Thursday, September 13, 2018

To slow read Shakespeare, or not to slow read Shakespeare, that is the question...

Over the weekend, Gemma told me that she doesn’t like the way we do Shakespeare.

At that moment, she was sprawled out on her tummy on the bed with two books open in front of her. One book was Usborne's Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare and the other was a book in Bruce Coville’s Magic Shop series - The Skull of Truth. The skull, she said, was the skull from Hamlet, the “alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio” skull.

"Really?" I said.


"Ooh," I said, "do you want to read Hamlet as our next Shakespeare tale?"

"No. I like reading Shakespeare. I just don't like the way we do it - three pages a week. I like reading a whole story."

Ugh. I get it. There is part of me that wants to do Shakespeare the way Gemma wants to do it because, ultimately, the goal is for her to have a good relationship with Shakespeare. But the other part of me sees the importance of slow reading.

Does everything need to be read slowly?

Do we need to continue slow reading Shakespeare tales because, in a couple of years, we'll be slow reading the full-length plays? Is it a habit-thing?

Monday, September 3, 2018

Gemma's Understood Betsy Narration

This is Gemma's final narration from Understood Betsy. She dictated it to me while looking over my shoulder. The parentheses, sighs, arrow, bolded letters, etc. are all Gemma's.

Betsy, I know this is going to be hard to tell you but I'm going to have to take you away from Putney Farm. I'm coming to get you today...(sigh)..I've married someone. We are going to travel around the world. My husband's business, and your father's, is going to be worldwide because it moves place to place. Love, Your Aunt Frances

Eleanor gave birth to kittens and Molly went to give Betsy the letter (which you can see ↑). Betsy opened the letter and almost started crying and she ran out of the barn.

Betsy told Uncle Henry what had happened and he was filled with tears too.

He helped Betsy into the wagon and then he and Betsy went to meet Aunt Frances.

Aunt Frances's train pulled up and Aunt Frances stepped out.

Aunt Frances said, "My Betsy, how you've grown so much!"

Then they went to meet Uncle Henry in the wagon and they just kept looking at each other all the way home they didn't see anything outside the trees kept trying to get their attention because they kept waving their branches but all they saw was the inside of the wagon.

When they got back to Putney Farm, Aunt Frances said hello to Aunt Abigail and Cousin Ann, and when Shep came over from the couch she was like, "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!"

And she said to Betsy, "How can you live with that big dog around?"

And she told Aunt Frances that it was just Shep, a lovable dog.

And then the big cow came out and she hit the cow and she told Shep to take the cow into the barn.

Then Aunt Frances said that Betsy could stay here if she liked, and Betsy said, "That would be wonderful!" And Aunt Frances asked the Putneys if they wanted to keep Betsy with them, and they said, "Well, we've sort of gotten used to having her around and we'd love to."

Aunt Frances said, "Well, it's settled, Betsy. You're staying here. Well, I'm going to miss you very much." (sigh)

Then Betsy said, "Don't worry, Aunt Frances, when you're close by I can always visit you."

Then Aunt Frances hugged Betsy and said, "I would love that."


By Gemma

Once upon a time there was a village that was under attack by a dragon.๐Ÿ‰
the draginn๐Ÿ‰ (<--get it) was a nice dragon๐Ÿ‰ . the villagers๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ‘ซ didn't know that the dragon๐Ÿ‰ was a nice dragon๐Ÿ‰ . the king told the villagers๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ช๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ‘ต to attack the dragon๐Ÿ‰ .  the villagers๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿ’ƒ accepted this task gratefully.
the villagers did what the king ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿ’‚told them to do . ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿค๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿข๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš๐Ÿš๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿšƒ

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Year 2: Notetaking

Gemma took notes while I read today. It looks like something from A Beautiful Mind, or a word search. If you look closely, you can find:
  • Charlemagne
  • abbot ruled monastery
  • Latin
  • in France
  • the old monk
  • studied books
  • The Dark Ages
  • hallway connected
  • Empire
...and more.

The mountain represents “What goes up must come down,” and stick figure wielding a sword is an illiterate Teuton.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


GEMMA (age 7): Mom, what kind of school does an 8 year old go to?

ME: An elementary school.

GEMMA: What’s that?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Year 2: Week 10

This week included a field trip to the California Science Center to see the King Tut exhibit.


Some stuff we read:

  • Understood Betsy ch 10
  • Genesis 14 & 15
  • Trial & Triumph (Boniface)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Year 2: Week 9

This week included a trip up to Central California to visit grandparents, and to see one of my best friends perform as Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Some stuff we read:

  • Understood Betsy ch 9
  • Our Island Story (about Gregory)
  • Trial & Triumph (about Gregory)
  • 50 Famous Stories Retold: The Barmecide Feast
  • Genesis 13
  • Luke 6
  • Hillyer's Architecture ch 10
  • Viking Tales ch 9
  • 2 pages of Pilgrim's Progress
  • Finished Lamb's The Taming of the Shrew
  • Tales of Troy & Greece (a couple of pages)
  • Christina Rossetti poetry
  • Elementary Geography ch 23 (a poem)
  • One chapter of The World by the Fireside
  • Spark of Life ch 5
There was also piano, a little Spanish, a little French, a little Life of Fred: Fractions, a look at a da Vinci, some songs sung...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Year 2: Week 7

This week included a field trip to Santa Monica College’s production of the musical Madagascar. It was super wacky and Gemma loved it.

Daddy gave Gemma another bike riding lesson.

Stuff we read:
  • Understood Betsy ch 7
  • Spark of Life ch 3
  • Genesis 9
  • Luke 5
  • Tales of Troy & Greece (The Stealing of Helen)
  • Viking Tales ch 7
  • Our Island Story (Hengist and Horsa & Hengist’s Treachery)
  • Trial & Triumph (Patrick: Missionary to Ireland)
  • Discovery of New Worlds ch 12
  • Christina Rossetti poetry
  • 3 pages of Lamb’s Taming of the Shrew
  • 2 pages of Pilgrim’s Progress 
  • Elementary Geography ch 22
  • Bedtime Reading: The Hobbit
Two especially neat-o things that happened this week...

The first was while I was reading aloud Tales of Troy and Greece. I was reading “The Stealing of Helen,” and when I got to the part about Oenone’s reaction to Paris and Helen, Gemma asked why, if Oenone had the power to heal any wound, couldn’t she heal her own broken heart?

The second was while reading aloud Our Island Story about Hengist and Horsa. Gemma said, “Wait! I bet Hengist wants Vortigern to marry Rowena so he can be Vortigern’s father-in-law!!!” I knew of several good reasons to read fairy tales, but being able to predict the motivations of historical figures was not one of them; it is now.
Gemma had daily swim lessons, attended a magic show with animals (note the hedgehog) at the library...

...and completed another step of her sewing project.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Year 2: Week 8

Gemma got to play giant tennis with a juggler. 

After the show, Gemma walked up to the stage (I didn’t know why) and politely asked if she could have the self-portrait he drew while juggling.

Some of the stuff we read:
  • Understood Betsy ch 8
  • 3 pages of Lamb’s The Taming of the Shrew
  • Genesis 11 & 12
  • Our Island Story (about Stonehenge, King Arthur, and The Round Table)
  • a chapter of Discovery of New Worlds
  • Spark of Life ch 4
  • The World by the Fireside (South America)
  • 1/3 of a chapter from Tales of Troy & Greece
  • Christina Rossetti poetry

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Year 2: Weeks 5 & 6

In literature, we read Chapters 5 & 6 of Understood Betsy, some Christina Rossetti poetry, Chapter 3 of Tales of Troy and Greece, some Pilgrim’s Progress, and some Lamb’s The Taming of the Shrew.

In history, we read Chapters 5 & 6 of Viking Tales (Chapter 6 has been my favorite chapter so far because it has such a vivid description of a Viking hall), Trial & Triumph (about Constantine, Athanasius, Ambrose, and Augustine), Our Island Story (about Vortigern), and Synge's Discovery of New Worlds Chapters 9 through 11.

In Bible, we read Genesis 7 & 8, and Luke 4.

In geography, we read a couple of chapters of The World By the Fireside (South America). One was about pampas grass, which we are now seeing everywhere.

In science, we read two chapters in Spark of Life (about everything coming from seeds, and living things being able to thrive in certain environments). We also went to two science shows at the library. The first was Mad Science...
The second was Bubblemania.

For handicrafts, Gemma experimented with my sewing machine, sewing various stitches.

We also went to a 3-D printing class at the library. Gemma learned to make a star lantern using Tinkercad. (The teacher pre-printed the lanterns because each one takes 3 hours to print!)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Gemma and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Dress

So far, Gemma has stay-stitched the neck (front and back) and sewed the shoulders of the dress she’s making.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Year 2: Week 5: Handicrafts

Gemma got to choose the fabric for her first sewing project today.

Here she is at Sewing Arts Center, showing me the print she’s chosen.

They’re having a 40% off sale tomorrow, so the owner gave me the discount early - thank you!

The print makes me think of popsicles. ☺️

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Year 2: Weeks 1 through 4

These 4 “weeks” were actually stretched over 6 weeks. 
In literature, we’ve read chapters 1 through 4 of Understood Betsy, 8 pages of Pilgrim’s Progress, finished Lamb’s King Lear and started The Taming of the Shrew, and chapters 1 & 2 of Tales of Troy and Greece.

We’re also reading poems from Christina Rossetti’s “Sing-Song.” Gemma chose “A diamond or a coal...” for recitation.
In history, we’ve read Synge’s The Discovery of New Worlds chapters 1-8, Our Island Story from Boadicea to Saint Alban, Viking Tales chapters 1-4, and Trial and Triumph’s chapters about Polycarp and Blandina.
In natural history, we finished The Burgess Seashore Book. 

At the end of 1st grade, we had 4 chapters of Burgess left. Option 1: We could have stopped on chapter 36, and read the last 4 chapters as “free reading.” As this was unlikely to get done, I chose Option 2: Keep right on going.
In Bible, we’re reading Genesis and Luke. So far we’ve read Genesis 1-4 and 6, and Luke 1-3.

For recitation, the passages I’ve chosen for revisiting each week are:
Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 15
Luke 8:1-15 (The Parable of the Sower)
For composer study, Gemma chose Bach, and has been learning to play Minuet in G Major. For artist study, she chose Leonardo da Vinci, and we’ve looked at The Virgin of the Rocks and Ginevra de Benci.
In geography, we’ve continued to read The World by the Fireside, about South America, specifically the llanos (the grasslands in northern South America), and in Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Geography we’ve read chapters 19 (a poem) and 20.
In math, we’re halfway through Life of Fred: Fractions. Gemma is also working through Making Friends With Numbers.
For handicrafts, Gemma completed cutting out a dress pattern. The pattern has 4 pieces (and no zippers or buttonholes). The next step will be to shop for fabric, and learn to pin her pattern pieces to her fabric.

We did two weeks of Vacation Bible School, one here, and one in Central California.

The first was Rolling River Rampage...

The last day of VBS, there was a bird show (nature study ✅). And yes, Gemma is wearing pajamas.

The second was Game On!, a sports-themed VBS, which is why Gemma and the other kids have on eye black. ๐Ÿˆ

While we were in Central California, we went with my dad to Fresno’s two most famous homes.

The first is the Underground Gardens.

If you’re ever in Fresno, you must make it a point to see this site. It’s awe-inspiring. It was built over one hundred years ago by a man who had immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily to be a subway tunnel digger on the East Coast. He decided he wanted to be a citrus farmer, and purchased 80 acres of Fresno farmland for $80. One dollar per acre. It was quite the deal, until he realized that he was standing on four feet of hardpan. Because farming was an impossibility, he took a job as an irrigation ditch digger, working 10 hour days, some months in hundred-degree heat. Knowing it was cooler underground, he decided to dig himself a bedroom and a kitchen. Two rooms became a subterranean labyrinth...

The second famous Fresno home we visited was the Meux Home.

The house was built in 1898 by Dr. T.R. Meux. Dr. Meux and his family were from Tennessee. They moved to Fresno because Mrs. Meux had tuberculosis, and Fresno, at the time, was advertising excellent air quality.

My dad had never been to the Meux Home, and neither had Gemma. I, on the other hand, was a docent there when I was in middle school, so I enjoyed seeing the home again, and seeing the love that has been poured into maintaining the house.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Google Mini Golf

Here is Gemma, modeling her new Google golf socks.

During what was supposed to be a quick trip to Old Navy to buy new flip flops, Gemma saw the words “Mini Golf” and dragged me into the line for the pop-up advertising Google’s Mini with - what else? - Mini Golf.

There were two courses, each with 4 holes showing things the Google Mini can do.

There is not yet a Hey Google, make me a French press of coffee; Hey Google, take my clothes out of the dryer and hang them in my closet; or a Hey Google, move my car so I don’t get a ticket on street sweeping day.

Today’s P.E. Lesson

 Today Daddy took off Gemma’s training wheels.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Understood Betsy & Apple Crumble

If you’ve read Understood Betsy, you know there is a line in the book about Northern Spy apples. ๐ŸŽ(When Gemma narrated this chapter, she called them “Ninja apples.”) This month, Trader Joe’s has a yummy apple crumble, and it’s made with...

How do you like them apples?๐Ÿ˜

Mad Science Show at Library

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Gemma playing the Meux Home piano

 Gemma got to play the Meux Home’s 100 year old piano. Some famous people have played that piano, including Ethel Barrymore.๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Camera Obscura

Several years ago, I bought Thames & Kosmos’s $100 Milestones of Science kit because it was 50% off. Gemma discovered it, and here she is with her first experiment from the box: a camera obscura. Instead of rubber bands and and glue, we simplified the experiment and taped everything. Also, we didn’t have tracing paper, but we did have a piece of a sewing pattern, which was perfect.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Friday, June 8, 2018

In Our Backyard

While I was cleaning out my classroom, my husband was watching our daughter do this.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Blogging Progress...Blogress?

I've been asked how, as a homeschooler, I track my child's progress.

This is an interesting question because it means that the person asking it thinks that progress needs to be tracked. Learning needs to be quantified. If it's not quantifiable, it must not be happening. It's the conventional way of looking at education.

I do track my public school students' progress. Now that we've reached the end of the year, I can look back at each student's beginning of the year reading assessment, middle of the year assessment, and end of year assessment, and see that, yes, each of my students did make progress in reading.

But, with my own child, I know she's progressing. I know she's choosing more difficult books than the books she chose a year ago. I don't need a computerized test (an expensive computerized test) to tell me that. What I do need is time with my child. Because I spend time with my child, I know she's progressing.

Time is something that public school children don't get from their teachers, those people who are supposed to be very knowledgeable about their students' academic progress. And, because we teachers, we trackers, don't spend time - real time, not fake time, not time managing them, or time "facilitating" their "learning" - with our students, we have to rely on measurable data to prove that what we were doing all year was indeed moving our students forward.

I spend a lot of time with my child. I listen to her read daily. I ask her about what she's reading, and I ask her if I can get her more books like the books she's reading. I get her more books. I reserve books at the library. I order books on Amazon. I track my Amazon shipment, but I don't track the progress of my child.

I cozy up with her in bed on a Sunday afternoon, and do math for an hour and a half. Very un-Charlotte Mason, doing math for an hour and a half with a seven year old. (Very un-Charlotte Mason; shouldn't we be outside nature journaling?) But I assess my child's attitude - not using a scale of 1 to 5 - and determine that cozy math, for her, is leisure. It's scholรฉ. It's school we get to do.

So, to answer how I track my child's progress: I observe that we've turned to the next page, we've started the next chapter, we're nearing the end of the book. We. Because all of us in this house are being educated in ways that can't be quantified. 

And I'm just blogging our way forward.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gemma's Very First Test

UCLA has a math program for children, so today we went to UCLA so Gemma could take the test to see if she qualifies.

Gemma didn't know this was happening until last night. I told her I needed to sharpen the pencils in her pencil pouch so she could go do some fun math problems at the university.


Because they have a fun summer program for kids who like math. 

"So I get be in the program?!" 

Maybe. First you have to take a little...sort of... (I had no idea how she would react to the word test.) ...a little...sort of...test.

"Like Mysterious Benedict Society?!" 

Yes! Exactly like Mysterious Benedict Society.

"Do I have to sit in a desk?"

Well, I don't think you can say, 'I typically do my math in bed. Do you have a bed I can take my test in?'

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy Place: Chains

Gemma loved this installation. I think she liked the sensory experience, as well as the idea that she could "hide" in it.