2017-18 School Year–Week Two

We made it through our first full week of the school year!

It was almost a completely normal week…but not quite, because on Monday, we were in the path of totality for the Great American Eclipse! We’ve been preparing for it almost since the end of the last school year, by learning about the science behind an eclipse, and even going to a special eclipse show at the St. Louis Science Center. We were very excited when the big day was finally here, and while we did some schoolwork in the morning, most of the day was spent marveling at and celebrating this unique event!

Other than that, the rest of the week was a typical school week. Turkey and Bunny had their first geometry test…Turkey got 100%, and Bunny only missed one. They moved on to the next lesson, which focuses on unions and intersections, and that’s been going really well, too! Ladybug has been reviewing math concepts from last year, and learning the order of operations. Chickadee is still working on left and right and counting.

Language arts has been interesting. Turkey and Bunny have a formal grammar curriculum for the first time in a few years, and Ladybug doesn’t (although I am planning on getting the new Peace Hill Press curriculum when it’s available). We’ve been working on a special creative writing assignment to start the school year, although Ladybug did begin her regular writing curriculum this week. And Chickadee is working on handwriting, letter sounds, and Get Ready for the Code!

In history, Turkey and Bunny have been learning about cuneiform and hieroglyphics, and the importance of written history. Ladybug has been learning about how early nomads settled down and became farmers, and Chickadee has been listening to just about everything, even though she’s probably not understanding too much of it. They’re all also learning early Old Testament stories in religion (from three different CPH series!), which is tying in well with history for the moment.

We also had our first science experiments of the year this week. Ladybug got to see how camouflage and natural selection work using m&ms (with a little help from Chickadee), and Turkey and Bunny classified a whole bunch of living things using a biological key. They’ve already finished up the first chapter of their science text, and will have a test early next week.

We also started our first literature studies of the year. I have never read either of the two books we’re going through right now, and I have to admit, it’s fun to have something previously unknown to me on the schedule! Chickadee is still enjoying our read-through of Ramona the Pest, and I’m enjoying all of the memories that reading it out loud yet again is bringing back.

Next week, I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to see a special exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum.  And we’re looking forward to the first “Homeschool Day” of the year at the Missouri History Museum…it’s only a few weeks away!

The Great American Eclipse

Today was the Great American Eclipse, which we have been planning to observe and celebrate for months! Belleville was just barely in the path of totality…and then only if you live south of Main Street. Fortunately, we do!

We started our day with some Sunny D:

And we had a special lunch…eggs sunny side up on “moon muffins” (the nooks and crannies in the English muffins make perfect moon craters, and I’m pretty proud of what I came up with there!), and Star Crunch as a treat. I really don’t get where the star part comes in, as they were round, but they were yummy. We also enjoyed some grape Sunkist, but since it was so dark, we called it “Moonkist!”

We spent a lot of time outside, observing various stages of the eclipse through the solar filters we got at the St. Louis Science Center (Moose got to do the same at his school, where they provided solar filters for all the students). We also had fun making pinhole images with a colander:

I tried taking a picture with a solar filter over the lens on my phone. It didn’t work out too well, but at least it’s something:

But these pictures, which I took about seven minutes apart, at 1:09 and 1:16 in the afternoon, really showcase the change we experienced. The streetlights came on, and we did indeed hear crickets. We even saw the full horizon 360-degree “sunrise!” It was a very moving experience…I found that I was overwhelmed, and quite emotional about it!

The eclipse was over quickly, but we kept the celebration going through dinner, where we had “werewolves” wrapped in crescent (moon) rolls, Sunchips, and a special black cherry soda created by local bottler Excel called Darkest Hour. And I had to drive all over town to find them, but we did get to have Moon Pies for dessert!

This was a special event, both in the fact that any one area doesn’t usually see total solar eclipses too often (unless you live in Carbondale, apparently), and that it’s also rare for such an event to stretch from shore to shore in America. I worked really hard to make a big deal out of it, and I hope it’s something the children will always remember!

Moonrise and Eclipse

In honor of the “Great American Eclipse” tomorrow, I’m sharing my favorite vintage style sign on the Delmar Loop, belonging to the Moonrise Hotel and Eclipse Restaurant, which is conveniently located by “The Sun” on the Delmar Loop Planet Walk!

Preparing for the Great American Eclipse

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that on Monday, we are going to experience the “Great American Eclipse,” a solar (or lunar, I suppose), event that will literally stretch from sea to shining sea. The continental US hasn’t had such an event since before I was born, and St. Louis hasn’t experienced a total solar eclipse since before Columbus came to the New World! Seriously, it is going to be as DARK AS NIGHT in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY in places experiencing the totality!!! If that doesn’t stir at least a little something in your soul, I’m not sure you’re really alive. Of course, the reactions to the eclipse range from “Who cares?” and “I’m over the hype!” to “Science is cool, and I feel fortunate to get to experience this!” and “This is a religious experience!!!” not to mention everything in between!

As we live in the path of totality (and, let’s face it, are a pretty nerdy family), we fall at the “Science is cool!” end of the scale, and we’ve been preparing for the eclipse for months. Our preparations have focused on three areas:

  • The Science of the Eclipse–This has been a huge area of our focus as a family and as a school. In addition to the approximately one zillion books we have about space in our house, we have also been learning about The Great American Eclipse and eclipses in general at the St. Louis Science Center. They’ve been running a star show for months focused on the event, and not only was it very informative, we also received free solar filters with our admission. Which leads us to…
  • Eclipse Safety–Safe viewing of any eclipse is obviously a top priority. Because this eclipse is covering so much of the country (all 50 states will experience at least part of it!), and probably also thanks to social media, people are extra concerned about this event. It doesn’t help that there have been sales of counterfeit solar filters, so first of all, double-check and make sure yours are safety approved. Once you’re good to go, make sure you use them properly. Look down at the ground, put them on (and, in my opinion, keep holding them in place to prevent slippage), and then look at the eclipse. When you’re done viewing the event, look down at the ground again before removing them. They’re also not recommended for extended use, so keep your viewing times short, and remember, NO PEEKING! Please, enjoy the eclipse (safely), but remember, eye damage is real, and it is permanent…you don’t want to mess around with it! You can also make a good, old-fashioned pinhole viewer if you’d like.
  • The Story–This is the part of the eclipse that most interests me. I love thinking about how ancient civilizations, who didn’t have the scientific knowledge we take for granted today, viewed events such as this. We have read about some ancient myths that attempted to explain eclipses (many involved a story about a small animal such as a rabbit or a frog eating the sun!), and they are fascinating. But apart from the stories different cultures told, we’ve tried to put ourselves into the shoes of the individuals. What did they feel? Confusion? Amazement? Wonder? Certainly fear, and likely some had beliefs that the world was ending. This is a great opportunity to try to see things from a very different point of view!

So we have planned and prepared for the eclipse since before the summer began. In addition to the mandatory (safe) eclipse viewing on Monday, we also have some fun things planned for the day, including special foods (of course), and a reunion of our all-girl band to rock out “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

What are you doing to make this once-in-many-lifetimes event memorable?