Thursday, August 4, 2016
Our First Weeks: An Honest Retelling
Remember last year when I featured an "honest retelling" of our first week of school? Yeah, I'm back. Because it seems first weeks of school never go as you plan.
First a look back at our summer. We had been off of school since the end of May. We put our house on the market in June and spent our entire time off cleaning our house and trying to convince four children that they should not do anything that might make it seem like we actually live in our house. Then we went on an epic road trip. We got back, and the kids said, "Let's start school." So I was like, "Well at least it would keep them occupied," and "Since we're in the middle of a ridiculous heat wave, we might as well be inside in the A/C getting ahead on our school year."
Of course, I hadn't ordered any books or anything yet, so I quickly placed an order with Rainbow Resources. In the meantime, we still had a few things we were finishing up from last year, and I had all my Five in a Row books. Then lo and behold, I remembered that The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art was hosting an exhibition of Robert McCloskey' art that I was dying to see.This seemed like a perfect case of Serendipity Homeschool, which is my preferred method of planning.
McCloskey is my favorite illustrator and four of his books are featured in the Five in a Row curriculum: Blueberries for Sal, Lentil, Make Way for Ducklings, and his chapter book, Homer Price. Since I was hoping to transition my older daughter into the Beyond Five in a Row curriculum this year, I thought why not jump in with doing three books at ONE time!! We had just picked blueberries so we could review Blueberries for Sal for my pre-k and kindergartener, Lentil for everyone together, and Homer Price for my older daughter.
We started out with a lot of energy. My new kindergartener and my preschooler loved using real blueberries for math. They loved stamping with our blue stamper paints and making little books about Little Bear.We all attempted to make a model of the city of Alto, Ohio out of blocks. By that I mean, that we all played with blocks, but it was something.
Then we went on our first field trip of the year to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to see the Americana on Parade: The Art of Robert McCloskey exhibit. Look we were happy!
This exhibit is one of the best I've seen at the Carle. In fact, I was very close to squealing when I saw that they had Robert McCloskey's own harmonica--just like in Lentil!! I think you have to be a Five in a Row mom to get that excited about a harmonica.
We enjoyed seeing drawings from all of his books. My four-year-old was particularly enthusiastic about seeing Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings. He wanted to stop and read the books right there, even though the art was on the wall. Silly boy. My oldest daughter pointed out a sketch from Lentil and noticed, "That's not in the book at all. That tree was never in the book." As we looked closer, we saw that several of the Lentil drawings had never made it into the book. It was so interesting to see his process and what made it into the final copies. The museum even featured a full-color painting of Blueberries for Sal side by side with the blueberry-blue and white art from the book. I actually prefer the illustrations from the book. As an added bonus to our trip, the museum happened to be having a visiting live animal show from a museum in Connecticut, so we got our science in by meeting some iguanas, turtles, toads, and snakes. All on our free pass from the library, not bad! We ended the day by making blue collages in the amazing art room at the Carle.
Then our first week of school (or maybe it was the second) began to get a little crazy. It's all a little muddled, in fact, as to what we actually did. I do remember trying to build a radio from scratch from a kit for Homer Price, and wrapping this little copper wire around a toilet paper tube, and knowing that if the wires overlapped or crossed at all, the radio WOULD NOT WORK. As I was wrapping the wires (because of course, that part required help from an adult) one of the girls said, "I want to just go up to my room and cry." And another one saying, "Well, maybe we could find a radio that's already built." And I said, "But that would just be a radio. We have one of those. " And I wanted to go up to my room and cry.
Note to Self: You are not capable of building radios from scratch. Ask an engineer friend to help.
We did listen to some episodes of old-time radio for Homer Price, which the kids really enjoyed. They thought that Father Knows Best: The Skunk Must Go was hilarious.
Then there were the Thursdays, the ones marked on my plans after-the-fact as No School. On the first Thursday, I got a text from my husband who was in New York City for work asking if we could do a showing at 4:30. It was 10 am at the time. We hadn't cleaned our house since vacation. After a failed attempt at inspiring the children to help, I sat them down in front of the television all day, while I cleaned the house from top to bottom and did, in fact, at one point go up to my room and cry. Then around 3:45, my daughter who had been complaining that her stomach was hurting all day, threw up on the rug in the front hall. I can't tell you how we got out of the house by 4:30 with all the kids and our cat and our dog, but I think the sick five-year-old changed her own clothes and the carpet was still a little squishy. As a reward, we got to sat in our car for an hour and play ipads. Then, you won't believe this, but the next Thursday, the exact thing happened again, except that the kids were at their grandparents, and it was my son who was throwing up.
Yet by Friday, we had somehow pulled it together to have our first Poetry Tea Time of the year. We decided to make fresh-squeezed lemonade in honor of Lentil. We all had to taste the lemon first and make our best pucker in honor of Old Sneep. We also made homemade blueberry muffins from the last of the blueberries we had picked.
We read a portion of Robert Frost's poem "Blueberries" and chose from a selection of our books of American poems and nursery rhymes. We ended our week with a free showing of the movie Cars at the library and an awesome wearable car craft, that tied in nicely with the first chapter of Homer Price. Also there was free popcorn.
Cheers to the end of July! Cheers to taking our house off the market! Cheers to surviving the first week of school!
Also, later my nine-year-old sat me down, and said, "Mom, you know it's really too confusing doing so many books and projects all at once. Maybe we should just stick to one book at a time." So Make Way for Ducklings is getting a week all to itself.