Learning Notes June 1

Learning Notes June 1

Monday June 1

I began by reading them the story of St Justin Martyr.

We got through everything but not without drama and tears. Lots of distractions. As Bella said, Mondays are hard. Sophie did a page each of Saxon and Miquon math. And a couple lines of copywork. Bella did a bit of copywork and a page of Miquon math. And tried to do a page in her spelling workbook. She’s really not a workbookish kind of kid.

Ben did several pages of letters and then the girls and Anthony and he all worked through a page where he was supposed to circle the letter that the picture begins with. They all got stuck on umpire, not knowing what the picture was. And on walrus. I think I’m going to try to have the girls do more of the letter drill with Ben. I feel like I never get around to it and Bella likes playing school and helping the younger kids. She usually prefers to teach history or geography, but I can try to redirect her to basic reading skills.

Anthony read two pages of a Bob book with me. C-A-T. . . cat? He’s getting it. He knew hat but then second guessed himself as he was saying it.

Afternoon stories. We began with a short Bible story: the Tower of Babel. Then the much awaited second chapter of Swallowdale. Then the second half of last Friday’s chapter in Across the Rolling River. Ended with the first half of a chapter in Story of the World, about China. Sophie did not want to read the history chapter but after we’d read and discussed it, admitted that she really liked it. She wants to learn more about China.

It was cold and rainy all day, 48 degrees midafternoon. The kids played on the iPads while I put Lucy down and after stories. Also they watched an episode of Life of Mammals, about monkeys.

Bedtime stories: There’s No Such Thing As a Dragon. Fern Hill.


Tuesday June 2

A better start to the day for sure. Bella began her math in bed, did about a quarter of the page and then got stuck. In the end I scribed the rest of it for her, let her just focus on the math and not on the writing. I recently read someone writing about Charlotte Mason and math and CM suggesting that children not be set to working sums on slates until they can do them easily with manipulatives. Yes. Focus more on the manipulatives and less on the writing. Which is of course more time consuming for me, but feels right for Bella. She did another small bit of copywork, it seems less and less of late. But she’s been doing more writing on her own. I still want the discipline of copywork, but I’ll balance it.

Sophie did a page of Saxon math and half a page of the Miquon. Trying to learn fractions before eating breakfast and with a distracted mother, it ended in tears. She does copywork much more easily than Bella.

Ben did a little letter writing and some practice of letter sounds.

I fell down a rabbit hole when I sat down with Lucy and that killed the morning.

I tried to make allergen free banana bread, but I overcooked it. Sad.

Afternoon stories: We read about Abraham, a pretty long selection, but they were entranced. Didn’t discuss it much. I keep waiting for someone to ask about circumcision. I think this time through just letting the stories sink in is fine. We can discuss next time. Then Swallowdale— yay! the Amazons finally showed up! There were actual cheers here and lots of jumping about when their sale was spotted and Nancy Blackett greeted them in her inimitable way. Then Across the Rolling River. Harvest time and looking forward to the State Fair. Then the rest of the Story of the World chapter on China. We learned about the opium trade. Oh what fun. Finally we picked up with In a Patch of Fireweed again. The author’s escape from East Germany and living in a forest in West Germany with his family where he foraged for food, trapped animals so that they could sell the skins as scientific specimens, and collected beetles and birds’ eggs for fun. This chapter started off rather slowly. Or not slowly for an adult, but for my audience. The war and fleeing from Russian soldiers is so much more abstract than picking raspberries, smuggling moonshine, collecting caterpillars, and digging traps.

Still cold and rainy, 48 degrees like yesterday, hardly feels like June. The children stayed inside and watched an episode of Life of Mammals.

Over dinner Dom quoted Patrick Henry, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” And Bella recounted her vast sum of knowledge of who Patrick Henry was and what he’s famous for. She knew he was from Virginia and didn’t like the Constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights and put too much emphasis on “we the people” where he wanted the focus to be on the individual states. She remembered that he was governor of Virginia and several other details. We also reviewed what we learned about the opium trade and i recounted the story of In a Patch of Fireweed with the kids chiming in about details. I think it’s good for them to overhear me narrating what we read.

Bedtime stories. Lucy wanted a Jack Prelutsky poetry anthology, a library book. Bella wanted another library book, about a young boy going to war, a biography. Sophie wanted This Is Not My Hat.

Lucy told me, "Someone left the clay on the table." Well then. She was very tidy and put the clay back in the bag when she was done before getting out the orange clay.
Lucy told me, “Someone left the clay on the table.” Well then. She was very tidy and put the clay back in the bag when she was done before getting out the orange clay.

Wednesday June 3

Sophie got up and did her math and copywork before I was even awake. Bella was much more interested in reading her book, Young Patriot, than in doing math. She was deeply immersed in it and read me bits and narrated other bits and then read me some more. She really wanted to read it to me, so I leveraged that and got her to do a page of math, with me scribing, in exchange for her reading to me when that was done. Then I copied out a sentence from the book for her to copy and then she read me a bit more and we discussed it. Then she went out to play and I did some baking and put a pot of bones on to simmer into stock.

We had a great theological discussion at lunch when Bella said she wanted to know what all the words of the blessing before meals mean. And somehow we got to talking about the Eucharist and sacraments and why we pray “through Christ our Lord.” Good stuff.

Afternoon stories: Swallowdale, In a Patch of Fireweed, Why Not, Lafayette?, Captain Cook.

Bedtime stories: Elephant and Piggie for Ben.

Kids enjoying the warm weather
Kids enjoying the warm weather


Sophie had her work mostly done before I was up. She’s taken to writing me notes on her math page when she gets stuck so I’ll “know I wasn’t just forgetting or getting distracted or something.” Cute little messages scrawled on the page.

Bella did a few math problems before we left for the grocery store, but did the rest after we came home. I also got her to do a few words of copywork.

Ben was trying very hard to look at a page of letters in alphabetical order and point to each letter and say its name, but he was doing so not by recognizing the shapes of the letters but by singing the alphabet song while pointing to the each letter. And he had memorized the song wrong. He flipped j and k. Every time he got to l,m,n,o, p he lost track of pointing to one letter for each letter he’d said and ended up pointing at m when he got to q or some such thing. I think we’re going to have to do some flash cards or something.

At the grocery store I pointed to letters on signs and Anthony identified them and told me what sounds they made. He seems more solid on the alphabet than Ben, but he gets confused on some of them.

Afternoon stories: The story of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac and of Rebecca’s agreeing to return to Canaan with him. We had a good discussion about why Abraham wanted Isaac not to marry a Canaanite and why he didn’t want him to go back to Mesopotamia. And about Rebecca’s leaving her home and everything she knew to go with him. Swallowdale: the wreck of the Swallow distressed Bella terribly; Across the Rolling River, going to the State Fair; Why Not, Lafayette. Sophie didn’t want to read the last book— at first. But when we got to the end of chapter 3 she admitted she wasn’t adverse to going on to read chapter 4 as well. Only Anthony protested.

Friday June 5

Bella and Sophie did their copywork and math in the morning. The afternoon got away from us because Dom picked up Ben’s new bike. After that nothing could convince the children to come inside for stories. But Ben took to his bike like a fish to water. He and Sophie are a pair, riding up and down the street together.

Ben tries on his new bike helmet
Ben tries on his new bike helmet
Ben's new wheels
Ben’s new wheels

Saturday June 6

We don’t usually do schoolwork on Saturdays, but we were having a lazy at home day with Dom on a business trip to Atlanta. So in the afternoon I pulled out the blankets and the books and we had an outside reading day under the trees. I read the story of Jacob and Esau. Then Swallowdale, Across the Roaring River, Why Not Lafayette, and In a Patch of Fireweed.

Bedtime story: At the Same Moment around the World.

Biggest and littlest. Bella reads to injured Lucy who was run over by Ben's bike.
Biggest and littlest. Bella reads to injured Lucy who was run over by Ben’s bike.
Reading on the lawn
Reading on the lawn

Sunday June 7

Today Sophie read all of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, squeezing in chapters in between bouts of bike riding with Ben. Bella and I listened to a bit of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf while I did some sewing. I saw Bella reading selections of half a dozen different books. She’s voracious.

We had an early dinner and then a much more extensive bedtime reading time than usual. We read over today’s Mass readings and discussed them briefly. Then I read Lucy’s board book, Anthony wanted a selection from Voyage of the Dawn Treader so I read the last segment from the time they leave the Dawn Treader to the end of the novel. Then I read a bunch of poems from the Barefoot Book at Ben’s request. I’m so happy my kids love poetry so much.

Lucy's first braids
Lucy’s first braids
Bella builds Fort Allison while Sophie loses herself in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
Bella builds Fort Allison while Sophie loses herself in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
Bella has been practicing drawing. And taking pictures with my camera.
Bella has been practicing drawing. And taking pictures with my camera.
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  • I notice, your Lucy has made that almost indefinable transition from toddler to child – even before the braids.
    I hope you all enjoy “Swallowdale” – I know these books almost by heart, and loved reading them to my own daughters.

    • I have a hard time not thinking of her as my baby. This is the first time I’ve had a two year old without a younger infant in the house and it’s very strange.

      So far Swallowdale is going down a treat. We survived the shipwreck and are making camp to welcome Mother and Bridget.