Week Twelve was the week of November 9th, we took two weeks off due to a family wedding and Thanksgiving and came back to do Week Thirteen of school the week of November 30th and Week Fourteen the week of December 7th (this week). Normally, we slow down in December or take quite a bit of time off in December, but we have lost a lot of time this fall due to varying circumstances, so I actually feel the need to power through a little bit. So, please know this isn’t a normal December rhythm for us!
Kindy – There has been a lot of “life” and less normal rhythm than I would have liked leading up to our family wedding and Thanksgiving..So, we are enjoying getting some balance back with a small circle, stories to go with the weeks of Advent and the Saints we celebrate in Advent, holiday baking and crafting and long walks outside in our nice weather.
Fifth Grade – We finished India during Week Twelve. We were exceedingly lucky as that week was the celebration of Diwali and whilst we had already attended a Diwali cultural event at our local library that had crafts, food and Classical Indian dancing, this week we had a wonderful neighbor who invited us to their home for their Diwali celebration, complete with sweets and dinner and fireworks. So, that was a wonderful way to cap off India. We spent most of Week Twelve talking about the caste system, reading the Mahabharata, and finishing the book, “The Iron Ring.”
I realized that in fifth grade with our first daughter, she did about fourteen pages of paintings, summaries, drawings. This time around we did about half that – seven pages. Part of this is due to different temperaments and capacities and part of this is due to the fact that I am much better at not over-assigning work. You do not need something in a main lesson book for every single thing you do. Even in the Waldorf Schools, from what I have seen, most blocks seem to have around 6 to 10 pages in the Main Lesson Books, depending upon the block. (If someone reading this has a child in fifth grade in a Waldorf School, please do write in and tell me how many pages in a Main Lesson Book your child’s work on Ancient India was, for example. I would love a larger sample than my local area). So please do think projects, modeling, field trips. You are in the home environment and you are a homeschooler. This is and should be different than the school environment. I think if you push main lesson book drawing and writing in the grades 1-6, many (not all, but many! There will always be those students who love to draw and write) seventh and eighth graders homeschooled students will really balk when the see main lesson books in those grades. Being mindful of the amount of sitting work for a particular block you are asking for with a particular child is so important!
Then we moved into Persia – the land itself, the creation of man, the story of King and his golden dagger and then into the life of Zarathustra and the Magi. We painted the Land of Persia, wrote a summary about that, modeled King Djemshid and his golden dagger and did two separate pictures of Zarathustra in a chalk pastel medium. There were also some beautiful verses and poetry I found. Now, in the middle of Week Fourteen we have moved into Ancient Mesopotamia – the land and the people, Marduk, Hammurabi and his code, and hopefully into Gilgamesh by Friday.
Math and spelling are still coming along and being practiced daily in addition to our block work. Spelling is making a few leaps; because of challenges we are still in the land of short vowels and initial and final consonant blends but it seems as if there is an increased awareness these days that shows more is clicking and being retained in the memory. Our daughter read “One Day in the Desert” on her own, and we are currently reading the Childhood of Famous Americans “John Muir” since that touches on botany, ecology, upcoming mineralogy. 4-H has been busy with the homeschool meeting and the Fall Fun Day. Choir is also busy now that we are in Advent and all of the end of the year horse show and banquet and barn work.
Eighth Grade – We moved into Chemistry during Week Twelve, but honestly, we were still finishing up a lot of work from our American History block and didn’t get to start Chemistry until the last day and then we had two weeks of vacation. So, we are moving slower than I would like as we mainly started Chemistry this week and I really wanted to finish this block and a block on Asian Geography before Christmas but it looks like that is not going to happen, so I will have to decide what we will begin with in January after break.
So far we have done an intensive look at carbohydrates – sugars and starches, the solubility of sugar and salt, enzymes and how they break down carbohydrate, Fehling’s solution and the use of hydrochloric acid in breaking down carbohydrates and how this is indicated, and on a practical level how sugar is processed from sugarcane. We looked at the history of sugar cane in the United States in Louisiana, St. Croix (US Territory), and Maui. Now we have moved into proteins, and I hope to wrap this block up next week or so. With proteins we are looking at how heat denatures proteins, coagulation of proteins, (cheesemaking would be great here, but we have done that quite a bit in the past). We have cooked quite a bit (meringue cookies, fudge, meat dishes) and that has been an enjoyable part of this block for our teen. In our look at fats next week, we will be dealing mainly with rendering fat, extracting essential oils, oil and water. Soap making is good here, but I decided to try to keep our practical things to food making this go around, so we may experiment with some of the things we have done before, like making our own mayonnaise and ice cream. I have tried to make this block as hands-on as possible.
In our year long course of World Geography, we finished up our page for the United States. I gave homework about the United States and Canada, an end of unit test for the United States that focused on several questions to be answered in paragraphs, labeling a map with all 50 states and capitals, and labeling a physical map with natural features. In Canada we reviewed from fifth grade all the provinces and capitals, all the physical features and then the history of independence of our neighbor and some current events with Canada’s new Prime Minister. Our daughter finished the Canada pages, including a products of Canada map. Spanish is also coming along; we are almost halfway through this high school level course (which, by the way, has been so much work!) Typing is also coming along, and our daughter got to help my husband build a new computer from scratch and learn all the parts of the computer and their functions.
We are still reading “Elijah of Buxton” but almost finished! Finally! Independent reading has been difficult these past weeks as “Riders of the Pony Express” was not enjoyable to our eighth grader, and she never really dove into the biography of Harriet Tubman I shared with her. I hope to return to Harriet Tubman’s biography this spring with our Peacemakers block, and plan to instead assign Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” on Friday. The next book we will read together will be “Brooklyn Bridge” by Hesse.
Math is still happening daily, mainly right now we are reviewing fractions and all the operations in fractions and financial math. This has been a busy time with 4-H as our daughter attended the overnight Statewide Junior Leadership Conference with all kinds of leadership sessions and service opportunities; we also had the Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging Competition, and portfolio for District Project Achievement. I would love to talk a little bit more about homeschooling with 4-H in a different post. I think there are many ways seniors (so for us, starting next year), can use the 4-H events and knowledge gained in preparing for DPA as part of academic credit. Choir is also busy since we are in Advent! And the horses!
I would love to hear what you have been working on in November and December.