Friday, April 24, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: Back to the Pond

We have explored this same park so many times.  It amazes me how we always find something new!

This guy was hanging out in a puddle in the gutter where we parked!  He wasn't moving and looked in pretty bad shape, but he turned out to be okay--just out of his usual habitat.  (Well, and he only had one eye. But that didn't seem to be slowing him down!)

We deposited him in a grassy area by the pond where he seemed much more comfortable.

My friend told me that she saw the wild cucumbers had their fruit when she was out a couple weeks ago (yes, this is what CM-homeschooling nerd friends text to each other!), but I hadn't had a chance to check them out yet.  Sure enough...

We brought a few home: one new ball, one full-grown ball, and one already split open.

I also brought a pretty bit of rose clover home to draw (shown below), and the kids gathered bits of scarlet pimpernel (an old favorite).  We also saw thistle, plantain, and groundsel.  And new today: the first little white buds atop long, thin stems from a plant in the wild carrot family.  We'll have to check on that last one once it's in bloom to narrow it down.

And a peek into my 6yo's nature journal from this outing, since I didn't show hers last time:

The green frame on the second page, ready for me to write her narration in, was all her idea, and she was so proud of her artistic ingenuity. :)  She usually devotes one page to each specimen (as you might imagine, this wastes uses paper very quickly!), but lately she has decided to clump her findings for the day all onto one spread like I often do.  She is a very detailed and comprehensive little Keeper. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Summer Schedule

 I've written about out partly-schoolish, partly-vacationish summer plans in past years.  Our plans this summer look much the same.

We actually started summer break at the end of March and will start up lessons again the first week of July.  We took completely off for Holy Week through the Easter Octave, and we'll fit a little vacation in there somewhere too.  

For the rest of summer, we'll keep some daily and weekly schoolwork in our routine:

:: I modified the kids' school-year checklist to accommodate three days of daily subjects each week.  

So three times a week, they'll take about an hour first thing in the morning to do...
copywork - five minutes, in cursive
mapwork - five minutes, review map of choice
Italian activity - five minutes, a review activity they can do together without my help
math - short lesson or set of problems

They also have piano practice, hygiene, and chores on their list (all daily) and a few weekly items: nature journal entry (we continue our outing and journaling session through the summer), and piano theory and art homework (given by their piano and art teachers).

And together we aim to hit recitation and Italian three times a week.  For clarity, I've been splitting our memory work into two parts: "recitation," which is our review of previously-learned material, and "memory work," which is our work on new selections.  We won't be learning new items this summer--just reviewing what we already know.  And my goal in Italian this summer is to finish up our family/adjectives unit and move on to verbs.

:: We're hitting lots of read-alouds.  I usually have at least three read-alouds going at a time: two read by me and one on audio.  Summer is no different but we read through them more quickly!  Right now on audio, we're listening to the Chronicles of Narnia from beginning to end; currently we're on The Silver Chair.  And I'm reading aloud two books: right now, The Twenty-One Balloons (a Year 3 free read) and Sun Slower Sun Faster (one of the Bethlehem Books).  I think we'll hit the Swallows and Amazons books on audio next, and I'll likely start on a couple from the Year 4 list.  

:: Cate has made some good progress on learning to read without much help from me this past year, but I'm planning to sit down with her daily this summer to do a short reading lesson.  She's ready for some hands-on involvement on my part.

We also have a list of summertime priorities this year, based on my children's requests:

:: Cooking lessons.  My daughters have been begging for me to teach them to cook, and I think now is the time.  I said this last summer, actually, but this summer I really mean it! ;)  We will start with some basic kitchen skills and breakfast preparation, and then we'll move on to some easier snacks and meals.  Before fall comes, I'd like to at least turn breakfast duties over to my oldest two with my 6yo as helper.

:: Chess.  The kids used to play daily with Daddy, but his work schedule changed and we haven't fit it back into the family routine except on the weekends.  We'll try to fit a bit more playing time in during the next couple months.

:: Running.  I have been running regularly for a long while now, but it has always been my time away from the kids--either solo or with a local running group.  This summer, I'd like to try to fit in a bit of running with my big kids, who are very active and eager to join me.  I just have to carve out some extra time in addition to my usual running schedule, which is already tight!

not at all related to running but so cute ;)

:: Outdoor time.  We'll still be getting out once a week with friends for some nature study; usually we stay close to home, but we have plans this summer to try a few new spots.  We're also adding to our wildflower collection and will be hitting the beach too!  I can't wait.

:: History of Me.  A few of you have asked whether we have decided on a format for the personal timelines I mentioned during my book discussion of The Living Page.  I did come up with a plan and bought the materials, and now it's just a matter of putting it together with my kids.  That was a winter break project, but life happened. ;) Now it's a summer project, and although we'll still be living life, I am hoping we can actually get it done!  When we do, I'll share.

And what I will be doing with my couple extra hours of time each day...

:: Planning Year 4 - choosing a Latin curriculum and a typing program, deciding how to schedule in dictation and written narration, charting out free reads
:: Planning Year 1 - putting together Cate's binder, printing copywork pages, considering First Holy Communion preparation
:: Planing Kindergarten - compiling a kindergarten box for Xavier, including books to read to him and activities for him to do while I'm schooling the other children
:: Planning our Family Work - choosing composers, artists, religion reading, morning basket materials, memory work, mapwork and more
:: Pulling together next year's Italian activities
:: Revamping my weekly ckecklist and my weekly planning session to accommodate multiple years
:: Reading along with our new Charlotte Mason study group (we're using Brandy's Start Here guide!) and my local book club
:: Purging and tidying here at home
:: Pondering a rearrangement of rooms to make our office space more usable for schoolwork and extracurricular lessons
:: Reconsidering chore schedules and home routines
:: Trying to get myself outdoors more often
:: Updating our Life Lists

I have a couple months of our summer schedule ahead of me and I'm so looking forward to it.  So what will your summer look like?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

{From My Commonplace}

O gift of God!  O perfect day:
Whereon shall no man work, but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!
Through every fibre of my brain,
Through every nerve, through every vein,
I feel the electric thrill, the touch
Of life, that seems almost too much.

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.
And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,

Where through a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,
Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Whose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.

Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
The fiery blossoms of the peach!
O Life and Love! O happy throng
Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
O heart of man! canst thou not be
Blithe as the air is, and as free?

:: "A Day of Sunshine," written by Longfellow and much loved by us ::

(My daughter memorized this one last term.  You'll see it listed on our Memory Work Index.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Keeping Company :: April Link-Up

Welcome to the April link-up!

Every month so far has featured a large group of wonderful entries, so I just want to say thanks again to all the participants.

And if you haven't participated before but would like to: please do!

Your entry can be as simple as a quote from your commonplace, a photo of your children working on their timelines, or something interesting you found on your last nature walk.  It's really as simple as that.

A few favorites from the Instagram #KeepingCompanyCM this month:

from left to right - stephanie.shepherd - stronghaven - homeschool_dk - corinna_rhodes_

:: For bloggers: You should see the linky below.  Click on the "Add my link" button, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.

:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM to join the link-up.  (You can also add individual Instagram photos via the linky if you prefer.)


:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to the homepage of your blog.  

:: Posts on private blogs obviously can't be included.

:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book!  And please don't feel like you have to be an expert.  We are all looking to grow in these habits together. :)

:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.

:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

Looking forward to seeing what you all are up to.  And once again, thank you for sharing! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

{This and That}

Happy Easter, friends!  I know I'm late in sharing these, but I can't resist.  And after all, Easter is a season. ;)  Did you have a blessed octave?

We took Holy Week and Easter Week off of school completely, but this morning we're back with a modified and very light summer schedule.  I'll share more about that soon!


I mentioned the kids' Easter baskets were full of books, but we did have some other goodies too: frisbees, socks, a wee bit of candy, Schleich animals, and these pencil boxes for my school-aged kids:

I'm not sure why I never thought of this before, but instead of having to grab a pencil, eraser, pen, and their shared colored pencil box before binder work each morning (and arguing discussing whose is whose instead of getting right down to work), each child now has a personal box with a complete set.  We keep them by the dining table (where they do their schoolwork) rather than in by the kitchen table (where we keep the rest of the art supplies), so they're easy to grab and get started.  It's the little things, right?


A couple weekends ago I did the seasonal clothing switch-out, one of my most dreaded chores.  Our standard uniform for girls around the house is long-sleeved knit dress with leggings for winter and short-sleeved knit dress with capri leggings for the summer.  For little ones, knit dresses are so easy to find, but for my 8yo daughter, it is now a challenge.  But after lots of looking, I found my perfect play dress for the right price: these from LL Bean.  I bought three to get us through the summer.  I want to wait and see how much fading/pilling there ends up being by fall, but so far, so good!


Looking for a boost in education reading to get you through the rest of the school year?  Some of my favorites from the past few weeks:

A Manifesto for Liberal Education
What the English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur Actually Sounded Like
On the Strange Squid Near at Hand
Why America's Obsession with STEM Education is Dangerous
Chesterton and the Meaning of Education


Last weekend, our local library had its annual chamber music performance.  Afterward, they allow the children to come up and try half- or quarter-sized versions of the string instruments.  Now Gianna is dying to take cello and Vincent violin.  Even Xavier made himself a paper violin and has been madly playing around the house.  I told them we'll see after a few more years of piano.


From my early-morning hill run this past weekend:

I see more wildflowers on our running group's various hill routes than I do on our nature study outings!  It's too bad I'm, you know, running and can't exactly stop to take photo after photo, but we saw 25-30 different varieties last week, if I had to guess.  It's prime time for flowers here and the elevation plus the remoteness of our usual trails means lots of diversity and color.

I did come home with a snip of Indian paintbrush, a new favorite.  Into the nature journal and then into the flower press!


I'll be back tomorrow to post the April Keeping Company link-up.  See you then!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What We're Reading :: Easter Edition

The children's Easter baskets were filled with books, so suffice it to say that those have kept them entirely occupied over the last few days.  More on that in just a moment...

Wojtyla's The Jeweler's Shop (for my local book club)
Karen Glass' Consider This (doing a re-read alongside the "slow simmer" thread on the AO forums)
Goudge's Pilgrim's Inn (still barely started)
Lowry's Number the Stars (pre-reading for my kids)
Linney's Getting Started with Latin (trying to decide on a Latin option for next school year)

To the Kids:
Lewis' Prince Caspian (on audio--we're doing all of Narnia on audio for summer!)
Wilder's These Happy Golden Years (just finished!)
Marigold Hunt's St. Patrick's Summer (on the last chapter of our Lenten reading)
deJong's The Wheel on the School (just finished this free read up from Term 3 yesterday)

For Vincent, age 8:

For Gianna, age 8:

detail of the red hardcover -- swoon

For Cate, age 6:

For Xavier, age 4:

For Bridget, age 3:

For Clara, age 2:
we have these in full size, but these are sweet miniatures that I couldn't resist
Baby Andrew didn't get a basket this year; he was very happy playing with the kids' leftovers. ;)

(Oh, and as always: every one of these was pulled from the box I keep in the garage for all the used children's books I buy throughout the year!  My favorite kind of holiday shopping is sorting through that bin for books that will suit each child. :))

So did books fill your Easter baskets this year?  (Ours had a few other goodies too--I'll share those in another post.)  What does your early-spring reading look like?  Any current favorites?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Keeping Company :: April Invitation

We have had so many great entries in March's Keeping Company link-up!  As always, thanks to all of you for sharing your Keeping with others.  If you haven't had a chance to check out the wonderful examples there, do go and take a peek.

Monthly Feature

I actually want to mention a few entries this month:

Dawn wrote a lovely post about Keeping and Keep-ability--and not Keeping too.  Very relevant as we consider the mindful attitude we do and should bring to our educational habits, as well as to our parenting.

Heather showed how various Keeping practices (including mapping, a notebooking habit I want to incorporate more!) have improved her personal studies.

And Amber discussed how she fits her own commonplace Keeping into the school day--and models it for her children at the same time.  I am thinking on her suggestions here as I consider next year's school schedule!

For this month's optional prompt

I know spring has finally sprung in most of the country, so I thought we'd talk about nature journals this month.  Let's start with children's nature journals!  (And fair warning: next month we'll focus on moms'.  So get ready! :))

Care to share a peek into your children's nature journals--current or past?  What have been some of your favorite sights recently, and how did they find their way into your sons' or daughters' Keeping?  What kinds of media do they prefer?  Do they enjoy nature journaling, or are you still working to build the family habit?  How does their personality show through in their journaling?  How have you seen their Keeping change over time?

We've been inspired by spring here, and I already shared quite a bit about my children's recent nature journaling just last week...

I hope you're similarly inspired to finish our your school year with a good bit of nature study!  And if the weather hasn't yet given you that push you need, maybe this link-up will? ;)

I'll be back here next Tuesday, April 14th, to post the link-up.  In the meantime, the March link-up will still be active until then, so feel free to continue sharing your posts there.