Summer School 2022

What can I say about this year’s summer school? One thing is for certain…I know I’ll never top it!

Yes, we had a reading list, and there were some amazing choices on there (Ladybug in particular really enjoyed many of the titles), but this summer was all about travel and experiences, including visits to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was like four days of field trips on steroids, where we went on rides, built things, and even learned things! (And let’s not forgot the three days of field trip equivalents in Washington D.C., where we visited monuments and memorials and museums, toured the US Capitol, and walked the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Plus the day at Kennedy Space Center after our Disney fun concluded!)

Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:

And games:

And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:

Ladybug and Bunny especially enjoyed baking and decorating some Mickey Mouse cookies:

It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!

And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!

We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.

Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Wrap-Up

Beijing 2022 certainly did go by quickly! We can never dedicate as much time to the Winter Olympics as we can to the Summer Games, either in school, or just watching for fun. We did try to fit in as much Olympics as possible though, which always begins with trying new recipes that reflect the cuisine of the host nation, starting with our dinner for the Opening Ceremony and continuing through the events with special meals here and there:

  • Scallion pancakes
  • Sticky ginger shrimp with scallion rice
  • Bok Choy
  • Don tot
  • Mango pudding
  • Congee with mustard greens
  • Chinese crullers
  • Xiao long bao
  • Chinese snowflake cake (raspberry and coconut)
  • Potstickers
  • Chinese noodle soup
  • Nai Wong Bao

We also managed to fit in a few crafts…Chinese plum blossoms, unique medals for the Winter Olympics, and an adorable dragon made out of cupcake liners:

Here’s a look at our completed medal chart…I was really hoping that by some miracle, Jamaica would win one medal, but no such luck! At least every other country we were following made it to the podium.

This was a complicated Olympics, and I’m left with a feeling of ennui about the whole thing, but I think we still managed to enjoy ourselves, and I know we liked trying new foods! I will say that I hope this is the last Olympics I see competed in front of empty arenas…here’s hoping for better from Paris 2024!

2021-22 School Year–Week Twenty

It’s so hard to fit school in when the Olympics are on!

We did still have a busy week of school, though. Ladybug did more work with the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry, this time with 45-45-90 triangles. The first subject of the school year has been finished, as she completed the last lesson in vocabulary. We talked about Darwin and the difference between macroevolution and microevolution in biology. She read about Sargon II in history. We started fit four of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Chickadee learned how to calculate perimeter, area, and volume in math. We read about crustaceans in science. She started her study of US geography…we began close to home, with a few midwestern states. She is almost done with her study of Greek mythology…this week, we read the stories of Theseus and Oedipus.

While we don’t have as much time to dedicate to the Winter Olympics as I would like, we have managed to work a few things into our school days. Taking a cue from the Opening Ceremony, which focused on the coming of spring, we did a fun plum blossom craft. In addition to our Opening Ceremony dinner, today we also tried a recipe for congee, a rice porridge, topped with mustard greens…it was surprisingly popular!

We also took some time to recognize the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II this week. In addition to the tea party we had on Sunday, we started working on a fun yarn craft, which will hopefully turn into a bunting we can hang up in the school room:

I have a few more Olympics-themed activities planned to go with our school days next, too!

2021-22 School Year–Christmas School

This week was a lot of fun, because it was Christmas School! Once Ladybug took her science test, and Chickadee finished up her science assignments as well, all we did was read A Christmas Carol and Letters from Father Christmas and bake cookies, do crafts, and watch The Nutcracker.

On Monday we watched the Dutch National Ballet Nutcracker, made traditional paper snowflakes, and baked Christmas Island coconut macaroons:

On Tuesday we watched the Royal Ballet Nutcracker, made popsicle stick snowflakes, and baked chocolate Madelines:

On Wednesday we watched the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker, made beaded snowflakes, and baked Filipino puto seko:

On Thursday we watched the Vienna Staatsoper Nutcracker, made q-tip snowflakes, and baked Czech poppyseed cookies:

Today we watched the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (my favorite!), made 3-D paper snowflakes, and baked chocolate crinkle cookies:

Several of the snowflake crafts we made could be used as ornaments, but we also had a specific ornament for the year…painted clay ornaments cut out with Christmas cookie cutters I bought just for this project:

In the end, we tried three new cookies recipes (plus a variation on Madelines we had never made before) and two new craft projects. It was fun to have both and old new things to try, and it was nice to have a relaxing week of school!

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!