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Monday, August 27, 2012

Things we're about

A basket of hard-bound school books
I don't know what's happened, but I actually have a few minutes to plan each week. It must be this season of my life or something! I know that it has to do with finally landing on a system that works for us. The last few weekends I've spent a few hours sitting at the table on the deck with my planning pages on one side and a stack of readers and other books on the other. What bliss!

This last week was good, with a few hitches. We spent most of Thursday at the dentist. How many dentists do you know that will risk blocking out a whole morning for eight children? Mine is a dear, sweet peach! Only four cavities out of the bunch--that's a lot to praise God about!

Old books I have printed and bound myself
Other than that, the week was full of learning. The McGuffey readers gave us all food for thought.

As for math (we use Ray's Arithmetics), I found out that one child is about to go into cancelling but is really, really rusty on multiplication--or maybe it was just a fuzzy day. Oh well, we are again reviewing until the basics are mastered...

Another child that has always had trouble mastering math has decided to learn it by teaching it--I can't think of a better way!

A library book sorter--I think it was originally a
business file-sorter, but it's perfect to keep library
 books both accessible and neat at the same time. 
I've so enjoyed taking my little girls through D'Aulaire's history books. We've read about George Washington, Leif the Lucky, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and Benjamin Franklin. These books are old favorites in homeschooling circles, and with good reason. They're well written and engaging, even for the smallest children, with pictures that are colorful and just busy enough for inquisitive little minds. Best of all, God and faith are not excused from the narrative, but are an integral part. I tried lapbooking afterwards, but the ones we did were a bit too schoolish, so we abandoned them for some good old-fashioned notebooking, so the girls could enjoy creating for themselves. I also had the girls take turns narrating as I went along. The younger ones are still getting the hang of it, but Olivia, now ten, does very well and is a good example to the others. At first I was having her do her notebooking lessons alone with the older children, but she was so lonely. I finally realized that she needed to be with us, and with me, so I included her in our daily readings. She has blossomed and smiles more now. She is so sweet, and I'm so glad that I've included her. Of course, Patience, three, doesn't always sit still the whole time. I allow her to wander off and play close by. She comes back periodically just to look at the pictures, and then she loves to color when we go to the table.

This is Patience' "school box"
I have created some very special "boxes" for the two tiny girls to keep their colors, some scraps of paper, a pencil, some chalk, and a small clipboard in. They're the size of a lunch box and are plastic. These have solved a whole host of problems for me. For one thing, it keeps the mess of coloring and drawing in one very manageable place. For another thing, I don't have to drop everything to try and help them hunt up their colors and paper! Besides, they feel very special, as all little girls should! I suppose there must be thousands of used lunchboxes at thrift stores and the like that would be perfect for such an application.

Ryan has been engrossed in the creation of an "art nouveau"-style dollhouse for their woodzeez. I really must share some pictures of it when he is done. He is so creative and gifted and is painstakingly going over every detail. He has already created stained-glass windows and a grandfather clock with shelves underneath, among other things.

Sarah and I are working on creating leg-warmers to wear under dresses this winter (she is giving me a refresher on knitting). Eliana is still working on her novel about an imaginary land, complete with a map and a character list. She wants Ryan and Nicole to illustrate it for her. Sometimes Ellie works with Ryan on his dollhouse project as well. Joshua nurses our poor water-thirsty yard, always trimming and coaxing green things out of the ground despite the drought. Many of the girls have pen pals, and they love to spend time creating letters and pictures they want to send. With postage being the way it is, we tried tonight to scan a hand-written letter in and send it as an image. Way cheaper than snail-mail, but more personal than email.

As for notebooking, there have been pages and booklets about carnivorous plants, medieval dress, coral reefs, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Art Nouveau, Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin and Colin Powell.

The reading lists have included Howard Pyle's The Story of King Arthur, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Jester, Freckles, by Gene Stratton Porter,The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Speare, and The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I hope to get started back into reading novels aloud to the children, I was taking time in the morning just as they woke up this past summer, I just need to find a good time for everyone.

(for more about our curriculum and schedule, see this post on my other blog, Large Family Mothering)

That's it for here, what's up at your house?


  1. Thanks for sharing your day. We're unschoolers in Australia and love hearing about other homeschoolers' lives and meeting them as we travel!