Friday, August 21, 2020

What We're Reading :: Late Summer 2020

Like I have mentioned, we started back to lessons a couple weeks ago (here and here for some peeks at our school year so far), so I'm squeezing in this summer break post right at the end here to share what we read over the past couple months or so.

Our libraries were closed due to COVID this summer, so we were SO grateful to have our own stocked shelves to "shop" for summer reading. (Can anyone else relate?!)

Amy shared with me that each student in her house creates a summer reading stack for themselves -- so we decided to do the very same thing! I had the kids grab a stack of books from our shelves that they wanted to read through over the break. We kept the stacks on the bookshelf in our entry for easy access and it worked really well.

Zena Hitz's Lost in Thought (was reading with friends online)
Cather's The Song of the Lark (started this in the spring and have come back to finish it)
Don Quixote (Form 4 novel for Term 1 -- we're using an edited version the PNEU assigned)
Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill (just fnished re-reading for my Form 2 students' novel -- so good!)

Vincent, age 14

Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel
Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (he also read a bunch more Verne)
Caras' The Forest (out of print, but it was a recommendation from Amy)
And he spent a good amount of time rereading some Walter Farley books and Bethlehem Books' historical fiction, which is perfect summer reading!

Gianna, age almost-14

Gilbreth's Cheaper by the Dozen (my kids found this very relatable -- LOL!)
Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby (I have been giving them a Dickens to read each year)
Austen's Sense and Sensibility (re-read) and Pride and Prejudice (first time!)
The last few books in the Betsy-Tacy series
Mother Loyola's Home for Good (I mentioned this in my Catholic books post for this year)
Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (the Sea Wolf Books reprints are really nice!)

Cate, age 11

Montgomery's Emily of New Moon series (I have the older versions which I can't link to - but there's this one-volume option that looks ok...)
Pyle's Otto of the Silver Hand (after reading King Arthur this past year, she pulled it from the shelf)
Alcott's Little Women (her first read-through!)

Xavier, age 10

He has been obsessed with Redwall this summer, as you can see!
Bailey's Miss Hickory (his sister told him he had to read it)
Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades (a birthday gift for my knight-loving boy)
Hilda van Stockum's The Winged Watchman and Pollard's Beorn the Proud (both related to last year's history reading)

Bridget, age 8

The Father Finn books (Vincent got a set for his birthday and the kids have been passing them back and forth since)
Estes' Pinky Pye (she read Ginger Pye last year)
Clara, age 7
I dedicated a bit of daily time to Clara's reading lessons each day with the Treadwell Readers. She made lots of progress and decided to paint little cards of each story as she goes!

The Little Boys, ages 6, 4, and 3
We did lots and lots of picture books together this summer. Here's one evening's selections by Damien:

Byron Barton's Airport
Orchard's Little Yellow Book of Nursery Rhymes
Flack's Ask Mr. Bear and Angus Lost (the Angus series is among my very favorites to read aloud)
Lenski's The Little Auto

On audio
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (the Term 1 novel for my Form 1 kids)
They also listened to a couple of the Redwall books this summer, which inspired lots of drawing and story writing -- like these maps by Xavier!

(I don't know about you, but I'd like to live at Redcrest if I could! :))

There was also lots and lots of pre-reading and books in the mail this summer. I'll have to sprinkle those in through the year as there are too many wonderful ones to share here!

Monday, August 17, 2020

{This and That} :: Two Weeks In!

We are beginning our third week of school and things are moving along pretty smoothly! I am so happy with how things have shaped up thus far.

Form 1 students working together

This past weekend I had a (very rare!) few hours to myself and was able to sit with all of my notes and think a bit about the rest of the term. So restful!

After Week 1, I made a few tweaks to the schedule and printed new timetables to try. But my Week 2 reflections didn't require any timetable adjustments, so I think we have now hit on a nice rhythm. (Except for the baby, that is -- my #1 wild card as to whether my day will go smoothly or not! :) But she is still unpredictable in her napping so I am honestly trying not to plan around her too much because I think by Term 2 she will be napping at the same time as my little boys. Always an adventure!)

I did spend some time sketching out more complete ideas for special studies, art, handicrafts, and foreign language. Those are often subjects that I plot out a few weeks' work for to start off with, then wait until Week 3 to fill in more thoroughly for the year. I actually always have a "Consider on Week 3" list in my planner for the things I didn't quite have time to flesh out before the year began but that I wanted to think through once we had settled in. I find it to be a helpful practice -- I keep the same kind of list of things to Consider for Next Term and Consider for Next Year. Plopping things that come to mind there (rather than letting them swirl around in my brain) helps me to stay focused on the work in front of me.


One great addition to our schedule this term has been chalk drawing! 

So far our lessons have used circles and symmetry.

I am doing it with all of my students, from age 14 down to 4, and not only are they really enjoying it, but also they are taking away skills and ideas that I am now seeing in their other art during free time. It has been such a good addition.

I also have my Form 1 students draw in chalk a scene from one of their readings each week while I do Plutarch with the older kids. The first week, for example, they all drew the Creation story from Genesis from our Old Testament lessons.

Even my kindergartener can't bear to be left out of chalk time!

This week, I think we will be drawing fruits and do some more warm-up circles. There is so much flexibility in these lessons.


My older kids are reading in astronomy this year, so we are all taking it up as one of our special study topics for the year -- it fits so nicely with the Weather and Sky special study focus that we are doing alongside the rest of the CMEC. We have begun our lunar charts and are working on the constellations of the summer sky. August ended up being a wonderful time to start, not only for the meteor shower, but also because Saturn and Jupiter are easy to find right now.

It may not look like much, but we were SUPER excited about it!

A friend sent me a star chart and Vincent has been faithfully taking it out at night with a flashlight and looking at what is visible with the naked eye. It turns out that even with the city lights (we have a street light RIGHT in front of our house), we can see quite a lot. I always consider this the best place to start -- with what we can see without any "help." It gives us a good reference point for further work. (But we do have a telescope on the way -- should arrive any day now!)


Emilia is seven months old tomorrow and is crawling all over the house, cruising along the furniture, and getting into all kinds of mischief.

Luckily she has lots of people who love to play with her! Justin runs down first thing in the morning to see how he can make her giggle.


The high schoolers got a good start on the Fesole Club Papers. We did the famous Lemon assignment over the past couple weeks -- with a sleeping kindergartener, to boot! :)

From here, we are planning to move on to the chapters covering trees in leaf, architectural drawing, and still life composition before circling back around to the Boughs of Branstock and Fesole Flower Studies (which will be better in winter/spring here). We will also fold in some work from the other books assigned for art for the CMEC Upper Forms here and there. (I am looking forward to the mini-retreat in the fall all on art in the Mason method!)


I was on The Charlotte Mason Show to chat with Julie Ross about the basics of notebook-keeping in the Mason method. If you would like to hear both the philosophy behind it and some super-practical tips, have a listen! I hope you find it helpful.


So that's what's happening around here! Later this week I'm going to sneak in a post about our summer reading. I meant to get it up sooner but school planning took up my time. But even though it's not quite summer break here anymore, it IS over 100 degrees here this week, so I'm pretty sure I can still count it "summer."

Have you begun your school year yet? How are things going so far?

Monday, August 10, 2020

Back to School! :: Fall 2020

 Last week we kicked off our new school year!

I have seven formal students this year...

Vincent and Gianna are in 9th grade -- high school! I am so happy to be doing these next (last!) four years with them.

Cate and Xavier are in 6th and 5th grade (Form 2) and Bridget, Clara, and Andrew are in 3rd, 2nd, and 1st (Form 1).

My Kinderleben cuties are 4 and 3 and can't bear to be left out of anything! 

Baby Emilia (6 months) decided that right now would be a good time to start cruising along the furniture, pulling herself up on anything and everything, and generally just getting into all the things. We love her spunk but also look forward to her naptimes every day. ;) 

We always take a photo on the first day of the children with the books they are most looking forward to from their shelves. It is fun to look back at the end of the year to see if those books end up being favorites.

We also kicked off our first day with a special breakfast and some first-day goodies.

And then it was on to to the good stuff... History, science, Bible, math, literature, chalk drawing, folk dancing, singing games, recitation, Plutarch, Shakespeare, geography, nature study, brush drawing, picture study, composer study, and more! We are serving a full feast here and it is delightful.

My big kids are basically running their own schedule and keeping their own logbook and timetable. Their first week back went GREAT. I was so pleased with their work.

This is Andrew's first formal year of learning -- he is in Form 1B. He was so excited about everything, but especially about his "real" nature notebook kit, which in our house is a school-age privilege. (Before that, they have to content themselves with colored pencils and little spiral notebooks.)

We had a very full week and I finished each day desperately in need of quiet time! But that is par for the course here -- we have a bustling home with lots of people truly LIVING in it. I did try to take it easy on other obligations and on online time/social media last week to create a bit of extra quiet in my brain, and I set aside some time each evening to just sit and read a bit.

This weekend during my weekly prep time, I made a few small tweaks to the timetable and printed out new copies, but other than that, I didn't need to adjust much of anything. We'll see how this week goes! It always takes a few weeks to get those final kinks in our routine all sorted when I am dealing with this many students. But we had an amazing week and I can't wait to see what this year brings to all of us.

(As always, I am grateful for the CMEC community and the encouragement and vision I find there -- I felt quite clearly this week how "broad and balanced" this life of learning really is!)