When I started this blog two years ago I started out by writing monthly journal entries about homeschool life. Last year, I switched to writing about specific blocks I was teaching my then fourth grader. Having looked back at old posts over the summer I’ve decided I like the monthly journal entry approach best. They best reflect our real homeschool life, with three kids in very different ages and stages, and I missed writing my “mother culture” section at the end of each post, about me, because I exist and keeping myself happy and fulfilled is an important part of our homeschool.
So – here we go! September in our homeschool: 2020 edition.
I already wrote a post about back to school this year, and how this school year is different for our family, here.
We started out fifth grade with a botany block. I really wrestled with this subject over the summer as I tried to figure out how “Waldorf-y” I wanted this subject to be, and how many other resources I wanted to pull in to beef up the science. Waldorf science can be pretty esoteric for my preferences, and I ended up landing on a hybrid approach that is working great for us.
I decided to keep the sequencing of study that Waldorf botany study entails; starting from the simplest plants like algae, fungi (not really plants) and moving up through mosses, ferns, horsetails, etc. and then on up to conifers and flowering plants. I used the Plant Study Manual from the East African Waldorf Teacher Development Program to guide our course of study.
I also layered in resources from Blossom & Root’s Wonders of the Plant and Fungi Kingdom. This was a wonderful resource for finding living books on each subject and not having to spend hours on Pinterest finding those. I also used a lot of the YouTube links suggested for the various lessons because my oldest is a very visual learner. A couple of comments on this resource: don’t let it put you off that it says it’s for second grade. It is very customizable and is essentially a collection of resources on various subjects. I actually would personally never use this resource with a second grader and found it to be plenty to supplement fifth grade botany lessons. Also, it’s a resource that you don’t need to use all of or even 50% of. I picked and chose what would supplement what we were going to be learning about and left behind entire lessons that didn’t fit in with what we were doing.
In addition to botany, my fifth grader is really branching out in doing more independent work this year. Because she has a little brother getting first grade lessons now, I needed her to be able to work on her own for a little while. I am using a bullet journal to write down daily independent assignments. Common assignments for her include doing a Daily Word Ladder, a few pages in a math workbook, knitting a few rows on a project or practicing cursive. We are also doing All About Spelling but that’s something we do together.
For my first grader I am using Lavender’s Blue Homeschool’s first grade curriculum. This is what I used with my oldest and we loved it, so I’m happy to not be reinventing the wheel for first grade, because fifth grade is taking a lot of work to plan!
We started out with a two-week form drawing block and then moved into a block called Fairy Tales and Letters. He has absolutely loved everything we’ve done. We are also learning recorder for the first time! This is something we are doing at the end of circle time, so my fifth grader is participating too. We are using Jodie Messler’s Living Music from the Heart. Our lessons are pretty comical because I’m just as much of a beginner as the kids, but we’re having fun with it.
I am also supplementing his language arts lessons with All About Reading Level 1. I found with my oldest that she really needed explicit phonics instruction and I discovered it later than I would have preferred, so I’ve decided to just add that in preemptively for my second child.
My four-year-old has been such a good sport this year, and is an active participant in circle time now, which has been fun. She also loves to join us for painting and beeswax modeling and when we do our recorder lessons we always have to play the “blow dragon blow” game where the person playing the recorder is a fire-breathing dragon and our four-year-old is a knight we need to knock over with our fire. So she’s been a joy to have around, which if you’ve been following me for a while you know it hasn’t always been this easy. I am grateful.
September was a crazy month for us. We are not at home because we’re doing a remodel, so in the month of September we were staying in a mix of Airbnb rentals and my parents’ house. We went from the Puget Sound to SW Washington to Sunriver, OR all the way over to Colorado.
I have had approximately zero time away from the kids and my husband and I have had approximately zero time as a couple, especially because kid bedtimes have been a bit rough while we’ve been on the road. I’ve been trying to implement my ideas around self-care during a pandemic, and maintaining a creative practice and getting out in nature as much as possible.
In early September I finished knitting myself the Weekender Sweater, and then in just a couple of weeks I knitted my youngest a Little Shore Cardigan for her fourth birthday. Apparently one can get a lot of knitting done when taken away from the regular rhythms of taking care of home.
I also finished a wonderful book about Finnish immigrants living in SW Washington and NW Oregon called Deep River. The author’s lush descriptions of a landscape I love so much was a wonderful treat. On our drive from the PNW to Colorado I checked out Michelle Obama’s book Becoming on my library’s audiobook app, Libby. It has been a total delight to listen to, especially because the former First Lady reads the book herself. Highly recommend!
Ever since the wildfires ravaged the West Coast in mid-September, I’ve been taking solace in Pema Chodron’s new book – Welcoming the Unwelcome. It’s been the perfect book as each new day seems to bring some new, devastating news and I attempt to stay centered and present for my kids. If you haven’t read her book When Things Fall Apart – I highly recommend that one too.
Some elements of our life feel very up in the air right now. We don’t know when exactly we’ll be back in our home. I received a call on our way to Colorado that I need to come in for a diagnostic mammogram, so I’ve been sitting with that uncertainty. We leave Colorado in a week and haven’t 100% decided where we’re going next. Then there’s the uncertainty of the election and – right now – the President’s health. So a lot of my Mother Culture these days is just putting one foot in front of the other, knitting one stitch after another, serving one meal after another – as Olaf says “this is what we call ‘controlling what we can control when things feel out of control.'” 🙂