I Heard a Fly Buzz: Learning Notes
Lucia devours broccoli
Lucia devours broccoli

Today was a very unschoolish day! Bella did her Life of Fred math which involved us all breaking up sticks of spaghetti and eating them raw. Sophie filled in her Saxon calendar and then we played War in lieu of a lesson. Anthony and Lucy played with the Cuisinaire rods and then Sophie sorted buttons and played a game with making button families. The playing cards stayed out and were enjoyed and explored.

Bella read a brief lesson but I didn’t do reading with Sophie or get Bella to read a book. Oh well.

Death, Love, and Spring

Then we had an Emily Dickinson marathon. Something Bella said about flies buzzing made me want to read “I heard a fly buzz”. You know how a line gets stuck in your head and you have to read the poem to remember how the rest goes? After I read that one the girls begged me to read more and more. We discussed each poem at some length, reading the lines over again and again, trying to ferret out the meaning, exploring the images, looking up words I wasn’t too sure of in the dictionary. Perhaps a dozen poems in all. (I’ll list the first lines below.) I read a few in the first section I’d flipped too, all of them about death and immortality. Then I flipped to the section labelled Nature and finally to Love. That took us to lunch time.

While I read Bella scampered in and out the door between poems and played with playing cards, making up stories about the characters they represented. But she was also thoroughly engaged and each time I tried to shut the book she and Sophie begged for one more poem. (Ben and Anthony were digging in the mud while this festival of poetry was going on and Lucy was sleeping.)

I heard a fly buzz when I died
Adrift! A little boat adrift!
There’s been a death in the opposite house
We never know we go– when we are going
It struck me every day
Water is taught by thirst

Dear March, come in!
We like March, his shoes are purple
Not knowing dawn will come
Morning is the place for dew

Have you got a brook in your little heart
That I did always love
I hide myself within my flower


After lunch I watched a couple of videos with Bella that I’d been meaning to watch since she asked about the history of taxonomy the other day. (No, she didn’t use the word taxonomy, but that was the gist of her question.) So we learned a bit about Linnaeus and taxonomy. Bella thought it was very interesting. The other kids watched a bit too, fascinated whenever a video comes on.

This one on Linnaeus and Taxonomy and the Tree of Life from Khan Academy.


After that I thought I had another video saved in another open tab in my browser and while looking for it found the symphony pages I’d been remembering a while back. (You don’t want to know how many tabs I have open on my browser. Really you don’t.) So we looked at DSO kids and played the various musical instruments. I like how they have the various instruments playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for comparison as well as clips of them playing with the orchestra. After that we looked at the SFS Kids page. They have a nice interactive page where you can spin the instruments and look at all sides of them as well as hear them play, but there are also interactive pages that teach you about musical notation, tempo, rhythm, pitch, harmony, and instrumentation. We whiled away the afternoon exploring these various aspects of music. Bella was thrilled to play Twinkle, Twinkle, and Row, Row, Your Boat and Frere Jacques. All the kids loved these pages. I wish I could find the same thing in an app so I could let them fiddle more. I don’t like to let them play with my laptop unsupervised.


Then we read a chapter of The Far Side of the Loch and a story from the Princess Tales: The Practical Princess.

Then I put on some music while I prepared dinner and we talked about several of the pieces, listening closely to identify various instruments. Some of the Celtic pieces the kids said sounded like the Brave soundtrack. We identified Tchaikovsky and talked about watching the Nutcracker. I pointed out a medieval piece to Bella and she perked up.

Also, we had Grace’s comment about carpenter bees to intrigue us. We determined to get a book about them from the library. And Bella found a bunch of feathers under the swing, soft grey downy ones. And in putting those away in the collection boxes, we naturally spent time looking at our other collections: feathers, seeds, flowers. They identified many of them and had fun discussing them.

Bedtime story: Sophie picked a library book about two children exploring near a pond and discovering traces of various animals. Bella wanted Brambley Hedge: The Secret Staircase.

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  • Look at Lucy with her hair! She is starting to look so much like her older sisters. You all are definitely a hair-blessed family ๐Ÿ™‚

    As always, love the learning notes posts.

    • She was having an especially good hair day. I’d just had to wash it because she’d been in the mud and got a huge glop of it right on the top of her head. It dried all fluffy and pretty.

    • Thank you very much, Maura. You’re the second person who has tagged me. So I guess that’s a sign I’m really supposed to do this. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I promise I”ll get to it… one of these days. I’m finding it hard to find time to write blog posts of late. Some seasons are more bloggy than others and I seem to be in a stretch where the time and energy to write is thin. But… maybe I should save talking about that for the actual post, since the whole point is to talk about what I’m writing and how I write, right?