The Feminist Homeschool.

Inventing the female canon, one grade at a time.

Quick update

What we’re studying:

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Bees and Wasps

Still not reading on her own yet and very reluctant. I am thinking about trying a different program to see if it’s a better fit.

Number sentences in math (addition). I am impressed at how quickly she picked up this concept, and can quickly write 3 different equations that all equal 5.

Handwriting is going well, but she still mixes up b and d, and writes her 3s backwards regularly. We’re also trying to reverse her habit of writing from bottom to top when she needs to be writing top to bottom.

Today, she finished painting a solar system kit. We aren’t studying the universe now, but it was an unfinished project that she randomly decided to finish. She’s been fascinated by planets and stars for a long time now and is looking forward to getting the whole thing put together and hung in her room. It does look pretty cool.


November 6, 2007 Posted by | First Grade, Homeschool, Homeschooling | 1 Comment

Week 4

  • 5 Saxon lessons
  • Phonics Pathways: We are going through about 2 pages per day, although that may slow a bit as A practices spelling from dictation. Right now, we are working on c-k-ck, which is tricky and she is having a hard time remembering the rules. Luckily, she is less frustrated than she was in the beginning and is developing more of a “just keep trying” mentality. We also moved phonics from the little ones’ naptime (about 1:00) to first thing in the morning when she is the freshest and cheeriest. I think she’ll be ready for a more formal spelling program by Christmas.
  • We are finishing moths and butterflies this week. A made the the most amazing drawing of butterflies and flowers! She spent at least one hour working on it. We talked a lot about the flowers in our garden and how they attract butterflies to our house. Unfortunately, I can’t find out where the butterfly house is or when it is open, so I think it may not exist anymore.
  • In history, we are reading about Stone Age people this week. On Friday, we are going to make clay bead necklaces and gourd rattles instead of an art project.

We had planned to attend our first homeschool gathering today, but A has been sick since Saturday. She seems to be over the worst of it, but then El started running a fever on Monday and although it broke last night, I still don’t want to take them around the other kids just yet. Hopefully, Em doesn’t get sick but the odds don’t seem great.

I went apple picking last weekend with a friend and brought home a bushel of apples! A was so disappointed that she didn’t get to go so our whole family is going to go this weekend. I need to get canning! I made an apple crisp  and a batch of apple muffins, but I haven’t made even a tiny dent in the apples yet.

Last week was our first week “off.” I didn’t get much housekeeping done (oops!) but it was a nice break. Everyone was ready to get back into things this week, though.

October 3, 2007 Posted by | Extracurricular, First Grade, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Life | 3 Comments

Book things.

A new book for children on global warming and surprise! The global warming deniers have issues with it. That darn science! It’s always foiling our plans to live hyper-consumptive lives.

And pledge to read the Story of Ferdinand today. You can also listen to the story online, read by Maya Angelou and others. It’s a wonderful book about nonviolence and peaceful resolutions.

September 20, 2007 Posted by | Books | 1 Comment

Week 3 Sight Words


September 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magrat the cat.

That is the kitten’s new name. She’s all black, so we named her after out favorite witch.

And she’s doing fantastic!

She is on some eyedrops and antibiotics for the upper-respiratory infection she had, and her fleas are dead and gone. (Lily on the other hand is itching like crazy, and needs her dose of Frontline.)

I though Mags had ruined my couch with her accidents (which I didn’t notice until I could smell it across the room since we never sit on the loveseat- yuck) but after a good steam cleaning and a hot soak in scented vinegar, it is smelling all minty-fresh. Her litter box has been moved to the top of the basement stairs and hopefully will travel all the way down to the basement in a week or two.

She’s feisty, but tolerant of the kids manhandling of her. You know… the being carried upside down, dropped on her head, made to dance like a puppet. Just wait, Mags, the dress-up and tea parties will be forced upon you very soon!

And, most importantly, she is definitely a people cat. She sits on my lap at every opportunity, likes to ride on my shoulder as I walk through the house, and purrs the instant I pick her up. She is awesome, and we are all enjoying her spunkiness a great deal! (Even John, who insists that he hates cats, but secretly likes them.)

Even Lily likes to wrestle and snuggle with her. She is one of us, for sure.

September 19, 2007 Posted by | Life | 4 Comments

Week Three

This week we started using the Usborne History text. We will spend the week learning about archaeology. Yesterday, A drew a great picture of a mound with buried gold, arrowheads, and bones underneath with an archaeologist (a little girl archaeologist!) on top digging up artifacts. We also read a paragraph about tree ring dating, so John is going to take her for a walk to a large tree recently cut down and show her how to count the rings.

We finished our worm unit last week, although we are still observing the worm bin. The soil and sand is a little more mixed than it was when we started. It is unclear whether the worms prefer tomatoes, carrot tops, or beet greens. They haven’t eaten a whole lot. Regardless of the ambiguous results, the worms will be dumped into the compost pile this weekend before they start to smell.

This week we are starting butterflies and moths. We will be taking a field trip to a butterfly house next week (our week off of school).

We are working through Saxon Math 1 quickly and easily. We do 5 lessons per week, and so far it has been review for her. It’s a little frustrating actually. I really feel that it is at Kindergarden level and I hope it becomes challenging pretty soon or we are going to start skipping ahead.

Phonics is our toughest subject. A gets discouraged at the slightest mistake. We only practice in 15 minute blocks to give her eyes a break. She reads 3-letter words easily, but still mixes up m and n if they are in the same word and b and d often. She really wants to start reading and gets upset that I don’t allow her to read independently just yet. She tends to see a word and just “guess” at what it is, rather than taking the time to sound it out and I don’t want this to become a habit. (She does read the Bob books and loves them.) I don’t prevent her from trying on her own time, of course, but it’s not a part of “school” yet, either. I need to get a list of sight words (the, we, could, etc.) and start drilling. Once she gets a good chunk of those down, plus common 2-letter blends that are not phonetic (ch, sh, th, wh…) she’ll be ready for some real beginner books. Hopefully, in the next two weeks or so.

We’ve been reading lots of books aloud, mostly Bible stories. I need to spend some time reinforcing our Quaker belief that there are many paths to God and that we are accepting of many faiths. What I am trying to get out of the Bible stories are basic human values that we all cherish: forgiveness, peacefulness, and listening to the Spirit.

September 18, 2007 Posted by | First Grade, Homeschool, Homeschooling | 2 Comments

A little photo essay.




Em coloring


El un-doing things (her favorite subject)



We do yoga while the little ones nap


Why, yes, she does do a lot of coloring.


Digging up worms for our science project


Up close and personal with the worm


The worm bin

September 17, 2007 Posted by | First Grade, Homeschool, Homeschooling | 2 Comments

Should we teach that violence is the only way?

Obviously not.

But legislators here in Michigan don’t seem to agree.

Several representatives have introduced a bill this month that would allow our public school teachers to carry a concealed weapon.

I have struggled for the past six years with the idea of homeschool vs. public school.  I do feel that public schools are important. I think that the current beauracratic system is doomed for failure, but nonetheless, it’s the only option for many children.

But now I am starting to wonder whether it is true that any education is better than no education at all. Teaching children that we can only fight violence with violence, that shedding blood is the only way to peace? Perhaps no education is the better way to go these days.

I’ll be interested to see how this bill goes. It would certainly be the final nail in the coffin of our family’s public school future.

[And spellchecker is not working. Sorry for any typos…]

September 16, 2007 Posted by | Education politics | 2 Comments

Back in Black.

Well, I’m wearing blue actually.

I have not had teh internet in a week and I was really going out of my stinkin’ head. No email! I had TONS of fun sifting through 300 emails when I finally regained service tonight. Stupid DSL.

We’ve been homeschooling for two weeks. It still feels strange. I feel like A should be in school with other kids, eating greasy lunchfood in a cafeteria. I really hope this starts to feel like normal soon.

I’ve learned a few things so far.

  1. It doesn’t matter how many good books the library has on butterflies, you can’t read them all, so don’t check them all out and lug them all to the car, just to return them unread 2 weeks later. Share with the other patrons, mama.
  2.  You should not do school at the same table where you eat dinner. It makes a big mess that you won’t want to clean up at 5:30. We moved our eating table into the formal dining room (formally the office, and the desk is now in the parlor…). We are actively scouring Goodwills for a round dining room table that isn’t too big and costs less than $30.
  3. You can’t possibly spend the same amount of time cleaning as you did before school started. I knew I was not schooling from September to June and then taking off 3 months. So it came down to either three months on, one month off or 3 weeks on, 1 week off. My need for a clean house tipped the scales in favor of the latter. Whatever doesn’t get checked off my daily list can get done in the fourth week. I also think the regular breaks will be great for avoiding burnout but they won’t be so long that it is difficult to get back into the swing of things.
  4. It’s okay to assign homework. A is a bit of a dawdler. Always has been. From now on, I am setting the timer. I will give her more than ample time to do her work. When the timer goes off, the work gets put away and she can finish it with her dad later that night. One hour for first grade math (which thus far has been painfully easy for her) is plenty. Twenty minutes for a 2-page worksheet in handwriting? Plenty of time.

We’ve been reading a lot of Bible stories this week. I’ve put it into the history section. (It was written long ago, after all.) That’s felt a bit strange for me as someone who doesn’t read much of the Bible. When I do read it, I interpret it figuratively. That being said, I do think it is important to read the Bible. It will be difficult to understand Shakepeare, Victorian poetry, or even Laura Ingalls Widler and C.S. Lewis if you aren’t Bible literate. Whether you believe in it or not, if you live in a culture saturated by Judeo-Christianity, you are well-served if you know the basic plot of the Bible.

However, it irks me that all of the women in the Bible are made out to be coniving whores whose goal in life is to seduce and decieve. (Except those who are only ever meek and obedient to their husbands. They’re okay.) So I sought out some books that focused major Biblical women and spoke of them in a postive way.  My favorite find is Daughters of Fire. I greatly appreciated Fran Manushkin’s treatment of that most infamous woman: Eve. Rather than exaggerate her greed or her foolishness, Manushkin paints Eve as a gentle, trusting (too trusting!) woman who delighted in all of God’s creation and thirsted for knowledge of her environment. The author also gives Adam his share of the blame. Eve may have offered him the apple, but he ate it of his own free will.

September 15, 2007 Posted by | Books, First Grade, Homeschool, Life | 5 Comments

Kitten Update.

If you read my other blog, you know we have a new kitten.

If not, here she is:


I believe that the home we took her from had not weaned her before giving her away. I believe it’s fair to have expected that, no?

So after 24 hours of not drinking anything, despite my offerings, I decided enough was enough. I dunked her nose into the bowl of water. She licked it off of her face and then I dunked her again. She had a lightbulb moment and dove into the water dish.  She came up sputtering but then took to lapping up water for a straight 30 seconds. This morning when I showed her the water dish, she again acted like she had no idea what she was doing. A little dunk to remind her, and she was back to taking a loooong drink again.

I had to do the same thing with food. I have been heating up a couple of tablespoons of water and moisten the cat food, and then she will only eat if I hand-feed her. She purrs the whole time.

She is started to get used to the chaos that is our house and spends most of her days out of hiding and climbing all over the furniture. (My poor furniture!)

It’s been fun to say the least.

Oh, and she is using the litterbox like a pro. She goes at least every other time that I show it to her.

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Life | 4 Comments