Learning Notes for Week of Oct 20


Nathaniel was going to have Monday off, and we decided to go camping Sunday night. I was feeling a little iffy about taking Teddy because we’ve started a new night time routine, and I briefly considered taking two cars and coming back with him at bedtime. But then I thought, Oh it’ll work out! Hahaha.


As we were eating our s’mores around the campfire we began to hear coyotes howling. We were just 40 minutes north of the city and I know there are coyotes in all the big city parks, including the one down the street from our house, but I’d never heard them howl before.

We reminded the kids that no coyote would approach a campfire. But, we just watched Old Yeller two nights ago and William immediately added, “No NORMAL coyote would do that. But a RABID one would!!!” Everyone was pretty spooked and started jumping at every sound in the brush (which was always just our dog).

Then it was time to put Teddy to bed. We’ve camped with him before, and while the first time (before he was sleeping through the night) was terrible, the last few times he’s nursed to sleep and then slept all night through in the pack-n-play. But now I’m laying him down in his crib awake, which works fine at home but which absolutely did not work in his “camping bed.”

After two unsuccessful tries in the tent, I thought he could just fall asleep in my lap around the fire, but by 10pm he was wired and crying, “I want to go hoooome! Before the coyotes coooome!”

Nathaniel and the kids weren’t about to miss early morning fishing the next day, so they drove Teddy and me home and probably got back to the site at 11:30pm.

Monday, October 20

The big kids had a great time at the state park. They did not get attacked by rabid coyotes, just a nest of yellow jackets.

Teddy and I had a lovely day off. We went to the playground with a good friend. Such a nice break for me! Teddy missed everyone though.

Tuesday, October 21

Everyone slept in, making up for that super-late camping night, and I had a blessedly solitary morning.

I did piano lessons with everyone except Ben, who has asked to please wait another year before learning piano. I think he heard me say once that I started the piano in 2nd grade, and that gave him the idea for an out. That’s fine with me. It’s pretty hard for little fingers to move around the keyboard; I have no idea how the Suzuki people manage it in the preschool years.

William was copying out “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and asked what a league is. We looked this up last summer when it came up in the fairy tale about Tom Thumb, but we’d all forgotten it. A league is traditionally the length a man can walk in one hour. Tom Thumb stole an ogre’s 7 league boots, and the light brigade charged for “half a league, half a league, half a league onward.”

It’s always a chore to get back into math after a long weekend, so the carrot of making chocolate chip cookies was presented. William and Louis made some great cookies!

At reading time, we read an amazing, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about an escape from slavery.

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad is about a young man named Henry Brown who, after his wife and children were sold away from him, decided he had nothing to lose to try to escape. So he asked some abolitionist friends if they would mail him to freedom. He built a wooden crate, deliberately injured his hand so he would have to stay home from work, and then snuck away and got into the crate. His friends nailed him in with a few air holes and snacks and sent the crate to other abolitionists in Philadelphia. The journey from Richmond, Virginia took 27 hours, and although the box said “fragile/ this side up,” Henry spent part of the trip upside down.

We also read more about King Saul chasing David down, and some from A Little Princess. Louis has completely memorized his poem “Windy Nights” and chose a new one from the Stevenson book, “Autumn Fires.”

In the afternoon we were all still feeling pretty tired, and we watched a cartoon about Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War. William had a light-bulb moment and realized that the Crimean War was the first time ever? that France and England were fighting together instead of fighting against each other. This set the stage for the Allied alliance in the world wars.

Marie and I had AHG in the evening, and the boys read aloud to Nathaniel.

Wednesday, October 22

Pretty typical morning. No pictures or notes.

We read more about David & King Saul, and then Abraham Lincoln.

Abe Lincoln's Hat

Abe Lincoln’s Hat portrays Lincoln as a bit disorganized but wise and good-humored. Everyone enjoyed it.

We read a few pages in The Children’s Encyclopedia of American History and talked about how Lincoln’s election was the last straw for the South, and about what a “last straw” is.

Children's Encyclopedia of American History

William and I watched his Latin lesson on DVD and some more music theory from the Piano for Quitters DVD.

In the evening we read some picture books about fall. I didn’t take very detailed notes this week! Or many pictures.

Thursday, October 23

We actually got off to a great start today and had some extra time in the morning to do a little drawing.


We used two of the Draw-Write-Now books, and they all did a great job.

IMG_1737 - Copy




We also did some Mind Benders puzzles, such as, Mrs. Smith is not afraid of any animals. Karoline has been afraid of animals since she got bit by a dog as a child. What must be true?

In the afternoon Ben finished reading Danny & the Dinosaur to me and Marie finished Little Bear’s Friend. We also read more in the King Saul v. David saga.

Later in the day  Ben came up to me and said, “Cathy is a woman who doesn’t like children. Ben is a child. What must be true? But don’t worry, I’m not talking about you!”

Friday, October 24

The boys and I found a lovely park around the corner from Ben and Marie’s atrium that we’ll definitely be returning to.


At home William had a bit of schoolwork and reading to do. Everyone practiced piano, and Louis finished reading Frog & Toad Together. Then they played outside and I gave everyone haircuts and manicures.


William also harvested his first green beans!

In the evening we had a pumpkin carving party with some homeschool friends, and everyone stayed up late.

More learning notes at Melanie’s!