Learning Notes Epiphany Week

Sophie names her stars

Sophie names her stars

Last week we took a break from school work, that is no reading, writing, math. But plenty of read alouds and other educational stuff. We watched Much Ado about Nothing, which Bella got fro Christmas. And episodes of Blue Planet. Notable books include The Great Serum Race. The Sad Night, the story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss.

Monday:

I meant to have Monday be our first day back after our impromptu break, but I scheduled a dentist appointment for all of us for early Monday morning. I had a thought of having Bella and Sophie at least bring along their math books and do them in the waiting room, but it was a chaotic morning and as it was Lucy went to the dentist in her fleece pajamas and Sophie almost didn’t make it out the door at all.

So by the time we came home, it was clear that schoolwork wasn’t happening. I wrote it off and determined to make a better start on Tuesday.

I let the kids watch an episode of Blue Planet while I put Lucy down for her nap.

We did have a long, cozy afternoon reading session. We read a bunch of the books the kids got for Epiphany and several more besides. Miss Suzy. Roses in the Snow, the story of St Elizabeth of Hungary. St Felix and the Spider. Some of Ben’s Illustrated Book of Knights. The first chapter of The Mitchells, Five for Victory. A chapter of Little House in Brookfield. The Little Juggler. St Valentine. St Helena and the Cats. The Water of Life. The Little Boy’s Christmas Gift.

All the big kids playing together in harmony, such a wonderful sight

All the big kids playing together in harmony, such a wonderful sight

Tuesday:

Well, we did have to go to the grocery store because we were out of almost everything except pantry and freezer staples. And even some of them. But I begged the girls to at least do a page of math before we went. They surprised me by diligently diving in and doing two pages of math each (well, Sophie did a page and a half) and a page of copy work too. Sophie was thrilled to finish the last page in her Memoria Press book and looks forward to starting the new book tomorrow. Bella did her copy work in record time, maybe two minutes all told. Bella was thrilled to be able to use a negative number in her math work.

We all went to the grocery store. (Listening to The Magician’s Nephew on the way there and back.) The kids were high energy and wanting to run and yell and I couldn’t blame them. It was 16 degrees out and snowing, so no one wanted to run around outside when we got home.

We had lunch, they all played with the math manipulatives and started a wild game in the living room. I made a king cake. Bella read me half a dozen nursery rhymes from Lucy’s new book. We had afternoon read alouds: The Mitchells, Five for Victory. Who is Coming to Our House? A bunch of other picture books, mostly re-reads from yesterday and other days.

Bella with copy work

Bella with copy work

Fairies do math

Fairies do math

King cake. Prettier before the glaze and sprinkles

King cake. Prettier before the glaze and sprinkles

Wednesday:

A little less snappy on the math and copy work, but yesterday set an unusually high bar. Both girls did two pages of math. Bella finished her copy work. Sophie got halfway through hers and then needed a break. Each girl read me a chapter of Mouse Soup.

I read the kids the Lambs retelling of As You Like It. Then we watched the Shakespeare’s Globe video production of the play that Bella got from Grandma and Granddad. That was a big hit (though halfway through Ben declared that he was tired of listening to it. So I suggested that he decamp to the other room and he replied that he wanted to watch it, just not listen. The play was fun. And I was quite, quite impressed that Bella correctly pegged two of the actors as having also been in The Merry Wives of Windsor. I couldn’t even remember the characters’s names, but she knew exactly which role they’d played. I had to find the liner notes and look at the cast lists to verify she was right.

Watching the play did take up all our afternoon story time, which Anthony was upset about after the fact. Afterward, it was fun to talk with Bella about what the Lambs leave out of their retelling. She chatted with me quite a bit about the play, trying to understand the motivations of various characters, to comprehend the action. It was fun to watch her process it.

At dinner we chatted about product packaging and labeling and marketing, looking at the bagged salad bag, the milk jug, the can of refried beans. Some basic economics in there too, I imagine.

Bedtime stories: The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Yucky Worms.

Ben's new castle blocks in action.

Ben’s new castle blocks in action.

Thursday:

Dom worked from home since his car was in the shop. Bella found a Singapore placement test I’d printed off a while back and decided to finish taking it. She figured out division, after asking me what the division sign meant. Three problems solved all on her own using Cuisinaire rods. Including 32 cookies divided such that each kid gets 4 cookies, how many kids?

Then Bella made up some of her own math problems, maybe four of them.

Sophie did math and both girls did copy work.

Afternoon stores: The Mitchells, The Illustrated Book of Knights, Faith and Life Catechism book. Sophie really likes the F&L and I generally think it’s solid, but I think it waters down the Bible stories too much. I edited on the fly to add in details I thought were important that the book skipped.

Friday:

Bella was all over the place. She made up some math problems on her own using the Cuisinaire rods. She wrote a poem about the snow. She wanted to record the birds she saw in her bird record book. She tentatively identified a bunch of birds on a far off wire as starlings an I pressed her a bit to give a reason for her identification. She wasn’t able to articulate it so I asked more pointed questions and helped her think through size, shape, behavior, past observations. She finally did a page of math in the Miquon, clocks, that took her forever, with major distractions between each problem. She breezed through her copy work pretty quickly, though.

Sophie and Ben and Lucy played with pattern blocks. Sophie made stars and Ben made a cool cherry picker truck. I asked a pointed question that led her to discover that two of her stars, made with different shapes, we actually the same size.

The kids wanted to start off afternoon stories with picture books. I read several and then nodded off before we even got to the chapter books. When I woke up again we did read two chapters of The Mitchells and then the second half of the history chapter we read last week, the one on Cromwell and the Protectorate, the Restoration, and the plague and the Great Fire of London.

Bella discovers a negative number

Bella discovers a negative number

Lucy draws

Lucy draws

Bella's snow poem

Bella’s snow poem

Bella and Ben gaze out the back door at the birds in the snow

Bella and Ben gaze out the back door at the birds in the snow

Lucy plays with pattern blocks.

Lucy plays with pattern blocks.

Sophie makes stars with pattern blocks, one for each season.

Sophie makes stars with pattern blocks, one for each season.

Ben makes a cherry picker truck out of pattern blocks

Ben makes a cherry picker truck out of pattern blocks

Saturday:

I got a bunch of books about India and we read a legend about an Indian princess, a sort of an inversion of the Orpheus story. She’s beautiful and clever and picks her own husband knowing he has only a year to live. And then when he dies she manages to bring him back from the dead because of her cleverness.

4 Responses to Learning Notes Epiphany Week

  1. Melanie January 15, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    I love the poem!

  2. Katherine January 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    One thing I love about my new FB system is that it gives me more time to reflect on and mull over blot posts.

    I still love Bella’s poem. I’m curious about the pattern blocks… did you buy a set of them? I have a Melissa and Doug set that came with patterns you can duplicate but I don’t think it has the variety yours does.

    And I have to ask, when do you find time for FB, your blog, and yourself? I generally like to take a break in the afternoon… Okay, I need a break in the afternoon while the two littlest nap but I also want to get more read aloud time in the afternoon and I’m not sure the best way to organize it.

    • Melanie Bettinelli
      Melanie Bettinelli January 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

      We also have the Melissa and Doug set of pattern blocks, but these came with the Saxon math kit. I think it had pattern blocks, teddy bear counters, colored tiles, two laminated hundreds boards, two plastic clocks, linking cubes. A really nice set. The pattern blocks are actually the same as the Melissa and Doug set that we have except made of plastic instead of wood and with slightly different colors.

      About finding me time:
      Now the way we do school, I think my kids spend a lot less time sitting at the table with books than I get the impression yours do. So that’s part of it. I often take mini FB breaks in the morning while they are doing independent work or while I’m waiting for them to get themselves together, etc. If I go to the bathroom, I might take an extra minute to check in, or when the kids pause for a snack. I check in at lunch while they eat. I sometimes do FB or read a book when I put Lucy down for her nap. I usually wait till she falls asleep and then take an extra 20-30 minutes for myself before moving on to doing read alouds with the kids. (Afternoon reading time can be as short as half an hour and as long as three hours depending on everyone’s mood and how many books everyone feels like reading and how much time Lucy allows us to have.) I might check in with FB again after our afternoon reading time before moving on to dinner prep. Much of that is keeping up with one or two private message groups that tend to chatter all day long. I really wish I were using more of that time for reading books, I’ve let the FB habit really creep recently.

      After the kids are in bed is when I usually blog. I take five minutes to write my learning notes. I check blog comments, and I might work on a blog post. That’s also when I might watch a show with Dom or by myself on my laptop or do a little reading. I stay up far too late most nights. Even though Lucy has been sleeping through the night, I don’t get to bed till after midnight most nights. I probably average six hours of sleep, and I can’t blame that on the kids except indirectly. I really crave that alone time. I try to read a chapter of a current book right before I go to sleep (usually after I shower while I’m getting dressed and brushing my teeth and flossing etc) and then I say Night Prayer and go directly to bed after that. Right now I’m reading Mansfield Park. My brain tends to click on after midnight so often I get more writing ideas in the shower and sit down to jot them down before Night Prayer.

      Once a month or so I get a book I really want to read, something easy and quick and I drop off Facebook and spend all those microtimes immersed in the book.

      • Melanie Bettinelli
        Melanie Bettinelli January 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

        Oh I think if you’re looking at the picture of Lucy, she’s got some pattern blocks, but she’s also got a bunch of the multicolored tiles that are about the same size and shape as the squares in the pattern block set. Maybe that’s why it looks like it has more?

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