This week marked our second week of the new school year, and clearly, we've still got some issues to work out. Somehow, I had greatly underestimated the amount of time each subject would take now that I have only two students (and very speedy students at that!). As a result, our days have been embarrassingly brief. Granted we are waiting on our Math and Science books to arrive, but even still, the work is going way too quickly. I'm still trying to figure out what we can do differently in the future! 


Language Arts

Language arts seems to comprise our central focus this year, though this wasn't intentional. It's also a bit of a mess at the moment (what's new?!). I realized mid-week that my choice for composition wasn't the greatest (it was the first composition book that I'd found on Google Books and is probably too advanced), so I am planning on finding a suitable replacement this weekend.

I love the supplement for teachers, Methods and Material for Composition by Alhambra G. Denning and would like to utilize this somehow, maybe. I wanted something in the style of Primary Language Lessons, but better - I think Vital English (Intermediate text here) may be the solution, but will be exploring this further.
  • Handwriting: Two worksheets per day (M-Th).
  • Spelling: One lesson per day from Word Power Through Spelling. We love these books, but the words have proven a bit too easy. I may need to bump them up a level or two because they're not being adequately challenged.
  • Vocabulary: One lesson per day (M-Th) from Vocabulary 5 for Young Catholics.  
  • Grammar: One lesson per day from Voyages in English (nouns). These books proved hugely disappointing. We have chosen to ignore the rather uneven lessons at the beginning of the book and instead are strictly doing the grammar exercises in Part 2. 
  • Composition: Three exercises from A Composition-Grammar. This week's lessons covered: the nature of a sentence, affirmative or negative thought, declarative or interrogative thought, and exclamatory or non-exclamatory thought. Also, the rules for paragraphs and quotation marks, and, oddly enough, "the study of lettering" (this issue of The School Arts Magazine from October, 1919 proved a helpful supplement.)
  • Reading: Two lessons from This Is Our Heritage (6th) and These Are Our People (5th), two lessons  from Reading 5/6 for Young Catholics, Comprehension Skills and one lesson each from Reading 5/6 for Young Catholics, Thinking Skills.

History is, at the moment, a bit of an experiment. Because I was very late in deciding what we would study this year, I didn't get the necessary texts and supplements figured out in time (and I was broke by the time I had a plan!), so I had to improvise.

Finally I decided that we would wrap up the Middle Ages and start on American history in January. I divided our first semester (18 weeks) into two week "units," created an outline of what needed to be covered, and set about finding resources with the help of my favorite Google Books. Our "spine" is The Story of Old Europe and Young America and proved especially helpful because, at the end of each chapter, it lists suggestions for additional reading (all easily found using Google Books). So, for each unit, I printed the applicable portion from our spine, printed the supplements, and organized everything in my history filing crate. When this was finished, I went back and printed out maps, worksheets, coloring pages, etc. for each unit and filed them in the crate also. Activity ideas were written out on 3 x 5 index cards and dropped into the appropriate files.

At the start of a new two-week unit, the reading goes into one of these 3-prong poly folders (for history, they share the folder, but for other subjects, I've provided each with his own "text"). Each morning I count out the pages to be read and flag them with these handy-dandy Clip-rite clip tabs; they know by now to read from "tab to tab" each day. Supplements go into the folder's pockets, to be completed after reading.

What I love about this system is that it allows me to keep the amount of daily reading fairly even, supplement with the material I choose, costs virtually nothing, and it eliminates the stacks of extra books/supplements we were always scrambling to keep track of. Plus, if I change my mind about a particular supplement (which happens often!), I can switch to something else easily and without guilt.

The first of our history units also proved the most awkwardly put together, since I was picking up from the middle of a chapter in our spine, yet somehow it worked out well enough. We studied the Vikings and also schools, music and literature in the Middle Ages. In addition to our spine, our supplements included stories from Viking Tales by Jennie Hall, European Hero Stories, England's Story, and When Knights Were Bold (my favorite!), all by Eva March Tappan. On average there was 10-15 pages of reading per day. Earlier, I had created some notebooking pages on Vikings, but we never even used them, instead opting for oral narration. We listened to plenty of Medieval music and watched Terry Jones' Medieval Lives: The Minstrel on YouTube. Our read aloud, which we started only this week, was Adam of the Road.


The beautiful weather this week (finally, after a non-existent spring and a long blazing hot summer!) brought us outdoors. Prior to starting the week, I had no immediate plans in place for science. This year we'll be studying Chemistry, but I haven't ordered all of our books yet.

It just so happens that this year we were blessed with the appearance of a mysterious vine (weed), which quickly took over a portion of our back fence. A little research revealed that the vine was called Sand Vine Milkweed, (also, Honeyvine) a very important source of food for Monarchs. Despite warnings about the invasiveness of the vine, I decided to leave it alone since I love how sweetly it smells and don't mind it's appearance in the least. As the summer progressed, it very quickly became the most popular place in our yard for an astonishing variety of winged creatures - from every type of bee imaginable to a dizzying array of butterflies.

All abuzz! (Click on photo to enlarge)

This week has been no exception, so at the very last minute, I decided that we would do a brief nature study on butterflies and moths.

Once again, Google Books came to the rescue. I quickly put together a 47-page Nature Reader with relevant stories and information. We've been casually observing the insects all summer long, but now the plan is to have the kids spend a little time formally observing and identifying the butterflies and sketching in their nature journals, followed by some light reading. We will be continuing with this plan next week, so long as the weather holds out. Should I happen to require additional reading, The Insect Folk: Butterflies and Bees (Vol. 2) by Margaret Warner Morley appears to be excellent.


As with everything else, Math was not quite all I'd hoped it would be. Foolishly, all summer long I'd assumed that we had the necessary books for the new school year (I'm certain I ordered them last year!). Since we're using Singapore and it's very, very straightforward, no pre-planning was required. When I discovered, much to my horror, that I did not have the necessary books, I had to come up with a new plan. So, for the past two weeks we've been doing daily math drill worksheets and working on memorization of the multiplication tables through 9 (this was much needed!). Hopefully our Singapore books will arrive next week!

Personal Notes

This has been a quiet week all around. I've been battling some sort of flu/virus all week, so have had zero energy, which never fails to annoy me.  Hopefully I'll bounce back this weekend because we have a big busy week ahead!

This week I read A Breath of Air by Rumer Godden, which was a light, enjoyable read. That said, I think I preferred her novel In This House of Brede, which I read last week. I'm eyeing Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy to read next. I also read Saint Clare: Beyond the Legend by Marco Bartoli (which I'll be reviewing shortly) and re-read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.


  1. Daisy said...
    That book "An Illustrated Catechism" looks fabulous! And the rose cake and cupcakes are beautiful. Great week-in-review.
    Faith said...
    I bought Our Lady's Book! I hoping to read it in October for the month of the Rosary.

    Your week looks fabulous! I did something similar with math. I went to dig out our old Saxon 7/6 (used 4 years ago by my now 10th grader) and couldn't find the answer key. No way can I do math without the answer key. So I am going to borrow someone else's math books for this year.

    I love the rose cake. I've never had it together enough to do that kind of thing to celebrate a saint's feast day. Maybe twice a year I can but any more than that and I get overwhelmed!
    Kristine said...
    Faith ~ As I'm sure you've noticed by now, I *barely* have it together most of the time! The feast days are fun for me because in most cases, I'm learning about the saints for the first time. They give me something to plan & look forward to, though I can't handle more than one or two big feasts per week!
    Smrt Mama said...
    Those cakes are almost too beautiful to eat! You are filling your children's lives with so much beauty.
    Mandy in TN said...
    It is all just beautiful! And I'm enjoying looking through your history book.
    MissMOE said...
    I lived in STL for a few years and love gooey butter cake. I don't think its suppose to rise. Every version I ate was flat---but yummy! Sounds like your week was full even without math and science. And love your vine growing in the back yard. Kudos to you for not ripping it up.
    Tina said...
    I really enjoyed your post. Your blog is lovely and the tenderness of your post remind me how much I love this journey, too.

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