Learning Notes for Week of February 2


This was a homeschooling-not-at-home kind of week. Linking up with Melanie whose blog makes me snow-jealous (a little).

Monday, February 2

Monthly co-op day. My 6th grade class’s topic was the work of mercy: shelter the homeless. Unfortunately most of the class was absent, but William and the other student sorted donations of household goods for families our church assists, and then we watched an old Reading Rainbow video about homelessness that includes this picture book:

Fly Away Home, by Eve Bunting

cover art It’s about a boy and his dad who live in an airport, and this whole underground community of homeless folks who live in the airport and carefully wander around the terminals all day hoping not to get caught by security. In the story, a bird gets caught inside one of the terminals and flies around in a panic for a few days before a door opens at just the right moment, and it flies home. The irony and symbolism come on pretty strong, but it’s a sensitive story about a sad topic.

I also had another book I almost used instead, but we didn’t have time for both.

Four Feet, Two Sandals, by Karen Lynn Williams

This book is about two girls in a refugee camp in Pakistan. When a truckload of donated clothing comes into the camp one day, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can find. Each girl takes one sandal from the same pair. Eventually they become friends and take turns wearing the sandals, until one of them leaves for America. Another bittersweet story, but less close to home.

I wanted the kids to see that homeless people are not just panhandlers on street corners. Anyone without a safety net of family and friends or a stable community to live in could become homeless. But, I didn’t want to scare the kids and make them think they could become homeless. I think the class went okay, but I wasn’t sure if I hit the right balance.

For the first time ever Teddy was willing to go with the preschool class for most of co-op, and they and the other kids did some activities around Jesus’ miracle of calming the sea.

Playing with friends and reading in the afternoon–Louis is really into reading along with audio recordings of Encyclopedia Brown books, Marie listened to Little House on the Prairie and made a bunch of paper dolls, and William started reading The Twenty-One Balloons.

Tuesday, February 3

Mass with boys serving. Then my last class on India,

IMG_2083 which was about Mt. Everest, which is not in India (next door though). We read from these two books:

Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with Pete Athans, by Sandra Athans

You Wouldn't Want to Climb Mount Everest!: A Deadly Journey to the Top of the World You Wouldn’t Want to Climb Mount Everest!: A Deadly Journey to the Top of the World, by Ian Graham

We learned lots of interesting facts and everyone wanted to find out if any kids had climbed Mt. Everest. In fact, two 13-year-olds have done it, an American boy and, more recently, a girl raised in poverty in India.

A little cutting and pasting of a mountain picture and we were finished. IMG_2084

Afternoon reading–we’re starting a new read-aloud, A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt after Justin Morgan Had a Horse turned out to be too slow for now.

Marie had an AHG meeting that night.

IMG_2069 Wednesday, February 4

Everyone did a little math and copywork in the morning, and then we drove downtown for a Houston Symphony concert.

I had been dreading this field trip, even suggesting to N. that I substitute teach his class for a day if only he would take our kids to the symphony instead. We had some stressful trips to museums last year, and I swore off downtown field trips forever, until I forgot about that and bought these symphony tickets.

I was imaging the kids having to be perfectly silent for 50 minutes and me having to take Teddy out because he couldn’t be silent and climbing over tons of people to get to the exit and things like that.

It actually turned out to be one of the easiest field trips ever. The concert was for children, we sat in the several rows reserved for homeschoolers, there were hundreds of city school kids in the auditorium, and no one was silent. We had listened to some of the music last week, and Teddy remembered the songs and enjoyed it as much as anyone.

Now, not to be a crank, but the downside of this being a kids’ concert was that the symphony apparently felt the need to hit as many of the state academic standards as possible and the conductor kept throwing out ridiculous comments about how sound waves are made by the energy of the instruments and travel to our ears through the air.

So we could check off science in addition to music for that field trip.

Thursday, February 5

Mass with boys serving. And then Ultrasound day–IT’S A GIRL!!!

IMG_2082 Followed by a trip to the zoo.  Teddy hasn’t stopped asking when he can go back to see the meerkats, and his “wittle sister” too.

Friday, February 6

No surprise that after a week of running around town it was tough to sit down and do school work. But we tried anyway.

We read from the Old Testament about Jeroboam, whom God raised from servant to king of Israel by God. Then he promptly squandered his kingdom out of fear of losing power.

We did math and copywork, and refreshed our memories of our current Latin hymn and poems. We filled out February calendars and decorated them with stickers of presidents sent by Grandma.

IMG_2085 Those are Lenten ashes on Feb 18th there.

IMG_2081 Teddy loved hearing there was a president who shared his nickname.

Everyone read aloud, and I think William planted some more seeds too.

In the car, we finished listening to Gordon Korman’s Titanic trilogy and started a collection of Tales from the Arabian Nights.

I remember when the kids were preschool age and I was reading all about homeschooling how much I romanticized the “special classes and cultural field trips and science in the real world” aspect of homeschooling. Let me just say that that is an exhausting way to homeschool, and I can only do that all once in awhile!