Learning Notes Week of April 18

Monday April 18

It was a Mondayish Monday and the weather was nice. Hard to get everyone to sit down.

Sophie did part of a math page and a line of copywork. Bella did a page of math and eventually did some copywork before dinner (copied a sentence from A Little Princess.)

I did a math lesson with Ben and Anthony. Anthony read me a Bob book and copied a sentence.

Kids played outside most of the morning. They were very excited to see two robins fighting over territory in a neighboring yard. We’ve had one male robin singing on territory the past week or so and I guess he’s defending it against other comers. Just like in the book! Ben and Sophie said.

Afternoon stories: We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, First Christians, Ignatius of Loyola, Story of the World (Emperor Hirohito and Japan’s actions in China and Manchuria/Manchukuo.) Lord of the Rings. And a picture book about WWI called War Game.

At dinner Dom was talking about a meme he’d seen that misattributed to Tolkien a quote that was actually said by Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings movie “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” To our surprise Bella said off the top of her head: Elrond said something similar: ‘This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.’” She might not have got it word perfect, but it was pretty darn close. She’s been reciting poems from the book, but her recollection of a random line of dialogue is really amazing.

Bedtime story: War Game, again. Sophie asked Dom to read it to them. And I read Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, to Lucy.

Bella is reading A Little Princess, a book about WWI, and The Lord of the Rings. She’s been reciting poems from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Sophie is reading a book about St Katherine Drexel.

Ben asked me whether St Joseph is buried in St Joseph’s church. And asked why the heart is a symbol for love. And imagines a musical instrument named a band-go that is played by a whole band of people. It’s a truck instrument and has drums and horns. Anthony is discoursing about the Eucharist.

We somehow got to talking about volcanoes and geysers and Old Faithful and Bella recalled everything she learned about volcanoes and caldera from a book she read about Krakatoa. I never know what she’s going to recall next. They identified the Ring of Fire on the map. Oh maybe we were talking about the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.

Anthony with copywork.

Anthony with copywork.

Tuesday April 19

Sophie did some math and copywork. Her cursive is getting quite neat. The math is getting harder and she’s having a hard time getting through a whole page.

Bella did math (she’s doing a series of pages on mapping with grids and loving it) and copied into her notebook from The Lord of the Rings.

I did a bit of math with Ben and Anthony but they kept being distracted.

Anthony did read me two books and copied a sentence on the whiteboard.

Afternoon stories: We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. We read a chapter about magma and volcanoes in the Rocks, Rivers and Earth book because we were talking about volcanoes and it seemed like a good time to go back to the book which we’d abandoned after reading a couple of chapters. My Path to Heaven(This is Anthony’s favorite. Must be is patron, St Ignatius, whispering in his ear.) First Christians. St Ignatius of Loyola. Lord of the Rings.

Bella read some of a book about WWI: The War to End All Wars.

Sophie reading

Sophie reading

Bella's notebook.

Bella’s notebook.

Wednesday April 20

Sophie did math and copywork. Bella did math and copywork. I did math with the boys and Anthony read me a Bob book and copied a sentence on the whiteboard.

Bella and I worked on identifying Journey North Mystery cities. Lots of map work, atlas work, and google searches. Some false starts and some good finds. We were especially thrilled to find a video and a virtual tour of the Antarctica site: Port Lockroy. Bella loves anything with penguins and Antarctica still since our very first in-depth rabbit trail was that long ago dive into Antarctica when she was five or six. Sophie is also a die-hard penguin lover since she’s acquired her own stuffed penguins. For Sophie having a stuffed animal is a window to learning deeply about said animal. Buy her a boa constrictor and she’ll dive into rain forests. She’s done hedgehogs and turtles too.

Afternoon stories: We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. Faith and Life. Rocks, Rivers, and Earth. First Christians. St Ignatius. Lord of the Rings. And finally we read In Flanders Field, a picture book about the WWI poem, lots of detail about the author and his work as an army doctor, about life in the trenches, some about the battles, and quite a bit about the effect the poem had on the war effort and war memorials after the armistice. Beautiful paintings to illustrate the poem, lovely primary source pictures to illustrate the historical background sections. A definite winner of a book. Also, Anthony read me Should I Share My Ice Cream.

Bella had some hands-on cooking lessons. I taught her how to chop various vegetables and also showed her how to mix my stir-fry sauce. She’s getting pretty good with the knife.

Bedtime story: Dawn Watch, a picture book about a girl and her father sailing across Lake Superior at night. It was a big hit because it connected so nicely with We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea.

Anthony with copywork.

Anthony with copywork.

Sophie writing.

Sophie writing.

Thursday April 21

Grocery day in the morning. Like last week the kids broke into two teams the Sophie and Ben on one team and the two younger ones with the Bella on the other. I send the teams on errands across the store and since they’ve been doing the shopping with me all their lives they pretty much know where most things are and which brands I buy. It’s a life-changer. “Go get me dark brown sugar, the store brand.” Or “Get me whichever brand of bread is cheapest this week, the Arnold or the Pepperidge Farm.” They sometimes come back with the wrong item and I send them back with clearer directions and they go without complaint. I think it’s such a relief not to have to follow the cart at the snail pace but to be able to move quickly from one point to another with purpose and to be trusted to do a real job. Often I have resented the time grocery shopping takes away from school work, but as I see them blossoming into this independence and helpfulness, I realize that they’ve been learning all sorts of lessons they would never learn in a classroom and that this is valuable too.

Afternoon stories: We read outside in the sun and oh it was a lovely day. Each kid had a blanket to lay on, though they also roamed about as I read. Began with We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. We read two chapters because we just had to find out what happened next. We’ve only got one more chapter to read and then we’re done and on to the next Swallows and Amazons book. Then finished the St Ignatius book, to Anthony’s simultaneous delight and consternation. Ben is excited to pick the next saint: Martin de Porres. Then we read a picture book about Gandhi because he came up recently in history and I wanted them to have a better sense of who he is. Then My Path to Heaven, just answering the review questions for the last page we did. Fun how that’s tied into our St Ignatius book. Story of the World about China and the rise of the communist party. Mao and the long march. Bella at least is recognizing the name of Mao. I think the other kids were pretty tuned out. This was one of the drier chapters. Then Lord of the Rings, the first half of the chapter about the Ride of the Rohirrim.

While we were outside we spied out little song sparrow singing on the fence and then moving to the roof of the house next door and then to the power lines. He’s been visiting the back step almost every day, not going up to the feeder, but getting the seed that’s spilled to the ground. I guess he’s probably got a nest nearby or will have soon. We also witnessed a bunch of robins squabbling. They flew across the yard and landed in the bush by the back fence, a bunch of them flew off and then one of them perched up at the top of the tree and began to sing the territorial song we’ve been hearing every morning and night. I guess our local robin chased off the interlopers. Sophie wondered how Bella knows so much about birds and Bella responded that she just watches and pays attention. But the others are noticing too. They might not be quite as adept as Bella, but they can identify birds and plants and they’re paying attention and trying to understand.

Bedtime story: I read Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! to Anthony and Sophie read one of the Zita books to Ben and Lucy.

Reading outside.

Reading outside.

The boys camp out under the trees.

The boys camp out under the trees.

The girls opt for the sunnier spots.

The girls opt for the sunnier spots.

Friday April 22

Bella did Latin this morning for the first time in several weeks. She was kind of hung up on a bunch of new to her grammar. Transitive and intransitive verbs, prepositions. We had a grammar lesson and then she was fine. She did a page of math but never got around to her copywork.

Sophie got frustrated with her math and gave up. But she did do her copywork.

I did a very brief math lesson with Ben and Anthony. Anthony read me a Bob book— the last one in Set 2— and declared that he wanted to do his copywork on paper today instead of the white board. So he did that.

Bella and I finished up identifying our last two Journey North Mystery cities. It’s been a fun project and we’ve both learned quite a bit.

We went to the library and got out big heaping piles of books. We came home and Anthony and I worked through one of the early readers that he’d grabbed from the shelf. A Star Wars book. He needed a lot of help with new words, but once they’d repeated a few times he was recognizing them. He did really well and made it through the book. Sophie read some books to the boys. Bella dove back into the Civil War historical novel she’d been reading before we left. She’s become a huge fan of the Dear America series of books. She loves them almost more for the information than for the stories.

Afternoon stories outside again. Such a lovely day. We finished the final chapter of We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. I feel like we should have a party when we finish a major novel like that. Then we read a picture book about a magical matroyshka doll. And then The First Christians, the first chapter of a book about St Martin de Porres. A brief selection from Faith and Life. And then The Lord of the Rings.

Once again we had opportunity to watch our song sparrow and robins. the Song sparrow loves to hop along the fence and sing. Then he perches on the wires and on the neighbor’s roof. I suspect he’s nesting in their bushes.

Sophie helped me trim the green beans for dinner.

Anthony reads me the Star Wars book he got from the library.

Anthony reads me the Star Wars book he got from the library.

2 Responses to Learning Notes Week of April 18

  1. Ellie May 7, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    I always so enjoy your learning notes … Isn’t spring so wonderful after a long gray winter?? Lovely to be outside in the sunshine with the songbirds.

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 8, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      Thank you, Ellie. Spring has been very rainy this week. Cold and wet. But today the sun came out, so all is forgiven.

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