2017-18 School Year–Week Twelve+

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that we had a busy week ahead, and I wasn’t sure how much school we were going to get done. We did have school, but only for a few days, so I’m going to combine that with this week’s wrap-up.

In addition to a couple of days of regular school work last week, we did a few fun things, as well. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and three of the children even got to participate in a mass children’s choir at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. It was very exciting to be part of that historic event!

We started on one of my favorite November traditions last week…we’re assembling our yearly “Thankful Tree!” As far as I can remember, the first year we did this was 2009, and that tree had handprints for leaves. We’ve also done some other variations on it over the years, including a Thankful Wreath, and maybe a Thankful Turkey, as well. Since at least 2011, though, we’ve used the current format. Laminating all those leaves was a pain at the time, but they sure have served us well!

We also went to the St. Louis Public Library Central Library to see the “We Are Shakespeare” exhibit. I almost ran out of time on that one, because it closed last weekend. It was a really cool exhibit, and I’m glad we made it!

We also took advantage of the nice weather on one of Moose’s days off last week to take a nature walk around Creve Coeur Lake. We saw snakes and birds, lots of cool leaves and fruits/nuts, and tons of other people out on bikes and boats enjoying the beautiful day.

This week was a little more standard. We got back to our regular religion lessons, after taking a break for the Reformation. Turkey and Bunny wrapped up another unit in their books, but not before they learned about the Tabernacle, and the positions of all the different tribes when the set up camp around it. Ladybug read a story that was not too familiar to her…the tale of Gideon. Chickadee learned about Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Ladybug is working on long division in math. She does not enjoy it. She is good at it, though, which is important. Turkey and Bunny worked with regular polygons. They found out how to find the measures of the interior and exterior angles of various shapes. Chickadee is still working on counting larger numbers, and she’s getting pretty good at it!

We had a lot of fun in science this week. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about diffusion and osmosis, and they got to do a few cool experiments to see how they work. Their favorite experiment involved an egg. First, they soaked it in vinegar to remove the shell (which they’ve done in the past). Then they soaked it in syrup, to see which way the liquid moved (out of the egg into the syrup). After that, they soaked it in water, again to see which way the liquid moved (from the water into the egg). They took measurements along the way, and were very impressed with the differences they recorded! Ladybug watched every step of their experiment and was fascinated by it, even as she was learning about Old World apes in her science class.

History has also been interesting. Even though they’re using different texts, Turkey and Bunny’s and Ladybug’s lessons have overlapped again. They’ve all been learning about Babylon and Assyria. We’ve talked about rulers such as Tiglath-Pileser III and Shalmaneser V. We’ve also made some connections to Bible history, even though our religion lessons haven’t gotten there yet.

The girls had a fun little activity this week. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the Lego Ideas “Women of NASA” set, and we finally received our copy. I decided since there are exactly three vignettes in the set that the girls should be the ones to build it. Turkey still enjoyed reading about the women depicted in the set (I love that Lego included that information in the instruction book) even though he didn’t get to help build it. It’s a great little set, and looks right at home next to our Saturn V rocket!

Next week, we’ll be starting on our annual Thanksgiving study…I can’t believe how quickly that holiday is approaching!

2015-16 School Year–Week Eleven+

I waited until today to share our latest weekly wrap-up because it was more like a week-and-a-half of school. We had a regular week last week, although we replaced our normal history and some of our literature with our yearly Thanksgiving studies. We also had two days of school (plus a little bit) this week, to finish up everything we needed to do before the holiday.

In math, Turkey and Bunny have been working with percent increase and decrease. They way I’m learning how to teach these topics makes so much more sense to me than the way I was taught…I think math could have been much easier for me in junior high and high school with a different approach like this! Ladybug is still working on multiplying with carrying, which she is extremely good at, as well as slightly more complicated equations.

Turkey and Bunny, and Ladybug, each finished the fourth chapter of their science curriculum this week. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about applied science, technology, and simple machines. Bunny has decided she’s not “into” this kind of science, but she’s really looking forward to the next chapter, which focuses on archaeology and paleontology. Ladybug learned about the different kinds of feathers, and I have to admit, most of it was new to me, too!

In writing, Turkey and Bunny worked on comparing two short stories: “The Open Window” and “The Monkey’s Paw.” While both stories had scary elements, in the end, “The Open Window” ended up being pretty humorous, but “The Monkey’s Paw” was freaky. I can’t say I was a big fan! Ladybug has been working on more complicated sentence diagramming, including learning about complete subjects and predicates, direct objects, and adding adjectives and adverbs to describe different words in a sentence.

In addition to our Thanksgiving reading, we also had a few fun crafts (including our yearly staple of hand-and-footprint turkeys, which we waited until today to make, so Moose could join us), and we finished our thankful tree. I love seeing all the many and different things each of my children are thankful for!

I think next week will probably be a fairly normal week of school, before we get into “Christmas School” the week after. We’ll be learning about Christmas in Poland this year, which is new for us…I’m really looking forward to it!

More 2013 in Review

2013 was a much calmer year than 2012 was, but we were still plenty busy!

In January, I started the new year by rearranging the school room again. This has become a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m not sure that it will ever really be “done.” I had one of my worst kitchen disasters ever, but corrected it a few days later. We enjoyed our final feast of the holiday season. In school, we made an Alleluia banner to (kind of) match the one at church. The entire city of St. Louis mourned the passing of Stan Musial in January, as well.

In February, we celebrated our 100th day of school. I made a big deal out of it, as I always do for a student (this time, Ladybug), in kindergarten. Chickadee celebrated one of her last remaining first holidays…Valentine’s Day. We had a tea party to celebrate. How I love all of my valentines! Our school received a wonderful gift of a microscope, and we had a great time playing with it. I got hooked on Downton Abbey, and the children got hooked on Jem. Chickadee entertained all of us by learning to say “uh-oh,” as well as dropping things intentionally so she could try her new word out!

March was arguably one of the busiest months of 2013, filled with big events. Bunny attended a park district volleyball clinic and loved it. I received a piece of mail from Buckingham Palace. We celebrated Chickadee’s first St. Patrick’s Day with a tea party…my favorite one of the year! Turkey turned ten…we could hardly believe it! We finally tracked down some zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day. Chickadee turned one…it was a big day! We had a snowstorm that will always be remembered as the “Palm Sunday Snowstorm.” We made a Paschal candle on Holy Saturday and (hopefully) started a new family tradition. We had a very blessed Easter, complete with a new Easter bonnet for me.

We started April still celebrating Easter with another tea party. The Cardinals started another awesome season of baseball. We didn’t make it to Opening Day, but we did take the children on their first train ride to Stan Musial Night at Busch Stadium. The blossoming trees were especially beautiful this year! We took lots of pictures and did lots of tree identification. Chickadee started walking unassisted…watch out world! She also had her first ride in a swing. She wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! St. Louis finally got a Lego store, much to our excitement (and to the dismay of our checking account)! We went on a farm tour at Eckert’s, and learned a lot. I finished planning the year’s summer school. We watched with interest as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander (one of several abdications this year).

In May, Ladybug turned six, although we had to wait for her big birthday celebration, because Ryan was gone on one of his many business trips (almost two months’ worth!) on her actual birthday. Our Lego store celebrated its grand opening, and we stood in line to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and the wait was worth it…unfortunately, it didn’t take the children too long to put all of their sets together! As we do every year, we went to Art on the Square, and this time, bought a print of our town’s beautiful fountain from our favorite artist. I took the big girls strawberry picking for the first time. We had our last day of school for the 2012-13 school year. We used some of the strawberries we picked for our Pentecost tea party. Memorial Day weekend, we made the trip to Kansas City to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Ryan and I started building the Lego Tower Bridge. We finished making a full set of church year banners for our school room.

June began with our biannual (apparently) “Park Day.” We had a lot of fun visiting different playgrounds and splash pads. Turkey started another season of parks and rec baseball. Ladybug lost a tooth for the first time. Ryan and I continued working on the Lego Tower Bridge. I took the children to a “Dock Dogs” competition at Eckert’s, which was definitely a first for us! We also went to Grant’s Farm. We celebrated the Queen’s birthday with another tea party. To celebrate “Beer Stein Night” at the ballpark, Ryan and I went to the Flying Saucer for the first time with a friend. The children and I (minus Chickadee) went to the International Center for the service of blessing for the new KFUO studios. Ladybug was very disappointed to learn that the American Girl doll she’s always wanted was going to be retired by the end of the year (stay tuned…). We went blackberry picking for the first time, and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor!

We were very happy that this July had much cooler weather than last July did. We were able to be outside doing things a whole lot more! We went to Six Flags St. Louis for the first time, and the children had their first experiences with roller coasters. And I remembered why I hate roller coasters! Moose took us with him to “Honor Roll Night” at the Gateway Grizzlies game. We had a fun Fourth of July, and celebrated with an adorable little patriot and a big feast. Bunny and I went out for a Mother-Daughter sushi lunch. Twinkies made a comeback! We went to the zoo, and got to see the very cool new sea-lion exhibit for the first time. Turkey’s baseball team had an unexpected victory in the playoffs, which allowed them to play one more game. Bunny celebrated her ninth birthday. We had all-inclusive tickets to a Cardinals game…a rare, but very appreciated, treat! While we were there, Turkey got beaked! I volunteered at the LCMS convention, and then took the children back to see it in action. We also finally visited the Gateway Arch (although we didn’t take the ride to the top). We celebrated the birth of Prince George with yet another tea party (I’m getting to be a professional at putting those together!).

In August, we went peach picking at Eckert’s. There’s no end of things to do there! We added Lego Big Ben to our architecture collection. Bunny and I went to Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium, and even got to sit in the Champion’s Club. We took another road trip, this time to see the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, play. Ryan and I repainted and redecorated our den/his office. The whole family (but especially Chickadee!), got hooked on Dinosaur Office. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum. All of the older children went back to school, and I made schultüte for them again…I guess it’s a tradition now! We took a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. Fredbird celebrated his birthday, so we went to Busch Stadium to help him.

September was a big baseball month. I went to Social Media Night, and even won an autographed Jason Motte photo! We also got to see a walk-off victory the night we went to Busch Stadium with Moose’s school. We went downtown to see the fountain at Kiener Plaza dyed red in honor of the Cardinals going to the playoffs. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We took another trip to Eckert’s, this time to pick apples. While Ryan was out of town (again!), the children and I went to the St. Louis Scottish games for the first time. We celebrated Michaelmas with an angelic feast.

Moose brought home a really cool piece of art he made in October. We were back at Eckert’s…this time for pumpkin picking. Even the Lego store caught Redbird Fever. I shared what a day in the life our homeschool looks like. I also rearranged the schoolroomagain…which allowed Chickadee to move in with her big sisters. Red October really started to heat up in St. Louis (before it fell flat in the World Series). I put together one last tea party for the year (number seven!), for Reformation Day.

Things got really busy in November. The children and I (minus Chickadee, again), spent a fun day in Forest Park, looking for leaves and seeds and any other nature items we could find. We even looked at some of it under the microscope! Moose turned eight. Ryan took me to my first-ever hockey game. Chickadee was very excited when we put up the Christmas tree! Ryan and I finally finished the Lego Tower Bridge, complete with mini vehicles assembled by the children. I made my radio debut on KFUO. I also baked a lot of pies for our Thanksgiving dinner. We finished our Thankful Tree for the year. The day after Thanksgiving, we started what I hope will become a new tradition…we spent a few hours as a family, putting together a Lego Christmas Market. I already can’t wait to see what next year’s Christmas set will be! When we finished that, we went down to main street for our town’s tree lighting.

December was, as it is every year, crazy. Due to an illness that we couldn’t shake for several weeks, we had to cross a few things off of my to-do list, and Christmas school fell a bit flat. We did get around to all of the important stuff, though, even if it didn’t all quite happen as planned (our Christmas baking this year, for example, got spread out over several weeks, and was still happening after Christmas was over!). Other than the illness, there was one low point in December…Turkey had to have some baby teeth pulled. He was very brave, though, and it was soon forgotten. We went to Christmas on the Hill…it was very cold! That meant that we didn’t walk around as much as usual, but we still saw La Befana, looked at the nativity scenes, and ate salamites!  For the first time, we got to walk the Anheuser-Busch brewery at nighttime, and see all of their beautiful Christmas lights. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day, with Bunny playing the title role, and handing out Lussekattes for breakfast. Even though we had looked at Belleville’s gingerbread houses at night after the tree lighting, we went back to see them a little better in the daylight. Of course, we made it to our favorite event, St. Charles Christmas Traditions. We all fell in love with this sweet video of Sweden’s adorable Princess Estelle baking cookies, and Ryan even bought Chickadee her own tiny rolling-pin just like the Princess. To kick off his Christmas vacation, Ryan played video games for 25 hours straight (with some help from the children), to raise money for the children’s hospitals in St. Louis. The children worked hard to prepare for their roles in the Sunday School Christmas program. Ladybug lost a tooth right before we left for church on Christmas Eve! We had a very merry Christmas. For the first time ever, each member of our family received a Lego set (well, Chickadee’s was a Duplo set, but it counts!), but mine was the best…the now-retired Lego Winter Village Cottage. Now I don’t have to worry about what we’ll build the day after Thanksgiving next year! We continued our celebration the day after Christmas, when I made a pork crown roast for the first time for our fancy Christmas dinner. Ryan’s mom and I went on the “Beermaster Tour” at Anheuser-Busch…it was both fun and informative!

Writing this up is always a huge undertaking, but I love the chance to look back at all of the fun things we’ve done over the last year, and wonder what the next year has in store for us! It has been a busy, fun, crazy year, and I am so Thankful for all of the moments with which God has blessed us. I pray that He also blesses your days with joyful, noisy moments!

Happy New Year!

2013-14 School Year–Week Fourteen

This was a very light week of school…only about two-and-a-half days. We read a lot of Thanksgiving books and did a few crafts.

We also finished our Thankful Tree…isn’t it beautiful?

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Today we got an early start on Christmas School, and learned about Christmas markets. This included watching a travel DVD about European Christmas markets, and what you can expect to find there, and building the Lego Christmas Market. Such a fun day!

Next week, we’ll be back to a mostly normal schedule, with a little Christmas School thrown in for fun!

2103-14 School Year–Week Thirteen

This week, we took a break from our ancient history lessons and Scotland read-aloud to have Thanksgiving school. I used the same general outline for reading that I came up with last year, but this time, we only did one craft, plus made one special food item. We also watched The Mayflower Voyagers, which is a favorite Peanuts special. It’s surprisingly accurate, given that it’s a Snoopy cartoon! Every year when we watch it, I lament the fact that This is America, Charlie Brown isn’t available on DVD. I can only imagine how loved all of the shows would be, especially NASA episode! We still have a few more books to read and crafts to do next week to finish off Thanksgiving school, plus all of our Thanksgiving preparations!

In addition to our Thanksgiving studies, we kept up with our standard “reading, writing, and arithmetic.” Turkey and Bunny are finally getting more comfortable with long division and division with money. I’m very thankful for that! We also had a new hymn to memorize: “Prepare the Royal Highway.” I needed to get started on Advent now, if we’re going to make it through a few Advent hymns and a Christmas hymn before our vacation! Maybe the next hymn I pick will have an easier tune to sing, because the last few have been a bit challenging for those of us with no musical abilities (OK, me).

We did also take a break from our normal science lessons this week to watch some Magic School Bus episodes. It’s nice to occasionally have a low-key week, especially leading up to a big holiday! It was also helpful to me, because I needed to be out of the house on Wednesday, so this gave them something to do that was at least somewhat educational, without bothering Ryan while he was working!

We also kept adding leaves to our Thankful Tree…I’m very happy with how it looks! And we still have another week to go…we have so much to be thankful for!

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Next week, we’ll just be having two days of school, reading a lot of fun books, and doing my favorite craft of the year…hand and footprint turkeys!

2013-14 School Year–Week Twelve

Finally, a normal-ish week of school! (Well, as normal as we get, anyway.) It’s a good thing this week was pretty routine, because I’m fairly certain that it’s going to be crazy from now until the end of the year. Next week we start Thanksgiving school (although a much scaled back version), and after that, all bets are off!

We finally finished our Martin Luther workbooks. Two weeks later than I had planned, but better late than never, right? We also spent a little extra time this week learning about Martin of Tours and Martin Chemnitz, and why Chemnitz and Luther were given the name Martin. We also finally finished learning our Thanksgiving hymn (next week, we’ll start on Advent!), and continued to work on our Thankful Tree, which is really starting to fill out:

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Turkey and Bunny’s long division is getting more complicated. To say they’re less than thrilled would be a giant understatement. Sometimes, they dawdle at it so long, our math lesson takes well over an hour. I don’t understand why they’d want to make something they don’t enjoy last longer, but they do. They both understand how to do it, too, which makes the whole thing even more puzzling to me. But, if they want to make one of their least-favorite activities take up so much of their school day, I guess that’s their decision! Ladybug has started working on subtraction…fortunately, there have been no complaints from her so far!

Ladybug also finished her first Explode the Code book for the year. This is very exciting to her! She couldn’t wait to take the post-test at the end of the book (she got everything right!). She also recently finished her first reader of the year…I like seeing how much pride she takes in her accomplishments!

We finally finished our unit on the moon in science. (This certainly has been a week of finally!) Ladybug has really been enjoying watching the moon, and figuring out what phase it’s in. We also made a telescope as our project for the moon lesson. It’s of course nowhere near as nice as our actual telescope, but it was fun for the children to see how a telescope works. Plus, this version is a lot more portable!

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We continued to learn about ancient Greece in history, which is going nicely with our Greek myths study (which, sadly, doesn’t have too many lessons left). We learned about the writings of Homer and the ancient Olympic games, among other things. This is one of my favorite periods of ancient history to study, so this was a fun week for me, too!

In Scottish history, we finished the stories of Macbeth, Macduff, Malcolm, and Donald. I love the places in British and Scottish history where myth and fact have met…they make for such rich tales! I think I need to go back and read Macbeth, now…I haven’t read it since high school, and I’d like to experience it now that I’m more familiar with Scotland’s history. I think Bunny would like it if I would get the Shakespeare Can Be Fun! version, too…she really loved A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

For Thanksgiving school next week, we’ll just be replacing our ancient history and Scotland read-aloud with the Mayflower, Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, and American Thanksgiving traditions in general. I think I’m going to save our crafts for Thanksgiving week itself. This is definitely a more low-key unit than in previous years, but I have to save my energy for Christmas and then the Olympics!

2013-14 School Year–Week Eleven

I’m not entirely sure what to say about this week. Due to illness, as well as an impromptu two-day unit study on nature, we certainly didn’t have a normal week of school! But sometimes (illness aside), those are the best kind of weeks!

On Monday, we spent a combined four hours walking around two different parks, including the magnificent Forest Park in St. Louis, gathering items related to nature: leaves, nuts, pinecones, pods, and whatever else we could find. I had planned to do a leaf identification project this year, and then Moose brought home a nature walk assignment, so, since he had the day off on Monday, it was the perfect time to go looking!

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On Wednesday, after a day of illness, we got to work identifying all of our specimens. I had the children look at the edge of each leaf to determine if it was toothed, untoothed, or lobed. We also labeled them as simple or compound (only one compound leaf out of the many we found!). We also tried to identify each leaf by name, using the same field guide I used in fifth grade, although, some of them were a little challenging! After we finished with the leaves, we also identified the three different pinecones we found…they were much easier to name. We laminated everything to make a mini nature book, so we can remember all the different things we learned!

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We also got out the microscope and looked at some of the leaves up close. It was so interesting to see how their colors dispersed, and how much they look like little cities…the network of veins certainly looks like a bunch of roads!

Wednesday was definitely another fun, hands-on day!

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The rest of the week, we just played catch-up with some of other subjects. We definitely didn’t get everything done that we were supposed to, but we still learned a whole lot! We have continued to work on our Thankful Tree, and since Moose was home, he got to add a leaf, too!

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Next week, we’ll continue working on our Thanksgiving memory work (the hymn, “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”), and read more of our Thanksgiving books!