Learning Notes for Week of Oct 13


With three birthdays and Columbus Day always coming right around 6-7 weeks into our school year, it’s a good time for fall break. Also, the weather changed and everyone came down with a fever one after the other. But while we didn’t get much formal schooling done, we still learned quite a few things!

Monday, October 13

Columbus Day! Nathaniel was home from work, and two kids were sick. The well ones continued to work on the new pond and built a gated fence around the entire garden. Now Teddy can go back outside without Mama having a panic attack.


Swimmer (the original pond inhabitant) did indeed die. They went to the pet store and got a dozen goldfish to replace him. Goldfish eat mosquito larvae, so they will always be welcome in my yard.


Teddy waving to the fish

This afternoon we finished reading The Family Under the Bridge. I always have to pass heartwarming children’s novels on to someone else to read the last chapter. Nathaniel took over so I could finish crying.

Tuesday, October 14  

Different people were sick today. The ones who were sick the day before got to play in the garden and try to catch the poor goldfish.

Teddy and I did the birthday baking in hopes that everyone would be well the next day.


William read two chapters of Story of the World vol. 4 and made a map of the Crimean War. I showed him the Tennyson poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”  Since he isn’t doing much else this week, I hope to get him caught up in Story of the World to the Civil War, which we can start studying in more detail next week.

I read Halloween picture books to everyone who was sick.

Wednesday, October 15

The twins woke up feeling well and had a happy birthday.



Marie got a very cool blue whale for her birthday and kindly shared it with Teddy all day.


Nothing like a big Lego set to keep a pack of boys busy all day!

We broke up the Lego construction with a little walk to the bayou, and William read another chapter of Story of the World. Now he’s all caught up to 1860.

And, celebrations abounded when Louis read the very last story of The Beginner’s Bible!!  He has been reading this book aloud continuously for almost an entire year. It’s a great book, but we’re on to something else, yay!!!

Thursday, October 16

Back to school. It was a bit of a rough morning getting everyone moving. We went to Mass and then played outside for a bit. A couple goldfish are dead. No one was interested in play dough, so we got right to work with math and handwriting. Groan, groan.

Ben, Marie, and Louis all had birthday thank-you notes to write, so we got to talk about the three parts of a letter–salutation, body, and closing. Everyone remembered that “Salutations” was Charlotte’s first greeting to Wilbur.

Marie was writing a thank you for a pocketknife, which started a conversation about words with silent Ks. We made a nice list of them on the board.

Ben started reading Danny and the Dinosaur to me while he was sick, and he read a bit more of that aloud. It’s harder than books he’s read in the past, but he just picked it up and started going to town. Marie is on another Little Bear story, and Louis started a Frog and Toad book.

Before lunch, we all sat on the couch and read some picture books about the Underground Railroad. I don’t know how much I’ll include the younger kids in William’s Civil War study, but these books make the time period really come alive for them.

My favorite of these is Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom.


The book tells the story of her personal escape to the North, and then her decision to return to bring other slaves to freedom, all as a dialogue between her and God. The illustrations are amazing at depicting all the emotions on her face.

We are also reading A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had remembered this book as being set during the Crimean War, and thought it would fit perfectly with the antebellum time period. Well, turns out it’s set in the Boer War in the 1880s instead, but we’ve already started it and everyone wants to find out what happens.

Friday, October 17

Ben and Marie went to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and the rest of us went to Mass. It was the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and the priest’s name is Ignatius, so he talked a lot about the saint in his homily.

Ignatius was martyred by the Romans in 107 AD. There is a tradition that he was one of the children that Jesus blessed in the Gospel, or even that he was the child that Jesus presented as an example of faith to the apostles. But at the least, he was an apostle of the apostles, most probably John and possibly ordained by Peter.

He wrote several letters on his way to Rome to be executed, and while I have not read them myself, I know that the strong devotion to the Eucharist that he expresses in those letters was very compelling to some of my Evangelical friends who became Catholic around the same time I did.

I meant to talk to William and Louis about what they understood from the homily, but as in weeks past, I forgot once we got outside. Some homilies at daily Mass are extremely short and forgettable, but a lot of them are really good. I hope some of it sinks in!

At home, another set of thank-you letters was written, and William did a math lesson. Louis and Marie read Dick & Jane board books to Teddy and their own books to me, but somehow Ben disappeared and conveniently missed reading aloud.

Then I gave them all the choice of either painting with tempera paints or sketching the pond in their nature journal. To my relief, they unanimously chose sketching the pond.

After lunch we read another book about slave escapes called Follow the Drinking Gourd. In this book, a white or maybe mulatto man named Peg Leg Joe works on plantations as a traveling carpenter all the while teaching slaves his song about following the North Star to a spot on the Ohio River where he can row them to freedom.

According to Wikipedia, it’s not known if Peg Leg Joe was a real person, or if his was a name used by several people on the Underground Railroad.

Then while I read to Teddy and put him down to sleep, the older kids listened to an audio of another Follow the Drinking Gourd picture book.

The book was read by Morgan Freeman, who has one of the best speaking voices in the world.  Another guy sang the song, and it was very moving.

William started reading a book my mom brought him from Gettysburg called Will at the Battle of Gettysburg. (How perfect is that?) It is not as dark as some of the others I looked at, but it still tells it like it was.

Will is the son of a doctor in Gettysburg at the time of the battle. He and his family have several encounters with Confederate soldiers (and boys) where they have to face their own prejudices. At the end, Will does a heroic deed for the Union side.

Nathaniel and I have been watching the film Gettysburg with Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee, and we may show William part of that movie next week. Also part of Gone with the Wind.

But tonight we watched Old Yeller. The book does not drag out the terrible tragedy like the movie does. In the book, Travis shoots Old Yeller immediately after his fight with the wolf. I told the kids that it was going to be a little worse in the movie…oh man, oh man!  But still, one of the best dog films ever.

Old Yeller

Saturday, October 18

In the morning, Nathaniel took the big kids to the Gem and Mineral Society for the youth meeting. They are all polishing rocks that they will be able to display at the group’s annual show next month.

They are all now headed to the bayou with nets in hopes of ridding the bayou of more invasive fish. I should go put my feet up!

Linking up with Melanie for your weekend blog reading. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Learning Notes for Week of Oct 13

  1. amgboord

    I enjoyed reading your learning notes and admire your bravery, watching Old Yeller! I think I’m still scarred from that movie. 😉

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