Weeks 14 & 15

This has been a couple of those weeks when I look back and wonder, “How on earth did we stay on track?” But we did. Yay, us! We spent MLK weekend in the mountains with some friends from DOB’s law school days, and returned home to a week-long succession of snow and ice storms. But we never lost power and we did school in the afternoons while the twins were napping and still played outside as much as anyone wanted to.

Week 14

CHOW, Ch. 18 (Babylon); BBB, Ch. 40 (Tree Sparrow, Junco); PTTS, Ch. 11; JSS, Elephant’s Child; Raven and Swan, Two Goats

Week 15

CHOW, Ch. 19 (Persia); George Washington (finished); PTTS, Ch. 12; Zeus and his Family; Ass and Salt, Lion and Gnat.

Twins

Reading, especially stories about snow: The Big Snow, Owl Moon, Katy and the Big Snow. Playing games, especially “Sequence for Kids” and “Chutes and Ladders.” (They’re still VERY fuzzy on rules and have no concept of trying to win. However, they do pretty well on turn-taking and follow their own mysterious rules fairly well.)

We painted and listened to classical music on the first Monday. We should try to do that again tomorrow. They loved it. Of course, they have already covered all their available display surfaces with paintings and I don’t know where they will go next.

Deux seems to have adjusted to the afternoon schedule.

Deux is also doing wonderfully with the multi-digit addition and subtraction. I am thrilled with the way this curriculum doesn’t enumerate procedures or explain, but just gently takes one logical step after another so that they come to understand the different procedures on their own.

We have been enjoying the history selections, as well as the biography of Washington (and of course they love the Greek myths). Duchess had some interesting questions about why empires fall and we had some good discussions on that. (This is one reason I prefer Charlotte Mason to neoclassical–I firmly believe seven year olds are capable of much more than repeating like poll parrots. They think about causes and effects, too, and make their own connections.)

We did one nature notebook sketch–at least Duchess did–when we visited the Blueberry Park last Wednesday. No nature walk this week, owing to everyone being snowed in.

This week we did do a bit of a science experiment with melting snow: running cold water vs. warm air. They made predictions, then we tried it, then discussed possible reasons, bringing in some of the discussion I had hoped to have on particles, the nature of heat energy, applications to other areas such as eating hot oatmeal, etc. DOB also took part in the discussion and was quite interested. We will get him into science yet.

We also made paper snowflakes and snowmen and such obligatory things. And we made snow ice cream, which I had never done before. Surprisingly good and quite easy, but of course we seldom have heavy enough snowfalls to make it feasible. We built a snowman and snow dragon in the mountains, and back down here did some sliding on their bottoms (we don’t have sleds or a hill so we had to make do with a steep bank) and a lot of running around in the dark sliding sticks around which I didn’t understand but they seemed to have fun.

For a math activity I printed out some pages from the Family Math book for arranging ten dollar bills, one dollar bills, dimes, and pennies. I then showed them how to set out an amount of money, and then write it down. Then that got easy so I started giving addition problems, first simple, then with carrying. The setup with money made it seem quite simple and Duchess did fairly well, although she got a bit careless if she tried to work it out independently. Deux seemed to grasp the concept at least. We will have to revisit this method.

On our way back from the mountains we stopped at the Lego store and they spent their Christmas money and then built their sets. (This probably made the money activity particularly relevant.) Duchess and Deux are now quite independent about following the instructions. Dot and Dash mostly “helped” with theirs. Dash really needs to have just some free-form legos, as he does well with them but gets frustrated trying to deal with sets.

Duchess has gotten interested in Mad Libs–actually using the website Wacky Web Tales. I’m not sure how much she is actually retaining about parts of speech, but it can’t hurt.

Duchess and Deux have both decided they want to write on paper rather than the white boards. Their writing is starting to mature a bit through this, plus longer selections can be done over multiple days. Deux is noticing syllables in words and so we count them out (if he gets a multisyllable word in copywork, he doesn’t have to copy quite so many).

We are looking forward to reading about China and India next week. I already brought home some menu books and Duchess has planned a menu for each location which we will serve over the next week or two. She’s also been running a restaurant serving both kinds of food and taking orders, which Deux and Dot have been frequenting.

I need to be more frequent about playing the classical selections. I’d like to do a nature sketchbook session. I should pick another topic for science to incorporate in naturally, like the melting snow lesson which developed the topics of particles that was one of the ones on my list.

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