Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 2 Term 1

Alright, 2020. Who hit the cray button?

My last curriculum review ended with some wishful thoughts, that maybe life would return to a somewhat "normal" in the next term. Little did I know, things would get a whole lot more cray!... If you haven't heard of Family Force 5, you need to watch their Cray Button video :)

Anywhoo - Our layout for A Gentle Feast Cycle 2, Term 1 looked a little like this:

I knew the kids would love the Cycle 2: Wars, Whigs, and Washington readaloud books - and I really enjoy them, too. As it turns out, reading about the American Revolution (especially now in Term 2) is very applicable to this current time in our country. Learning about heroes like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, along with lesser known heroes as well, has been really encouraging. 

We started Term 1 early, as our fourth baby was due mid-September. I had a hunch he or she would arrive a little early so we wanted to work ahead and be ready. As it turns out, on September 18th (at 39 weeks 1 day) we added ten little fingers and ten little toes - a brand new baby BOY - to our family. He's sweet, cuddly and loved like crazy by this family. The brothers are all over him... seriously. I carry him a lot.


Before baby came, we were able to capitalize on all the outdoor adventures, trips to the pool and to the park as much as possible. COVID still greatly changed life this term, with our library programs being shut down and many businesses affected. Even church has been different. We did still meet with our homeschool co-op and their fellowship is really encouraging and necessary; especially in unusual times like this in our country. I'm thankful that our co-op, my husband's job and our general school studies haven't been too affected by COVID.

While we enjoyed the warm late-Summer/Fall weather, the boys had a few Monarch Caterpillars that we caught and then watched emerge as butterflies a couple weeks later. That is a favorite for all of us! Nature study at it's finest! 


After baby boy arrived, we took a two-week break from school. The older kids went to my parents' farm for five days. Then we did some bonding as a new family of 6 and, soon after, my mother-in-law came to stay with us when baby was two weeks old. 

That was SO helpful. There is no maternity leave in the homeschool/sahm life and I was thankful to have all the help I could get! The boys went to corn mazes with both my mom and then later on with dad and my mother-in-law. I was worried about them "missing out" on all the fun of Fall when I was recovering after baby but they didn't miss a beat.

It also helped a bunch that my mother-in-law is a substitute teacher and she greatly helped to split up the teaching as we eased back into school - along with playing catch with the boys in the backyard almost every day! 

The kids LOVED the Term 1 readalouds; with the d'Aulaire books being the favorite. Our biggest struggle is books without pictures - go figure. For a few history readings, the material was a black/white PDF document. That was tricky with young kids and limited attention spans. I worked to spice it up by looking up color photos of the subjects and a short video or picture book, if available. We made it through and at least the second grader retained something. 

For the Burgess Bird Book, we listen to it on Libravox and then supplement with bird pictures, audio and video on AllAboutBirds.org. Watching the birds in action and hearing them made it fun for all ages. I don't require that the middle two boys sit through all the school subjects but they prefer to anyway.


For math, E continued to work through Dimensions Math 1B for second grade and W finished Earlybird Kindergarten A (both from Singapore Math) for his preschool. Singapore's math approach is proving to work really well for both of the boys so far. 

Now keeping our newly three-year-old C busy is another story... he's extra busy and not as good at quietly tinkering as the older two were at this age. He's loud, fearless and ambitious, which I love. Using those qualities for good and not destruction is something we're working on :) Counting cheerios or sorting toys works for a while; not long though. I'm just accepting that this is a busy, messy season and that's just the way it should be. 

E is working through the Language Arts book for Cycle 2 and enjoys reading to his brothers and also on his own for fun. The variety in the lessons and how they tie into our readings for that week is perfect. W is working in his Phonics Museum workbook and taught himself to read. Those younger kids really do listen in on everything! He works through BOB Books now to practice this new skill.


Term 1 Challenges: 

  • Recovering after baby and all the postpartum crazy; birth went great but there isn't much time to rest these days and, well, I'm older this time around
  • Teaching multiple kids who ask multiple questions at the same time. Lots of questions & needs but only one mom. We are practicing taking turns with questions and waiting patiently!
  • Juggling life. New baby, pumping, school, projects (throw in some freelance work, why not!), maintaining a home. I can't wait for warm weather to return - like 4 months from now.

Term 1 Victories: 

  • W learning to read! C being potty trained = only one in diapers!
  • The helpfulness of older kids and of having more readers in the house
  • Hitting baby's 3 month milestone and generally just feeling more like a human, less like a zombie :)         
We finished up Term 1 just in time for Thanksgiving and the kids spent the holidays working on some serious life skills - snowcatting and fourwheeling!


Currently we'll be jumping back into Term 2 in the New Year; and I'm praying that 2021 will be better than 2020. We have had so many blessings in 2020 that I want to make sure not to overlook. < Hello, sweet baby boy, a new nephew and a new sister-in-law!!!> Yet I pray that we can hang on to the freedoms that we have been blessed with in this country for so long. If there's one thing we have learned from our latest history reads this cycle: freedom isn't free.

In the words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.