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Life Without School - Entry #644

Life Without School!

What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child. -George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 19 of 36 of the Oak Meadow Curriculum

This morning, I awoke first (no alarm clock, at least, since there was a two hour delay for the schools today- we got probably 5 or 6 inches of snow last night). I made coffee, spent some time at my computer, and waited for the kids to come down for breakfast.

Around 9 AM, the three of them were sitting down to eat, and I began our school day by reading aloud to Alexa- six chapters of “Skellig.”

After breakfast and reading, I had her review spelling by writing each of her spelling words inside of a shape or drawing that reminded her of the word. This is her favorite way to review spelling words, she gets very creative with it. I prepared today’s math lesson while she did that.

While she was writing, she kept pausing to gaze out the window at the snow. She commented to me, “I don’t know why, but looking at snow makes me happy. Especially when it hasn’t been stepped in. Bright white is a nice color. It’s like a white ocean.”

She did her math lesson (Teaching Textbooks Lesson 53), and then we did our sixth “Sentence Composing for Elementary School” practice. Today she had to unscramble and combine some sentences to make one sentence that matched the model. She did well with this after we did the first couple together; she was able to do the last few on her own.

We did grammar, finishing up the last activity pertaining to “apostrophes in contractions and possessives.” For this, she had a list of nouns, some singular and some plural, which she had to turn into possessives and use in sentences. She did a good job with this, coming up with some particularly descriptive sentences such as the ones for “story” and “foxes.” Those sentences were:

“The story’s spine was elegantly painted with black.”


“The Arctic Foxes’ coats shone dazzlingly in the moonlight.”

Next, we read two chapters of “Ben and Me,” with Alexa reading them aloud to me. We did two because we never got around to reading yesterday’s chapter. While she read, we paused to discuss any unfamiliar vocabulary words and for Alexa to take notes on “qualities that made Ben Franklin great.”

At this point, we took a break for Alexa to get herself dressed and ready for the day and for me to eat my breakfast.

When we were both ready, we read a short section in the social studies syllabus about school children in colonial times. The focus of the section we read was on how they practiced handwriting and how they sometimes had to make their own ink. Alexa then had to make her own homemade ink and use it with either a quill pen or fountain pen to practice writing the cursive alphabet.

So, we made our own ink by crushing up about ten walnut shells, putting them into a saucepan with about a cup of water, bringing it to a boil and then simmering it for about 20 minutes until the liquid was nearly evaporated, dark brown and concentrated.

We let it cool some, put in a little salt and vinegar to set the color, and strained it through cheesecloth into a glass jar.

While it was simmering and then cooling, I took a shower, and Alexa had silent reading time. She had finished the second book in the “Wright On Time” series yesterday, so she started the third book, “Wyoming,” today.

Alexa then used her homemade walnut shell ink with a fountain pen I’d found at a dollar store and practiced writing the cursive alphabet as shown in her syllabus.

We Wrapped The Walnuts In A Dishcloth

And Smashed Them With A Hammer. Fun!

Simmer Them For 20-30 Minutes With About 1 Cup Water

Strain The Remaining Liquid Through Cheesecloth Or Pantyhose Into A Glass Jar

Use A Fountain Pen Or A Quill Pen To Write With Your Ink

Because we didn’t have a lot of homemade ink, Alexa then used the ink that had come with the fountain pen to also write a poem in her best cursive. The syllabus had suggested she make the poem about something she’s been studying in school this year and that she give it a pretty border or illustration. I suggested she write her poem about snow since she’d been so captivated by it earlier. So, she sat down and wrote:


Snow is so joyful, let it snow.
Snow makes me happy.
It is like a vast white ocean.
With no footprints,
Little hills make waves.
Snow is laughter, snow is sadness.
Have a snowball fight with
Your friends.
Learn to love snow,
It will be around for a long time.
Snow is so joyful, let it snow.

She then used her fountain pen and her best cursive to write it on a piece of cardstock and gave it a colorful crayon border.

At that point, she was finished with school for the day. It was 1:30 (and she would have been done sooner but she started over a couple of times when she made mistakes copying out her poem, and she was writing slowly so it would be neat and so on).

I gave Alexa and Ben lunch, and then told them they could dress warmly and go play in the backyard in the snow for a while if they wanted.

They only ended up staying outside maybe 20 minutes tops. It was just too cold to want to stay out there any longer. My rule is “once you come in, you stay in,” because I know they only want to be out there for short periods of time, which requires a decent amount of time in dressing, layering, coats, mittens, gloves, boots and so on, and then taking all of those (wet, snowy) layers back off and getting snow and pieces of clothing all over the floor and letting cold air in the house and so on. So, once they’ve done all that, there’s no way we’re repeating the process.

When they came in, I gave them some hot chocolate, and when they’d finished that, they played upstairs in Ben’s room for a little while. Until they started arguing over something, then I heard Ben yelling, “Get out of my room!” and Alexa said she was going to go up to her own room “to dance” (to music on her MP3 player).

The rest of the day was quiet and uneventful. Alexa played upstairs for quite a long time. Ben occupied himself downstairs. Melissa came home and did her own thing. We had dinner, and after dinner, everyone went back to entertaining themselves. I gave Ben some time on my computer after dinner, and I relaxed and read.

When Shawn came home, he got Ben settled into bed, and I just continued reading for a while before I went to sleep.

More tomorrow!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
What wonderful diverse activities your children enjoy! I love the homemade ink and the snow poem is really lovely. Thanks for sharing!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Shawn - 40, Husband, Dad, Tattoo Artist, Body Piercer, Business Owner, Saltwater Aquarium Enthusiast, Cook, Mr. Fix-It.

Nance - 41, Wife, Homeschooling Mom, Bookworm, Writer, Field Tripper, List Maker, Planner, Chauffeur.

Melissa - 22, Special Needs. Is in a sheltered workshop/life skills day program. Likes music, movies, shopping, and reading.

Alexa - 14, Left public school in March of 2009 and has been home since, happily homeschooling with Oak Meadow and an eclectic mix of other things. Currently in 8th grade. Enjoys reading, writing, art, singing and music, theater/performing, doing her nails, and sleepovers with friends.

Ben - 9, Has never been to any outside school. Currently doing 3rd grade at home. Enjoys computer, video and board games, especially Minecraft and shooter games, silly jokes, soccer, rough-housing, and occasional cuddling and reading.

Adelaide - 15 months and my little ray of sunshine. :) Enjoys pointing at things, chasing the cat, trying to pull all the books off my bookshelves, eating, playing, and snuggling.

We are a relaxed/eclectic, secular homeschooling family living in Pennsylvania and thoroughly enjoying Life Without School!


Alexa is using: Oak Meadow 8 Civics; Oak Meadow 8 English; Oak Meadow Basic Physical Science; Story of the World Middle Ages; and Teaching Textbooks Math Pre-Algebra.

Ben is loosely using the Oak Meadow 3rd Grade curriculum (minus the math), Teaching Textbooks Math 3, and Reading Eggspress.

I've always been a fairly relaxed homeschooler. While I've buckled down more this year with my 8th grader, in general we do school around life, not life around school. We use mainly a fun, hands on curriculum that isn't overly time consuming and isn't dry or textbookish, and we're always willing to drop it for the time being if something fun, interesting, or educational comes up outside the house. Living is learning!


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