Learning Notes

Learning Notes

2014-05-13 at 11.50.32

[Last week’s notes, not this week’s. I seem to be half a week behind.]


Baking day. I made scones for breakfast, baked a loaf of sourdough, and made lemon cupcakes for Sophie’s baptism day– belatedly since the acutual day was Sunday, but we were a wee bit busy.

We started off the morning with The Man from Snowy River, song and poem thanks to Joseph Suskana. I loved that movie when I was younger. Or my best friend loved the movie and I was happy to join her. I didn’t know about the poem it was based on. That poem should be on everyone’s Poems to Memorize and Recite list.

We managed math and reading and copywork. And I did some housekeeping. A busy stay-at-home day to recover from a busy weekend.

Started The Far Side of the Loch. Read Leif the Lucky (recommended on bearing’s American history book list, which we’re starting to dive into this week). Finished the Beatrix Potter Journal. And then delighted in several Elephant and Piggie books that we picked up at the library on Saturday.


More housekeeping. Vacuuming and tidying. It feels good to tame some of the crazy mess. Now both kids bedrooms and mine have been done.

The Far Side of the Loch. (Bella was thrilled at the mention of the Black Bull of Norroway. A version of the same was one of our favorite library books of the past year.) The Longhouse and the Wigwam book (recommended on bearing’s American history book list, which we’re starting to dive into this week). More Elephant and Piggie.


Vacuumed the office. Phew.

Bella finished Life of Fred: Cats
Sophie opted to use an old workbook for math. I was fine with that. I love it when she gets all self-motivated and so serious.

Afternoon story time outside. Oh such a delight with the warm sun and cool breeze. The Far Side of the Loch. The Longhouse and the Wigwam book. Little Bear’s Birthday and Little Bear Goes to the Moon. Leif the Lucky again at Sophie’s request.

Thursday Field Trip Day

We went to the Arnold Arboretum today. First a pop into the visitor’s center while we waited for a friend. There were seeds to handle and investigate. An electronic microscope you could pop things under that displayed the image on a big screen. Blocks of different sorts of wood. Then outside for trees, flowers, shrubs, vines, birds, squirrels, ponds, marshes. We read nature’s book and I had a delightful visit catching up with my friend. Then we went to a playground for a bit of recreation and to eat a bit more lunch. (There as soon as I stepped foot onto the playground I was spotted by another homeschooling mom. She had to leave, but we chatted for a minute. I guess I am that obvious.) And that second stop meant we got home too late for afternoon reading. Bedtime stories: Roxaboxen and Night of the Moonjellies.

Also before bedtime we did listen to a couple of versions of Robert Burns’ To a Mouse, inspired by the Morse family’s rapture at it in The Other Side of the Loch. Sadly, the You Tube video that translated into colloquial modern English was a little too colloquial. I’m glad I previewed it. Not safe for kids at all. So I think much of the poem went over the kids’ heads. The Scots dialect is hard even for me.

Friday: Grocery Day

We always have a hard time fitting in formal school work on days when we go to the grocery store. I’m learning to roll with it and not kick myself. But I had one of those little moments as we were getting ready to go that made me feel not quite so bad. I went into Ben’s room to help him put on his shoes and socks and he was playing with the abacus, trying to count the beads. He can count reliably to ten and sometimes beyond. He gets a bit muddled, but whatever. He’s four. So he was trying to count the beads and losing track of his place and I showed him how to slide each bead over as he counted it. Then I sat there once his shoes and socks were on and together we counted every single bead all the way up to one hundred. He was so quietly pleased with himself for counting that high. Sophie has been regularly counting to a hundred and beyond and I know he wants to emulate her. Ben doesn’t like exuberant praise, so I limited myself to an understated “you did it.” And then we went to the store. Normally I’m so stressed about grocery days that I end up hustling everybody out the door with yelling and scolding, but today I took the time to slowly count at the pace of a little boy and oh it was delightful.

My kids have this game they play at the grocery store. They pretend to buy food for a party or for an imaginary family. They follow me around pretending to pick things up off the shelves and put them into the cart. Bella started it years ago and Sophie and Ben and even Anthony have now picked up on it. Today Ben was buying food for a party, he told me. Sophie described for me the salad she was going to make with lettuce and cabbages– both red and green– and cucumbers. We had a nice little discussion about whether the ginger in gingerbread is the same as the ginger root they spied in the produce section. And I realized once again that going to the market every week it its own sort of education. We talk about where the various foods grow, how things are made. We plan meals and enjoy our time together. People who see us always marvel at my not-so-little crew of well behaved children but to them the grocery store is just a part of the normal round of life.

Afternoon story time did happen. We got in a chapter of The Far Side of the Loch. A nice big chapter of the Longhouse and the Wigwam, delightful stuff about daily life and clothing and food. (I foresee some pretending to be American Indians in our future. Oh we really have to get to Plimouth Plantation soon.) More Elephant and Piggie per Anthony’s request.

Sophie made an elaborate tower out of blocks using board books as stabilizers between the various levels. It had a delightful rhythm to it and I wish I’d got a picture. I’m constantly amused and delighted by the elaborate constructions that rise and fall daily on the coffee table or the living room floor. Mixed media constructions with blocks and legos and books. Feats of engineering and flights of fancy.

Bedtime stories: Gingerbread Baby and . . . something else. I forget because Dom read it.

On Saturday we went to my nephew’s confirmation party (a mix up with the emails had us miss the Mass, but I think that actually was for the best considering how long Mass was and how cranky our kids would have been to sit through it.)


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  • It’s wonderful that your children all behave in the grocery store. I am envious. I generally get by with gritted-teeth grins at people while whispering viciously, “If you don’t stop touching things we’ll leave and there will be no lunch!”.

    I should look into Life of Fred for Nat’s fall curriculum. Right now I’m floundering around with a vague sense that I should at least pick a math curriculum for Nat for fall, since he theoretically starts grade one, and I’ve heard lots of good things about Life of Fred.

    • Bella loves it. My main concern is that there isn’t much repetition, so it’s not a good vehicle for memorizing math facts. But the first four books get into all sorts of mathematical concepts that other primary books don’t touch. I think Fred is probably best as a supplement with something else on the side. I’m still looking for that something else. Miquon just doesn’t fit my needs right now, even though I like it in theory. A friend is lending me her Singapore books so I can look them over. Maybe that will work for us?