2018-19 School Year–Week Twenty

I know I’m late with last week’s wrap-up, but that’s because I wanted to share the cool learning experiences we had over the weekend, too! Briefly, as far as our regular subjects go, Turkey and Bunny learned about ratios in math (which tied in very nicely with their chemistry lessons), Ladybug read about Marco Polo and the Forbidden City in history, and Chickadee measured in centimeters. Oh, and there was other stuff, too, some of which was mostly the same as the week before.

On to the fun stuff! We were in the Chicago area over the weekend, so I planned some special field trips to places we hadn’t had the chance to visit yet. On Thursday, we went to the Brookfield Zoo, and had what may have been our best zoo experience ever. It was cold and a little bit snowy, but the animals were so active! We really enjoyed the chance to observe them in a way we never really have before!

On Friday, we went to the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, where we learned about rocks and gemstones, and how gemstones are cut. It was unlike anything we’ve ever done before, and we learned a lot!

Yesterday, we stopped at Chicago’s Field Museum on the way home from our trip north. We toured the Hall of Birds and the Hall of Gems. We also took a look at ancient Egypt. The highlight of the trip, though, was walking through the Halls of Evolving Planet and Hall of Dinosaurs on our way to see Chicago’s most famous resident…Sue the T. rex:

We drove through snow for about the last hour of our trip home, but fortunately, the clouds cleared in time for us to see the Super Blood Wolf Moon during the lunar eclipse:

So we had three regular days of school last week, and then a lot of fun field trip days and unique experiences…it was definitely a nice way to spend a school week in January!

2017-18 School Year–Week Eighteen+

I’m wrapping up two-ish weeks of school, and I’m late with it to boot! But when you see how busy we’ve been, I think you’ll see why!

The week of the 15th-19th was just INSANE! Moose had off school that Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we always do some different things on that date, so while we had school, it wasn’t exactly our normal schedule. And then Moose’s school cancelled school Tuesday on account of cold (don’t even get me started…I enjoyed having him home, but I really think the schools in the St. Louis area have a different definition of cold than I do after having grown up in the Chicago suburbs!), so that wasn’t really a full day of school for us, because we wanted to hang out with him at least part of the day. We did have a normal day of school on Wednesday, but on Thursday, we hit the road dark and early to go to Chicago, where we did manage to cram a few educational activities/field trips (visits to the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Legoland Discovery Center, and Wheaton College, to see the Perry Mastodon, which went perfectly with Ladybug’s science lessons from that week) into our weekend:

The last week wasn’t exactly standard, either. We had school on Monday, but we spent the day at the Missouri History Museum, where they were holding a “homeschool day” focusing on immigration to St. Louis. It was really interesting learning about some of the groups that settled in this area (particularly Bosnian and German immigrants), as well as what their journey might have been like, and what kind of cultural arts they brought to the area with them (we loved trying Bosnian “carpet” weaving and Scherenschnitte, which is German paper cutting). We even got to try our hand at a bit of translation!

After that, the week was more or less normal…except for the half-day we had on Friday, because Moose had another day off. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug all finished up chapters in their science texts. We finally got back to our literature studies of Heidi and Beowulf. Ladybug has been doing some simplified versions of the things Turkey and Bunny have been working on in geometry (volume, surface area, and drawing circles with a compass), while they have moved on to working with radicals. I never thought I’d say it, but I am so glad their curriculum for the last few years has been so demanding, because it made everything seem much easier this time through! And we tried to observe National Lutheran School Week as best we could, even though I have never really figured out how to incorporate it into our homeschool!

This week should (hopefully) be completely normal, and I’m hoping we get a lot accomplished to make up for some of the weirdness in our schedule since basically before Christmas!

2017-18 School Year–Week Eleven

We had another very productive week of school…I can’t believe we still haven’t had a fall break!

We put aside our regular religion lessons so we could focus on the Reformation this week. We’ve been learning about not just Martin Luther, but also Katharina von Bora. We’ve also looked at some prolific Lutheran hymn writers, and have been listening to a selection of Reformation music.

Ladybug has been working on averages in math. In addition to finding the average of four or five numbers, she also learned how to express a remainder as both a fraction and decimal, and round up from there where appropriate. Turkey and Bunny have been focusing on triangles, particularly equilateral and isosceles. They had big exam this week, and both did an excellent job! Chickadee has been working on reading the hour on both analog and digital clocks.

After covering the first three kingdoms in science, Turkey and Bunny are studying the chemistry of life. Before we get into the specifics of the cell, we’re first learning about the make-up of atoms. Ladybug has moved on to primates in her study of land animals. She has learned about the two sub-orders of Strepsirrhini and Haplorrhini so far, and will be learning about animals specific to each next.

Chickadee read her first little book this week! It’s the first in the Sonlight “Fun Tales” series: Pam. Yes, there were only four words in the story (and one of those was the plural form of another). But this is a big deal, and she’s so excited!

Ladybug finally made it to King Tut in history. Both she and Chickadee have been looking forward to this chapter, especially after touring the King Tut exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. Before King Tut, we also read about Thutmose I and Hatshepsut. Turkey and Bunny learned about the end of the New Kingdom of Egypt. They also learned about the Rigveda in India.

Yesterday, we finally had our long-awaited P.E. field trip day that I’ve been promising. I found out that a park in Hazelwood, MO, opened a new Ninja Warrior training course last month, and the children have begging to go ever since. We were definitely not disappointed…there were over 10 obstacles, and they were pretty much just like you see on TV! We have a new appreciation for how hard the ninja warriors train, and for what a beating their hands take! While we were there, we also enjoyed the regular playground, the swings (just enough for all four children, and since no one else was at the park, they didn’t even have to take turns!), and a lovely walking path. We had a fantastic day outdoors, even if the children were definitely sore this morning!

I’m not sure how next week is going to look…Moose has a short week, and we have a big Reformation 500 event to attend. We’ll try to get at least a few days of school in, but we’ll see!

The Discovery of King Tut

Way back during the first week of school in August, we went to the St. Louis Science Center to tour a special exhibit currently on display: The Discovery of King Tut. The timing was perfect, as we’ve started back up with the ancients in history this year. Turkey, in particular, is really interested in ancient Egypt, and we were all really excited to go through it.

Even before the main section of the exhibit begins, there is a lot to look at, including a replica of the Rosetta Stone, and a model of Tut’s Tomb.

After that first room, there’s a short and very informational movie (Downton Abbey fans will want to keep an eye out for the appearance of Highclere Castle!), followed by the main bulk of the exhibit. You begin by viewing an accurate replica of the antechamber as it appeared upon its discovery:

The next part of the exhibit focuses on Tut’s burial chamber:

There’s also a look at the riches found in the treasury:

Followed by the many parts of the shrine:

After the individual vignettes, there are replicas of pretty much everything, including Tut’s childhood throne, canopic jars, games, makeup, jewelry…even a chariot! This allows you to really see what things looked like up close:

This exhibit may contain “only” replicas (over 1,000 in all!), but they are extraordinarily detailed, and really make you feel like you are touring Tut’s tomb. It’s a great opportunity to see a bit of history up close, and it’s in town through early January, so you have time left to walk in the footsteps of Howard Carter and see Tut’s tomb as it was when it was first discovered in 1922!

2017-18 School Year–Week One

The first week of the 2017-18 school year is already behind us! This year, I have two ninth graders, a fifth grader, and a Kindergartener!

We started on Tuesday, so it was a short, four-day week. And the first day of school is always mostly fun…finding out what’s in this year’s schultüte, handing out books and organizing desks, taking lots of pictures, and building a Lego set. The latter took several hours, as it is the largest Lego set (the Lego Ideas Saturn V), that we’ve ever built in school. It was a fun project that everyone got to help with (we intentionally started before Moose’s first day of school so he could participate), and was educational, thanks to the fantastic extra details in the instruction book.

On Wednesday, we had a pretty full day of school, beginning most of our subjects for the year, from high school geometry and biology to fifth grade math, spelling, and vocabulary, all the way down to reading Ramona the Pest out loud and Kindergarten handwriting. But then we took a break from our work on Thursday to go on our first field trip of the school year, to see The Discovery of King Tut at the St. Louis Science Center. It was a fantastic exhibit, full of extremely well done replicas from Tut’s tomb, and was also a great way to kick off our history studies for the year, as everyone is going to be studying ancient history in one way or another.

Today we finished off with another regular school day. The only subject we haven’t started yet is our various literature studies (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to start for Turkey and Bunny, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for Ladybug), which we will add to our schedule next week. I’ll close with something new for this year…I chose a Bible verse to be our theme for the year for the first time ever, and I think our chosen verse of Philippians 4:8 is an especially good reminder with all the chaos in the world right now:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

2016-17 School Year–Week Eleven

There is no denying it…this was a weird week of school!

Moose only had two days of school this week, between parent-teacher conferences and Veterans’ Day (plus, he celebrated his birthday this week…on one of the only two days he had to be at school!). I wanted to make the most of his time off, so we did things a little differently this week.

On Monday, I already had plans for a field trip. The Missouri History Museum had a homeschool day focusing on their latest exhibit: “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.” Since Ryan had the day off work, in addition to Moose being home, all seven of us went to the museum, and then had a picnic lunch in Forest Park, followed by our annual fall walk through the park. It was a really fun day!

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I decided that on the two days Moose was in school, we’d focus heavily on a few subjects, instead of doing our normal work across all the subjects. So we still had religion (there were a lot of church-year commemorations this week!), math (we got through six lessons in two days!), current events (there was really no way to avoid that this week!) and our study of the Constitution. In addition, Turkey and Bunny focused on writing, and Ladybug finished her written work for the chapter of science she finished last week. And yesterday, with both Moose and Ryan having the day off again, we spent the morning back in Forest Park, at the St. Louis Zoo.

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This was definitely an unusual week for us, but I think we all needed something a little unusual. Next week, we’ll also be doing things a little differently, but that’s been planned all along…it’s that time of year when we take a break from our regular history studies to focus on the First Thanksgiving, how Thanksgiving became a holiday, and how it changed over the years. Other than that, we’ll be doing our regular school work, though, so it will definitely be a more normal week!

Homeschool Day at the History Museum

Today we went to a “Homeschool Day” at the Missouri History Museum. We’ve been to quite a few of these over the years, but this one was the best by far!

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This month’s event was centered around the Route 66 exhibit currently on display at the museum, which we’ve already visited several times. There were some fun crafts, a dancing workshop where we learned popular dance moves from the 50s and 60s like the jerk, the swim, the twist, the money, and the stroll, a storyteller, a musician, and a guided tour through the exhibit which focused on some of the less-than-pleasant aspects of traveling Route 66.

We also got to go on a scavenger hunt, which took us all over the museum. We had visited all of those exhibits before, too, but this helped us focus on smaller details that we might normally miss.

We may be on our fall break, but we still learned a lot on our field trip today!

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2015-16 School Year–Week Nine

This has been kind of a weird week.

We started out strong on Monday. Turkey and Bunny had their first quarterly exam in math, at which they both excelled. And they (and Ladybug), kept up with the rest of their lessons this week, without too much trouble. There were a few new concepts, but nothing earth-shattering.

And then there was writing. Turkey and Bunny had to write their first big essay this week. They’ve written essays before, but using pre-researched materials. This week, they had to find books, do the research, and then write a 500 (or more) word paper. Turkey chose the Oort Cloud, and Bunny picked the Protestant Reformation. They both did an excellent job…I was quite impressed with their essays, and learned something from each! This was a huge project, though, and we didn’t get very much science done because of it.

We also had a very felicitous moment when our readings in Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation (about Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt), converged with a church commemoration (for those three hymn writers), and our history lessons (the 30 Years’ War). These moments don’t happen often, and you really can’t plan them, but when they do occur, it really drives home the point!

We also learned about Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, and Charles II and the great fire of London in history this week. Talk about an intense period of time! I love teaching British history even more than American history, so this was a very exciting week for me. We had a great discussion about how Charles I and Cromwell were very similar, and we also talked about the sadness of the crown jewels being destroyed.

We also had a field trip day this week. The Gateway Arch, the most recognizable icon in St. Louis, celebrated its 50th birthday on Wednesday. To acknowledge this event, tickets to the Arch were available at throwback pricing of $1 a person. Of course I couldn’t resist, especially when I learned we would also receive pins and certificates commemorating our “Journey to the Top!” There was also an Air Force band, a flag raising, speeches, and free cupcakes as part of the celebration, and adding in our visits to the Old Cathedral and the Old Courthouse (as well as Citygarden and the KSDK building), it was a full day event!

Next week is our fall break. I considered just going through to Thanksgiving week, but I need some time to be just mom, and not teacher, too!

Children’s China

On Friday, we took a field trip to The Magic House to see the special exhibit “Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius” before it closed down. This exhibit was the perfect complement to our study of Asia this school year, and our specialized study of China, which began when we went to the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden in May.

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Our first stop was at the restaurant, where the children could pretend to cook an authentic Chinese meal, set the table, and take part in an ancient tea ceremony.

We also got to visit a Chinese market…the scooter was a big hit!

There was a park, complete with exercise equipment and table tennis. We all had fun trying all of it out (even if some of us can’t play table tennis to save our lives)!

We got to experience home life in China, as well. The shutters in all of these settings opened up, with pictures of what a view from the window might actually be like, which was a nice touch.

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We took a peek at a Longtang (a traditional Chinese neighborhood):

We spent a great deal of time in the Chinese school. There were tangrams, crafts, and a place to practice Chinese character writing. I was amazed at what the school schedule looks like, especially the daily 80 minutes of calisthenics!

The other area we spent a great deal of time in was the panda reserve. We learned all about pandas, and about how they care for baby pandas in China. The children enjoyed having a chance to name a cub with a traditional Chinese two character name, weigh it, and care for it. They also liked the panda playground!

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In addition to those settings, there was also a hands-on area dedicated to crafts (like making paper lanterns) and music.

This was without a doubt the best special exhibit we’ve been to at The Magic House. I loved how hands-on and immersive everything was…I think we all got a very good and realistic glimpse into Chinese life and culture!

A Summer School Field Trip to Cahokia Mounds

Since we’re learning about the history of Illinois in summer school this year, and since we hadn’t visited in longer than I care to admit, we spent yesterday morning at Cahokia Mounds, the place in Illinois with basically the oldest known history.

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It’s an amazing place to visit, because when you see it in person, you really get the magnitude of a 100-foot high, man-made, earthen mound. When you just look a pictures, you don’t really get the scale of it.

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We walked around outside, visiting Monks Mound (the tallest of the over 100 mounds), Woodhenge (a prehistoric solar calendar), a “borrow pit,” and the reproduction stockade:

We also spent time in the interpretive center, where we watched a short movie about the history of the settlement, and then walked around the various exhibits, which are really well done.

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Because we’re not on the East Coast, where all of the colonial and Revolutionary War memorials are, it can be easy to think that there’s nothing really old here. A quick trip to Cahokia Mounds, however, you will remind you that the opposite is true!