Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weekly Report

This is the end of our second week and I only hesitate to say it because I'm actually starting to write this on Tuesday, but, things are going very well.

Eleanor: Some big changes for Eleanor this year. Saxon 4/5 is a completely different format than the preceding levels. Fortunately, we seemed to have gotten the hang of the new format without much trouble. We're still reviewing and she seems to be recalling things well. No complaints here. We started Lively Latin this year and it is favorite curriculum for both of us so far. We switched from last year's French program to, "Ecoutez, Parlez", and its been a great move. Not only have we done French everyday but she asked to do French on Saturday (we didn't...long story). We're continuing with Spelling Workout, have moved to the next level of Classical Writing (Aesop B) and of First Language Lessons (FLL4).

Henry: He's in first grade now so we've added subjects. He's moved from Explode the Code to Spelling Workout. We've started a writing program, Writing with Ease (or Writing with Eeeeeee's, as the kids prefer to call it). He's moved on to Saxon Math 2 and First Language Lessons 2.

E & H combined: I have combined the two of them in science and history. We are using Story of the World 2 for medieval history and a hodge-podge for our science focus with is geography. This week's history lesson was the Celts. Geography was introducing some simple map concepts.

Eleanor's coloring page of Brigid:

Susannah: I started a preschool curriculum with Susannah this week. Its a very sweet, easy to implement curriculum that was brought to my attention at the WTM message boards. Its called, Letter of the Week: Preparatory Curriculum. On Monday we colored a picture of a cow and colored the word "cow". Then we put it on her poster. We read, "The Cow", by Robert Louis Stevenson and the book, "Kiss the Cow". On Tuesday, we colored a square and put it on the poster. We read our poem and we read, "The Cow That Went Oink". On Wednesday she colored the letter, "A", we learned, "Hey Diddle Diddle", read, "The Purple Cow" by Gelett Burgess and made a cow out of paper squares. On Thursday she colored the number "1", ate one Cheerio, put 1 sticker in her sticker book, sang, "Old MacDonald" and reviewed the week. We will read, "Click Clack Moo! Cows That Type".

Sadie's cow with coloring pages of Celtic clothing:

E, H & S combined: We're doing a "nature study". My version. It doesn't require us to go outside. We learn about a bird and a flower each week. As our geography unit progresses to covering the 50 states we will be learning about 2 birds and 2 flowers each week. The last 2 weeks have been house wren/dandelion and house sparrow/jack-in-the-pulpit. "The Burgess Bird Book" and "Bird Songs" are our 'spine' with additional reading from the library, like, "The Dandelion Seed", "Luba and the Wren", "House Sparrows Everywhere" and "Wildflowers". For flower inspiration I've used Mary Cicely Barker's "Flower Fairies" poems. Lots of coloring and looking for flowers and birds, WHEN WE ARE OUT without pressure to carve out time for it. I'm still hoping that will come.

Also with all of them combined we have turned Friday into our Art/Music day. This week we will learn about Celtic hand bells and I have a set of kids' hand bells for us to learn to play.


Last Monday we went to a "concert" for some homeschoolers given by Janet Sirret. She was great and there were only about 10 kids there so lots of opportunity to interact with her. The cd is a huge hit. Eleanor had piano and dance as usual. Henry had OT. Sadie had her first ballet class. We also went to home school park day one day each week. On Saturday night, Eleanor and I attended a lecture on the Crusades. This Saturday we will participate in the local Coastal Clean-Up.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great Moments in Home Schooling

Henry, on learning of something called a spiny-haired caterpillar:

"WHA WHA WHA WHA WHAT!!!! Why has no one told me of this sooner?!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The summer hiatus is going really well. I had originally planned to school year round but I'm glad we took time off to enjoy the weather and just the general summer-ness of summer. In reality, we've only been completely lesson free for about 6 weeks but it feels like so much longer.

I've been updating this blog for the new school year which will start either the first or second week of September. I have enough lesson planning done to get us off to a good start. We haven't changed much curriculum but we have added some things. Henry will be in first grade so he has more subjects than he did last year. Eleanor is adding Latin. Susannah will begin a more formal preschool program.

Here is our overview for this year:


  • Spelling Workout B
  • First Language Lessons
  • Writing With Ease
  • Story of the World: Medieval History
  • Geography
  • Saxon 2
  • Spelling Workout D
  • First Language Lessons 4
  • Classical Writing: Aesop B
  • Story of the World: Medieval History
  • Geography
  • Saxon 5/4
  • Ecoutez, Parlez!
  • Lively Latin
This week we will be tying up loose ends from June. Eleanor has 2 math lessons to complete. Eleanor and Henry need to wrap up our space unit. We have some residual projects related to ancient history that I'd like to complete. Then, onward and upward.

One of my recent projects has been fully committing the old dining room to our schoolroom by losing the dark mustard color. Great for stimulating the appetite but dreary for lessons. I've also put up a permanent white board and added all sorts of posters and such. Here are the pics of what I've done so far:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We're Back

I haven't updated in ages. Personal stuff, involving a lot of doctors' appointments mostly. I had to triage my life and I ordered things in a way that meant this blog took a hit. With those issues resolved I can now move forward.

Our lessons and routine continued even though I didn't blog about it. We did, however, take a 2-week break that was much deserved all around. More on that later.

The question of when our school year will end has been batted around in my head a bit. I had considered schooling all year but decided against it for a couple of reasons. First, I took my daughter out of the public school where she had been accustomed to a summer break. She's been very happy to be home but I think it would be pushing it to tell her that as a result of my decision she was going to lose her summer break. Her best friends across the way are in school and will be off all summer and we would be able to hear them swimming and playing and summering away. Not to mention other friends who are more available in summer. Not to mention, I need a break.

We've made great progress in all subjects. Henry finished his grammar curriculum several weeks ago and I've been making things up for us to do since then. Eleanor has finished the main section of her grammar curriculum and we are working on the extras now. She finished her spelling book and we went ahead and moved on to the next one. History will be finished next week. We have effectively dropped French. We may pick it up once history is finished. We'll see.

We are in the middle of an astronomy unit that should be finished it about 6 weeks. We have a lot of math left. About 35 lessons. Things got a little off-track with curriculum jumping in math but no troubles. We will just continue to do math lessons until the book is finished but in a few weeks I think math will be one of the only things we do. I'm pleased with what we've accomplished in this year. It was challenging. Our first year of homeschool and a few twists and turns thrown at us for good measure. We've come out no worse for wear and learned some things along the way. For what more could we ask?

One of the projects I undertook during the break was to begin building a dollhouse with Eleanor. I bought the kit when she was three-months old and she's been asking about it periodicially since realizing that we had it. I wanted to wait long enough for her to participate and not so long that she'd be too old for it. Tricky. Here are some pictures of our progress.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Hour Challenge: Week Four

Last week presented some challenges to my focus but I was determined that we would do our nature study. Did we do it on Wednesday like I originally planned? No. On Friday, which was my fall back day? No. We did it on Sunday and didn't post this in a timely manner but I'm learning that these are not the horrific derailments that I tend to fear they will be. Here was the assignment:

1. Read pages 16-17 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Highlight or underline those parts that will help you understand better the connection between nature study, language arts, and drawing.

"...there is one safe rule for is legitimate and excellent training as long as the pupil does not discover that he is correlating...ulterior motive is sickening to the honest spirit."

"The correlation of nature-study and drawing is so natural and inevitable that it needs never be revealed to the pupil."

2. This week take your 10-15 minute nature walk. If you have tired of your own backyard, venture down your street, around your block, or to a near-by park.

We went to a "nature" trail that runs alongside a creek at a nearby park. Its a little too well-traveled to really be a great location for a leisurely nature study but it served us well. We saw ducks and lots of bugs and various plants and trees and looked without success for tadpoles. We had a great time. No camera though. Someone didn't bring it even though I asked him to but I'm not going to mention names (it wasn't the small "him" of the house but that's all I'm going to say about that).

3. Follow up with discussion and the opportunity for a nature journal entry.

Because my overall participation in this challenge was limited there was not much in the way of discussion. Henry did not care to do a nature journal but Eleanor was so I presented her with this:

I know, I know...any old sketchbook would do but this is so cuuuuuuuute.

She sketched a picture and wrote this:

I think it is a beatle. The back stripe is red while the rest was black. It "Bzzed" but didn't sting.

Optional assignment for parents:
Take a look at your attitude towards outdoor time. Has it changed since starting these challenges? Are you committed to keeping up your Green Hour time because you see the benefits stacking up in your family? Have you started keeping your own nature journal or photo album of your experiences outdoors with your children?

My attitude has definitely changed. I like inside. I like couches and climate control and not being in the sun and clean hands. But my kids aren't like that. Well, maybe the boy. But I'd like for them to have an appreciation of nature and I like the built in correlations to other subjects. I'm learning to stop and take in my surroundings. I have not started my own nature journal. Or considered it. Photos are my nature journal for now. Baby steps.

We're on to Week Four and looking forward to it!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 10, 2008

This Moment Also Brought to You By Homeschool

Me: You'd better wait on the front porch until I figure out what to do with you. Now.

This Moment Brought to You by Home School

Eleanor and Henry walk along a trail holding hands.

Henry: I'm going to have very many books so I'm going to need a lot of shelves. But just non-fiction books.

Eleanor: But fiction books are very important. Let's say you're studying Homer, you may need to read, "The Iliad".

Henry: But, "The Iliad", really happened.

Eleanor: Well, some things were true. There really was a Trojan war but it wasn't fought over a Golden Apple.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weekly Report

This week's theme is "Carnage Comes to the Barbie-arians".

Eleanor: More of the same in grammar, spelling, science and French. We're still reading "Black Beauty" which I'm finding to be a much easier read than "Little Women". For writing she re-told the story of Cincinnatus. Her dictation came from "The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies"; "The Song of the Daffodil Fairy" pays homage to the daffodils are blooming in our yard.

I'm everyone's darling: the blackbird and starling
Are shouting about me from blossoming boughs;
For I, the Lent Lily, the Daffy-down-dilly,
Have heard through the country the call to arouse.
The orchards are ringing with voices a-singing
The praise of my petticoat, praise of my gown;
The children are playing, and hark! they are saying
That Daffy-down-dilly is come up to town!

This week in history Eleanor continued to learn about the Romans. We opened our "Lift the Lid on Gladiators" box. This was very exciting for Eleanor and she played with it for a good long time. The gladiator was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Barbie for a while but spent most of his time changing his attire to reflect different styles of gladiator fashion. We still have to explore the game and set up the Colosseum.

We completely hit a wall with Singapore 3A and now I'm reading that it might be better for a kid to start 2B before 3A even if some things are review simply because of the different methods taught in the earlier we're starting 2B. I have to say that math is the only area where I really question my ability to teach these kids (don't tell anyone!). I'm just not sure what is best for them at this point.

Henry: He had a rough week. Right now he is resting on the couch and isn't feeling very well which might explain his recent peevishness. We'll be finished with Dr. Dolittle today. He's nearing completion of "Explode the Code 3" and we are nearly finished with our mammals study. We are still back and forth between Singapore and modified-Saxon but sometimes just take a day to do a few drill pages and some word problems.

Susannah: Still totally adorable and working on her letters/phonics.

All in all a pretty good week with great weather. The changes that I implemented in January are really adding to our enjoyment of school/life. I'm feeling very positive about our direction (in spite of math) these days. I know it won't last forever, there are bound to be times when things won't be going as well, so I'm going to enjoy this while I can.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green Hour Challenge: Week Two

Week Two's challenge was as follows:

1. Read page 15 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (The Field Excursion) Read page 23-24 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (How to Use This Book) Make note of any points you want to remember.

I found the following points most compelling:

"It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess, if it is well planned."

"Make the lesson an investigation and make the pupils feel that they are investigators."

2. Challenge yourself to take another 10-15 minute "excursion" outdoors in your own yard again this week. Before setting out on your walk, sit with your children and explain to them that when you remain quiet during your nature time, you are more likely to hear interesting things.

This made me very nervous. My children are pathologically loud. It worries me because my mother is also insanely loud. What are the odds that it skipped a generation? Exactly.

But, the talk was had and we headed into the tiny backyard to listen, look and touch. Here are some of the things we saw:

The branch in the tree is some flotsam from a recent series of storms. It broke off of a tall redwood tree in the corner of our yard. Apparently someone's dryer duct also found its way there. Hopefully not ours. But probably ours.

3. After your walk, challenge your children to come up with words to describe the following things:
One word to describe something they heard. (For example: rustling, snapping, crunching or chirping)
Two words for something they saw. (For example: tall trees, frozen water, red birds)
Three words for something they felt. (For example: freezing cold wind, rough sticky pinecone)

We came back inside and talked about it over a snack to keep it very casual. Here are their answers:

Eleanor heard "Cawing" - saw "Redwood branch" - felt "Smooth, hard sap".

Henry heard "Ruffling"* - saw "purple flower" - felt "Hard, spiky pod"

Sadie heard "Tweety" - saw lots of things and didn't touch anything.

Henry had to be urged on a bit with his descriptors. No problem. Barb's point is that with continued exercises of this nature they will learn to come up with their own words to describe their environment.

*Ruffling is the sound of me pulling the redwood branch out of the bushes.

We did not do the optional journal entry this week. Everyone had great fun and we are looking forward to next week's challenge as well as to getting out on our own.

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekly Report

We did lessons this Friday because we took Tuesday off for appointments. It was a busy week and I'm beat and crankier than usual. On Monday, Eleanor and I hosted a tea party for some of her friends. She had two cookbooks that she has been reading and wanted to try some of the recipes so we decided to have a tea party. We had a great time but somehow I didn't manage to get any pictures. We used the china and everything too. Boo. We made cheesy biscuits, fruit tarts, mini banana muffins, cupcakes and heart-shaped sandwiches with a cream cheese and homemade (by my mother-in-law) blackberry jam spread. We served tea (for kids) but no one liked it. The entire bowl of sugar cubes, however, was consumed (sorry to the moms for that one, I should have known).

We're making more changes at the Academy. I am dropping history for Henry for a while. He really just wants to do our animal study. I continued on with history for a while as long as it seemed like he was still getting something out of it but now I don't think he is. He tolerates it and enjoys the maps but its too much investment of our time for 4 minutes of map work per week. We are adding nature study and more time outdoors after our formal lessons as part of our Charlotte Mason-ification of life.

Eleanor: Eleanor is memorizing Emily Dickinson's "A Slash of Blue". Not to blaspheme but I'm not in love with this poem for a third grader. For dictation I chose "The Song of the Almond Blossom Fairy" by Cicely Mary Barker in honor of our almond trees. Its very sweet:

Joy! the Winter's nearly gone!
Soon will Spring come dancing on;
And, before her, here dance I,
Pink like sunrise in the sky.
Other lovely things will follow;
Soon will cuckoo come, and swallow;
Birds will sing and buds will burst,
But the Almond is the first!

In history she is learning about the Romans which is fascinating to her. In science she is beginning her space unit. Our current read-aloud is "Black Beauty" which has been really enjoyable. At bedtime, she and Rick are reading the Fagel's translation of, "The Iliad". Math plugs along with us still doing Saxon but at a much faster clip now that I've cut out all of the things she has mastered. In other good news, we have been getting to French nearly every day since the beginning of the year and we are in the second book in the Power Glide series.

Henry: Henry is memorizing "Halfway Down" by A. A. Milne.

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So, this is the stair
I always
Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up,
And isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really
Its somewhere else
He is still doing animal study for science and we're nearly finished with mammals. He wants to move on to birds which is perfect because I have some books on birds on order to accompany our nature study. We are still reading "The Story of Doctor Dolittle". I'm not sure if he loves it like he loved the A.A. Milne. I think we will start the Thornton Burgess story books next week when we finish Dr. Dolittle.

Susannah: I've introduced her to the website and we've played on that a couple of times this week. No changes otherwise.

We had a lot of time playing with other kids this week. When it rains it pours. It was good because the last couple of weeks have seen a dry spell in that regard. No one seemed to mind.

A Word on Wordless Wednesday:

That picture was taken in the Lake Tahoe area. The bank was next to a driveway and was the result of months of plowing and was taken about a week after a stretch of incredible snowstorms.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Green Hour Challenge: Week One

Today we are starting a new adventure. It seems the online community that I visit is in the midst of Charlotte Mason revival and I don't know if that's concurrent with my recent interest in Charlotte Mason or if it inspired my new interest. Either way, it made for a lovely morning.

In keeping with the teachings of Charlotte Mason, Barb, at The Heart of Harmony, has initiated something she is calling the Green Hour Challenge. We've decided to take part in her weekly challenges and I hope to add more nature study to our days in addition to the challenges.

This week's challenge was for me to read the first 8 pages of Anna Botsford Comstock's, "The Handbook of Nature Study". Done. Excellent read. I actually only ordered the book last night so I won't have easy access to it until tomorrow but it is available to read online so I just printed off the first 8 pages.

The next part of the challenge was to "Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children, even if it is really cold and yucky. Bundle up if you need to. Take a walk around your yard or down your own street. Enjoy being outdoors." Well, it was kinda cold and yucky by Northern California standards.
So, wearing our boots and rain jackets we ventured out. First stop was the front yard where our almond trees are in bloom.

We then stopped to look at the new daffodils.

We crossed the street and found these seed pods that the kids call "Spike Sugar". We'll find out what they're really called when we get the book tomorrow.

Eleanor was taken with these pink flowers in a neighbor's driveway.

And all of us were quite taken with this dog-shaped tree.

At the end of our walk Henry offered me this flower. All together now, "Awwww."

When we got home and took off our wet things we sat down for a snack and talked about things from our walk. The kids mentioned most of the things pictured here. Sadie also mentioned that she liked "pink fwowers" (cyclamen).

We didn't do a ton of discussion but we did get out and have a great walk and I think we're off to a very fine start.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, February 1, 2008

Weekly Report

Eleanor: Eleanor's doing so well. I'm seeing big leaps in spelling across all subjects, her penmanship is quite good, we've moved from narrations to her completing short summaries on her own and we have conquered, to a large degree, problems with dawdling. We're really hit a groove with Classical Writing. Its not an easy program to implement but once you (the teacher and the student) figure it out its really a great tool to have in the arsenal. I'm very pleased with her writing and the difference between where she is now versus where she was in the fall is a testament to my superlative teaching skills both her growth this year and the efficacy of this program. This week she memorized the first stanza of "The Bells" by Edgar Allen Poe. It was our last week of earth science before we begin our space unit. In history we are in the throes of ancient Greece. She is particularly taken by the story of Alexander.

Our read-aloud, as I've mentioned, is "Little Women" and we're nearing the end. I read this book for the first time in Kindergarten and based on that, decided that it would be an easy read with a third-grader. Reading it now, I have a greater appreciation for why my parents were always bombarding me with complaints about not living up to my potential when I brought home Bs and English. I never quite managed to get across that it wasn't that I couldn't get an A, it was just that I didn't care about doing well in school. Big difference, Guys. I bet you feel silly now that you know that, huh? Anyway, a couple of chapters in I worried that the unfamiliar language would lose my thoroughly modern Millie but it didn't and she loves the book.

I'm not going to let her read the other book that I read in Kindergarten that made a lifelong impression, "Are You There God Its Me Margaret". Hello? Who thought that was a good idea?

I totally lied about switching math programs. We did two weeks of Singapore only and then I got cold feet and called off the wedding. Yesterday both kids worked on drill sheets. Next week we're going to do a modified Saxon week and some more drill before both kids move on to new concepts in Singapore (the math program, not the country). I think we might do that for a while. Use Singapore to introduce new concepts and then Saxon to reinforce and drill. Doing it this way I can skip many lessons in Saxon that were already mastered and were boring the kids to tears.

Henry: Henry continues to do everything exactly right. Its alarming. He's missed about 4 math problems all year and typically just because he wasn't paying close attention to the signs. He has never made a mistake in his Explode the Code books. He'd be the perfect student if it didn't take a team of experts to hold his attention long enough to hear what the lesson is. Its getting better. I'm actually very upbeat about his progress. I truly don't know how this child could have gone to school and learned anything. He needs to be redirected to the lesson constantly and no classroom teacher could be expected to do that. This week he memorized "Brownie" by A.A. Milne. He continues to study animals in science, insisting that we complete the entire book before moving onto our human body study. He tolerates history and its too bad he doesn't really seem to love it because he has an amazing memory for details.

More of the same next week and then we'll have a crazy week and then another partial week. I'm only now starting to lose my anxiety over missing days like that. I have to constantly remind myself that learning isn't about how much time you spend pegging away at lessons. Tea parties and vacations all lend themselves to learning. I'm getting there.

Edited to add:

Susannah: I am still working with Susannah from Kumon books in the mornings but I have delayed starting a formal preschool program. I decided that that was just me rushing along in typical Zelda fashion and that adding another thing to my plate was not conducive to sanity at this time. Even if we were still educating the kids conventionally I wouldn't be placing her in preschool program for a least another year. She knows all of her letters now. Well, she mixes up R,K and X but seems to understand that she's getting them wrong when she does. She is also starting to write some letters independently and will compose notes to us made up entirely of Os, Ss, Zs, Hs, and Fs. She is taking swim classes with Rick on Fridays.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What is Twaddle?

Well, that's the million dollar question isn't it? I was trying to answer that for myself as I went through a couple of shelves last night.

At the top of my list was anything that seemed like it had been written by some sort of mercenary hack and not a writer proper. I have tons of books that I just hate to read to the kids because the language is awkward and jerky and stilted and boring. By comparison, today Henry and I read Virginia Lee Burton's, "The Little House", which was thoroughly enjoyable. Same with things like, "Make Way For Ducklings" or "Hop on Pop". They aren't merely plot driven word jumbles with treacly morality ("So, Tyler and Megan promised to be best friends forever and ever. And they were. The End.") They are well-considered in their use of language.

If the book was based on a sub-plot from a Disney Princess movie it was out. I'll tolerate Disney's, "Beauty and the Beast", but not, "Belle and Jasmine Hook Up with Cinderella at Starbucks for Skinny Lattes: Part II". I cringe to think of how many of these there were. Blue's Clues. Gone. Strawberry Shortcake. Gone. Care Bears. Gone.

But how's this for slicing the bologna a little thin? I kept the My Little Ponies books. This had less to do with my attachment to the Ponies than to Henry's attachment to the books. Don't ask. I couldn't possible come up with an answer.

I kept lots of little readers (No "Silly Sally" but "Silly Sarah", how different could they be?) as long as they made sense. For some reason, some readers marked Level One have some decidedly not Level One type words. Like, "See Bob dive. See Bob swim. See Bob quadruple twist."

So, yeah, very subjective, but I also tried to keep this in mind. I have (-----) this much time to exercise my iron literary will over these kids and (------------------------) this many books I want them to read. If they spend (--) this much time reading "Bionicles" there only (--) this much time left for the Beatrix Potter series.

But, you know, if we're at the bookstore or the library and they sit down with twaddle I'm not going to snatch it out of their hands or make a comment but when they wander over the bookshelf at home looking for something to read I want to make sure they have something nutritious from which to choose. They don't even know about the revolution that's taken place as it was all done in the dark of night and I was careful not to remove anything that would arouse immediate suspicion.

Brittney brings up an interesting dilemma regarding classic books retooled for children. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, classics are typically classics not because they have great plot lines but because they have beautiful language and sometimes great plot lines too (and lots of other things, natch). On the other hand, as Brittney points out, Beowulf at any age can be a struggle but early exposure can make it seem less insurmountable later when faced with the real deal. To that end I have recently acquired the works of Marcia Williams whose cartoon style reworking of things like, "The Canterbury Tales" and "Robin Hood" are too darned cute to pass up.

So what's on our current reading list? Eleanor is reading, "Clarice Bean Spells Trouble", which is a contemporary book by British author and illustrator, Lauren Child (late of "Charlie and Lola" fame). Our read-aloud is "Little Women" - the original- and we are nearly finished. Henry and I just finished, "The World of Pooh", by A.A. Milne and started, "The Story of Doctor Dolittle".

I am reading "Inferno" (again, for a class), "A Year in Provence" (again, for bookclub), trying to finish "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and a stack of homeschooling/teaching books that grows more than shrinks.

I'm prone to crazes and this could be one of those but if it is it will be one of the more harmless in which I've indulged (trust me) and if its not, what's the worst that could happen?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Toodle-oo to Twaddle

I've started reading Charlotte Mason's series on educating children. I don't see us become a CM school but I will certainly be adopting some of her philosophies. At the top of the list, no more twaddle.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, twaddle refers to books with little literary or teaching value. She does not accept the idea that it doesn't matter what they are reading as long as they are reading and neither do I. But, value is entirely subjective and where I see value in, say, Madonna's series, "The English Roses", others might not.

By any measure, I have a lot of twaddle. I have a lot of living books, classics and contemporary books with value too, but I have a lot of twaddle. In the next two weeks I'm hoping to purge our home of these and gradually (or not so gradually if you ask the person handling the finances in our home, no names) replace them with books of worth.

This only applies to the kids, by the way, I'm keeping the Phillipa Gregory books.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Up To Speed

We've been getting situated since the long break which was longer than I'd expected it to be. It just worked out that we ended up taking almost three weeks off and then have had only a couple of "regular" weeks since then. But, grandparents don't visit from out-of-state everyday and doctor's don't have evening hours so it is what it is.

Some curriculum changes. We have abandoned the thorough and comfortable Saxon math for the spangly allure of Singapore math. The kids are much happier and are learning at a good clip while I flounder in the teacher's manual wishing for a complete script. Actually, I like it better also but I do worry about mastery of math facts.

We've added in PE in the morning which has not made our days intolerably long. I think it was a good move and the kids seem happy with it. I bought a gym mat for tumbling on rainy days (of which we have many lately) and I'm angling for a little trampoline although I'm not sure my trampoline phobic husband will go for that.

I've also added short social skills daily lessons for Henry based on "The Social Skills Picture Book" and "Playing It Right".

For my own amusement I downloaded a printable daily cleaning schedule. Gosh and begorrah if it isn't actually working! Best $8.00 spent so far this year.

We like the new additions and have tightened up the schedule and things are going mostly great. That works for me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Meme!

B. at King Alfred Academy who rightly identified that I needed a gentle shove to get back to my blog, tagged me:

Book Meme

  • Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  • Open the book to page 123.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the next three sentences.
  • Tag five people.

I reached over my shoulder and grabbed "Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories" by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe.

"The imagination and symbolism in these myths affect children and adults alike at a deep psychological level, shaping our perceptions and judgments. The D'Aulaires recount all of the major Greek myths with unaffected grace. The pastel shades of the color illustrations perfectly capture the otherworldliness of the gods, though they are rendered with recognizable human virtues and vices. "

Good stuff.

I tag: Lesley, Vivian, Sarah, karen (if she's reading) and Nicole (if she's reading).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday