Two awesome read-alouds (plus ancient Greece)

hittite-warriorThis fall we stumbled upon a terrific author whose books made terrific read-alouds and were then subject to much sibling negotiation as everyone wanted to re-read (and re-re-re-read) them on their own as well. Joanne Williamson did a tremendous job combining excellent storytelling and character development with detailed and fascinating historical research in her books Hittite Warrior and God King.

god-kingWe read the books as part of our history/literature studies, but they are such great adventures that anyone would enjoy them as stand-alone books. Hittite Warrior takes place during the time of Judges and ties in to the collapse of the Hittite culture, rise of the Philistines, and loosely touches ancient Greece. God King is a fascinating account of Egypt during the time of King Hezekiah in Judah and the rise of Assyria. Both books are well worth owning, although difficult to find. Check your library, and if you ever see Joanne Williamson’s other books, snap them up!

I tend to follow a literature-based lead for school books, and so I’m looking for good writing, excellent illustrations, and a storytelling (versus textbook or encyclopedia) feel. We do get reference books on the side, but not for our main focus. Here are a few other books we liked in theras-and-his-townour ancient Greece reading.

Theras and His Town – This novel is a bit light, but we enjoyed the story and the contrast between Athenian and Spartan cultures. It’s a good read-alone for elementary kids, and worked out pretty well as a read-aloud too.

daulaires-greek-mythsD’Aulaire’s Greek Myths – I like this version much better than other options for myth retellings. It’s also the book used in the National Mythology Exam, if you’re into those sort of tests (I’m not sure if we’ll do that or not–it’s the same group that runs the National Latin Exam). Anyway, the D’Aulaire’s always do a good job with stories and illustrations.

one-eyed-giantThe One-Eyed Giant (and the rest of the series) – Kids who like Mary Pope Osborne’s style will enjoy this series. We listened to the first one on audio and then the kids read the rest on their own time. Note that this series is available in two different formats–one that seems to be geared for libraries and another that comes in only two volumes and is for…regular people? Just letting you know in case you pick them up at a used bookstore and don’t want redundancy on your shelves!

golden-fleece-columThe Golden Fleece and the Heroes Before Achilles – You’ll start to feel the repetition if you do a lot of these readings, but Padraic Colum does a pretty good job of preserving Homeric phrases kids should know, like the rosy-fingered dawn, grey-eyed Athena, wine-dark sea, and so forth. Colum wrote other books on Greek mythology and the epics, so you may want to look for those as well.

famous-men-of-greeceFamous Men of Greece – Honestly, this one is a little dry, but the sections are a good length for a daily narration habit, and it does have good illustrations. I’d skip it if you only have younger kids, and might suggest assigning it for older elementary kids who are working on narrating their independent reading assignments.

wanderings-odysseusThe Wanderings of Odysseus and Black Ships Before Troy – These excellent retellings of the Odyssey and Iliad, respectively, are well worth owning. Pro tip: be sure you’re getting the larger format book with the illustrations. I accidentally wound up with paperbacks that omitted the pictures and the kids were none too pleased. We’ve read several of Rosemary Sutcliff’s works and have black-ships-before-troyloved all of them, so that’s another author to add to your look-for list.

The kids read a ton of other books from this subject area, but I didn’t keep up with all of them. It’s been fun to circle back to the ancient world with older kids and see how much they remember from four years ago!

A Quick Note About Book Shopping: In previous years, Amazon has put out several high value book coupons between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I hear of any, I’ll link them on Facebook and in the weekly Bookmarks email. If you come across any great book shopping codes this season, please let me know!

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Wrapping up the school year

Another one for the books! If you only count Kindergarten forward, this was our fifth year of homeschooling, but if you go by the fact that I’ve been keeping records since Hannah’s pre-K-3 year (I know, I know) this is was our seventh year of homeschooling. In many ways, things that were once difficult are easier, but in other ways, the things that are difficult have gotten more so. I do find that having taken time to articulate WHY I am doing certain things, I have found many areas that work well and require very little planning now.

What worked this year:

  • Convocation – Starting the day with prayer, singing, Bible study, and memory work sets a good tone, and makes sure we get to these things.
  • Checklist – Mine, that is. I’m highly motivated by this to actually get things done, and it also gives me visual permission to stop when we’re done.

What didn’t work this year:

  • Table Time – The consistent accomplishment thereof, anyway. We enjoy Table Time, but it’s hard to make it happen, especially on days when we have a hard stop time and need to get core subjects done.
  • Artist and composer study – We were really good at this for the first three months of the year, but once I went to the hospital it sort of fell by the wayside. Still, we did get some good study in for those three months, and listened to classical music and did some art after that.

At any rate, here is the breakdown by subject and student. I like to read this sort of post because it helps me get ideas, but please DO NOT READ ON if you are going to be tempted to do the whole comparison thing. This is what works for our family, with five kids including a baby and a mom who works part-time. Other families school much longer, or much less, or in vastly different ways, and that is fine. Again, this is what school looks like for us, at least for now.

Subjects we do together:

  • History – We covered the 20th century (Tapestry Year 4) by Easter, then started Ancient Times (Tapestry Year 1) again. We put the bookmarks in part way through the Trojan War and we’ll pick back up again in August. It’s SO fun to hit the ancient world again for the second time. It’s amazing how much Hannah and Jack remember. We will move through at our own pace–and will probably linger with the Greeks and Romans because they are awesome. I like not having to keep up with–or wait for–other people as we work through integrated subjects chronologically. We take a literature-based, living books, ideas and integration approach.
  • Literature – Our literature integrates with history, so has also been 20th century and then back to ancient times. The 20th century was a little rough, as I was trying to stay true to the issues and use living books, but also remain age-appropriate. There is so much excellent literature for children about the Greeks and Romans, so Year 1 is easier to navigate.
  • Science – To tie in to the lab class Jack was taking at co-op, we did Apologia Swimming Creatures this year, and learned many fascinating things about sea life. We then took on Nature Anatomy for more of a natural world angle), and recently started Apologia Chemistry and Physics (covering current interests for Hannah and Jack) after we finished Swimming Creatures. We read some good biographies about scientists, and also picked up Childcraft Mathemagic, which turned out to be a very fun read-aloud with math games (not technically science, but sort of related).
  • Geography – We study maps as they integrate with our history and literature study. We reviewed states and capitals, although I’m not a stickler for that given that I didn’t ever memorize them in school myself. I know, that’s not a good excuse. 🙂
  • Poetry/Memorization – We memorized lots of good poems together this year, with the latest–and by far the most dramatic–being The Destruction of Sennacherib. We render that one with tremendous emotion. 🙂  We also learned several chapters of Scripture and kept reviewing previous ones as part of our convocation time. We learned some new hymns to add to our rotation, and added catechism memory tied to our morning Biblestudy. 
  • Art – I mentioned dropping the ball on artist and composer study in second semester. The kids do a lot of art stuff on their own, which is great, and I’m past the point of feeling guilty for not being a craft mom. Still, we can strive to improve!
  • Vocabulary/Dictionary – Two or three times a week during table time (or, more realistically, during lunch) each kid looks up a word in the dictionary. Often they already know what it means because we discuss definitions when we come across an unfamiliar word in our reading, but it builds good skills to look things up.
  • Latin – I should do a post sometime on our Latin journey. Suffice it to say, we are now doing I Speak Latin together during table time, and enjoying it. It’s fun, and I intend for the kids to do Latin independently starting at age 10 (see Hannah’s section below) so fun is good for our group!

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Hannah – 4th Grade

Hannah has made great strides in handling her work independently. This semester she seemed to make a huge jump up across the board, such that I’m now sort of thinking of her as being in her middle schooling years (if you break the pre-college education into three parts, which is arbitrary).

  • Math – Having completed Saxon Math 6/5, Hannah is about a quarter of the way through Saxon Math 7/6. She is really being challenged by this book, which is great! I’m being very careful about checking all of her problem sets and having her re-do things she missed, so as not to skip important concepts.
  • Language Arts – Hannah finished First Language Lessons 4, which pretty much wraps up grammar and diagramming, at least for now. This quarter she started Writing With Skill, which builds on FLL and Writing With Ease. It seems like a great bridge between written narration and advanced composition. Although she continues to struggle with spelling (the woes of not being a natural speller!), Hannah did finish All About Spelling 4 and is in All About Spelling 5, with significant improvement over last year. She does copywork in cursive, and I sort of think she spells better in cursive since she has to think about it more as she’s forming the words.
  • Latin – In addition to the Latin we do together, Hannah started Visual Latin 1 and is doing great with the program. I investigated this at length, and am pleased with the overall scope of Dwayne Thomas’s approach. Visual Latin is structured as a high school Latin course, and can be graded and recorded thusly, but they also say you can start it as a 10 year old if you grade it a bit differently, and we have found that to be true. It’s sort of amazing to me that concepts that are stretched out over YEARS in various early start Latin programs are covered in a few short lessons in Visual Latin–and covered well, and actually retained. Lesson learned for Mama! It’s also a big relief to have most of the in-depth teaching for her level out of my court.
  • Typing – To facilitate faster writing and revision, Hannah started learning typing with some free online programs. We started with the BBC’s Dance Mat Typing, then moved on to Typing.com. Both work fine and get the job done.
  • Independent study – I’m assigning Hannah readings in history and literature each week, with the thinking and accountability questions/topics from Tapestry’s Dialectic (middle school) level. So far this is working fairly well, although I’m still trying to get a feel for how best to structure our discussions on what she has read. I’ve assigned her writing projects based on the independent reading but I’m still thinking that through.
  • Other – Hannah continues to take piano lessons, and she took Spanish, Indiana State History, and BizTown (economics/civics) at our co-op this year. We also tried out swim team this spring with great success, and intend to take that back up in the fall. Hannah reads like a maniac, taught herself to make soap, and enjoys making up imaginary worlds and inventing games to play with her friends and siblings.

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Jack – 3rd Grade

Jack is one of those people who, when he takes an interest, goes after it with full gusto. Whether it’s birds, physics, World War II, exactly how original sin works, or what-have-you, Jack is one to dig deep. But when he does not feel personal interest…he goes after it with…umm…double-plus-UN-gusto. This presents a challenge. I spend a lot of time trying to balance encouraging his interests with equipping him to do hard things even when he doesn’t want to apply himself. We want him to be a good steward of his potential, but don’t want to break him of his temperament, which is, after all, how God constructed his personality. Parenting only gets less and less simple, doesn’t it? But the rewards are many and so we press on!

  • Math – Jack finished Saxon Math 5/4 and proceeded to Saxon Math 6/5, which is not challenging him.  However, at this level I’m reluctant to skip things in case he misses something critical, so I let him do only every other problem and keep reminding him that once he puts in his time he can get to really cool things in math and physics and inventions. Although he’s able to do math easily, he still hates to write things down, so math is often a struggle.
  • Language Arts – About how Jack hates writing things down…we come to language arts. He finished First Language Lessons 3 and likes how grammar works but loathes putting actual whole words into the diagram he’s drawn. He is a decent speller and is neck and neck with Hannah in All About Spelling 5, but, again, abhors writing things down. So we figured out a lot of ways to do things out loud, which is time-intensive for his individual teaching time, but it gets the job done. I’ve read that a lot of boys resist writing even up to age 12. That is simultaneously encouraging and terrifying! 🙂 For some reason, cursive is easier for him than printing, which I think is because cursive feels more like drawing to him. And because he only has to do small chunks of copywork in cursive.
  • Other – My husband is teaching Jack guitar sporadically, and Jack likes messing around with the guitar he got for his birthday. He took Spanish, a science lab class, and PE at our co-op this year. Swim team was a hit, so he will do that again this fall. Other than that he likes reading, keeping notebooks of random things he learns (the one time he doesn’t mind writing things down), constructing models and inventions and giant pieces of art, building with Legos, and running around yelling and jumping off of things.

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Sarah – 1st Grade

Sarah is such a dedicated student, and is the sort of person who gets up early to get her independent work done without being reminded. I’m not sure how long this phase will last, but it has been lovely!

  • Math – On the last day of school, Sarah took the final test for Saxon 3 and completed the book. She catches on to new concepts quickly and didn’t have any trouble with this level.
  • Language Arts – Sarah finished First Language Lessons 2, and it was fine for basic grammar. I put her in Writing With Ease 2 this semester because I noticed she was not being as careful with narrations, and WWE does a great job of training the student to listen attentively and both narrate and summarize. Having worked through several books of cursive, I finally just started giving Sarah cursive copywork like I give the older kids. Being more of a natural speller, she’s about halfway through All About Spelling 4. I still had Sarah read out loud to me every day–just a chapter from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book–because reading out loud is a different skill than reading to yourself.
  • Other – Sarah takes piano lessons, and took art, Spanish, and PE in co-op this year. She also liked swim team, so will continue that this fall. She’s looking forward to playing soccer this fall in our church soccer program (one day per week–perfect). She likes to read, make pretty things from art supplies, play dress-up and dolls, and play with the baby. She also has a great Broadway singing voice, which she never consents to perform for anyone outside the family.

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Eliza – Pre-pre-pre-K and School Mascot

I did much better this year at getting preschool time in with Eliza. This is really simple–just reading from a children’s Bible, an Aesop fable, some Mother Goose, five or so picture books, and practicing saying ABCs and counting to 20. She sits in on everything else with us, so she also gets memory work and singing and read-alouds, either while sitting on my lap or doing lacing cards or playing with Legos or something. If anything, I’d like to read more to her, but for now having a dedicated 20-30 minutes just for her seems like a win.

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Margaret – Official Baby and Vice Mascot

Everyone reads to Margaret. She listens in on lessons while I hold her, or while sitting around on her toy mat. Sometimes, she naps. Other times, she yells. In short, she is a baby and we have acclimated to doing school with her in the mix.

AND NOW, LET THE WILD RUMPUS START! SUMMER VACATION IS ON FOR JULY!

 
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Read-alouds about Egypt

Because education is a life and we aren’t bound by grade-levels around here, we wrapped up our study of the history, literature, and geography of the 1900s (Tapestry Year 4) just before Easter, and then jumped right back into the ancient world (Tapestry Year 1) after spring break. This is the first time we are cycling back through the year plans, and it has been really interesting to use the material with a 10 1/2, almost 9, and 7 1/2 year old (last time they were 6, 5, and 3). I’m glad we decided to start in right away because it has given me a chance to experiment with how much work load Hannah can handle. We are now using the Dialectic, Upper Grammar, and Lower Grammar reading lists and assignments, not so much by reading level as by how much they can handle in terms of writing.

Anyway, Tapestry geeking out aside, we chose three read-alouds on Egypt, reviewed below. We read a lot of non-fiction and shorter fiction together too, and the kids also read several other longer books independently, but these are the ones I can speak for as longer read-alouds.

golden gobletOur favorite was The Golden Goblet. I knew we’d like this one since it is by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, and we were not disappointed.  I think all three big kids read it on their own, and we also listened to it in audio book form. It’s a great story, with lots of adventure and themes about kids being brave and doing the right thing  no matter what.

We highly recommend this one for boys, girls, and as a read-aloud or audio book.

 

bubastesThe Cat of Bubastes is a solid story, but we chose to listen to an audio version that was less than stellar. The narrator chose some really difficult-to-love accents for different characters, and we could not restrain ourselves from making fun of them at times.  Still, the fact that we kept listening anyway probably speaks well for the story itself! Next time we will read this one independently or I’ll read it aloud.

As a cool aside, we realized that part of this book forms one of the settings in a favorite book of ours, The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit!  If you’ve read that one (and if not, you should!) see if your kids notice the scene.

maia of thebesMaia of Thebes is decent historical fiction set during the reign of Hatshepsut. It has a lot of good setting information, although we wound up discussing the fact that the author implies that lying is ok as long as it’s for a good cause.  Things like this are why I think it’s a good idea to read and discuss books with the kids!

Jack said to tell you that he didn’t mind it as a read-aloud but he doesn’t think boys would enjoy it too much as an independent read.

 

What is your favorite book about Egypt?

 

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A few more read-alouds set in Asia

We are wrapping up our study of the 20th century (and I can’t decide if we should start the ancient world again after spring break, or just do lots of random literature read-alouds until August? Thoughts?) and read several more good books set in Asia.  If you’re interested in the area or are studying the Korean and/or Vietnam Wars, these might be good choices.

inside outHannah (10) and I previously decided we didn’t really like verse novels, but Sarah (7) read Inside Out and Back Again and kept telling us how fantastic it is, so finally I read it and yes, it is fantastic!  Hannah grudgingly agreed that it was all right, because she liked the author’s second book (below) better, but we all enjoyed talking about Inside Out.

The book tells the story of a girl whose family has to leave Vietnam near the end of the Vietnam War. Emigrating to the US, the little girl faces all kind of challenges–language, customs, bullies–and yet bravely learns to stand up for herself.  These are such great topics for elementary school kids, both in how to treat others who are different and how to behave when you yourself are different.

Even if you think you don’t like verse novels, I highly recommend you give Inside Out and Back Again a try.

listen slowly

Naturally, we wanted to read Thanha Lai’s second book, Listen, Slowly. The book is a novel rather than a verse novel (I think it was a sound move for Lai to branch out, but also brave since her verse novel won awards and it probably would have been easy to let herself be pigeonholed in that genre) and it is set in Vietnam, so you get more details about the country.  I’m not sure which book I liked most.

Listen, Slowly follows two girls–one born in America to parents who fled Vietnam as children during the war, and one her cousin who grew up in Vietnam.  As they come to understand each other, the reader learns a lot about Vietnamese culture and also gets an outside-in view of some of the silly parts of American tween culture in the process.

The book had some great discussion topics like how we can view our own culture, how to figure out if someone is really a true friend, why we respect our elders, and the like.

One caveat for younger readers: There is an episode in Listen, Slowly when the American tween advises the Vietnamese cousins that they should convert their underwear to thongs.  I wound up having to explain to Hannah what thongs were, which is fine but I wasn’t expecting the question!  She declared the whole idea “completely ridiculous” and later in the book the American tween character does too, but I thought I’d mention it as a heads up.

seesaw girlSeesaw Girl was our read-aloud choice about Korea. Although it’s set in the 1600s, there were a lot of great cultural references that I thought helped round out our understanding.  We read other picture books and shorter chapter books set in Korea too, but really enjoyed Linda Sue Park’s story.

I loved the setting details Park included–sometimes children’s books are light there but Park did a great job of evoking both the historical and geographical settings.

The kids read several other books by Park and enjoyed them all. Jack (8) tried to teach himself Korean from some YouTube videos.  Hannah asked for a hanbok for her birthday. We briefly looked up airfare to Korea (my family lived there when I was in 7th and 8th grades and I would love to visit again) but, to paraphrase Kermit the Frog from a non-Korea-related movie quote, “that would cost as much as an Oldsmobile” so we had to settle for going out to dinner at a Korean restaurant.

water-buffalo-days-cover1To be honest, Water Buffalo Days was a kind of disappointing read-aloud. I think it was partially because the kids had already read The Land I Lost by the same author so they knew more stories and details and they thought this was “a little kid version” and were not super enthused.  As the person reading aloud, I wished the book would have had more setting details.

We didn’t hate it, but the consensus among the kids was that you should read The Land I Lost instead of Water Buffalo Days.

 

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Read-aloud Hodge Podge – Feb 2016 edition

And now a hodge podge of longer read-alouds and chapter books I read to discuss with the kids. I’m trying to break these up into topical posts when I can, but these defied my organization for the past couple of months. However, not all odds-and-ends are rewarmed leftovers–these are a proper literary smorgasbord. Let us know if you enjoy them!

moorchildEloise McGraw’s The Moorchild is a fairy story (in the old fashioned sense of the word, not the Disney sort) that weaves in themes modern kids can relate to, such as being different, being made fun of, and not fitting in. This is a great book for discussion. It can be tough to figure out how to talk through scenarios with sensitive kids without them feeling defensive, and I often find that books help. This one gives lots of ways to talk about different strategies, what works and what doesn’t, and helps reassure kids that they are not the only person who has ever felt left out or different. Plus, it’s a great story!

 

Book-BigWoodsOf course everyone has read Little House in the Big Woods, but Sarah, our first grader, just finished reading it for her out loud reading practice with me (I have the kids read aloud to me for a while after they are independent readers so that I can catch any errors in pronunciation and to help them read with good expression).  It was so fun to have little discussions with her along the way, and to see how her ability to read smoothly and expressively improved over the course of the book.  The Laura Ingalls series was one of my favorites growing up, and it’s a delight to share them with my own kids!

 

homeless birdHomeless Bird is a fascinating story about a 13 year old widowed girl in India who finds a way to happiness in spite of many hardships and extremely limiting social conventions. I thought the author did a good job of presenting the reality of a different culture calmly, but without glossing over what makes it terrible for young girls in the protagonist’s position.  The author also handled the ending well–without too much Western sensibility but also without fatalism or outright rejection of the culture.  Note that there are a couple of oblique references to dangerous situations you might want to be prepared to discuss with younger readers, although those might go over their heads.

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My Side of the Mountain is one of my all-time favorite children’s books. I have no idea how many times I read it when I was a kid, and it was really fun to be able to read it with the children. We chose this as an evening family read-aloud. Even though the older two kids had both read it on their own, it was still great to experience it together. The story–about a self-sufficient boy who leaves his home in New York City to live off the land in the Catskills–will appeal to any kid who loves adventure. It’s amazing that this sort of thing even seemed possible in the 1950s, when the book was written.  But I like the way the book shows how children can make good decisions and be responsible, and if you ever have to flee to the hills you’ll definitely want this book along as a reference for what to eat! Highly recommended for boys and girls of all ages!

all of a kind

All-of-a-Kind Family is a FANTASTIC read-aloud about a big family from turn-of-the-century New York. Even Jack, who normally looks askance at books about gobs of girls, enjoyed the adventures of this family (and he was pleased at the surprise in the last chapter). The book doesn’t underplay the fact that poor immigrant families faced hardships, but focuses more on the family’s hard work, loyalty, and determination to maintain old traditions with new ways of life. Because the family is Jewish, we learned a lot about Jewish holidays and the kids really, really want to build a succah in the backyard.  Maybe when it gets warmer.  We are excited that this is only the first in a series of books, and we plan to read them all.

What was on your read-aloud list this month?

 

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November Read-Alouds 2014

aesopThe Aesop for Children  with illustrations by Milo Winter is a perennial favorite for us.  Ever since I found a copy at a used bookstore when Hannah was 3 (look for the version illustrated by Milo Winter), we have read an Aesop fable every school day.  I have no idea how many times we have cycled through this book, but suffice it to say that the children know it so well that whenever we come across another story with elements from Aesop (and they are myriad) the kids will point it out.  Aesop is foundational literature–most people know the more famous tales, but even the less famous ones are often used in other literature, both for children and adults.  The tales have maxims at the end of each, which you may or may not agree with, but they make for good discussions.

I highly recommendThe Aesop for Children even if you don’t do reading for school.  The short tales are great for bedtime stories, and interest even very small listeners. And, with something like 150 stories, it’s a long-lasting investment and well worth it to own!  The day after we finish reading this one, we just start over again at the beginning.

frankweilerI remember adoring From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a child–it’s probably always resonant with first-born daughters!–so I was delighted to pass it along to Hannah last year.  After reading Deconstructing Penguins, which has a chapter on discussing the book, I was eager to re-read the book and have a book club with Hannah.  More about that later this week.  But suffice it to say, I think this book is a great choice for kids who are in the 8-12 age range, or who are figuring out how to deal with siblings or how to achieve significance.

nest-for-celesteOne of the best books we read this term was A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home.  I found it by accident while searching for books about John James Audubon, our artist of the term.  The book is a novel with short chapters (good for reading aloud even for squirmy young listeners), beautifully illustrated around the text with pencil drawings, which makes it fun to look at while reading.  The story follows a mouse who happens to befriend Audubon’s assistant while they are traveling in Louisiana.  In the course of the story, you learn a lot about Audubon’s techniques, about the birds and wildlife he painted, and about ideas and themes like art, friendship, and home.  We loved this book, and the kids always begged for more chapters.  Highly recommended, even if you aren’t studying Audubon.

By-the-Great-Horn-SpoonI picked up By the Great Horn Spoon! because it’s set during the California Gold Rush, but we read it as an evening read-aloud for fun. It’s a little bit helpful from a historical perspective, but mostly it’s an adventure story.  We liked it, but I wouldn’t say it became anyone’s favorite.  It does offer a lot of opportunity if you like to do different voices.  We did have fun with the snooty butler voice, the Wild West voice, the villain voice, etc.  I can’t put my finger on any particular problem with the book, so we’d give it a solid 3 out of 5.

imprisoned-in-golden-city-adoniram-ann-judson-dave-jackson-paperback-cover-artImprisoned in the Golden City was assigned reading when we were learning about Adoniram and Ann Judson’s missionary work in Burma.  The story is told through the eyes of the two Burmese girls who lived with the Judson’s as foster children for a time.  The book does a good job of showing the hardships the Judson’s suffered, while not going into too much sad detail (the Judson’s lost all of their children, and Ann died shortly after the time period covered by the book concludes, Adoniram later lost two other wives, etc).  I also appreciated how the story conveyed the Judsons’ faith in the midst of injustice and hardship, and showed their kindness and selflessness helping the Burmese people around them even at risk to themselves.  If you’re into missionary biographies, this is a pretty good one, and more read-aloud-able than many.

What was your family’s favorite read-aloud for November?  We’re always looking for recommendations!

 

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A Simple Approach to the Educational Feast

There are lots of ways to homeschool, just like there are lots of ways to serve sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving.  My goal in education is to spread a great feast, but I well know that there are lots of different ways to do that, and to do it well.  In this post I’ll mention some ways that I lay out Tapestry of Grace (our history, literature, art, geography, etc curriculum) to maximize the depth and richness of a particular historical era while also keeping things simple and manageable.  Coming on the heels of our turkey dinner, I feel compelled to serve the metaphors on my best china.  You’ve been warned.  🙂

I’ve gotten a few comments from people who have the Tapestry of Grace digital edition and aren’t sure what to do with it.  As we’re using the DE for our third year, I have a few observations and tips that have worked for us, so I’ll pass them along here.

1. Get the big picture.

Each year of Tapestry is set up in 36 week plans, broken up into four units.  You’ll want to keep in mind a couple of things:

  • Tapestry is structured so that you can keep all of your kids in the same historical time period at all different levels.  If your oldest kids are in early elementary school, you can TOTALLY condense weeks.
  • If there aren’t many resources for your child’s level for a given week, you can always supplement with others–there’s nothing magical about the book lists in Tapestry. Most of them are great, and many families feel like what’s there is more than enough, but if you like to read a lot, you can always find more.
  • You can schedule your week however you want to based on the week plan.  You can do each subject every day, or you can cram all of literature into two days to make time for other subjects or commitments.

The first thing to do is to click on your Tapestry year and select your unit, then read the Unit Overview. This gives you a high level idea of what you’re covering, so you can see how it all fits together.  Tapestry links subjects by time period, so when you have a general sense of what was going on and what the key themes are, you can better teach and integrate subjects as you go.

Within each unit are the week plans.  I usually prep several weeks at once in advance, and would suggest starting with a whole unit if you’re new to it.  When you open a week plan (click “Curriculum” under that week and then “week plan”), have a Word document open or notebook out.  Read the Threads section to get a sense of what you’re covering that week, and maybe note major historical figures or ideas for each week.

2. Check the reading lists.

Next, you’ll want to check the reading lists.  The week plan is grouped by learning level (Lower Grammar: K-mid elementary, Upper Grammar: mid to upper elementary or independent readers who read for facts and ideas, Dialectic: upper elementary to middle school, and Rhetoric: high school) and then by subject.  I use my library website to search for the books online, placing them on hold or requesting them, and then do a library search by topic.  So, for example, if we’re learning about the War of 1812, I also do a search for that topic in the library’s children’s collection.  I often turn up worthwhile books that way.

A note on the books: some Tapestry books are really great literature, and some are pretty generic non-fiction.  I tend to buy the books that are used in multiple weeks or multiple years, or the books that look like really great literature we’d want to revisit.  Before I purchase a book new, I look to see if it’s free on Kindle (many older or classic books are), and also check sites like Better World Books and eBay for used copies.  I also make a quick list to carry around with me to used book stores and garage sales throughout the year.  This is another good reason to read your unit overviews–you’ll know what topics you’re looking for!  I also highly recommend investing in The Story of the World books or audio–Tapestry notes which chapters coincide with that week’s plan, and even if you just listen or read SOTW as an overview, it’s a great spine.  Also, I highly recommend buying anything on the lists by the D’Aulaires or David Macaulay.

You’ll find that the week plan includes both required and recommended texts for all levels and all subjects.  I usually try to get all of them if possible.  That way, we can dig deeper if we want to, the kids have extra things to read, and if we don’t like a particular selection, we can try something else.  I read the Lower Grammar choices aloud, and use some of the Upper Grammar choices as read-alouds too, particularly the literature selections.  I also assign the UG choices to my older kids for independent work, or just leave them lying around since my kids read like sponges.  Or like sponges would read, if sponges were literate.  So maybe I should have said, “read like sponges soak up water.”  Now the metaphor is well and truly done.  Ahem.

3. Pick out activities.

After the Reading Assignments section you’ll come to Weekly Overview.  This is sort of a checklist for the ideas and events your child should learn when you cover this information.  Take notes.  You might want to just print the page to help you at first.  Now I just jot a few things down.  This page also includes vocabulary words to cover or look up, activity overviews, and geography notes.  You decide how much of this to cover and when.

If you purchased the Map Aids add on (which I recommend) you can also download the age-appropriate map and teacher map for the week.  I always look at these, and decide if and how to use them.  For younger kids, it can be helpful to have one big map of the area you’re covering for a few weeks (Egypt, say) and color or point to main items every day (the Nile, the Nile Delta, the Mediterranean Sea, etc).  Then have the maps close by during read alouds so you can make observations (like why people would want to live close to the Nile versus in the desert, where Egypt was relative to the Red Sea or to Greece, etc.)  For us, geography helps the kids to get a sense of where events happen, and of terrain relative to places they have already studied.  You can decide how much or how little to require the kids to learn or memorize, and it’s worth taking time to think through your philosophy of geography (philosophy everywhere!).  I’m not kidding.

One resource I value highly in Tapestry is the activity recommendations.  I never think to do things like this on my own.  But when I see the week plan recommend making a cookie dough map to help learn topography, I make a note and we try it.  Likewise for things like making related crafts.  My learning style is to read, but kids love to do hands on projects, and it does enhance their learning to try their hand at weaving, or build a scale model of a pyramid, or practice pointillism with q-tips, or whatever.  In my notes, I list a few activity options for each week, so I can plan in advance.  The Loom section of the DE lists additional activities, detailed instructions, links related artists, and so forth.  It’s worth checking The Loom when you’re planning, even if you don’t wind up using many or any of the additional links.

Tapestry includes worksheets for literature selections, which I almost always skip.  At this point, I know how to get the kids to narrate, how to figure out if they are making connections, and so forth.  But if you’re just starting out, you might want to look the worksheets over to make sure your kid knows what’s covered or understands the skill involved.

Tapestry offers lap books.  I hesitate to say this, because I have dear friends who use lapbooks and I don’t want to offend them, but I HATE, LOATHE, DESPISE, AND ABHOR lapbooks.  To me, they are meaningless busywork and Mama winds up doing all the heavy lifting.  I do not recommend purchasing Tapestry’s lapbook add-on.  However, that said, I do think notebooks are a great idea.  I take a couple of pieces of construction paper, fold them in half, and staple the edges.  Then the child labels the pages and writes or draws what he or she remembers or finds interesting.  For a few Year One examples, we made books of what is interesting about the Nile and one on how each plague corresponded to things about Egyptian culture.  Yes, that’s a lot like what a lapbook would be, but instead of providing a bunch of pre-made pieces to stick in a lapbook, the notebook allows the child to direct what subjects are mentioned or covered, and at what depth.

Other lapbook alternatives include finding interesting coloring pages online for really young kids (we found some cool ones of medieval subjects for Year Two), and typing out the child’s narration on a topic then letting him illustrate it.  In the past I’ve tried to do narrations at the end of units or terms, but I find it’s more helpful to do them week by week.  It’s simple: “Tell me what you know about Napoleon” or “What have you learned about ziggurats?” and then type what the child says.  It’s pretty stream-of-consciousness, but always interesting to find out what caught their interest or what conclusions they draw between subjects.  This is also a handy way of measuring progress without having to create tests.  You can easily tell after some narrations if the child has a good grasp on material or if they have missed the point entirely.

4. Read the Teacher’s Notes (maybe).

Each week plan also includes detailed teacher’s notes for the covered time periods and literature selections.  If you have older kids, you’d probably need this more–there are great helps for how to discuss ideas and books with dialectic and rhetoric levels.  For grammar kids, you might skim the teacher’s notes if you aren’t very familiar with the topics covered that week.  For example, I read the teacher’s notes on the Indus River Valley civilizations more closely than for the War of 1812.  You can try reading them for a few weeks and see if it helps you.

Another reference to consider is Susan Wise Bauer’s series on history for adults.  Reading those books (for example, The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome goes with Tapestry Year One) in advance of studying the covered time periods was really helpful for me–both as a refresher and also because most of us didn’t study history in a global and integrated context and these books help you link your existing knowledge.

5. Arrange your week.

I used to try to fit Tapestry reading selections into daily page allotments, which I mapped out on detailed spreadsheets.  Friends, that is over-planning.  It is too time-consuming, don’t do it to yourself.  Instead, before starting to actually teach a given week, check the notes you took while prepping.  Put together your stack of books.  Put a sticky note on the front of books that aren’t assigned in entirety (like “read chapters 4-9 for week 7”).  Note which days look most likely for projects, or if you need to do a little bit of work on a project each day.

Because we love to read (and I doubt you would have selected Tapestry if you didn’t like to read–though I suppose aspirational literature-based education could be a thing), we do The Reading every day.  And we refer to it with capitalization like that, because it’s Very Important.  🙂  During The Reading, we go through our Tapestry stack, reading a chapter or a few pages, or reading an entire book if it’s short and engaging.  In this manner, we easily get through the assigned and alternate selections, or whatever else I found through the library.  The Reading also includes our poetry, Aesop, Mother Goose, and science reading, plus biographies of the artist and composer we’re studying.  I say that to let you know that it’s not daunting to get through a Tapestry reading list in a week without resorting to page assignments.  You can exercise some freedom here, and read less if you have a headache or more if you really like something.  You can’t take longer than a week to read a really detailed book, or jump into the next week’s reading if the books were short and fast.  Which leads me to the next point…

6. Stay flexible.

When we used Year One, my oldest was in first grade.  We condensed a lot of weeks (doing reading for several weeks in one week of actual time) at the beginning, because there weren’t a lot of grammar resources for the ancient world prior to Greece (with the obvious exception of Egypt).  Note to would-be kids historical fiction writers–the ancient world is wide open for you!  But then we spent MONTHS on Greece and Rome.  We read way, way more than the Tapestry plans.  Don’t be afraid to stretch a week plan out or condense it as fits your stage of life, your energy level, or your resources.  When you’ve done your prep work, you can be flexible without worrying about getting behind.

7. Enjoy it!

This sounds like a lot.  I know.  I’m looking at my word count and it’s way over 2200 words for this post.  But in actual practice this is a really fast process.  I spend 15-30 minutes per week plan when I prep, including searching multiple avenues for books.  It took me longer when I first started using Tapestry, but you do get the hang of it. Tapestry is so flexible and open-ended, and such a great resource for integrating subjects and ideas–have fun with it!

If you’re just starting out with Tapestry, or are considering it but aren’t sure how it will work, I hope this helps.  Feel free to send me questions–I’m not an expert, but have picked up a few things along the way so far!

 

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.  I’m not sure of the status of the Tapestry of Grace affiliate program–I signed up for it long ago, but it’s not clear to me if TOG is still doing affiliate credit.  At any rate, if you do sign up for Tapestry based on my reviews, please feel free to list me as your referrer (chgillespie {{at} gmail [dot}] com).  Thanks!

Read Alouds September 2014

We finished off many books this month, mostly because we started school again in August and finished up our first term at the end of September. This list includes chapter books read aloud for school reading as well as those we read out loud for unrelated family enjoyment, and a few I read myself in order to discuss them with Jack and Hannah, who read them independently.

I’m glad we own a paper copy of The Story of Napoleon, but had I known it was available in audio form for $1.99 I might have purchased that version. The book, by H.E. Marshall (author of Our Island Story, another of our favorites), is a spirited, lively version of the major events of Napoleon’s life, reign, and downfall. This book is listed as an Upper Grammar assignment for Tapestry of Grace Year 3, but I decided to read it out loud instead of asking Hannah and Jack to read it independently, because I didn’t want Sarah to miss out. Plus, I’m leaning more toward doing our history and literature reading out loud and letting the kids free read outside of school assignments (currently, Jack is reading Tolkein and Hannah is reading so many things simultaneously I can’t keep track).  Anyway, if you’re looking for one book about Napoleon that is both informative and well-written, plus a living book not a dry history text, we’d recommend The Story of Napoleon.

If you liked Five Children and It (which of course you did, how could you not?) you will also like the reprise of the same family having adventures in The Phoenix and the Carpet, except this time instead of a Psammead they have adventures with…wait for it…a phoenix and a magic carpet.  We really love these siblings now, and had great fun with this book as a bedtime read-aloud.  I was wiser in my choice of a more sustainable voice for the Phoenix but the chapters in the book do run long.  A few times I got away with reading only a half chapter, but the last night we were all so intent on finding out what happens that I read 68 straight pages and that, my friends, was a lot.  Worth it though–this book is great fun and highly recommended.

We read Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
as part of our not-so- great artist study this term. We did learn a lot about Benjamin West’s childhood years from this book, although our attempts to study his paintings came to naught.  When I asked Hannah to tell me about Benjamin West in her end-of-term narration, she gave many details about his upbringing but concluded with “He became a great painter, and I’ve heard he was very good.”  Momfail for not pulling the picture study together, but I do think it was worthwhile to read the book, as we learned about Quakers and colonial life, and we found the story and illustrations engaging.

A Head Full of Notions
is a chapter book biography about Robert Fulton, who invented/perfected the steamboat. Of particular interest, the book highlights how Fulton was consumed with achieving fame, and always took all the credit for himself, even when other people helped him. The kids all noticed and remarked on these things, leading to good conversations.

If you like stories about little people, like the Borrowers and so forth, you will probably like Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White. The book imagines that Liliputians were brought back to England and escaped to a deserted island monument at a crumbled down old country house, where they are discovered by the last descendant of the ducal property owners, a little girl under the thumb of a dreadful governess and the guardianship of a despicable curate. I learned about this book in How the Heather Looks and found it very amusing, so I immediately gave it to Hannah, who is also a fan of the miniature people genre.

I found out about Magic & Mischief: Tales from Cornwall via How the Heather Looks, although that book referred to an older set of Cornish fairy tales on which Magic & Mischief is based.  I think the older version probably would be better.  The fairy tales in the book are interesting, but not in the literary way that, say, the Andrew Lang fairy tale books are.  Of most interest, to me anyway, were the old English words sprinkled in here and there in the book.  I think linguistic change is very interesting and I love to learn the origins of old words and phrases.  Hannah co-opted this book out of the library bag before I had a chance to get to it, and she thought it was ok but didn’t have anything particularly superlative to say about it.

Abel’s Island  was a fantastic family read-aloud.  Written and illustrated by William Steig (who wrote some of our favorite picture books like Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Brave Irene, etc), this short chapter book would be a great choice if you’re just easing in to reading longer books aloud.  The story follows a spoiled young mouse who  is swept away to a remote island during a storm.  While on the island, Abel learns to take care of himself, finds out what his professional calling is, and figures out that he’s much stronger than he would have imagined.  We all loved this story and the pictures are great too.

We listened to most of Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Vol. 3: Early Modern Times on our long car trip in August, but finished it up in September.  Although Bauer’s volumes don’t exactly match our Tapestry of Grace years (TOG Year 3 covers the 1800s, SOTW3 covers 1600-1850), they are a great spine and so well told and memorable.  Of all of my (many) educational purchases over the years, buying all four volumes of Story of the World in audio form was probably one of my best decisions.

So, telling the story of a famous historical figure through the viewpoint of his or her pet is apparently a huge thing in kid literature. The latest of this genre that we’ve read aloud has been Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale.  The book is narrated by Lewis’s dog, Seaman (alternately referred to as Scannon in older books, because Lewis had such atrocious spelling that no one could figure out the animal’s name until recent scholarship decoded it), and each short chapter is based on an incident from Lewis’s actual diaries in which the dog is mentioned.  It is a pretty good device, and an engaging way to add depth if you’re studying Lewis and Clark.  Sarah particularly enjoyed this book.  The pictures are very nice as well.

Eli Whitney, Boy Mechanic was a school read-aloud, and I’m glad we found it.  The book is a great and engaging biography of Eli Whitney, focusing primarily on his childhood (with a few chapters at the end covering his invention of the cotton gin and interchangeable parts).  There are nice pencil drawings throughout, and the chapters are not terribly long, but always interesting.  Jack was especially interested each day to find out what new thing Eli was going to figure out (he built a violin, figured out how watches worked, and all sorts of other things).

Every time we got in the car and listened to the Tim Curry dramatized audio version of The Bad Beginning (from Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events) the children debated whether or not to continue.  One of my kids is particularly impacted by the mood of music, and was almost brought to tears by the scary accompaniment and creepy voices of this story.  Still, we pressed on because we all wanted to hear how the story would turn out.  I will say that from my perspective the book was fun, because it uses great vocabulary (and explains the words well) and is funny.  The kids all requested that the subsequent books in the series be consumed in paper form rather than audio.

Of Courage Undaunted was supposed to be a school read-aloud.  After waiting for it week after week in the library hold line to no avail, I eventually purchased a copy.  I tried to read it aloud for several days but for some reason I just don’t think it lends itself to reading out loud.  The kids agreed.  So Sarah looked at the pictures and sounded out bits here and there, and Hannah and Jack read it to themselves.  That meant I had to read it too so that I could discuss it with them, and it was ok.  I didn’t love it.  I remember loving reading about Sacagawea as a child, but this book is more about the crew as a whole.  It gives good information, and I do really like the illustrations, but it just wasn’t particularly a favorite.

What have you been reading aloud (or along with) this month?

 

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Sarah’s School Work, Fall 2014

Sarah is in Kindergarten this year!  In some ways she seems past this stage, in that she’s quite articulate and good at many things, but in other ways she’s still pint-sized, as evidenced by the fact that she went to church in a size 3T dress this Sunday and I didn’t notice anything amiss.

In addition to the subjects we cover with the other kids, Sarah’s individual school work includes:

Math

Last year Sarah got through half of Saxon 1, so this year I am pulling back in pace a bit and just having her do one page of the second half of Saxon 1.  At this pace, she will still be part way through Saxon 2 by the end of Kindergarten so I don’t see any reason to rush around.  Doing one page a day still helps her practice writing her numbers and gives her time to get really good at addition and subtraction facts.

Reading

Sarah is still convinced she can’t read, which is perplexing since she’s 139 lessons in to the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and is reading even complicated phonemes like -aigh.  But because she can’t pick up any old chapter book and read it, like Hannah and Jack can, she thinks she can’t read.  Curiously, she also thinks she can’t ride her bicycle, although she actually can and has repeatedly done so in front of numerous witnesses.  So at any rate, in addition to her reading lesson, she also reads me a short book like a Bob book reader or one of Eliza’s board books, or something like that, because maybe if she reads an actual book daily, eventually it will sink in that she is in fact reading.  In spite of her assertion that she can’t read, Sarah still reports that reading is her favorite subject, so I guess that’s good.

Spelling

Sarah couldn’t understand why she didn’t have a spelling book like the others, so I went ahead and started her in All About Spelling 1.  I was not too surprised that she immediately grasped the concept of building words by sound, but I was surprised that she enjoyed it so much that she begs to be allowed to do more spelling every day. I actually have to cut her off after she does a week’s worth in about 10 minutes.  So although we’ve only completed five weeks of school, she’s already well over 2/3 of the way through the book and showing no signs of slowing down.  I figure at some point we will get to something that takes more effort and then we’ll slow down to a normal pace, but at this point she’s enjoying it so what the heck.

Grammar

I said I wouldn’t do it but I’m going through First Language Lessons 1 with Sarah again.  I was going to skip it, but she wouldn’t have it and I thought maybe we’d rehash level 1 another time for review before going to level 2.  It can’t hurt, right?

Handwriting

I just have Sarah doing copywork for handwriting.  Since she copies the same length passage that her older siblings do, and her spelling also includes dictation, I feel like that is sufficient.

How long does this take?

Truly, Sarah is the most diligent worker in the house.  She never complains about her work, but just cheerfully does her assignments.  It takes her about 10 minutes to do her copywork, and then about 30-40 minutes for Office Time (her one-on-one teaching time).  Usually she gets all of her work done with me.  Then the subjects we do with the other kids take one-and-a-half to two hours, so total she’s probably doing about two-and-a-half to three hours of school a day, not counting extra reading time and bedtime read-alouds.  That seems reasonable for her age.  Other than school work she does a lot of dressing up and playing make-believe games with her ponies and castle and dolls, and singing at the top of her lungs.

It’s interesting to think about the differences between Sarah’s Kindergarten year and Hannah’s.  In many ways, I’m doing way more with Sarah than I knew I could even attempt with Hannah, but in other ways, I’m way more laid back.  You learn things along the way I suppose.

 

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Subjects We Do Together

Each of the children has individual teaching time with me (we call it Office Time because it takes place in my office) but we also do several subjects together.

Copywork

We usually begin the day with copywork. Each child copies the same passage (usually one of the review poems from our memory work binder, a stanza of the hymn we’re learning, or a piece of poetry we’re working on memorizing), but at his or her level.  Sarah prints, Jack prints but in smaller letters, and Hannah writes in cursive.  Copywork counts for Sarah’s handwriting as well, but Jack and Hannah each have additional cursive handwriting practice.

Bible

Each morning, we review five catechism questions and answers, and read one section from Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism–basically these work through the scripture proofs for each question with one question per week.  We also sing one hymn we’re learning and one for review.  Or maybe two.  Or maybe we sing every hymn we know.  It varies. At bedtime we have worship and read a chapter or section from the Bible (we’re in Acts at the moment), work on our Bible memory chapter (Philippians 2 now), sing a Psalm or hymn, since the Doxology and Gloria Patri, and talk about any topics that come up.

History

We’ve been working through Tapestry of Grace Year 3, reading all of the Lower Grammar and most of the Upper Grammar assignments (and supplemental assignments) out loud.  We like to read together, and I’ve been feeling confirmed lately in our choice to do this, thanks to reviewing some research on the benefits of hearing texts read aloud.  Anyway, what this looks like in practice is that often I read from several chapter books while the children are working on handwriting or doing an art project or eating breakfast or lunch, or we sit on the couch and read all bunched up together.  Usually both, at different times of day. We have several books and chapter books going at once, and it’s delightful when the kids make connections between subjects and topics this way!  We’re also going through the US Presidents song once or twice a week.

Literature

We’re reading the Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Lower Grammar and Upper Grammar literature selections together, plus our daily dose of Aesop, Mother Goose, poetry, at least a few picture books unrelated to school work, at least a few board books for Eliza, and we’re also studying Hamlet this term. The moment when my children intelligently discussed the question, “Should Hamlet have avenged his father?” was a high point in my life thus far.  Because really, what young kid has NOT wanted to get revenge at some point? This is an issue between siblings at times in our house, and so they are really tracking with Hamlet’s dilemmas and I am loving it.  More details on our Hamlet study to come!  We’re also working on some poetry memory and memorizing a few short pieces from Hamlet.  At bedtime we read aloud a few chapters from a book unrelated to our school reading.

Science

We’re doing Apologia Astronomy again this year because the topic is cool and I didn’t think the kids would remember it from a few years ago.  I was wrong.  But I think there is value to going over it again and they are really into the topic, especially Jack who would like his own telescope.  I like the book we’re using for its conversational tone.

Art

We’re reading about Benjamin West together, but I wasn’t successful in my attempt to get prints of his paintings so we haven’t done a proper artist study yet this fall.  I’m hopeful that the other artists I selected for study this year will be better for real picture study.  The kids have done a couple of art projects from Deep Space Sparkle (this one was a hit) and my mother-in-law plans to give them drawing lessons intermittently from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

Music

Our composer this term is Beethoven.  We love him.  We’re listening to his works every day, and have greatly enjoyed The Story of Beethoven in Words and Music from the Music Masters series.  I really recommend Music Masters if you want to get the basic story of a composer’s life and influences plus an exposure to their major works.  Jack is beginning cello lessons this fall, and Hannah is back to piano lessons.

Spanish

I bought PowerGlide Spanish but to be perfectly honest we have had a hard time getting to it most days.  I like that the program is intuitive and story-based, but it’s just hard to find the time to fit it in.  I’m thinking this over.

Geography

We do the map work from Tapestry of Grace together and go over the Classical Conversations states and capitals song a couple of times a week, or at least as much of it as I can remember, which is only through Baton Rouge, LA.  I need to load the song back into my phone.  We’ve also reviewed the continents a couple of times.

Look for more on what each kid is doing for individual work in upcoming posts.

If you homeschool, what subjects do you work on together?