Educationally speaking: Children of the Longhouse and The History of Lacrosse



Little Miss and I have been studying Native American history for the last month or more while reading Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac. I found a curriculum to use with the book that is very simple and includes science, health, and language arts along with history lessons. This allowed us to branch off into other subjects while reading.

The book focuses on Ohkwa’ri and Osti:stia, two Iroquois children, or, yes, children of the longhouse. The siblings are twins (check) and Ohkwarri is on the cusp of becoming a man. He’s also become the target of one of the boys in the village after he overheard the boy conspiring with his friend to attack a neighboring tribe and told the village council about it.

Here is a brief description of the book:

When Ohkwa’ri overhears a group of older boys planning a raid on a neighboring village, he immediately tells his Mohawk elders. He has done the right thing—but he has also made enemies. Grabber and his friends will do anything they can to hurt him, especially during the village-wide game of Tekwaarathon (lacrosse). Ohkwa’ri believes in the path of peace, but can peaceful ways work against Grabber’s wrath?

I agree with this review on The Home Librarian about the book: “If I had one complaint about the book, it’s a minor one. There is a glossary with pronunciation guide that was incredibly helpful. However, it’s tucked at the back of the book so I didn’t realize it was there until about half way through the book when I came across a word and wondered if there was a pronunciation guide. It would have been better to put it up front so the reader knows it’s there and so you first see how to pronounce the names Ohkwar’ri (Oh-gwah’-li) and Otsi:stia (Oh-dzee-dzyah).”

It is easy to see from the picture on the front of the book and from the description of the game that Tekwaarathon(pronounced Day-gwaah-la-ton) is actually lacrosse. I had no idea until I read this book that Lacrosse was passed down from Native Americans. Well, let’s say I had a very vague idea it was somehow connected to Native American culture, but I had forgotten it over the years. Like maybe I heard it somewhere one day when I was young, but I didn’t really remember much about it until we started this book.

At first, the book was slow and overly descriptive in some parts in my opinion. I suggested we skip past those parts but Little Miss said she liked even the slow parts so I plowed through them and then ended up liking them. I felt bad that I was impatient for the story to pick up and get to the game already and finally reminded myself that the book was as much about presenting Iroquois culture as it was about the action of the game. There are 13 long chapters in the book and it took us until chapter 12 to get to the actual game scenes. That chapter did not disappoint either. In fact, when we finished the book yesterday, Little Miss said, “Read it again!”

I have declined to read it again at this time but may do so later. I did enjoy the book, but the chapters were quite long and we need to move on to another history-based book for a new unit next week. I may read the book to her at night, however.

The curriculum we used provided us with various historical, scientific, and artistic videos and sites. One of the resources that fascinated me was a video about the history of lacrosse:

This prompted me to hop on the interwebs and read a bit more about the history of the game and its connection to the  Haudenosaunee or Iroquois people. First, I found out in the video that the French called the Haudenosaunee Iroquois. They weren’t always called Iroquois. I had no idea their name had been changed by the French.

Second, I had no idea the game was being played in 1100. Tekwaarathon, by the way, is pronounced nothing like it looks like so that was a lot of fun to try to pronounce while reading it to Little Miss.

According to History.com, “The early versions of lacrosse matches played by Native American nations included 100 to 1,000 men or more using wooden sticks, sometimes with net baskets or pockets attached, and small, deer hide-wrapped balls. Deer sinew formed nets.  Borderless fields could span miles, and games could last days.”

In our book, the author talked about the bruises and cuts on the main character’s face as he competes in the game and the injuries that many of the men had while playing.

Women did occasionally play the game as well and definitely play it these days.

Some Native Americans believed the Creator gave the game to them as medicine and entertainment. They played for a variety of reasons, one being to lift the spirits of someone who was sick, which is why the game was played in The Children of The Longhouse.

If you watch the video, you will see that the name of the game was changed to lacrosse by French missionaries because they thought the stick resembled the cross carried by bishops during religious ceremonies.

Somewhere along the line the game became more of an exclusive game that was mainly played by the elite or the wealthy. In 1859, Canada adopted Lacrosse and it was made their national sport for a while but as we all know that was later replaced by hockey.

You can read more about the game’s fascinating history on History.com.

I’m so glad I veered off the strict curriculum I had been using and went a bit rogue by choosing a historical fiction book we could use as a jump-off point into history lessons. When I decided to do Little Miss’s history this way, I knew I wanted to focus on Native American history for at least a month and move on to other early history for another month but I wasn’t sure which book I would use.

I can’t remember how I stumbled on The Children of the Longhouse, but I’m glad it did. It not only allowed me to teach Little Miss about our nation’s first real settlers but also enlightened me to their culture and history. That’s one of the aspects of homeschooling I enjoy the most – being able to learn right along with the kids.

If you have a historical fiction book for children you think we should dive into next, let me know in the comments.

Additional Educationally Speaking Thoughts

If you’re new here, I’m a homeschooling mom to an 8-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. I shared a little bit about our homeschool journey in a brief post last week.

On Sunday I was going to the kitchen for some hot cocoa when I looked at a book on the table that Little Miss had picked up at the library sale on Friday. It was a level two chapter book.

“Ooh,” I thought to my homeschool mom-self. “I can use that for reading aloud this week during reading/English lessons.”

Immediately something Little Miss said to me the week before came to mind right after that thought. It was something she said when I asked her to read two poems out loud for me.

“Mom, you already know I know how to read. Why are you making me read this out loud?”

Ahem.

Well, she had a point.

Why was I making her read it out loud?

Practice, I suppose.

Because reading out loud helps to make sure you are saying words right, I guess.

Or is it really because the curriculum said to do it and I’m – as I told a friend this week – a rule follower.

Rules are good.

Rules are often necessary.

Rules aren’t always made to be broken.

Buuuut….

I am homeschooling for a reason and part of that reason is to allow my children to learn at their own pace – whether that is fast or slow.

If Little Miss or The Boy already have a concept down, then it really isn’t necessary or conducive to their learning to keep making them repeat that skill over and over. The exception to this is in math, of course. I think the repetition of math lessons is important to keeping facts straight and fresh in the mind and to build up to other concepts.

Now, I don’t mean that I shouldn’t keep repeating or showing her grammar rules and similar items, but, yeah, if she already knows how to read, I need to stop making her read out loud to prove that she can do what she can already do and has been doing for two years now.



And, yeah, she had a point.

What am I doing? She gets the concepts. She knows it. Review the spelling rules with her and .. yes… move on. We’re good.

Educationally Speaking: Relaxing, getting ready for Christmas break, and actually enjoying school this year

I haven’t shared a homeschooling update in a while so I thought I would do so today.

The children and I are anxiously awaiting our Christmas break, which will begin on December 22 and last until January 2.

The kids are honestly completely over school but they are being troopers and I think that’s because I am trying to make school a little more fun this year. We aren’t necessarily doing anything “fun” but I am more relaxed about it all than I have been in previous years. I’m letting go of a lot of the anxiety I’ve had about teaching and what they are learning. If we need to take some time off during the day by cutting a couple subjects because something has popped up – like my dad stopping by or a neighbor needing help, etc. – then I am fine with that more now than I used to be. If we need to do some lessons in the evening, after dinner, I am okay with that too, though I will say I still twitch just a bit if work isn’t done before supper time.

The Boy is fairly independent. I give him his assignments and he heads upstairs and does them without much help from me. This year I am giving him more to read on some days and then trying to keep Friday fairly clear so that can be his day to just relax and be a kid. I hope that Fridays will become a day where he can explore some sort of activity he is interested in, such as playing guitar, which we hope he will be able to explore after Christmas (shh, don’t tell him. Thankfully he never reads my blog.).

I would definitely say that Little Miss is my biggest challenge. She is a little bit better about settling down to do her work this year than she was last year, but we still battle many days. Once we start our lessons she buckles down and gets the work done, but until then . . . well, there is quite a bit of drama. She doesn’t throw a tantrum by any means. My daughter practices something my son has always practiced – silent disobedience.

For instance, when I tell her we are going to do our work in five minutes, she picks up the duster and decides the living room needs dusting. Other times she starts a new episode of her cartoon or decides the dog needs a bath, or begins a game of chase with the dog, or decides she needs a snack.

Once we get passed her stalling tactics, though, we are actually learning something during our lessons. This year I tossed aside the set history curriculum and have instead been doing unit studies. Right now we are doing a unit study on Native Americans. As part of that unit we are reading Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac.

It is a fiction book, but it is teaching us a lot about the culture of the tribes of the longhouses, such as those who lived in our area and were part of the Iroquois. I hope we will be able to participate in a field trip at some point as there are places around us that focus on artifacts and the history of the Native American people. There is a museum about 45 minutes north that has canoes and arrowheads and other artifacts so that’s probably where I will take her.

I am counting the book as history and English.

We are, however, also doing a separate English curriculum through The Good and The Beautiful and that focuses on spelling, grammar, writing rules, and specifically reading. Little Miss has known how to read since she was about six and a half so she finds this curriculum a bit tedious and boring, which usually means we end up skimming it and just doing the lesson part, unless it is a totally new concept that will help her with larger words. She absolutely hates when I dictate words to her and she has to write them, but her handwriting is improving and she’s pouting a little less about it these days, thankfully.

We’ve been doing the same with math recently because she’s caught on quickly to many of the concepts and the lessons reiterate the points each subsequent lesson. That means we can jump right to the assignment page for math as well. We can’t do this every lesson because the math is becoming more difficult, but I have been surprised with how quickly she catches on to the concepts.

We are also using The Good and The Beautiful for math.

For Science we are continuing a unit on space through Apologia and in January we will start a unit on Reptiles and amphibians through – yes, The Good and The Beautiful. Little Miss loves snakes, lizards, etc. so she’s going to love that unit.

The Boy is studying medieval history, which he is really enjoying, even though a lot of the names sound the same and are a bit confusing. We’ve recently found a series via the history channel app on Amazon that focuses on some of the aspects from the textbook. This textbook is very detailed, nitty-gritty stuff and I thought The Boy would balk at it but so far he’s been loving it.

For science, he is continuing Biology from last year but in January or February, we are starting Physical Science to make sure we get in all the science credits he needs to graduate high school in a couple of years.

For math, we are using CTC Math, which is an online program and for English we are reading individual books and right now we are reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. He is also working on grammar through Fix It Grammar.

I would say that The Boy spends more time on his lessons than Little Miss, but her lessons can be time-consuming depending on the specific area we need to focus on for her subjects.

Over all we are still enjoying homeschooling and the freedom it gives us to take trips together, visit their grandparents, and for them to explore topics and activities they are interested in.

Educationally Speaking: Fall Homeschool Update

Homeschool has been trucking along fairly well this year. Our days have been filled with more book learning than hands-on learning for the last couple of weeks.

Little Miss and I are still working with math and reading/English curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful. She’s not fighting me as often as she was last year when I say it is time to do our lessons.

For Science, we are using the space curriculum from Apologia’s Creation series.

We finished our history and are now doing individual unit studies. Last week we finished a book about George Washington Carver which I combined with videos and an art project where we recreated paintings of his. Well, I tried to recreate one, but she sort of did her own thing, which is fine as long as she was enjoying herself.

Next up is a unit on Native Americans and I have ordered a fiction book — Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac — that I hope will tell a Native American story in a creative way and allow us to talk about real-life events. I looked up a bunch of picture books about Native Americans but our library only had one of them so I’ll either have to buy them or look at larger libraries.

A couple of weeks ago when it was still nice enough outside for Little Miss to jump on the trampoline, we had an assignment in our reading/English book for Little Miss to orally relay to me a story she made up.

One day she spent three straight hours working on the book, using my computer, even with my messed up “s” and “w” keys which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Since then she’s asked a couple of times to work on her book and wants me to publish it for her at some point, which I hope to do next year.

The Boy is still working with his grandpa a couple of days a week, which is part of his life skills education, in addition to his regular schoolwork.

For his book-based schoolwork, he is reading about Medieval History via The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer, Biology through Apologia, and classic literature in the form of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he is actually enjoying. He also has math through CTC Math, which is an online program and grammar through FixIt! Grammar.

We have been trying to secure him a place at a school near us for next year that is similar to a trade school but seem to be being stonewalled because he is homeschooled and not enrolled, even though under state law we are supposed to be able to access those programs as well. The local school district will not return phone calls and it is very frustrating.

Hopefully it will work out.

The Boy is 16 now so we will be starting driving lessons soon, but first we will be studying the manual, which is now online. My husband printed it out for him, but The Boy isn’t in a huge hurry to get his license so we will take our time in that area.

I need to find a field trip for us in the next month or so and I think I’ll look into a couple small museums near us that have Native American artifacts. Winter seems to have started a little earlier with temperatures already in the high 20s or low 30s and our first snowfall coming yesterday, so any field trips will have to be inside at this point.

If you are homeschooling, how is it going for you? If you aren’t, how is school going for you children or grandchildren?

Educationally Speaking: homeschool round up

It’s hard for me to believe it, but this week is our final week of homeschool.

We are finished with most of what I wanted to complete before the end of the school year, but there is still tons I wish we had been able to shove in. It seems with homeschooling is you never exactly feel like you are finished. You also never exactly feel like you did enough. When you go back and look at the entire year, though, you usually realize you did a lot more than you thought you did. Still, I often look back and think about how much more I could have taught or included in lessons.

We are tying up some loose ends this week, including writing an essay and a book report for The Boy. Little Miss needs to finish up a few math lessons so we can put part one of this particular level of math behind us and pick up with part two in July, which is when we can start recording school days for the next year. While I do plan to do some math with her starting in July, I don’t plan to start full on school. I want my kids to have a break where they can be kids and have fun during the summer but for Little Miss, I know it is important to keep the continuity going so we don’t have to do too much review at the beginning of next school year.

Also, this week I have to start putting together a portfolio of schoolwork for each of them to present to the evaluator next week. The evaluator will then type up a summary of our work which essentially is a sheet of paper that tells the school district we are in and the state that we did what we were supposed to do as set by the homeschooling law in Pennsylvania.

I have to present that evaluation by June 30th to the local school district office. I also plan to present them with an affidavit that declares our intent to homeschool for the 2022-2023 school year. The affidavit isn’t actually due until August 1, but I usually present the evaluation and the affidavit at the same time. Last year I completely missed the deadline for the evaluation, but the district secretary was very understanding and accepted it anyhow, telling me that as long as I had it in before the next school year started then it was totally fine. Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief when she told me that.

While gathering together material for the portfolio, which includes a sample of all the work we did this year, I also have to have a list of any textbooks we used and any books we read.

For Little Miss we used:

Notgrass’ Our Star Spangled Story for history/social studies

Spectrum Science for science

CTC Math and The Good and the Beautiful for Math

And The Good and the Beautiful for reading/English

Notgrass also included half a credit for English with their course because their curriculum comes with a selection of historical fiction books to be read with the book.

As part of the English part of the Notgrass curriculum we read:

Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry

Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady

Freedom Crossing by Margaret Goff Clark 

Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates 

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill (which we hope to finish by next Friday)

These books were read in addition to the books I read to her at night, including the Little House on the Prairie books, the Misty of Chincoteague books, and the Paddington books.

The Boy’s curriculum this year included:

CTC Math for Math

Notgrass for World Geography

Notgrass for Economics

And Apologia Biology for Science

For English, we used a few sources, including Fix It! Grammar, Apologia American Literature and the books which came with the Notgross World Geo curriculum

Books that The Boy read this year included:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Know Why You Believe by Paul Little

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

And Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

We had four or five more books we were supposed to read as part of his geography course, but we ran out of time, partially because I added To Kill A Mockingbird to our reading on my own and partially because The Boy already had a lot (and I mean A LOT) of text to read in his other subjects.

One thing we didn’t do enough of this year was field trips. We had a couple of trips in the beginning of the year but then we were hit with Covid and then high gas prices, so the field trips were put on the back burner. That didn’t stop the kids from learning things from their grandparents and others and through other activities at home.

What I like about homeschooling is that learning isn’t only done through established curriculum, but from everyday activities. Homeschooling allows for a lot more flexibility than traditional schooling, as I have mentioned here before.

So far we have decided to continue homeschool for next year. If either of the children decide they want to be educated in a different way over the summer then we will revaluate that decision.

If you are a homeschooler how did school go for your kids this year? Let me know in the comments.

Educationally Speaking: New reading course, Biology is like hard, and less arguments after winter break

The kids and I started back to homeschool last week after being sick and our Christmas break. I don’t know if they felt this way, but for me, it was nice to get back into a routine after being sick for almost a month and a half.

We got back into the swing of things and oddly Little Miss didn’t argue at all about her lessons. She actually seemed interested and excited some days. That was very refreshing. I don’t know how long it will last, but I am going to enjoy it while I can.

She and I started a new unit for reading, also from The Good and the Beautiful. The lessons are longer but she’s breezing right through them. The book features  four or five pages words for her to study the entire unit but she breezed through all of the words on day one. I have a feeling we might jump into the next level before the year is out.

We are finishing her math unit from Kindergarten and will start first grade math the week after next, I think. She catches on to math quickly so I have a feeling we might move through the first grade math faster than we did kindergarten. We got a late start last year on this particular curriculum and also broke it up with CTC Math, which is an online program.

Science is our biggest issue because I can’t seem to find a science curriculum I like. We are doing some very simple science books for now.

History is a little bit of a challenge as well because she really can’t remember everything I read to her at her age, but we do our best and at least she’s learning something about the founding of our country.

The curriculum we have (Our Star Spangled Story from Notgrass) also includes literature so it allows me to cross off history and English/Literature in one shot.

We are currently reading Freedom Crossing about a pair of siblings who are hiding a runaway slave sometime in the mid-1800s.

The Boy is making his way through Geography (Social Studies) and Economics and barely through Biology. Biology is going over both our heads and I’m beginning to wonder if the curriculum I have is for college level. It claims it is for tenth grade so I thought The Boy would be okay since he is in ninth grade but, wow, the definitions and concepts that are taught are extremely complex and a bit overwhelming. Hopefully we will survive the next few months.

We just finished Blood Brothers, which is a selection from the literature part of his Social Studies course. There was another book that we were supposed to read but I didn’t feel he would really enjoy it so I decided we will wait until the next until when a new book is assigned.

I’m considering introducing him to poetry this week which should induce some mocking from him but that’s okay. That’s what kids at this age do but hopefully they will come to appreciate it later on.

He is still continuing CTC Math for his math and he’s also doing a grammar course through Fix It Grammar.

The kids had a lighter day on Friday of last week when it snowed. I let them play in the snow, or in The Boy’s case shovel the driveway. He still had to do school work but I think the break for some time outside was welcomed.



I don’t have any major outings or projects planned for January, but I hope to get us out of the house more in February and March. So far this year I am glad we stuck to homeschooling. The schedule is flexible and allows us to have more time with my parents, including my son working with my dad on various projects around the house and community. In addition to a flexible schedule, we don’t have to worry about masks, the kids being pulled in and out of school for closures because of You Know What, and other issues facing public schools at this time. This is not a slam on public schools at all. These are just some challenges that they are facing right now and we are glad we currently don’t have to face them.

If you are homeschooling, how is it going for you this year? If you aren’t homeschooling, how is school going for your children or grandchildren this year? If you don’t have children or grandchildren, then how are YOU doing? Let me know in the comments.

Educationally Speaking: Homeschooling Updates

For those who might be new to my blog, I started homeschooling my children a couple of years ago, so our homeschooling journey is unrelated to the reason others are homeschooling these days. That isn’t to say our experience is more valid than others, this is simply an explanation of our homeschooling journey.

My situation may be unique to some homeschooling parent since I am teaching a Kindergartner and eighth grader, but I also know many parents teaching ages from preschool up to 12th depending on how many children they have. So, really, it’s not that unique, I suppose, but it is a challenge for me at times.

What is interesting about teaching these two age groups is that we can overlap some of our lessons, especially for the Kindergartner who can often learn from her brother’s science and history lessons, as long as the history isn’t about wars or genocide, which is obviously a little too heavy for her young brain.

What we learned last month or are doing this month. The Boy:

History

We are continuing to use Notgrass History’s From Adam to Us for history.


This past month we mainly focused on Rome and its rulers, including Julius Caesar. I’m sure I studied Julius Caesar at some point during high school or college, but I don’t remember a lot about it (I’ve mentioned before that my schools seemed to only discuss the landing of the Mayflower, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War and then start back over at the beginning of the next school year and review those same topics again. I swear we never even learned about the World Wars or Korea or Vietnam.). It was very interesting to me to learn how Julius Caesar came to power and that he was a general before he was declared “dictator for life” by the Roman Senate.

I found an interesting video on Caesar and this part of history, but my son spent the time watching it criticizing how they portrayed Roman weaponry and battles (not bloody enough for him apparently).

In February we also learned about Alexander the Great, the Great Wall of China and Judas Maccabeus.

I have started creating my own quizzes for The Boy’s history lessons, which is fun for me because I am able to read over the chapters and learn along with him. Notgrass may offer quizzes for this unit, but I didn’t see one so creating my own allows me to make the quiz as difficult or easy as I like. Plus it means I am reading the chapters along with him and learning more myself.

English

The Boy and I finished reading  Lord of The Flies for English and we used a supplemental curriculum I ordered off of Christianbook to focus on vocabulary and specific plot points and literary analysis. The curriculum was ordered from Christanbook, but it is not strictly Christian curriculum, for anyone who is curious. It provides quizzes for every two chapters and an exam for when the book is finished.

The Boy did not enjoy discussing the symbolism of the book. He said something along the lines of it being a depressing book and he didn’t want to analyze all the reasons why. I’m summarizing his complaints, so I may not have quoted him accurately (in case he one day reads this and says, “I never said that!!!” Which he often does when I repeat things he has said.)

I plan to take a week break and focus on some Mark Twain short stories or excerpts, and then move on to To Kill A Mockingbird for April and May. I had considered reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but I think The Boy might appreciate a break from the challenging language for the rest of the school year since we read Silas Marner in the beginning of the school year. One of the most fun aspects of homeschooling has been able to read classic books I either read in school or wanted to and books that public schools are trying to ban because many have lost the critical thinking needed to understand we can learn from books even if they have words or ideas in them we don’t agree with.

The Boy is also completing assignments from Wordly Wise for English, which focuses on vocabulary. We started grammar lessons from Saxon again this week. Don’t get me started on Grammar. I know that some grammar obsessed people are thinking, “we won’t because your grammar is atrocious”, but good grief some is the terms that are in this grammar book are insane and I have never heard of them and could not identify them in a sentence to save my life. Apparently I never needed to know all that for my 14-years writing as a reporter or my 43 years of life. I am convinced that grammar teachers teach children grammar so those children can become future grammar teachers and they just repeat the cycle over and over. People don’t even use half that stuff as adults and could care less what an adaptive phrase is. Oops. I guess I got myself started on grammar. (Also, do note that I  understand the importance of grammar. I also understand the importance of not over doing it and going so in depth your brain explodes.)

Math

For Math he is continuing CTC Math and we have discovered additional testing and worksheets that I hadn’t noticed before. He is not appreciative of this latest development because it means more work for him. One issue with this online program is that if he misses one question it brings his grade down and if he misses two he can end up with an “F”. He can make these mistakes by hitting a number by accident. So far, doing the test again doesn’t seem to improve the grade but I am going to contact the site administrators and see if there is a glitch with that.

Economics

We are using Notgrass’ Exploring Economics for Economics and they include history and some Bible along with all the economic terms and history and analyzing. So far it is one of my son’s favorite subjects.

It isn’t his favorite subject this week because I am making him study five units for a unit exam at the end of the week. He is used to me allowing open book tests but I told him we are going to try studying the old fashioned way and doing tests that way too. He is not a fan of the old fashioned way.

Little Miss (Kindergarten)

History

Little Miss has her own history lessons about the time around The Revolutionary War and early American history. We use old episodes of Liberty Kids from YouTube to supplement her lessons. I do not have a specific history curriculum for her this year, but will next year. She also watches some of the videos we watch for her brother’s history lessons, if they are not too violent, or she listens along with Notgrass.

Science: We are doing a unit on deserts for the next couple of weeks and will be doing separate little lessons on some of the animals of the desert. This is a plan I am putting together on my own, but will include some reading, math, coloring, comprehension, and simply learning about the different kinds of deserts (colder and warmer ones).

English:

Little Miss is working her way through language arts curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful. I would say English is the most difficult for her in many ways because she seems to forget her letters and how to sound out words one day and remember it all again the next. I don’t know if it is she really doesn’t remember how to do it all or if she is just showing her stubborn streak (which she totally gets from her father’s side of the family) and pretending she doesn’t remember how to do any of it. Either way, it makes me want to scream some days so teaching her is also teaching me patience. Every day. All week long.



Math

Math is Little Miss’s thing. She loves it. She does not, however, always love doing it the way she is asked to do it. We are currently working with a curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful which utilizes manipulatives so the child can use some hands on activities to solidify not only numbers and how to count, but also how to recognize patterns and follow directions. The other day I asked her to use the wooden blocks the curriculum came with to build a stack of blocks the same way it was built in the photo. She did it differently and when I corrected her she flopped her hands at her side, flounced a small amount, and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling.

“Well, that’s not how I do it,” she huffed.

I told her it wasn’t about how she does it this time. The assignment was to follow the directions. She responded with another eye roll and arm flop so I finally completed the build for her and told her why it was right and hers had been wrong.

“That way is boooring,” she informed me.

A lot of what we do is “boooring” to her right now so I have skipped ahead in math to give her more of a challenge. That will only work if she does it the way she is asked to, but then again, letting her change things up can help her as well, as long as she comes up with the right answer.

The other day I skipped ahead to look for challenges and we stumbled on “odds and evens.” I asked her to wait to do the activity until I could figure out the right way to explain odd and evens to her. She barely listened when I did explain, interrupted me and started completing the activity on her own so apparently she didn’t even need me to explain what it meant. Her brain moves quit fast when it comes to mathematical concepts, which means she is absolutely nothing like her mother and a lot like her father, which is not a bad thing.

Science

Little Miss and The Boy both use The Good and the Beautiful’s Energy Unit. I teach them at the same time twice a week and we may increase that to three times a week for the remainder of our school year.

Art

We do art whenever and wherever but I try to encourage the youngest, at least, to do some form of art through painting, drawing, or crafts throughout the week.

This week I set up a meeting with our homeschool evaluator for the end of our school year. In our state we file an intent to homeschool letter with the school district we live in at the beginning of the school year. We also file an affidavit attesting to what we will teach our children throughout the year. Our state recently lowered the compulsory age for children to attend school to six, when it was previously eight. I think I have that last age correct.

Anyhow, because Little Miss turned 6-years old after the Sept. 1 deadline we did not have to file an intent to homeschool for her this year. Technically I didn’t even have to teach her this year because I don’t have to file an evaluation for her at the end of the school year (prior to July 1). Regardless I taught her last year and I am again teaching her this year. Last year we focused on preschool and kindergarten and this year we are focusing on kindergarten and branching into first grade.

I do have to file an evaluation for The Boy and he also has to take a standardized test, which he can do on the computer. I know the children are anxious for the school year to be over, but, alas, they still have about three months left so they will have to hang in there. Luckily our weather is warming up so at least they can do some of their work outside on the porch or even scrap part of that work for a couple of field trips.