Basically, the gist of this week can be summed up as: "Life is not perfect, so we're just going to have to do it anyway." We all got sick last week, which meant that starting school this week did not go the way I had envisioned. On the other hand, we just did it anyway, and though accompanied by some chaos, an ear infection or two, and a two year old braining his brother on the head with a log from the stack of firewood, it went well enough. (Or at least as well as anyone could expect!)
This is a picture of chaos waiting to happen. And yes, he is actually standing inside the cabinet. But, hey! There's only one of him!
You can find detailed notes at Show Your Work, but here's the overview:
Our focus this week happened to be faith. (Before you think too much of me, this was not what I had planned either. As I was cooking dinner tonight, my husband asked me what I was making. "A winter squash pie," I said, "with the leftover squash. It's kind of an experiment." To which my husband replied, "If you had said that you knew exactly what you were doing and everything was proceeding exactly according to plan, then I would have been nervous.")
Anyway, I read The Way of the Cross: A Story of Padre Pio to the kids in little bits throughout the week. St. Pio's feast day was September 23, but the book was too long to read in one day, and too good not to read. It even kept my five year old interested, and apparently made him think enough that he connected Padre Pio's story of suffering to way back in the spring, when we read St. George and the Dragon and talked about how everyone has a dragon of his or her own to slay. "Padre Pio had a hard life," he said, thoughtfully, before he wandered away.
We also attempted an observation of the Ember Days of autumn, thanks to my friend Jennifer at Wildflowers and Marbles. Last spring I'd discovered the Rogation Days too late to make an observance of them, but tucked the information away in my file crate for this year. This year I found the Church's seasonal days of fasting and thanksgiving particularly meaningful, considering where we live (a poor, rural area of upstate New York) and how we are trying to live (raising more of our own food, eating locally, etc.). It seemed appropriate to give thanks for our bounty and to contemplate the upcoming season -- that is, winter, particularly this winter, when rising fuel and food prices will increase the hardship of many.
Preschool and Kindergarten
Considering that Farmerboy is five this year and that the twins need to learn to use their powers for good and not evil, I wrote a more formal preschool/kindergarten time into our schedule. I didn't get a great start with the little boys this week but we did start. Predictably, Farmerboy is having a little trouble with the idea of "this time is required", but I expected that. Because I wasn't able to get our environment set up in time, our indoor activities were kind of cobbled together. They sorted and counted plastic fish and transportation counters, did some matching activities with the alphabet matching cards from Montessori for Everyone and MCP Phonics K, and Farmerboy helped me put together our new teen bead hanger.
Well, we do use some. This year I'm experimenting with writing out assignment sheets for Gareth and Katydid. Gareth's is weekly, but Katydid has requested a daily sheet. This is also the first year I am making actual reading assignments... although even here I'm giving the kids a few choices to pick from. Our "theme" this year is mythology and ancient history, so the reading choices I offered the kids reflect that. Gareth chose to start out with The Children's Homer and Katydid chose D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. I also put in some science reading, because the kids enjoy it: I gave Gareth The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way and Katydid was excited to start Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. (The bird chapters aren't telling her anything she doesn't know when it comes to indentification, but I think it would be a good idea if she learned about classification and the mechanics of flight.)
The kids also started back on the old standard subjects: math, language, spelling, and Latin. Gareth and Katydid are both using Saxon books (7/6 for Gareth and 5/4 for Katydid) this year, although I'm going to supplement Katydid's with a good dose of Montessori-inspired work whenever warranted, and possibly a dollop of Waldorf-inspired math, too. (Mainly I just want her to realize that the numbers in her book actually do connect with reality.) For Latin this year, Gareth is going back to Lively Latin and Katydid is starting Latina Christiana I, which she is excited about.
My goal was to start having Choice Time again this week, but with everyone recovering from their colds, I thought sleep was more important. I did put some choices on the board, though, and Gareth and Katydid made a few choices this week: Gareth checked out some websites on the equinox and read the book About Time: A First Look at Time and Clocks. Katydid started the "Birds of the World" project we talked about over the summer, in which she is to learn geography by studying the birds of each continent. African birds were her first pick.
Art, of course
Because there's always art. See if you can pick out Katydid's picture. I thought so. You'll also note what happens when a five year old boy decides to draw a rainbow picture. And, yes, that is a scorpion beside the knight. Farmerboy put that in when I asked him if he was going to color the sky or the grass. ("No, but how about a scorpion?")
FarmSchooling, Nature Study, and Other Seasonal Stuff
We did feel good enough to get outside for a few days this week. The twins and I collected leaves and crabapples and talked about why trees don't have legs. We all examined the remains of the tree that fell last year and were all delighted to rip the bark off discover the little mushrooms growing there. We spent a lot of time watching chickens. And Chipmunk has developed a keen interest in the pumpkins and tomatoes currently in residence in the dining/learning room.
A few photos, to make a long post even longer:
"The Animal Rescue Society". The kids found a HUGE dragonfly trapped in the bird netting on the blackberry bush. They managed to free it, and Gareth was able to hold it perched on his finger while it gathered its strength. Unfortunately, we didn't have the camera at that point... It was really quite an experience, being able to hold a dragonfly.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have found tomatoes on the floor with little finger holes in them. We're past our first frost, so everything but the kale and Gareth's Black Aztec field corn is in the house.
Caterpillar on the blackberry bush...
Pop covered in the blackberries we'd just picked...
Farmerboy holding one of our Dominique hens...
Farmerboy also helped Andy create corn shocks, which we're planning to use to provide some warmth for the chickens this winter.
Now that I do the overview, I can tell we were actually pretty busy. I'm glad we just jumped in, because the kids were obviously ready!