The mediocrity of magma and other homeschooling news


We spent a fair amount of time this week making a volcano. We papier-mached, we researched the optimal ingredient ratios, we painted, and we waited and waited and waited for everything to dry so we could make our hand-crafted volcanic eruption.

And today, when we finally put everything together? It was a pretty pathetic eruption. Things went much better when we were just doing our research.

I’m sure that’s an appropriate metaphor for something along these lines:


And you know what? We did find the journey to our disappointing volcano quite enjoyable.

US Geography

We took a break from our Geography study this week, because I neglected to put the necessary library books on hold. We’ll be back at it next week with a study of Florida. Which means, of course, that we’ll be making key lime pie.


We’re making good and steady progress on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” It’s much easier to do that when your primary reader (by which I mean: me) doesn’t have a cold. Pete has also been reading the first “Encyclopedia Brown” book and a biography of Rosa Parks, and Poppy just finished “A Snicker of Magic” for our book club. Her current literature study book is “The Westing Game.” She’s not crazy about it so far, but I suspect that’s because she knows it was one of my favorites when I was her age. I find it very frustrating that she’s so reluctant to consider the titles that I suggest she’d like, and I’m not sure what to do about it.


Poppy finished her current math curriculum yesterday, and she’ll be starting the new one on Monday. Pete finished his old curriculum a few weeks ago and had been working on Teaching Textbooks 3 while he waited for the new level of McRuffy Math to arrive. It finally got here late last week, and he started it on Monday morning.

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!

Fight club

“Mama, who would win in a fight between a shark and a thousand pirañas?”

“Mama, who would win in a fight between a bobcat and a wolf?”

“Mama, who would win in a fight between a giant wiener dog and a shark-dolphin?”

The mother-daughter book club discusses “A Snicker of Magic”

A Snicker of MagicMidnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. Twelve-year-old Felicity, a “word collector,” wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town — and her mother’s broken heart.

Last night our mother-daughter book club met for lasagna, salad, brownies and a discussion of Natalie Lloyd’s “A Snicker of Magic.” It only took three book talks for the other members to recognize that I am, to put it kindly, a curmudgeon. Several of them predicted that the author’s prevalent use of “What the hayseed” would annoy me. They were right. I did find that and a few other frequently occurring cutesy phrases and motifs pretty grating.

I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t in love with Midnight Gulch.

“A Snicker of Magic” was not met with universal acclaim by the members of the Witty Kitty Book Club. The girls and the moms agreed that it took awhile for the story to get started. We all had to push ourselves through the first several chapters before it finally grabbed our attention.

Even thought most of them felt lukewarm about the book, the girls did a great job answering the discussion questions. Here are a few of the topics we discussed:

Felicity says that her mother’s storytelling voice is “like something between a summer breeze and a lullaby” (p. 2). How can someone’s voice help him or her tell a good story?
The girls agreed that a storyteller’s voice can help set the mood of a story and draw the listener in. One girl added that it could “give the story character.”

The people of Midnight Gulch possess different types of magic. What kind of magic would you want to have? Why?
Summer: “To be able to fly.”
Scarlet: “To be able to turn any person into anything. I want to be a cat. It would be interesting to see things from another perspective.”
Story: “To talk to animals and to fly.”
Grace: “To be able to talk to plants or to fly.”
Liliana: “The power to turn invisible so I could sneak poundcake.”
Koda: “Magic that can heal nature. I would fix global warming.” She also said she’d like to be able to turn into an animal, specifically so she could find out what it would be like to be a cat, then a bear and then a seahorse.

Words are very important to Felicity. What are your three favorite words?
Summer: “Awesome, super, extraordinary.”
Scarlet: “Hope, family, courage.”
Story: “Nature, animals, peace.”
Grace: “Joy, friends, nature.”
Liliana: “Money.” (Our Poppy was trying her hand at being the class clown at this month’s meeting, to her mother’s dismay and chagrin.)
Koda: “Pickle, meow, family.”

Felicity loves to collects words about people. Choose three words that best describe you.
Summer: “Athletic.”
Scarlet: “Artistic, energetic, daring.”
Story: “Nature, peace, animal-lover.”
Grace: “Creative, fun, nature.”
Liliana: “Fun, crazy, huggable.”
Koda: “Creative, unique, smart.”

The highest rating “A Snicker of Magic” received was an 8.5, and the lowest was a 4. On average, the Witty Kitty Book Club gave it 7 kitty paws.

Once again, this group of girls impressed me with their attention to detail and the thought they put into their answers. Even though they didn’t all enjoy it, they all finished the book and came to the meeting ready to talk. I’m already looking forward to next month’s meeting!

Previous mother-daughter book club selections

  • “Hope Was Here”
  • “Serafina and the Black Cloak”