One of the best parts of home schooling: When the day is like today, we can say,
“Let’s do school later. Or tomorrow. Everybody outside.”
We’ve finished up our ninth week of school. Our first home schooling quarter is behind us. It’s been a busy, ambitious experiment, and I’m very pleased.
We celebrated with a couple of fun field trips. We visited the Gentry Pumpkin Farm in Franklin. The weather could not have been more beautiful. Today we went to the Purity Dairy factory and were treated to all the ice cream we could eat afterwards. A lot, as it turns out.
Caleb is progressing well in all his subjects, and for the most part he enjoys the somewhat voluminous reading. I’m happy with the language arts curriculum. It builds slowly and sequentially, and he likes the diagramming we do as we learn each part of speech. He’s memorized two poems, “Land of Nod” and “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud” with ease, though I plan to venture off with a poetry unit separately in the future. Math and science are fun for him. He’s studied about Copernicus and Einstein (Einstein’s theory of relativity seems to be a particularly important subject to Daddy) and he’s fascinated with number characters. He’s begun a book about numerals used by different people over the centuries (this was a personal project he wanted to do on his own). As we’ve studied ancient civilizations, he’s always drawn to their achievements in math and science. He’s also doing well with spelling and cursive. His handwriting is actually quite beautiful, though he complains when he has to write more than a few sentences since it’s still painfully slow. I’m thinking about using “Writing Strands” in order to teach composition, but I haven’t decided.
I’ve begun gathering books for our next unit on ancient China and he’s already gotten a head-start on the reading. I think it’s going to be fun. I’m also planning to discuss modern China a little bit, and introducing them to inspiring missionary stories as part of our Bible curriculum in order to prevent confusion as we explore Buddhism and other false, idolatrous religions.
Sarah Mae is moving along nicely in her reading. She is working through her phonics workbooks and her handwriting is getting better. Since Caleb had already begun the Zaner-Bloser cursive method at his school last year, I just continued with it, but Sarah is using the italics method. I think I prefer that. It should make the transition to cursive much simpler when she’s ready for that. I’ve not delved too deeply into the history curriculum with her yet. We’ve concentrated mostly on reading, writing, math, and Bible stories. We’re working our way through some of the children’s classics. Almost every day I ask her to pick out a Dr. Seuss book to read to herself and then have her read it to me. It’s been a pretty good gauge regarding her developing fluency in both phonics and sight words. Her love for reading is growing as her independence increases. She adores A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “House at Pooh Corner” at the moment.
There are so many more things I want to study and learn about with the kids. I’m going to have to try to work smaller units in where I can without sacrificing those core subjects I think are essential to a well-rounded education. They really like music and art, so I’m going to try to find time for these soon.
We’ve left ancient Egypt and moved eastward toward Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent. After we read about that civilization and all of the many amazing things they did during that time, we continued our journey through Genesis and learned about Babylon, Abram and Sarai. We imagined what it might have been like to leave the comforts of civilization in Ur for the desert. After we looked at middle eastern desert life and travel, we learned about their clothing, their food, their tools, and everyday items and went on our own trip through the desert. Sam and Rachel Walton joined us and the kids dressed in tunics and head scarves and sandals and I packed a lunch for our “Old Testament Picnic.”
The weather cooperated and it was HOT that day! The “desert” was a couple of acres out behind our house and the destination was an oasis (a pond with a flat rock and a tree). We unfolded our handmade “traveling table” ( a round piece of cloth with a drawstring through the outer edges) and ate our picnic. We tried goat cheese, dried dates, seasoned lamb (gyro meat), flat bread, and lentil stew. We used no flatware, just our hands, and we scooped the stew up with the bread.
Caleb learned that they also ate locusts! Fried, boiled, ground up for biscuits, locusts were a staple back then (I think they still are for some nomads). So he and Sam hunted for grasshoppers. They brought me two (the girls politely declined) and I fried them in oil and salt and garlic. Didn’t help, I’m afraid. They were all smiles in the “before” picture, but the grimaces that followed the first bite told me that I am no chef when it comes to bugs. They chomped and chewed, but had to spit them out in the end. It was a big adventure for all of us.
I can’t wait for ancient China!