Friday, October 31, 2008

November Calendar

Day 43

We woke up to rain. The forest around us looks like it is melting in autumn colors -- cool grey-greens and delicate fiery tones of gold and orange-brown, set off by the grey sky.

It's Halloween, so today has been a bit different than usual. For one thing, Paddy is still in sugar-shock from yesterday's homeschool party. The kids wanted to be in the rain, so they were in and out all day. This, I count as part of the curriculum which really ought to include more out-of-doors time than it actually does.

  • I read 2 chapters of The Blood Red Crescent to Kieron and Paddy.
  • Then I read a bit of Chesterton's poem to Kieron.
  • Then we looked for outdoors jackets -- haven't really needed to use them before this so they were buried deep. And they went outside a few times (Nature)
  • Then I had him do math online -- review on order of operations.
  • Then I assigned him a written exercise in Latin. He is groaning about it since we do most of it verbally under ordinary circumstances.

That's about it. On his own time he read a bio of St John Bosco (religion, reading).

This week I read Paddy a few science books which I forgot to mention before:

  • Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats
  • MSB and the Beehives
  • MSB and Weather
Aidan half-listens to these too.

This week 11 will be review week. My project for this weekend is to figure out what and how to review.

Lepanto Resources

Update: I wrote a study guide for The Blood Red Crescent.

Since I have been reading The Blood Red Crescent to Kieron and Paddy and Aidan, I compiled a few resources on the Battle of Lepanto from online resources.

Here's a Google Doc just listing the links: Lepanto.

Here is a PDF: Lepanto. The packet contains the actual text of the bulk of the resources. Most of them are Baldwin Project tales in public domain. I noticed a couple of typos after the fact, but there it is.

I was going to make an activity sheet or study guide to go along with it, but I didn't have time/couldn't make myself do it since we usually free-wheel for our literature units. Maybe next time, or maybe I will try to reconstruct after the fact --we should finish the book today or Monday, I think. I have some ideas for ways to do this that don't make me feel claustrophobic ;-), but we'll have to see if I can translate the ideas from head to paper.

Here's another neat picture with a Catholic perspective, at Salve Regina. The one above is from the Vatican archives.

Day 42 & Week's Wrap Up

Yesterday we really didn't do much academic stuff at all.

I had Kieron read this story that Liam recommended to me.

I used a new form this week, so here is an incomplete summary of what we actually got done for Year 7:

You notice that record-keeping is a huge challenge for me. I never find something that works perfectly, and I have a tendency to get bored using the same method week after week.

I am going to try this one again next week, though, because I like being able to see at a glance the areas we did OK at and the weak areas as well..

Here is a blank form in doc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November Themes

Picture of the path below our house, by Clare

And the way up is the way down,
the way forward is the
way back."
TS Eliot

So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age.
Lin Yutang

November in the Liturgical Year
November Poems

November Themes from:

AtoZ Teacher's Stuff
Enchanted Learning
MRs. Jackson's Class
Homeschool Learning Network
Simon & Schuster -- Books and Themes


Fall/Autumn Theme
Autumn Themes and Holidays

Day 41

Another review day for Kieron, pretty much exactly like yesterday. Notes:

  • We finished The Shakespeare Stealer. .. the last 5 chapters.
  • In Latin, we've started Unit III (looking at the vocabulary). I'm having him review the grammar we've learned so far by declining a couple of nouns from the vocabulary list every day.
  • He seems to rather enjoy the review readings and worksheets we are doing for Renaissance/Reformation and Chemistry. Doing these, though, I'm seeing why it wouldn't be a complete education to rely on them. That kind of information does not stick in the brain in the same way as the material from a "real" book. I think some summaries are useful for a framework at his age, though.
  • We did part of this Peter Rabbit cloze for grammar. It actually is a quite valuable pre-composition/literary discernment activity as well as a verb sensitivity exercise, and he enjoyed it. It made him want to do mad-libs though, so I am going to look for some of those for next week.

  • Read the subtitles in a cartoon. Wow! He can really read.
  • Read part of a story in an Aesop's Fable reader.
  • Did simple addition, subtraction and multiplication mentally.
  • Wrote a "P" and an "A".

Aidan (who is a bit sick today and last night).

  • matching numbers.
  • tried to read a bit of Go Dogs Go.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More History Pages

Civilization Page (doc)
Meso-American Page (doc)

I made these to use as outlines when we get to pre-explorer America, probably next term.

The docs include maps and some links to further sources.

They are roughly middle-school level -- I based the questions on California standards for 5th and 7th grade.

Day 40

A Time to Review

I have started reviewing with Kieron. It was one of those decisions I started to implement before I even knew I had decided. I had been gathering review-type materials and so I just started handing them to him. I will try to pull together a sheet later on.

Anyway, he did:

  • Latin -- finished Unit II
  • Math -- chapter 7.3 of MEP Year 7.
  • History -- review of the Renaissance
  • Science -- review of Matter.
  • English (grammar) -- started volume 1 of the KISS workbooks.
  • Literature -- Shakespeare Stealer study guide -- used it as a kind of review/narration starter.

and we read five chapters of Shakespeare Stealer (got to an exciting part and couldn't stop).

He really seemed to enjoy the day, even though it was sort of "schooly". I have some thoughts about that but am still trying to decide on what the thoughts are ;-).

He has been doing a lot of writing recently and has been playing several RPG type games.


  • Paddy and Aidan listened to Shakespeare Stealer, too. I realized that Aidan has basically vaulted from toddler board books to chapter books. Not that he drinks in every syllable of the chapter books, but he does listen, and the funny thing is that he laughs with delight when he hears a familiar word or a cool new one. I don't know if he'll ever hit the intermediate picture book stage, but I'm feeling better about his literary progress now because I realize he doesn't have to comprehend in detail in order to get delight from books. Paddy really does follow the story line and even posed a discussion question -- what does Julian want? What does Nick want? What about Widge? Maybe I'm training a future literature professor ;-).
  • I'm going to start saving the little ones' learning notes for the next day. My best logging time is at lunch time and I usually am more likely to work with the littlies in the afternoon. Plus, they often do informal things in the afternoon and evening that I "count" for their homeschool. Just writing this down to remind me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 39


Paddy and Aidan

  • Starfall -- long "a's"
  • Occupational Therapy
  • picked up toys upstairs

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More About Exams

We're heading up towards the end of the first trimester, so I've started thinking about exams. Last year we did a bit of Charlotte Mason type exams, at least in the first term.

I went searching online back then for resources and examples, but a few new ones have shown up online since then:

The Tyranny of Exams -- not against CM, but against the "competitive exams" so prevalent nowadays. According to this very interesting blog post, CM wrote:

We absolutely must get rid of the competitive examination system if we would not be reduced to the appalling mediocrity which we see, in China, for example, to have befallen an examination-ridden empire.
CM believed that exams were supposed to be an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they knew, not be caught out in what they didn't.

Ambleside Online has updated their site quite extensively during this summer and has a Exam Project site with examples of CM exams for different age levels. It also has a list of Big Questions that CM tended to emphasize in her exams.

Simply Charlotte Mason has a blog on exams, too.

From the sample PNEU Exams for middle schoolers you find a lot of examples of quotes given and explanations asked for, such as this:

"The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men." Where and by whom was this said? What ancient story is referred to?
You also get lots of:

Give an account of....
What do you know of....?
Tell the story of...
and in language

Take from unstudied dictation...
In some ways, not unlike narration itself, except looking at a bigger picture.

Oddly enough, the verbs in the exams are quite similar to those in the public-school standards such as California's. Where I think they differ is that the CM exams referred to particulars and to specific books of literary quality, whereas the CA standards, for example, refer to general knowledge and often to abstract ideas. I think that CM expected students to read excellent works and dig out the meat for themselves, so to speak. Whereas many of the standard-based lesson plans I find online, at least, are like this, or this. There is a well-meant attempt to pull students in with references to their own experience and conventions, but I think CM would have thought this missed the point of a liberal education, designed to foster the ability to look past one's own time and frame of experience. And the modern standards seem to be designed towards teaching the child what to think about the events he reads about.

It SOUNDS nobler in a sense to say "Study the early strengths and lasting contributions of Rome" than to say "Give an account of Horatius at the bridge". But I fear that the student in the first mode will basically be taught to say what the teacher or the textbook says about "strengths" while the student who has read about Horatius and perhaps then read Macaulay's poem will understand the strengths in a much more lasting way.

I had planned to write down study questions for my Year 7 student as we went through the coursework this term, but it did not happen. Sigh.... anyway, I'll probably work on that in the next couple of weeks. Those verbs I isolated are helpful -- now I just have to relate them to objects. I have to admit I am finding the Standards useful in looking at the big picture in what we're doing. I'll try to write more about that some other time.

Exams are kind of humbling for me because they make me realize how much we haven't gotten to that I meant to. For example, Music and Art, and handwork. Nature Study has taken a back seat too. And by no means the amount of writing I had hoped to do, though I think he's gained some ground in mental idea formation by the discussions we've had.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Week 9 in Review

Summary of what Kieron did this week (gifs on left).

We did pretty well on History and on Shakespeare.

Didn't get to Latin or Greek very seriously.

Next week I'd like to spend a bit more time on Art and Music.

Day 38

This brings us to the end of Week 9--- we seem to maintaining the 4 days per week plus a couple type schedule.

Morning Time

  • -- 3 chapters of Shakespeare Stealer
  • a bit of Christ the King


  • Math -- patterns (multiples) -- chapter 7.1-7.3, including making formulas for patterns
  • Studied the guide to the Shakespeare Stealer


  • Photography (Clare)
  • Made Toll House Cookies
  • Sand Art project


  • Matched numbers


  • Magic Schoolbus and Weather
  • Went outside

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Setting Sail

I was researching the pros and cons of block scheduling, and liked this Setting Sail in a Waldorf 7th Grade. I realized while looking it over that we don't really do "Main Lessons", but we do something more like "strands" that go through different permutations and link with each other. Does that make any sense?

So here is my tentative list of Strands for my 7th grader -- sorry, the descriptions are sort of vague in places, since this is just a starting point:

The Creed

Thorough study of the Apostles Creed through reading and discussion, with reference to the Catechism and to apologetic source books, and increasing understanding of different religions and their histories and beliefs. Understanding of the compatibility of faith and reason, and how this plays out in what we believe.

The Pauline Year

Read about St Paul, his life and work and thought. .... trace up to Benedict and his declaration of the Pauline Year.

Research Skills

Reading a range of different sources; summarizing; starting to compose simple reports


Understanding, discussing, retelling a literary tale. ... beginning literary analysis; applied grammar.


Covering the achievements in art, literature, science, architecture, music etc during the period of the Renaissance in Europe. How discoveries led to new discoveries. Side Topics -- history of science, developmental of new artistic and architectural techniques, printing press.


Luther, Calvin and others -- the origins of Protestantism, its spread, its effects, the Counter-Reformation. Ignatius, Edmund Campion, Southwell.


His life and literature, what stories he used (Plutarch, etc) and who he influenced. Some of the history of drama and the theatre.


The battle, its significance, Church history related to the time period, literature. Cervantes, GKC.

Age of Discovery

Mapping, exploration, discovery of the New World. Geographical review and consolidation; mapping skills; some exposure to different cultures in different parts of the world, mostly through a variety of reading.

New World

What the original meso-American civilization and Native American peoples lived like; their first encounters with Europeans. The physical terrain and how it affected the civilizations.
The first explorers, discoverers, pioneers and colonists; their history and their encounters with the indigenous peoples.


Inductive introduction to algebra and geometry, problem-solving creatively, consolidation of skills in basic arithmetic -- particularly fractions and decimal fractions.

Mechanics and Astronomy

Science through biographies of Renaissance and early modern scientists and discoverers, and descriptions of what they discovered. Origins of modern science and its interaction with Faith.

Chemistry and Physics

Basic introduction to Matter, Light, Sound, Motion. Development of a science vocabulary; understanding of physical and chemical processes.

Local Landscape

Local investigation and identification of things peculiar to our environment, plus some of the history of the area -- geographical and social. Seasonal journaling.

Classic Languages

Latin and Greek with some analytical English grammar and vocabulary.


First elements of logical thinking through formal logic, Venn diagrams, and discussion. Application through composition.


Introduction to piano; exposure to variety of different types of music, particularly Renaissance music.

Art & Architecture

Drawing techniques including perspective, shading. Beginning drafting and design; history of architecture. Work with different media.

Health and the Human Body

The history of anatomy; the structure of the human body; how to draw human forms, sculpture and forms. Respect for life, knowledge and care of person.

Founding of our Nation

Early history of the United States. Focus on biography.


Exploration of different skills related to the child's talents, temperament and interests. Examples: Cooking, Cartooning, Woodworking, Science Investigations, Weightlifting, Running, Football, Computer Programming, Story-making, Photography, social interactions, paid jobs around the house, managing money.

Where we seem to differ from standard units or main lesson blocks is that we weave these in and out in different ways on different days. I've always found it very difficult to categorize learning into subjects, yet I do tend to plan in subject boxes. But I see that I am really planning more in terms of "topics" that are connected to each other across the subject compartments.

Since my other kids are so young, it's very easy to just let them come along for the ride and do what Kieron is doing, except on an extremely simple level.

On a given day, I am realizing, we don't do "History, Math, Latin, Logic" , Instead, we tend to turn from a read aloud on Shakespeare to a retelling of Hamlet to a reading on European history in the 16th century, to some mapping, etc.

I think I have been influenced by Charlotte Mason who did a combination of "integration" with a bunch of short lessons. She didn't really go for unit studies or "concentration schemes" as they were known back then, but she did believe that knowledge interlinked and that a sequential, connected curriculum was important.

Anyway, just a few half-thoughts. Maybe now that I see this pattern I will have an easier time keeping records. Looking back at this week I can see that we were heavier on Shakespeare, studied European history and early science just a bit, and skimped on religion .... etc.

I have a Google Doc where I'm revising the basic list as we move through the year: Main Lessons for Year Seven.

Also, here is the link list for block scheduling. It's mostly of interest to public schools who have challenges changing their time format. In a homeschool you can do whatever seems to work. Personally, we like to vary, but we tend to operate in short lessons (15-20 minutes) for most assignments. If the child is still interested we can always extend the time and of course crafts and projects and read-alouds need longer periods, but 15+ minutes usually seems like enough to do a complete lesson in math or Latin or catechesis, with a few minutes of independent work afterwards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 37

Morning Time:

  • 2 chapters of The Blood Red Gauntlet
  • a bit of Christ the King, plus discussion

Time for the Bairns(I'm going to try to start having a preschool-type time for the younger ones -- a book and a simple lesson besides the 3Rs):

  • Blueberries for Sal
  • Sand painting (Paddy)


  • Math -- chapter 6.3
  • Latin -- conversatio, filling in the blanks
  • Logic -- the relationship of contradiction


  • The first part of Lesson V from Maps, Charts and Graphs
  • A reading on the periodic table
  • The first couple of scenes of Hamlet from Shakespeare for the Middle School by A Cullum.


  • Did a bit of math on the computer
  • Starfall
  • Wrote a couple more words.


  • Base Ten and a couple more games on the computer.
  • Worked on Handwriting without Tears book -- C's.
  • Read a bit from Word Mastery word charts
  • Lesson VI (review) from Catholic National Primer


  • Let Kieron read the Shakespeare Stealer study guide.
  • Look for an article about the Battle of Lepanto.
  • Review/Quiz on Latin grammar.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 36

Morning Time:

  • The Shakespeare Stealer -- almost 4 chapters today.
  • Christ the King -- finished the chapter on Renaissance and Reformation.


  • Math -- MEP chapter 6.1, and most of 6.2. About different ways to multiply, which Kieron seemed to think was quite interesting.
  • Latin -- a Conversatio (Kieron said the substance of it was boring -- just "how's it going" type stuff) and a grammar review.
  • A skimming/fact-finding exercise where I took the first assignment from Redwood Game's Core Knowledge geography worksheets, and read them to Kieron, and he looked up the answers in the book, and told them to me, and I wrote them down. This is sort of a distant cousin to narration and composition, or that's how it works here.
  • Review questions on the science chapter on matter.

On his Own:


While I was trolling for study guides, I found this blog post. It is about schoolkids googling for helps -- cliff notes and summaries -- for elementary-level books. Not really related to Shakespeare Stealer, except for the question of trying to slide by on someone else's work, but quite interesting in respect to the modern approach to literature study. You might like the blog, Jo, if you're reading here. The blogger writes about children's literature from a feminist perspective.

Here's the post referring to The Shakespeare Stealer that brought me there on Google, I suppose -- Smug presentist science and historical fiction. Actually, that post also relates to one of the themes I'm trying to address with Kieron during this Renaissance study:

Science is perceived as the marker of modernity as well as the thing that makes modernity superior to whatever came before it.
and this:

Why is it that in historical novels for children, the main characters always magically transcend the scientific paradigms of their times and intuit the tenets of today's science?
It always goes something like this: everybody says disease is caused by foul air, but Spunky Protagonist feels, just feels in her or his heart, that it is transmitted by "tiny seeds" that get passed along by rats and insects. It's just a feeling!

Monday, October 20, 2008

History Pages

I made some"pages" for use in review, notebooking, etc.

Explorer Page (pdf)
Event Page (pdf)
Famous Person Page (pdf)

They are much the same except for the questions, so I only put the event page up as a gif.

On the gif, the timeline is fixed at 1500-1700 since that's the period we are studying, but the pdfs have blank timelines.

Sean did something a bit like this when I was starting him off writing short research papers. He would use the worksheet for a starter and then pull out the information to write a simple 1-2 paragraph paper. So I thought I would try something that like with Kieron occasionally.

Day 35

Morning Time

  • 1 chapter of The Bloody Gauntlet
  • a section of Christ the King -- continuing about Charles V and the Turkish threat, and Suleiman
  • some poems from Harp and Laurel Wreath -- a passage by Prospero from The Tempest, The Vulture by Hilaire Belloc, and Captain Kidd by SV Benet.
  • Creed in Slow Motion -- started chapter V, discussed a bit.


  • Another reading from the Living My Religion primer.
  • Lesson V in the Cardinal National Primer.
  • 2 pages of adding numbers to make 8 and 9.
  • some work from Handwriting without Tears -- drawing exercises (filling in a circle with circular motions/putting spokes on a wheel; putting legs on a caterpillar body)


  • Counting, lots of it. He is counting up past 40 with guidance. He has trouble keeping track of where he is.
  • Recognizing number names (like 38, 24, etc). He can easily pick one out of three possibilities but I don't know if he could name the numbers spontaneously.

Week 9 Checklist for Year 1

I made a similar checklist for the younger two, but left it mostly blank because we don't really do many things in order, and I use lots of different books. Here is a doc form in greyscale.

Week 9 Plans for Year 7

I wanted to see how things go in this form. I have been winging it the last couple of weeks, and so I thought this might help me see at a glance where we are going.

The first page is for the things we do similarly every day. I don't intend to check everything off every day, because it would be too much, but that gives me a reference.

The second page isn't really Monday through Friday. I just listed all the different things we are doing or trying to do, with spaces for writing in exactly WHAT we are doing.

I put a blank version in doc up. It's just sort of a basic calendar form, really. ... a version of a form a friend showed me that she uses to help her kids get through their daily work.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Planning Thoughts

I love the idea of Collaborative Units at Monkey Manor. She also calls it the IMIUAWGA (”I Make it Up as We Go Along”) Method.

I guess this is what we do too. I made this form to help me with retrieval. Also, Maureen Wittman offers this Unit Checklist (pdf) (HT: Mary M.) and there is also this KONOS unit planner at Sprittibee's.

I am trying something new -- jotting down notes and links on a google documents page that automatically updates (hopefully). Here are Notes for Year 1. Right now it is a bunch of Waldorf-related links. It somehow occurred to me that some of the Waldorf ideas for bilaterality, like finger-knitting and form drawing would tie into Aidan's occupational therapy goals. And Paddy could probably use the help, too.

And one more thought -- all the Waldorf reading reminded me of how much I like beautiful things. If I had my dream homeschool, it would combine simplicity and order with beauty -- small order, right? Anyway, I want to ponder the thought that teaching is first of all an art, and the days when things go best are the days I try to "encounter" my kids (to use an embarrasingly over-employed quasi-religious term) rather than either back off totally or jump in totally. I think that is what I get from that "collaborative" term, which I've also seen compared in attachment parenting literature to a kind of "dance". With dancing, even missteps can be OK and relationship-building.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 34

Morning Time

  • 3 chapters of The Blood Red Gauntlet (which is a book about Lepanto)
  • Charles V -- from Christ the King


  • Math -- worked for a long time on Angles and have basically finished Unit V from MEP. Lots of progress on this! he has learned a lot of the things that Sean only learned this year.
  • Latin -- 2 exercises -- 1 translation and one changing singular to plural in the 3rd declension.
  • Greek -- just a couple of Scripture clozes.
  • Religion -- more of Chapter 4 in Creed in Slow Motion.
  • Science Q&A on matter, atoms, etc. He did well.

On His Own:

  • Fra Fillipo Lippi from Knights of Art
  • I have given him The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Summary for Week

I'm reconstructing since I missed logging Thursday for some reason. Wednesday was a Not-Day because we had to go into town for Aidan's regular labs, and then run errands and shop while we were there.

Anyway, the details of yesterday seem to be lost in the mists of time already, so I will just have to say that we did do some studying.... though I don't remember precisely what. But that was Day 33.

In general, this academic week was quite spotty and minimal. We haven't really gotten back our momentum since coming back from our travels around the turn of the month. After doing this logging thing for several years I am aware that we always have a slump in October. Reassuring -- I guess! Basically, my attention span lasts for just about six weeks and then I'm thoroughly bored with the whole thing and ready to throw it all in and change to a new method. If I just live with that and put in a bit of variety I can usually get back on track before too long. That is why I like an Ambleside-type focus with a LOT of subjects and books, so I can pull in some of the neglected ones to help with my boredom problem.

So that wraps up Week 8. I'm still averaging BARELY more than 4 days a week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 32

Morning Time:

2 chapters of The Blood Red Gauntlet
a couple more sections on John Calvin and the effects of the Reformation, from Christ the King


Math -- on angles and geography
Greek -- a bit of vocabulary -- he did great.
Latin -- an exercise on Verum aut Falsum
Logic -- Square of Opposition

Kieron's Independent:

Math -- measuring angles with protractor
The Boy Scientist -- start chapter 2 on Galileo
Book of Discovery -- Science in Ancient Greece


Math -- counting by tens, some adding -- about 4 pages of his book
Reading -- another section of the LMR Primer
Catholic National Reader -- Primer -- lesson IV


Matching numbers to squares
Finding numbers in a hundreds' square
counting objects (up to 41, with a little help!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 31

A quick update -- today I was quite sick but luckily it was our minimal day. I had to cancel Aidan's OT, though.

Morning Time

I finished reading the tale of The Tempest --- Kieron was disappointed that Caliban didn't really come into it after the beginning ;-). We read 2 more chapters of The Shakespeare Stealer.

Then we looked at and discussed a map of the division of Europe after the Reformation. (from Historical Atlas of the World)

Other bits and pieces

Kieron did Math on Thatquiz. -- finding perimeter and area.

He read more of The Jungle Book. That wrapped up the academic day.

Not much done with the little ones. Aidan has been into spelling words with his magnets on the refrigerator. He has quite a collection on the fridge door. .... van, bus, cat, dog, etc. He also surprised me by picking out the word "book" from a page the other day.

I read to Paddy a bit and asked him a few math problems from Ray's Primary Arithmetic, but mostly I just slept.

BBQ'd ham sandwiches on toasted hoagies for dinner, grated cheese and pickles and onions on the side, along with fries, and sliced apples. And storebought cinnamon rolls for dessert -- courtesy of Grandma who brought them by last week. So a sort of processed, diner type meal but our freezer is a bit bare and I didn't feel up to anything "real".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Domestic Culture

Remember my category called "Localitas"? I thought I needed a category to put all the mundane, local, community, and well, DOMESTIC little goals, habits, or ideas that fly into my mind occasionally but fly back out without a net to put them in. Another name above: Domestic Culture. It might sound a little less pretentious and abstruse than Localitas.

(The picture is of the shells Kieron got to collect on the beach when we were up in Oregon last week)

I lost the document where I was writing these categories so I think there are some missing, but here are the ones I can remember. There is plenty of overlap among these but this is to help me remember and brainstorm:

  • Liturgical Year/Church Activities -- activities related to the liturgical season, things going on in our church, family and family devotions and sacraments.
  • Calendar -- following the secular seasonal cycle -- a place for things like that "Fire Awareness Week", "Novel in a Month", and that type of thing.
  • Field Trips/Local Events -- the type of thing that's announced in our local newspaper.
  • Personal Knowledge -- things like address, tying shoes, mundane things.
  • Habits -- Character as expressed through action.
  • Life Skills -- knowing how to do various things.
  • Nature Study -- pretty obvious -- our ventures into our local area.
  • Local Geography -- same as above, with hands-on geography component.
  • Community Opportunities & History -- sort of like "community events" but less temporal -- more about the long-standing unique fixtures in our local area, and the lore and culture.
  • Family and Friends -- pretty obvious -- letters to grandma, playdates, etc.
  • Family Heritage -- our history, our "lore", all the family tales that come up in conversation.
  • Household Chores & Doings -- our regular jobs around the house, and seasonal work as well.
  • Physical Therapy -- this counts physical exercise for the healthy ones in the house.
  • Handicrafts -- obvious -- teaching things like knitting, sewing, woodworking etc.
  • Vocational Abilities -- about the transition process -- never too early to start thinking about that.
I am going to develop a list of books and websites to help me decide on what's important. For example, I found a very inexpensive book on Do It Yourself that is a book form of "E-How" (which is also often very useful for me). This may seem unnecessarily complicated, but this mom didn't teach her first three children to tie their shoes. They picked it up on their own and then taught their little siblings. Of course, this is OK some of the time, but I'd still like to be a little more... .intentional.

A lot of this type of thing can be incorporated into Morning Time (an idea which I find SO useful) and carried out informally during the day.

How to Plan for Domestic Culture:

Right now I'm simply keeping a running list, which goes somewhat like this-- I can add things as I see the need:

  • Put shoes away in consistent place
  • Bathroom hygiene
  • Appointments for dentist
  • Write to grandma and grandpa
  • Stack firewood
  • Make map of neighborhood -- put natural features in it with key.
  • Fire awareness.... find out what they already know.
  • Read about bats.
  • Start thinking about costumes for Halloween.
  • Apple Orchard -- visit?
  • Visit Pumpkin Patch -- with homeschool group.
  • Pray for our priest.
  • Make a seasonal display for our table -- get the kids to help.
  • and so on -- you see how it goes.
  • Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Plans for Week 8 -- Year 7

    This week I'm going to try something different.... putting my plans on here so that at the end of the week I can just sum up what we did and what we didn't do, and what my plan adjustments are.


    We are up to Unit 5 at MEP Year 7. It is about Angles (pdf). The pdf link takes you to the Teaching Notes on the unit, which I have been liking. They give some background history on the topic in question, which makes it at least theoretically possible for me to hook it into our history.

    So far, this seems so easy for Kieron that I have been wondering if Year 7 in the UK is comparable to Grade 6 in the US. Does Year 1 begin in Kindergarten? If you know, please comment; I won't be too tragic, because I did feel that Kieron needed some solid review this year and also a more "humane" math that was more exploratory and less "complete these 25 problems".

    Preparation: Print out the workbook pages, look over them. Look over the teacher's note.
    Extensions, Supplements:
    Drills at (review of decimals, graphs, algebraic equations -- practice on angles)


    We are progressing through the second unit in Latin is Fun. There is some more on third-declension grammar, and then a series of exercises. At the rate we are going it looks like we shall be at the end of Unit II in 2 more weeks. At the end is a sort of cartoon dialogue, which looks like it will be fun for Kieron.

    Preparation: Write out a chart for nominative and accusative singular and plural, for the first, second and third declensions. (or have Kieron do it).


    (Introductory Logic) Lesson Eight -Nine -- square of opposition.
    So far Kieron hasn't had any trouble grasping any of these lessons. We only do it once or twice a week, which makes it easy, and start every lesson (well, almost every) by reviewing the last lesson. I shall have to think of ways to apply it sometime. composition, perhaps??

    Possible Extension:
    He has expressed interest in those verbal logic puzzles you can find from different sources, where you have to put possibilities into a chart to exclude them, etc. So if I can find some of those, it would be a nice change of pace. Note to self: Look in closet, and online. Also look at Building Thinking SKills for figural puzzles.


    Copywork -- choose from things that come up -- poetry, perhaps.
    Try the short-answer narration intensive I did with Sean... type out some questions for Book of Discovery, OR use the Chemistry book or Core Knowledge 5.
    OR do review from last week.

    Here are the plans for Week 8 (pdf) of history integrated with science, literature etc (see the gifs on the left)

    Pantry Checklist

    After this, I will have only one inside section left to write out -- the entrance area. Then the other jobs in the rotation are outside jobs, which change a bit seasonally -- for example, right now we'll be winterizing everything. I might have to figure out a different way to list those.

    Kitchen Checklist #2

    This is the second part of the kitchen jobs. I thought that by dividing them up into sections I would find it easier to focus on an area per day.

    Kitchen Checklist #1

    Our kitchen is big, so I divided it up into two parts. My plan is to attack it daily -- rather than just do it as part of my rotation as I originally planned. I have some extra time in the morning when I'm seeing Sean off.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Day 30

    Morning Time

    • Chapter of The Blood Red Gauntlet
    • Another section of The Tempest

    (littlies were restless)

    Year 7 (Kieron)

    • Latin, page 30-31 -- grammar (third declension accusative) and more vocabulary matches.
    • Greek -- review of vocabulary
    • Math -- lesson 4.2 -- dealing with money -- we did this as mental math.
    • Oral quiz on science concepts and vocabulary --- matter, elements, atoms, etc.
    • Free Reading: Starting The Jungle Book.

    Year 1a (Paddy)

    • reading/religion: (we are working slowly through the Living My Religion primer) -- pages 16-17
    • Word Mastery -- "silent E", and some review drill on phonics.
    • Math -- plus-2s. He knows them pretty well and can do them in his head.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Day 30 -- Conference

    The problem for me with lesson plans and resource lists is that they shut me down. Just looking through a booklist or list of activities or even a narrative-type plan is overwhelming. The best tip I ever got about coping with this was by Wendi Capehart somewhere on the Ambleside Online site. She said that she ALWAYS writes her own lesson plans and page breakdowns, even if she is basically just rewriting what she got somewhere else. When I read that, I realized that there is something about the kinesthetic element in writing things out that helped me during college days with studying, and helps me now in sorting through what I really think is doable, vs what is just discouraging or what I can't get into.

    Anyway, that's off the point, except that I am calling this the second "Conference" day. I will have Kieron do math and maybe Latin, but right now here is where it stands:

    Morning Time:

    • Several more chapters of Despereaux.
    • Several chapters of the Shakespeare Stealer
    • Another section of Lamb's Tempest.
    • Another section of Christ the King, Lord of History (about Martin Luther) -- read and discussed.


    • Invented a study method for himself. His V Tech phonics board has a "word-making" game. You can put in any three letters. I was trying to get him to do his Handwriting without Tears book and then he started typing the words from the HWT page into the phonics board. He did this for quite a while.
    • Some oral math. I tried to get across the concept of "adding zero". Limited success.
    • Now he's asleep. He has that cold.
    Paddy and Kieron

    • Playing with Bionicles right now, so I'm not interrupting them.
    • Kieron made cookies


    • ...gets to come home at four again.
    Off now to write a weekly report. It will look thin this week except for reading, but hopefully back up to speed next week.

    Jacob's Algebra Lesson Plans

    While I was looking for something else, I found these lesson plans for Jacob's Algebra integrated with history, at Living Math. Nice!

    While I'm thinking about it, I had this basic page breakdown of Jacob's Algebra from last year when Sean used it.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Day 29 -- Conference Day

    Inservice Day

    I am "counting" this day, but it will be an unschooly day for sure. For evidence, I will cite the fact that my 9 year old is asleep (we all have colds) and my 12 year old and 5 year old are making a huge tent -- the kind that looks like the cobwebs on our ceiling rafters, only traversing half our loft. Oops, the 9 year old woke up!

    I read several chapters of The Tale of Despereaux to Paddy this morning, at his request. His aunt was reading it to him when we were at Oregon. Since I am starting in the middle, I asked him about the story a little, and it appears he can comprehend enough of the nice, old-fashioned language to grasp the plot line, at least.

    He also read me the bookmark : ). Gee, he can really read. Also, I forgot to mention that a few days ago while I was napping he was reading to me from Tintin. When he got to the long parts he would say "blah -blah-blah" : D.

    Then he did about ten pages of his first grade math workbook, and about 4 pages of his MCP PHonics B. Orally, not in writing. I didn't tell him to do all that. I usually ask him to do one or two, but once he's on a roll.....

    And now Kieron is making him do little odd jobs for "fake money" to get into the tent. Though this type of situation is potentially volatile, they seem to be enjoying it so far. It's just that I have to think of the jobs, which makes it difficult to focus on writing ;-). Could be worse, I suppose.

    So in general, Paddy had a pretty full first grade day.

    Kieron finished reading The Gauntlet which I gave him yesterday.

    General Life Log:

    • We were busy yesterday, since Clare had an orthodontist appointment in town 60 miles away. While we were in town we did some shopping, and then Sean had a doctor's appointment after his football practice. We stopped by his school and hung around until practice was over. The doctor looked at his knee and thought it was all right. I let Sean do most of the talking.
    • At night Sean got bogged down with his geometry homework. He was tired and so was I. I could NOT figure out how you were supposed to calculate parallel and perpendicular lines from an equation. Finally I got it, and explained it to him so that he semi-got it. Then I dreamed about them all night. I doubt if Sean did, though.
    Sean's high school is having short days for the next couple of days, for parent/teacher conferences. I may just call today something similar (a conference for me and myself, LOL) and
    devote some focused time for restart. Since we got back I've been having trouble refocusing, so some planning and brainstorming time might help. It's nice outside, so maybe we will do some nature type things.

    The Bookworm linked in Outdoor Hour to this Handbook of Nature Study blog by Harmony Art Mom. Also, while I'm talking about "subject blogs" or "teaching blogs", I put some on my sidebar this weekend. And my friend at Our Hearts Haven told me about this Homeschooling Thespian blog which doesn't seem very active right now, but looks like a good resource. There are some links on the sidebar which would be fun to explore.

    The kids have added a flashlight to the tent-world experience.

    I am going to try to read to Kieron later. I want to find out what happens with the Lepanto book. I love fall, and crackling fires, and adventure stories.

    So, the agenda, should we get to it:

    • Afternoon Time (slacker substitute for Morning Time)
    • Outdoor Hour
    • Some baking?
    • Planning Time (I want to look for coloring books for the children -- maybe print out and organize some of those October ideas)

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Gathering for October

    A little late in thinking about October -- we were travelling as the month changed, so I didn't have time to prepare much. But I found out this month that if you google "October Themes" you can come up with quite a bit of "teacher-y" stuff like these at:

    There are a whole bunch of October links at Mrs Jackson's page, some resources here, and Preschool October Themes here.

    Last but not least, the Catholic Culture Liturgical Year overview for October.

    While looking for other things, I found this Our Elementary Homeschool Blog. There are links to a Preschool Blog, and a High School Blog. Wow, I like the way this blogger organizes!

    Day 28

    Morning Time:

    Both the little ones were there and listening.


    • Logic, lesson 7 -- about categorical statements and how to make them. Did exercise.
    • Latin, beginning of Unit II on family -- read the Latin passage and translated.
    • Math -- a review of graphing, and some work on reducing fractions
    • Maps, Charts and Graphs -- lesson 4, on Map Keys
    • Bible History -- review of Cain and Abel, started reading about Noe.
    • Usborne Book of Discovery, read page 56 on Early Science
    • Chemistry unit -- from old science worktext, read pages 3-4, discussed solids/liquids/gases.
    So all this only took about an hour and a half. My unschooling side is happy, but my classical side wonders what's up with that. Is this is a superficial education??

    He finished Edmund Campion yesterday, read Cure d'Ars to the end and started reading St Dominic and the Rosary.


    • An online addition game.


    • A bit of phonics drill.
    • Part of a read-aloud, The Pancake.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Day 27

    Light day today, getting back into things after our trip.

    Morning Time

    • Chapter 1 of Shakespeare Stealer
    • first bit of The Tempest (from the Lambs' Tales of Shakespeare)
    • A bit of Christ the King, Lord of History, on the Renaissance.
    • discussion (from questions he asked) about papacy, Spanish Inquisition, and the differences between Protestants and Catholics.

    • Copywork ("full fathom five my father lies... etc" -- he had to transcribe my cursive -- none of my children know how to read cursive so I thought I'd start teaching that)
    • -- 20 simple algebra questions -- he did great.
    • Read St Edmund Campion
    • Started reading The Cure D'Ars
    • Started reading The Gauntlet -- not exactly his time period but simple enough reading level so that if he doesn't read it this year it will probably be too young for him.


    • Trip to Library and market -- Kieron life skill practice in buying things there for me.
    • Kieron made cupcakes.... late birthday for me I guess ;-).
    • Clare is watching War and Peace after reading the book last month.
    • Weekly housekeeping chore rotation.

    Other miscellaneous life events:

    • Kevin and Brendan went to the Patriots/49ers game on Sunday, in SF.
    • Sean won as JV qb on Friday, score 28-14 against Dos Palos, team at 2-2 presently.
    • Clare had her second bout of SATs on Saturday. Like a disease!

    • I'm going to try breaking up the log more like I did above. Aidan and Paddy are usually around during Morning Time as passive recipients, though I direct it mostly to Kieron's level. Our afternoons are usually more free-floating, as described.
    • Aidan and Paddy didn't really have formal academics, though Paddy has been reading a bit on his own and Aidan made shape cookies with playdough and played with duplos and with his phonics board.

    A few handwriting --OT links

    A page with handwriting resources: Teaching Your Child to Write
    Hand Strengthening Exercises.

    Also, here is a set of occupational therapy resources called Write it Down (pdf). I printed them out quite a while ago so I'm setting the link here in case I need it again.

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    Day 26

    We are back from our vacation, and I am going to count this day as Day 26 even though we didn't really do anything formal. Kieron did/is going to do some division problems, and Paddy read to me a bit.

    Kieron read some books while on the trip:

    • A Murder for Her Majesty
    • The Green Knowe series (four of them, anyway).
    • The Indian in the Cupboard

    Paddy listened to part of Tale of Despereaux (his aunt read to him)

    They got to explore and play on the beach, and Kieron started a shell collection.

    Also, lots of various kinds of socialization and outdoors time.

    So next week we'll continue with Week 7!