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21 December 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: illuminated

We started out the week pretty sick, particularly Dragon and me. As a result, on Monday and Tuesday there was a lot of sitting around doing not much! But by Tuesday afternoon I was starting to feel somewhat better, and we started to be a little productive again. Hero practiced his math facts, did a little writing, and some reading that evening. Wednesday was much more normal. Thursday, winter finally arrived. About time, too!

After the snow play was done we started a big history/art project. Last week, we read about illuminated manuscripts in Story of the World 2. This week, we looked at some scans of real ones, at this cool site I found from the British Library. Primarily, we looked at the Luttrell Psalter, but we also had a look at a few pages from the Lindsifame Gospels before Hero's attention for the site was used up. We each picked out a few pages to do screen captures from, and those we talked about what we liked, then printed them out for reference in our art project.

Next, we had a look at the directions from our art project. I showed him the various fonts they suggest, and he picked out what he wanted. He's still learning to do regular letters, so I did the outline letters for him. He did all the rest, and I'm so pleased with what he did!

I love the way that the decorations on his letters are so similar to the detail work on the models we looked at. It's always fun to see that sort of comprehension. I'm hoping that by doing a big art project like this he'll remember the real illuminations better. He's already wanted to go back and look at the British Library site again, which is a good sign. The idea with our project had been to do crayon resist, but I didn't explain it very well and I told him about the painting part too soon, so he didn't put enough crayon on the picture for it to actually resist when we painted. Next time, I'll have him do the crayon part, and then I'll tell him about the paint.

This was Hero's first experience with water colors, I believe, and nearly my first as well. Dragon lost interest with the project and went to "help" the Daddy long before we got to the paints, so he doesn't have one to show. Hero tells me that he's not done, which is fine with me; the real illuminations were big projects and often art takes more than one sitting to do well. But this is a sample of what he has so far.

Once I got him going, I was able to do one too. I didn't get to the painting part, and the crayons were too dull to do what I had in mind when I started, but it's still a fun project. When Hero does his painting next I'm hoping to do a little as well.

I'm getting a bit of historical whiplash, switching from Ancient Rome to Medieval Europe like this, but when I looked at the dates, they aren't that far distant in time. I always thought that togas and knights were further distant from each other, but it turns out that's not so much the case. Studying history chronologically makes so much more sense than the piecemeal way that I got what little I did learn about history. It's pretty amazing how much I'm learning, even though we're really only using the most basic of resources since Hero is still so young. So this Friday afternoon Hero and Dragon got their first exposure to King Arthur and his knights with our new read-aloud. This version has some amazing illustrations, which they both love, and when we started it my voice gave out just as the Green Knight burst in on the New Years' Feast at Camelot-- cliffhanger!! The boys and I are all anxious to read some more of this one.

Now that Hero is reading better, I tried stepping back a little bit with our map work, and helping him less. Instead of pointing to the map and telling him what he's looking at, I stood back and told him what he was looking for, as well as some clues as to where he should find it. This is one place where I struggle not to be a bit of a helicopter, so it worked well that we did this while I was getting dinner and I kept having to cross the kitchen to check on the food. Physical distance. Makes it hard to hover. Then, he did the coloring (except that I helped a little with the water). It went really well, and we'll be doing more like this. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at how easily he found Rome. I hadn't been at all sure how much of the other style of map work he was remembering, and apparently it's at least some.

That's the highlights! We did some other stuff; he's made good progress on filling in the Book It! chart, and will probably be ready for his next coupon by the end of the month. Dragon loves to practice reading his CVC words, and comes flying across the room if I ask him if he wants to do it, all little kid excitement. It's so much fun to see him so excited. I hadn't really intended to start him this early, but he's been showing signs of starting to remember some sight words, and he's so excited about it, so we'll do it a bit and see where it goes. It's awful cute to hear his little toddler voice work on making the blends. I love teaching my kids!

To see what other folks are doing this week, head on over to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and check 'em out!

19 December 2012

Illuminated Manuscripts

picture credit
Hero is finding  the illuminated manuscripts pretty interesting, and wants to do an art project with them. Since we're home this week, I'm thinking that we'll do some kind of crayon resist project. He's thinking that making an illumination for his name, like the third example on this page, sounds like fun. Works for me. The project is designed for high schoolers, so we'll have to simplify it a bit, but that's OK. It's also OK with me that this is a project that's going to take some time. That's very historically accurate.

I also found this cool interactive thing taking a virtual tour of some actual illuminated manuscripts, complete with commentary. It may be somewhat over his head to take advantage of the whole thing, but it will still show him some actual examples of real manuscripts. We'll start with the one called "Glimpses of Medieval Life" and see what catches his attention from there. I love how the internet makes this stuff so accessible, so that even at elementary ages we can at least have a look at the actual primary documents!

17 December 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: road school

We've had another week at a hotel, but it's been uncommonly productive. Not a ton of photographs this week, but some.

One exciting thing that happened is that Dragon asked me to teach him to read. He's little, but he knows all his letters and most, perhaps all, of their sounds. He's also pretty good at oral blending. Over the past week or two he's been very interested in Hero's box of "easy books." Now he's asked me to teach him while I'm teaching Hero. I can do that. We started right away, and went as long as he was interested, and then stopped. I was pleasantly surprised at how many he sat through.


Hero's not too happy about it, but he's moving into a new phase of writing instruction. Up to this point, we've had a lot of tracing when he's been practicing his letters. Now, we're moving into doing more with him writing his own letters, looking at models. It's harder, and he doesn't love it. However, he's doing pretty well with it. We also are trying adding a little bit of copywork into the mix, and while he doesn't love it, he's doing well with that too. The plan is, now that he's got a basic grasp on letter formation, to use the copywork to identify problem letters, and then do more focused practice on the ones that give him problems.

Easily the coolest thing we did this week was to go see some of the Terra Cotta Warriors. Real ones, from China. The exhibit is pretty expensive, so Hero and the Daddy went it and I skipped, but they way they had things set up I was able to peek at a couple of them from the gift shop, which they had placed at the tail end of the exhibit. While they were doing that, I took Dragon and we looked around at some of the European art from the 1700s and 1800s. I let Dragon choose what we looked at, and he loved the statues. More than a few of them were nudes, and I was very entertained when Dragon pointed out belly buttons several times. Sadly, the museum's policies were not very friendly to photography, so we don't have any pictures from the trip.

We also did the next chapter from Story of the World 2, which was about Monks and Monasteries. Hero wants to do an illuminated letters craft this week, so I need to find one. When we did the reading he was quite taken with the story of the monk drawing a mouse in the margin, so that's the illustration in his narration.

And that's the highlights of our week!

09 December 2012

The 999 Challenge

So, this year is almost done, and I'm starting to think about goals for next year. (It's the Daddy's fault; he's very organized like that, and I got infected.) At the same time, I've been looking at my list of books I read this year, and thinking that it's a little short: only 15 books for the year. I have a ton of books that are either half-finished or they're just sitting there, waiting for me to get to them. So I think a book goal is in order. While I'm sort of kicking this idea around in my head, I happened to browse around Celestia's blog, and found her book goal from a couple years ago. Looks cool. Think I'll swipe it, even though it's not 2009 anymore. Like Celestia, I probably won't get clear to 72 books; that's about 1 1/2 a week, and I have enough other things to do that I'm not so sure that I can do that much. But setting a goal should keep me on task better than I was this year. I don't have a whole list yet, not even 9 categories. But I've got enough to get started.

9 books in 9 categories,
9 can overlap, 72 books total

I. History/Biography
  • The Real Benjamin Franklin
  • The Historic Atlas of the Bible
II. Politics/Founding
  • 5000 Year Leap
  • Federalist Papers, essays #4-25
  • Federalist Papers essays #26-50
  • America's Constitution
III. Read-Alouds with Kids
  • Beowulf
  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
IV. Parenting
  • Parenting the Strong-Willed Child
  • Christlike Parenting
  • Transforming the Difficult Child
V. Religious
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem

There'll be more. I built a new tab to keep track of this goal, so the updates will be up there.

My Little Talker

My little Dragon is a precocious talker. He has a ton to say, and has an excellent grasp of language for his age. Only, he's got the ordinary little kid challenges with saying his consonants, and so it's often hard to understand him. According to this chart, it's completely developmentally normal that he can't quite twist his tongue around an S, F, L, SH, CH, and a couple of other sounds. Problem is, he doesn't know it's normal, all he knows is that sometimes he can't get an answer to his questions because the Daddy and I can't figure out what he's saying to us. Drat the asynchronous development!

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be too concerned, but he's getting frustrated enough with this situation that if I don't catch the question the first time, he'll cover his eyes and refuse to repeat it. I really don't want him to feel like asking questions isn't worth his effort, so I've been looking for some ideas to help him figure out how to get his tongue to twist around some of those tricky sounds. To that end, I've been looking at some speech therapy websites for ideas. Happily, there are some things we can try.

For instance, I don't know how informed the author of this eHow article is, but the idea of using a mirror makes a lot of sense (and can easily be a funny game), and he loves a straw, so we can do that too. And this one, from a speech website, has some good ideas for how to practice the sounds so that it's most effective. I like that too.

So, the plan is to look at the development chart and pick a sound that should be developing relatively soon anyhow, and see if we can't play some games to help him figure it out. Hopefully, it'll work and his frustration level will be reduced, cuz it just kills me to see him so frustrated and irritated that he's stopping trying to say what's on his mind.

07 December 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: a good week

It's been a busy week, but a good one. Our house is on the market, but nobody has come to look so far. On the one hand, that's a bummer; on the other, it lets us get more stuff done so that it should be more ready. And I get time to practice keeping things really clean. I don't love that practice, but it's good for me.

We're getting closer to being ready for the baby to come. I need some socks and a few long-sleeve onseis (the boys were both summer babies, so I don't have any with long sleeves), and we'll be set for newborn clothes. I don't have a dresser at this point, but if the house doesn't sell we have hatched a plan to have a bedroom for our baby. It'll mean that the kids are upstairs and we are downstairs, and I hate that, but if we can't sell then we'll have to do something. In the mean time, I'm starting to think about what needs to go into my bag for the hospital and onto my playlist for labor. And I need to decide on a going home outfit. Such a silly, unimportant thing, but I care anyway.

School has gone reasonably well too. Hero got cashed in his coupon for November's Book It! pizza early on this week (I didn't think to take pictures, but he was really happy with it), we made cookies, we did a bunch of math and finished off the Math Expressions 1st Grade vol. 1 book and started the second volume. I gave him the unit test as a pretest for the next unit and he tested out of about half of it. Happily I have the Grade 2 books on hand and ready to go. It'll be a bit, but if he continues to test out of half the materials it won't be that long.

We have been reading from Beowulf, and the boys both love it. I think that Dragon likes the rhythm of the words, but Hero is able to follow the story with a little explanation of some of the big words. We also have this narration to show for the rest of the week's history:


One of the reasons that school was such a success this week is that we actually managed to do both History and Science... in the same week. So we've got a really nice narration from Science as well. We've been working our way through Seymour Simon's book, The Solar System, and I'm having Hero narrate on each object that they cover. We'll continue to work on this narration next week. The pictures are ones that he's selected from the internet.

Hero is suddenly flying through the lessons in All About Spelling, and while the writing is still challenging, the words are spelled correctly.

We're still working on writing, and it's getting better. I keep reading that reversals are perfectly normal for six years old, so I am carefully not worrying about them. All the drawing that he's been doing is helping the fine motor skills, but I can see from the spelling work that we need to do more handwriting practice. And that's fine. Once we finish this trip through the alphabet my plan is to do a combination of copywork and more focused practice on problem letters. We'll continue like that for as long as it takes to get the letters solid.

Of course, what the big guy does, the little guy needs to do as well, so he had a spider paper that he worked on too. I was really quite surprised at how well he did. Dragon watched carefully to see what Hero was doing, and then he tried to do the same. He didn't quite manage to make an S, but he did make something that looked very much like a 6. He then colored in and around it, but you can still kind of see it. I was impressed.

Find out what other families have been up to: 


04 December 2012

Playing with Paper

We've been going through stacks of paper lately. After watching Vihart's hexaflexagon clip we've tried making those, so far without success, but we are planning to enlist the Daddy's help the next time we try. In the mean time, we made other cool things.
These are a pair of hexagons turned into pyramidal space craft.

This one is a hexagon starcraft.
A cool triangley thing.
A pile of cool wiggly things. Hero was extra happy with these.
And then there are literally stacks and stacks of drawings of arms, armaments, and spacecraft. These started showing up a week or two ago, and they are getting more and more sophisticated all the time. One of the more entertaining developments in this department is all the speeders, suits of armor, and star fighters that Hero has "his guys" building for me to use while I'm pregnant. The consistent stream of "pregnancy armor" lead me to give him the word "maternity," which he has been using regularly. I now own a whole fleet of invincible speeders, rubber suits with extra padding so I'll be comfy, and spacecraft designed with my heavily pregnant self in mind.

This one is one of my favorites of his drawings.

Hero also has a newly acquired book on paper airplanes which he is delighted with, so we'll be seeing several of those in the next while I'm thinking. They're challenging folds; this should be good for him in a number of different ways. Persistence, precision, fine motor, all sorts of things. And he thinks he's just making airplanes!

This is the first one we made; a front-heavy "dart" type, called the Dragon.

02 December 2012

Praise Ye the Lord

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
-Psalms 113:9

This is one of my very favorite verses. I used to hold it as a promise, now, I look at it there on the side of my blog, right above the pictures of my children, and I am filled with amazement and gratitude. Through the long years of waiting, I cried over the stories of Hannah and Elizabeth and Sariah, and yearned for children. Now I have three little angles to hold. What a blessing. Praise seems like such a tame word for what I'm feeling.

01 December 2012

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I'm slow. Thanksgiving is over and as I write I'm listening to Christmas music. It's because we've decided that our house is too small for our family, and there isn't anywhere to put Baby Girl once she gets here. So we're putting it on the market and looking into a different one. There's a certain amount of drama and disruption involved, but we're surviving. It sure is disruptive to the blogging though!

For Thanksgiving, we scaled our feast way back (dinner was our favorite turkey sandwiches, called "superstackers," some french fries, with pumpkin pie for dessert). But I did spend some time pondering the holiday. The past couple of years it seems to me that less is more, and holidays become more meaningful without all the glitz. Turns out Thanksgiving is the same way. I was fortunate to run across President George Washington's proclamation of the nation's first Thanksgiving holiday.

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

One of the first things that struck me was that, George Washington, though he was scrupulously careful to follow the Constitution and remain strictly within his role as outlined, had no problem with acknowledging God. Looking at this, I think that he'd be rather surprised and dismayed by the modern idea of "separation of church and state" as he clearly did not have the same ideas regarding the ideal relationship between government and God. And no wonder; the modern idea is basically state-sponsored atheism, and a far cry from our roots. Looking at this document,

The next thing I thought about was the source of authority for the proclamation of a holiday. This is a question that I'm finding intriguing, because I am having a hard time figuring it out. It is my understanding that the first Congress was heavily populated by the men who had helped to write the Constitution, and of course Washington was POTUS. They should be the experts on what is and is not allowed. Additionally, you have two branches of the government working together here; Washington specifically cites a Congressional request for the holiday. However, I do notice that this "day of public thanksgiving and prayer" is a recommended day, and lacks the force of law. He doesn't make it an official observance, and he doesn't mention anything about anyone taking time off for the observance, and there certainly is no mention of penalties for nonobservance. Perhaps this is the crucial distinction. I don't know.

The final thing that I found intriguing is that the current perception of conflict and incompatibility between science and religion is not only notably lacking, but Washington seems to be of the opinion that faith, and the attendant blessings of Providence, will actually assist the advancement of science. This makes perfect sense to me; I believe that science and religion are not only compatible, but on a very basic level they are in fact the same thing. I believe that all truth, including that which we call science, belongs to the Gospel of Christ. However, with the evolution controversy being in its essence, an argument over the role of the Creator in the universe, I am accustomed to this being very much a minority view.

So, here's to hoping that you all had a lovely day of thanksgiving and prayer last week!


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