For the past couple of weeks, we’ve enjoyed reading a collection of books set during the time of the Underground Railroad:
- Follow the Drinking Gourd A picture book about “Peg Leg Joe,” a conductor of the Underground Railroad who teaches a folk song to slaves to give them directions to follow the path to freedom. Here’s an opportunity to connect a bit of astronomy to your history study!
- . . . If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad A longer picture book (which can be used as a read-aloud) in question-and-answer format that covers many different aspects (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?) of the Underground Railroad.
- Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown A picture book about Henry Brown, who escaped to freedom by mailing himself north.
- A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 This is our family’s current read aloud, and it is a tough one! But this is also a middle school Challenge book, and our family is reading all of the Challenge A & B books and many of the Challenge I-IV books before our children get to Challenge so that they (or should I say I?) will already be familiar with them. (Last time we were in Cycle 3, we read Amos Fortune, Free Man, which was a great read aloud covering the same topic.) (A Gathering of Days is difficult reading because of the dialect used.)
- Who Was Harriet Tubman? This biography captivated our crew! As far as books are concerned, we absolutely love the Who was…? and What was… ? Series. They make great read-alouds for younger children, and they’re wonderful as chapter books for early independent readers, too! Even our sixth grader enjoys them, and we have learned so much!
In addition to the biographical story, these books include factual insets that highlight events and people relating to the person’s life.
We have enjoyed these so much that we’ve invested in purchasing many additional titles (including ones unrelated to our history studies, such as Walt Disney and Milton Hershey) to add to our own personal family library. I’m fairly certain we’ll return to these several times over the coming years.
Although we have shared our memory work review game ideas in times past, nowadays our memory work practice mainly consists of…
- listening to our CD in the car
- me humming a tune to get a memory work song stuck in the boys’ heads as we go about our day of LEGO building and whatnot
- memory work tutorials (once or twice a week)
We’re three months into the school year, and we’re finally starting to work science into our schedule. We had a week where we focused on science using this free Elementary Life Science curriculum. I tend to enjoy our experiments more as a review of previous science memory work than trying to keep up with an at-home experiment each week that correlates with our memory work. What’s more, our children seem to learn more when we later follow-up with an experiment that reviews the memory work they’ve mastered.
Kidney Models and Experiments. We made a kidney…
…and discovered how bile breaks down fat…
…and toyed around with a four-chambered pumping heart (which made quite a mess, I might add).
…and did some other experiments of which I don’t have photos. If you want instructions for these (and simpler) experiments, download the parent copy of Elementary Life Science. If you’d like additional details and photo explanations of these experiments, visit our Human Anatomy Experiments posts.
This is Stephen’s fourth year in Essentials, and I’m finally finding ways to make the work a little more engaging for him (especially because he’s been working on the same sentences every year). Now I’m encouraging him to come up with his own sentences that are structured/purposed/patterned in the same way as those listed in the Essentials guide for each week.
Suddenly, Stephen’s more motivated to do his sentence task analysis.
For our third grader (who will be in Essentials next year), I’ve been making up our own “Essentials Lite” study for grammar instruction. We started simple with subject-verb sentences (as shown below) and have built up from there.
He LOVES question confirmation and diagramming. I guess it helps when you allow a boy to use his favorite movie quotes (such as, “Everything is awesome.”). Let me just mention, if you are a parent of a Classical Conversations Foundations student and are worried about whether he/she will be ready for Essentials, David has had no formal English grammar instruction aside from copywork and dictation (from his All About Spelling lessons) and the three cycles of Foundations English grammar memory work. And this is so simple for him!
After about a year (or more), I finally found the courage to let David and Levi complete a Smithsonian Gold Dig that’s been tucked behind the game shelf. By the time they finished, we had about twelve pieces of pyrite and about a bajillion pieces of messy sandstone/clay all over the dining room.
While they chiseled away at the “Gold Dig,” Stephen and Gary put together a Titanic model that had been sitting on our shelf for a year (or more).
I’m not sure at this point, but I’m thinking this might remain a completely white Titanic. (Or maybe in another year we’ll get around to painting it.)
After our CC day, we took a spontaneous field trip to Bledsoe’s Fort, where we walked down a trail to the “Cavern of Skulls.”
I think the boys were disappointed that we couldn’t go and dig up any skulls ourselves. However, we did go on our first geocaching expedition here. Although we didn’t find the cache, it was fun searching for all the clues. Next time maybe we’ll dress up as pirates.
Finally, the day before Daddy left for Brazil, the boys went fishing.
David caught a fish. Levi was more interested in playing with worms.
Isaac has been teething, which means he’s been chewing on everything…
This makes me cringe, even though I am once again reminded to thank the Lord for our abundant clothing.
For everyone out there struggling with their homeschool days, just remember: The secret to a successful homeschool day is proper organization (as can be seen in this photo of my planner).
After my husband guffawed with this incredulous look on his face (while asking, “That’s your planner?!?!?!), I decided to at least pull the papers out and set them in a pile. This would be the irony of me. I love to plan but… well, exactly how useful is my planner in its current state?
God is certainly working on me in this homeschooling thing. How about you?