2015-16 School Year–Week Thirteen

This was a pretty light week of school. I decided not to start anything new in math, so our main focus this week was language arts…spelling, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and reading. We also did a little science. We watched several productions of the Nutcracker, as always, as well as The Seasoned Traveler: Christmas Markets and Rick Steves’ European Christmas. We also continued our annual read-through of A Christmas Carol…We still have to read the last chapter, but we got through more than I was expecting after having been sick last week!

As always, we made Christmas ornaments this week. This year, we finally made the floor wax/glitter ornaments that I’ve been looking forward to making. They’re so beautiful…I love the way they look in the lights from the Christmas tree!

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This year, for Christmas Around the World, we learned about Christmas in Poland. We read a fun book, Marta and the Manger Straw. We also had a Polish meal…kielbasa, homemade pierogis, sauerkraut, and kolache cookies for dessert. It was a very popular meal!

We still have a few things to wrap up next week (finishing A Christmas Carol, another craft, and maybe learning about Christmas in one more country), but other than that, we’re done until 2016. Merry Christmas!

An 1864 Christmas

Yesterday, we went down to the Old Courthouse in St. Louis to see what an 1864 Christmas ball would have been like.

It was a lot of fun! The dresses were beautiful, the dancing was fun (Turkey and Bunny even participated in a reel!), and the music was very energetic. It’s enough to make you wish that Christmas dances like this were still a popular activity!

2014-15 School Year–Week Fifteen

This was our last week of school in 2014!

It was a light week. In the mornings, I had the children work on religion, math, very limited language arts, crafts (more on that in a bit), and reading. We also finished A Christmas Carol, and did a poetry study of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

The afternoons were all about fun. I decided that this would be “Nutcracker Week,” which worked out well, because we own recordings of five different productions. We started with the Bolshoi Ballet on Monday, which enabled us to both recognize the Nutcracker’s Russian roots, and continued our study of Christmas in Russia. On Tuesday, we watched our new production for the year–the Vienna State Ballet. Wednesday I was feeling British, so we watched the Royal Ballet performance. We watched what I think is probably our most unique version on Thursday, the Dutch National Ballet’s production. And I saved the best for last…today we watched my all-time favorite, the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker. I had Turkey and Bunny take notes on what they really liked in each performance (or what they found unusual), and then had them attempt to rank them when we were done, which is no easy feat! (For the record, my ranking goes 1.) San Francisco Ballet; 2.) Dutch National Ballet; 3.) Royal Ballet; 4.) Bolshoi Ballet; and 5.) Vienna State Ballet.)

To go along with my favorite part of the Nutcracker in both music and dance, “The Waltz of the Snowflakes,” we spent some time a few mornings making snowflakes to hang in the schoolroom. Turkey, in particular, enjoyed seeing what patterns he could make, and even I made a few snowflakes. We weren’t happy until we had a full-on blizzard going!

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The snowflakes were craft one. We also made our ornament for the year–a cute clothespin donkey. We had quite the assembly line going to get them finished!

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And, for a fun end-of-the-week activity, I got the new Lego: The Hobbit Lake Town set to go with the sets the children and I built after we finished the book earlier this fall. It’s a small building, but it was fun to build, and added some new minifigs to our Lake Town setup.

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I’m looking forward to taking a break and just having fun for a few weeks, but we’ll be back in 2015, ready for more learning (and fun!).

2014-15 School Year–Week Fourteen

Last week was insanely busy, both in school, and at home in general. We worked really hard to get a lot of stuff done as we approach Christmas!

We skipped ahead in our religion lessons so that we could study some of the Christmas prophecies, as well as John the Baptist. We’ll keep up with that theme until we’ve made it through the Christmas story, and even Epiphany…after our vacation, of course. It’s always nice to read those old, familiar verses prophesying Jesus’ birth, and who He would be!

Math was mostly review for all three students, although Ladybug is working on learning more of the times tables. Thankfully, nobody had any real problems with any of their assignments, which makes me hopeful that our last tests before Christmas next week will be a rousing success!

Language arts was fairly standard. Everyone did an excellent job on their spelling tests this week, and the writing assignments didn’t involve too much complaining or rewriting. Ladybug has moved on to adjectives in grammar, which is always fun…students get a chance to be a little silly when describing nouns, and it’s good for a giggle to hear what they come up with!

We finished our stem study in botany. Our celery hung around until the middle of the week, and it was amazing to see just how dark the “veins” turned! We also watched some interesting time-lapse videos following both the life cycle of a sunflower, as well as how they follow the sun in just one day. The children really want to grow some sunflowers next summer now, so we’ll what I can come up with, given that I’m a known plant-killer.

We again abandoned our history lessons in favor of Christmas Around the World. This week we focused on Russia, and especially Sweden, since St. Lucia day was Saturday. We spent a lot of time reading about how Christmas is celebrated in those two countries and reading Christmas legends from both countries. We also worked on making St. Lucia crowns and Star Boy hats, which turned out really well, if I do say so myself!

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We sampled a lot of foods from around the world (well, from Greece, France, Italy, Sweden, and Russia, anyway!), in the last two weeks, some of which were new to us, and some of which were old favorites. I think this is one of my favorite parts of Christmas school, and now that the children are older, and more open to trying new things, I think they really enjoy it, as well!

Last week was our last full-ish week of school before Christmas. We’ll still be having school this week, including finishing A Christmas Carol, but I have some special things planned, and less actual work to do…stay tuned!

Nativity Scenes from around the World

Belleville’s Cathedral of Saint Peter is currently hosting a display of nativity scenes from around the world. It was the first time we had seen such a display, and, even though we’ve been in Belleville for eight years now, the first time we had been in the Cathedral. It was quite a treat!

I was amazed how the same subject (Christ’s birth), could be displayed in such different ways from country to country. We saw jewelry, plates, gingerbread, candles, eggs, an igloo, and even a Fanta can nativity! Each one was different, and each beautiful in its own way. It was wonderful seeing Christ’s birth proclaimed across the world in different ways!