In years past, I have written updates throughout the year on our school progress. This year I haven't been as fastidious about the updates, but I have enjoyed keeping track of what we learn throughout the year. If you are interested, buckle up!!! This will be a long post! I do this for me because I love coming back and looking at the amazing things we are able to do and learn as homeschoolers! I also do this for you because I feel encouraged if something I share can be helpful to your family!
Let's dive into our 2019-2020 school year! I will organize in three sections. The Knowledge of God, The Knowledge of Man, and The Knowledge of the Universe.
The Knowledge of GodThe focus of our New Testament reading this year was the book of Mark. We read directly from the Bible together and I was able to lead discussions based off the readings in J. Paterson Smyth's commentaries.
Our Old Testament readings were in Joshua and Judges. The Smyth commentary was helpful as I decided what readings in Judges to omit, and how to approach some of the touchy subjects like Jepthah's daughter. I also loved reading from the same Bible version together. I bought the three of us the NIrV translation Bibles after reading reviews online and decided that this is the best option for our family for both school readings and personal devotions.
We read a few stories from Missionary Stories with the Millers and I look forward to continuing these readings next year. (Amazon link)
We also did Advent and Lent studies through a wonderful resource by a homeschool mom that passed away last year. Slow + Sacred Advent and Rich + Rooted Passover are beautiful guides to read during the season. We got a lot out of the activities and created memories that will last! I look forward to using them again next year!
Our morning basket menu also encouraged us in our knowledge of God with monthly Bible recitation verses and hymns! I have a post here on the menu inserts! Follow the links in the post to download the inserts!
The Knowledge of ManHistory is one of my favorite subjects and we did so much to learn about American history from 1700-1800 as well as TN state history and a little Roman history! One of the highlights of this year was leading a class in a TN history and civics class while also doing some readings in Beesly's Stories from the History of Rome. (Amazon link)
The resources I was able to use in our TN history class are listed below:
TN History For Kids booklets (Long March to Tennessee and Work for Freedom)
Landmarks of Tennessee History (and More Landmarks of Tennessee History)
Tennessee by Bernadine Bailey
Tennessee by Wilma Dykman
Early History of Nashville
Field trips! (TN State Museum, Bicentennial Mall Park, Stones River Battlefield, Carter House, Spring Hill City Courthouse)
I also made up a fun game where we raced on keelboats down the Mississippi and then came back up the Natchez Trace! Sometime in my spare time I hope to get something that can be printed so others can play it! I just used Monopoly money and game markers from other games to make it work! After researching I did find that there is an out of print boardgame called "Breaking the Devil's Backbone!"
I also really enjoyed spending time talking with the boys about the branches of government. We were able to compare the offices at the national level with how our state congress operates within those three branches. Even our local alderman took the time to give the boys a tour of city hall and talk about local politics! I love the interest that the boys showed in class and look forward to doing this again with Eva Mae in 4th or 5th grade!
Some of our other favorite history readings were from America First and other picture books. We learned about the founding of each original 13 colonies and enjoyed biography stories about men like William Penn. Christian read Ben and Me and Carry On Mr. Bowditch as part of our history cycle and also did the Arrows from Bravewriter for these books. Using the literature to teach language arts was so much fun! We look forward to more this year! Christian is finishing up Mr. Revere and I. Using historical fiction within the history timeline is a practice I will continue using for my children! they love it! We also learned about the Boston Tea Party, Revolutionary War, and signing of the Constitution. This collection from the library was a great supplement as well!
In the Child's World Volume "People and Great Deeds" we spent time reading biographies on Confucius, Mozart, David, Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Sir Galahad. Christian also read a biography on Nikola Tesla after learning about him with some science videos and wanting to know more! And we also read a fun tall tale type biography on Daniel Boone called "Daniel Boone's Echo."
Christian also memorized the presidents this year using a memory technique taught in the book Ready-Set-Remember (I wrote a post about the book). My mom gave him my dad's old coin collection of every President coin that he collected and I'm hoping to fill it with the past 4 presidents that weren't included in the collection. The book that came with the collection has a great one page biography that Christian has been enjoying. We also listen to the Animaniacs song and of course had to look up if James Monroe really had a big nose! :)
And of course, the many many many field trips we've done that were not specifically the time period of 1700-1800, but were enjoyable to visit and see the connections and science of relations that could be made. (Chickamauga, Shiloh, Fisk University, Rosa Parks show at TPAC, and the History Fair at the Bicentennial Mall park to name a few!)
Grammar is something that is important to start adding in to a Form 2 curriculum since next year we start Latin!!! Christian did awesome learning all his parts of speech and Eva Mae is starting to learn a little too although I am not as focused on grammar with her right now. I read GrammarLand to both of them and Christian also worked through the Simply Grammar book. We also did exercises in the Gentle Feast Form 2 Guide along with computer games on ABCya (Parts of Speech Quest!)
Eva Mae's copywork lessons focused on learning cursive and writing stories! She is passionate about creating her own books after watching her daddy do it for the past 2 years! (Check out The Traveler's League!) I love her passion and I'm really excited about nurturing this gift! I think one of the most touching moments for me to see between Eva Mae and Christian this year was the way Christian LOVES her story about "Bucky and Lucky." She would draw her pictures and "read" her story to Christian and he got such a kick out of some of the plot that when she was finished with the book, Christian was the one to tell us and narrate it to us at dinner! For her copywork we've been using A Reason for Handwriting and Gentle Feast cursive.
Literature is also one of my favorite subjects in a Charlotte Mason education! These are the books we enjoyed together this year: Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, Water Babies, The Long Winter, Because of Winn-Dixie, Henry Sugar, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, White Fang, Dr. Doolitle Puddleby Adventures, and some Andersen fairy tales! We went to a wonderful show at the Nashville Children's Theater about the life of Hans Christian Andersen and my kids still sing the theme song...."I'm Hans Christian An-der-sen..... that's me!" The Nashville Library had a performance of Hansel and Gretel so we went to that performance as well after reading the original Grimm version of the tale!
Speaking of the puppet performances, we were able to take a field trip to see how puppets are made at the library! Brian Hull gave us a backstage tour after seeing The Frog Prince and we were able to see the Lorraine puppet show being constructed and face molds being made for the marionettes! A few weeks later we went back to the performance of the book "Lorraine" and had such a deep personal connection with the performance because of our previous tour. I'm grieving our current state of society and wondering how much of these rich experiences we will miss out on in the future because of COVID-19. I'm praying hard that this isn't the last year of something as special as the performing arts in Nashville. (Scroll through the pics below by pressing the right arrow)
This was as much a dream come true for me as it was for the kids 😍 A few months ago Christian really took an interest in marionettes and finally a few weeks ago I bought him the NSync puppets! One of the concepts in the book #bravelearner that really took hold of me was following these child passions and allowing “Lady Inspiration” to guide some of these activities! So, I reached out to the amazingly talented creator of our beloved puppet shows and he graciously gave us a tour of Nashville’s puppet history and workshops! We got to see puppets and sets being created for an upcoming show, talk to behind the scenes artists, visit the puppet storage with all of Tom Tichnor’s creations (and more!) and see how a puppet show is put on from the backstage of the theater!!! You are a superstar of creativity Brian Hull and we love and appreciate you so much!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ The kids are writing thank you cards now!
Shakespeare has been so fun to implement into co-op! We learned All's Well that Ends Well and did a fun little play at co-op. Our play for Taming of the Shrew didn't happen because we didn't meet March-May but we loved reading the story and narrating at home!
The Artist Study artists this year were chosen with the Frist exhibition timeline. We started with Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera, then we focused on Native American art, and finally wrapped up with JMW Turner. I'm so glad I took my kids to the Turner exhibit before they closed for COVID-19! Hopefully we'll be back this month once Nashville hits the "stage 4 reopening."
The Composer Study composers this year were Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart. We had a blast attending the performance of Madame Butterfly. It was the first opera that they attended the full performance! I LOVE that they were so into it! Opera is not my favorite but I love getting dressed up and enjoying the amazing music! We had fun in co-op with listening activities to Tchaikovsky's music, and we followed along with the Composer Study Companion activities while studying Mozart!
We also attended all three Young People's Concerts at the Nashville symphony (Women Composers, Black Composers, and Music Spells were the YPC themes this year)
AND - right before COVID-19 closed everything we attended an amazing performance of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. It has been a bucket-list performance for me to attend live and the Nashville Symphony did not disappoint.
Other music studies this year include our folk songs, solfege, and piano lessons! All my planning at the beginning of the year in making playlists and burning CDs is so helpful to keep "on the rails" as we go through the year. We enjoy singing along with our hymns and folk songs in the car on the CDs I burn. I've also continued to teach a class in my home and at co-op that incorporates solfege training while learning some fun singing games and dances! Christian and Eva Mae continue piano lessons with me and both performed songs for our Christmas recital and "virtual" spring recital.
Christmas Recital Picture
Handicrafts is unfortunately something that we have not dedicated a lot of time to. I am loosely adding in our drawing instruction from Young Rembrandts and computer coding into this category!!! We did do some fun "crafts" as part of Advent and Lent but we haven't started true handicraft learning yet. I'm going to try to make that a goal next year but I feel like I say it every year!!! Eva Mae and I taught a little sewing class at the library for the American Girl Club! Christian has been doing amazing at learning how to code with Scratch. I love the books that we have to go through the process and help teach the brain how to construct the program. Our co-op also has paper sloyd and water color once a month! Paper sloyd is a great skill and something I need to implement in the schedule next year.
We continue to learn Chinese through online videos and a wonderful local teenager that is fluent! We met her through her mom who owns a Chinese tea store in Murfreesboro! Christian has taken a huge interest in the art of Gung-fu tea. My mom is really helpful too because she has them watch some of her favorite tea brewing videos whenever they spend the night! It has been a wonderful to connect with the Chinese culture through language lessons and tea ceremonies! (I love talking about it with my VIPKID students as well!)
Knowledge of the UniverseWe continue to enjoy Miquon Math and Beast Academy for our math! I love the way these books approach mental math. Eva Mae hasn't started any Beast Academy yet - I want to continue helping her through the rest of the Miquon books. Christian still has some of the last Miquon book to go through. We've also been supplementing with some Kahn academy videos and lessons as well as memorizing all our skip counting numbers!
Natural Science is another favorite subject of mine (let's be honest, I think every subject is my favorite! LOL!) Topics were: Mussels/Birds/Grasshoppers/Butterflies/Squirrels/Spiders/Leaves/Owls/Evergreens/Rocks and Minerals/Seed germination/Planting a garden - I put every one of my lessons up on the blog here: Kind + Cultivated Nature
When learning about mussels, we had an amazing field trip to the TWRA plant with Dr. Dan Hua. She taught us about freshwater mussels and how they clean our water and what conservation efforts are being done in the Tennessee River, Cumberland River, and Duck River! It was fascinating!
When learning about birds we took another field trip to Radnor Lake Aviary. We did this tour a few years ago and it is so much fun to see the birds of prey - they have an amazing eagle section! And it's always fun to watch the kids reactions when the vulture eats his snack!
At home, we did science readings on: Sponges/Starfish/Crabs/Reptiles/Frogs/Salamanders/Goldfish/Seahorse/Bees in our Child's World Volume "Plants and Animals." In our "Wold of Wonders" volume we learned about: Climate (equator)/Weather/Wind/Rain/Clouds/Dew and Frost/Snow/Chemistry. During our weather unit, we took a tour of the National Weather Service Station and watched the release of a weather balloon! We got to see it float up and then some of the kids held the rope before letting it go up with all it's weather reading data box! The kids still talk about that trip! I'm glad it was so much fun! Scroll through the arrows below to see the video of the release!
Our local community garden has had some nature classes this semester. We've learned about birds, planted a field of sunflowers, and ate edible weeds/herbs so far! We'll also learn about butterflies, soil, and bees in our classes!
In addition to our readings in "Plants and Animals" and "World of Wonders," Christian read and did experiments from Friedhoffer's Science of Magic. It was just ok. I'm not sure I'll do his books again - I prefer more hands on with video. We also love the YouTube videos of ScienceMax and Action Lab.
The way Charlotte Mason approaches geography is so engaging! I love the literary element of learning about people in other countries. We spent time learning the map of China while reading about the children in the volume "Countries and Their Children" from The Child's World. I was able to work it out that we also studied Confucius in our "People and Good Deeds" volume. We borrowed moon books from the library (post here) and enjoyed eating Moon Cakes! We also mapped out the countries of South America while following an incredible story in the "Countries and Their Children." It was originally a published book by Pan Am Airlines but I have not been able to find a copy. The story followed a little girl as she visited each country of South America and met the people and experienced things like crossing the equator, seeing the rubber trees, finding out how coffee is made, watching the Gauchos on the ranches, learning about the guano islands, and more! I'm hoping I can find something similar for all the other countries of the world as we continue to read and study!
We also enjoy learning the USA states by memory through the book "Trick Geography." We're committing each capital city to memory through the Ready-Set-Remember book and our supplemental activity this semester is receiving a postcard from each state around the USA! We're only missing a few and they should be arriving soon!
In going through all of our 2019-2020 school activities I also wanted to mention the incredible STEM classes through 4-H, our fun camping trip where Christian caught a rock bass, and our volunteer work with the assisted living center. We had 3 meetings before we had to cancel because of COVID-19 but it was wonderful to go and provide a craft, snack, and music to the seniors that live in our community!
I told you this was a long post! I debated putting it in several posts but since it's more for my own record I just kept it all in is enormity! If you read it all and you have questions feel free to message me!
Also, as awesome and fun this year has been with Christian and Eva Mae, I have delighted in the mom events that we've been able to have. Watercolor painting, "book fairs" where moms can share curriculum ideas, and our Charlotte Mason book club have been a beautiful "Mother Culture" for me!