Learning Notes Week of Sept 29

Learning Notes Week of Sept 29

Dom bought a new firepit and the kids enjoyed it very much Sunday night.
Dom bought a new firepit and the kids enjoyed it very much Sunday night.

We started the day spying birds in the sunflowers eating seeds. Bella decided to get down the bird record notebook and add an entry and read over some of the old entries. This book is not well updated. Two or three entries a year since 2011. But it’s there and it sometimes captures her attention. And so she added observations about some sparrows. And as usual when it’s something she wants to read, she’s so much more willing to work for it.

We listened to morning prayer and talked a bit about today’s feast. I read them today’s Mass readings over breakfast.

Sophie did a page of copywork in the workbook. I just realized I haven’t been checking on that. I really should look at it one of these days. Math from Saxon. She read me Sandra Boynton’s Snuggle Puppy.

Bella copied a bit of today’s responsorial psalm, a verse about angels. And illuminated it. It was tough going though. Lots of running outside, wandering away to look at books, playing, and talking, and all sorts of squirrels. She did a page of Miquon math, an easy one that involved coloring and drawing squares. I made it a bit more complex by measuring the squares with her and showing her how to draw a square with a straight edge. And she didn’t read to me formally, but I figured her attempts with the bird book totally counted.

I didn’t try to do math with Ben. He’d had a hard night with lots of nightmares. Too tired to deal with life today.

I sketched a plant from the backyard that I haven’t positively identified. And then sketched a little toy forklift and a toy archer. I’m doing better with my informal resolution to draw more. The kids wanted to cut out the archer and forklift and use them as paper dolls. I declined .

Afternoon stories: Charlotte’s Web, On Tide Mill Lane, A Book of Angels. And the Smithsonian Backyard book about the chipmunk. Then I was all in and took a snooze on the couch.

Lucy and Anthony and Ben and Sophie all did some rice scooping exercises. Lucy and Anthony spent more than an hour at it. Sophie got bored with the rice and poured water into her tray, making a mess. Anthony and Ben followed suit. I was tired and cranky and scolded them for the mess and wasted rice. And told them next time to ask me first.

Bella listened to the Office of Readings with me. She guessed at breakfast that today’s reading would be from Revelation. (And was right, of course.) She loves Revelation, so I made sure to restart it from the beginning when she came into the room. She listened to both readings but not the psalms. Asked me if the woman is Mary and I told her yes but also the Church. And she asked me about the story of Raphael too. I told her that was a couple of chapters away in the Book of Angels.

For bedtime stories Dom read Anthony and the girls a bit of the Coville Romeo and Juliet (with color commentary about how inappropriate the relationship is.) I read a library book to Ben.

My drawing of a plant from the backyard.
My drawing of a plant from the backyard.
Bella's illuminated copywork.
Bella’s illuminated copywork.


A rainy day. Welcome, because we need it but of course everyone is a bit crazy from being inside.

Sophie did copywork in her workbook and a page of math, I think. I actually have no idea what she did for math, I didn’t look it over. She read me a board book, It’s Time to Sleep. (Oh the math was filling out missing numbers in a hundreds chart.)

Bella finished off a page of copywork she hadn’t completed the other day. She did a page of Miquon math. She did not read to me.

We all trekked to Target for necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, dishsoap, diapers. And new sneakers for Bella and dress shoes for Sophie and yoga pants for me since my second pair has mysteriously disappeared. We listened to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My favorite favorite bit: the undragoning of Eustace. Oh I love it so much!

Then home for lunch and a nap for Lucy.

During afternoon stories we munched on popcorn, a favorite rainy day treat: two chapters of Charlotte’s Web, On Tide Mill Lane, the rest of a chapter of history in SOTW that we never finished about Mary Queen of Scots. The Coville A Winter’s Tale. The next bit of Howard Pyle’s Tales of Sir Launcelot. Anthony fell asleep on the couch while we were reading.

Bella helped me make apple pie. She peeled and cut two apples. I did the rest. She’s getting handier with both knife and peeler. She just needs more practice. It’s hard to find opportunities for her to get that since so often I’m trying to hurry, hurry as I’m late getting dinner on. I had visions of her doing the whole pie, but the apples she did do took her so long, we just ran out of time.

At some point we watched a demonstration video about how knights in armor were able to move and fight, countering the myths that they were clumsy and immobile. Which, of course, they weren’t idiots. Also a few recommended videos that popped up of the collection at the Cluny museum. We’re always up for cool medieval art.

Over dinner Bella narrated to Dom the parts of the Knight of the Cart that we’ve read so far. Sadly, there was so much background noise that he didn’t follow what she was saying at all. Still, I was impressed at her ability to tell it. She didn’t remember the name of Sir Mellagrans, but got the details pretty well.

Bedtime stories: For Bella Roxaboxen, which just makes me happy. The Trees of the Dancing Goats for Sophie, one of my favorites by Patricia Polacco. How nice to read stories I love too.

My archer and forklift drawings.
My archer and forklift drawings.
I sketched the little forklift and archer. The kids wanted to make my drawings into paper dolls.
I sketched the little forklift and archer. The kids wanted to make my drawings into paper dolls.


More rain. I gave the girls part of today’s collect for the feast of St Therese to copy. Sophie finished filling out her hundreds board in the Miquon Math and Bella did a page of filling out number lines. Sophie read me another Boynton board book. She’s making her way through our whole board book library. I did a lesson out of the Ordinary Parent’s Guide with Bella, which she said was redundant because she already knew the rule from Starfall. I reminded her that it never hurts to practice and to hear the rule stated a slightly different way.

I drew squirrels for Sophie, Ben, and Anthony and they drew pictures around them. A funny sort of collaborative art they’ve developed where they want me to do a truck or an animal and then they build a picture around it. I drew a pear for myself and then Lucy scribbled on it when my back was turned.

The boys and Lucy went out puddle stomping in the rain and got thoroughly muddy and had to be bathed.

I started a loaf of challah because I was excited to have my oven free as I’d remembered to put my pork loin in the crockpot to cook for dinner. Braised in beer and soy and Worcestershire sauce. (Sophie said it smelled like my stroganoff and I said that’s because of the Worcestershire.)

Skipped afternoon reading time in favor of watching the end of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Totally not an appropriate play, but the inappropriate stuff goes right over their heads and there’s enough they think is funny to keep them amused. Bella seemed to follow fairly well. The others enjoyed the pageantry or something. Listening to what they remembered. Mostly little funny bits like seeing a grown man cry, the physical humor.

Bedtime stories: Ben had Amanda Pig, Schoolgirl. Dom read Anthony the Aliki book about the Globe theater. The three year old loves him some Shakespeare, I guess.

Lucy and Anthony took to rice scooping. I think they spent more than an hour at it.
Lucy and Anthony took to rice scooping. I think they spent more than an hour at it.
Scooping rice outside. A few minutes later they were pouring water into their trays and making a huge wet sticky mess.
Scooping rice outside. A few minutes later they were pouring water into their trays and making a huge wet sticky mess.


Sophie finished her math (Miquon), copywork, and reading (board book) while Bella was still eating breakfast. Bella did eventually work her way through a page of copywork and a page of Miquon. No go on the reading until dinner time.

Instead I read them the Bruce Coville Hamlet at Bella’s request and then a bunch of library books for Anthony and Ben until lunch time. Too rainy to go out.

After lunch we read Charlotte’w Web– loudest giggles and guffaws as Wilbur tries to spin a web. Then On Tide Mill Lane, the other Charlotte, and peace was declared and the prospect of the Illumination which captured Bella’s imagination thoroughly so that she just sat and mused: I’ve never seen that. Then the next chapter of the Angels book, about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Getting a great deal more of the Bible in than I expected, quite happy to review it all again. Then a Milly Molly Mandy story and then it was time for dinner.

Ben got out the Mancala game and the kids all took turns alternately trying to play and playing other games with the pieces. It was funny how they kept doing the thing where one kid wanted to play but no one else did, rotating through the role of being the one kid. Sophie did a round of playing against herself when no one else wanted to. Then seemed so happy when Anthony wanted to play with her than she graciously let him win and cheered him on. She’s been a bit of a sore loser in the past, so this was a grand thing. Of course it’s easier to be gracious with your little brother, he’s much less threatening.

Sophie did a bit of sewing. Everyone did a bit of drawing and coloring.

Bella finally read me a page of the Seurat board book. And then we were distracted by diner preparations.

Bedtime stories: I got to read The Blackbird’s Nest, the story of St Kevin of Ireland and Dom got to read the annoying library book I can’t stand, which I don’t think he minds. So a win.

Sophie drew a picture of Lucy as a pirate. That's Lucy in the middle with the topknot and the pirate ship on her shirt. Anthony is on the right. Bella did the lettering.
Sophie drew a picture of Lucy as a pirate. That’s Lucy in the middle with the topknot and the pirate ship on her shirt. Anthony is on the right. Bella did the lettering.



Grocery day. Sophie sat down and powered through her copywork and then a page of math and then read me a board book. She was done while Bella was still eating breakfast. But then Bella buckled down and did her copywork and math. We skipped her reading until the afternoon.

We were leaving the house by 9:30, an excellent time for us. The grocery store was almost empty and it was nice to get all the shopping done and home well before noon.

Afternoon read alouds. We began with history since we’re a bit behind. How James became king of both Scotland and England. I had to gloss over some of the weird stuff about Protestants “borrowing” stuff from Catholics. Um, no. And the King James Bible as the greatest thing ever. I glossed that a bit too, talking about how the language was influential but the scholarship is dated. It’s still used by many people and important to know, but no it’s not a Bible used equally by Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans. And then Jamestown and John Smith. We’ll read more about that in a few other books to get a more rounded view. Still, the reading is engaging and even Sophie paid attention. I think doing history first is the best tactic. Or at least it was perfect for today. Two chapters of Charlotte’s Web because of the cliffhanger. Everyone had to know what Charlotte had written in her web. Oh they laughed so hard at Avery and the frog and the rotten egg. Then On Tide Mill Lane. More raucous laughter with the mechanics parade to celebrate Washington’s birthday and the end of the war. Especially laughing about the hatmaker wearing a lady’s bonnet. They had to tell Dom about that tonight. Bella narrated and then the boys and Sophie shared their favorite funny bits. Then Anthony wanted Tim Ladwig’s Psalm 23. I just read it, no discussion. Bella wanted more of the igloo book, but my head was hurting. I listened to her read a page or two out of the Matisse board book and talked about a couple of the pictures with her. Reading and picture study?

So looking back on the week. Not enough science for sure. Bella hasn’t been having enough reading practice. Her plan to read to Dom just hasn’t been working in the evenings on days when he works. I feel like we’re coasting, not doing as much as I’d like. Treading water. Neither sinking nor swimming but just staying afloat. Well, some weeks are like that, I guess.

I do think we’d be off to a much better start in the mornings– and probably get more done in the afternoons too– if I could just manage to get to bed earlier. Oh but that’s just so unattractive. I tend to stay awake until my eyes won’t stay open any more and then past that even.

I suppose I should mention that all car time these days is listening to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Today was Deathwater Island. I hadn’t remembered that Aslan appeared there. Or the quarrel about the gold. Huh.

And so ends another week. Sigh. Where does the time go?

Sophie got a mermaid balloon at the parish picnic Sunday afternoon.
Sophie got a mermaid balloon at the parish picnic Sunday afternoon.
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  • I think it is interesting that you say you feel like you are coasting. When I look at all of the things you accomplish in a week, I am very impressed. I think the amount of reading aloud you do, alone, is an amazing portion of their education, not to mention all of the other things that happen intentionally, and unintentionally.

    • Thanks, Danae,

      It’s about looking at all the things I say I want to accomplish that I’m not getting to that I think I could get to if I weren’t dragging my feet. There are times when I come closer and times when I know I could push myself a bit more. Or maybe it’s a little of the perfectionist in me always looking towards an internal ideal that I don’t live up to.

  • Your drawings are lovely, Melanie! Good for you for making time to do a few things that are just for yourself during the busy week [can understand why you declined the children’s offer to make them into paper dolls ๐Ÿ˜‰ ].
    Would Dom be allowed to make a copy or two at work that they could cut up, so you could keep your original safe from little hands?

    • Oh. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to make copies. We have a printer than doubles as a photocopier, which is really so handy for homeschooling. I could definitely have done that.

  • Melanie, your perseverance in recording all the weeks’ activities is quite impressive! You and your family will have a lovely record of learning to cherish as you look back on everything you’ve done together.
    In the midst of life, it can sometimes seem like we’re not getting enough accomplished but your weekly record is telling, and reading so much to your children is an amazing gift to them. Especially enjoy seeing how you weave the daily Mass readings so seamlessly into the children’s day – the faith becomes an integral and deliberate part of their daily life.
    Many blessings!

  • I am impressed by your drawings! And all the reading–it sounds like you all read for hours a day. That’s real education. The nature identifications and observations are science enough at this age, don’t you think?

    • I constantly flip flop between: “Look how much they know!” and “Look how much more there is to know that they don’t know yet!” And I look at what other people are doing, yes, that insidious comparison bug, and think I can’t possibly be doing enough.