Ruth and I enjoyed all these books and more as we talked about the letter A this week. For all three kids I’ve used a Letter of the Week “curriculum” for preschool. Mostly this just means reading a lot of books and talking about words that start with the letter of the week. With John it also meant we did a lot of fun extra stuff that went along with the letter. With David it meant doing one or two extra fun things each week. With Ruth, we’ll see. Being a third child we’ll probably do much less but John also never had an older sibling playing princesses with him on demand so it all works out somehow.
Ruth, at just under three, is younger than the boys were when we did Letter of the Week. But she has an enormous interest right now in letters and their sounds. She is constantly pointing to letters and asking me to tell her what sound it says so I figured she’s ready. She also likes the idea of “Ruth school” and having her own special time each day.
For 1st and 2nd grades we used Story of the World and loved it. Last year, for various reasons it didn’t work as well for us and we ended up with a more American history focus using various resources. However, John ended up missing Story of the World so we used it as a read aloud. This was fine, but I’m not sure how much he really remembered of what we read. This year I had decided to do Geography with both boys since I felt like Story of the World 4 is a little too advanced for David, a first grader. At the last minute I decided to also try to use Story of the World again for history with John. It might be too much but we’ll see. One thing I learned last year was that we can always change and adjust as the year goes.
We started our day on Monday reading The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller. All the states decide to switch places because they are bored of only seeing one part of the country. It was a funny intro to the United States. I also bought the board game that is based on the book, but I’m saving it as a surprise for a day when we need some extra fun. For History, John and I finished up Story of the World 3 with a chapter about the Alamo and a chapter about the 1849 Gold Rush. Susannah of the Alamo by John Jakes was one of those fantastic books about a historical figure that played a critical role in a well known even but who has pretty much been forgotten. Susannah Dickinson, a survivor of the famous battle at the Alamo, in telling the story of the tragedy to Sam Houston became the inspiration for the battle cry “Remember the Alamo!”
The book about Levi Strauss is less historically accurate but quite fun. It’s half tall tale and half biography. In one of those great moments of homeschooling serendipity it goes well with another topic of the week: Davy Crockett. We talked about tall tales and how the two stories are similar. Another example of serendipity, John was learning about the Alamo in History and Tennessee in Geography so Crockett was a great figure to cover. We listened to a Rabbit Ears audiobook about Crockett. (As an aside, if you don’t know Rabbit Ears audiobooks, I highly recommend them. They are all fantastic. Classic stories told by well known actors and with accompanying music by well known artists. Davy Crockett was read by Nicholas Cage and he is brilliant.) We plan on ending the week with a family move night watching the Disney version of Davy Crockett.
Last year John and I greatly enjoyed the MCT grammar curriculum. I decided to give their literature curriculum a try this year. “Curriculum” is a bit of an overstatement as it’s really just three annotated classics with a slim teacher’s guide. I like that the emphasis is on reading the text and enjoying the story rather than on anything more formal at this point. We read a lot and it could easily be argued that any kind of literature curriculum is icing on the cake. Strictly speaking it’s not really necessary, but sometimes icing is nice. The first book in the series is Alice in Wonderland.
John is also dabbling in about 3 or 4 other books at the same time. The one he is the most excited about is the Gregor the Overlander series (by Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame). He read the second one in the series this week the day after we got it out of the library and I can’t get the third one quick enough for him. David and I continue to enjoy Mousenet at night and both boys and I are still working on The Hobbit at night and Farmer Boy at lunchtime.
What else? We’re starting the year with a unit on electricity for science as David has been asking a lot of questions about how batteries and lights and cars and things work. Tuesday we popped some corn and watched a Bill Nye video on electricity as well as a How Things Work video. We’ll be ending the week making a lemon battery if all goes well. H. and the kids did art together one day, painting mini frescos. The boys both did some math review. Our weekly co-op started with new classes for everyone. The boys continued with piano. Baseball has begun for John and David started gymnastics.
It’s easy when writing a post like this to make it seem like we did a ton and our school days were all smooth sailing. In reality, this week felt very rough around the edges. I don’t always do these week in review posts but I felt like I needed to this week to help me see what we did. I’m finding it more challenging than I anticipated to have two real students plus a demanding not quite three year old. I think I need to cut back in some areas but am still figuring out what that will look like. If you count John’s kindergarten year, this is my 5th year homeschooling. I imagined that at this point I’d have it all figured out but it still often feels like I’m just muddling through.
Still, it was a good week and writing it all out helped me to see just how good. If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me.