Learning Notes Week of April 25

Sister Maryanne talks about the solar panels at Mount Saint Mary's Abbey

Sister Maryanne talks about the solar panels at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey

Wind turbine at Mount Saint Mary's Abbey

Wind turbine at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey

Looking at the geothermal plant at Mount Saint Mary's Abbey

Looking at the geothermal plant at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey

On Saturday We took a family field Trip to Mt St Mary’s Abbey to learn about renewable energy at the Abbey.

On Sunday our bedtime story was Planting the Trees of Kenya, a story about the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize, how she taught Kenyans to fight erosion by planting trees, and to return to sustainable agriculture.

Monday April 25

Discussion about St Mark.

Bella was lost in a Jean Fritz book about James Madison. Had a hard time breaking away to do her math and copywork. But she kept telling me about the interesting things she was learning about the US government.

Sophie was very frustrated with her math, but I helped her work through the problems. She started a new page of her copybook where the center line isn’t ruled and she’s rather frustrated with how sloppy her handwriting is suddenly without that guide. But she also recognized that it’s time to let go of the crutch and that her handwriting will improve again.

Math with the boys, both of them very distractible. Ben waned to copy letters on the white board. Anthony read me two Bob books and then copied a sentence. He’s doing more and more trying to read other books over my shoulder, pointing to words and asking what they say. He’s really decoding so much text these days.

Sophie read to me a page from A Child’s Geography and also a psalm.

Afternoon stories: Started Secret Water, which I was surprised I seem not to have read despite owning the book. We read the first two chapters to really get into the meat of it. Catechism, section about prayer in the Old Testament. Which led to Sophie asking about Elijah and then to me reading from the first book of Kings about the prophet Elijah. And then that led to a conversation about the founding of the Carmelites. St Martin de Porres. Lord of the Rings, sadness over the death of Theoden, happiness at Merry’s having a role to play, at Eowyn’s appearance, and of course at Aragorn’s appearance.

Again Bella hung out in the kitchen watching me cook and asking questions.

Bedtime story: The Errant Knight, about a knight who sets out to go to serve his king but keeps getting waylaid by other people’s pressing needs. When he finally arrives at the king’s palace years later old and worn out, poor, ragged, and looking like a beggar, the king praises him for being his faithful knight and tending to the needs of his people. A nice little fable.

Anthony's copywork.

Anthony’s copywork.

Anthony builds with Cuisinaire rods.

Anthony builds with Cuisinaire rods.

Tuesday April 26

Bella began with copywork, a sentence from Robinson Crusoe, which book she began yesterday and finished today. Then a page of math.

I did math with Anthony and Ben. Anthony read me a Bob book and copied a sentence. Ben made letters out of oversize paper cutouts, matching the letters on a set of index cards. I reinforced the sound each letter makes and we talked about words beginning with each sound. At least he’s doing some easy drilling this way.

Sophie waited for me to do math and we retreated to my bedroom where I helped her work the problems on the whiteboard. She really needs the quiet space with no distractions and has finally agreed to let me help her with each one. She then did her copywork. Still working on the MP cursive book.

Bella, having finished Robinson Crusoe, which she said was a really good book, is now on to the Arabian Nights. I guess she’s working her way through the classics. She’s also reading Jean Fritz’s book on James Madison and re-reading Shh, We’re Writing the Constitution. She’s really interested in how the government works. And in economics.

Sophie spent much of the morning reading a book of saints. She read me another small selection from A Child’s Geography.

Afternoon stories: Secret Water, First Christians, Faith and Life, Story of the World (the stock market crash and the Great Depression), St Martin de Porres, Lord of the Rings (Pyre of Denethor).

Kids watched an episode of Wildest Africa and Monkey Thieves.

Bedtime Stories: The Errant Knight and Planting the Trees of Kenya.

Ben and Lucy swinging.

Ben and Lucy swinging.

Ben in the rain.

Ben in the rain.

Wednesday April 27

Bella did half a page of math, copied a line from a Hamilton song, and at least opened her Latin book.

Sophie and I did some math problems, she did a line of copywork, and she read me a couple pages of A Child’s Geography.

I did some math with Ben and Anthony.

We went to Cape Cod Canal for the herring run field trip. Learned about herring migration and predators, and adaptations. Saw herring swimming up the run. And the kids played a game where they pretend to be herring and predators and learn how schooling behavior helps herring to survive.

Back home in time for dinner. No read alouds this afternoon, but we did listen to On the Shores of Silver Lake in the car.

Bedtime story we did hit one of our read alouds: a chapter of Secret Water.

Bella's copywork page.

Bella’s copywork page.

Herring run field trip.

Herring run field trip.

Ranger Sam tells us about herring.

Ranger Sam tells us about herring.

Listening to Ranger Sam

Listening to Ranger Sam

Ben plays the herring game.

Ben plays the herring game.

Sophie watches the herring swimming upstream.

Sophie watches the herring swimming upstream.

Thursday April 28

Did a brief bit of math with Sophie and then we had to go to the grocery store. It’s very frustrating that she was working so independently before and now can’t do a thing with the math without me sitting with her in my room with the door shut so she isn’t distracted by the other kids’ noise. I think maybe for the time being we need to have a plan B for math, another book of easier practice problems she can do on days when I can’t sit with her for long. And Ben keeps getting the short end of the stick because Sophie takes so much time. And Bella got only a tiny little bit of math done, too.

On the other hand, the grocery shopping is still going really well with the kids actively helping. More On the Shores of Silver Lake in the car.

Afternoon stories: Secret Water, First Christians, Martin de Porres, Story of the World (rise of Adolf Hitler), Rocks, Rivers, and Earth, Lord of the Rings.

Sophie did read to me from A Child’s Geography, which she’s really liking. She’s reading a biography of St Teresa of Avila now as her bedtime reading.

Bella read Lucy some Mother Goose and Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Child Garden of Verses. This is her new self-appointed task and I love it. Poor Lucy took an unexpected nap, though.

Bella is reading a historical novel called A Stitch in Time about a family in Salem Massachusetts. She also picked up The Arabian Nights.

Contemplative Anthony enjoying the sun.

Contemplative Anthony enjoying the sun.

Kids on the dome.

Kids on the dome.

Friday April 29

Took Bella to the doctor and then went to Target. No math or copywork today. More On the Shores of Silver Lake in the car.

Afternoon stories: Secret Water, First Christians, Martin de Porres, Story of the World (Spanish Civil War and rise of Franco), Lord of the Rings.

Bella read Lucy some Mother Goose.

Bedtime Story: Francis the Poor Man of Assisi.

Bella reads poetry to Lucy, who fell asleep.

Bella reads poetry to Lucy, who fell asleep.

Bella read all of Alice in Wonderland this week as well as Robinson Crusoe and parts of The Arabian Nights and Treasure Island. She has discovered the series of great classics and is diving in. She also made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with very little help from me.

2 Responses to Learning Notes Week of April 25

  1. Caitlin Herrity May 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m so impressed with the handwriting! Anthony’s especially, because writing with nicely on a whiteboard is really hard. Would you ever consider writing a note about how/when you make the move to cursive? I’m a bit frustrated with my nanny-child’s school handwriting, because she doesn’t seem to have learnt exactly how to form letters in a logical way. We’re practicing cursive at home, but she’s really disheartened by having to go back and re-learn letter formations.

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 20, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

      I really can’t claim any credit for Anthony’s handwriting. He just writes that way with no input from me. I wasn’t even going to teach him reading and writing until next year. I really don’t even begin to push that until after kids are six. But Ben was starting and Anthony just wanted to do it so I let him. And he’s progressed much further than Ben, who is still struggling with reading and will probably be a late reader like Bella. But all I did was hand Anthony some cheap grocery store workbooks and assign him some copying when he seemed interested in writing. He really taught himself.

      I bought cursive books for Bella and Sophie last year and Sophie finished the book and then moved on to cursive copywork. Bella did about half the cursive book and then sort of gave up on it and I didn’t push her. I’d like her to learn cursive, but we’re fighting attention battles on so many fronts, just getting her through math and copying, that I didn’t feel like fighting the cursive battle. The good news is that Bella has developed a beautiful print hand. I’m hoping at some point she’ll decide on her own to learn cursive. I was not good at teaching letter formation. I’ve been too distracted and too lazy to stand over them as they write, so I’m afraid my kids are at a major disadvantage with handwriting.

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