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It was a wonderful, though busy, week. I had a lot of projects going on for work, which managed to fill every nook and cranny I had available, outside of homeschool time. By Saturday, I was exhausted. I’m sure waking up with Ringo-the-pup in the middle of the night has also taken its toll (a price I’m willing to pay for all those puppy-breath kisses!)
One of the reasons I plan with a “do-the-next-thing” mindset is to keep a positive, stress-free outlook during weeks like this, when we don’t get around to everything. I used to plan in a more traditional way, filling in what I wanted to do for every subject each week on a specific day, but that got old fast. It’s not suited to our family at all. First of all, my husband and I both work full-time hours, which means that sometimes we have things come up and have to bump activities around to a different day. But we’re also quite impulsive about following inspiration. If it’s a beautiful, perfect fall day, we have no qualms with pausing the regular schedule to go hiking or to spend the afternoon writing and painting on a picnic blanket. Again, this used to be an exercise in frustration when I had to white out everything and change which days we were planning to get things done.
With a “do-the-next-thing” mindset, we just pick up wherever we left off when it’s time to move forward. It’s all in the simple beauty of a sticky note. (Click here to read more about how we plan our days.) So, even though it was a hectic workweek, we still had a calm and enjoyable homeschool experience.
Field Trip to the Zoo
Brice and I kicked off the week with a field trip to the Denver Zoo while Blake went to her homeschool enrichment program. It was so nice to spend a day out, just the two of us. Julie Bogart, of Brave Writer, talks a lot about one-on-one time and how it is so crucial for helping our little learners find their voices (a key component of becoming a confident writer.) I can really see her point when I spend time with Brice. Being the younger child, she’s prone to just keep quiet and do her own thing quite often in the shadow of her theatrical and vocal older sister. But when you get her alone, she blossoms and the words just pour out. We talked all day long about the animals we saw, laughing at the antics of the river otters and marveling at the flamingos.
The Stickleback Father
One of our stories from Blossom and Root First Grade this week was “The Stickleback Father” from Among the Pond People. For some reason, Blake became fascinated by these funny, spiny, tiny fish. We spent a whole afternoon learning about them, making them with beeswax, and completing the narration in Blake’s student notebook. Then, she decided that wanted to know which other animals had the same paternal dynamic so we spent some time looking that up, too. Before I knew it, the whole afternoon was gone. Back in my “pretty planner” days, this would have been frustrating. But instead, I delighted–I hadn’t expected that particular topic to catch her interest like it did (and, honestly, I learned a lot myself!)
SQUILT Music Curriculum and Early Years Literature
This week, we did our first SQUILT lesson of the school year. We are doing the SQUILT eras program this year, beginning with the Baroque era. Blake and Brice both loved this week’s musical selection (Pachelbel’s Canon in D) and we ended up listening to it four times. If you’re looking for a music program, SQUILT has a lot to offer. They even have live webinar classes as an option. We’re planning to do the Baroque and Classical eras this year, as well as the Meet the Instruments program. Everything’s scripted, so if music isn’t your strongest suit, you can still feel comfortable teaching it.
Brice’s book in Blossom and Root Early Years Vol. 2 was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She chose to do an art project this time, and made a caterpillar of her own out of paper and glue. While she worked, we talked about shapes and colors.
Getting Into Our Rhythm with First Grade
Blake is really beginning to get into a great rhythm for first grade. She knows what to expect from our Singapore Math curriculum, she is loving her language arts and science programs, we’re reading a lot of great books for history and geography, and she’s diving deep when rabbit trails call. This week, she began to ask a lot of questions about African animals as we read through our geography books. We got several books from the library on giraffes, hippos, and elephants for her to comb through. She asked if our first Brave Writer Jot it Down project could be a mini-book on one of the animals instead of doing the fairy tale project. I said it would be just fine by me.
We’re also really enjoying The Big Life Journal. I love the conversations that come up when we’re working on it together. This week we talked about things she can do to make a big difference in one person’s life. She thought of a few acts of delight and kindness to do for some of our far-away family members (I can’t go into detail, since they are all readers of this blog and it’s a surprise.) 😉
Nature Study: Paint Sample Color Matching
We didn’t get to our science lesson this week (so it’ll just come next week) but we spent a whole entire day on our nature study prompt from Blossom and Root First Grade: Wonders of the Earth and Sky. The prompt was to gather paint samples from the hardware store and then to go on a scavenger hunt outside to find all of the colors. We had so much fun doing this at Lair O’ The Bear open space park–just a fifteen minute drive into the mountains from our house.
The girls asked if we could please repeat this prompt in a few weeks when the leaves have all begun to turn more, and bring reds and oranges and different yellows along. I thought this was a great idea and said we could do it every couple of months if they wanted to–it would be a great way to see the different color palettes that nature brings with each season!
Outdoor Classroom: Lair O’ The Bear
Our favorite classroom this week was Lair O’ the Bear. We spent an entire day there, climbing the trees and wading in the creek. Everything was glowing with beautiful green-gold light and the sky was almost neon blue against the mountains. Ringo loved it too–he’s going to make a great wild-schooling pup!
What were the highlights of your week? Please feel free to share in the comments!
The Curriculum We Used This Week:
The Games We Played This Week:
Make N’ Break
The Books We Read This Week:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (on Aubile, during car rides) *finished it*
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne *finished it*
Meet Kaya and Kaya’s Escape (American Girls) *finished them, onto #3…*
Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove
Moja Means One: A Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings
Harold et le Crayon Violet by Crockett Johnson (French edition)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (for me…almost finished with this one) *finished it*
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (for me–an excellent choice for plant nerd autumn reading!)
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris (for me–I am admittedly a multiple-books-at-one-time reader)
Movies We Watched This Week:
The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Our Favorite Classroom This Week:
It’s a tie this week: Lair O’ the Bear Open Space and the Denver Zoo
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