymn: Come, Thou Almighty King

Folk Song: Buffalo Gals

Spanish: Chorus of “Jesus Loves Me.” Also reading more bilingual books. Counting Ovejas is nice.

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