Category Archives: Oak Meadow

Ten Weeks To Go

How many more times we can use the little plastic animals in the last 10 weeks of Oak Meadow Grade 2?

Science Last Week: How people use animals.  (fiber animals included)

Science Last Week: How people use animals. (fiber animals included)

Ellie finished her embroidery project.

Time to get a frame!

Time to get a frame!

We’ve also been carrying and borrowing in math (regrouping). We’ve covered all the multiplication tables up to 12 (Ellie has learned 2, 10, 4, 3, 11, and we’re working on 5 – all without stress or memorizing for a test yay), food chains, economics (money v. bartering), scarcity, animal tracks and locomotion, opinion writing, narrative writing, book summaries, descriptive writing, and have read all the things and then some. She makes associations between the content we’ve covered and her experiences in the outside world. Her writing is uh…substantial, so we’ve talked about topic sentences, supporting sentences, and conclusions to help her better organize her ideas (not in the Grade 2 curriculum – don’t stress). Her spelling has been the most surprising improvement for me (without weekly spelling tests and memorization yay) – lots of writing gives a person time to internalize spelling.

This is the BEST EVER. Happy Pi Day!

(we had key lime)

Weekly Wrap Up: Catching Up to Lesson 14

We’d fallen into a nice comfortable pattern during our school weeks. Then came Thanksgiving. I am coming around to the opinion that there shouldn’t be school between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – there’s just way too much other stuff happening.

I put together a school schedule for the week ahead on Sunday afternoon when I make all of my notes and complete the lesson assessment for the week before. This is what next week looks like right now:

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen. My more detailed notes about the assignments are also on the clipboard but you can’t see them from here.

You’ve got no idea how much it bugs me that I couldn’t find a weekly calendar pad that starts with Sunday. Gah. Anyway, if you give that image a click and study it, you’ll see that it’s mostly neat and tidy. Crowded in places because we have a field trip on Wednesday and Play Group Friday afternoon, but generally well-sorted. I try to leave Friday afternoon light in case anything needs more time. If we have stuff to do on Saturday, I try to make it art.

For Reference, this is a Typical Day: Once everyone is up (around 7:30 – wake up times start with me at 4:30), we have breakfast, do chores and run errands if needed. Then Ellie and I head to school for an hour or so (10:00-11:00), and then come down for lunch. We take a break until around 1 (piano is practiced during this time) and then go back to school for a couple more hours.

There are no typical days right now. This is what last week’s schedule looked like by the end of the week:

Once again, click to embiggen.

Once again, click to embiggen.

So many changes (and you’ll notice that last week also had a field trip in it – the week before was a field trip to the maritime museum). It is my personal belief that starting with a Plan makes it easier (and less frustrating) to be flexible when the situation calls for it. Plus you still know what all you need to get done when the dust settles.

I keep old schedules in a three-ring binder with all of Ellie’s rough drafts and anything else (math pages) from the week that doesn’t end up in the main lesson books. I also keep all my completed lesson assessments and weekly checklists provided in the Oak Meadow curriculum, as well as the assessments and grades from her Oak Meadow teacher in the same binder.

Language Arts has continued the review of consonant blends, switching to word family review over the past couple weeks (I bet there’s more poetry soon). Reading comprehension, reading aloud, writing, and speaking/performance work continues as usual. Descriptive and opinion paragraphs are now included as writing assignments. Note: Ellie doesn’t particularly like the physical act of writing, so I spread the big assignments out as much as I can. I typically have her do the rough draft one day and then the final draft the next. She has been writing the rough drafts of her story summary paragraphs independently for a couple months now (that was one of me Secret Goals for before Christmas). I check for spelling and grammar before she rewrites them in her Language Arts Lesson Book. One of the things I’ve just started making is a word list of anything she might need to spell while she’s working (character names and words she doesn’t use regularly or can’t sound out). Since they are new and different, we’ve been planning the opinion paragraphs ahead on the white board – typically just a numbered list of pros and cons. She uses the notes to compose her paragraph.

She wrote 'likes' and 'dislikes' I took dictation for the notes.

She wrote ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ I took dictation for the notes.

Math has focused on multiplication facts, place value (to the millions), and (after all the place value) carrying the one (regrouping) in addition. Carrying is a struggle for a lot of kids (according to the internet reading I did while looking for worksheets so I didn’t have to make problems up that week) – it’s hard to understand when to stick that one over there and when to not. I used Lego Duplo blocks so she could actually carry stacks of ten around. Ellie never had any doubt about when or why to regroup. In Ellie’s case, I don’t know that she actually needed the manipuatives to get it, she’s got a solid concept of numbers (but Legos are fun so whatever). Just to double check, I’ve got a to-group-or-not-to-group math sorting activity for Monday.

Carrying that 10 over to where it belongs.

Carrying that 10 over to where it belongs. Afterwards you can play with the Legos.

We covered cotyledons in Science (perfect timing since the fall garden stuff was just coming up) and Ellie designed a garden. After that it’s been all critters with squirrels, 20 different animal cards to complete, and the creation of a book about a particular animal. I love it when Oak Meadow does the little research projects! We took a trip to the library to check out everything they had about rabbits and then Ellie went through the books to answer the questions/requirements on the white board.

I love the white board.  Love it.

I love the white board. Love it.

Then she turned each category into an illustrated page for her book.

Some illustrations are more Complex than others.

Some illustrations are more Complex than others. These rabbits have an enormous pantry.

Social Studies has been map focused with an emphasis on climate as it relates to distance from the equator. Ellie loves maps, the globe, the atlas, the compass, all that stuff. We’ve revisited Africa to study the relationship between climate and culture (this lined up nicely with the Chocolate exhibit field trip last week), and have identified all the continents and oceans.

Art has been clay, choose your own adventure like the walnut boats (last week I helped her sew a simple skirt), and the creation of a wall calendar for 2016 (one month each week). Health’s emphasis is on nutrition so we spent some time with the vegetarian food pyramid and next week she gets to cook lunch on the stove top! Piano lessons continue in place of the recorder for music.

Full weeks but really good.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 10

This was one of the strongest weeks so far (in my opinion) for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1: COMPASS.

Finding North.  She drew a compass rose in the driveway.  There was also a map to buried treasure.

Finding North. She drew a compass rose in the driveway. There was also a map to treasure.

Reason 2: Math Wheel.

Math wheels are a very Waldorf method for reinforcing the patterns in the multiplication tables (taught along with skip counting – “counting by 3s” etc.) among other things. It’s just neat.

It’s basically a circle with the numbers 0-9 evenly spaced around the outside and a nail (or hand crafted wooden peg if you have a fancy wheel) by each number. There’s a piece of yarn tied at 0 (since you start counting at zero). To form the patterns, pick a times table and wrap the yarn as you go around…for 2s you wrap 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 (which is 2 again, but since you are counting as you go it makes sense as you pass 10 which is 0), and on until you run out of string.


This is what you get for 3:

Counting by 3.

Here’s 4:


And here’s a bunch of them all on top of each other because pretty.

Guess which is green.

Guess which is green.

Pretty sweet, right?

Totally made up for when Lucy ate last week’s plant science experiment.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 9

I started the Mermaid tail for the F pattern! I’ve made some yarn decisions for the rest of her (Woo!). I worked quite a bit in the yard this week too. The raised beds were planted last week. This week I started the long, arduous process of cleaning out the long, long, long neglected flower beds. After a year of PTO and a summer of It’s Just Too Hot, conditions are bad out there.

I also got the submission to our Oak Meadow teacher together. Pro Tip #1: If you’re enrolled, it’s a good idea to try and keep up with the photographs and labeling as you go along. The monthly submissions only require one example of each subject from each Lesson/week, but the big submission (Weeks 1-18) requires more (I haven’t actually done one yet so i don’t know how much more). It’s better to just photograph everything and label it while you still remember what it is you’re labeling. The first submission (Lessons 1-4) wasn’t that time consuming, but this time Ellie had created so many books that labeling all the photographs took forrrrrever. I take action pictures of our activities so that my submissions aren’t just pictures of her finished work. It’s interesting to see how we completed the activities and not just the results. In addition, many of the activities don’t have a physical result to photograph (like learning to use a compass). I don’t take enough pictures of Health. Pro Tip #2: make sure you take pictures of Health.

What We Did During Week 9:
Language Arts has switched to fables for reading comprehension and writing. Math was the 3 and 6 times tables (and reviewing 2, 4, 5, and 10).

Demonstrating 3 x 4 = 12 on out MASSIVE number line that goes all around the driveway.

Demonstrating 3 x 4 = 12 on our MASSIVE number line that goes all around the driveway.

Science was recording observations about how plants grow. Three pots with dirt and seeds: one gets sun and water, one just gets sun, and one just gets water (it’s in the closet). We used oat grass since it germinates quickly and Ellie predicted that the one with sun and water would be the one that sprouted. All three pots sprouted (our potting soil was slightly damp in the sun pot and the closet pot has white sprouts). The tracking charts she made go to Day 9, so we’ll see what survives until then. Lucy will probably eat the sprouts before Day 9 and end the experiment early.

Six seeds in each pot!

Six seeds in each pot!

Social Studies has redeemed itself. We discussed our family’s lifestyle: where we live, our daily rhythms, our favorite family stories, and how daily life changes with the seasons. Ellie made a book with her thoughts and observations. As much as I was whining about the stories of the past few weeks, the Social Studies curriculum is strong. Very strong considering that many conventional elementary schools don’t have Social Studies at all. There is thought put into how our modern life compares to the lives of the story characters in other countries as well as how the themes of the stories of ancient cultures relate to our modern life (or not).

Ellie's (current) favorite family story.

Ellie’s (current) favorite family story. “Daddy and I have a lot of Nerf fights. One time I knocked out my loose tooth!”

A quick aside: you’ll notice that Ellie isn’t writing on lined paper. Oak Meadow in the early grades stays away from the lined paper used in conventional education. Instead, the emphasis is on making letter shapes correctly and developing a personal sense of spacial relationships by arranging the words on the page independent of influence. (Independent of influence besides me saying “watch your margin” and “make sure that looks like two words” anyway.) Ellie’s handwriting has improved ENORMOUSLY in just these two months. It’s really startling. And makes perfect sense developmentally when you give it some thought.

The rest of the week was happy gravy. The weather was beautiful, the cats visited often, Girl Scouts was Tuesday, and Play Group at the park was Friday.

This is Abigail.  This window was also visited by Lucy, William Henry, Lady Bird, and Betty over the week. Mamie does not believe education is necessary.

This is Abigail. This open window was also visited by Lucy, William Henry, Lady Bird, and Betty over the week. Mamie does not believe education is necessary.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lessons 6-8

When you homeschool an only child, you have to own that on an everyday basis, You’re It. You’re the alarm clock, the playmate, the entertainment coordinator, the chef, the teacher, the task master, the parent, and the grown-up. That’s a lot of jobs. Some weeks there’s not much time left for anything else.

For the record, I didn’t realize that I had missed Lesson 6. I thought I was just late posting about last week. This proves that jet lag is not a myth.

Ireland in Social Studies. Well, really the ancient Celts. Social Studies has been a little ‘meh’ the past few weeks. And I know you’re thinking: How is Ireland, where the people practically invented the fairy tale, ‘meh’? The answer is that only one story has fairies in it while the other two are about saints (and no context is given). If we had been on our own instead of enrolled, I would have substituted either more interesting versions of the stories or new stories entirely. As it was, I supplemented. I’ve decided to do social studies backwards when the story is unapproachable on it’s own – we’ll complete the enrichment-type activity first and follow with the story and discussion. At least that way she’ll know what she’s supposed to be gleaning. The art that goes along with the the ‘meh’ has been pretty cool. We made ink.


Science and Language Arts helped alleviate the ‘meh’ of Social Studies. This week we made a leaf ID book for Science. In the weeks before that, the Science focus has been on daily rhythms. She kept a record of her daily wake up time, when she was hungry, and when she had exceptionally high or low energy. The following week was focused on plant and animal life. We have a bevy of wildlife in the woods! All kinds of animals! The only ones who showed up for the record of animal life were lizards, birds, and Tyler.


Language Arts has been all about the poetry. Ellie ‘learned by heart’ the Owl and the Pussycat, set a poem to music, and created her own written language which she used to send notes to Michael. She also wrote and illustrate a couple of story books (one because she got carried away with the assignment and one because it was the assignment). She’s one chapter away from finishing the last of the two provided readers and then we are free to pick whatever we want for read-aloud practice. The thing that struck me as extremely useful was the creation of a personal spelling word list. In typical school, as you know, kids get a list of spelling words to memorize each week. Ellie’s spelling word list is words that she typically (or repeatedly) misspells when she’s writing rather than a random list of words that she may or may not use again or that she already knows how to spell. No test at the end of the week, just practice until the spelling is internalized and no longer a hinderance.

Ellie loves math and is so so so happy to finally be doing ‘real’ math. Story problems during Lesson 6 to review the four processes and horizontal and vertical equations, then 2 and 4 times tables, and this week was 5 and 10 times tables. Memorizing times tables is going to be a total bore. Anything that happens over and over (if it doesn’t involve a Magic School Bus, a witch, or a princess) is an abomination. It’s actually solving the problems that engages her. This bodes well for algebra. She writes smaller so she can fit more problems on a page she likes math so much. I’m going to search the web for some songs or games or something that will help us survive the repetition since my imagination needs a boost.

Since we are enrolled and just finished Lesson 8, I’m working on the second batch of work to submit to her Oak meadow teacher. That means importing photographs and label label label.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 5



I finished my Pig! I also disabled all the toy listings in my Etsy shop. No worries, they’ll be back in October.

School. There was some! Ellie wrote her story-summery paragraph completely independently and it was perfect (except that “ribbin” needed an o instead of that second i).

Up until this point, all the paragraphs/sentences have been focused on retelling/summarizing a story. For Social Studies, she got to editorialize about the story themes rather than just rehashing it. It was pretty precious, she called out all the animals involved for not being very nice. I was very happy to see that the curriculum changes at the right time – Ellie was getting worn out with summaries. So: If you’ve only read the first few lessons in an Oak Meadow Coursebook, don’t think you know what the whole year will be like.

So many costumes - she's making ribbon bookmarks for art.

So many costumes – she’s making ribbon bookmarks for art.

This was a really nice week for us with many activities that we’ve come to love and lots of new ones (poetry!!). In Health she tried to convince me that the Princess First Aid Kit had everything a home first aid kit needed (it didn’t, I had brought the Red Cross’ list with us to the pharmacy). We compromised with a regular first aid kit and some Darth Vadar Bandaids.

My flu shot is modeling the aforementioned bandaids.

My flu shot is modeling the aforementioned Bandaids.

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the sun is coming up a little later every day. So I get to see things like this when I walk in the early morning:



I’m going to leave you with that. Next week is something else entirely.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 4

This week was a challenge. Every day there was something that interrupted our school time: coming back from the beach on Monday, Girl Scouts on Tuesday, piano at a funny time on Wednesday (Monday was a holiday), she was part of a Flag Ceremony on Thursday (Girl Scouts), and Friday was the bi-monthly play group. This week was another lesson in just how important rhythms are to our everyday and that ‘scheduled’ does not always mean ‘convenient’. Flexibility is a Life Skill.

Frog Collages are also a life skill.  I'm glad I never recycle All Animals!

Frog Collages are also a life skill. I’m glad I never recycle All Animals!

Ellie finished the first of the two provided Grade 2 Readers and we wrapped up the first Language Arts story series. I hope the new Main Lesson Books I ordered get here quickly – she’s only got room to fit one more lesson in the Language Arts book. Next year, I think we’ll use high quality, spiral bound, artist’s sketch books with hard covers instead of the traditional Waldorf-style Main Lesson Books so that everything will fit in one book. I think this will work better for the science journals too; field work and finished work can all be together in one place. (Honestly, a big part of me wants to make the transition to sketch books RIGHT NOW before we get in any deeper.)

More mancala, lots of Anansi, mirrored drawings that cross over the line, and a little science research project (on frogs) were some of the activities that filled the rest of the week. Edited to Add: The puppet show! Ellie’s puppet show was brilliant. I don’t know how I forgot about it. She made the puppets we didn’t have.

action coloring shot

action coloring shot

Music is a big part of the Oak Meadow curriculum. Songs, verses, and rhythm activities have all made appearances in the first month. There is also specific learn-to-play-an-instrument instruction with recorders. The lesson books are easy to use; we worked trough the first half of Beginning Recorder over the summer. However, we chose to substitute piano lessons for recorder instruction this year. Ellie did have the recorder out to play ‘Hot Cross Buns’ a couple times this week, so I think I’ll learn a few more notes to pass along.

The frog that started all this is on the stump.  If you look close you can see him.

I wanted to post a video of Ellie playing ‘Old MacDonald’ but she said NO WAY. Here’s a picture of a frog on a stump instead. Look closely.

Lesson 4 brings the end of the first month of school. Lesson 4 also brings the first time we submit work to Ellie’s Oak Meadow teacher. I’ve got to take extra time this weekend to sort photographs, scan lesson assessments, label files, and figure out how to work Google Docs.

Ellie is knitting away on her scarf. I’m knitting away on a pig. The sample card for Mermaid skin is here and I think it will work well! Now I’ve got to pick colors for her hair and her top.