I’ve changed up the flow of our school days over the last two weeks. I’ve broken the bonds of curricular slavery and relegated excellent curriculum to its rightful place – that of serving us and our educational journey. We don’t serve our curriculum, it serves us.
I’ve divided our mornings of concentrated school work into three sections. I even came up with fancy names for them.
Tools, Breadth, and Depth.
Tools are math and language arts. A bit of math, a bit of whatever area in language arts needs the most focus. For Lia, it is currently spelling. For Amelie, sight words and reading practice. For Levi, reading and letters.
Breadth is history and science. History for two weeks, science for two weeks. (I love this schedule, it gives us a real chance to dig in to what we’re learning). History is still the amazing, awesome, perfection that is Story of the World.
I had been searching for several years for a science curriculum I liked. I’m not keen on the Christian science curricula. Finally landed on R.E.A.L Science Odyssey, thanks to our enterprising Educational Specialist from our charter school. It fits in with our classical education leanings (yay, I don’t have to pull next year’s chemistry out of thin air!). And also, it’s brief and interesting and fun. The layout isn’t snazzy, but the labs draw the kids in and give them a basic understanding of the material at hand and a firm foundation in the scientific method. I’m tickled about this. This week we dissected flowers, with much concentration and excitement and intensity.
Depth is a new area for our official school time. It’s time for the kids to work on a long-term project of their interest and choice. Inspired by Project-Based Homeschooling, I am present to mentor (not plan, not guide) and enable. I have a little notebook where I take notes of all their chatterings and plans and knowledge.
The girls chose for their first project the Hagia Sophia. No, I had no idea what it was either until we read about it in Story of the World. The Hagia Sophia is the ancient church of the Byzantine empire. Large, beautiful, ornate. And apparently it’s captured their attention, because they have spent many happy hours painting and designing and planning to sell the finished Hagia for $10. $5 for Lia, $5 for Amelie (who plans to keep $3 for herself and give $2 to Levi–math!).
Devo and I have spent over an hour of last week’s time scrubbing paint off of hands and clothes and walls and floors. (And, I’d like to say, we did it without freaking out. We also, however, are working our way towards reduced-mess painting sessions. Suggestions beyond paint smock and plastic tablecloth welcome).
And here she is, the Hagia Sophia in progress.
A couple of months ago, I put a small table in the corner of the living room for their projects and activities. Usually it has a pink thrifted wingback chair (now bearing paint smudges from the Hagia Sophia) and I often find someone sitting there drawing or reading or playing with toys they want to keep out of the hands of a small little miss. Nowadays it serves the same function, but it is also a place to keep their long-term project out (in sight and in mind) and not have to put it away at the end of the day.
(Side note : I picked up the roller skates at a thrift store for $2 last week. Hours of fun.)
I’m so excited about this. They often center in on something and it infiltrates their play and reading and watching. But now, with me on hand during an open and scheduled time to support their venture, it’s deepening the experience for all of us.
In other news, it was deliciously warm here this week and we have almost finished installing our four new raised beds. And now it’s raining, wondrous rain. The kids have spent entire days outside, but I have a hard time getting shareable photos due to disrobing. Unless, of course, they are gorgeously arrayed in dress-up clothes. And using their pajamas to make baby cradles in the lilac tree. Rock-a-bye baby…
Pancakes for dinner tonight. I finally found a whole wheat pancake recipe I like. (The blueberry syrup is pretty tasty, too). I use almond milk with vinegar for the buttermilk, and sometimes I make flax eggs instead of the real ones. The pancakes are nice and thin, just like I like them, and cook fast enough that I can feed my hungry nestlings without standing over a griddle for an hour. The stack pictured is a double recipe, plus funny girl.