Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer School - My Honest Review

On Grandpa Tim and Grandma Amy's Boat this Summer

Mid-July it hit me that Summer was completely upon us and going to be over soon!  We became so engrossed in enjoying whatever Summer opportunities before us, we completely dropped Summer School.  I think 8 weeks is a nice round number and aside from shortening the overall length of the program I planned for them, the only other thing I would do differently in the future is cut back to just 5-6 subjects to cover.  How to pick though, I don't know!  I love all of what we did.  Perhaps we'd eliminate the animal section, though it was super fun, it was just to expound on the kids' knowledge of animals they already could identify.  That doesn't quite fit with the goal of the others which was to simply introduce new material and memorize.  It should, like in Classical Conversations, be simple and straightforward, like "Here's the new constellation, I'll show it to you everyday for a week, then review once a week for the rest of the Summer."  Mondays were our review day, Tuesday started the new info for the week.

Favorite Subjects we did: Classical Music, Bird Sounds, Sea Life and Fungi
Least Popular Subjects we did: Trees, Astronomy, Geology

Through the Summer the kids and I kept a running list of subjects we'd like to cover in future years. The plan is to return to all this in three years, so I have two more years worth of material to compile.  For the sake of next Spring when I'm ready to think about this again, here's the list we came up with:

  • Dog Types  - Ezra's determined to learn these, so we must add this one
  • Braille - Another Ezra add
  • Morse Code - why not?  We'd have to use this for good and not evil though. Back in the '80s, I had neighbors in DC who were both Morse code specialists and they'd cheat during Pictionary using Morse code.
  • Weeds - I took a medicinal herb class this Summer and am inspired to learn more about the weeds in my backyard!  
  • Different cultures - Mainly so we could try making different foods from different countries.
  • Reptiles
  • Arachnids

Before I let it go, I had already looked this up for Week 9 and wanted to share because I never knew the difference.  Check out these conifers:

They are Spruce, Fir and Pine, in order of top left, top right and bottom.
Now, I know!

Summer School Week 8

Week 8 Field Notes 

Bird Call: Mockingbird

Classical Music: Haydn, The Creation (Oratorio) & The Emperor's Hymn

Picture Study:  Renoir, "Two Sisters on the Terrace"

Animal: Alpaca - Conveniently, the owners of our community garden recently bought two alpacas we can visit anytime.  They're funny animals with intense under bites and jaws that lock up if they get upset.  

Insect: The fly - We didn't have to go far for this one either!  Didn't have to leave the house, in fact!

Flower: Rose - When we're driving places, the kids will announce that they see one of our flowers from this Summer.  Toward the end of Summer, though we stopped doing formal "Summer School" I still couldn't help but point out the hydrangeas, phlox and hibiscus.  We played "hydrangea poker" in the car a few times (just like "cow poker" in whenever you see a cow on your side of the road you get a point.  If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your points.  Only change the cows for hydrangeas).   The hydrangea talk led to good discussions on pH levels and how coffee grounds added to the base of the hydrangea turns them pink, purple or blue.  So, the kids would point them out and comment whether the owner had bothered to add acidity to their plant or not.   

Tree: Ash - This subject really didn't get covered near to what it should have been.  This was, for some reason, a harder one for us to fulfill.  Perhaps because I can't identify trees very well, I couldn't just whip out the names for them and figuring them out was work.    Note to self: In three years when we revisit these topics, do not expect the kids to remember any trees at all.  

Fungi:Chicken Mushroom - We've actually found these (we think) at the fairgrounds on a tree.  Don't worry, Grandma, we're not going to eat any of them unless a professional mushroomer gives us the go ahead.  The mushroomers around here that I've met seem to specialize in a particular kind of mushroom, like morels.  Perhaps they haven't branched out yet to other mushrooms.  I guess that makes my ambitions to become a seasoned mushroom hunter more attainable, just learn one at a time!  I was a bit overwhelmed this Summer with all there was to know about mushrooms.  
Rocks: We skipped rocks this week, oops!

Constellation: Leo - The Lion.  See week 5 for the constellation flashcards that made all the difference in this subject.  

Dinosaur: Brachiosaurus - CHECK OUT OUR AWESOME FIND!! I only wish we found them sooner in the Summer.  YouTube is full of "I'm a Dinosaur" videos on tons of different dinos.  

American Sign Language: Reviewed ABCs - Starfall has a nice little review video for abcs found here.

Sea Life:  Catfish - Later in the Summer, at the family cabin, Ezra caught a catfish, Ben cleaned it and Aunt Debbi helped bread and cook it.  It was about six bites of really good fish meat.  
Here's Ben with his "catch of the day": Phoebe Fish.  Check out those other whoppers in the lake!  

Biography:Samuel De Champlain - Ezra's choice, he remembered the name from Classical Conversations

Fiction Summer Must Reads: Raggedy Ann - The original book from my childhood

Summer School Week 7

Clearly, the Summer is long over, but I wanted to post the last two weeks of our field notes as we did actually do them, but I didn't have time to post them.  I'm only posting them for my own record keeping sake.  

Week 7 Field Notes 

Bird Call: Gold Finch 

Classical MusicHaydn's No. 94 in G Maj. (the Surprise) and Piano Sonata in D Maj. - The kids cracked up everytime we played the "Surprise Song", very fun.  I also have a Juni quote about the Piano Sonata, "This song reminds me of the birds in the tree in that picture, of our family and how much we love each other."  Awww!

Picture Study:  Renoir, "Luncheon of the boating party"

Animal: Wildcats - Here's a Nat'l Geographic video on wildcats

Insect: Beetles - Here's a video showing some beautiful tropical beetles and one on Hercules Beetles

Flower: Daisy - I made flashcards for our flowers this week and below is one of the pictures I used for the daisy!  I printed the pictures I'd collected, cut them out and taped them to flashcards.  They await a trip to Staples for laminating.  I did two of every kind of flower so they can play games with them and also to show different views of each flower - close up and farther away, open or shut and different colors of a flower.

Tree: Chestnut - We have some chestnuts our neighbor gave us, so we'll have to roast them and find the tree in their yard.  

Fungi:Shaggy Mane

Rocks: Basalt - "The ugly one"

Constellation: Gemini - The Twins

Dinosaur: Apatosaurus

American Sign Language: Reviewed ABCs

Sea Life:  Oysters  - Here's a Discover video that covers the oyster basics!

Biography: George Washington

Fiction Summer Must Reads: The Random House Book of Humour

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer School Week 6

Week 6 Field Notes

Bird Call:  Blue Jay

Classical MusicVivaldi Fall Allegro and Winter - To help differentiate the four seasons, we've been talking about parts of the songs that remind us of things to do with that season.  Sometimes I'll tell a story about Ez and June running around the backyard playing in the snow shivering like the music.

Picture Study:  Monet, Venice Twilight

Animal: Cows

Insect: Ant - A very good book by David Suzuki called, Looking at Insects, gave us cool ideas for science projects related to different bugs.  For ants he tells you how to make your own ant farm in a jar. 

Flower: Lily
We celebrated the lily by filling one with whipped cream and eating it.  It doesn't taste like much of anything, but it was a great means of eating whipped cream.

Tree: Birch

Fungi: Morel

Rocks: Granite

Constellation: Cygnus, the Swan 

Dinosaur: Ankylosaurus

American Sign Language: Reviewed ABCs

Sea Life:  Tuna - Did you know that tuna fish can grow indefinitely?  One video we watched talked about tuna fish bigger than dolphins!!  

Biography: Louis Braille

Fiction Summer Must Reads: James Herriot's Treasury for Children - still lovin' it!

Summer School Week 5

Week 5 Field Notes
At the start of the week I make this list out here on my blog and spend a few minutes looking up fun things on-line to do.  Then throughout the week when we need something fun to do (read: When the kids want to watch TV or play video games and I don't want them to), I get on-line with them and we pull up the post for this week.  Then I'm not searching for good videos with them right there begging to watch ones I don't want to waste our time with.   At the end of the week I go through and add notes about what we actually did and didn't do for record keeping.  Then it gets published.  So, I'm using this blog for my own strange on-line record keeping and organizational purposes.

Bird Call:  Mourning Dove

Classical MusicVivaldi Spring and  Summer Presto

Picture Study:  Monet, "Madame Monet and her Son"

Animal: Horse - Here's a video from Nat'l Geo. on them

Insect: Praying Mantis - Three Nat'l Geo. vids on this bug: The bug, what they eat, and reproduction

Flower: Lilac - A coloring page

Tree: Buckeye Tree - Nice informational page

FungiGreen Spored Lepiota - 

Rocks: Gabbro

Constellation: Canis Major - I'm so happy I found this treasure!  It's ready to print constellation flashcards!!  

Dinosaur: Velociraptor - Read a book from the library

American Sign Language: W-Z

Sea Life: Clam - This was the best video we found:  giant clams.  Also, this guy is too funny, had to include his video on how to hunt for clams in Florida.  Printed out our on-line colored clams!  

Biography: Daniel Boone

Fiction Summer Must Reads: James Herriot's, "A Children's Treasury" - WE LOVE THIS!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer School Week 4

Week 4 Field Notes

Bird Call:  Common Grackle - because they're everywhere around us!

Classical MusicHandel's Water Music - YouTube's playlist has been a huge help in reviewing our previous week's songs, thanks, Rachel, for telling me about that!!

Picture Study:  Monet, "Water Lilies" - of 250 water lily paintings I chose this one, because if you squint it looks unbelievably three dimensional, also because up close you can see all his brush strokes and get a feel for impressionistic work.

Animal: Hippo - don't you just want your own baby hippo? We slacked on three subjects this week and this was one of them.  This subject will culminate in a big trip to the Pittsburgh zoo later this Summer.

Insect: Spittle Bug  aka Froghopper - the former name is for when they're nymphs and the latter when they're proper bugs.  We always see the spittle "foam" on our strawberries every year, so they made our bug list.  Found most of our info in library books and on Wikipedia.
Flower: Peony - we love that ants have to bite these open.  For fun, last Saturday, we stopped by Kingwood Center where Ben proposed to me oh some 17 years ago and just next to the gazebo where he asked me, there's a peony garden with gorgeous peonies dating back to the 1930s!  I've seen rose gardens, but never a peony garden.  In May when he proposed, they wouldn't have been in bloom, not that I would have noticed that day anyways!

Tree: Oak - 2nd subject we missed - now we're two weeks behind on trees!  I think we'll live.

Fungi: Chanterelle- Read lots in the the mushroom field guides about these.  Evidently, these are a favorite among mushroom hunters.  Known for their peachy aroma and amazing flavor.

Rocks: Pegmatite - The pink glittery one in the box we got.  :-)

Constellation: Andromeda - no dot to dots found for this.  My plan is to make flashcards up for all of the constellations we do, so I can quiz them easily.  But, since I haven't done this yet, this is the third subject we neglected this week.

Dinosaur: Triceratops - from the Cretaceous period - Dover library has books on many dinos individually.

American Sign Language: Q-V

Sea Life: Squid, Octopus and Cuttlefish - These just had to go together, but not all are cephalopods or eight legged!  Most interesting facts about these guys is their skin color can change instantaneously via electric impulses!  Here's an awesome Nova video on how God made these amazing creatures to camouflage themselves.  Ezra is obsessed with the sea life subject and wants to try eating every one we learn about.  Once a month, we do this, but can't afford to eat seafood in our landlocked Ohio Valley every week.

Biography: Thomas Edison

Fiction Summer Must Reads: Pilgrim's Progress for kids - slow going on this one, it's good though!

We're definitely in Summer mode here and not making school such a priority as we do in the school year.  It's fun to see their minds working though and hear them asking really good questions about the world around them.  My favorite from this past week though has little to do with Summer school, "Mom, how do you know the right person to ask to marry you?"  That was my big, almost seven year old , whose front top tooth is so loose today I think he might swallow it in his sleep during naptime today!  For the record, he only gets a nap when he needs it (about every 2-3 days), but Mommy requires the kids have quiet time EVERY DAY for one hour!!  She also plans to continue the quiet time tradition as long as earthly possible.

I'm enjoying our Summer school subjects far more than I do normal academics, but I'm getting an idea of how to plan ahead and expound on the core subjects we will do in Classical Conversations in the school year.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer School Cycle A Classical Music

The Music at a Glance for this Summer

In deciding against the purchase of a good classical music learning CD and only using free on-line resources, I made things really difficult for myself when it comes to reviewing with the kids.  Yes, I sit here and individually type in the names of each of our previous songs and find the YouTube video we watched for each week over and over.  So, this post is to help centralize those on-line resources.  I'll add more links as we get to those weeks.

Week 1: Bach's Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

Week 2: Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor and The Well Tempered Clavier

Week 3: Handel's Messiah

Week 4: Handel's Water Music

Week 5: Vivaldi Spring and  Summer Presto

Week 6:Vivaldi Fall and Winter

Week 7: Haydn's No. 94 in G Maj. (the Surprise) & Piano Sonata in D. Major

Week 8: Haydn's The Creation (Oratorio) & The Emperor’s Hymn

Week 9: Mozart's Overture to the Magic Flute

Week 10: (undecided as to which Mozart piece to choose for this week)

Week 11: Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, mvt. 1 & Fur Elise

Week 12:  Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Symphone No. 6, 2nd movement

Summer School Week 3

Week 3 Field Notes
OK, the honeymoon phase is over and we're parsing it down to what needs done and having lots of fun outdoors with Summer weather here.

Bird Call:  House Sparrow - We played this sound everyday and 1-2 times played the old bird songs just to quiz them.

Classical Music: Handel's Messiah - Phoebe's favorite thus far!  She knows almost all the words, well, at least the "Hallelujah" word.  She sings it all the time!!  "Alluya, Alluya, Alluya!"  Perfect pitch too!  We play the old songs from previous weeks 1-2 times a week as well.

Picture Study:  Rembrandt, Self-Portrait  - "Hey look, kids!  It's Rembrandt!  He painted himself!"

Animal: Giraffe - Read a book from the library on these.

Insect: June Bug - Learned about hissing June Bugs from YouTube videos.

Flower: Pansies - Colored these after researching the different colors they come in on Google and visiting a local nursery to see the flower up close.  It's been fun as we drive around town for the kids to see flowers they know. I chose flowers currently blooming to study each week, so we saw daffodils that first week, then tulips, now we see pansies planted in yards.  

Tree: Pine Tree - dropped the ball on trees this week, need to go up the hill and investigate what kind of pine tree we have!

Fungi: Puff Ball - I am smitten!  I can't put the mushroom books down.  I want to hunt them so badly, but realize that realistically, I have zero experience to rely on and eating a sneaky bad mushroom disguised as a nice edible one can be deadly!  Must find experienced mushroom hunters to apprentice under!!

Rocks: Obsidian - Finally got the box of Igneous rocks.  This is making learning rocks so much easier!!  Showed them obsidian the first day and had them say "OBSIDIAN" five times.  Then today, I pushed the box full of rocks (numbers concealed) toward them and said, "Find the obsidian. Find the pumice."  They loved it!

Constellation: Hercules - This one was chosen because I found a connect the dot for it here, but can't seem to find lots on it elsewhere.  Planning to stick to the plan after this week as I previously mentioned. I realize I need a simple good picture of each constellation to hold up like a flash card to quiz since that's the point of this (see and recognize).

Dinosaur: T-Rex - Read a book from the library, watched a few on-line videos.

American Sign Language: K-P

Sea Life: Cod - The kids love coloring a flower and a fish every week.  So, I had to look up a picture for Cod and this is all I could find.  Found out the local fish and chips shop, "Gip's Fish and Chips" only sells cod straight from the ocean "no middle man" he said.  It was very yummy!

Biography: Christopher Columbus

Fiction Summer Must Reads: Pilgrim's Progress for kids

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Summer School Week 2

Week 2 Field Notes

A fun idea I'd seen many times on-line before is to use popsicle sticks with the names of all the subjects on them and to let the kids draw one to decide which subject to do.  I forgot to mention we did this after having a trying first day last week.  The rest of the week went much better and they were bringing me the cup of sticks to draw one even when it wasn't school time.

Bird Call:  Chickadee - Played sounds 1-2 times daily for entire week. The bird calls have become Ezra's obsession.  He likes to sit on the website and say, "Mommy, name that bird!" like a game show host.  Since we just started doing this, I'm not very good at it, but we're motivated to get better.  We sit outside and listen to all the calls and it's driving us crazy to not know the names of the birds making the calls.

Classical MusicBach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and The Well Tempered Clavier.  Played each once a day throughout week, reminding the kids of who the composer is and the name of the song.  Also added No. 3 of the Brandenburg Concertos, we should have done that one instead of No. 5 last week.

Picture Study: Rembrandt, "The Night Watch"

Animal:  Rhinoceros.  We read books on rhinos from the library and this from Nat'l Geographic:

Just have to add that, in retrospect, this topic is the least relevant in that they already know what most animals are when they see one.  If anything, this gives us an excuse to dive in and investigate a fun topic, animals of their choice!  It should make our next trip to the zoo that much more meaningful, I hope.

InsectCockroaches.   Read a book from the library on this disgusting bug.

Flower: Crocus and Tulip.  Coloring pages to choose from here and here.  We had sickness this week, hence the extra videos scattered about.  Of all of them though, this one was fabulous!  The section on tulips can be found between 31:00 and 55:00 in this two hour special.  Now, everywhere we go, the kids see tulips and point them out.

Tree: Maple Tree.  Sat under our maple tree and used a better guide to figure out it was a Norway Maple, which looks a lot like a Sugar Maple.  It was a little disappointing when we realized it wasn't a Sugar, but that's ok, now no one is asking to tap the tree.

Fungi: Mushroom Anatomy.  We took a step back this week and went over mushroom parts before we memorized any more mushroom names.  I can't say enough about the wonderful book I found at our library on mushrooms, Katya's Book of Mushrooms!!!  Talk about a living book!  The Russian author, Katya Arnold, puts into pictures and words her passion for mushroom hunting and eating, evidently a Russian family tradition and children are taught when they are young how to hunt for them.  We used her diagrams as our basis for mushroom anatomy.  Then, wait for it...we DRESSED UP like mushrooms (OK, maybe just the cap and gills) and labeled ourselves!  We even threw glitter around to show what spores do.  Too fun!

To cap it off (like my pun?), I just happened upon THIS mushroom farm an hour away!!  We'll be planning a field trip there for sure.  I'd like to get a growing kit too, since I have no idea how to find our own mushrooms.  We may have to ask some of our mushroom hunting friends from church how to get started.  This is quickly becoming MY favorite subject we're studying, and to think, I almost left it off!

Ezra said he's a Fly Agaric mushroom- cute, but poisonous

Rocks: Pumice.  Ordered set of igneous rocks this week, in the meantime used a real life pumice stone from my bathroom and showed them how to use it on their feet. Put it in water to see if it would float.   Here's an Igneous Rock video for kids.  Here's one on Pumice.

Constellation: Orion.  Here's a Dot to Dot of Orion.  Also, I meant to share last time, this is the site I'm basing the choice of constellations on.  Read the history of Orion the Warrior from our constellation book from the library.  We won't be able to see Orion until Winter time.

DinosaurStegosaurus.  Here they are on Dinosaur Train!  Also, we read a library book on them.

American Sign Language: Taught them D,E, and F (Reviewed every few days).  They are eager beavers and have tricked me into going ahead a bit.  We are up to K now and Ezra signs his name by himself proudly.

Sea LifeSalmon.  We found great videos on National Geographic, PBS, found a salmon to color and read a little from our library book on fishes*.  Once a month during our Summer School, I've scheduled for us to cover edible sea life that we'll actually try that week.  We happened to have a side of salmon in the freezer, so we ate it last night.  Turns out Phoebe LOVES salmon!  All the kids do actually.  I recommend my mom's sauce to go on top: 1 part mustard (the more gritty the better) and 1 part plum sauce (mango chutney works great too).  Ben likes to add a splash of soy sauce as well.  Ezra made a salmon sandwich with this sauce and dandelion leaves (he's our gourmet chef).

*Did you know that if you're talking about two salmon you say,  "There's two fish"? But, if you're talking about a salmon and a snapper you'd say, "There's two fishes."  Mommy learned something this week.

BiographyGandhi.  We found a book at the library and several videos for kids on-line, like this one. or this one!

Fiction Summer Must ReadsMr. Popper's Penguins - about to finish it, it'll be done before the weekend's over.  They love it!

The honest truth is we only did three days of school this week and I feel like we whizzed through each subject briefly one time.  The consolation is that it seems all of our topics, almost, are practical enough we encounter them somewhere throughout the week outside of school, so it gets reinforced that way.

It won't be until the very end of May before I post more Summer School field notes as we're going to Tennessee to see family for a few weeks.  Have a great May!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Summer School, Week 1

Week 1 Field Notes

Bird Call: The Red Cardinal - Played sounds 1-2 times daily for entire week. Read two books on them as well.  Made a bird bath in the back yard for them after reading that they like those.  Learned what they like to eat and that they do not migrate!  Had fun observing them at our bird feeders picking out the black sunflower seeds.

Classical Music: Bach, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Brandenburg Concerto No. 5" Played each once a day throughout week, can find them for free on Spotify or just Google searching, reminding the kids of who the composer is and the name of the song. This is a great rendition of the latter and one of Jesu.

Picture Study: Rembrandt, "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" We sat and really pored over this picture three times this week.  I asked questions about their observations.   We read the Scripture passage it was based on a few times.  We were surprised when we observed a familiar face in the painting besides Jesus!
Animal: Elephant.We read several books on elephants from library.  Watched YouTube videos of elephants playing.  One book we read from the library was about elephants painting so after reading it, we painted with paintbrushes in our mouths like trunks.  We painted with our hands afterwards to compare the experiences and thanked God for our hands!

Insect: Pill Bug or Roly Poly as we like to call them.  We read a library book on them and played with them outside.  We found some baby ones too!

Flower: Daffodil.  Brought some in from the garden, colored this picture of a daffodil.  We learned that they're inedible, even for deer and will kill any other flower/plant that they are put in a vase with!

Tree: Cherry Tree.  Looked through tree book from library to ID cherry trees.  Talked about bark, leaves and fruit/flowers to stress how we identify trees.  I think I need a better field guide.  Will try other library or order one soon.  Did find this video on identifying cherry trees and think we'll have to watch all four parts at some point.

Fungi: Fly Agaric.  What beautiful pictures come up when you Google this!  We read about them in a library book and drew and colored our own pictures of them.  I remind the kids everyday of the name of this fungi as they're still learning to read.

Rocks: Intro to Igneous Rocks.  With help from a Rock Field Guide from the library we were able to find several Igneous rocks in the gravel in our backyard and reviewed what igneous rocks are.  Mostly played with the rocks and separated them according to clearly sparkly ones (Igneous) and clearly sandstone (Sedimentary) rocks.  We did math with the rocks too.  :-) For the record, we learned this past year how the different types of rocks are formed at our CC Memory Fun time that I do with some of the moms.  Otherwise, I'd have spent today teaching them about how igneous rocks form.

Constellation: The Big and Little Dipper.  Here's a Dot to Dot of the Big Dipper.  We got ladles out and talked about how they looked the same.  Read a kid's library book on constellations so they knew what they were!

Dinosaur: Pterodon.  Read a library book on this and watched a video on about the Triassic Period.  Planning to watch some Dinosaur Train on-line still.

American Sign Language: Taught them A, B, and C (Reviewed every few days)

Sea Life: Crabs.  We read a library book on crustaceans, looked at the different colors of crabs in Google images (there's even purple crabs!!  We couldn't find a color they didn't come in!!) then colored our own crabs thanks to these printables.

Biography: Dr. Seuss, we read the book on his life and read extra Dr. Seuss books this week.

Fiction Summer Must Reads: Mr. Popper's Penguins (we'll read this until we're done - may need more than one week).

Note: I'm collecting pictures from the internet of the front of the books we read, and pasting them in files titled by subject so I have a record of what we've read.

We spent four half days this week covering this material.  We'll spend Monday reviewing and Tuesday we'll dive into week 2 which I got the library books for yesterday.  I envision us becoming more concise in our materials and activities as the Summer progresses.  We were just excited to get started and were a little overly ambitious this first week.  OK, maybe that was just me.

Summer School Intro.

After participating in Classical Conversations (CC) this past year, I had an idea.  First you should know that in CC, we present new info. to the kids each week and review it regularly.  There's three cycles (or three years) worth of info, then we do it all again and it should lodge itself nicely into their long term memories.  In CC, we do very traditional (or at least Classical) academic subjects such as English, Math, Latin, Geography, History, and Science.  Since completing the 24 week CC year, we have 18 weeks before returning to CC in the Fall.

I have always loved the nature based approach of Charlotte Mason (CM) and just for fun thought I could combine the two approaches.  This Summer, instead of just doing reading, writing and arithmetic like normal (we always do year round school), I thought we could do a hybrid of CC and CM where we memorize bird calls, classical music, names of insects, dinosaurs, and so on!  I have always wanted to know the names of trees and flowers when I see them, so I threw that in there too along with lots of other things.  I might have been a bit ambitious.

So, taking all the natural and artistic material that I desired for my kids to learn I made a table of three year's worth of material that we can repeat, just like we do CC material and get into our long term memories.   What I have to make clear for anyone not familiar with the classical theory of education is that for children under 10 years old, they are known to memorize well, but not to reason well yet.  So, tons of topics doesn't mean we exhaust all of them knowing them inside and out.  It means I briefly introduce each and make some sort of fun connection between the two things that I want them to connect, like a bird and it's sound or a piece of artwork and it's name and artist, a rock and it's name and type, etc.  We then just review those things for one week.  Once a week we'll review material from past weeks.  Next year will be all new material, and the next, then we come back to what we did this year in three years.  This is not time to understand the ins and outs of how a rock is made, though there are fun experiments for that.  Going into depth is just bonus if we get to it.  

So, I decided to wait to post the first week's material until after we did it.  I confess, I have never had this many library books out before and am praying we don't lose any, but I think between the library and the Internet, we're going to have almost all of what we need.  I am considering purchasing a set of igneous rocks from Amazon so we can see more than what's in our gravel.  Next year I'll need a set of sedimentary rocks and metamorphic for the third year.  Ooh, I also need a big binder for each child for each year to save all our work.  

I'll be labeling all related posts as "Summer School Cycle A" so I can find what we did again in three years to do it again!  We'll surely be able to go into more depth and do more complicated activities then when they're three years older.  Some subjects we are deciding the week before based on availability of library books.  But here's the basic list of subjects we'll be covering:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Classical Music or Jazz
Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Haydn
Mozart, Beethoven

Schubert, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Debussy, Strauss
Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Copland, Gershwin, Stravinsky
Artist Study
Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Cassatt
Degas, Gauguin, Cezanne, Seurat
Matisse, Kandinsky, Picasso, Warhol
Trees of Ohio

Foreign Trees
Other well known trees
Flowerbed flowers
 Wild Flowers
 Tropical and Carnivorous Flowers
Mushrooms of Ohio
Other important Fungi
Kids pick 12
Kids pick 12
Kids pick 12
Well known dinosaurs we find books on

Chosen based on available books at library

10 Major Constellations
6 Sky Wonders like Meteor Showers
8 Planets plus Pluto
Bird Sounds
12 Birds of Ohio

12 Tropical Birds
12 Birds of North America
Sea Life
Types you eat
Beautiful sea life
Sign Language
Alphabet in ASL
Basic Conversation in ASL
Basic conversation in ASL
Different every year for all 6 years
Alternating each week between modern and historic people

Fiction Must Reads
See on-line lists of must reads for kids

We're doing this for ourselves and don't expect anyone else to join us.  Posting this is just an extra measure of accountability, but also a great way to find all our work again, by week, in three years when we'll want it again.  

Also, for the record, I have only 12 of the 18 weeks scheduled so we have six weeks off whenever we wish.  In British school we only ever had six weeks off in the summer and that's our norm.  I have had a lot of fun putting all this together and am constantly deliberating with myself about whether to add or take away subjects.  There's so many things in the world to learn!!!  Everyone just has to pick what they most want to learn and go with that.  This is what we picked!  We'll also be doing reading, writing (which I found we practice plenty in our other subjects) and arithmetic, CC review and working on learning some Spanish this Summer.  The neat thing is we can do most of our learning outside in the sun like we did today.  Thank you, God, for the sunshine!!!  

Friday, March 15, 2013


The family that's silly together, laughs together.  You like my leprechaun face? I'm Irish, so I intuitively know that's the face they make.  
Mess is par for the course.(Ezra actually priced all the toys on the counter and is having an indoor garage sale. So, bring your wallet if you come visit us!)
We also commissioned some art from Ben's cousin, Anna.  I love our little bird family! This hangs in our living room.  Thank you, Anna!