This is the week of Candlemas, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and I find us just turning past the halfway point of our total number of school weeks this year. If you want to know what we were doing in weeks seventeen and eighteen, try this back post https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/01/21/weeks-seventeen-and-eighteen-of-homeschooling-eighth-grade-fifth-grade-and-kindy/.
Kindergarten – I really cracked down on our rhythm in week nineteen and we have worked hard to stay on task with meaningful work and festival preparations for Candlemas. One of our favorite activities for this week’s Candlemas festival was making little beeswax walnut boats with candles. We also made earth candles at our homeschool classes, and rolled beeswax sheet candles at home. This week was the beginning of our two day a week forest kindergarten program and our kindergartener was very happy to spend time with friends and be in the woods. We feel extremely fortunate to have such a program available in our area.
Fifth Grade – Last week we finished up Ancient Africa. I mainly focused on Nubia, Kush, Meroe, the Mbuti and the San, with more to come in sixth and seventh grades. Our fifth grader did a beautiful pastel picture of the African pharaohs that ruled Egypt and we talked about how there are actually more pyramids in Sudan than there are in Egypt. Ancient African history is so fascinating! We then moved into Ancient China and talked about the geography of the land, and extensively about the Gobi Desert and the Bactrian camel and camel caravans. Our fifth grader wrote a little piece from the first person perspective about being a camel puller on a caravan and also modeled a camel in clay. We reviewed some Chinese legends and learned about the biographies of Confucius and Lao Tzu, and the Great Wall of China. My original plan was to move into math and the Ancient Americas this week but my fifth grader is begging to start Greek Mythology, so we started at the end of this week with the land of Greece and introducing Mount Olympus and the battle of the Titans. I don’t mind moving blocks around at all. This year has just been like that, so I am just going with the flow of it.
We finished reading “The Golden Goblet” for our Egyptian studies and now we are reading “Understood Betsy”, which to me is a rather regional New England book that was one of my favorites when I was a child. A lot of the read-alouds I have chosen for this second half of the school year have to do with regions in the United States in preparation for our final block which will be North American Geography. We are still working hard on math – all four processes, fractions, a little bit with decimals. We are also working with spelling and spelling rules. Our fifth grader is also doing some handwork in a class that meets the same time as our kindergartener is in forest kindergarten, and working hard in choir and for the church’s spring musical. Our fifth grader will also be taking part in a play some homeschoolers are putting on for studies in Greek Mythology, and of course, the beloved barn shows are starting back this month as well.
Eighth Grade – We wrapped up physics with making flying objects and learning about gravity, lift, thrust and drag, and about wings and rotors. Great fun! We studied many, many biographies of aviators, as I mentioned in the last post in this series, and our eighth grader completed a pencil drawing of Amelia Earhart that turned out well.
We started our Geography of Asia block with a review of the geography and some of the history of China, along with a pencil drawing; then we mainly focused on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a comparison and contrast of Mao Zedong/Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai -Shek. After that, we moved into Korea and a discussion of the geography and history of Ancient Korea and more modern history including the division of North and South Korea, the DMZ, and what life may be like in North Korea. We are now talking about Japan and Japanese history. We will have Vietnam, and Borneo to talk about and then we will move into Oceania. After this block, we will jump into Oceanography, which my inner marine lover is heartily looking forward to!
We finished our read aloud, “The Brooklyn Bridge” by Karen Hesse (please, please pre-read for your eighth grader as it is a wonderful book but has some more mature themes and may not be wonderful for very sensitive children) and we are now reading “Water Buffalo Days:Growing Up in Vietnam” , obviously about Vietnam, which we will cover next week. I also have the books “Red Scarf Girl” and “The Good Earth” tapped to read for this block.
We are also working hard on ratios, direct and inverse proportions for math, and high school Spanish. Choir and preparing for the church musical and now a fortunate turn to have a class in doll-making for our eighth grader, is also keeping us busy. Horse shows are starting up again this month, so we are also busy at the barn.
I would love to hear what you are working on.
How do you handle read-alouds for your different age students? I’m planning for next year and this is a stumbling block for me. My children with be in sixth, second, and Kindergarten. Thanks.
Great question, Karen! I actually read to mine at the beginning or end of their lesson time. For our kindergartener, we tend to read more after lunch or a different time other than his school time. Sometimes I will also have something we will read all together during handwork or something like that as well.
With the ages of your children, I could see your sixth grader getting a read aloud during their lesson time, and then having some sort of reading time for your second grader and kindergartener. Is that how you are envisioning it?
Is it a problem if my younger two children overhear some of the read-aloud that I’m working on with my oldest? Or if my youngest listens in when I’m reading to the middle child? Since I began reading your blog, I’ve become much more interested in the idea of gearing stories to the particular age/stage of the child, but with three children at home it’s hard to avoid overlap.
Hi Carrie! Just wondering what resources you use for Ancient Africa and Ancient China???
For Ancient Africa I mainly used my favorite book, “Hear the Voice of the Griot!” by Betty Staley (Waldorf). A second edition of this book is coming out soon through Rudolf Steiner College PRess. I also used the book “African Beginnings” and my own personal notes from our seventh grade Africa block I had done with our first child. For Ancient China, I used the Ancient China part in the Christopherus Fifth Grade syllabus, along with separate resources on varying subjects from going through China in seventh and eighth grade with our first. The Internet has a lot of information, I always look to see what is on my library’s shelves in these topics, and also look for old books second hand. Sometimes those are the best. In China, the best description of the camel caravan I found was in a book about deserts by Epstein (an old book that I got used somewhere along the way).
Hope that helps,
Very helpful, thanks! 🙂