Learning Notes: Halloween Week

King Benedict and Queen Sophia.

King Benedict and Queen Sophia.

Monday

Field trip day to the Museum of Science. A local homeschooling friend organized a group trip with a really great deal on admission— free for teachers and half price for the kids and discounted parking. We also had a reserved area to have lunch in. Eight moms, one grandmother, about fifty kids.

We had a wonderful time. I think the highlight was the live animal show that started with the mystery animal in a carrier on the stage and the kids were given clues and had to try to guess what it was. It was a possum. The bees and the baby chicks were also very well received. And the animal dioramas and the dinosaurs.

We got home at 4 and Bella shocked me by pulling out her school books and doing some copywork, math, and reading. We’d been listening to Prince Caspian in the car and she wanted to finish out the disk on her iPod but knows the rule is she has to have done school first. So, she told me, she knew it would only be fair if she did her work. Also, she said she thought it’d make it easier to get to work tomorrow if she’d done it today. I’d have let her listen without doing the work since in my mind it was a holiday, but I wasn’t about to stop her if she was in the groove. Of course, since she was in the groove it all took less than half an hour to do.I tried to point that out to her, how quickly it goes if she can focus. But sadly, I think focus is often not really a matter of choice for her.

Lucy examines a dinosaur track.

Lucy examines a dinosaur track.

Opal the Possum at the Museum of Science.

Opal the Possum at the Museum of Science.

Tuesday

Sophie got right to it and polished off a page of copy work and a page of Saxon Math and reading in about half an hour. For reading she read me a board book about the Mass and I used it to launch into a little mini-catechesis. Sophie got a little annoyed at me for interrupting her reading, but I could also see Ben listening and answering questions.

Bella could not focus. She finally limped through her copywork but nothing could induce her to do math and reading until right before dinner when she wanted to listen to the iPod. Then she did a page of Miquon Math and read me a board book and we called it a day and she got her precious iPod time. It worked out, I guess, but I’d really prefer her to get everything done before lunch.

I read Anthony the picture book about Jonah and everyone listened in.

For afternoon stories we read three chapters of The Road from Roxbury. Then a chapter of Robin Hood. Then the Wild Swans, the lovely one with the accordion fold wordless pictures and the separate little booklet with the text of the story. I also read a couple of picture books. And then we listened to Seamus Heaney read two fable-poems: The Two Mice, a retelling of Aesop’s Country Mouse and City Mouse and The Lion and the Mouse, another retelling of Aesop. We have a lovely iPad app that has audio recordings of Heaney reading five of these fables, translations from a 15th century Scottish poet. You can just listen while the app highlights the text or you can watch a little animated film as he reads with the highlighted text in the bottom part of the screen. The animation was pretty basic and the sound effects and music threatened to overwhelm the reading at a few points, but the kids liked it pretty well. The language is gorgeous, of course, and, well, Heaney is just one of my favorites. The app also has all sorts of other supplementary materials that go along with the poems— including a nice glossary feature. I haven’t explored them all yet.

Bedtime stories: we seem stuck in a holding pattern. Bella had the next installment The Fantastic Flying Journey and Sophie asked for Amanda and Her Alligator. Again.

Sophie with her bow.

Sophie made herself a bow.

Wednesday

Sophie did a page of copy work, a page of Saxon math, read me a board book. I did some other math exercises with her as well.

Bella reluctantly did a page of math. Then I pulled out the dice and played a game with her using four dice: two were tens and two were ones, she had to add up the values for all four. Then I rolled four dice and did the same. Whichever of us had the higher total won. It got her to do a bunch of addition practice and greater than less than practice, while having a bit of fun. After that she wanted to play bugs so we did with Ben and Sophie and Anthony joining in. I played twice with them and then went to make bread, leaving Sophie and Bella to run the game. They played several more rounds and then all ran outside.

Eventually I did a bit of math with Ben and a handwriting page with him and with Anthony too, who desperately wants to be doing what Ben does.

Anthony and Ben’s copying lesson included a picture of tennis and I asked them if they knew what tennis was and we talked about how the game is played for a while. Then that led us to recalling the tennis ball scene in Henry V. So I had to read it to them. And then we decided to watch the scene on You Tube. And then that led to watching more scenes from Henry V. And that led to a short film about long bows and cross bows.

After lunch we read The Seven Chinese Brothers, then The Road from Roxbury, then Robin Hood. Then Chanticleer and the Fox. Then a chapter on St Brendan, then a chapter of history in SoTW. Then Autumn Story from the Brambly Hedge book.

Then I helped Bella make her witch costume. And she finished sewing her Halloween Jack O’Lantern flag.

Bedtime stories were Fox and Crow Are Not Friends for Anthony. Ben was already in bed. Lucy asked for Chanticleer and the Fox again.

The kids playing bugs.

The kids playing bugs.

The kids playing bugs.

The kids playing bugs.

Bella makes a Halloween flag.

Bella makes a Halloween flag.

Thursday

Lucy has a cold and kept me up all night, fussing and kicking and kicking and fussing. I felt like a zombie. Bella and Sophie did a page of copy work after breakfast and then we went to the grocery store. I did read them Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art while we were getting ready to go. Something Sophie was babbling made me think of it and the book was right there on the shelf so I grabbed it and read while I brushed her hair.

I did not do any afternoon reading. They played outside while I tried to nap unsuccessfully.

Bedtime stories: I read The Selfish Giant to Sophie, one of my very favorites. Dom read Bella the next installment of the Fantastic Flying Journey.

Dom's anticipatory birthday

Dom’s anticipatory birthday

Friday

I gave the girls the day off. A holiday not only because of Halloween but because Lucy was the kind of sick that mostly wanted to be held all day and because we did need to finish up costumes and get to the library to return overdue books and to pick up some on holds.

Still, Sophie set herself a morning project: finding all the board books she could read on her own without help. I suggested she make a list of titles and so she found a little notebook and did just that. I think she read a whole five board books and copied out their titles.

Since there was no school work prerequisite Bella grabbed her iPod and listened to Prince Caspian right after breakfast. Sophie also grabbed hers and listened to the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

We make a quick trip to the library and came home with a pile of books to read, mostly on holds that I’d gathered from various bloggers recent and not so recent picture book lists. Also a few from the history book lists. We read our way through a small pile of books and when Lucy took an early nap I made Anthony a king robe out of an old pillowcase and then helped make crowns for Sophie, Ben, and Anthony out of glittery gold poster board.

The library book favorites included: Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco, a beautiful Christmas story about a family dealing with the loss of a beloved grandmother; Don Quixote and the Windmills by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, a lovely retelling of Don Quixote for kids; and In the Belly of an Ox: The Unexpected Photographic Adventures of Richard and Cherry Kearton, by Rebecca Bond. The story of two brothers in England who created the first nature book ever illustrated entirely by photographs. Published in 1895 and called British Birds’ Nests it included photographs of every bird they knew. Bella loved it and it made her want to go on adventures and explore the world she said.

Sophie reads some books.

Sophie reads some books.

Anthony, the king.

Anthony, the king.

King Ben and King Anthony. (Or the King of All Castles and the King of All Bats, so they said.)

King Ben and King Anthony. (Or the King of All Castles and the King of All Bats, so they said.)

The trick or treaters getting ready to go.

The trick or treaters getting ready to go.

Queen Sophie looks back as they go.

Queen Sophie looks back as they go.

The bold trick or treaters depart

The bold trick or treaters depart

Sick Lucy stays home.

Sick Lucy stays home.

Saturday

All the kids down with a cold, a nor’easter blowing in. We hunkered down and made soup and survived. Read a few picture books, but it wasn’t a big reading day. We did watch a series of videos about the making of a longbow.

Lucy goes a piggy backing.

Lucy goes a piggy backing.

Lucy the knight

Lucy the knight

6 Responses to Learning Notes: Halloween Week

  1. Kyra November 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Your kids have so much cool dress-up stuff! It’s awesome.

    Do people generally trick or treat before darkness in your area? In ours, everyone waits until the sun goes down. Not that that’s a hardship, because it gets dark about five-thirty here.

  2. Melanie Bettinelli November 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Well, we try to leave right before sunset because it’s easier. It was full dark by the time they got home though. Most people seem to come after dark. I basically waited until we had our first trick or treaters and then figured it was good to send them out.

    Dom took off early and we ordered pizzas and had a really early dinner so the whole thing was pretty smooth this year. Much more so than last year when he had to work till his usual time.

  3. Melanie Bettinelli November 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Also, putting dress up stuff on the birthday and Christmas wish lists has been truly a great move. I think my parents have given dress up stuff for at least half the recent birthdays. And we’ve done some too. It’s much better than lots of toys that make clutter. Though I do have to figure out a way to corral the dress up clothes. Usually they are strewn all over the floors in the kids’ rooms. We have had several different bins, but they keep getting sat on and destroyed. Even the wooden chest. My kids are terrible. Especially Bella who seems to have zero situational awareness and will stand in or sit down in or on the side of just about any container. She’s so unwittingly destructive.

  4. Erin November 3, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    Impressed she came home from an excursion and pulled out her books! The nature book sounds like a real find!!

  5. Kyra November 4, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    I keep thinking about making dress up clothes for the kids, but I think I’d be protective of them, and they’d get trashed anyway, and I’d be mad. I think it’s better for me to hunt at the thrift stores and buy cheap things that I don’t care if they mangle in their enthusiasm.

    • Melanie Bettinelli November 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      I understand and agree wholeheartedly. They need to be able to mangle things, I need to not care too much.

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