I have heard conflicting stories about the difficulty of homeschooling during certain months of the year. Last year, during November, I heard November was the hardest month to homeschool. And now, this year, I am hearing the hardest month to homeschool is February. Ha! What do you think?
Could it be that homeschooling is, indeed hard? And each month has its own difficulties? I think that may have a ring of truth in it. That is why I am so thankful for the Gathering tradition we started a few years back. It kind of fills in the rough patches of our homeschool year, introducing goodness, truth, and beauty to my kids in spite of the struggles of the various months of the year.
I created the Gathering Placemats as a sort of, no-fail solution to continuing our Gathering tradition, even during difficult weeks and months. They are so simple to use – all you need to do is print them out (lamination recommended) and place them in front of your kids. Hopefully something will catch their eye or capture their attention. But I also write a little bit extra each month – some simple things to extend your Gathering tradition with your family.
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February 2021 Artist – Leonardo da Vinci
The Gathering Placemats tend to follow both the term and riches schedules for Ambleside Online. The artist chosen for this term (2) by Ambleside is Leonardo da Vinci.
To be honest, I do not enjoy da Vinci’s work as I do many other Renaissance artists. Yes, I do enjoy The Last Supper and see its importance in the art world, but I find some of the other Italian Renaissance artists to be more spectacular.
However, I started reading Emily Hahn’s book Leonardo da Vinci with my newly minted third-grader in January. Learning more about him is changing my mind a bit. Hahn, in the first chapter of her book, says of da Vinci:
But he had no famous love affairs; he never married or had any family. Unlike so many heroes that we love to read about in America, he didn’t illustrate a great success story against tremendous odds. In his lifetime he didn’t have the honor he deserved.
No, those ordinary romantic stories have nothing to do with Leonardo. He was great purely because of his tremendous intellect. It was his brain that created the adventure of his life, and that adventure is still exciting today, five centuries later.Emily Hahn, Leonardo da Vinci
That has helped me to consider da Vinci in a different way. I really love the quote included on the placemats this month:
February 2021 Favorite
My favorite box on the February 2021 Gathering Placemats is the poem on the front of the placemats! The more we homeschool, the more we discover we are a poetry loving family. Delighting in clever rhymes or witty sayings is de rigueur in our home.
“It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edward Guest makes for a wonderful recitation selection. And it’s subtle message – perseverence – is a character quality we try to encourage around here.
Have you tried to memorize poetry with your kids? If not, this is a great one to start with. Just take it stanza by stanza, line by line. Then repeat it daily together. We play some memorization games in our home to help us along. (I am hoping to share those here on the blog later this month)
This month’s art selections include The Last Supper. Since our kids are still young and do not have a lot of experience in “big church,” they are not as familiar with the rite of communion. I wanted to introduce this to my kids as we look at “The Last Supper.” Page 3 of this month’s Gathering is a super simple introduction to the Lord’s Supper.
If you are looking to do a bit more with your kids regarding the Lord’s Table, may I suggest a simple inductive study with your kids? Open up the texts: 1 Corinthians 11, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22 and ask questions of the text together. Notice details, Make a chart of comparison. By doing this you can develop a family theology regarding the practice of communion. If inductive study is new to you, I wrote a primer for Inductive Study with Kids to help get you started. You can check that out here.
Last month, I mentioned reading Sarah, Plain and Tall (available on Scribd in e-book and audiobook) for a family read-aloud. But I was sick for much of last month, so I was not up for more reading than we already do in our school day. Thus, we are going to try to get to Sarah, Plain, and Tall this month. I started it yesterday, almost wept during the first chapter, and had one of my kids begging for another chapter. That is as good a way to start a book as I can imagine.
We are still currently finishing up By the Great Horn Spoon (available in audiobook format on Scribd) which we have enjoyed very much in the evenings. Our nightly reading was delayed (again by sickness). We have just 3 chapters left!
Next we will be reading Mr. Lincoln’s Drummer by G. Clifton Wisler. As a Civil War buff, I am excitedly looking forward to reading this with my girls in the evenings.
I love having a number of special read-alouds with my kids. We spend much of our days reading with one another, which makes our homeschool routine a joy, not a drudgery.
In addition to our read-alouds, we are also reading Minn of the Mississippi with my eldest daughter for school. I included a little Geography drill about the Mississippi River to suprise and delight her. We love all of Holling C. Holling’s books and this one is no exception.
February 2021 Gathering Playlist
This last month, my kids were big fans of the Gathering Playlist. It was fun to hear them talking about their favorites and telling stories based on the music.
You have free access to the February 2021 Gathering Playlist simply by opening Spotify (you do not have to have a paid Spotify account to hear the playlist – although I am not sure if it will have ads). We use our Google Home Device to play the playlist by saying, “Hey Google, play February 2021 Gathering playlist on Spotify, please.”
Hymns and Spiritual Songs
This month’s hymn is “I Know Whom I Have Believed” Ambleside Online, whose hymn schedule I follow, recommends it for February. This hymn’s refrain is one of those which burrows down into one’s soul. I absolutely love having this song in my heart! Included on the playlist, as always, is a vocal version followed by an instrumental version.
Also included on the Gathering Playlist for this month is a new favorite song, “Springtime.” I just love this song! We are focusing on similies this month and this one has such a beautiful simile in it.
Ambleside Online’s recommended folk song has not been recorded very often. Thus, narrowing down the choices to include on the Gathering Playlist was extremely easy. “The Alberta Homesteader” is a delightful song and my kids are already enjoying it.
I put together a page for my kids to read the lyrics and color (if they like). So, I thought I would share it with you. You can download it instantly here.
The Classical selections this term are from the Mighty Russian Five. Again the choice is from Ambleside Online’s riches schedule, so the fact that it does not correlate with the artist (da Vinci) is odd to me; but I am going with it. The study of Russian composers will be extended into the May Placemats because I chose a Russian artist to finish off the school year. I think the brightness of the art will definitely match the brightness of the music in May.
All that said, I do enjoy the Russian composers. My kids do too! Last month my kids enjoyed creating stories to go with the music. We often call Classical Music “story songs.” My husband has encouraged my kids to create stories to go with the music since they were very little. It is fun to listen to the tales they come up with!
Speaking of story songs, there is a wonderful new Classical music resource, I just have to share with you. My friend, Gena at Music in our Homeschool wrote a new online music class called “Learn Classical Music with Cartoons.” The class includes selections from Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov – two of the Mighty Russian Five. Gena takes old cartoons from the Looney Tunes era and shows how they incorporated music to tell a story and create a mood. I absolutely love this as a Gathering extra resource and I can’t wait to show my kids!
This is a brand-new course from Music in our Homeschool, so there is an introductory coupon. February 1-7, 2021, use the coupon code CARTOONS to get 30% off!
February 2021 Gathering Answers
Scroll no more, the answers are here!
Who Am I (page 4) – paper
Geography Drill (page 6) – 1. states the Mississippi River runs through: Mississippi, Illinois, and Louisiana; states the Mississippi River creates a border for: Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. 2. The Gulf of Mexico
I pray God’s richest blessings on you and your family as you enjoy the February 2021 Gathering!