Learning Notes for week of Sept 8


Melanie @ The Wine Dark Sea is hosting a Guilt-Free Learning Notes Link-up to share what we do in our homeschools each week.  I know these “day-in-the-life” or in this case “week-in-the-life” mega-posts can epitomize both the best and the worst of blogging minutiae, but I love ’em, so please humor me.

Monday, September 8

It was the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary’s Birthday), and we had a party planned with our parish homeschool group.  Before we went, we practiced memory work and did a math lesson.  We met at our parish playground for lunch and birthday cake and went to Mass.

At home that afternoon, the younger kids read aloud to me, and William read By the Great Horn Spoon, by Sid Fleischmann.  It’s about the California Gold Rush, and William must like it because he asked me to “check out from the library every single book Sid Fleischmann has ever written.”

That evening Nathaniel had to stay late at school for Open House, so the kids and I had dinner and started Charlotte’s Web before bed.  I think this is the first classic book where the kids have seen the movie (many times, actually) before reading the book.  I’m not sure how that happened.  But anyway, we are all delighted to be reading it.

Tuesday, September 9

We went to Mass in the AM and learned it was the feast day of St. Peter Claver.  At home we looked him up in our saints’ book.  St. Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit in the mid-1600s who was stationed in Cartagena, Colombia, where slave ships often arrived from Africa.  Most of the slave ships took off from the area in Africa where Atlantic Ocean wind currents that form hurricanes begin.  William showed everyone that on the map and we marked Colombia.  We looked at pictures from William’s history book of slave ships.  This was upsetting to everyone.

Then we read more about St. Peter Claver.  He was often the first to go onboard the ship and tend to the people’s immediate needs–binding wounds, administering medicine, and bringing food and sweets.  Through the use of a translator and pictures of the life of Christ, he also evangelized the new slaves.  We talked about how the slaves becoming Christians eventually contributed to them seeking their freedom.  You can’t learn about God and miss the story of the Exodus.

Then we did our memory work.  I’m gradually introducing one new thing each day.  Eventually we will be practicing a Latin prayer, a Latin hymn, a question from the Catechism, a Bible verse, a poem or speech, and the state capitals.  It sounds like a lot, but it only takes a few minutes a day once they become familiar with the material.  Memory work is such an efficient way to cover a lot of subjects at once.

We did handwriting and math and took a break outside.  I introduced All About Spelling Level 1 to Ben and Marie and reviewed it with Louis.


We had lunch and then got ready to go to our monthly children’s book club.  Teddy had to survive with a short nap in the car on the way there.  The younger kids did a skit based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and William discussed The Mysterious Benedict Society with the other middle schoolers.  We’ve been listening to The Mysterious Benedict Society in the car together.  I don’t like it very much, but the children love it.  I’ve already told them we are NOT listening to the next two sequels (each one at least 500 pages long) in the car.

We went to the park with the group afterwards but could only stay 30 minutes because Marie had an American Heritage Girls meeting that night.  I loved seeing my mom friends from book club and AHG, but Marie and I got to bed pretty late that night.

Wednesday, September 10

Even though I was still exhausted from the day before, I attempted to have a full, normal day.  I don’t think I’ll try that again next week.

At Mass that morning, a woman came up to me and told me she had homeschooled her son and it was the best thing she’d ever done.  Now her son is in the seminary.  That was nice to hear!

At home we read a Bible story and illustrated it.  We have just picked up where we left off last May, at the time of King Saul.  William doesn’t illustrate anymore but does his copywork at that time (the Preamble to the Constitution this week).

I could tell it was getting harder every day for the boys to stay quiet enough to hear the story.  Teddy’s been playing with play dough while we read, and all the kids are drawn to it like magnets.  I told them we could play with play dough when I read again during Teddy’s nap.

Retell the Bible story, memory work, math, and handwriting.  Break, then spelling for the youngers and grammar for William.

Lunch, then break while I put Teddy down.  Time for play dough with Charlotte’s Web, and then Ben, Marie, and Louis each read to me.  All of this is good learning but it takes too long, and it’s 2:30 by the time each child has taken their 20 minutes or so to read aloud verrry slooowly.


That afternoon, I let the kids play with the hose.

Thursday, September 11

At Mass this morning, a different woman gave me a box full of art supplies she had used when she was a day care provider.  The older people who attend daily Mass are very friendly and happy to see children in church.

At home, we talked about Patriot Day.  Nathaniel’s aunt posted a picture to Facebook of N’s family at a park in front of the Twin Towers when he was about 9 years old.  That was nice to show the kids.  They asked to hear the story of the plane the passengers crashed in Pennsylvania to save Congress or the White House.  The hero behind that effort was an alum of my college, so they’ve heard this story before.  Were they saints?  (Definitely heroes, maybe saints)  Why aren’t there any Protestant saints?  (Actually there are some Anglican and Lutheran ones, but Evangelicals don’t focus on saints)  Why did the terrorists want to kill themselves? (It is hard to believe but that’s what their religion taught them)  How is it their fault if someone else taught them that? (They have a free will and only God knows the level of their culpability)  Okay…on to another topic!

Today I just decided to let everyone play with play dough while we sat at the table together in the morning.  They loved it, and it helped with the boys listening and not getting silly when it’s time to tell the Bible story back to me.  That was great, but it took forever to scrape off the table afterwards.


I’d explained the gravity of King Saul offering the sacrifices instead of Samuel as if I decided to get up and offer Mass because the priest was running late. So they all drew a church for their Old Testament illustration. 🙂

We had a typical day with me feeling like reading in the afternoon took way too long.  I so desperately need a break in the afternoon while Teddy’s napping, and when time is dragging on as the kids are reading aloud to me, I start to get anxious that maybe I won’t get my break today and then I’m going to die!!!!!  Maybe I need to have the kids read to me first thing in the morning instead.

We cleaned the house this afternoon.  The kids all have their assigned tasks, and they are getting more and more efficient.

Teddy got a huge diaper rash in the afternoon after keeping a dirty diaper secret from me while I was busy cleaning.  This was the second time this happened this week, so I decided to put him in underwear.  He was very excited.  We’ll see how it goes.

Friday, September 12

At Mass this morning, a man told me his children had been homeschooled, and that it was the best thing his family had done.  It is hard to get the kids out the door every morning, but going to Mass every day is turning out to be a real pick-me-up.

Feast day of the Name of Mary.  Did you know this feast came into prominence after the decisive victory of Christian Europe against the Ottoman Turks on this day in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna?  The Christian troops had placed themselves under Mary’s protection and attributed their victory to her prayers for them.  Many people assume that the 9/11 attacks were deliberately timed to occur on the eve of this anniversary of the victory of the West over Islam.

Later I learned from a friend that the croissant (the crescent) was created in Vienna to celebrate this victory over the Turks.

I planned to keep Fridays open for nature walks, but it was thundering all morning so we had to stay inside.  We did go through all the seeds William has collected and made a plan for the fall garden.


After our emergency readiness day a few weeks ago, N. has been calling us on the landline during the day for telephone practice.  We keep the landline so the kids could use it in an emergency, but I’ve realized they barely know how since we use Skype and mobile phones to communicate with friends and family.

Ben, Marie, and Louis all read to me before lunch.  That and keeping Teddy dry in undies was enough for the day.

After Teddy’s nap, we went to the library, and then I dropped the big kids off at N’s school to play while I went to Costco with Teddy.  We had a potluck dinner at the school with other faculty families.  The kids played in the rain.

On the way home, we finished The Mysterious Benedict Society.  Huge sigh of relief for me.  Morse code figures prominently in the book, and William and Louis begged me to print out a copy of the code for them before bed.

Saturday, September 12

I went out, and Nathaniel and the kids dug up the dying summer garden and set up a new one.  They didn’t find any garden snakes this year (a big disappointment to Marie and a big relief to me), but they did find a frog and lots of worms.  William planted carrots, beans, brussels sprouts, and lettuce.


He couldn’t bear to dig up these baby peach trees that sprouted from the compost.

In the afternoon, they gathered up their neighborhood friends and created a spy club that communicates by Morse code.  I have to admit that MBS passes one of my tests of a good children’s book: inspiring imaginative play.


Thoughts from the week

Most subjects went well, but I am frustrated at how long reading aloud takes.  I think I need to accept that it’s going to be another “phonics year” and not a year full of all the “extras” that I like to think about all summer.

We didn’t get to piano at all this week.  I’m not sure where to fit it in.  May need to wait on piano until everyone is reading more fluently.

Thanks for your patience if you made it to the end of this!


2 thoughts on “Learning Notes for week of Sept 8

  1. Thanks so much for joining in! I’m struggling with listening to the read alouds too. They do take a long time and a lot of concentration. And it seems like it’s always the time when the other kids go crazy. No matter what time of day we do them. I am so impressed at your getting to daily Mass. I want to, but maybe it’s a lack of trust. I just don’t think there’s any way we could get it all done if we took that time out. I suppose I should just try it. In fact, I intended to try on Fridays, but today I completely forgot it was Friday.

    • Weekday Mass does require some trade-offs, although it really helps us get moving in the AM. We went once a week last year. And we didn’t go at all this week because I was potty training the 2-year-old!

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