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We are here (a homeschooling map)

A tree, some ornaments, some grooving's Christmas at our house. Plus I have four or five projects going at once, the kitchen table has become craft central, and our calendar is full from now until kingdom come (and beyond, if you listen to the Mayans). And all of that, more than the twinkling tree and lights, implies the fast approach of the merriest holiday of the year.

But we are still keeping up, for the most part, with our school activities as well. In math Calvin is learning division and finding the area of odd shapes (Math-U-See Delta). In spelling he's learning some tricks for understanding, or in some cases merely memorizing, vowel digraphs and diphthongs (Spelling Workout D). In grammar we've just finished talking about the different parts of speech (First Language Lessons Level 2) and will be moving into diagramming sentences next (FLL Level 3).

We spent the last week reviewing previous works heavily. This was not a planned hiatus, but arose out of necessity. Since beginning our trip through history with the big bang last year we have used large timelines, hung on various walls in the house (here and here), to help us visualize the journey. The older timelines we made were felt with felt critters to play with, but the most recent timeline, the one that corresponds to the emergence of ancient civilizations, was made of paper, and paper hanging on the hallway wall does not stand up well to the violence of a dog's tail. A few months in and our timeline is ragged with tears, so we've begun the process of remaking it in felt like the others, with laminated dates and happenings fitted with velcro to put on and take off (it helps also that Calvin, to my surprise, is still excited about playing with his felt, and asked for an ancient civilizations felt set for Christmas).

All that to say that, since we had to remake the ancient civilizations timeline we've spent the last week in a really thorough review of the years between the invention of the wheel (around 3500 b.c.e.) and the emergence of Classical Greece from the dark ages (around 800 b.c.e.). And since we were in the mood for reviewing, we traipsed back through all our science studies from the past few months. And what the past week or so has taught me is that a child's memory is surprising both in its capacity and capriciousness; he'll remember the oddest things, the most obscure things, and sometimes forget the most obvious, but then the next time you ask, there they are in full detail.

We've also added two new things to our regular repertoire—art and foreign language. For foreign language we were torn between things like Chinese and Spanish, so we went with the next best thing: ancient Greek. Our interest was, of course, inspired by our arrival in history at the dawning of the Greek classical age, at the writings of Homer, at the dialogues of Plato, not to mention that in all our documentary viewing, it has become clear that our hero, Michael Wood, speaks Greek to some degree. Come to our house these days and you're likely to hear us singing Alpha Beta Gamma in place of the ABCs (Song School Greek).

And for art we are practicing line drawing techniques, the kind that have me (the non-artist in the family) quacking in my boots, but the book we are using is titled Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too, by Mona Brookes, so you'll notice that it names me specifically in its target audience: adult beginner.

Calvin's lion and background...

My lion and background...

And that's were we are these days on the homeschooling map. This season lends itself to lots of distracting activity, of course. Tomorrow we will be going to a stage production of A Christmas Carol, and next week it will be The Nutcracker, followed by Calvin's own performance in Alice in Wonderland, the holiday party with HAA (our homeschooling group), the piano recital, and our annual trip to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, this time with kids in town. We have cookies to make, and cards, and a gingerbread house. There are packages to wrap, presents to make, videos to watch, music to play and listen to, and all the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas await us.

Calvin's artwork from his last art class with HAA...


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