Plans for June

It’s June and the hay has been cut, raked, rowed, baled and put up in the barns.

Mentally, I finish school around Memorial Day, and keep June as an overflow, wrap-up, testing month. Our days are looser, but there are things we need to accomplish and I find continuing our school rhythm allows us to do this. Here is what we are up to this month.

Vincent: 10 years old, fourth grader Vincent will be finishing up his embroidered map and quilt of the US. He lacks embroidering 2 states, needs to pick out a backing fabric and learn French knots. This project will take up most of our school time, as I don’t want this to linger into the summer. And although I included a lot of animal study in with our recent US Geography block, we never did a second formal Man and Animal block. I do have some animal-themed novels on our read-aloud shelf that came from a list of recommendations in Donna Simmons’ Christopherus Unit Study: The Human Being and The Animal World. Three I checked out of the library are Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, The Good Dog by Avi and The Story of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting. Maybe these will be read this month.

We are required by the state of North Carolina to administer an annual test beginning at age 8. I order a California Achievement Test (CAT) from this company. My stringent standards for choosing this test and this company are two: cheap and easy. The scores are not reported to any state or local office, and are more of a bureaucratic hoop to jump through. I do like having some sort of objective assessment of Vincent’s core knowledge and where he places as far as grade level goes, but honestly, the scores confirm what I already know to be his strengths and weaknesses.

Jude: 6 years old, kindergartener Jude will continue to keep his days full of outside time, usually with a ball in hand. I plan to continue this emphasis on play well into grade 1. I am currently planning only 1 day of formal main lesson for him next year. I hope to begin the week by telling a Grimm’s fairy tale during circle, reviewing/retelling it the next day during circle and having a formal artistic activity based on the tale the third day.

Sheila: 42 year old person in charge of all of this: While Vincent’s work is winding down, June and July are busy for me, as these two months are devoted to serious planning for next year. I have purchased almost all my resources and supplies for next year – although I am sure there will be one or two more orders placed at some point before Labor Day. My planning starts by literally clearing the space. I clean out our school room, rearrange the furniture, check supplies, shelve old resources, review the year’s work and try to start with as little clutter as possible. I am still trying to determine our weekly and daily rhythms for next year. Expect lots of planning posts in the coming weeks.

**I had this post all ready to go with our plans for June, and then I listened to Kim John Payne being interviewed by Donna Ashton during the Waldorf Global Expo this past weekend. He is the genius (and I do not use that word lightly) behind the Simplicity Parenting movement. I decided to register for his new online course, The Soul of Discipline. It begins June 19, and looks like it is going to be fantastic.

Oh, and we are going to Boston for work (my husband)/play (me and the boys) this month. Any recommendations? What are you up to this month?

Plans for April

It’s April and the wild violets are blooming in the hay fields.

Here is what we’re up to this month:

Circle Time:

We are continuing to work on our penny whistle skills, trying to master Hot Crossed Buns, Mary Had a Little Lamb, London Bridge, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

Poetic Memorization/Recitation:

Vincent (4th grade) – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Jude (Kindy) –  Cock a Doodle Doo by Mother Goose

Me – Daffoldils by William Wordsworth

Main Lesson Block for 4th Grade:

We are finishing up our second block of Norse Myths, with the Twilight of the Gods and Ragnarok on the schedule this coming week. Vincent has really been anticipating the war between the gods and the giants. I’m using Norse Mythology by Charles Kovacs and supplementing with Norse Gods and Giants by D’Aulaires. We are continuing to work on our drawing and summary skills during this block.

Normally, I like to keep our blocks contained within the month, however, our extended spring break has interferred with this. The second week in April will see us beginning our final block of the year. I am combining US Geography (an extension of the local geography we began the year with) with our final Man and Animal block. I plan to take about 6-8 weeks, studying one region of the country per week. Both my boys have always liked geography, so I anticipate this being a fun way to end the year. It seems like I have a bunch of resources for this block. Mapmaking with Children by David Sobel, The United States of America by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson, Yankee Doodle’s Cousins by Anne Malcolmson, Native American Stories told by Joseph Bruchac and Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling. My goal is to keep facts to a minimum, and try to conjure a regional sense of place through biography and story. I have ordered a few other books by Holling Clancy Holling and may use them also. I’ll keep you updated as the block progresses.