Back in the saddle again + a fabulous field trip

It has been a whirlwind week of returning to routine, only to throw routine to the wind once again and take a two-day road trip that culminated in a fantastic field trip.  All this after a week off the week of Valentine’s Day and a weekend getaway sans children for Steady Eddie and me.  The week off didn’t go as I expected (do they ever?), and my feelings about it have run the gamut from why bother with a scheduled week off every six weeks when they are so unproductive (for me)? to maybe I need to rethink how I approach these weeks off and go in with lower expectations and more of a plan for the children.  The jury’s still out on how this will affect the future.  Our plan going into this school year was to work for six weeks and take the seventh week off.  Our first off week took us to Disney World (which actually ended up being two off weeks) and the second off week was around Christmas (two weeks again), so this was the first off week in which we had nothing planned.  Part of me thinks with my over-achieving personality I’d be better off just taking off unplanned days as we need them; the other part thinks it’s good to plan in some down-time, if I can truly look at it that way.  Do you take week-long breaks during the school year?  What do those weeks look like?

All things considered, our back-in-the-saddle week was a good one.  Here’s a little peek into it:

1.  On Monday Steady Eddie was off work, and it was nice to have him hang out with us, observe our school day, and help corral the DLM.  The local public schools were out for President’s Day, so my sister called and invited us to eat lunch with her and my nephew at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  We couldn’t turn her down.  🙂  That’s the DLM and Louise, gazing longingly into the goldfish pond at the restaurant.  I love that homeschooling gives us the freedom to have a more seamless life!

2.  Steady Eddie was once again my Science Hero this week as he led the girls in an interesting investigation of solutions.  They love that it ended up with a drinkable product, something they never have at home:  Kool-Aid!  I love that they now know the meanings of the words solvent and solute and have the minibooks to prove it.  🙂  (Of course, their lesson was a little more in-depth than that, but those are the high points.)

3.  Lulu pulled out the dictionary this week to look up how to divide words at the ends of lines for one of her narration lessons.  I love fitting in skills like this in real-life situations. (WWE week 21 days 1-3)

4.  The DLM made lots and lots of messes this week.  Number four is just one of them.  He also discovered the word No this week as a preferred response to almost any question, and he perfected the shoulder shrug.  If you’ve never seen a twenty month old shrug his shoulders when you ask him a question, (etiquette aside) it’s just about the cutest thing ever.

5.  We broke out level two of All About Spelling this week and Lulu reviewed open and closed syllables and added some new spelling rules to her repertoire.  I really, really like this curriculum. (AAS level two steps 1 and 2)

6.  I took a bit of time this week to just do something with my girls.  When they asked if we could put together a puzzle together, I said yes.  I said yes!  We didn’t finish the puzzle, but I am so glad I ignored the to-dos and simply said yes.

7.  RightStart level C (lessons 83-84) took us back into the world of arithmetic this week and away from geometry for a while.  I can’t help but say that I’m glad!  Lulu caught on quickly to adding multi-digit numbers in a column and even enjoyed it.  We had a rough few math days, though, over a lesson that involved figuring out the number of dimes and pennies in a monetary amount (and vice-versa).  It’s all about place value, of course.  I think a more hands-on approach and possibly some living math books would be helpful. Any suggestions?

8.  We left our well-traveled path of Medieval history this week for a simple, straightforward biographical study of George Washington Carver in preparation for the week’s field trip.  I’m particularly proud of that notebooking page up there because Lulu did it all by herself.  Well, I read aloud from the biography (and she had already read a {fictionalized?} children’s biography herself as her required reading for the week) and asked her questions to draw out the salient points in the information a lá Writing with Ease.  I didn’t correct it much; I just pointed out some punctuation problems in the last bit to her and worked with her to fix it.  I didn’t correct her spelling at all.  It is amazing to me that she has gone from a child who never wanted to write anything to one who actually prefers to write her own narrations.  I’ve been encouraged to re-start my pursuit of formal notebooking after reading this spotlight post at the Notebooking Fairy.  I’ve long been a reader of Daisy’s blog and have been impressed with the quality of work her children produce, especially in their notebooking pages.  This is the way I envision school working around here, and I am actively taking steps to make it a reality in our homeschool now that the girls are getting old enough to really do this.

As far as history goes, though, I’m sort of at a loss.  We’ve all but decided to join a newly-forming Classical Conversations group that’s starting in our area next year, so we’ll start over again with the ancients in history.  I see no real pressing need to continue on with our Middle Ages study, and I was really floundering with it anyway. I’m half-way tempted to just go with biographical studies of interesting people for the rest of the year; my girls would love that.  And I think why not?

9.  Our week culminated in my birthday (well, on Thursday) and a road trip with Steady Eddie and the girls to the south-central part of the state.  Steady Eddie had been asked to help judge in a state-wide, highly prestigious high school science paper reading competition hosted this year by Tuskegee University (a different state university hosts each year).  This is a competition which he once had his students participate in and one which nets the winners big scholarship bucks.  I’m usually kind of at a loss at these events, surrounded by savvy public and private schooled students.  At the banquet Thursday night, our party of four was already seated, plus one of Steady Eddie’s colleagues, leaving three empty seats.  Who should sit down in those three empty seats but the lone homeschooled student who was up for the scholarship award and accompanied by his father and teacher.  (From what I can gather, he actually participates in a once-a-week chemistry class at a homeschool co-op {?}.  As his teacher said, it’s as close to private school as one can get and still be homeschooled.  Still.  I’ll take it.)  The young man had re-built a gas-powered truck to function as an electric vehicle.  Wow.  I guess seeing a homeschooled student in a setting like this, among the brightest lights in our state, helped me realize that yes, we can do this, too.  (Am I the only one who needs reminding about this?)

Of course, my homeschooling mother angst has nothing to do with our field trip, does it?  I actually consider the whole thing a field trip–the girls devoured the audiobook of Black Beauty on the way day.  (We downloaded the one from LibriVox, but we actually found the title via Books Should Be Free.  I like the way it’s organized much better than LibriVox.)  They behaved beautifully at the two-hour long banquet.  They walked all over campus with me, which is something I dearly love to do.  It takes me back to my days as a high school student on field trips that involved finding my way around college campuses across the state.  I just like to do this, and it was a bonus for me to be doing it with my girls.  The real high point of trip, though, was our time spent at the George Washington Carver museum which is located on campus at Tuskegee.  It was wonderful.  It will get its own blog post sometime in the near future, I hope.  🙂

Of course our week also included lots of reading, the beginning of a new math curriculum (RightStart B) for Louise, and the chanting of prepositions.  🙂  Louise is getting to be quite the reader, too!

I’ve been inspired by this post at Miss A La Mode this week to figure out how to “pay” myself for what I’m doing.  As someone who is easily overwhelmed, I think her advice is wise and timely and (believe it or not) not at all luxurious and self-indulgent.  We are the engine that runs the homeschool machine, mamas, and if we don’t take care of ourselves, it will crash and burn.  What do you think?

I’ll end this ramble with a little funny.  We’re getting cranked back up on our memory work (We started memorizing the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” but we haven’t settled on the other stuff yet.)  While talking about poetry, Lulu shared her judgment of the revered Robert Louis Stevenson’s stuff:  “I hate poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.  They’re too poemish.”  Is there any hope that this girl will love poetry like her mama does one day?  Only time will tell. . . 🙂

Have a relaxing weekend, friends!


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8 thoughts on “Back in the saddle again + a fabulous field trip”

  1. I’ve been to Tuskegee and the George Washington Carver museum! When I was growin up (home schooled, no less!) we took a road trip through the south and that was one of our stops. It make a big impression on me! Good (and interesting) memories both.

    Sounds like a really fun week in your household!

  2. I love seeing what Lulu is doing in Right Start since you are just a few lessons ahead of us. It’s like a little preview for me. :). Do you create the mini books ahead of time for your girls to fill in for the BFSU lessons, or do they just make them from scratch? Or did you get them out of some other resource? I struggle with that with the BFSU lessons…in the end we rarely do anything written to accompany the lesson because it is just one more thing to prep. My husband usually teaches the science lesson and I don’t always know ahead of time exactly which part of which lesson he is going to use. If he didn’t like BFSU so much I would definitely pick a curriculum that was easier for me to use!

  3. Kirsten,

    We usually sort of look ahead and try to figure out what we want the girls to take away from the lesson. It usually involves vocabulary or some kind of organized information. I don’t have the BFSU book in front of me, but I think there’s something in there about minibooks, right? I definitely have a love-hate relationship with BFSU myself. I think it’s fantastic but oh-so-hard to implement!

  4. Happy Birthday, Amy!! 🙂

    I’m laughing because once again our homeschool paths are similar. We left our familiar Medieval history this week for a study of FDR and JFK… I like the freedom to diverge every now and then. My son just told me he’s interested in learning about WWII, so I think we may veer there next!

    Thanks for linking! Looks like you had a great week!

  5. Amy — Yeah, I have read in the text at least some of the places where a mini book is suggested…I just get caught up in thinking about the details of what the mini book should be like (I’m really only familiar with lapbooking style mini books…sometimes those get complicated), and the paralysis of analysis of the options stops me from doing anything.

    In my idea world, someone would hold my hand, so to speak, and there would just be a collection of mini-books on the BFSU yahoo group or on some website that I could just print out and then have Miss M cut out and fill in. 🙂 I think if I just told her, “make a mini book about this” I don’t think she would know what to do on her own. (She has done lapbooks, but usually where it was very obvious what she was supposed to write on the inside of the book).

    Like you said, it’s hard to implement! There must be a lot of us out there cobbling together our own materials to use. It’s too bad there hasn’t been more effort by users to create probables to share with one another. I guess if I ever get around to creating anything I should be sure to share it…LOL! 🙂

    1. Kirsten,
      Yeah–ou do that! 😉

      I usually just make a simple minibook of some kind or just print soething that seems appropriate from Homeschool Share. I’ll try to post pictures sometime in the near future.

  6. Looks like a great week! We don’t take many weeks off, because I find it’s hard to get back into the routine and I find we all need routine. We do take typically a fall break, a Christmas break and a spring break and sometime in the summer (how much depends on what other things we’re doing). We also are more likely to take a day here or there as random unplanned days off. Like if it’s really warm out or my oldest is really into reading a book or everyone has been grumpy and I think we just need a more fun day.

    I agree sort of with the “getting paid” idea. I’m not sure I’d put it exactly that way. I don’t really look at homeschooling as much as a job as the lifestyle we’ve chosen for our family. I’m not sure I “deserve” payment for that but I do agree that homeschooling moms need to realize where they need help and ASK for it. I’ve become better at that in the past year.

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