Saturday, April 21, 2012

Week in Review

The books we read this week ...

We've come to the end of our first week of our second term. What an amazing feeling to have gotten it all done. And, happily at that. I really am growing into my homeschooling skin this year. It took me a couple of years of floundering to finally find my groove. But, I am here. And, it is lovely. The Hippie tells me that I should write my own curriculum and sell it when I finish homeschooling them, "Because you're so good at it", she says. That's a good feeling. I'm so glad I stuck to my guns all of those times that I was tempted to buy some other person's curriculum. I have written my own that truly meets what my family wants and needs and it is lovely.

Okay, moving on. As I said, we actually finished everything this week. I'm not going to lie and say it was always perfect. I was in that "way" that women get once a month that makes them irritable and less than motivated. As such, I was very tempted to throw in the towel on more than one occasion and say "NO SCHOOL today. GO PLAY!". But, I pushed through. And the "high" produced by getting it done felt way better than any break would have made me feel. That would only have made me feel guilty. Of course, it helps that my children are finally getting into the "habit" of school. Things go more smoothly when you have willing and motivated students. Students who are finally realizing that we can get this stuff done early and have the rest of the day to do whatever we want. Our rhythm here helps tremendously ~ Morning routine * School * Lunch * Quiet Time * Play outside with friends * Shower/Bath * Dinner * Bedtime routine * Sleep ... Day in and day out. When we know what comes next, it is easier to get through whatever block we are in the midst of.

Okay, I'm going off on all sorts of tangents. Let me get to it. What did we do this week?


We started reading about Moses this week. This is a favorite story in this house. That probably stems from my love of the Charlton Heston movie "The Ten Commandments" as a child. And, maybe a little from my love for seeing the oppressed set free. Anyway, we read about how the Israelites grew in number in Egypt after Joseph's death and about how eventually the Egyptians forgot how Joseph had helped them during the Great Famine. Several generations down the line, Pharaoh became threatened by the sheer number of Israelites living in his country and commanded that every Hebrew baby boy be killed. We read about how Mose's mother placed him in the bulrushes of the Nile river. We read about the Egyptian princess who saved him and adopted him as her own. We read about Moses being raised as a prince and eventually murdering an Egyptian out of anger for how he was treating the Hebrew people. We read about his exile into the desert and about how he met and married into the family of Jethro. I could go on and on, telling this story by heart. But, I'll stop here. Each of the girls took turns narrating the story as I read it. The Hippie copied a line from one of the chapters we read and drew a picture.

Isn't this a lovely drawing? She says it is Ra, the Egyptian Sun God in his boat.

Here we have Moses in the baby basket in the bulrushes and the Egyptian princess who found him. Do you see Ra floating in his boat in the sky in the background? She really likes this Ra character!

We read the story of the Clever Farmer this week. The girls really enjoyed this one and I didn't even have to draw a picture for the Princess to model because this story included a scene with a horse and she is way better at drawing horses than me! They narrated this story to me during our school day and then retold it to Daddy that evening. The Princess drew a picture and copied a sentence from this story.


We read about 25 pages from "Life in the Great Ice Age" this week for our World History studies. I'm not so sure how I feel about the book, but the Hippie loves it. However factual it may or may not be, the story is definitely engaging and it gives a good look at how life might have been way back in the "cave-man" days. It clearly comes from the Young-Earth, Creationist perspective. And, while I most certainly believe that the Earth and everything on it was created by God, I do not believe the Bible is a literal representation of time. I do not believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. I believe that science and religion don't have to be mutually exclusive. It is perfectly okay for science to help to explain the hows and for faith to explain the whys. I guess you would call me one who believes in Intelligent Design (the theory that the world was designed by God, but not necessarily in seven literal days) rather than a Creationist (one who believes the Bible is the literal truth). Either way, it's a fun story that gives us insight into the daily life way back when. The Hippie liked it so much, she decided to draw a picture from it even though it was not an "assignment". Here is her picture.

Here we have the boy in the story (Jabeth) and his wolf-dog, Thar.

We read about Eric the Red and Lief the Lucky this week for American History. The Hippie was excited to learn about the Vikings. We'll be getting into the Viking Tales more next year, but we got a nice introduction this week. We read one chapter from "A Living History of Our World" which introduced Eric and Lief. The girls did a good job of narrating this chapter. The next day, we read this great book I bought to teach us about Eric the Red. We really enjoyed the book. I'll have to look for some more of these "What's Their Story" books. Anyway, we learned all about Eric living in Norway and moving to Iceland and eventually discovering Greenland. We read about Lief eventually discovering Vinland (Newfoundland). We followed their voyages on our globe and talked about how they had "discovered" North America 500 years before Columbus, but they didn't stay because there was conflict between them and the Native Americans that were already here. The girls each did some copywork about Eric the Red for their "My America" notebooks. We will be reading D'Aulaire's Lief the Lucky next week to get an even clearer picture of this era. Here are some pictures from this week.


This week we veered from my plans just a bit because I am waiting for books to arrive in the mail. When I planned out the term, I intended to do certain lessons from the Outdoor Secrets companion this first week. But, then over the weekend I decided I was tired of using the library because we were spending as much on late fees as we would if we just bought the books we wanted to use. So, I set out on an online hunt for used copies of the books I knew I wanted to use this term. Since they hadn't all arrived yet, I made some impromptu changes to my plans. This week we read some books we already owned and enjoyed some good old-fashioned Nature Study. We read "The Reason For a Flower" by Ruth Heller and "The Brave Plant" from Outdoor Secrets. The girls narrated and then on Friday we went outside with Nature Notebooks and Lyra pencils. I told them to find something colorful in the yard and sketch it. They each chose something and went to work. It was beautiful and peaceful and simple. Who knew this thing that has mystified me for three years now could be so easy? Anyway, here are some pictures.

The Princess

The Hippie
 The girls also found this really cool looking "Rasta Colored" beetle.

We received our Ranger Rick magazine yesterday and that prompted some additional conversation and interest-led study. There was an article in it about a really cool Vet-Camp for wanna-be Vets. I'm definitely going to have to find out about that (The Princess intends to be a vet)! Talking about being a vet got the Hippie interested in what she wants to do. She started looking on our shelves for any books we had about marine life. She remembered our "Twenty Years with the Dolphins" dvd and settled for watching that. At dinner we talked about Marine biology and going to college and Marine sciences and the various careers one could have in the field of Marine science. We talked about doing a Marine biology course when we get to the high school years. ... And, this morning, they watched the dvd again. :)


We started a new poet this week, AA Milne. We broke out our copy of "When We Were Very Young" and started to enjoy it. We read 8 poems on Thursday and talked about how this was the same author who wrote the original books about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. I've had these poetry books on the shelves for years now and this is the first time we've broken them out. I think we will enjoy them. The pictures are colorful and fun and the poems are very kid-friendly.


We also started a new artist this week, Mary Cassatt. I had planned to do picture study on "Children Playing on the Beach", which we did. But, then the Hippie wanted to do another one, so we also did "Susan on a balcony, Holding a Dog". The girls love picture study! We now have these two paintings hanging on our refrigerator to enjoy until the next time we do picture study.


This was a favorite subject this week. We started a new composer, Beethoven. I have the 10-disc set "Masters of Classical Music" and we popped in the Beethoven CD on our first day of school this week. The girls then proceeded to request it constantly this week. We've only been studying Beethoven for a week and we already know this CD by heart! The favorite song is Fur Elise ~ it reminds the Hippie of being a baby because she says that one of the musical toys in her crib played the song. As I type this, she just put the CD in again. Lovely music to write to! We also started reading this fantastic book I picked up a while back (I just love acquiring old books). We read the first 25 pages this week. It is most certainly a "living book" ~ very well done. And, I love the smell of the antique copy I have!


We continued along in our book "The Seven Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air". Again, I have a beautiful copy from 1887 instead of one of the modern printings. I just love to have it in my hands and smell it. And, the writing is amazing, too. The author does a beautiful job of painting a picture for you to see in your mind's eye. And, I must admit. I'm pleasantly surprised that there appears to be no racism or bias in her tone. That is impressive coming from a book that was written in 1861! Anyway, this week we read about Gemila, the child of the desert. We got an amazing view of life as a nomad in the heat of the Middle Eastern desert. The imagery was so vivid ~ narrating was a breeze!


As with everything else, we were quite productive here this week. Both girls moved along in their math lessons. The Hippie finished lessons 9 and 10 this week and will take the test for lesson 10 on Tuesday, moving on to lesson 11 after that. The Princess finished lesson 4 this week and will work on lesson 5 next week. I cannot say enough about how wonderful it is to finally have a math program that everyone loves and that we can settle in with!

A lot went on in language studies this week. The Hippie finished learning all of the cursive letters and moved on to copying short phrases about famous works of art in cursive. She likes this part a lot and has been looking forward to getting to this point in her lessons! She also completed 10 lessons in her Language Lessons book this week, learning about singular and plural nouns as well as doing a little bit of picture study with me and narration practice. For copywork (other than the bit about Moses and Eric the Red), she finished copying the poem from last week. She has also been reading a lot. She read "Encyclopedia Brown", six chapters from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and started reading "Henry and Ribsy" this week. She also read "A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson".

The Princess is moving along quite nicely as well. We started a new lesson in her Delightful Reading program this week. We started "The Dogs and the Fox" by Aesop. She "learned" (she already knew how to read) new words and read new sentences from those words. I'll say it again ~ she doesn't need this, only wants it. Oh well. There are worse things in life she could be asking for, right? She also completed 8 lessons in her Language Lessons book this week, including some phonics practice as well as an introduction to punctuation and the period (which she already knew all about) and some poetry appreciation. She read several Christina Rosetti poems to me from her Reading Literature book and then I let her choose something fun to read to me. She read a couple of "Biscuit" easy readers to me. She's been reading to the animals a lot, too. She read Cobweb the Cat to the cats the other day and has been reading "Biscuit" books to the dogs. On her own time, she's been reading a lot of other stuff, too. She started reading "Are you a Dragonfly?" and read to herself three books from the Pinkalicious line. I know she's had her head in a book often, but I'm not sure what else she's been reading. Other than that, she also decided to start writing a book the other day. She wrote two sentences about a cat and then drew a picture of this cat. We'll see if she continues with that.

I think that about covers it. I can't really remember, to be completely honest. I'll just leave you with some pictures from our week.

Silly hairdo

When did they get this old?

A little man the Hippie made out of cheese :)

They are doing jumping jacks ~ something I instituted many times this week to get the wiggles out.


Our Butternut Squash YESTERDAY

Our Butternut Squash TODAY

Our Acorn Squash buds
Well, I believe that about covers it. The children are off, playing with their friends. I am listening to Beethoven and am about to get things ready for next week's school. When did this become my life? I don't know, but I sure do love it! Wishing you a lovely weekend.



  1. You always inspire me to drop MFW. :) Looks great ... now add two more kids (one non-English speaker) and let me see how it goes before I commit to this whole on-my-own thing! You can do it for me ... this is truly beautiful! Don't forget that, my friend!

  2. Love, love love it!!! I love the pictures! They are amazing..and you are such a wonderful writer. I am learning myself just reading the blog....things I never learned or don't remember for sure! Was the old book you referred to from my house?? I can't remember what you took now, but tell me more about it! LOVE YOU!

  3. Oh Erin, it really is lovely to go it alone IF YOU CAN. But, I am most certainly NOT in your shoes! If you feel more comfortable with a BASE that you can add and subtract from, by all means, do what works best for your family. ... Or, if you'd like to, just COPY MY PLANS. I'd be happy to give them to you. :)

  4. Mom ~ thanks! The old books mentioned here are not from your house. But, I am excited to read one that looks like the same time-frame that I got from your house. It is a Christmas book, though, so we won't read it until December. The ones mentioned here were found on Ebay. :)

  5. I think I'm all set for 3rd and 1st in August. :) I posted it on my blog and I think it'll be wonderful ... as long as my African cooperates. haha. What does that even mean???? xo

  6. Love it! Great week! :) Your daughter looks just like you! ;) The jumping jacks is a GOOD idea...hmmm...I also love how you have your daughters draw for narration a lot. I need to remember that for my 7 yo son!

    Thanks for sharing! :D

  7. The drawing stems from my original interest in Waldorf. They like to do it, too. The only problem is when my 7 year old thinks she's messed up ~ she's a bit of a perfectionist. That brings on tears. But, we work through it. The jumping jacks ~ you know you can tell when they're getting antsy. I just start making them stretch and shake and dance and whatever for a few minutes before we sit down to do copywork or math or something like that. :)


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