Thursday, September 18, 2014

What We're Reading :: September

Berry's Hannah Coulter (just finished this weekend for our new local book club!)
Austen's Pride and Prejudice (a re-read, obviously! ;))
Mother Mary Loyola's Forgive Us Our Tresspasses (pre-reading for next year's religion)
Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 (still--and will be all year, probably)

Vincent, age 8:
Seashore Life of Our Pacific Coast (an old California textbook that he is absolutely in love with)
the rest of Edward Eager's Half-Magic series (Gianna finished these a few months ago, and now it's his turn)
Robert Reilly's Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal (a tie-in with this year's history studies)
and still making his way through Redwall

Gianna, age 7:
On the Banks of Plum Creek (re-reading after listening to the audiobook last month)
The D'Aulaire Book of Greek Myths (she is loving this alongside Kingsley's Heroes and after last year's Hawthorne)
Fr. Halpin's Children's Retreats (her Sunday reading)

Cate, age 5:
Just started on the next set of BOB books. :)

To the Big Kids:
MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind and Kingsley's Water Babies (we'll be reading these two AO Y3 "free reads" slowly over the course of the whole school year)
Wilder's By the Shores of Silver Lake (on audio, read by Cherry Jones)

To the Kindergartener:
Kindergarten Stories and Morning Talks (even though these are arranged by month, we're not on any schedule--just a story here and there)
Fr. Lord's The Rosary: Roses of Prayer for the Queen of Heaven (we have the miniature version and it's a favorite)
Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh (delightful as always)

To the Littles:
Green Eggs and Ham and Go, Dog, Go (4yo Xavier's current favorite--on a Dr. Seuss kick, obviously!)
The Met's Baby Loves (1yo Clara's current favorite--as soon as anyone offers to read, she starts shrieking "BABY LOVES!" and running to grab it to the bookshelf)

Birthday Books for Bridget, age 3:
Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells' Here Comes Mother Goose (not my favorite Mother Goose by a long shot, but the littles just love BIG books to page through)
The Provensens' Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm (a library favorite of ours--I'm so pleased to have our own copy)
Spier's Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (an addition to our collection of folk song picture books)
Flack's Angus and the Ducks (traded out our paperback for hardcover)

And more used-book finds:
A successful trip to the thrift store, a morning of garage sales here in town, and a bunch of happy mail lately have my shelves overflowing.  (Literally.  I think a trip to Ikea for more bookshelves may be next on the list.)  

Some I have squirreled away for Christmas gifts for my little ones, some are school books, some have hopped straight into the kids' hands...

just a very few
See those top ones?  I've been adding to my collection of Golden Guides for the past few months, and I now have almost all of them in paperback.  But at the thrift store last week, I came upon these:

Ex-library hardcover versions.  So you know I had to snatch those up right away!  These are my favorite guides to page through, so it's perfectly normal to have full sets in both paperback and hardback, right?  Right.  Nope, not book-crazy at all.


And then a special one for me came in the mail too:

Haven't started it yet, but I can't wait to.  Maybe next month?

So what are you reading lately?  Any favorite book-hunting finds recently?  I'd love to hear!

Friday, September 12, 2014

{In a Week}

my daughter loves laying out her day's independent work just so the night before
a perfect day at the beach
happy to be tidepooling with Mommy
beach baby
talking on her paper phone, typing on her paper laptop...
sweet Bridget turns three
her birthday gifts - mostly books, of course!
reading with my kindergartener--and her captive audience of toddler siblings
magnet dolls
helping baby sister color

Thursday, September 4, 2014

{From My Commonplace}

I've just started Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter and am already finding so much to consider...

This is the story of my life, that while I lived it weighed upon me and pressed against me 
and filled all my senses to overflowing and now is like a dream dreamed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nature Study at the Beach :: Pagoo!

We're currently reading Holling's Pagoo for our natural science studies, so one of the highlights of our recent time at the beach was finding a hermit crab.  We have seen them in tidepools and at aquariums, but this was a more personal encounter.

I actually stumbled across it (literally) while walking a fussy baby way down a deserted stretch of beach.  A dead hermit crab, lying belly up far above the water line.  I'm so glad I didn't actually step on it because although it was already dead, the crab hadn't yet been attacked by the birds or bugs, which meant that the body was still preserved.

At home, we carefully slid the last bit of his body from the shell and we were able to get a close look at his rubbery bottom, front claws, and hinged legs.

We compared the body to Holling's drawings, and added our own drawings to our nature journals.

little Pagoo, as drawn by Holling

My son hasn't stopped talking about what a wonderful coincidence it was that we found that hermit crab in the same term that we are reading that story.  I think so too. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nature Study at the Beach :: A Series

We've so enjoyed taking week-at-the-coast trips the past few years, but this year with a newborn, it has been easier for us to take day trips to the beach instead.  So that's what we have been doing over the past couple months: twice a week, we've been at the beach, enjoying the sand, the sun--and the many, many nature study opportunities. 

The more often we go, the more attuned we are to the whats and whens of the landscape.

Pelicans flying north high overhead and then come back south low, in a neat line, just inches above the water.
Pods of dolphins passing by, fin tips gracefully peeking over the waves.
Otters fifty yards offshore, floating on their backs, then twirling and diving.
Sea lions bobbing between the surfers.

The amazing becomes familiar.  But with that growing familiarity comes not less interest but more, as I have found to be the case with all of our nature study.  More "friends" to greet each visit.  A deeper awareness of even the littlest changes.  An understanding of which features are season-specific, which are weather-specific, which are time-specific, which are location-specific, and which are just all-around unexpected.

And combined with that familiarity is a lesson the children and I have learned over the past few weeks: the beach is always new.  Of course that too is true about nature in general--our Calendar of Firsts has taught us that!  But at the shore, we see that newness play out day by day.  We'll drive to the same beach, park in the same spot, walk down the same trail, set up in the same spot...and the tide has changed the landscape in some way.  Something new always catches our eye.  The water washes away the castles made yesterday; the seaweed makes new patterns in the sand; the beached crabs have been picked up by the birds, and new ones have taken their place, brought in by the waves of the early morning.

Life on the coast--I could never tire of it.

I'm going to spend some time here and there over the next few weeks sharing some of the nature study opportunities we have had on our recent outings.  I hope you enjoy coming along to the California coast with us!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Third Grade in Our Home :: The Morning Basket, Term 1

Just as in the past, I use the term "Morning Basket" to refer to all the work we do together as a family, with the littles. But even though I call it Morning Basket for organizational purposes, it is really broken up into two parts: that which is done over breakfast, and that which is done at the end of our Naptime School block.
(Our Morning Basket is still very much the same as we did it last year, so if you'd like to read more specifics about how it works for us, feel free to click over to read more.)

A look at our Morning Basket plans for this Term 1 of this year... 

Over Breakfast

Calendar Work - in English and Italian (daily)

Poetry - a poem daily from our poet for the term, William Blake (daily)

Short Reading - from one of the following:
:: Thomas Tapper's Music Talks for Children (one chapter per week)
:: the Kirbys' The World at Home (two chapers per week)
:: Benson's A Child's Rule of Life (one page per week)
:: Benson's An Alphabet of Saints (one page per week)

I chose these for our Morning Basket work rather scheduling them during Naptime School for several reasons: they're all short readings, have general appeal, and are not narrated.

Read-Aloud - with any breakfast time I have left before the babies start fussing, I read from one of our scheduled read-alouds: The Water Babies or At the Back of the North Wind.

In the Afternoon

Memory Work (daily) - includes review of that day's items from our memory "notebook" as well as our current selections:
:: Hymns - "Come Holy Ghost" and "Ave Verum Corpus"
:: Folk Song - "Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night" and "Dixie"
:: Bible - Psalm 42 and The Last Gospel (John 1:1-14)
:: Prayers - Saint Michael prayer in Latin and the Confiteor
:: Poetry - William Blake's "The Fly," "The Blossom," "The Lamb," "The Shepherd," and "The Tyger"

:: Bird Calls - American Robin, California Towhee, House Finch

We move on to a new selection once we have the previous selection memorized rather than on a regular schedule, so our plans are just that--plans.  We may end up doing more than just these.  I'll update our Memory Work index with the ones we cover.

And this year, we're combining Memory Work and Movement--so while we're reviewing our previous selections, the kids are doing jumping jacks, situps, pushups, burpees, and dancing. :)  It's been a happy marriage of activities for us so far--and it keeps the littles busy.

Italian Memory Work (daily) - The older three and I cover new concepts, games, and conversation at a different time of the day, but we do our Italian memory work with the littles:
:: Rhymes - "Capra capretta" and "Bim bum ba" from Filastrocche Italiane
:: Songs - "Avena e grano crescono,"Saptete voi piantare i fiori," "Reginella campagnola" from Teach Me Everyday Italian
:: Series - "I go on a nature adventure" and "I do something every day"

Picture Study on Claude Monet (once weekly) - two weeks for each piece, alternating between observation/narration and a picture sketch
:: Terrace at St. Adresse, 1866
:: La Grenouillére, 1869
:: Impression: Sunrise, 1872
:: Woman with a Parasol, 1886
:: Thinking about Light with the Rouen Cathedral series and Haystacks series - Haystack: End of the Summer, Morning, 1891 and Rouen Cathedral: Sunset, 1894
:: The Waterlily Pond, 1899

Music Study on Johann Sebastian Bach (once weekly) - two weeks for each piece, including attentive listening and discussion
:: Air on the G String
:: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
:: Toccata ad Fugue in D Minor
:: Goldberg Variations
:: Minuet in G
:: St. Matthew's Passion

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cate's Kindergarten

As I reorganized the bookshelves and school supplies before school began this year, I decided to collect little "surprises" into a special basket for my new kindergartener's school time.  Normally, I wouldn't plan any formal school period at all, but this girl begs to "do school" like her siblings and has been looking forward to some one-on-one Mommy time and to some new skills and books that are all hers.

Here's a peek at what I have in there:

Books - I gathered a variety to go through little by little over the first term: Leading Little Ones to MaryKindergarten Gems, Fr. Lord's The RosaryKindergarten Stories and Morning Talks, Neumann Press' Catechism for Young ChildrenWinnie-the-PoohA Very Little Child's Book of Stories.  We're just picking up whichever book appeals to us that day--no set schedule.  When we finish a book, I'll add another one to the basket.  There are so many wonderful ones for this age.

Right Start Level B - This is what I started with when my big kids were in they're almost done with Level E and ready to move on to another program!  Time flies.  I'm happy to be starting to work through this program once again with my newest student.  She loves her abacus and tally sticks. :)

And a bunch of other fun little items:
folding and cutting workbooks
a notebook in which she keeps track of words she knows by sight (ala Bestvater's The Living Page)
colored chalk and a slate
some word cards for us to play matching games with
a little notebook and pen
bananagrams for reading lessons
her current set of Bob books
a few field guides
scissors and tape, for her Important Projects ;)

My goal for myself is to spend some one-on-one time with her each school day, maybe twenty minutes.  That twenty minutes definitely doesn't happen all at once--usually it's five minutes here, five minutes there.  During this time, we do a combination of activities: reading lesson; read-aloud; math lesson; copywork; or a special project, like folding, cutting, or a game.  I try to hit each of those categories three times a week.

The rest of her "schoolwork" consists of joining in on the big kids' lessons when she is interested--which is pretty much all the time. ;)  I don't encourage her to listen in on their readings or narrate, but I do encourage her to sit in on just about everything else:
picture study
memory work (though she doesn't have her own selections, she learns the big kids' with ease)
nature study and journaling
music study
morning basket - religious reading, calendar in English and Italian, poetry 
free readings done as read alouds

And during the rest of Naptime School session, while the littles are sleeping and I'm working with the big kids, she has a variety of activities available to her: lacing beads, pattern blocks, puzzles, paper dolls, and the usual craft supplies.

To give you an idea of how this all looks in action, here's how one day in our Charlotte Mason-style home kindergarten looks:

This morning after waking up, she went straight to her morning chores: got herself dressed, brushed her hair, and had her teeth brushed.  Then she spent a half hour playing with her little brothers and sisters and her dolly.  (There may or may not have been some squabbles during this time. ;))  

I called her to empty the dishwasher and then she helped set the breakfast table.  After morning prayers, she ate breakfast and took part in morning basket: our calendar in English and Italian, a Blake poem, a short chapter on bamboo from The World at Home, the page on St. Dominic from Benson's An Alphabet of Saints, and a couple pages from Thomas Tapper's Music Talks for Children.

She helped clear the breakfast table and then got herself and her younger sister dressed for outside play.  She played out there for a couple hours, making "soups" out of clover and crepe myrtle bark, taking care of her rock dolly, playing catch with her brothers, collecting leaves, hanging from the maple tree, and toting around baby sister.

She helped clean up the backyard and then washed up and changed herself and her little sister.  Then we read picture books: Pelle's New Suit and Madeline's Rescue.  When I left to handle the baby, she took over reading to the toddlers and did a couple she has memorized: Baby Loves and Jamberry.

While I got the little ones settled for nap, she got out her math materials, her slate and chalk, and her word book.  I needed to get a couple readings done with the big kids while the baby was still napping, so she curled up on the sofa with her dolly while I spent a half hour reading aloud and listening to narrations.  Halfway through, she took out a puzzle to do on the floor next to us.

Once we finished our readings, she joined us at the table for Italian: a few games of bingo with outdoor vocabulary, two songs, Simon Says to practice our body parts, and a Gouin series about going on a "nature adventure."  Then we looked at Monet's "Impression: Sunrise" together and the children made little sketches of the composition.  The big kids went in the other room to finish their math work, and she and I did a five-minute math lesson together (on partitioning ten using the abacus) and read a page about St. Dominic and the Rosary.  Then I wrote some words of her choice on her little chalkboard for her to copy below, and she added a word to her little notebook of words she knows by sight: into.  She spent the next half hour drawing with big sister while we listened to two chapters from On the Banks of Plum Creek.  Once the babies got up from nap, she danced and did jumping jacks with the rest of the kids while we went through our memory work, including folk song and hymn.

In the afternoon, she looked through the sand dollars we collected at the beach yesterday, helped fold laundry, ate dinner and helped with dinner chores, played games with Daddy, got out the towels and clothes for the evening bath, and read half a Bob book with Mommy.  Then bath, rosary, bedtime prayers, and lights out.

So as you can see, she is quite a busy girl!  I feel like we have a nice balance going of academics, time outdoors, chores, and play.  Her kindergarten year looks different from how her older siblings' looked, and I imagine our plans will change again for my son starting next year, and all the littles starting after that.  That's one of the great things about having a bunch of children--I have so many kindergartens ahead of me!