Learning Notes: Columbus Day Week

Learning Notes: Columbus Day Week

Latin lesson.
Latin lesson.


Read the mass readings on the way to Mass, which was possible only because we weren’t going to our own parish. We live about a minute away so usually there’s no time. But today we visited the Daughters of St Paul at their convent chapel. Two of our favorite priests have a family mass there once a month and it’s a treat to get to go and hang out with the lovely sisters and other wonderful families.

Bella also managed to read an inscription on the wall behind the altar. She’s finally starting to decode text in her environment! One of the sisters showed her a book about St. Thomas More and she got very excited. I guess we’re going to have to get that one soon.

Ben's highway
Ben’s highway


Dom had a holiday from work so we took a school holiday too. Except I read the girls about St Edward the Confessor out of Our Island Saints when I realized it was his feast day.

The kids played their version of Candyland most of the morning. I’m not sure they actually play the game as written, it’s more about imagining themselves as the various characters on the board. I made banana bread and I’m not sure what all else. That seemed to take hours to do.

And we did a pile of afternoon read alouds. The first two chapters from H.E. Marshall’s Stories of Robin Hood, which Bella got for her birthday and then we stuck it on a shelf and forgot about it. A chapter about Japanese warlords in Story of the World. Then Charlotte’s Web and On Tide Mill Lane. And a couple of picture books. That’s quite a bit for a day when we aren’t schooling.

Bedtime story was If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Which prompted a question: what are tap shoes? And led to watching some You Tube videos of tap dancing. Even though it was pretty late. I’m a sucker for You Tube.


Bella woke up at 5 needing her inhaler. I forgot to give her Claritin at bedtime. I guess she really needs it. So she couldn’t get back to sleep and she was consequently rather tired all day.

Bella and I had a lovely theology discussion over breakfast. I can’t recall the details, but it was lovely.

Bella and Sophie did their copy work from the Memoria Press books. Then each did a page of Miquon Math. Sophie andI worked through a page of greater than and less than. Bella was too tired to do much. She did a page on triangles.

Sophie read me a board book from the library.

Bella read me a few pages from The Summer Night.

We reviewed the sound “igh” and I made some letter cards to practice with. Bella and Sophie took a break from their game of making block houses for button families long enough to indulge me.

I made bread and did loads and loads of laundry. I even folded and put away the towels— with Lucy’s help. Lucy continues to amaze me. As I was sorting the laundry she pointed at a pair of boy’s khaki shorts: “Bendick’s shorts.” And they were. Only Ben has a pair of that particular shade. Anthony’s are a lighter tan. That girl has an amazing visual memory. Again and again she recalls which article belongs to which person.

While I was folding towels Lucy plopped a can of refried beans in my lap. I told her I’d get her some after I finished. A minute later she deposited the can opener in my lap as well. Which means she’d dragged the step stool over to the drawer, opened the drawer, and found the can opener. She then also got a bowl and spoon. So we had burritos and nachos for lunch and polished off most of a 28 oz can of beans between the six of us.

Afternoon stories: I began to read a new geology book I got: Rocks, Rivers and Mountains or something like that. As I opened the book Sophie sighed and said she was bored and didn’t want to sit through stories because they would bore her more. I suggested she find something to occupy her hands. Both crocheting and sewing she’s still not good enough with to be able to do without help so they’d be distracting. So I suggested modeling clay. We moved to the dining room and the girls played with clay while I read. Then the boys came in and wanted to join in. And Anthony wanted to finger paint. And then Lucy woke up and wanted to paint too. And Sophie decided to paint. Bella made a little island out of clay. Everyone else made snakes. Ben made a passable Turbo. The book seemed to entertain them. It had a lot of little experiments and we did them all. Pouring water into a sponge to see how it flows. Pour water through a pile of gravel and watching how it erodes sand. Watching sediment settle in a jar. It was fun. But at dinner no one could recall anything. Well, Bella was tired.

We also read Charlotte’s Web and On Tide Mill Lane.

Bedtime stories. I read a bit of The Queen’s Progress to Bella. She’s obsessed with it. Dom read A New Coat for Anna to Sophie.

Reading material.
Reading material.
Painting day.
Painting day.
Anthony with modeling clay
Anthony with modeling clay
Sophie makes snakes
Sophie makes snakes
Bella's island. The blue is a river, the red dots are houses, the yellow is sandy beaches.
Bella’s island. The blue is a river, the red dots are houses, the yellow is sandy beaches.


Hitting our stride.

Sophie whipped through copy work (Memoria Press) and math (Miquon, page on clocks). She read me a board book: What Did Baby Jesus Do?

Bella dragged behind. She didn’t even start till Sophie was done. Crawled through a page of copy work with much distraction. I had to keep redirecting her attention. That Sophie was running and playing with Ben and Anthony and Lucy didn’t help, I suppose. I did a short lesson on place value and adding three digit numbers, to which she said she’d rather stick with two digit numbers for now. She did a page of fractions in Miquon.

While she was doing her copy work I drew some leaves. Then I read to them about St Teresa of Avila and read the Gospel and a reflection and we discussed them a bit. Then I read the other readings of the day. And then I started copying out the fruits of the Spirit from the epistle to the Galatians. I think they will be fun to illuminate. I defined self control for Ben and we discussed some of the other fruits and talked about Love being the most important.

Anthony did a page in his little workbook. He knows most of his capital letters. I think he got five wrong when I asked him the names. He’s also really interested in “what letter does ____ start with” questions and other games that have to do with spelling and sounds.

Then Bella read me a Bob book while I nursed Lucy on the couch.

Then I read Minn of the Mississippi to Bella with Ben and Anthony listening in a bit. Sophie played dress up.

Then we tumbled out into the yard while the salmon cakes reheated and I dug up some irises I’ve been wanting to thin out. After lunch I went back out and planted some tulip bulbs, replanted the dug up irises at scattered places in the front beds, and pulled a bunch of weeds while I was at it. I was pleased to see the dahlia I planted this spring was blooming. Yay for the magic of bulbs! I recited poetry while planting the bulbs and Anthony corrected me when I got the words wrong. Cheeky three year-old.

Afternoon stories: Charlotte’s Web, On Tide Mill Lane, and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir Tree.

Sophie and Bella listened to Narnia on their iPods. Bella is listening to The Silver Chair— There’s a Hamlet reference! I was fascinated to hear she started with the end and then moved to the middle. She says she wanted to listen to it, but sort of didn’t and beginning at the end made her want to go back to hear about Harfang. Funny girl.

Sophie is listening to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe again. She got as far as the children going into the wardrobe to escape the housekeeper. She’d been complaining about boredom a lot recently. It’s a new thing and rather annoying. I offered her chores to do, which she didn’t take me up on. The iPod was at least her own idea. I refuse to pander to the boredom complaint and find things to amuse them.

The girls also did some puzzles. Lucy asked for the fill in the letters puzzle and I noticed that Ben and Bella were also playing with it. Good spelling practice for Bella.

At dinner Bella wanted to talk about the Planes movie. She had a really good character analysis of Ripslinger. She’s quite perceptive. Her analysis of his character surprised me not only with the insights she had but also the language she used. Where did she get it from?

We reviewed our Latin phrase for the week: Sum pirata! Pirata sum! And I threw in the plural: Piratae sumus! And I discussed declensions and plurals briefly. And introduced the pronoun ego.

Bedtime stories: Anthony requested something or other from Dom. I read Seven Chinese Brothers to Ben. And discussed the plot holes with the kids. At least when books annoy me, I can explain why they do and work on forming future book critics.

Sophie's princess drawn for me.
Sophie’s princess drawn for me.
Bella's drawing.
Bella’s drawing.


Over breakfast Sophie asked about the meaning of a word in the Morning Prayer reading: “What does ‘accord’ mean?” The passage was about creation not being subjected to futility of its own accord. I pulled out the dictionary but still couldn’t figure out how to define it in context without explicating the whole reading. So I did. So Bible study was accomplished and vocabulary building.

Grocery day, so I tried to rush a bit through school. Bella hates it when we do that and so responds with an increased inability to focus. No, it’s not deliberate. Still, it’s a thing. Kind of like my own inability to focus when it’s five o’clock and I need to cook dinner but suddenly I also need to check my email and write up the day’s learning notes. Yeah. That kind of a thing.

Sophie set to work and did her copywork with a little nudging. It did take some nudging, but compared to Bella, she flies through it. And then a page of math— filling in clocks, which she needs a lot of practice in. I had to shush Bella because she wants to give Sophie all the answers. And then I did a math lesson with Ben. And Anthony had me draw him a picture.

Bella finally did do her copy work and a page of math. And then as soon as she’d closed the books and my back was turned putting Lucy’s and Anthony’s shoes on she started playing teacher with Sophie and Ben, getting them to write down the words written on the whiteboard and then writing more words for them to copy. And trying to teach Ben arithmetic.

So I dawdled over getting ready to go because they were doing school. On their own. And then they all took their note books in the car and wrote words all the way to the grocery store. And Sophie and Ben left theirs in the car, but Bella brought hers in and wrote down words through the whole store. 26 words all told. I’ve tried to get her to do this before, but she’s resisted. And now suddenly because it’s part of her game, playing teacher, and because she’s doing it to be able to teach Ben and Sophie, she’s so very into it. With her it’s hot and cold, motivated and unmotivated. I have very little control and nor I think does she. When her brain hooks on something, she can focus so very very well. But the in between times are so very slow. I know I can’t rely on these times of high engagement, we need to keep doing the slow and steady too. But they do confirm that she is learning and engaged.

Since it was raining and they were getting wild, I let them watch The Merry Wives of Windsor while I put Lucy down for her nap. Then we took a break to read Charlotte’s Web and On Tide Mill Lane and Annie and the Wild Animals and some poems from Leave Your Sleep. And then back to Merry Wives. They were thrilled to get to watch the whole play and wanted to talk about it afterward.

Sophie read a board book to herself and wanted to tell me all about it: “I read it all by myself without your help!” I told her I wasn’t surprised at all that I’m sure she can read quite a few books without my help. It’s a funny little lack of self confidence but she’s moving closer and closer to being an independent reader.

Other notes from the day: Bella continues to be vigilant about keeping up with her self-imposed chore of wiping down the table after dinner. She also helped to put away the groceries. She’s getting to be pretty capable. Lucy is the other kid who loves to help. She helped empty out the grocery bags and put the frozen blueberries into the freezer. After her nap she helpfully pointed out all the things I’d neglected to put away: the flour needs to go “over here!” in the pantry and the potatoes “in here!” in the drawer.

Bedtime stories: Bella wanted The Queen’s Progress again. Sophie asked for Summer Birds and Lucy asked for the new book about the fishing island off the coast of Maine whose name I cannot recall from Dom and asked me to read her a library book about soccer. We alternate nights for picking bedtime stories, girls one night and boys the other. But the rule doesn’t seem to apply to Lucy who usually gets two stories: one from me and one from Dom. Spoiled baby!

Ben's word practice
Ben’s word practice
Bella's grocery store word list.
Bella’s grocery store word list.


Another hard day for Bella. She soldiered through, but it was hard going. I wonder why this week has been so tough.

Sophie and Bella did copy work in the Memoria Press books and we read the story of Cain and Abel to go along with the verse they had copied. Sophie drew a lovely picture of a sheep and some grapes.

Sophie did a page in the Saxon workbook and practiced counting pennies and dimes and practiced counting by twos and fives and tens using the hundreds board.

Ben filled out his Saxon calendar and then did an activity with the bears and pattern blocks. He can count up to fifteen with no problem and to twenty with help.

Anthony and Lucy drew pictures and played with manipulatives.

Sophie read to me from a board book: Little Ways to Give God Praise. After that I read them the day’s Gospel and epistle to act as a transition for Bella who was struggling to get up off the floor to attack her math books. Literally on the floor. Then Bella and I did two pages in Miquon math about clocks. She readily got the idea of locating things on and around a plate using the clock dial numbering. Then Bella read me a poem out of the Flower Fairies of the Wayside book.

Then we all went to run errands: the post office and CVS for prescriptions and laundry soap. We also stopped by the junk shop next to the post office and bought a pretty little icon of a saint with a sword. I’m guessing St Martin since he seems to have been made in Spain.

After lunch we read a pile of books: finished Charlotte’s Web, the last two chapters. We concluded with a discussion about all the parts that made everyone laugh. Then Summer Birds, then the story of Raphael and Tobias from the Book of Angels and finally Make Way for Duckings. Then Bella and I read a bit of Eric Sloane’s Weather Book, which cites a verse from the Bible and a poem and then explains how the folk wisdom is supported by meteorological observations.

Anthony continues to pepper me with questions all day long. About letters and numbers. About the sounds of letters and the shapes of them. And he’s trying to memorize the poems too. He so wants to be just like the big kids.


After dinner Bella and Sophie sat down on the couch and each began to read a book out loud to herself. It got to be too much for Bella so she got down on the floor. She read almost the whole book. Would have read the whole thing but I made her stop so we could say bedtime prayers. A first for her. Reading to herself and not to me. Sophie needed help with a bunch of proper names and a few longer words, but she finished her shorter book, happily reading to Anthony, who was thrilled. He’s been longing for her to read to him, but she usually shoos him away. It’s lovely to see her able to let him be.

Bella reads Amanda and Her Amazing Alligator.
Bella reads Amanda and Her Amazing Alligator.
Bella's still reading.
Bella’s still reading.
Sophie reads to Anthony and Ben
Sophie reads to Anthony and Ben
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  • Latin is on!! I guess you found your groove on that. After our “chat” last week I got nervous about staring Prima Latina which led me to their website and fretting and then me deciding in addition to Latin we MUST add a whole bunch of other things.

    Reminder to self: stay away from the internet after a bad day at the homeschool.

    I came here today just to get a dose of YOUR sanity. Thank you!!


    • Kim, I can’t see if I mentioned it. (notes too long!) I got a book that’s called Getting Started with Latin. The lessons are perfect for my family. One word, two words. Then you’re done. That white board drawing was our total lesson for the week except for the stuff I babbled at them that I don’t expect them to remember. I like having the permission to do less that the book gives me. The kids like learning fun snippets. It’s so no stress. You could do it this way with any Latin book, though.

  • Yes, I am attempting to add Latin without going nuts. I LOVE reading your blog to see you stay sane too!! 🙂 (So stay sane!!)

  • I love your learning notes. Wonderful food for thought as my 21 month old continues to grow. Have you mentioned the author of the Angel book? She loves St Michael (Mikey) especially, and I wonder if it would be good for her, even to grow into?

  • I just love it when children learning and the everyday such as Bella and the Latin inscription come together:) Lots of reading happening in your home, devouring books really! and love those sorts of discussions when children really ponder what words/prayers mean:)

  • My homeschooling days are over :(, as my son is in college now…but I think I’ll join in for myself…
    I need to think of myself as a lifelong learner…
    Thank you for these! I love watching your children grow through home education, and it brings back sweet memories of the homeschooling journey I took with my own son.