Weekly Wrap-Up: Apple Orchards and Blue Ponds

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It’s been another incredibly busy week.  I’m a total homebody and we were gone for the entire day both Wednesday and Thursday, so that was a bit much for me, though both days were enjoyable.  Today, we’re recuperating and focusing on the basics — which is kind of nice for me, because that basically entails the things that the kids can do independently, leaving me free to catch up on laundry and housework.  If this is a glimpse of what I can expect as the norm within the next couple of years, I could get used to this.

I have been very excited this week to notice a marked improvement in both Josh and Megan’s reading.  They both selected Frog and Toad stories to read to me and read them with very little help from me and with no complaints about the stories being too long.

A friend asked me, just yesterday, how Rocket Phonics was going.  As I told her, a couple of weeks ago, I became a bit frustrated with it because it’s confusing, to me, how the lessons are supposed to go.  It says that the lesson plans are included, but I like for lesson plans to say, “Monday you do this; Tuesday you do that” and Rocket Phonics isn’t set up that way.  So, we quit using it like you’re “supposed” to and started just focusing on the actual reading practice portions (no Simon Says, no riddles) and the specific sounds/blends practice.

Well, as I said, this week, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the improvements in Josh and Megan’s reading.  Specifically, I’ve noticed that Josh is applying the sound combinations that he’s learning using Rocket PhonicsIt’s really funny to see the differences in their reading.  Megan is a much better reader than Josh, but she reads very intuitively and picks up easily on contextual clues.  She doesn’t sound out words very well or apply the phonics rules; she simply reads well.  Josh, on the other hand, may take a while to get a particular concept or phonics rule in his head, but once he does, he puts it into practice much more readily and consistently than Megan does.

So, all that to say, I don’t know if it’s Rocket Phonics or just an “it’s about time, for crying out loud” thing, but I have noticed an improvement in their reading, which thrills this homeschooling mama.

We’ve been having fun with our studies of France.  This week we’ve learned a bit about Claude Debussy.  (Of course the fact Claire de Lune was in Twilight has nothing to do with why we chose him as our first French composer — and, for the record, we all really love Claire de Lune.) and Claude Monet.  An interesting connection between the two of them was that Debussy was called, by some, an Impressionist composer, after the Impressionist paintings, because his compositions were so different from the typical compositions of his day.

We read a bit about Monet, then, did an artist study of Water Lilies: Harmony in Green from God and the History of Art.

We’ve also been practicing counting in French with Count Your Way Through France and we’ve made Eiffel Tower models, which I found on Jolanthe’s blog, Homeschool Creations.  Brianna made the harder one and Josh and Megan made the easier one.

Brianna worked on our paper mache map (I’ll post directions on how we made it soon), which I think turned out really nice.  Once the paint dries, we’re going to label the surrounding countries and waterways with a Sharpie marker.  I had actually already done that, but Brianna wanted to use acrylic paint to paint the other countries, so I’ll have to go back over them again later.  I thought it turned out really nice, though.

Wednesday we had music class, met my sister for lunch, ran some errands, went to my sister’s for dinner — we ran all day.  We didn’t get to go to our nature center, but I was blessed to see a red-tail hawk in the tree in our backyard!

Thursday, we went on a field trip to an apple orchard about an hour from home.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day for it; the weather was gorgeous.  We had a huge turnout, too, so all the moms and kids enjoyed seeing friends and meeting new faces.

Megan, who dressed herself, was complimented several times on choosing the perfect shirt for a trip to an apple orchard:


From there, the kids and I went with some friends to a nearby state park.  We went there on a field trip the first year that Brianna was homeschooled and she still talks about the blue pond.  Can you see how it’s blue toward the back?

That’s because it’s so deep at that point.  Most of the pond is probably only about ankle-deep (we didn’t test that theory), but the part that’s blue is over 14-feet deep!  The spring is fed from an underground cave and the water stays at about fifty-six degrees (F) year round.  It produces an astonishing 504,000 gallons of water a day!  The water then travels downstream to feed to major rivers.

We were able to do a little nature study, too, finding this beautiful aster amellus (thank you, Google images, for being ever-willing to help with nature-related IDs):

Of course, we found some mushrooms to add to our photo collection:

And, I found this great-looking fallen tree, perfect for family photos of camera-shy children:

After our field trip day, Brianna had a volleyball game.  I was so tired, I dozed off in the van waiting for their warm-up time to be over and the game to begin!  She plays again tonight.  They’re all scrimmage games since this is an instructional year for her team and, although they’ve yet to win a game, I think they’re doing fantastic!  The majority of the girls had never played volleyball before they began in August and they’re holding their own against private high school teams.

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  1. That paper mache map is awesome!!

    I love the pictures from the state park. It's just beautiful there 🙂

  2. Your trip to the apple orchard was a great opportunity to fit in your nature study!

    I really enjoy Claude Debussy and it is fun to tie a time period together with the artist and the composer.

    Great art projects this week.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  3. Wow that was a busy week! Whew. YAY for improved reading, those letter blends can be difficult. I remember a few meltdowns with Fox…but I was trying to teach him these things in Kindergarten, poor, poor boy. What was I thinking?

    That pond is amazing! I'd love to see that. I love your photos, your kids are so dear!

  4. Looks like you guys are having fun studying France! Did you know that Claire De Lune was also in Oceans 11? It's one of my favorite pieces.

    Wish we could go to an apple orchard, it is the perfect time of the year for that! Thanks for sharing.

  5. The map is looking great!! Wow!! I'm not sure that I'd even attempt something like that. LOL

    The blue pond is so cool. how interesting.

    I guess I should get busy writing our wrap-up soon. LOL Maybe at nap time.

  6. @ Paige — No, I didn't know that. Can you believe that I've never seen Oceans 11? I should probably rent it sometime.

  7. We had a rather insane week this past week so I'm just catching up on other people's posts right now. Sounds like you all have been plenty busy. That's a pretty cool map, btw!

    Hope your weekend has been restful enough and you feel like you've got a fresh start tomorrow!

  8. LOL… I am the opppposite, I am not used to curriculum to tell me what to cover each day. I think I have grown used to writing our own but I have to admit I do not have the time or energy anymore for that.

    I think your study of France looks great. I especially like the paper mache map of France. Your field trips and your pictures are wonderful!

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