Learning Notes Week of March 19

Sophie totally absorbed in a book.

Monday March 19

Everyone did math and copywork. Ben did Explode the Code and all of last week’s troubles had melted away. He did a whole page, reading sentence after sentence, and was dancing around declaring joyfully that reading is fun. I’m wondering if it was the time change did him in last week.

I spent the better part of the day making cream puffs for Ben’s name day feast. It took longer than expected, but this weekend was too busy to do any of it ahead of time. Still worth it and the children spent much of the morning playing War and Chess and other games.

Afternoon stories: Only three books, Sword Song, Door in the Wall, and North with the Spring. Good discussions about all three, though. Bella was especially distressed about the Poisoned Hills chapter of the last book. She couldn’t rest until we’d looked up Ducktown Desert and learned about the reforestation and conservation that had happened since the book was written in the early fifties. My tender-hearted naturalist cannot bear to think of devastation without wanting to heal it.

Cream puffs for the feast of St Joseph.

Tuesday March 20

Anthony: math, copywork, read Child’s History.

Ben: math, Explode the Code. Had a much harder day, feeling under the weather with a sore throat.

Sophie: math, copywork, worked on getting an oral narration onto paper with me transcribing. Wrote about four handwritten pages about her biography of St John Henry Neumann.

Bella: math, copywork, Latin.

Lucy worked on writing everyone’s names.

Afternoon stories: Sword Song, Story of the World, St Margaret Mary, Door in the Wall.

Ben and Anthony helped me cook dinner tonight: turkey chili. We covered food safety and identifying different ingredients, and they helped to stir, fetch ingredients, open cans, wash celery, peel onions, etc. Yes, they’re working on cub scout badges, but also they’re just curious and interesting and enjoying being helpful. The nice upside is that both of them tried the chili with no complaint. And they even liked it! Ben ate most of a bowl, heavily laden with tortilla chips and cheese, but still.

Bedtime story: Castle in the Air

Anthony improvises a cloak.

Wednesday March 21

Anthony: math, copywork

Ben: math, Explode the Code, cooywork. A little easier than yesterday. Not as ebullient as Monday. Still feeling rather under the weather.

Sophie: math, copywork, French.
Bella: math, copywork, studied dictation and grammar.

Bella and I went to the library.

Afternoon stories: Sword Song, Door in the Wall.

Bedtime story: Crane Wife retelling.

Thursday March 22

Anthony: math, copywork

Ben: math, copywork, read a Bob book to me, one from the first box. Amazing to see how much his reading has improved since the first time he read those to me. He’s so confident and fluent now, at least at that very early stage. But it’s very heartening to see the progress he’s made. He’s still feeling rather under the weather, though.

Sophie: math, copywork, French, geography.

Bella: math, copywork, Latin. Composition: a stanza of a poem she’s been working on, plus notes on the birds from a morning’s birdwatching at the window. Today’s snow made for lots of activity. She saw (besides the usual crew of house sparrows and juncos and tufted titmice and chickadees): a male and female cardinal, a pair of morning doves, a mockingbird, a blue jay, a downy woodpecker, a crow. Ben and Sophie spotted our house finch again. He’s new to the feeder this year and Bella especially is thrilled to see a new to her bird. I think we’ve seen him on three different days now. So Bella wrote down some observations about the birds.

Bella snapped a photo of the cardinal.

Bella, watching birds.

Ben snuggling with me while he reads me a book.

Afternoon stories: Sword Song, Augustus Caesar’s World, St Margaret Mary, Door in the Wall.

Finally finished Door in the Wall. I had a nice chat with Ben about it. He told me what he liked and we discussed whether we liked it better or Sword Song.

Ben helped me cook dinner again, putting on an apron and helping at every step of the way and staying for the whole process. He’s really taken an interest in cooking. He also made spaghetti at lunch today with only a little help from me in telling him what to do and draining the water for him. He wasn’t a huge fan of the harissa and chickpea chicken we made, but at least he did try it on his own, which for him is still a big deal. I can see that the fringe benefit of cooking is more adventuresome eating. Why didn’t I do this ages ago?

Bedtime story: Before She Was Harriet, a book about Harriet Tubman; My Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Pollacco.

Sophie and Bella are really liking Beast Academy. Anthony has been jumping back into MEP.

Ben, my sous chef, pulling parsley leaves off the stems.

Friday March 23

All the kids have a cold. Sophie was flopped on the couch, looking pathetic. I gave up and declared it a sick day. I made breakfast and made sure all the kids ate. We did have stories: Sword Song and St Margaret Mary.

Finished Sword Song, which goes up there among my favorite books that we’ve read. About Vikings in the British Isles, it ranges from England to Ireland to the Hebrides to Orkney to Scotland to Wales. Seems to be connected to Sutcliff’s Roman Britain books with two characters who have Roman dolphin tokens like the one in Eagle of the Ninth et al. Intense and with some dramatic battle scenes and two angry mobs attacking main characters. My kids loved it, but more sensitive children might find it too much. I loved the ending, it was perfect.

Bedtime story: Castle in the Air, The Seven Ravens, a retelling of a Brothers Grimm story.

Ben made a Lego picture: a sailboat at a dock, an island with a lighthouse, a bright sun.

Saturday March 24

Bella and I had picked up a Great Courses dvd about the Hubble Space Telescope at the library. We watched one lecture, on the Crab Nebula. The kids all watched the whole thing, but I think it largely went over their heads. Bella seemed to appreciate it, though. The images were great and the professor lecturing was really good— regularly teaches astronomy classes for non-majors—but it’s still a college-level lecture.

After that we watched The Last Jedi, which everyone loved.

Watching Star Wars the Last Jedi.

Sunday March 25

Spent some time in the afternoon learning about Snap Circuits with Anthony. We worked through Chapter 1 in the book I got and learned a lot of basics about electricity and circuits. A lot of terminology for him to absorb, but he was totally focused (except the couple of times he ran off to see what Daddy was doing in the office, but then he came back a a minute later every time and was focused again). It’s fun to watch how completely absorbed Anthony is in this kind of work. He loves building and understanding how things work. Snap Circuits are perfect for him.

Anthony shows off his circuit to Ben and Sophie.

4 Responses to Learning Notes Week of March 19

  1. Cristina @ Linguavert April 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m so happy for Ben! Reading is fun . . . but it can be a real chore at first, too.

    Right now I’m rereading the first Harry Potter book in German and comparing this experience to my first time. Back then, I gave myself a terrible headache in the very first chapter and just slogged through the rest of it for the sake of shoving German into my mind. And then I refused to have anything to do with HP, even in English, for a year! But now it’s a whole other experience. Reading German is easier, and therefore, more fun. And because I don’t have the second book in German, I’m already bookmarking well-reviewed Harry Potter Fanfiktion to read later!

    It’s great to hear about the cooking as well. Pretty soon they may be taking over dinner duties completely! I know of another home schooling family in which the parents set aside one night for the children to do everything. But it’s not just one night, because the children have to go grocery or market shopping to get their ingredients beforehand as well. I think cooking can be just as great an adventure as reading. I hope your family continues to have fun!

    • Melanie Bettinelli
      Melanie Bettinelli April 6, 2018 at 12:13 am #

      He’s still got a long ways to go to get out of the cvc words and into polysyllables. But when I look back on how much of a struggle just mastering the alphabet has been, I’m so proud of his progress. We really don’t push him too much because he’s so easily frustrated. So his progress is in the turtle category, if not the glacial. Sometimes I think he could progress so much faster if we were only more consistent and spent more time practicing, but over and over again I relearn that I have to work with who they are and not look at where I think they should be. I’m sure a reading specialist would be pushing us to do more work and be more consistent. But I’m also sure he would be very unhappy if I were to drag him through a bunch of tests and specialists. So we creep ahead and enjoy the little victories.

      Cooking at least does not creep. Tonight Ben helped cut potatoes and trim green beans– with the big kitchen knife!– and helped spice the salmon and put away the dishes too. I’m definitely looking forward to the day when they can take over some of the cooking. They already do usually make their own lunches and breakfasts and that already is huge. Cooking is definitely an adventure. I remember before I was married I thought bread baking was totally beyond my capabilities. Now it seems so simple and basic, I wonder why I ever feared it. And now I can do cream puffs too! I love mastering new recipes and new techniques. Though I’m not as good at sharing the kitchen with kids when I’m still learning how to do something myself. I can really only teach what I’ve already mastered. But it is an adventure we can go on together and it is good for them to see me trying new things— and even failing occasionally. Just wait until you see the colossal failure my Easter bread was!

      • Cristina @ Linguavert April 6, 2018 at 4:08 pm #

        I saw a photo of that bread on Facebook! It did look a little strange, but the true test is the taste, right?

        Or as my friends like to say about most of my baking: “Wow, it tastes better than it looks!”

        • Melanie Bettinelli
          Melanie Bettinelli April 7, 2018 at 1:38 am #

          It tasted ok, no one complained; but neither did it come out the way it was supposed to taste. It was meant to be a sweet bread with lemon and orange zest and with notes of vanilla and almond. But I didn’t add enough sugar and somehow the aromatics just didn’t register at all. It just tasted like rather dry challah. Not bad, but not what I was aiming for.

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