I am more than a little behind on updating!
When I last posted, we had finished our Germany unit and were beginning our Christmas break. We had a wonderful, relaxed break. We baked cookies, did Christmas art projects, watched Christmas movies, drank way too much cocoa, and just generally had a wonderful time as a family. Unfortunately, we then immediately came down with the flu! Cowboy, my oldest, woke up with fever the very day my cousins were driving up to spend NYE weekend with us. Brandon, the boys, and my cousin all ended up with the flu! We went to bed early on New Year’s Eve and began 2018 with schoolwork in our pjs. . . with lots of fluids and rest. 😉
January began with our three week Africa/Grasslands unit, which was so much fun! We read Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, which was a new fairytale for me and well worth the read. For our big read aloud, we read The Story of Dr. Dolittle, which is Farmer Boy’s all time favorite book now. Our picture books were What if There Were No Bees? and Jambo Means Hello, which were also both wonderful.
There are so many great movies, documentaries, and educational tv shows about Africa that it was hard to choose! We paid $5 for a month of PBS streaming on Amazon and watched quite a few Wild Kratts episodes about the grasslands and African animals. We don’t dislike the science books that came with the curriculum. My boys even engage in the dreaded Properties of Ecosystems book that many families end up dropping. But, truthfully, they don’t retain much from the science readings. They do however retain everything they learn on Wild Kratts, so Chris and Martin are a pretty regular part of our homeschool day!
We also began a new curriculum for us, Exploring Nature with Children. I have read so many good things about it in the Charlotte Mason community, and we are in love with it!! I actually bought it for our next school year (yes, I’m already planning and already have everything purchased!), but decided to begin it right away. I am so glad we did! ENWC has guided nature studies for every month of the year, so we simply began with January. Our topics for the month were winter skies/weather, moon phases, tree buds in winter, and a pond study. The weather did not cooperate with us very well in that the moon was rarely visible due to cloud cover, and we had unexpected sleet today when we were planning on driving to a pond for our pond study. But there is so much to the curriculum that it doesn’t bother me at all that we weren’t able to do every single part of it this month.
The curriculum incorporates guided nature walks, poetry, art, and hands on projects. We’ve been setting apart an entire day for it each week. We go on the suggested nature walk, have tea while we read the poetry, use the poem for copywork, use the weekly recommended piece of art for picture study, work on our nature journals, and read in our field guides and nature books. It has led to some of our most delightful homeschool days ever. I could see us repeating it year after year, because it is just so enriching and easy to implement.
Speaking of enrichment, the farther we get into our year, the happier I am that I invested in some supplementary books to cover the cultural side of our studies. Again, we don’t dislike the resources that were included in the curriculum. But we are connecting a lot more with the supplementary books like Celebrations, A Life Like Mine, and Material World. Material World in particular was so helpful for our Africa study. The photographs of actual families in different African countries really brought our study to life, especially with countries like Mali with which we were previously unfamiliar.
We finished our tour of Africa with fresh mangoes, African spiced couscous, and Berebere seasoned lentils. I actually love the flavors of Africa and wish I would have delved a little more into cooking during this unit.
Next up, Saudi Arabia!