Learning Notes Week of Feb 20

Snow play.

Abandoned fort.

Scat in the snow. Squirrel?

Sophie leaping in the snow.

Three kids in the snow.

We started the week with deep snow. On Saturday I got my new snowpants in the mail and took a walk with the kids. But the weather was warm enough that we didn’t need coats. The warm trend continued all week and by Friday the snow was almost gone and the kids were barefoot and wearing shorts. The mildest February ever!

Monday Feb 20

Anthony’s sixth birthday coinciding with President’s Day, which Dom got as a holiday, I just decided to take the day off and let the kids spend the day with new books and new toys. I don’t have a hard and fast rule about school on birthdays, sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. With everyone still recovering from the respiratory stuff, including me, it seemed like a good day to be lazy.

Which doesn’t mean that many books weren’t consumed. Anthony got a good pile of them. The favorite being a new Asterix Omnibus. Everyone took turns with it, and there was a good deal of reading aloud.

We even skipped afternoon stories because I forgot to make the cake in the morning!

Grandma B met us for a nice dinner out and then came back to the house for cake and ice cream.

Bedtime story was the first chapter of Anthony’s new book about King Arthur and his knights, by Margaret Hodges, Of Swords and Sorcerers.

Anthony opening birthday presents.

Anthony opening birthday presents. Legos!!!

Ben passed on a beloved stuffed animal to his little brother. Best birthday present ever.

Ben and Anthony with new muskets. (actually Kentucky long rifles, details!)

Birthday legos

Reading Anthony’s new Asterix.

Reading Anthony’s new Asterix book.

New Asterix.

Birthday candles.

Tuesday Feb 21

Today we slowly got back into the swing. Everyone did math and copywork.

Poor Bella got very flustered over division with fraction remainders. I’m not good at explaining off the cuff and things got a bit ugly. We decided to call it a day and come back to it tomorrow.

She then spent most of an hour reading to me from one of her books and then telling me about it. It’s one of the Dear America diaries, about a young Jewish girl who flees from Vienna to New York during WW2. It sounded horribly, horribly sad. Her mother commits suicide, her brother goes to Palestine. She ends up with an aunt and uncle in New York. She spends some time writing in the persona of Alice in Wonderland. As Bella noted, when your entire world turns upside down, sometimes all you can do is hide in a book about someone whose world is upside down.

Bella and I also had a little discussion about a photo of a Rodin sculpture in the art history book I was flipping through. It looks rough and unfinished, God’s hand holding Adam and Eve naked and curled around each other. We talked about why the sculptor would deliberately leave the piece looking unfinished. A good discussion. I sketched a picture of the sculpture, I wasn’t very satisfied with it, but it gave my hands something to do while Bella and I chatted about her book.

Afternoon stories: Anne of Avonlea, Calpurnia Tate, St Patrick’s Summer, Story of the World (Athenians), Africa Trek.

Bedtime stories: a tale from the anthology of African stories, Misoso, which everyone is enjoying thoroughly. Also, We Found a Hat.

Lucy’s writing. It says “Lucia Rose Bettinelli” and “I love Daddy and Mommy.”

Wednesday February 22

Everyone did math and copywork.

Sophie got suck with math and then unstuck. She did copywork, proud for not needing to refer to her cursive letters at all as she copied out from a print model to cursive. She read to me from 50 stories.

Anthony resisted math and then was delighted at how easy his page was, regrouping numbers to make tens and then adding them. He read from Stories for Little Americans. He was reading to me, a story about Ben Franklin showing experimentally that black absorbs heat more than white. While he was doing his copywork, he was clearly thinking about the reading. He started telling me that in picture books people put always put black top hats on snowmen, but that he thinks that’s a bad idea because it will make it melt faster. At first I was wondering why the heck he was telling me about snowmen and it seemed that he was rambling and I almost tuned him out and then I realized he was making a connection with the reading he’d just done. He’d grasped the principle and was extending it and applying it not even to his own experience but to a literary text, because it’s not like he’s ever seen a real snowman in a top hat. And then when I praised him, he told me he didn’t think he was clever because Ben and Lucy didn’t like his palace that he’d built that morning. Poor little fourth child.

Bella and I figured out the math she got stuck with yesterday and she copied cursive and print copywork. She pulled out her reading journal but got sidetracked before she wrote anything. I don’t think she read to me. She tried to read Winnie Ille Pooh and figure out that socius leporis meant rabbit’s companion. So I wrote that on the board and counted that as Latin for the day.

Went to the park for a picnic lunch and nature walk. Ben wanted to see all the birds: swans, geese, mallards, gulls were all out at the point where people always come to feed them despite all the notices tell you not to. Well, the kids got to see them up close at least and make some observations. Bella wrote in her nature journal and noted the color of a goose’s tongue and we speculated about why it is pink, talking about the general patterns of the colors pink and red (and yellow and orange) as colors that warn or draw attention.

Got home late. Read one chapter of Anne of Avonlea and that was it for reading aloud.

At dinner Bella and Dom took turns retelling the story of Beren and Luthien. She told her parts of it with animation and filled in all sorts of details he’d forgotten. She explained that she remembers thing when she can make a picture in her mind. Which is why remembering to take her medicine is hard, there’s not a distinct picture unless it spills or someone says something funny while she was taking it or some such.

Bedtime story, another African story from the Misoso book.

Watching swans.

Bella’s world.

Lucy with waterfowl.

Ben watches a swan

At the park.

Lucy and the tower.

Picnic at the park.

Thursday Feb 23

Grocery store day. Late start, not much school. No math, but Bella and Sophie each did a line or so of cursive copywork.

Afternoon stories: We read outside! The weather was glorious and spring-like! Finished Anne of Avonlea. Read: St Patrick’s Summer, Story of the World (Greek gods and the story of the golden apple), Calpurnia Tate.

The kids spent most of the day outside. They got out their bikes and Bella realized she’s getting too tall for hers. Her knees hit the handlebars when she goes around curves, she says.

Bedtime stories: Misoso

Story time outside.

Friday Feb 24

Another beautiful, sunny, spring-like day. I think the high might have hit 70! The kids spent most of the day outside. Barefoot. In shorts and t-shirts. I kept the doors open and went barefoot myself. And of course we had all the usual warm weather injuries to show for it, lots and lots of bandaids. And mud tracked through the house and dead leaves. But oh it was glorious.

I started reading today’s lectionary readings, need to get back to that habit. Anthony had some commentary on today’s Gospel. Bella had some observations about the first reading from Sirach, connecting it to a story she’d read.

Bella and Sophie began with cursive copywork. Bella has worked up to copying more than one line at a time. And it looks good. A few wobbly bits here and there, but on the whole a very presentable cursive. In just a couple of weeks! Sophie is still working on mastering writing in pen and going from print model to cursive writing. Her poem isn’t the prettiest thing, but I see improvements.

They each did a page of math, neither needed help. It’s so nice when that happens. Ben and Anthony each did math. Ben did two pages of letters and a sentence of copywork. He’s starting to drill himself a bit on the letters, I can see where he’s still struggling to remember what little f is, for example.

Anthony read to me from his Book of Saints and then copied a sentence.

Sophie read me a bit of geography. Bella didn’t read to me.

I suggested for a sort of composition/narration that Bella write a little something about volcanoes, maybe a picture book for Lucy and Anthony. She was enchanted by the idea and set down to do it at once. She wrote a little five sentence story about Kilauea and illustrated it and then immediately ran to read it to Lucy after she’d shown it to me. Then she wanted to do a second story about Manua Loa, but I think she was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of writing it all down. So I asked her to tell me about it instead and I took a little video of her telling the story and then I transcribed it for her and she illustrated it. She wants to do more stories about more of her favorite volcanoes. She loves being a teacher and telling stories. I need to harness those impulses because it really makes everything go so smoothly. Two narrations, one oral and one written, in one day!

Afternoon stories (Inside, but only because injured Ben did not want to do them outside.) Finished Calpurnia Tate, such a good ending! Read Africa Trek, the ascent of Kilimanjaro. (I’ve not been all that good at following this on the big map, but we at least look at the inset map in each chapter and at the photographs). Began Sun Slower, Sun Faster, which Bella and Sophie have both read before. It’s going to be a good read-aloud I can tell.

While I was cooking dinner I listened to part of Jeremy Irons reading Eliot’s Four Quartets, one of my absolute favorites. I think the kids were listening at bit, at parts. Oh so beautiful!

Bedtime story: Misoso.

Anthony reads a saint book.

Bella composing outside.

Bella writing outside.

Ben and Sophie on the dome.

Bella reads her composition.

Bella’s volcano composition.

Bella’s volcano story, oral narration.

2 Responses to Learning Notes Week of Feb 20

  1. Lisa February 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    Nice update! Great pictures. I’m wondering if your French learner has tried Asterix in French?

    • Melanie Bettinelli
      Melanie Bettinelli February 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      Not yet, but that’s the long-term plan. I’m getting them hooked on it in English so I can eventually get them for Sophie in French.

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