Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekly Report

We had a good week. Eleanor got through 2 chapters of SOTW (Ancients) which is good because I'd like to have her getting closer to working at grade level. She finished her cursive workbook. Still needs work on remembering the capitals but she's doing well otherwise. We did three days of Saxon math and one day of Singapore. Well, we did a day and a half of Singapore. On Wednesday we tried to do it but I didn't get it and then I realized we were doing the wrong lesson so I scrapped it. She did two days of science. One day I let her play with the internet links instead of doing a narration.

She's learning a new poem for memorization. "A Tragic Story" by William Makepeace Thackeray. She read, "Cat Mummies", "Who Built the Pyramids" and finished her free-read pick, "American Sisters: A Titanic Journey Across the Sea...". She finished the last one at bedtime. I know that because she came storming out of her room, handed me the book and said, "I never want to see that book again!" She was very unhappy that one of the main characters died. She is starting, "Lugalbanda" for directed reading and Usborne Illustrated Stories for Girls for free-read. She did three days of Writing Strands and is doing a great job building upon a core sentence. Her writing was dodgy in the beginning. Its amazing to me how far she's come in such a short time.

What we didn't do is a fun art project and French.

Henry did even more copy work this week. He copied the names of his aunts and uncles and his cousins. We learned a new poem but its pretty uninspiring so I'm dropping it and will pick something else. He did three days of Saxon and one of Singapore. It was his first time using Singapore and he liked it. I was glad to see that I could understand the first grade level Singapore math. There's hope for me after all.

He did two days of history even though I was thinking about cutting back to just one. It worked out just fine as long as he had things to do or look at while I read to him. We read several Greek myths including the Twelve Labors of Hercules. I tried to read something else one day but he insisted on the myths. He did two days of science which means we read about four animals this week. He was suprised that prarie dogs are a kind of squirrel. So was I.

Extracurriuclarly. Wait. Extracurricular-wise. Well. Whatever. It looked like this:

Monday - E Soccer game.
Tuesday - Park Day.
Wednesday - E Brownies, E basketball practice.
Thursday - E dance, E soccer practice.
Friday - Birthday party for a friend.

Thank goodness piano got canceled and we opted out of OT.

Goal for next week: more French.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stymphalian Birds, Sargon, Still Sewing

Is it possible that things are starting to gel? I hardly dare to suggest it lest I jinx us into another two week stretch of horror like we had recently.

I've taken a break from doing reading narrations with Eleanor. Its interfering with how much reading she actually does and if we're doing narrations for history and science I can address reading comprehension at that time. Our days are zipping along without them and I think that's a good indication that it was time to let it go...for now.

I'd love to eliminate cursive as its own subject entirely and just incorporate it into all the other written work she's doing but its her favorite part of the day so we'll soldier on. In language arts she is beginning to diagram sentences. Its actually been fun to learn that again. Yesterday was a science day. She did a killer narration on the sun and the moon and shadows. Today was a history day and he learned about Sargon/Sumer/Akkadia. Her reading as all been related to the history.

Henry spent the last two days finishing up the story of Heracles/Hercules. I devised a clapping method to remember the 12 tasks. We clap when we say the numbers:

1, 2, 3, 4
The man-eating lion.
The nine-headed hydra.
The stag with gold antlers.
The huge wild boar.
The Augean stables.
The Stymphalian birds.
The great bull of Crete.
The man-eating horses.
The Amazon Queen.
The cattle of Gyrion (you have to jam that into beats but you can do it).
The three golden apples.
The three-headed dog.

We never got all the way through without stumbling (I fumbled around a bit typing it just now) but we could stumble our way through all twelve. He did a narration just so I could be sure he understood the story outline (he did) and he picked one task to illustrate. I was sure he'd pick the Cerberus but he went with the Stymphalian birds. We also had an argument over how to pronounce Cerberus and its still not clear even after a google search. Anybody? Anyone?

Henry is a few chapters behind Eleanor is the history text now. He read about mummies today. Yesterday for science we read about squirrels and skunks.

I introduced Singapore math to Henry. It went okay. I also did Singapore with Eleanor and once again, I just didn't get it. I'm going to have start reading it well ahead of time.

Eleanor had a Brownie's meeting today and basketball practice this evening. Thank goodness piano, which would have landed squarely between them, was canceled. Yesterday we attended a park day with the South Bay Free Scholars. It was such a lovely day.

Time to get back to the costumes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Founder's Day

Sarah has suggested that I make next October 22 a Founder's Day holiday. Hmmm...

Today went well. Henry was mostly cooperative and when he wasn't he had a choice between losing a computer day and copying some "I will not" sentences. He picked sentences. So, there was extra copy work to make up for the lack of a narration. I'm thinking about cutting way back on the amount of narrations he does. Today he didn't do any but I still feel like he got a lot of out the history lesson (hieroglyphs, cuneiform, papyrus, Mesopotamia). Since the goal of history at this age is simply exposure I think we can do narration on a case-by-case basis. He did some map work and a coloring page.

Henry and I read further into the Tasks of Heracles/Hercules. Eleanor read almost two Magic Tree House books about mummies and pyramids. She didn't quite finish the second. I don't love MTH books but I don't mind the occasional one that's pertinent to our lesson. Eleanor was fascinated by mummification (and found the word 'mummified' to be hilarious). Our history activity book has a chicken mummification activity that we might have to try. She did a narration for history along with map work.

Eleanor did a lot of cursive. She's a page away from finishing the third grade text. Starting tomorrow we'll switch her over to full time cursive writing and to the cursive practice book en Francais! She did some dictation.

I need to keep working on teaching instead of proctoring. I need to find ways to engage Susannah instead of shooing her away all day. She's made a lot of progress with number and letter identification. She's walking around singing, "M says mmmmmm. M says mmmmmm. Every letter makes a sound, M says mmmmmm." You know the one right? Her favorite thing to do is practice her "poems". She knows, "Work" by Anonymous:

Work while you work,
Play while you play,
This is the way,
To be happy each day.
All that you do,
Do with your might,
Things done by halves,
Are never done right.

She knows snippets of "The Caterpillar" by Christina G. Rossetti and can recite most of "How Doth the Little Crocodile" by Lewis Carroll (including the authors). She hangs out with us all day just listening and trying to interject herself into everything. It reminds me of when the kids were babies and would stare down the food on your plate with that, "You gonna finish that?" look on their faces that let you know they were ready for solid food. I think she's ready for solid food.

Henry found a $10 bill in his dresser. He requested that we use our recess time to go to Hallmark and buy another Webkinz. We did just that. Which is probably where the time for French went. Ce qui sera, sera.

Here's an exchange that went on between Rick and I last night:

Zelda: I found an arm in the dryer.
Rick: Whose is it?

Only after the exchange did it occur to me how completely alarming that would sound out of context.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Technically, we don't have school on Friday but we do some school related things. Eleanor has her weekly spelling test and I'm hoping to get to a point where we will be doing Friday Field Trips.

Yesterday, the public schools were off so we met up with friends. We went to Starbucks, Border's bookstore and a local park. In the late afternoon Henry had OT during which time Susannah napped, Eleanor did French and I tried to read "Oedipus the King" for my class. We're having varying degrees of success doing French in the car. Yesterday was a bust.

In general, French gets far fewer days than I was hoping. But, until we tighten up the three Rs that won't change.

I'm trying to figure out what to do about reading for next week. We're moving into ancient Egypt with our history lessons. I was thinking about starting our Hebrew Bible/Torah reading. Not sure I'm ready to give up Greek Mythology just yet though. So many great stories still to be read. But, I have to check my natural tendency to obsess over a single subject until I've exhausted my own and everyone else's interest in it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Webkins Field Trip brought to you by Hallmark

Another pretty good day. I think we can do better. Henry is in a down phase with his behavior. Everyone's kids do this, right? Go through 2-week phases of atrociously bad and uncharacteristic behavior in-between months long stretches of more typical behavior? Please say yes.

Our story today was "Orpheus and Eurydice". I found my ire raised by Eleanor not being able to remember the name Eurydice in spite of having (1) read the story (2) been present when I read the story to Henry (3) participated in a discussion in the van on the names Orpheus and Eurydice (4) watched a short about Orpheus and Eurydice and (5) listened to Henry do his narration on Orpheus and Eurydice.

Now, I know some of you are thinking that I'm being too harsh. After all, Eurydice is not a name she's encountered before and she is only eight. Let me defend myself by telling you that this is a child who has nearly memorized the latest Barbie movie after only two viewings. I read somewhere, in a book suggesting that very young children could and SHOULD learn ancient history first, that a child who could say "triceratops" could also saw "Hammurabi" (I'm paraphrasing wildly). I agree and I apply the same logic to this situation. A child that can recite the entire catalog of episodes of "Winx Club" can remember the name Eurydice after hearing it about 200 times in a 40-minute period.

Both kids did a narration and a coloring page and both chose to color the same scene, "Orpheus crossing the river Styx".

Today was a science day. Henry read about Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils (one page) and moles (one page). We skipped a narration and just did a coloring page. Eleanor read about satellites, space stations and space shuttles and did a bang up job on a narration that I had her narrate and then write for herself. The spelling was dodgy but the content was right on the mark. Baby steps.

Eleanor did Sinagpore math today. I was nervous because I wasn't sure I totally understood the number fan thingy I was supposed to teach. Luckily she figured it out immediately, corrected me once and finished it on her own.

We took a field trip to Hallmark today because Henry wanted to use his money for a Webkin. Eleanor got one for her birthday and we have Webkin fever now. Only one person, a rather senior lady, asked if schools were out today. Eleanor said, "I do homeschool." The woman had a killer poker face and just asked a bit dryly, "Oh, how is that going?" and then without missing a beat, "Do you like your teacher?" I wanted to bring her home. I bet she has a great blog.


  • Printing "b" - 15 minutes.
  • FLL - review "How Doth...", nouns, copywork - 20 minutes.
  • Hallmark Field Trip
  • Reading - awesome music video, narration, coloring page - 55 minutes.
  • Science - reading, coloring page - 20 minutes.
  • Math - 40 minutes (he was frustrated by tangrams for some reason then it just seemed to click and he sped through them).
  • Spelling - 20 minutes.
  • Reading - music video, narration, coloring page - 55 minutes.
  • Writing from a core sentence - 30 minutes.
  • Cursive - 20 minutes (she wanted to do 6 pages so I let her. She's anxious to know the whole alphabet so she can do all her work in cursive).
  • Field Trip
  • Science - narration - 30 minutes.
  • Math - forgot to time it...25 minutes I'm guessing.
No school on Fridays!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Icarus, Osiris, papyrus & Lewis (Carroll)

I think today went well. Still some blips to iron out but for the first time I'm starting to see some light at the end of the long tunnels called "no reading comprehension" and "rambling sentences". Eleanor has really figured out how to tighten up her sentences.
Today's myth was "Daedalus & Icarus". They seemed to really like and get this one. Henry's history lesson was gods of ancient Egypt most of which was just the reading of an Egyptian myth about Osiris and Set. There was a coloring page so I let him color it while I read. Brilliant! Thank you, Penny! We got through it with just one reading and he really got it. The narration was a piece of cake. Both Icarus and Osiris drowned today so it was kind of a weird unintentional theme. Eleanor's history lesson was hieroglyphs and cuneiform with a brief introduction to Sumer.

Eleanor still struggled with reading for content instead of speed. She had to re-read the materials for both reading and history with instructions to stop after every paragraph to make sure she understood what it was trying to say. Then she got sent back again after I explained the difference understanding and memorizing. I think we're breaking through it though.

The highlight was a visit from Sarah and Maya!


  • Printing - 15 minutes
  • FLL - review "Work" poem - learn "How Doth the Little Crocodile" - more proper nouns - copywork - 15 minutes
  • Break
  • Reading - "Daedalus & Icarus" - narration (so easy today!) - play the Icarus game - 20 minutes.
  • Break/Lunch
  • History - Gods of ancient Egypt - coloring page, oral questions, narration - 25 minutes.
  • Math - written and oral assessments - 15 minutes.
  • Piano
  • Spelling - 3 pages - 20 minutes.
  • Writing thank-you notes - 15 minutes.
  • FLL3 - adjectives, sentence diagramming, dictation - 15 minutes.
  • Cursive - 10 minutes.
  • Reading - "Daedalus and Icarus", narration - 50 minutes - TOO LONG!
  • Play with Maya!/Lunch
  • History - supplemental reading, narration, map work, coloring page - 1 hour - TOO LONG...did not finish coloring.
  • Math - 30 minutes.
Tonight I'm hosting Book Club here. We read "Rebecca" and one of our readers is bringing a copy of the film. I'm really looking forward to it. The next book is my pick and I'm still up in the air about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Persephone, hedgehogs, Osiris and the moon

Caveat: If you're not me this might be pretty dry reading.

Today started well. I've been timing the kids to see how long things are taking. My goal is to keep each lesson to about 15 minutes for Henry and 20 minutes for Eleanor. We were on track all morning even with a bit of trouble during language arts with Eleanor during which there was a minor flare up on my part. Let's face it, a person can only say, "Please look at me while I'm talking", so many times in one life and I maxed out last week.

So we trucked along up until the morning break and then when we reassembled it wasn't quite as smooth riding anymore. Henry, who usually loves science, didn't pay attention during the reading on hedgehogs and mice (one page per animal). He had trouble during the narration (3 -4 sentences per animal) and had to re-read some bits for basic information that usually really sticks with him. Still, it wasn't *so* bad until we got to the notebook page.

The notebook page is just a drawing of something from the reading. Its easy and fun but there are rules; it isn't free-form. That is, it has to look like the animal about which we learned using information from the reading. If the reading doesn't mention flying hedgehogs then no flying hedgehogs. If we already know that mice aren't cherry red then no cherry red mice. Also, no rushing through it. It has to be thoughtful. He had to start over 4 times. He seemed to think I wasn't going to follow through on making him do it by the rules. By the time I took out the fourth sheet of plain paper he was convinced and the final product was quality work.

Since the day was going well and we were doing great on time, I had Eleanor get ahead in history. The reading was extremely short and easy. She banged it out and answered the questions without a problem. The narration wasn't quite as smooth. At her grade level, part of the purpose of the narration should be to come up with concise, explanatory sentences. I'm trying to teach her to trim the fat by asking prompting questions which she will often ignore in the hopes that I will give up and tell her the answer. Or, she thinks she has a better approach than my question. It was a struggle of this sort over one small point that dragged out the narration. It was resolved but not without some unhappiness.

Those two blips set us back in terms of staying ahead but we were still doing well for time. However, my handling of the situation was once again not helpful. Instead of being angry and annoyed I should have come up with a way to get them back on track. I hope that by writing this down and then reading it again, I can reinforce the idea that I'm supposed to be teaching them and not just managing their books and assignments.

Eleanor didn't follow directions for the science portion but I let it go and accepted her work which was actually quite good in spite of not being what she was told to do. Math went along easily except that Henry was being insanely silly and got a time-out which took up some time.

Here's the breakbown:


  • Printing - 2 pages - 17 minutes
  • Break - 45 minutes while I worked with E
  • FLL - Lesson 18 - Review "The Caterpillar" & "Work" poems for memorization. Discuss place names/proper nouns. Copywork - San Jose, California x 2 - 18 minutes.
  • Read aloud from UGMfC, Demeter and Persephone. Watch the cool short. - 20 minutes.
  • Break - 45 minutes
  • Science - Hedgehogs and Mice - read, narration, coloring page - 50 minutes - TOO LONG
  • Lunch
  • Math - 35 minutes - includes time-out and lots of goofing

  • Piano - about 15 minutes (I didn't time this one)
  • Spelling - one page - 20 minutes.
  • FLL3 - Lesson 12 - Review "The Land of Nod", discuss how to do narration. Copywork. - 20 minutes.
  • Cursive - 3 pages (she requested the 3rd page) - 10 minutes.
  • Writing Strands - Build on a core sentence - 15 minutes.
  • Read GMrbGM, Demeter and Persephone. Watch the short. - 20 minutes.
  • Break - 45 minutes
  • History - Egyptian gods & goddesses - read, oral questions, narration, coloring - 55 minutes (did not finish coloring)
  • Science - The Moon - read, watch clip of moon landing, narration, coloring page - 25 minutes
We were finished by 2:15-ish. Then, we went for our weekly park day with a local home school group. On the way there Eleanor did some French. We stayed at the park for about 2 hours. Eleanor finished her French on the way home and we listened to a few more chapters of "Despereaux" (it was rush hour).

I had dinner in the crock pot already which was good because after I stopped to pet the Guinea pigs (more on that later) I only had enough time to get changed and go talk Iliad at class.

Which brings me to now, finishing this blog post while Rick brings me a bowl of soup. Its not a 401k but I understand that there will be cake to follow and in my world that's just as good.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Perseus, King Narmer & The Land of Nod

Today was a long day. I'm not sure what went wrong. We did use one break time to go to Hicklebee's to do an exchange but it didn't take *that* long (even though someone parked us in). On the way home we listened to "The Tale of Despereaux". I may need to buy this book. I'm loving it.

So, longer than necessary but no blow-ups and not too frustrating.

Henry is still covering nouns in First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (hereafter, FLL). He did some copywork and reviewed the poem he is memorizing. He has it down cold so we might move on to a new poem before the end of the week.

Sadie should have it memorized by tomorrow. Eleanor and I happened to overhear her reciting the whole poem while she was coloring nearby. Kinda super cute.

Eleanor was introduced to sentence diagramming in FLL3. She did dictation and worked on her poem, "The Land of Nod" by Robert Louis Stevenson. She should have it down by Wednesday.

Henry did some printing review and Eleanor learned cursive 'n'. She did 3 pages in her spelling workbook.

Directed reading for both kids was the story of Perseus and Medusa. Henry read the version in Usborne's "Greek Myths for Young Children". Eleanor read the version in "Greek Myths" retold by Geraldine McCaughrean. Then they watched a super cool online short of the story. Each kid then did a narration. That's when they retell the story in their own words and I write it down for them. Typically, this is a painful process with directed reading. Their reading comprehension is not great. Today was no different but we didn't fight and I was more generous with my prompts than usual. So it took a looooooong time but it ended well.

Then we did a funny project:

History today was set in ancient Egypt and discussed when Egypt was forcefully united by King Narmer. They did a narration and map work. This generally does not go well with Henry and I was about to let history go until next year until I got a super suggestion from Penny. She said I might let him do the map work while I read to him. The nature of the map work didn't allow for that but I found things for him to look at while he followed along including maps and pictures. He really listened and narration was a breeze. Eleanor is using the same text as Henry but then reads additional pages and I require a longer narration.

Map work:

Henry is learning his doubles facts in math. Eleanor learned about the fraction bar. Easy peasy as usual. That's why I save math for last. We always end on a good note.

A Very Good Place to Start

Welcome to the official blog of The Aquitaine Academy housed in the humble yet charming Repent-at-Leisure. If you're here that probably means you're me, in which case, let me take a moment to say that you're looking especially lovely today. In the event that you're not me, let me explain the purpose of our blog. I'm hoping to keep a record of our goings-on and use it as a way to help me track our progress. Sounds simple enough.

We are following a classical education model based on suggestions from this book:

Click on the book to learn more.

Here is the typical (ha) daily schedule for each child:


We don't hit all of our goals everyday and in fact, we don't hit them most days. I'm being introduced to the concept of "carschooling" which is where we have done some of our French lessons and some "read alouds" via the cd player. I'm also being introduced to the concept of ending the day crouched in a dark corner, rocking back and forth like one of Maslow's monkeys. Dinners aren't what they used to be and my toenails are still wearing the end of summer's last pedicure but at the end of the day, I still question if all this is really worth it. Let's find out.