|Orienteering with a map and compass on a Sunday family nature walk|
Subjects We Study as a Family
In our family studies, we tackle subjects together at set times during the day and week. Some of my children will have additional readings or work in these areas, and some will do all their work in this area with the family. Our family studies include:
Lives of Saints
Shakespeare (I also led a Shakespeare study with other families in the spring)
Nature Study and Journaling (as a family on Sundays after Mass)
There's a few changes from last year, but many things have stayed the same.
Changes This Year
Shakespeare, Plutarch and Art InstructionLast year my family started a process of integrating my husband more into our family studies by moving our nature walk and nature study to Sundays. This year we moved Shakespeare and Plutarch to the evening so my husband could join us in those subjects as well. When we read Shakespeare, we all take parts and read and then narrate the scenes together. With Plutarch, I read and those who want to can also follow along with a digital version of the text. We spend about 30 minutes two nights a week doing this and we've enjoyed this time together. I also appreciate how Shakespeare and Plutarch have become so much more of our family culture. In the spring, we also started working through Alisha Gratehouse's Drawing 101 Course at The Masterpiece Society one evening a week. We will continue with these activities through the summer, because they are regular parts of our lives now, not just school subjects.
|Saturday morning family keeping meeting|
Family Keeping MeetingIn the same vein as above, we've started a weekly Family Keeping Meeting. Really, this could be a post of its own, but essentially it is an opportunity for the entire family to come together and share work we've done over the course of the week. I make a breakfast we can share, generally a baked oatmeal and sausage links, and we sit down at the table together at 7:15 a.m. each Saturday morning for about 45 minutes. Each person, including my husband and me, share things like Book of Century entries, commonplace quotes, written narrations, drawn narrations, drawing practice, and nature journal entries. We move through this in order, sharing each type of keeping in sequence and we share from youngest to oldest. Once we finish sharing, we review the calendar for the day and the upcoming week, then we move onto the rest of our day.
Memory WorkLast year I tried moving to just having the kids do individual recitation by themselves, and letting them chose from a binder of pieces what they would practice. Each day of the week they had a different area to focus on - Shakespeare, Poetry, Bible passages, Hymns and Psalms. I saw some improvement in their recitations - less mumbling, more engagement - but I didn't like how individual our memory work became, and I didn't like how pieces were dropping from our collective memory. One of the things I've long appreciated about our shared recitation time is how the pieces we have memorized together have become part of our family culture, and touchstones for us as we share our lives together. After Charlotte was born and I had my feet under me again, we brought memory work back to our morning time. However, I did keep the individual recitation time for my two younger students (4th and 6th grade). They enjoy that time to recite by themselves, and it has made them stronger in our group recitation time. Everyone has welcomed this return, and it also keeps the pieces we have learned fresher in our memories.
Reading AloudThis is an area that has become sadly and surprisingly deficient in our home. The younger ones still get read to throughout the day and especially before bedtime, but the only things I read with the older kids are the daily Mass readings, Shakespeare, and Plutarch. My husband still reads aloud after dinner, but often this is only once a week at most. I intentionally dropped the lunchtime read-aloud when Charlotte was born, and I've found it a surprisingly difficult habit to resume.
Books and Resources
Lives of Saints
We've enjoyed reading about the Saint of the day through this series of (free) ebooks from CatholicCulture.org. They are my favorite Saint of the day resources by far.
Vermeer, Constable, and then a shorter study of E. Charlton Fortune and Benjamin West in the third term. This was my first year buying prints from Riverbend Press, and I thought they were very high quality. After seeing how great it is to have physical copies of the art, I had my own prints printed for the last term's subjects. I had previous just showed art on my iPad, but having the prints is definitely worth the money and hassle. Having physical prints also let me put one up on the fridge, which then informally included my husband in this part of our studies. We also watched Tim's Vermeer, which we thoroughly enjoyed and led to some great discussions not only about Vermeer's art, but also about possibilities versus proofs. (Warning: brief bad language at one point at about the middle of the movie)
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
For the Beauty of the Earth
Be Thou My Vision
Canticle of the Turning
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings of Orient Are
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded
Change Our Hearts
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise
At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing
Alleluia, Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven
I've Been Working on the Railroad
This Land is Your Land
Star of the County Down
She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain
(Thanks to the Alveary to pointing me to these YouTube videos, and to my daughter for actually learning the steps to the first one, teaching us, and getting us going on it!)
Big Mountain Circle Dance
The Courtship of Miles Standish, Malcolm Guite's two poetry collections (Waiting on the Word and Word in the Wilderness for Advent and Lent, respectively), a poetry collection called Poetry Out Loud (which I don't particularly recommend - I read selectively and didn't share some of the notes - it was a library book sale find) and we've just started a long poem by Robert Service called Ballads of a Bohemian.
Pericles, Fabius Maximus, Alexander the Great (in progress - this one is long, but good)
Macbeth, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2 (not quite finished yet) and The Tempest with other families as part of our spring Shakespeare workshop.
As a family I've only added Wisdom 2:23-3:9. Otherwise we've just been solidifying what was already in our memory work system.
On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (shows how little we've read aloud together, doesn't it!). Both of these were read immediately after dinner at the dinner table by my husband over the course of the school year.
Mozart, Handel's Messiah, Bach - I thought we did a reasonably good job studying the Messiah (and it is encouraging to see how familiar it is now that we've studied it for a few years now each Advent) but the other studies were not well executed. I never found a particularly good time to play the music for casual listening, and our focused listening was only so-so at best. Unfortunately, in a baby year, beautiful music becomes noise when I can't focus on it. And noise, which is always a trial, is even more difficult in a baby year.