Learning Notes: Grandma’s Here

Learning Notes: Grandma’s Here

Lucy at the pool party. She's pink because she's been eating watermelon and strawberries, and dipping her fingers into the red jello.
Lucy at the pool party. She’s pink because she’s been eating watermelon and strawberries, and dipping her fingers into the red jello.
Eating watermelon in the hammock. The quintessence of summer.
Eating watermelon in the hammock. The quintessence of summer.


We began the day with a trip to the dentist, but I was on the ball enough to grab math workbooks and copywork books. So Sophie did handwriting and Bella did a page of Miquon in the waiting room. Then we came home and Sophie and I took turns reading Frog and Toad and Bella did her copywork.

Then, as was my secret sneaky plan, we turned to the big Georgia O’Keeffe book that I’d grabbed for Bella to use as a lap desk under her copywork. We looked at paintings and I read some of the descriptive passages. What I love best about the book is that all the text is by Georgia herself, not by a critic or biographer. A fascinating window into how she looked at the world, how she created the paintings. We read the long description of how she painted her gigantic clouds canvas. And about abstraction, which might have gone over Bella’s head. And about several other paintings.

Oh and on the way home from the dentist we had a lovely discussion about momentum and mass. Bella asked about momentum. I don’t know why. I really am rusty on physics, but I did the best I could to stumble through an explanation.

We read a chapter of Francie on the Run, and Down to the Bonny Glen. More Frog and Toad, some poems from the Barefoot Book. Also Mouse Count and My Pony. Then a chapter from Who Was First? about Leif Erikson and the Viking colony in Newfoundland.

Working on memorizing High Flight. This led to a discussion of what a stanza is, prompted by a question from Sophie, and what a paragraph is. And then to Bella and I reading John Gillespie Magee’s biography on Wikipedia.

After my mom got here she was of course pressed into reading books. She read Melisande and Otis and the Tornado and the Smithsonian Backyard book about the chipmunk.


Aquarium day! We took the Ferry from Hingham to Boston and spent the day at the New England aquarium. No table time or copywork or math, of course, because we had to leave early to catch the ferry. But so much learning going on.

Bedtime story: for Bella The Blossom on the Bough, a book about trees with beautiful illustrations. For Sophie Marguerite Makes a Book, read by Grandma. Ben and Anthony fell asleep in the car on the way home and were put to bed without waking up.


Home day. But very disrupted.

We got through most of our table time work. Ben and Anthony declined and I didn’t force it since they were quietly occupied reading books. Bella did a page of math while Sophie did her copywork. Then Bella did her copywork while I tried to get Sophie to do math but she wouldn’t. I remembered I needed to water the garden since we’re in the middle of a hot spell and I don’t want my flowers to die. And all the kids trooped out with me to admire our sunflowers and poppies and geraniums and to wonder if the buds about to open are going to be cosomos or not.

And then the insulation guys showed up. They were here all day, in and out of the house and up in the attic. Putting down sheets of insulation, sealing and blowing in insulation and generally making things more energy efficient. The details were lost on me.

Then Sophie read me a Frog and Toad story and Bella read some sentences and Sophie played with Cuisinaire rods, which is at least a little mathy.

And then my plans for the day derailed. It turned out to be a 90 degree day and broiling hot up in our attic. And the workmen asked me if I could turn off the AC because it generates even more heat and they were broiling alive. How could I refuse? By midafternoon the house was 80 and the kids were whiny and we were still waiting for the plumber to come and snake the kitchen sink which has been backing up whenever I run the washing machine or I might have taken them for a drive to get ice cream or something.

So we read a few books: Down to the Bonny Glen, Who Was First?, Minn of the Mississippi. But not as many as I wanted to read. It was too hot.

I refused to make dinner. We went out for BBQ.

Ben’s bedtime story I read Two Scarlet Birds, a picture book about Dvorak, thanks to Pentimento’s review. Need to re-read that tomorrow and then listen to some Dvorak. Anthony asked for Mouse Count.

Phew. So glad the day was done. I did not bake bread, however, so I’m not sure what we’re going to have for breakfast.


Grocery day. I was worried that with tomorrow’s holiday and the anticipated hurricane the store would be crazy crowded so I wanted to get there as early as possible. I forfeited table time. Oh well.

Bella did pick up a nursery rhymes board book and she and Sophie took turns reading it in the car. So there was that. I know there are all sorts of potentials for reading and math at the grocery store, but I’m also trying to get the shopping done and corral five kids. I don’t have much mental space left to try to find educational activities for pupils who aren’t at all enthusiastic about the prospect. Today was definitely not one of those days.

We read Minn of the Mississippi and Francie on the Run and Two Scarlet Birds and listened to a recording of scarlet tanagers and to Antonín Dvořák’s “American” string quartet in F major. (Thanks to Pentimento for that lesson plan.) Also I read The Weight of a Mass and we talked about the Eucharistic symbolism for a bit. And Take It to the Queen and Bella mused about Mary and Jesus. Oh and I read the first section of A Children’s Bible History.

And the new box of Bob Books arrived so Sophie read the first one to me. And so we spent time working on long vowels.

Bedtime stories were Mike Venezia’s Georgia O’Keeffe and Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat.

Then the big three had the hardest time settling with all the fireworks blazing and booming. A very late night for them.


It’s a holiday so I didn’t plan to do any school work. But then a hurricane decided to dump a bunch of rain on us so the pool party was postponed. We didn’t do table work, but Sophie did read me a Bob book, the kids played dominoes with Grandma, and I read a bunch of stories. We finished Down to the Bonny Glen (and I cried copious tears in the last two chapters. I barely made it through, having to continually pause to swallow down the lump in my throat and allow the breaks in my voice to smooth out). Bella declared that the ending was perfect. We also finished Paddle to the Sea and were thrilled that Paddle made it all the way to France and that his maker learned how his journey ended. We also read a chapter of Francie on the Run. And Five Chinese Brothers. And a few other picture books too.


Saturday was the farmer’s market and then the 4th of July pool party at Dom’s brother’s house. We got home and put the kids straight to bed.

So Sunday afternoon we did a lot more reading. We Started Beyond the Heather Hills and read another chapter of Francie on the Run. And stopped in the middle of the first book to go watch two hawks circling overhead. Bella spotted them out the windows.

Bedtime stories read by Dom: Three Billy Goats Gruff and a chapter of The Wind in the Willows.

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