Summer School 2021

It seemed like the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics would never get here, and now they’ve already come and gone. Here’s a look back at our Japan-themed summer school.

We visited Origami in the Garden at the Missouri Botanical several times over the summer. The large-scale art installation was the perfect field trip to coincide with Tokyo 2020 (and was also postponed from last summer).

We also visited the Olympic Spectacular in St. Louis at Francis Field, home of the 1904 Summer Games:

I made a few fun treats for the Olympics…Olympics torches (white chocolate covered pretzels) and Team USA CHEERios treats.

We did a lot of cooking and tried a lot of Japanese foods. I worked really hard to find things we hadn’t had before, and used a variety of cooking methods and unfamiliar ingredients. We tried:

  • Spicy Ramen/Udon
  • Pork Gyoza
  • Coffee Jelly
  • Okonomiyaki
  • Matcha Mochi Cake
  • Vegetable Tempura
  • Potato Korokke
  • Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake
  • Kani Cream Korokke
  • Chicken Katsu Sandwich
  • Matcha Green Tea Cookies
  • Oyakodon

We were supposed to go out to a Japanese restaurant this summer, but COVID-19, so we got a party platter of sushi instead:

I’ve been holding on to the Lego Architecture Tokyo skyline since last year, and we finally got to build it!

Our American Girl dolls got into the Olympic spirit:

In between watching as much of the Olympics as we could, we also did some more traditional school work. We learned about Japanese history and culture, as well as the history of the Olympics. We read a lot of books…some I read out loud, and some were book basket choices. We also watched a selection of Olympic documentaries:

  • FirstLondon 2012
  • The Everlasting FlameBeijing 2008
  • Atlanta’s Olympic GloryAtlanta 1996
  • 16 Days of GloryLos Angeles 1984
  • Athens 2004: Stories of Olympic Glory
  • Seoul 1988

And we also did several crafts, including origami, paper lanterns, Koinobori (Japanese carp windsocks), pipe cleaner and tissue paper cherry blossom branches, and medals (of course!):

I’ve been holding on to Ticket to Ride: Japan since last year, and we finally had a chance to play! I really enjoyed the new game mechanics introduced in this edition, and it was fun to get to know the geography of the area a little bit better.

We updated our medal chart every evening…here’s a look at the final results…we were very excited that the US won the gold medal race and had the most medals overall!

And, better late than never, our Family Olympics, which was delayed due to heat. We only had four events this year (frisbee throw, broad jump, soccer kicks, and a running race), thanks to time constraints and a lack of basketball hoops on the backboards we normally use. Technically, Turkey came in first, but since we participate as a family, we all won gold!

This summer school was a long time coming. I think we all still have mixed feelings about the fact that the Olympics were held at this time, but we had to just accept that that was out of our control, and embrace the Olympics as we usually do. It’s always hard to say goodbye when they extinguish the flame, but the Winter Olympics are less than six months away, and we only have to wait three more years for Paris 2024!

2020-21 School Year–Christmas School

Hymn of the Week–“Where Shepherds Lately Knelt” (Lutheran Service Book #369)

It’s been a long time since we’ve dedicated a week to “Christmas School,” but if ever a year needed it, it’s 2020. So this week was spent making ornaments, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, and watching different versions of The Nutcracker.

I was especially excited about the ornaments. I had originally planned for the children to make them two years ago, but that was the year I broke my ankle, and I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Last year I found ornament kits that I really wanted to make, so these beautiful sequin ornaments got pushed back one more year. We had lots of options for colors and sizes:

They were definitely worth the wait (and the seed beads that may be rolling around the kitchen forever!), because they are beautiful!

We also decorated gingerbread houses, something we have done in the past, but it’s been a few years, and I’ve never had a house for each child (the mansion was a group project).

Speaking of gingerbread houses, we did get out of the house to see the gingerbread creations in the store windows on Main Street. We might not have been able to do most of the Christmas activities I had planned this year, but it was nice to do one familiar thing!

This was also “Cookie Week.” I decided we should bake a different kind of cookie every day, and they should all be cookies we don’t usually bake. On Monday, we made eggnog blossoms, Tuesday was chocolate crinkles, Wednesday we baked kolacky, Thursday we made both Madelines and palmiers, and today we baked spritz.

We did a lot of reading this week, too. We finished A Christmas Carol, and made it through most of Letters from Father Christmas (I plan on finishing that next week). We also read a bunch of storybooks:

  • Lucia Morning in Sweden
  • Lucia: Saint of Light
  • The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Jackie’s Gift
  • The Carpenter’s Gift
  • Fear Not Joseph
  • Madeline’s Christmas
  • The 12 Days of Christmas
  • The Three Wise Women of Christmas
  • The Nativity

It was also “Nutcracker Week.” This is not totally unheard of for us, although this year we were supposed to see a live production. We watched a different version every day:

  • Monday: Ballet Company of The National Opera of Ukraine
  • Tuesday: Dutch National Ballet
  • Wednesday: Wiener Staatsballett
  • Thursday: The Royal Ballet
  • Friday: The Bolshoi Ballet

We saved our favorite, the San Francisco Ballet production, to watch tomorrow. If we have time next week, we’ll watch the Berlin Nutcracker, too…that’s the only one we have on disc that we didn’t schedule for this week.

This was a really fun week of school, but I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few weeks. Merry Christmas!

2019-20 School Year–Week Twenty-Three

I really think February is my least favorite month of the year for school (really, for anything), but we’re surviving, and it’s already halfway done!

Turkey and Bunny started a chapter on periodic motion in physics, and did some experiments with springs. They also began The Merchant of Venice, which is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s works. In US history, they started what is going to be a long section on the Civil War. In world history, they learned about both the fact and fiction surrounding William Wallace.

Ladybug learned about mass in pre-algebra. In science, she started reading about the five kingdom classification system, beginning with Monera and Protista. She learned about the French Revolution in history. The Door in the Wall is her new literature study, and I don’t believe I’ve ever read that book myself, so I’m looking forward to reading it with her!

Chickadee worked on borrowing from the hundreds’ place in math. She started a chapter on space rocks in science, beginning with comets. We’re almost done reading Winnie-the-Pooh already…I always forget how quickly the chapters in that book go by!

I decided to take the day off of school yesterday, not because it was Valentine’s Day, but because Moose had a half day at his school, and I wanted to share his good fortune with his siblings. We did do a fun Valentine’s Day craft, though. Since the Makit & Bakit ornaments we made at Christmas were so popular, I thought it would be fun to make sun catchers, too…they’re so pretty!

I am almost positive that next week we’re going to finally get around to one of the field trips I’ve been planning…stay tuned!

Pioneer Crafts

There were lots of craft options to go with our pioneer-themed summer school this year. I considered samplers, rag rugs, even a corn cob doll. In the end, though, I decided to go with simple nine patch quilt block pillows. Bunny and Ladybug had a great time sewing these by hand, and they both love having something useful that they can keep!

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!

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away. It’s one of my five favorite holidays, so I try to find lots of fun things to do. Here’s a peek at some of the crafts we’ve done over the years:

If you’re looking for recipes or reading lists, I have that covered, too!

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 Twelve

Better late than never is the best I can say about this wrap-up!

Our twelfth week of school (the “Thanksgiving School” week) was November 17-21. But we also had two more days of school last week, so I decided to add those into this wrap-up. But with Thanksgiving and everything…well, I put it off a lot!

To be honest, a lot of what we did those seven days is a blur, but I’ll see what I remember. Turkey and Bunny continued to work on using scientific notation in math, and revisited measuring angles and other activities in geometry. Ladybug continued to borrow while subtracting, and she’s quite good at it. Next week, she starts multiplication!

In history, we learned more about the Crusades, and about Richard the Lion-Hearted. We also learned about the Jewish Diaspora. Learning about the history of Thanksgiving in America took up the bulk of our time in history, however.

Our science lessons moved from the leaves of the plant to the roots. We read the story of Rip Van Winkle in our poetry and short stories book, and I realized that I had never actually read that story myself. I really enjoyed it, and other than all of the complaining about the writing assignments that accompanied it, I think Turkey and Bunny really enjoyed it, too!

We finished up our thankful tree this week, and did a few Thanksgiving crafts. I’m glad the children still enjoy doing these sorts of activities…I don’t know how much longer we’ll have with stuff like this.

Tomorrow we get back to a more or less regular schedule, with a little Christmas fun thrown in!

The Legend of the First Tinsel

Today in school, we learned about Christmas in Russia (which involved watching the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker), and Ukraine. Part of learning about Christmas in Ukraine including reading the Ukrainian version of the legend of the first Christmas tinsel. To go along with the story, we made these cute ornaments…they were a lot of fun!

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Bookmarks

When we were at the St. Louis Scottish Games, the children received a “ticket” into the play area: a plaid (of course!) ribbon marked with the year and pinned to their shirts–pink for the girls, and green for the boys. They really liked these ribbons, and didn’t want to throw them out when we got home. Like all ribbons, however, they started to run into the problem of unraveling. After thinking about what I could do to preserve them, I got out my laminator, and turned them into bookmarks. They’re the perfect size for it, and now they can see how beautiful the ribbons are without having to worry about them coming apart!

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