At long last we have begun again. It hasn’t really been that long, but it seems so long since everyone else posted their back-to-school announcements. However, we enjoyed a sunny and dry September and a trip to the Olympic Peninsula and now we are ready to start school when we wanted to.
Memory: Genesis 1:1-8; “For All the Saints,” “Gypsy Rover,” “A La Rueda Rueda,” “Someone” by Walter de la Mare.
Year 2: Tree in the Trail, Chapter 1; Burgess Animal Book, Chapters 1 and 2 (rabbits and hares); The Little Duke, Chapter 1, part 1; Lamb’s Shakespeare, “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” An Island Story, “Harold”; Genesis 1, Matthew 1. Renoir, Debussy, watercolors. Fractions with a Hershey bar.
Twins: Project-learning–Trains (Dash); Dolls and clothes (Dot). Reading–“Dick Whittington and his Cat,” Mother Goose.
The assignment sheet–with everything on one page–has proven a great help. We actually did *everything* we were supposed to do this week. Even the watercolor painting. Even nature notebooks. (Well, actually we lumped those together, but still–we did them!)
I didn’t make a specific schedule plan but we quickly found a fairly workable one: memory work, Bible lesson, “Twin Time”/independent reading time, followed by snack and a break, then math, read-aloud, copywork, and extra activity. The extra activities are one of four: Salsa movie; art appreciation and a Spanish picture book; art or handicraft with listening to music; and nature study or science lesson. That covers all the extras in about an extra twenty minutes at the end of the day. If we get started by 9 it still easily fits in before noon; if we get started later (as has been true this week as I am still recovering from the trip) the snack sustains us until a late lunch.
The Bible lessons have been surprisingly interesting. I got them composition notebooks with lines on the bottom and blank space on top, which leaves room for drawings or diagrams above and notes or copied verses below. We had some good discussions and they seemed quite engaged once we got going.
Duchess responds well to reading to herself and coming to narrate. Deux narrates beautifully, far better than when I read to him, but so far refuses to read himself more than one page. He is also balking at doing his own free reading. (The one thing we did not do as planned this week. However, we listened to *Mary Poppins* on CD during the trip and now they are listening to *The Saturdays*, so they are certainly not lacking in free reads. Duchess is reading *The Story of Doctor Doolittle* to herself and I am trying to coax Deux into *The Whipping Boy* which is not on the AO list but is a pretty good book and goes with the time frame. I am hoping he will gradually expand in this area–I don’t think it’s actually hard for him, he just thinks it is.
Copywork, alas, definitely still is hard for him. What seems practical for now is to drop the copying of phrases and focus on learning cursive. I don’t think he ever got proper letter formation down solidly, and switching to cursive will let us go over that ground again without backtracking. (Since it’s italic, the forms are very similar.) And he is happier doing that. We will do spelling once a week and orally (with visualization–I have them close their eyes, imagine the word, and read the letters of to me). With math he is fine with writing the answers if I copy out the questions. (We are continuing with the next Frank Hall arithmetic, which is still mostly oral but includes a few copy and answer questions at the bottom of most pages.) It seems to be the act of moving his eyes and what he sees from one place to another place that throws him. I’m still not sure how much I should push him in this area. He does show improvement over last year, at least–he can do numbers correctly most of the time and he has good pencil control.
The actual readings themselves were all quite enjoyable. The Little Duke seems to be the one people dread, but it’s got knights and castles and I can’t imagine them not being interested. Shakespeare got a Lego treatment, as usual. This was our first time using Lamb’s, but I think we will continue with it as they were perfectly happy with it. Our history lesson today generated a lot of interest–we colored a picture of Harold from the Bayeux Tapestry, which included a picture of Halley’s comet, which naturally led to a discussion on that, and what it was and when it would come next and how old we all would be, and the Bayeux Tapestry, and then I got out the Timetables of History and Duchess was enthralled, and Deux wanted to see on the map where Normandy was and said, “Hey, I bet Duke William of Normandy is William the Conqueror!” And we put things on the timeline.
We did painting this afternoon while listening to “Afternoon of a Faun.” Since we had not done nature notebooks yet, I insisted the first painting be of a natural object collected recently; Deux did an acorn he had found at the park yesterday and Duchess did a very detailed study of a snail shell. Dot painted a pumpkin. (Dash was sleeping off a rather nasty fall by the side of the road.)
The twins have mostly been tagging along or working on projects. Dash is working on building a train out of cardboard and foam (Deux got inspired and is making a car). Dot (with Duchess alongside her) is making a cardboard doll with a wardrobe of dresses from an upholstery sample book. They have both really gotten into this and Dash and Deux’s discussions this morning plus some research in library books turned up the discovery that trains do not use steering wheels; they use levers and buttons. This is good, since we only had nine paper plates and Deux needed five for his car. Dash’s project still has a lot of elaboration to go, but I’m not sure where to nudge Dot next. Perhaps she would like to make a house or something for her doll. (The boys made boy dolls to go with them. In fact, they all worked on it for several hours while I napped on Tuesday.)