I have come to think of February as something akin to the “Room of Requirement” in the Harry Potter series – whatever I need homeschooling-wise, February will provide the space and time. It’s one of those things I don’t question; I have actually come to count on it. When I am planning like a mad woman in June and July, and thinking there is no way we will ever, ever have enough time to accomplish everything, I remember, “There is always February. And it is endless!” I try to use this month to solidify current math concepts, concentrate on something that was given short shrift and really sink into a nice long novel.
As you might guess, choosing the novel is my favorite part. Last year at this time, we read Anne of Green Gables. If you ask my boys about it, they will moan and groan and tell you it was the worst book we ever read. However, I have never seen a character so fully enter our home in an honest-to-goodness living and breathing way. They talk about Anne as though she is someone they know intimately. Ramona comes close, but Anne holds a special place in their imaginations. This year I’m thinking of reading Anne of Avonlea (the second in the series) or The Secret Garden. I’ll let you know.
Vincent: 11 years old, 5th grader Vincent will be reviewing and furthering his work with fractions, using the Key To workbook series. We will also be tying up some loose ends with Egypt, cooking a traditional Egyptian meal, introducing and practicing cursive writing and doing a few formal grammar lessons in verb tenses, homonyms, antonyms, synonyms and punctuation. This feels slightly choppy, but I think giving time to all of these things this month will make a big difference during the second half of the year.
Jude: 7 years old, 1st grader Jude will spend the month listening to fairy tales and continue to work with drawing, painting and modeling. I think these stories will nourish him on a deep and soulful level and also give him lots of practical experience with retelling them. We have had some modest success with him acting out the math stories we did last month by incorporating simple props. I plan to continue this. We will also work on the lowercase letters and differentiating them from the uppercase letters we worked with in September. Vincent will be attending these grade 1 lessons, except he will be working with the letters in script. He has not heard many of the Grimm’s fairy tales and can always use more practice with drawing, painting and modeling.
Sheila: Do you know Jean Miller? If you are homeschooling with Waldorf-inspired methods you should. She is one of the magical teachers who make Taproot so special. I am beginning a consulting relationship with her this month. Our first phone call is Thursday and I can’t wait. I highly recommend her planning guide and also highly, highly recommend attending Taproot’s homeschool teacher training. Dates for this year have not been announced yet, but you can bet I’ll be registering as soon as they are. I have some Valentine’s Day crafts planned for this month and hope to get a jump-start on a little Easter/Spring crafting. You’ll never guess what I’m hoping to make? Oh yes, more fabric buckets and bunting: think pastels, bunnies and eggs.
Links and other things I have loved this past month:
- I have an absolute weakness for rabbits of all kinds. Alicia Paulson has promised kits of these little guys soon.
- The comments I received on my Grade 1 Numbers Block post are far more insightful than my original post. I would encourage you to read them if you are struggling to shake off the January panic.
- This was an interesting post about blogging and time management.
- I try hard not to get sucked into Pintrest, but her board of quotations was a wonderful way to waste some time.
- This interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn about mindfulness offers some profound insights on parenting, technology and cultivating an awareness for everyday life. Absolutely worth an hour of your time.
- Working my way through her Year of Bread series. 52 different bread recipes – a new one each week! Love and inspiration.
Recipe of the month:
Damp Gingerbread Surprise! I love books that include recipes. Laurie Colwin’s 2 volume memoir Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are among the best. Her recipe for damp gingerbread is one of my absolute favorite things to make on a cold Saturday afternoon in February. It is delicious warm from the pan and absolutely divine topped with fresh, softly whipped cream. I could eat the entire thing by myself. (The recipe calls for Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which is a British product, but I have had no problem finding it in our regular supermarket. It comes in a dark green can and is usually by the honey and molasses.)
- 9 tablespoons butter
- 1 can Lyle’s Golden Syrup (recipe calls for a 12 oz. can or 1 1/2 cups – The can I buy is 8 oz, so I make up the difference with molasses.)
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
Melt butter and golden syrup (and molasses if needed) together. Sift flour, salt, soda and spices together. Add syrup mixture to the drys and mix well. Add egg and milk. Beat well. The batter will be very thin. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pyrex and bake at 350 for 45 – 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before turning out.