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As a homeschooling parent, what you choose to expose yourself to matters. The words you read, the voices you listen to, the videos you watch–they all become a little Greek chorus in your head on the days when you’re nailing it and on the days when you’re losing it. We must be careful to choose words and voices and videos that empower us and remind us that we’re not in this alone. I treated myself to Julie Bogart’s A Gracious Space, Fall Edition at the beginning of this school year and there have been so many times I’ve been glad I did.
This week, I felt like I had zero rhythm going. I mean, here it is almost October and I haven’t really established a consistent rhythm in our homeschool yet. Morning times are sporadic, we’re only getting through about half of my wish list each week, and most of the “delightful extras” like art and music have been pushed to the side these last few weeks. Part of this is because, frankly, it’s really beautiful outside right now and I want to soak up the autumn light and the leaves and the magic before it gives way to the gray and the cold of winter. Part of it is because I have a lot more on my work plate than usual–it’s a brief season of temporary chaos and it will pass but right now it’s monumentally disruptive to what little rhythm we did have. And part of it is because, like many of you, I’m still trying to decide what to keep and what to cut from our chosen resources and curriculum for the year.
Then I read Julie’s essay for Day 26: “Less is more–really!” Oh, this essay was so timely! I read it three times, letting the words really hit home for me. (If you haven’t already snagged a copy of A Gracious Space for yourself, you really should.) I needed that this week. I needed someone outside of myself to tell me this. And as I write this week’s review, and look back at the reviews from the past several weeks, I see how right she is.
Our days have been filled with learning, language, connection, and discovery–despite the chaos. The girls are happy, and from my conversations with them, I know they’re retaining so much. Maybe that’s why journaling can be so valuable. In the day-to-day flurry, it can be hard to see how much we’re really doing. But when we look back, the bigger picture comes into focus.
I recently read a post on Nourishing My Scholar about planning behind, or essentially journaling what you’ve already done in your homeschool to document learning, rather than focusing on planning ahead–the more traditional approach. (Click here to read that post.) In homeschools where interest-led learning is prominent, or if your family is like ours and tends to let inspiration take the wheel, this is a brilliant way to capture all the learning that is going on. I suppose for myself these posts are serving that purpose. 🙂 In any case, they sure come in handy on weeks like this, when self-doubt comes creeping in.
Field Trip to the Children’s Museum
On Monday, I decided to forgo our planned lessons for Brice in favor of a field trip to The Children’s Museum. We have a membership–a gift from my parents last year–but had been avoiding it all summer while the “muggles” (Blake’s hilarious name for non-homeschooled kids) were running amuck. It was nice to be back with the quieter crowd, and I let Brice take her sweet time in each activity.
Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor
Our first Book Seeds: Profiles in Science issue came out a week ago and I was chomping at the bit to get started on it! These special edition issues are geared toward elementary grades, and the books that correspond with them are focused on contributions of individuals in the worlds of science and STEAM. Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor using sonar technology, which lead to the discovery of important information concerning plate tectonics and continental drift. We took a temporary pause in our Blossom and Root First Grade science curriculum to deep-dive here for a couple of weeks.
This week, the girls made a model of the ocean floor, which Blake mapped out on a piece of paper. We explored sound over and under the water in the tub, and asked big questions (which we wrote on the window with dry-erase markers–so fun!) You can click here to see this Book Seed issue in our store.
The Playful Muskrats
Blake really loved the story of The Playful Muskrats from this week’s selections in Blossom and Root First Grade: The Stories We Tell. She’s really getting into the picture narrations and will spend almost an hour drawing detailed scenes from the stories we read. It’s actually been a bit tricky to keep up with her as I transcribe her words into a written narration below her drawings–she talks so fast and has so much to say.
Learning on the Go
The last couple of weeks, we’ve been bringing our lessons along with us all over the place. We start early, while the girls are still in pajamas, and pack whatever we didn’t finish into our backpack for the day. Math is often done on the bleachers at gymnastics. Read-alouds happen at lunch while we’re out and about. Audible is practically my co-teacher. It’s a busy season, but we’re making it work.
The Highlight of Our Week
By far, the highlight of our week was getting to visit my grandma’s friends and their enormous collection of historical artifacts and restored buildings from as far back as the 1860s. We spent the weekend in Monument with my grandparents, always one of my favorite ways to recoup after a busy week. But my grandma had planned a surprise–a day spent wandering her friend’s enormous property filled with historical treasures!
One of the highlights for Blake was this beautiful tipi (not restored, but neat all the same.) We’ve been learning about Native American cultures for the past two months, and Blake was so excited to see what a tipi really looked like in person.
Some Eerie Highlights from the Day…
A little white tipi-like house stood on the northern edge of the property, and the girls ran right into it before I even realized what it was–a tuberculosis hut. These small houses were a common sight in post-Gold Rush Colorado Springs. Many TB patients came to Colorado, where the dry air was said to help ease their suffering. These huts sprang up all over the city. You can still see them as you drive around, but most have been converted into bus stops or art studios.
Exploring More Historical Buildings
There were several historical buildings that had been moved to their property and restored–a one-room schoolhouse, a stage coach station, and a cabin from the 1860s were all favorites. Each had been furnished with old stoves, furniture, and carefully selected details curated from all over the country.
Investigating Historical Transportation
The property featured dozens of carriages, stage coaches, and cars from our nation’s history–from covered wagons to an old fire truck to a creepy baby carriage from the 1910s (I know…I’ve read too many Victorian scary stories.) The girls got to sit in a couple of them, but most were carefully staged inside an enormous museum-like barn. It was such a treat to explore, and we were very touched that they let us come to visit. 🙂 A big thank you to the Maguires!
Visiting Helen Hunt Falls
Sunday brought another day of perfect weather, so we decided to spend it outside. We headed up to Helen Hunt Falls, hiked and had a picnic lunch. I spent many childhood days here with my grandma and it was so fun to come back with her, now with my daughters along too. They enjoyed hopping from rock to rock in the creek and playing in the golden autumn light.
We wrapped up our week with a quick trip around the lake at The Broadmoor. This gorgeous, palatial hotel resort has always been a destination on day-trips with my grandma. I have so many memories of my little sister and I feeding the geese and the swans here as children. The Broadmoor also houses thousands of gorgeous paintings and sculptures–it’s almost like visiting an art museum. <3
Do you keep a journal or plan backward in your homeschool? I think this is such a great way to see all of the learning that goes on, outside of “the plan.”
The Curriculum We Used This Week:
The Games We Played This Week:
The Books We Read This Week:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh
Meet Kaya series (American Girls)
Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove
Moja Means One: A Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings
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)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (on Audible)
Movies We Watched This Week:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Our Favorite Classroom This Week:
The Maguire Property in Monument, CO
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