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Archive for July, 2009

Tonight we started rowing The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola. I timed this to coordinate with the Renaissance Fair in Denver this weekend. I think we shall have a blast! I remember going to these when I was younger…

I haven’t read the FIAR manual yet, but off the top of my head other themes we will cover aside from the Renaissance period are: Italy again, Renaissance period, juggling, gravity… I have florescent juggling scarves, so hopefully the juggling will be easy to try. 🙂

This weekend we have a guest, Oliver, who is from South Africa (he’s working in the US currently and works for the same company David does – Deloitte). Satori definitely is not a shy girl anymore, that’s all I can say! We look forward to taking Oliver to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park for lunch, geocaching, and the Renaissance Fair. I will be asking him to tell Satori a little bit about his country.

South Africa flag

South Africa flag

Today we wrapped up our rowing of The Rag Coat by exploring some math concepts that tie in with the quilting theme. I pulled this game out that we’ve had for two years, so it was like a brand new game for Satori! This is Tangoes Jr, little magnetic tangrams that you place on the puzzle. Side 1 is easy and show the shapes, Side 2 is more difficult and just shows the outline. Satori did both.



She worked on her Tangoes while I read the book for the 5th day in a row. A few parts I would ask her what comes next and she knew the next sentence by heart. One time I wasn’t paying attention and I accidentally said the wrong word, and she corrected me. She also likes to suggest how I should expressively say some of the things Minna says.

She saw the next project lined up so she started playing with the Geoboard. This was her first time playing with the rubber bands and the geo-board, making shapes.



When she was done, she described the “town” she made on the geoboard. 🙂


Science Day we were to learn where coal came from, but in our prehistory studies we very thoroughly went over the fact that coal came from the great forests and swamps of the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago. In fact, that is why it is named “Carbon”-iferous.

Also today, mama got out her huge fabric bins and cut up some fabric for her to make her own rag coat picture. I cut out scraps and Satori glued them to a coat that we drew on heavy cardstock. 🙂

Just got back from this spectacular show tonight in Denver – Walking With Dinosaurs!

Here’s one pic before we head to bed:

Mama and Baby Brachiosaur

Mama and Baby Brachiosaur

As you may know, I just have one young girl, who is 4.75 years old now and this spring was an experiment to keep her home and an intro to homeschooling. Obviously it was a success and everyone is on board with it now (husband, Grandma/mom, etc…). This summer I’m in no rush for a strict schedule yet, but I’ve tried to make sure we get at least a few minutes of lessons in each day. This fall (which we’re calling kindergarten) we’ll extend that to perhaps an hour give or take a few minutes.

By now you’ve maybe heard me talk about classical education, or you’ve heard me talk about it on homeschooling forums. I just got done reading the book, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, for the 3rd time since February, not to mention all the times I’ve peeked inside for a quick reference. This is the homeschool style that has influenced me most. I will be writing a separate blog post or page about the classical education method for those folks who’ve never heard of it.

The Well-Trained Mind

There’s been a lot of talk about The Well-Trained Mind (WTM) in all 3 forums I frequent on a daily basis, so I’ve been a bit rejuvenated on the classical education style. I mentioned earlier that we are in a big learning/growing stage, and life has changed so much that David and myself are so excited about how much Satori is learning. David said to me, that at 4 years old, he was really good at playing in the sandbox. 🙂 Here Satori is sounding things out at the grocery store, writing titles on her Bare Books, trying desperately to type in “scooby doo” on her computer to watch YouTube videos (I’ve chastised David about introducing YouTube to her multiple times.) I can’t imagine what she’ll be like when she turns 5 this November.

Here I am copying one of my posts regarding my plans for the upcoming school year. The curriculums in purple are all written by the same women who wrote The Well Trained Mind – Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. The curriculum in orange is recommended in WTM.

Fall 2009

Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

We’re on lesson 46, this is going super fast now, Satori catches on to the new sounds immediately and is blending effortlessly. I’m moving to 2 lessons a day instead of 1.5.

Story of the World with Activity Guide (maybe follow History Odyssey)
2-3x week
1) Read the “text”. 2) Read extra go-along books. 3) Do activity.

First Language Lessons
We’ve already started this, though according to WTM, we should’ve waited until we got to OPG’s Lesson 150 or so. But it is easy and simple and fun, and she’s ecstatic that she memorized her first poem! We’ll just do 1 lesson a week until we get caught up with OPG, which should be near her birthday when she turns 5.

Handwriting Without Tears
We’re just wrapping up “Get Set for School” and starting “Letters and Numbers for Me”. It thrills her to be able to write, even though she only knows capital letters right now. She’s eager to learn lowercase, and copies my writing a lot so she knows a few lowercase letters already.

The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease

We won’t start this until next year, but I have it lined up ready to go. We have to learn our lower case letters first.

Math is very important to me and DH, we were both very good at it. So I geeked out and got like 4-5 curriculums, although I want to just stick to one primary curriculum, hehe.
Math-U-See (wrap up Primer and start Alpha this fall)
Singapore (Earlybird B this fall, but just lightly, as MUS is our main)
RightStart (just to use their games and other manipulatives for some variety)

We’re surrounded by nature (bears and fox walk up on our deck often), so it is easy to study our surroundings. Not sure if I will follow WTM’s suggestion to start with plants, animals, human body for the first year… I haven’t quite decided on what to use for science, but have lots of science activity books lined up and have purchased this:
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2


All About Spelling

Using Artistic Pursuits, Meet the Masters and lots of books. Just 1-2x a week.

She is always drawing. We study the illustrations of award-winning books, and she LOVES trying to emulate the artist’s illustrations. (Five in a Row is a big influence on this.)

Still researching this, although probably not do any official studies this year. I would love to start teaching her piano. We also listen to classical music a lot.

We took a class this spring, not sure what I will do to continue to teach her, I can’t afford classes anymore. I majored in Spanish in college, so I’m not too worried, and we are heading to Mexico probably a few times this summer/fall as DH has a client there. WTM strongly suggests learning Latin or Greek, so I’m pondering whether to teach Latin now (and modern languages later). Yes, this is a hot topic  in the forums, with the majority of classical homeschoolers teaching Latin.

We read TONS and TONS! During the day we calm down with our current read-aloud chapter book, as well as at night. We do Five in a Row rowings every now and then and also do lots of related go-along picture books for anything we do (FIAR, history, art, science, etc…)

Usually when we row a book, I already know all the local events to tie it all in, but this weekend, as the family was preparing to go out for lunch in Nederland, I realized this weekend was Nederland Miner’s Days! First we stopped at the Mining museum, we have never been there before.


Some old miner’s gear – lights, boots, goggles…


They also had all kinds of fun family activities, like panning for coins in sawdust, tug of war, and more, but it started raining right when we got to the event, so no luck.

We did check out a huge book sale in Ned, and got two huge boxes filled with books for just $10! Here is the contents of one box. We picked up some of both David and my favorite books, and we’ll be giving them away to friends. There were quite a few books there that I had in my Amazon cart, like Family Math, Secret Garden, Prodigal Summer and Follow the Drinking Gourd.


Once home, we pulled out these Lincoln Logs for the first time and the whole family enjoyed putting this together. They don’t make em like they used to though. This was a timely activity as we are reading about log homes in the Appalachian mountains with The Rag Coat and our long-standing read-aloud of the Little House in the Big Woods. Satori sat and played “Little House in the Big Woods” for a few hours afterwards!


One thing I love to do is research go-along books for our FIAR books we read. In The Rag Coat, a main theme was quilts/quilting. Before this summer, I had no idea how cool quilts were. I just thought they were ratty ol’ blankets. My first clue was when I talked to my sister-in-law’s mom about quilting. She is an extremely talented quilter and has made the most beautiful pieces of art quilts I have ever seen. Colors and patterns and textures to die for, all made with love. I wish I could share a photo, but I didn’t think to ask to take pictures of the quilts. I was very honored to receive a mini lesson about quilting from such a master quilter, I learned it can take hundreds of hours to make a quilt, and some tips on the design of one.

Yesterday we went to the Boulder Library and checked out the following children’s picture books with a quilt theme.

Children's Picture books with quilting theme

Children's Picture books with quilting theme

No longer do we think of quilts as old blankets! We now know they are very special, treasured items to cherish forever.

I have several bins full of fabric back when I used to send them to baby sling designers for a custom Mei Tai or sling. I’m sure we’ll be taking advantage of all this fabric; definitely we’ll be doing some hands-on projects to do with quilting in the next few days, but I don’t think I have the time to get seriously into quilting. Homeschooling and reading take up all my time right now, but I would love to get into this in a few years.

Here’s the list of books with a quilt theme, I was pleasantly surprised there were so many! Most even had similar themes to the Rag Coat (loss/death, father/daughter). I’m sure there are dozens more, but this is what we’ve read from the library.

Continuing with the coal theme in The Rag Coat rowing, today we explored coal a bit more and learned that Colorado is ranked 8th in coal production in the US. We see coal trains everyday, so naturally we wondered where the coal is in Colorado. Looking at this map of Colorado Mines, we can see it is in the western side of the mountains that we live in. The black and white icons in the map are coal mines.

Colorado Mines

Colorado Mines

Here is a train full of coal resting in Rollinsville, CO, our hometown. We took this photo today.

Coal train in Rollinsville

Coal train in Rollinsville

And a closer look…



We also checked out this “Coal Areas in the United States” map from to see where coal is found in the United States. Satori recognized the Appalachian mountain area, which of course is rich with coal, as well as our very own Rocky Mountain range.

Coal Areas in the United States

Coal Areas in the United States

The  Kentucky Coal Education website also has lots of coal education ideas, games, and videos. Also the American Coal Foundation has lesson plans about coal for teachers. They used to even send homeschoolers free samples of coal. Be sure to check these website out if you read or row The Rag Coat!