Thursday, September 30, 2010


I hate to brag, but I have great friends.

A sampling of my good fortune

One such friend, LC, is downsizing.  She has schooled two children from kindergarten through high school graduation and has a third that is a sophomore in high school.  She has an amazing collection of materials that she was keeping for her grand children.  However, because of an impending move, she and her husband decided it was time to bless someone else with many of these books.  She picked me!  I told her I'd return her them when I'm done, but she declined and simply requested that I pass them on to someone else.  Good idea, LC.

My old dad always used to ask, "Why would you buy a book when you can go to the library?"  As something of a minimalist, I agreed with him...until I started homeschooling.  That decision flipped a switch in my brain, and, now, I can not collect books fast enough.  I consider this gift from LC to be a wonderful blessing.

Among the books are:

I am beside myself with joy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Now We Are Six

It really was a no-frills party, rather low budget.  But, the friends, family, fun, and the glorious weather made it quite spectacular.

Happy birthday, son.  You do six very well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week 4, European Cities and the Water Cycle

So many books, so little time.  Especially when mom is preparing for a certain boy's sixth birthday party and a visit from the grandparents.

For Classical Conversations geography, we memorized the location of five European countries.  I had a whole stack of books set in these cities to read.  However, because of time restraints, we read most but especially focused on Paris.  For us, Paris is synonymous with Madeline,

which we read for the two thousand one hundred and ninety-sixth time.  This time, we took a closer look at the illustrations and compared them to the illustrations in another fun book set in Paris, Babar Loses His Crown,

and another fun book, Adele and Simon.

This last one was the crowd favorite, and a book we had never read before.  It would be a good book for the home library.  The illustration are beautiful.  Finding Simon's lost items added an 'I Spy' dimension to the book and made it even more interesting.

We ended our tour of Paris with the classic, This is Paris.

For Classical Conversations science, the topic was the natural cycles.  We read one book on the water cycle.  As with last week, Ms. Frizzle was our guide as we read The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks.
The Magic School Bus At The Waterworks

We ended our study of the water cycle by watching a Magic School Bus video also about the water cycle called "The Magic School Bus Wet All Over" here.

Birthday party = no enrichment activities.  We stuck to the basics this week.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 3, Food Chains

Our Classical Conversations science sentence this week dealt with food chains.

The only book I could scrounge up for this topic was The Magic Schoolbus Gets Eaten.  Ms. Frizzle is very popular around here.  We also watched this version on-line.

I had a left-over owl pellet from last year.  He cracked it open and observed the remains of an owl's dinner.

Yes, his glove is on the wrong hand

Our field trip this week was to the local nature center where we sought produces, decomposers and consumers.  This is what we found.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 3, Legends

It is fun when their interests converge with their education.  I want to pursue more delight driven subjects.  One such subject for him is knights.  Although they're not technically knights, his interest in knight-like behavior (bravery, sword-fighting, etc.) was fueled by reading about by Peter, Edmund and Prince Caspian in the Narnia series.  I know he is young, but we also let him watch the movies, which he loved.

To capitalize on these interests, for much of our extra reading this week, we focused on two legends featuring bravery and sword fighting:  Robin Hood and King Arthur.  I chose this week to focus on these legends because the Classical Conversations history sentence for the week dealt with Richard the Lion-Hearted and the Crusades.

We first watched Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood.  

This movie is a little silly with the sequins-adorned costumes and the constant throwing back of the head to laugh but fairly appropriate for his age.  I think he understood the historical context as he has been listening to the Robin Hood portion of The Story of the World:  Volume 2 for the past two weeks. 

I thought this also would be a good week to introduce him to the legend of King Arthur.  To get warmed up, we read a simple Hello Reader called The Sword in the Stone by Grace Maccarone.

Sword In The Stone, The (level 2) (Hello Reader)

We followed that up with a more difficult version of the same legend, Arthur and the Sword, a picture book by Robert Sabuda with interesting stained glass illustrations.  I thought it was good, but it was the children's least favorite book of the week.

Arthur and the Sword

We also read a chapter book I purchased at a recent Usborne party called The Adventures of King Arthur.  This expanded into other aspects of the legend besides the sword in the stone.  This one piqued my five-year-old's interest, but I thought the writing was poor.

Our favorite version of  the legend was the sound recording, King Arthur and His Knights as told by Jim Weiss. 

King Arthur and His Knights

As the finale to our week of legends, we are going start a book today that is set in the days of King Arthur, Clyde Robert Bulla's The Sword in the Tree.

The Sword in the Tree (Trophy Chapter Book)

We also had a good week with science, which will be the topic of my next post.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flower in Her Hair

When my children display a certain lack of sticktoitiveness, I have to admit they come by it honestly.  I'm a starter not a finisher.  I saw a project here, though, that would not over-extend my attention span.  This is the finished product.

It took longer to go buy the polyester satin than it did to complete the flower.

It was an economical little project too.  The head band was a hand-me-down.  The button came from my salvaged button jar.  The thread, I had on hand.  So, the total cost was $.37 plus tax, which was the cost of fabric.  I purchased an eighth of a yard but only need about an eighth of that so I could have paid even less.  I'm pleased with the result.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Phonics Review

Because of Labor Day, we had a week off from Classical Conversations.  We took advantage of that time and focused our energy on the 3 R's.

For language arts, he is using the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading ("Phonics Road").  We are going through level one S L O W L Y working toward mastery.   Level one is designed for either kindergarten or first grade.  There is no rush, so we'll probably take both years to go through level one.  I think the program found us at the right time.  We went through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons earlier in the year, and I thought he was doing great with reading.  But when it came to reading 'real books', it became clear that his primary reading strategies were word memorization and picture cues.  He needs some basic phonics re-training and Phonics Road fits the bill.

To start with, he first practiced writing the letters for the first two Phonics Road lessons using this:

Letters and Numbers for Me

Next we drilled the letter sounds the old-fashioned way, with flash cards.

To further review, we played phonics bingo (a very popular activity):

He also identified letters written on card stock with glitter glue by touch while blindfolded and then practiced the sounds:

And, for good measure, the kids and I made a batch of play dough and made letters:

He called this his "creepy d"...a very accurate description!
It was a good week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Arrival

After sitting all summer in its mailing cylinder, I finally took our new world map to Hobby Lobby for framing.  It's done now and hanging in our school room.  Here's a peak:

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 5th Season

This is my favorite time of year, the condensed season between the seasons, before the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

It is a season when temperatures are still a little more hot than cool, but neither extreme is that extreme.

It is a season when summertime activities like camping are still appropriate,

but when, in the misty morning, sweatshirts are required.

During this season, zinnias, summertime's flower, are still available for picking

but so are apples, which are certainly fall-ish.

I love this season, the fifth season, and all the beauty it brings.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 2

This week we began a tour of Europe by visiting Spain by way of the classic children's book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.  We even enjoyed this Walt Disney version which stayed very true to the book:

Mostly our extra readings corresponded with our Classical Conversations science memory work about consumers.  I searched our home library to find books that featured an animal eating, and we simply discussed what type of consumer that animal represented.  Science lite, I know, but very kindergarten and preschool appropriate.

Here's a list of books we read featuring some of our favorite herbivores, carnivores and omnivores:

Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

The Big Snow* by Berta and Elmer Hader

We followed these with a trio of books by Beatrix Potter.   Considering her animals speak and wear clothes, it is amazing how realistically these books capture their natural characteristics.  I have purchased many of her books mostly because their petite white covers look good on my daughter's bookshelf.  I never dreamed that my children would love to hear these stories so much.  They frequently request them.  Here are the three we read (and reread) this week:

Today, the weather coordinated with the calendar, and we got out to enjoy the cooler September temperatures with a trip to the zoo.  Every time we go to the zoo, my children focus exclusively on two things:  the playground and the train.  Today, I insisted that before we could enjoy either, we had to find two animals each of an herbivore, carnivore and omnivore.  From a mom's point of view, this approach was a success.  Here are a few highlights:

We got to see prairie dogs, which had eluded us on our trip to the actual prairie 

Okay, there was a little bit of playground time

* We will read this gem many times over the following weeks because it perfectly conveys a lot of the concepts we're covering in our Classical Conversations memory work.