Learning Notes: Back from Break

Anthony with swordbelt

Anthony with swordbelt

Anthony eat toast

Anthony eats toast

Ben with flowers

Ben with flowers

Ben looks skeptical

Ben looks skeptical

Monday

Coming back from one week vacation after two weeks staycation makes for a rough Monday. I got Sophie to do a page of copy work and then she was done. Bella did a wee bit of math and read a few sentences. No copy work for her. Oh well.

We read a chapter of Pegeen then one of Beyond the Heather Hills. Then Stopping by Woods illustrated by Susan Jeffers, Small Acts of Kindness, and a few pages of the St Kateri book we bought at the National Shrine.

We also ate lunch outside, made banana bread, played outside, made things out of blocks and manipulatives, and picked up some books on hold at the library.

While waiting for Bella to finish her game so she could read to me– no use interrupting her mid game or she’s useless at the reading– I found myself playing with the Cuisinaire rods, making patterns. I arranged the brown and orange and black rods in a row: orange, brown, orange, black, orange, brown, orange, black. ABAC ABAC ABAC Then I did the same pattern with green, blue, and yellow. I asked Bella if she could tell me what the pattern was. Then I decided to play around with mapping various rhyme schemes with the rods: ABBA BCCB CDDC. This would be a great tool for teaching poetry. Mapping rhyme schemes with colored rods. Then I thought: what if you mapped musical notes with rods? Wouldn’t that be a fun way to look at the scale?

Bella plays with manipulatives

Bella plays with manipulatives

Bedtime stories, some library book about math.

Bella crimps pie crust

Bella crimps pie crust

Sophie helps cook the spinach quiche

Sophie helps cook the spinach quiche

Tuesday

Could not get Bella to focus. She did a bit of math and then checked out for the day and would not do reading or writing. And all attempts to discuss it with her seemed to fall on deaf ears. She said it was because she was too excited about Auntie Tree coming this afternoon.

Sophie, on the other hand, did all her reading, writing, and math and then got a chance to play on the iPad.

Bella and I did read a bit of history, about the Counter Reformation.

All together we read a chapter of Pegeen, a couple of library books about math, and a book about a boy who goes to an art gallery, I think it was called Dan and His Angel.

I got an early birthday present, a composter. We discussed what we can put in it. I guess that counts as science.

Bella and Ben with my new composter

Bella and Ben with my new composter

Also, Bella let a bee crawl on her and told me how it’s feet felt prickly. And she spent an awful lot of time staring at clover flowers, the scientist at work. I just need to get her to record her observations.

wilting sunflower

wilting sunflower

downy woodpecker on our sunflower

downy woodpecker on our sunflower

Oh and then Auntie Tree arrived and all sorts of fun broke out.

Ben with Auntie Tree

Ben with Auntie Tree

Wednesday

Much, much better focus now that Auntie Tree is actually here.

Bella and Sophie both did math, reading, and copywork. Phew. Well, math for Bella was counting bears and writing out the numbers. But she was doing something at least, and her own idea. Who was I do discourage it? Bella did the reading part outside. I noted on Bella’s copywork that none of the letters were reversed when she was carefully copying word for word from the line above. It was a real accomplishment.

Sophie’s reading was the first page of Squirrel Nutkin, then I read the rest to her. Some days she’s ready to soldier on, other days she collapses like jelly. Getting her to read at all can be a challenge when she’s got her mind set on something else like playing.

Bella and I read the rest of yesterday’s history chapter about the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the bit about Spain and the Netherlands (it just today occurred to me that “Netherlands” is a synonym for “Low Countries” like “nether world”.) Also outside for that.

Then I made bread and the kids ran wild in the yard. And then lunch and then nap for Lucy. And after that read alouds: the first chapter of St Patrick’s Summer, which everyone found captivating. Looks like it’s going to be a good one. Then a few more pages about St Kateri. Then two chapters of Beyond the Heather Hills. Then, for Anthony, the first half of a book about St John Paul II, something like The Boy Who Became Pope.

I read Bella an article from Archaeology.org about excavating a colonial era ship at the site of the World Trade Center. We were fascinated. And when George Washington’s name was mentioned, I saw Bella’s ears perk up. She’s got a hook for him now, having been to his farm.

Also, Bella made soup for dinner. It seems this summer all my online friends are teaching their kids to cook. I wasn’t going to hop on the bandwagon because I didn’t think I was ready to deal with my 8 year old making dinner. But I was having one of those days when four o’clock rolled around and I had no idea what to make. I stood staring at the pantry shelves and Bella came in and asked, “What shall we make for dinner?” That “we” got me thinking. “Some of my friends who have kids your age or younger let their kids make dinner. Would you ever be interested in deciding what we should have for dinner and then making it? Not tonight, necessarily, just sometime?” And she was. She knew immediately what she wanted to make: vegetable soup. We looked at the ingredients on hand and got to work. She fetched the homemade stock out of the freezer and retrieved vegetables. Bella scrubbed the carrots and the zucchini and chopped them. I helped slice the carrots lengthwise since they had a tendency to roll, but she did the rest of the work. I did the onions and garlic, mainly because it was getting late and Bella is still pretty slow with a knife. I also microwaved some potatoes and then diced them. And she added some leftover green beans. It was a pretty good vegetable soup with leftover sausage. Bella even went and cut scallions she’s been growing in the garden and passed them as a garnish. We did have a funny moment. When she first added the onions and carrots to saute she recalled the moment when Pegeen burned the soup and vowed to be good at stirring. I had to leave the room to take care of Lucy and when I returned she’d forgotten to stir and the onions were starting to brown. “Oops! I forgot.” She still needs close supervision in the kitchen, clearly. But oh was she proud of her soup.

Bella makes soup.

Bella makes soup.

Thursday

I guess we’re getting back into the swing of things. Math happened, copywork happened, reading happened. Bella read me a Bob book and Sophie and I read alternate pages from Owl at Home.
I read the girls a chapter about Henry VIII because somehow he came up in conversation and I couldn’t remember the names of all his wives. (Then at dinner when I told Dom the story, he played the video.)

A chapter of St Patricks Summer, a chapter of Beyond the Heather Hills. Also Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling.

Bella and I identified a new insect among the clouds of pollinators happily buzzing around the oregano monster shrub. It looked like a kind of wasp: long thin black body with a bright orange band high on the abdomen, wings had blue iridescent scales. It was gorgeous and looked rather fierce. turns out, however, that it’s a moth. The peach borer moth to be exact. And now that I know it’s around, I suspect it’s the culprit that killed our peach tree last year.

My sister went to brunch with a friend and then they came back here and her friend’s two boys (11 and 4) played while we chatted. Turns out this friend has been homeschooling for two years. We had a great conversation and the kids had a great time. In fact her four year old didn’t want to leave and had a terrific meltdown. I loved the matter of fact way she handled it. Just shrugged and said that she guessed there wasn’t any graceful way they were getting out of here. And then scooped him up and left. I’m used to that sort of thing so it doesn’t bother me, but it’s nice to meet another mom with a similar attitude. She also ingratiated herself when they first arrived by exclaiming that the mess was just like her house, putting me at ease so I didn’t feel bad about the extreme clutter of our living room. Her later descriptions of her wall to wall book shelves convinced me that I’d met a kindred soul.

Bella's dirty foot. Actually, for her this is pretty clean.

Bella’s dirty foot. Actually, for her this is pretty clean.

Friday

Grocery day and we still managed to get a lot of school under our belts. Amazing how much more smoothly the morning goes when I get to bed at a decent hour and the toddler deigns to sleep all night. Bella and Sophie both did copywork and math and Sophie and I read Owl at Home, reading alternating pages.

Then after lunch we read a chapter of Pegeen, one of Beyond the Heather Hills, and one of St Patrick’s Summer (which is turning out to be a gigantic hit with Bella, an amazing catechism.) Also some of Ben’s new swords book. And then a bit of history, on the conflict between England and Spain during the reign of Elizabeth I. Which of course necessitated looking at portraits of Elizabeth online. Bunches of them. And admiring her dresses and deciding if she was beautiful or plain.

Lucy after taking a dirt bath

Lucy after taking a dirt bath

Lucy under the table

Lucy under the table

Lucy with straws

Lucy with straws

Competing to drink the steak juice

Competing to drink the steak juice

8 Responses to Learning Notes: Back from Break

  1. Charlotte August 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Mmmmm… my dad used to pour the steak juice in a bowl and let my brother and I dip our steak fries in it.

  2. Jenny August 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    “Then I thought: what if you mapped musical notes with rods? Wouldn’t that be a fun way to look at the scale? ”

    I immediately thought it would be good for mapping musical forms like sonatas or something. Looking at Bella at the stove, I know that I am taller than she is but not by much. 🙂

    • Melanie Bettinelli August 5, 2014 at 1:20 am #

      How tall are you, Jenny?

      • Jenny August 5, 2014 at 8:47 am #

        5′ 1.75” 🙂 Not quite 62 inches.

  3. Kyra August 8, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I’m 5″3 and Nathaniel, at six years old, is four feet tall. He is fifteen inches shorter than me. It really isn’t much of a height difference now. It’s intimidating. How big is he going to be when he’s eight?!

    • Melanie Bettinelli August 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      So if we were to have a meet up I would be towering over Jenny, Kyra, Erin and Cat. I’d feel quite the giant.

      • Jenny August 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

        No, Cat is tall. She’s like 5’7”.

        • Melanie Bettinelli August 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

          Tall is relative. In my mind, Cat’s a short person, too. Since I’m 5′ 11″.

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