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I’m back in full swing as Satori’s Super Homeschool Mom or Teacher. Kept my weight off that I lost while I focused on myself  the past few months. Last week with David’s encouragement, we decided to stop the unschooling-ish style we’ve followed for the past 2 months and get back on our schedule. Of course we’re way behind the schedule, but thanks to Homeschool Skedtrack, I was able to push the months we’re behind on out to Spring 2010. Love that program. We are going to try to add most weekend days, as I have high ambitions for Spring 2010 and I wanted to get some prep studies done this fall.

I got some great ideas for reading fluency, will cover later this week. Also reading up on fun ways to incorporate math, writing and more. Last week we reviewed all of RightStart Math and we’ll be moving forward now. Same with All About Spelling. Retention has been outstanding on everything.

For Artistic Pursuits, we combined Five in a Row by reading Harold and the Purple Crayon. Either someone has read this book to Satori the 3 years she was in daycare, or she remembers it from 3 years ago when I read it last. She knew everything that happened next…


FIAR added this book as a short lesson, and I’m happy, as it’s such a popular, creative, wonderful children’s book. We’ve read it twice already (we usually only do FIAR as 3-4 in a row, hehe). The FIAR manual of course made me appreciate the book even more. With our Artistic Pursuits program (art program not related to FIAR), we took a purple crayon and Satori set about drawing her adventure.


I tore off what I thought to be a super long sheet of paper off our roll and placed it on the floor for Satori to go wild. I was really hoping she’d be more creative, but she said she wasn’t as good a drawer as Harold. She had a great time anyway. 🙂


In this photo, as I’d hoped to illustrate, we get the idea behind vanishing point. The foreground shows the paper being very wide. The background shows it growing smaller. Had it gone on much longer, the lines would have converged in a tiny point. We also did some experiments of drawing perspective, drawing a book from a birds-eye view, and then from the ground.


First up, a little more about this book, which we are rowing with FIAR this week. As of last month, this book seemed to have gone out of print and was selling for $300! As of September, it is now back in stock on Amazon for $19.95, so if you want this own, and it is indeed worth it, I suggest getting it now! Or, be sure to check used book stores and such.

***I was just googling “Who Owns the Sun” and this very post is already on the first page of Google, I had published it ONE MINUTE AGO. Google rocks and they seem to love my blog. 🙂

Friday Satori replicated the glorious artwork of Who Owns the Sun? This sun image is shown on the title and on one of the first pages of the book.


We didn’t want to wait for normal watercolors to dry, so we used our new Neocolor II Artists Crayons, which are water soluble. They worked out GREAT!  We only have a small box of 15 though. I’d love a Wood Box Set of 84, or the Gift Set of 126, but $200+ is out of our budget now.



As you can see in the first photo, Satori then brushed a wet paintbrush outwords from the sun, resulting in our Who Owns the Sun sunburst!0909-arts-049

Since we are doing so much now, we are going to row a FIAR book only every 2-3 weeks, and instead of rowing the book five times in a row, we’ll do it probably just 3-4 times a row. (I guess this is what we’ve been doing all along.) To make things easier, we’re going to do them in order, starting with Volume 1. We may do Owl Moon this fall yet, that sounds like a good one.

This week we’ve started Who Owns the Sun? by Stacy Chbosky. I pointed out that this book was written and illustrated by a young girl, 14 years old.


I was a bit apprehensive covering the topic of slavery with my four year old, especially because she is so innocent about the world, not knowing anything about prejudice, segregation or slavery, but in the end, I am glad we gently introduced these topics this year.

At the end of the book, Satori murmured “That’s so sad.” But it does have a positive afterword, which lifted our spirits.


On Wednesday we picked all these books up at local libraries, it took 2 different libraries to get the books I wanted. We’ve already read 5 of them.  All the books have authors or illustrators who have won awards for their children’s books.

Who Owns the Sun? Go-along Books

  • Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine – True story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom! (Caldecott Honor)
  • Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson – I knew Satori would love this book, it’s told from the perspective of a rag doll, owned by a little girl running for her life on the Underground Railroad (Coretat Scott King Illustrator Honor)
  • Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. MicKissack – A young girl in segregated Nashville in the 1950’s experiences segregation but is boosted up by friends on her journey to “someplace special”.
  • Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson – Young slave girl leads her family to freedom. We noticed the rich dark purple colors of the night, that lighten as they progress to freedom, until they emerge in a brilliant orange and yellow. We also read Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (by same author) back when we rowed The Rag Coat.
  • Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams – A day in the life of a family of migrant cotton pickers (Caldecott Honor Book)

Sometimes I get obsessed with something, and collecting all the Five in a Row books was I suppose one. In February I started my FIAR collection, and after seeing how much Satori loved these books, even wanting me to read them over and over long after we rowed them, I added on. And on. Eventually I thought I might as well collect all the first 3 volumes our first year.

Here’s what they all look like together. Click each picture to see the full, original size.

FIAR books in Rain Gutter shelves

FIAR books in Rain Gutter shelves

There are some OOP (out-of-print) books that are not there, I couldn’t justify spending $100 on a rare, hard-to-find OOP book. There are also a few in my Amazon cart that I need to purchase, that are above the usual $7 I wanted to spend on a book.

Another view, here you can see the bottom shelf needs one more support, it is sagging a bit, oops.

FIAR books Vol 1-3

FIAR books Vol 1-3

We are going to be sketching and drawing a lot more, I can’t wait for Satori to start her Nature Journal, so I’d like her to get confident in her drawings! I’m reading Drawing With Children (more on this later) to teach her how to draw.

She got frustrated trying to draw this picture, so I let her trace it. She used a Prismacolor black marker and then used Crayola colored markers to fill it in. Other than showing her how to trace it, I did not help at all.


Who can guess who this guy is and which country he is in? No gifts this time for correct answers, but in a few weeks I’ll have another contest. 🙂

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

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.