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Field Trips, Harvesting, Rats, and Books (Weeks 2-4)

Myrtle crown, worked in gold, of one of Philip of Macedon's wives

Myrtle crown, worked in gold, of one of Philip of Macedon’s wives

Decades ago, our homeschooling revolved around field trips, read alouds, rabbit trails, and everyday life. These past three weeks the girls and I have been enjoying a repeat of those days.

Field trip #1:

We visited the Battle of Chrysler Farm location and memorial, scene of one of the major Canadian defenses in the War of 1812. Just as at Fort Henry, cannons were at the ready to repel forces from the US.

While we were in the area anyhow, we visited the Iroquois Locks of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and watched an enormous ship on its way to the ocean.

Field trip #2:

Upper Canada Village , again. We have enjoyed this historical village so many times, and it always has something for everyone. This year the horses fell in love with Miss 13 and nickered happily when she came back. The pigs grunted blissfully when she scratched their ears, but the calves, who were being weaned, only bellowed for their mommies. Miss 15 couldn’t get enough of the different artisans: the woodworker, the cheesemaker (real Canadian cheddar, colored with annatto and cultured at 102 degrees F), the tin smith, and the black smiths.

Field trips #3 and 4:

The exhibit on Ancient Greece at Canada’s Museum of History.  We learned about everything from the development of metal-working to vases, statues, death masks, and Alexander the Great. It was incredible! On the first visit we ran out of time and energy, but with our library’s museum pass we were able to visit the next day as well. We were not allowed to take pictures in the museum, so I took one of the myrtle crown in the guidebook.

Family trip:

As if that weren’t enough, we also had a 1000 km whirlwind family trip, complete with hotel stay and eating out, to the lovely wedding of a dear young couple. And I managed to squeeze in a visit with my sister and her family too.

Rabbit Trails:

Making herbal/medicinal teas. One of the beekeepers who has hives near our place is very knowledgeable about such things, and her enthusiasm is contagious.

Studying the waveforms of music. You know how you sometimes get the waveforms of music on your computer screen when you play music? Well, Miss 13 has been fascinated with them for over a year. Recently she discovered Music and Mathematics, a book that I had gotten for Miss 17 who is studying mathematics, and she is painstakingly learning new concepts that are way beyond her.

To accompany our study of ancient Egypt, we watched the PBS documentary The Silver Pharaoh, about a little-known pharaoh who lived around the time of David and Solomon. The documentary, about an unprecedented archeological find at the very beginning of World War 2, was fascinating and well-done, but I need to verify some of the Biblical references.

And we watched Maiden Trip, some of which was in Dutch, about Laura Dekker, the youngest person to sail solo around the world. It’s not full of amazing cinematography (most of the videos were taken by Laura herself) but it is authentic, moving, and inspiring in many ways. Caution: Language warning.

Formal School Work:

Math, Duolingo, health, logic, writing, reading, science, art, music, history, civics. Judo.


Although the weather has been uncommonly pleasant the frosts did finally come and we have been harvesting. I am so thankful that the weather is as behind as we are this year! We’ve been making applesauce, freezing tomatoes, drying lovage, and freezing basil in olive oil, and we plan to freeze our pepper crop today.

Since our province has outlawed the effective rat poisons, we have been having trouble with rats. One crawled into our dryer vent and chewed through it, with two results. For a few blissful days I was not allowed to do any laundry! Afterwards it was a real treat to be able to wash our clothing again, so that aspect of it was a double blessing. The other thing was that we now had a rat in the house, which remained hidden until it got thirsty and fell into the toilet. So we slammed the lid shut and put some heavy phone books on top, just in case. We had learned that it never pays to underestimate a rat, and who knows if it could perhaps flip the toilet lid open and escape? But we had solved that problem. However, when we opened the lid a few hours later, the rat was gone! It must have gone swimming through the pipes! So now I often peer nervously into the toilets.


While slowly reading and rereading through Douglas Wilson’s book on Ecclesiastes, Joy at the End of the Tether, I remembered his joyful playing with words. So I picked up WordSmithy, reading some choice quotes to my husband while we were on our family trip, and also read his Writers to Read.

After our fish fossil find we surrounded ourselves with fossil books from the library and one of them, The First Fossil Hunters, discusses the fossils the ancients found and wrote about. Our family came across an example of this while studying Herodotus, a Greek historian of the 5th century BC, and it’s fascinating.

I also went through How to Raise an Adult and Seven Woman (reviews coming up), and am still reading King Alfred’s English, How to Really Love Your Child, Joy at the End of the Tether, Tales of Ancient Egypt, and 1 Chronicles. And, to help me stay in bed when I need to rest, I started Leota by Francine Rivers.

Miss 15 read the Tightwad Gazette trilogy and is now enjoying Don Aslett’s zany humor. Miss 13 read some Enid Blyton stories, Usborne’s The Greeks, and bits and pieces of Music and Mathematics.

Reading with the family:

Journey through the Night, The Secret of Willow Castle, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Acts.

Recommended Links:

Information overload can be a problem in our homeschools as well as in the business world. One solution is to remember that we all need to feed our minds as well as use them. Another is the technique of interleaving, ‘practicing or learning different skills in quick succession’, which apparently makes huge differences in math learning.

If you want to see more carefully curated links, follow me on Google Plus.

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up and Finishing Strong.


  1. Jenn says:

    Oh my, the rat! We have a little mouse that torments our cats. He lives under our back deck. I am hoping he does not try to move inside for the winter. Of course, if he does, he is in trouble with my mouser, Dorothy. Do you have any cats about?

  2. JoAnn says:

    Ok, that rat story is just, ugh! I would be freaking out with the toilets too. It’s a bummer of the rat poison change. I hope you can find something that will work like that used to. The rest of your things sounded fun, especially those field trips. 🙂

  3. Annie Kate says:

    No, Jenn, we have no cats because my husband is severely allergic. Cats would probably solve the problem, though. There’s a breed of tiny dogs that might do it too, but we already have two dogs. But I’m ready to try anything.

    JoAnn, yes, I really hope we find something. It is becoming a real problem, obviously.

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