Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rowing Mirette on the High Wire {FIAR}

Rose and I are on our third Five in a Row book of our new homeschool year, so I am playing catch-up a bit here. Our first row this year was Mirette on the High Wire, which I chose because we recently watched The Walk, a fantastic go-along to this row.

Here's what we did!

                                        *Social Studies*

  • This book is set "One hundred years ago in Paris", so I reminded her that a recent book we also rowed ~ Madeline ~ was also set in Paris. 
  • We found some of the places mentioned in the book - Paris, Barcelona, Niagara Falls, and the Alps on our globe.
  • We talked about talents and abilities - Mirette definitely has talent to walk that wire! Rose and I had a little discussion about her talents - especially gymnastics, which is taking up a lot of her time this year as she gets ready for her first competition season. 
  • Mirette boasts that she will never fall again...we talked about why people may boast and why it is not a good idea to do so!
  • We talked a bit about the duties of an innkeeper. We were inspired by the manual to make a bed properly. We do make beds in this house, but it is really just for show - definitely not up to innkeeper standards! This took only a few minutes, but Rose took great pride in her work, and for a few days after that she had a very properly made bed each morning. 

*Language Arts*

  • We went over the vocab words and learned what a protegee is, what stupendous means, and how to devour our food (among other things).
  • As mentioned in the  manual, we discussed compound words and looked for examples in the text, like boardinghouse and afternoon.


  • I shared some information from the manual about the real Bellini, Jean Francois Gravelet. I also reminded her of The Walk, which is worth watching just for the rope walking scene - it was intense!
  • We talked about the medium used in the illustrations (watercolor) and searched for the orange cat depicted throughout the book. 
  • We talked about the various viewpoints of the illustrations in the book. Sometimes we are looking down on a scene, other times we are looking up. We often spend just seconds on some of these art concepts, but they really seem to stick with her, and she uses the ideas in her own art. 
  • I reminded her of our lesson on complementary colors and pointed out some examples in the book - there are a few examples where blue and orange are used to great effect, like the contrast between Mirette's hair and her bright blue dress. 

  • She used contrast to make her own picture. 

  • We discussed action and expression, using notes from the manual, then studied the circus poster at the end of the book.  

  • Next, Rose made a poster of her own - gymnastics related, naturally! And I reminded her of another row that featured a circus poster. 


  • We discussed how the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. Then, we looked at a map to see that we can't usually travel in a straight line!

  • This book has an illustration with copper pots, so I shared a few facts from the manual about copper with her, then she tried the suggested penny experiment. She polished tarnished pennies with toothpaste, lemon juice and sugar, and a metal polish (we used Bar Keeper's Friend) to see which would work best. She decided that the lemon juice and sugar produced the shiniest pennies. 

To wrap up this row, I set up a tightrope for her along the floor.  She had a lot of fun with this, and I left it up for her most of the week.

I had planned to do a dinner with circus foods, but we never got to that. Better luck next time!

Next up I will have our row of Ferdinand. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Musings

Wow! I really did not mean to not blog for over a month, but I have had trouble finding my groove this fall. Things have been busy, busy, busy, and writing time has been very scarce. But I think we are finally settling into a routine and I hope to be able to be around here more often to share our homeschool year with you. Here we go...

For the week of October 10th...

A few plans for the week

Our extracurricular load is heavy this year, which means something (and usually 2 or 3 somethings) every day. We are taking today off of school since Dad has it off of work and planning to head to the apple orchard and maybe bake a pie before the kids head off in different directions. It's been a struggle, but I am really trying to fit in the fun seasonal stuff we usually do. We decorated for Halloween over the weekend, and I am plan to set aside some time this week to make fun candles with the kids. We also hope to do a local corn maze ~ our planned trip this weekend got rained out.  

Some homeschool notes

Homeschooling is going well! I am starting to feel a bit more organized about things, but many days I feel like I am being pulled in a hundred different directions. Rose and I are on our third Five in a Row book of the year, and I will  have posts up soon for our rows of Mirette on the High Wire and Ferdinand. All of the kids are doing Teaching Textbooks for math this year and it has been such a relief. No more correcting math! Our current BookShark read-alouds are Sticks Across the Chimney (Rose, Book Shark 2), Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (James, BookShark 5), and The Singing Tree (Christopher, BookShark 8). Grace is reading all of her own books this year - her first year with no read-alouds. I have been reading her current book, The Call of the Wild, in order to better discuss it with her. 

Out of doors

We are in peak foliage season here in New England, and the colors are just lovely right now. To get to town I have to drive through this kind of swampy area, and the colors there are so bright they hurt my eyes. I am always wishing I could take a picture...but alas, I am driving! We got pumpkins and mums a couple of weeks ago and set them all up on the porch and it makes me very happy, even though the porch desperately needs repainting. I am a big fan of fall. 

In the kitchen

We are continuing kids' cooking nights this fall, and whatever night they don't cook tends to be a crockpot night. We have a rotating crockpot menu, which lately has been potato-leek soup, some sort of chili, or chicken cooked with barbecue sauce or salsa, then served on tacos/rolls or over rice. 

Watching, reading, crafting

We watched The Addams Family with the older three and they all enjoyed it. I love that movie, so I was glad they appreciated it. We also watched Cars, an oldie but goodie. Without the kids, we have been watching season two of Fargo. My current read is A Day at the Beach, which I just started and haven't formed an opinion of yet. I just finished up The Awakening of Miss Prim, which I loved. As a homeschool mom, it was so fun to read an adult book so in favor of homeschooling!

I am working on a post about our first FIAR read of the year ~ Mirette on the High Wire~ and also a summary post about the weeks we have done so far. 

Till next time!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Memory Making

In keeping with my resolution to be more thoughtful and organized when it comes to celebrating the seasons... here are some plans and random thoughts for September

The puppers, last fall
Special Dates to Celebrate

*September 6th ~ First Day of Homeschool*

I have been hard at work the last few weeks pulling together plans for our new year. I hope to share lots about our homeschooling and how it's all going in the next few months. 

*September 16th ~ The Full Harvest Moon*

Fall full moons seem especially lovely, so I try to make a point of noticing them.

*September 22nd ~ First Day of Autumn*

We don't typically make a big deal of this day, but I do like to point it out to the kids and plan a seasonal dinner - a stew or chili, something nice for a cool night. I also try to plan a Sunday outing around this time to pick apples, have a picnic, buy chrysanthemums for the front porch, and maybe try a corn maze. These things get harder to fit in as the kids get older and busier, but I already have a proposed date penciled in on the calendar and I plan to guard it jealously. 

Things to Notice & Do This Month

  • Get back into a routine of school and activities (easier said than done!)
  • Pick apples and make a crisp, pie, and applesauce
  • Sort fall clothes and purchase any necessary new items
  • Begin planning Halloween costumes (some of my kids have already started)
  • Register for the National Mythology Exam
  • Take a fall hike
  • Have an outdoor picnic
  • Do art projects outside when possible - in fact, do as much schoolwork outside as possible!
  • Encourage the kids to choose a fall-theme poem for memory work
  • Pick the last tomatoes from the garden - we did not have a good tomato year, but there are still a few out there
  • Look for whirling maple seeds, fluffy milkweed pods, and acorns
  • Clean the woodstove and light the first fire
  • Put up fall decorations
  • Start lighting a candle at dinner again
  • Buy apple cider and cider donuts
  • Put the swimming pool to bed for the year
  • Plant spring bulbs

Happy September!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tenth Grade Plans, Simplified

I think I am just about done going through everyone's homeschool plans for the year,with an eye to simplifying them as much as possible. I often plan for too much stuff, so this year I am trying to do better. I thought I had already posted Grace's plans here, but now I can't find them! So much for getting organized. So here are her simplified plans, and I'll just make notes about things I cut out.

Language Arts

Writing Strands Level 6 - She was also going to do The Creative Writer Level 2, but WS has plenty of creative assignments, so we decided it was plenty.

Vocabulary from Classical Roots D She started this last year, so I may have her start Level E if she finishes before year's end. 

Analytical Grammar's High School Review and Reinforcement - Grace is finished with all three levels of Analytical Grammar, so now she just needs to do a review sheet every two weeks. The review books come in several different themes; she is going to do American Authors.

Math & Logic

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 - The original plan was to have her finish up Life of Fred Advanced Algebra, then start the Geometry book. But her summer has not allowed that kind of time and she felt confused about some of the concepts. LOF has worked well for her up until now, but I think she needs something more straightforward ~ and I need something that grades for me so I can keep on top of things ~ so TT it is. 

The Thinking Toolbox - She'll do this one with her brother after we complete Fallacy Detective. 


BookShark American History 100  - She started this last year and will jump back in again around week 16. I am hoping another level will come out soon for her to use. We do not use the language arts component of the program; she uses the programs listed above instead.


Discovering Design Through Chemistry with lab kit - I considered doing Apologia (even though we are a secular homeschool), but the negative reviews of the revised edition made me wary. DDtC is written by Dr. Wiley, who wrote the original Apologia chemistry. I never really looked at Apologia, because I figured it just wouldn't work for us, but I really wanted something more open and go this year. I'll try to update on how this program is working out for us as the year progresses.

Foreign Language

Ouino Spanish  - I spent tons of time trying to find a decent Spanish program. Grace has completed the first two levels of Rosetta Stone, but had some frustrations towards the end. It is an immersion program, so nothing is explained in English and it felt like too much guessing and poking around in the dark for her. We are trying something new this year, and starting right from scratch to hopefully fill in any gaps in her knowledge.  I had her pick just one language to simplify things, so she won't be doing Latin this year.


Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book 1 - I was going to have her do Story of Art for an art history credit, but we're just going to stick with AP.

And that's it! I am hoping this year will feel a bit easier than last, with a little less going on. Our first day back will be the day after Labor Day.

Until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Musings

For the week of August 15th....

A few plans for the week

Lots of stuff! Grace heads in for her final week of CIT at her barn. She has been spending tons of time there this summer; we miss having her around, but it has been great for her. Rose has two weeks left of summer gymnastics ~ this will be the second to last week, and I am looking forward to the (slightly) slower pace of September. My boys have relaxed into a much more laid-back schedule than the girls - one of them is done for the summer as far as organized activities go, the other still has practice, but just twice a week. I think they are possibly getting a wee bit bored, lately. We also have appointments - it is kind of scary how many appointments ended up in this month! This week we see the orthodontist and eye doctor. And I am really hoping to get to the lake next weekend if everyone is well....we are passing around a bad cold right now. Not fun!

Homeschool notes

Planning is heavily underway! I have all of our books on order, now just waiting for them to trickle in. I sat down and figured out our calendar for the year - which days will be our "school days" and which we will take off. I ordered a Plum Paper teacher planner as a fun little splurge. I haven't tried to use a paper lesson planner in ages, but I adore my regular Plum Paper planner, so I figured I'd give it a try. My current projects are planning out the first few Five in a Row books I plan to do with Rose and trying to get everyone signed up for fall activities. 

Out of doors

I just got around to properly storing the garlic we harvested last month. It looks good, and I am very happy with it. We had a smaller garden this year, and it has been a breath of fresh air. We grew much less of everything, and instead got most of our vegetables from a local farm share. Next year, I am planning to have an even smaller garden. On my short list: raspberries, garlic, cut flowers, cucumbers, 4 tomato plants, mini pumpkins, arugula, lettuce, rhubarb, mint, and cilantro. Everything else we can get in adequate amounts at the farm share. I would like to put in blackberries too - debating. 

In the kitchen

Not much going has been too hot to cook! We had one day last week where it was so miserable we got take-out for dinner, even though the closest take-out place is 20 minutes away. Most of my time in the kitchen these days involves helping Rose pack snacks for practice. She needs a packed snack/light lunch five days a week, which really makes me wonder how moms with kids in public school do this every day. 

Watching, reading, crafting

We took the kids to see The Secret Life of Pets over the weekend ~ it was very cute. We have been watching lots of Olympics, mostly revolving around the kids' interests. So we watch equestrian and gymnastics, primarily, but the boys also like white-water and BMX. I think I am a bit behind on this year's book challenge, but I am currently reading The Luckiest Girl Alive. I am still knitting and cross-stitching a bit here and there, mostly while we have movie night or watch the Olympics. 

I am working on a post about Grace (my tenth-grader) and the simplified homeschool plans we have decided on for her. I also hope to have a post up about our homeschool calendar this week. 

Till next time!