Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From the school room

We are continuing our school work over the summer for several reasons.

For one, we haven't quite finished up last year's Math and English curricula because I was down with severe morning sickness for a couple of months. About two more weeks and we'll be done with those.

Secondly, for most of the day it is much too hot to be outdoors, and if I don't keep the kids busy, they will keep themselves busy in ways that I cannot condone. I like to say that the boys are always either breaking stuff, or building stuff. Not good building, but building as in making a brick kiln out of the back yard, trying to dig a ditch to fill with water and make a moat around their swing set castle, or trying to build a bomb using oxygen absorbers (don' ask me how or why).

Thirdly, we prefer to take time off during the winter, when the temperatures are mild and spring-like, perfect for hiking and other outdoor fun. Accounting for the fact that I am due in early December, right in the middle of holiday season, I am planning on taking December and January completely off.

And last but not least, I'm just a jerk that way and like to torture my kids by making them do school work. Not really. Well, maybe.

Anyway, aside from Math and English, I combine all the other subjects for all kids. We have continued using "Galloping the Globe", and are still LOVING it. I just bought the authors' other book, "Cantering the Country", to use next once we have made it around the globe. That book focuses on going state by state through the United States, tying in all subjects besides Math and English.

The country we are studying this week is Mexico, which concludes the North American continent. Next, we are going to study half a dozen South American countries, and afterward about as many African countries, which will end our trip around the globe. I thought I'd share some more about what exactly it is that we will be learning this week to give you a better idea of the curriculum, because we have seriously been so happy with this program and can only recommend it.

Each week or two, we get about 50 books from the local library on subjects that tie in with that week's country. Most of these books are non-fiction, but there are also picture/story books for the younger ones and chapter books for the older ones.

This week, we will be learning about:

Mexico: These are books with some general information about Mexico. Usually, we also try to tie in learning about the ancient civilizations of the country we are studying (i.e. the Middle Ages when learning about European countries), but I could not find anything wholesome on the Aztecs because their civilization was so wicked that there really was nothing I wanted my young kids to be exposed to.

History: books about Benito Juarez, Cortez, and Coronado. I learn so much by reading these myself, much more than I ever learned in school.

Social Studies: books on Cinco de Mayo.

Geography: the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico

Science/Geography: volcanoes - these lessons will be augmented by erupting our play volcano we made years ago for a science project, and also making (and eating!) this volcano cake.

Science: donkeys

Other: books about various holidays and ethnic foods in Mexico, along with some nice recipes to try. So far, we have made the best and easiest flour tortillas, as well as enchilada sauce made from scratch. We used both in an awesome "enchilada lasagna". I'll have to share the recipes in another post.

Chapter books for the older kids to read on their own that tie in with one of the above subjects.

Picture books to read to all of them during story time, that also tie in with one of the above subjects.

Every single country/week, we cover different exciting subjects. The best part of all is that the books we are learning from are all from the library, which is much cheaper than having to buy consumable school books for each child each year. Because the publishers of "Galloping the Globe" are professing Christians, they are choosy about which books they include in their recommended reading lists. They also list references to Bible passages that tie in with concepts learned about during any particular week, or subjects covered in any of the books. It really is a great curriculum.

Our kids all love sitting and reading these books. They retain so many facts it blows me away sometimes. Isaac was asking me yesterday whether volcanoes were hot enough to melt any kind of metal, to which Solomon replied he didn't think so because he had read that tungsten was the metal with the highest melting point at about 3000 degrees K, while volcanoes are more in the 1800 degree F range. Solomon is 8, by the way. Today, I showed the kids a video clip online about a volcano erupting. Again, Solomon said, "Oh, that is Kilauea, it has been erupting non-stop ever since 1983." These kids retain facts like little super-computers: things go in, but they never come out. I wish I would have had an education like theirs! I think the fact that they have never watched TV also has a huge impact.

On another note, I sold old school books and other homeschool materials we no longer need on ebay over the last couple of weeks, and made almost $400! I'm not sure I even paid that much for them to begin with, as I bought them all used and then kept then nice, knowing I'd eventually sell them off again. I was really tickled pink about that!

Homeschooling is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun, and a continual source of making great memories with the kids.


  1. Gee whiz, that sounds like so much fun! wish I was there! I don't remember learning that stuff in school.

  2. Wow. I've said it before and I'll say it again.. You and I differ nearly 100% on our beliefs, but I'll always be impressed and inspired by how much time you put into your kids' development and education. Big kudos to you.

  3. That is so great. They are smart!!! I remember talking with the boys and was amazed at how smart they are, of course you and Pastor A are brilliant so that helps. Ah, my poor children will hopefully be 1/2 as smart as yours!! :) DOn't you just loe(that letter on my keyboard is broke!) homeschooling? I think it is great to do school in the summer as well for structure and routine so you hae some sanity!!


  4. As opposed to the Aztecs, the Mayans were supposedly peaceful warriors in Mexico.

  5. I home-school my children and we also don't follow school holidays rigidly. Our school summer holidays in england start in middle of July to beginning of september so i kinda follow that one but the beauty of home-schooling is you can still slide stuff in there without the kids even realising.


  6. Rose and lagne, thank you!

    Jess, don't be ridiculous!! Your kids are at least as smart as ours!!! We loved meeting your kids, they are so sweet, well-behaved, and happy. Just think what beautiful, intelligent grandchildren we could have one day if a couple of our kids hit it off with each other!! :)

    Anonymous, thank you for the tip. I'll definitely be checking into that!

    Diana, you bring up a great point that I forgot to mention. One other thing I LOVE about Galloping the Globe is that the kids don't think of reading library books/having them read to them as "school work", to them it's free time!!! So basically, the only school work they think they are doing is math and language studies.


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