(Please note that I have linked to the book lists on the AO website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum which they offer for free. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on the AO website.)
It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.Charlotte Mason, Home Education p. 200
We finished Term 2 last week which means we only have twelve weeks before the end of this school year! I am choosing to ignore the fact that I have an almost-fifth grader, but I am embracing the fact that I get to buy more books for next year.
I’ve also been debating making this my last mid-year planning/recap post. At this point, it feels like overkill to have five posts per year and they take a while to write even with some of the information being fairly redundant. I started writing this many when my son was in kindergarten (aka. my first year of homeschooling) and it felt like a good way to document our homeschooling journey at the time. However, I’m now leaning toward just offering a planning post before the year begins and a recap post after it’s over. I’ll mull over it more this summer.
And now on to the recap and our plans for Term 3!
You can see how our current Morning Time is laid out here. This schedule has been working very well for us and I only made a few small changes for Term 2. I no longer do the schedule overview per the request of both kids (it was their request to add it in the first place, so I was happy to be flexible in this regard). And we now only read a poem or other non-journal reading from Edith Holden’s book on Mondays (this is also displayed on a shelf on the wall during the week), then an excerpt from one of the two books linked above about winter (we’ll switch to spring-themed books next week) on Wednesdays.
For our habit this term, we finished “Courtesy,” moved on to “Health,” and now we’re focusing on “Order.” I’m so glad we added this back in to Morning Time as it has helped us come up with goals together for different habits. For instance, for Health, we came up with a morning routine including brushing teeth, washing faces, and combing hair every day and now those habits are well entrenched. Just before we started Order, I went through their rooms and purged and organized as necessary, so now we’re focusing on the maintenance aspect of Order. I need to be better about getting them into the habit of keeping other parts of the house orderly as well, but they’ve done well with their rooms. I think the next habit we’ll be looking at will be Attention.
We just finished Mark and will now move on to Acts for the New Testament. This will be our first time venturing outside of the gospels for NT readings along with the J. Paterson Smyth commentaries. Balancing holding my tongue with saying too much during Bible lessons has become a bit more challenging for me as I really do love most of the commentary that Smyth offers and I want to share it with B. He has complained, on occasion, when I’ve pulled the book out, though, so I’ve tried to hold back on that and stick with just the “setting the scene” descriptions he offers as I know these are beneficial for B to retain what we’ve read (his narrations are so much better when I add these).
We’re still slowly making our way through the history of Israel in Joshua and Judges and have been focusing on what Smyth calls the two-fold lesson, emphasizing that the Israelites after Joshua followed the same pattern countless times: sinning, punishment, repentance, deliverance. We’ve been watching this play out through various Biblical figures like Deborah and Gideon, and even a few others who I wasn’t particularly familiar with (Japhtheh). It’s been an education for me as well! We’ll keep going on this vein through the end of the year.
This Country of Ours continues to become more engaging for B, which is very encouraging to see. I think it helps that several of the figures or stories we’re reading about now have been ones we’ve been introduced to in other books. It’s especially gratifying when he makes the connection himself and tells me that he remembers this story when we’ve read it in a different book in years past.
I absolutely love George Washington’s World, though the weekly assigned readings are a challenge to fit in with all the other readings. It’s been so interesting, however, to read about other parts of the world and the people they contained during Washington’s life and I think it gives B a well-rounded view of what was happening. Also, when we’re putting an entry in his Book of Centuries, this is the book we primarily draw from. His narrations have been hit or miss with this one, but I have found that if I keep my readings shorter before I ask for a narration, he does well.
The biographies have been more of a challenge for him this year. He did not enjoy Poor Richard because he found it difficult to follow and he has not enjoyed (most of) Abigail Adams and Answering the Cry for Freedom for the same reason. While the stories are excellent and I love original documents as sources for learning more about history (specifically in Abigail Adams), there is so much packed into each chapter or section that I think he gets a little overwhelmed. I have made my readings shorter so he doesn’t have as much to narrate which has helped, but these are still not favorite books for him (though he did very much enjoy the story of the Boston Tea Party in Abigail Adams).
Late in Term 2, I decided to start reading Minn with B instead of him reading it on his own as his narrations were getting poorer and poorer. Once again, I think it was a matter of so much information being packed into just a few pages. So we’ve been pulling out his BFB map and coloring and labeling as we go, which has helped.
We’re plugging away at Map Drills as well (you can read about those under geography in last term’s post), and it has helped me to be better about matching the places we learn for Map Drills with those we’ve read about in Minn on a given week since I began reading it with him.
We’ve also been working our way through Long’s and Charlotte Mason’s geography books as well, though these have felt more like review of things we’ve learned from other books in years past.
Natural History and Science
Natural History and Science Booklist Here (we are not reading Madam How and Lady Why)
Living Science Study Guide: Physics-Geology Form 2 (we studied Magnets in Term 2)
We dropped Madam How and Lady Why (MHLW) in Term 1 and began using the Sabbath Mood Homeschool Living Science Guides (which are currently being offered in a giveaway!) in Term 2. I think this was a good move as B was much more engaged with the books we read for science this term than he was with MHLW. He chose magnets as the topic he’d like to learn about which was something that he already knew quite a bit about. The magnets book assigned was very simple and mostly review for him, but he found it interesting and did enjoy reading it, which I was happy about. The experiments outlined in the science guide were also very helpful, though a few didn’t work well for us (mainly the cereal and the homemade battery – probably things that I did wrong). He does have an electromagnet kit from Snap Circuits, so the extra experiments not working well for us wasn’t a big deal as he could observe the phenomena in other ways as well.
As we were heading home from a walk a few weeks ago, both kids had sagging pockets full of rocks they had collected (to add to the boxes of rocks under their beds), which is a common scene for us. As such, I decided Geology would be our focus for Term 3. I’m very excited about this one as both kids have such a big interest in rocks, but don’t know much about geology. The activities also include fun things like breaking open geodes, which I think they’ll both enjoy. 🙂
I scheduled five chapters from The Storybook of Science for him out over the term with him reading a new chapter every few weeks. In Term 3, I decided to break them up so he reads a page or two every week, which I think will be better for keeping the content fresher in his mind.
The Isaac Newton biography is a book he’s reading on his own (with me pre-reading each week) and that has gone very well. The chapters are shorter and in story form, which helps him understand and enjoy the story better.
In our co-op, we learned about winter constellations in Term 2, which we all enjoyed. In Term 3, I believe we’ll be learning more about insects.
Unfortunately, we didn’t do well with Special Studies topics that are recommended in the Living Science Guides aside from him also reading The Moon of the Winter Bird. In Term 3, along with many of the books she recommends for geology (which is also one of the Special Studies topics this term), B will also be reading The Moon of the Owls since we begin to hear them hooting around our neighborhood during this season. We’ll also be following along with the Cornell/Wild Birds Unlimited owl cam as they go through their nesting season. Usually, around this time of year, we pick a bird couple from the Cornell cams to watch and have them up on our TV when we’re doing other things around the house. It’s a fun way to experience their nesting season right along with them.
B finished the copywork from the AO Copywork Files for Poor Richard and moved on to Age of Fable and now he’s working on The Horse and His Boy (which was a free read we finished a few weeks ago). It’s interesting when he does the copywork before we’ve read something, as was the case with Age of Fable, as he often remembers the quotes from his copywork when it comes up in his reading. He’s still doing one notebook page per day, which has been a good pace for him.
Spelling is still progressing steadily, often with no words needing to be covered up during a lesson, which is good.
Grammar has become more of a challenge as we’ve progressed through the book. He breezed through nouns and articles, but as more parts of speech have been added, he has struggled more with identifying each word. One interesting thing about JAG is that it does not introduce the concept of the subject and verb until later in the book, so he learned nouns, articles, adjectives, and prepositions before he learned the subject/verb relationship (though we did cover it in Latin earlier in the year). As such, I’ve been helping him more with each of the exercises and trying to help him get to a point where he can identify them on his own. I understand how frustrating it can be as I didn’t diagram a sentence and couldn’t identify a prepositional phrase to save my life until I was a sophomore in high school.
He is making improvements with the Playing with Words exercises, even though he really doesn’t enjoy doing them. It’s interesting to see what little stories he comes up with. 🙂
We’re most likely not going to finish our math book before the end of the year. At this point, we’re only a few weeks into the summer, so I have hope that it won’t be a repeat of last summer where we didn’t even finish it before the new school year began. We’ve mostly been working on multiplication, fractions, simple division, and measurements this term and, aside from not liking to actually do the work, B does very well in math.
Setting the timer for 30 minutes has continued to work very well for us. When there’s a game, we’ll still play it even if it’s only for five minutes, especially if it’s a concept with which he’s struggling. I have also been encouraged when he chooses to keep working on a worksheet even after we’re finished with the 30 minutes (when I switch to C’s math). This is completely optional for him, but also allows us to not have to take that time during the next math lesson to work on whatever is left over.
We are plugging along with Salsa and De Colores pretty steadily. Salsa does not necessarily lead to conversational Spanish at this point, but I feel that it’s a good foundation and have definitely seen them progress more in their Spanish vocabulary than we were with the Cherrydale book (though I do hope to return to that when both kids are older).
The Latin lessons are still going well, though he has struggled a little in keeping sum/et/est straight. I made a little graph for him to help in which “I aM” is with “suM, “the two-letter word “et” is a conversation between two people (YOU and me), and “est” is a conversation about a third person (HIM or HER). I think that helped. We’re still trying to figure out how to keep the plural forms straight since they are different, but hopefully it comes with time.
We’ll be looking at another poet I’m not too familiar with this term: William Wordsworth. We read Emily Dickinson last term and I think she was a little too abstract for B as he didn’t really connect with any of her poetry, which is fine. I know that not all poets are for all people. Hopefully, Wordsworth will be different.
Kidnapped has been another hit for both of us. Aside from throwing in a few very brief explanations of aspects of Jacobitism after he narrates and doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with the different clans, the book has been very engaging for him. The readings are somewhat longer, but his narrations are good and it goes quickly. A little side note… I picked up the Scribner’s version at a library book sale a few years ago and the illustrations by N.C. Wyeth (father of Andrew Wyeth of Christina’s World fame) are absolutely beautiful.
We halted his graduation to full-fledged Shakespeare this term as our co-op, with whom he did As You Like It in Term 1, moved on to Romeo and Juliet in Term 2 (and is continuing into Term 3). There was quite a bit that he didn’t understand in As You Like It when he was reading with the older kids (as well as with me at home) and, at this age, I prefer to keep him in the comedies for the “real” plays. So in Term 2, he took part in C’s Lambs readings (As You Like It at home and The Winter’s Tale in lower form Shakespeare for our co-op, which I teach). He did say that hearing the Lambs version of As You Like It after reading the “real” play helped it make more sense (though we also read it a few years ago), so that was good to know. I also asked him if he would be interested in reading a “real” play with me at home in Term 3 (since the co-op is continuing R+J), but he said no, so he’ll participate with C’s readings in Term 3 (King Lear at home and Twelfth Night in lower form Shakespeare for our co-op) as well. However, we will definitely be beginning the “real” plays next year.
We’re also continuing with Stories from the History of Rome and I’m fairly certain we’ll be starting Plutarch next year.
Book of Centuries
We continue with our BoC approximately once per week, usually entering something in from George Washington’s World. I’ve tried to encourage him to also do some drawings, but he’s hesitant so I haven’t pushed.
For Recitation/Repetition in Term 2, B learned Joshua 6:8-19, Mark 3:1-12, Psalm 46, and Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. (You can see the hymn selections below.) I did not switch them mid-term as I was supposed to, mainly because I didn’t have anything prepared. I also learned that instead of having him read all of his recitation pieces every day, he should really only have been reading one per day. So we had a schedule of OT on Mondays, NT on Tuesdays, Psalm on Wednesdays, Poem on Thursdays, and hymns were sung twice per week during Mornint Time.
We do most of our picture study time during co-op, which I teach. In Term 2, we studied the art of Diego Velazquez with the following pieces:
In Term 3, we’ll be looking at the art of Johannes Vermeer. You can read all about how we do Picture Study here.
I dropped brushdrawing this term as I bought better watercolor brushes, but failed to read the description before purchasing and the handles were not the right kind. We did one drawing from What to Draw and How to Draw It per week, which worked well, but I’d like to add brushdrawing back in in Term 3.
We cover composers in co-op and in Term 2, we learned about Giovanni Gabrieli. This was yet another composer with whom I was not familiar and both the kids and I really liked his compositions. In Term 2, we’ll be learning about Henry Purcell.
Folksongs and hymns are also chosen for our co-op and introduced when we meet. I chose the selections for our folksongs this year and in Term 2 we learned Drive the Cold Winter Away (this was definitely a favorite for me) and Old Maid in the Garret (which added a little levity to our year and the co-op kids enjoyed :)). Our hymns were O Come, O Come Emmanuel and On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry.
B had his first little recital this term, albeit very short and with only his immediate family and my husband’s mom over FaceTime. Nevertheless, Hoffman Academy prepared him well by assigning him to pick out the songs several weeks in advance and having him practice many times before the actual date. They even had little invitations we could print out and suggestions for how to plan it. After it was done, we had a make-your-own pizza night along with a family movie. Overall, I think it was a huge success.
We ran into a few problems with his practice times (and him not really doing what he was supposed to be doing….) back in February, so I began sitting with him during his lessons. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in his playing as well as his knowledge of music, which has surpassed my own. 🙂
B expressed an interest in woodcarving during Term 1, so I ordered a kit and a glove for him so he could do that as his handicraft in Term 2. We read the instructions in the book that came with the kit and watched a few videos, but the wood ended up being too hard for him to carve. He thought he might just get some softer wood from the aspen trimmings we have in our yard but instead we decided to switch to soap carving. We’ve been making our way through the first part of that book and he’ll begin carving in Term 3.
I ended up making changes to our PE time as well. Instead of alternating Swedish Drill with a 5 Minute Move video on YouTube, I opted to plan a walk in the afternoon on the days we didn’t do Swedish Drill, which freed up more time in our morning lessons as well. We try for a walk on Mondays and Wednesdays (with co-op, a hike, or another walk on Fridays) and then review a Swedish Drill routine on Tuesdays and learn a new exercise on Thursdays. This routine is working well for us.
And there it all is. One more term to go!