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About Florimell

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  1. I'm not sure this link is on the main Wikipedia page any more, but it gives daily and cumulative totals for new cases and deaths for each state (but no graphs).
  2. I agree 100%. If my kids didn't love it, and if it wasn't something we all looked forward to and enjoyed, I would not push it. I saw too many kids in my college classes who hated to read and hated literature because they had been forced to work with texts in a way that seemed irrelevant and pointless. I worked hard to win them back and often succeeded, but it was tough going!
  3. I'll try to give a bit more concrete detail about what we have done, in case anyone finds it helpful. My kids read all the time, mostly books of their choosing, but we do not do "literature" every day or even every week. I generally have a big plan in mind for the year, and we work through it as we can. One year, we did one short poem each week or so. Other times, we have done in-depth novel studies, focusing on each one for about 6 weeks and did four over the course of the year. This year, we are doing short stories -- comparative world fairy tales with DD9 and classic short stories with DS12. This is the first year that the kids have done different literature, and next year, we are going back to doing it together. I am working on a plan for a two year US history and literature survey. I love poetry for kids primarily because it is short and dense, and they can have the entire text in front of them at one time. When we do poetry, I give each kid a copy of the poem, we read through it together, making sure they understand the basic ideas, and ask them to "illuminate" the margins with images, ideas, and other things from the poem that strike them. From there, we talk about their illustrations and get into a discussion of the content of the poem. I usually have a few ideas and questions prepared ahead of time that I want to make sure to address, but mostly, we just talk about it. Sometimes, I will start with "Did you like it?" and then go on to talk about why or why not -- this usually moves into an interesting conversation, and if it doesn't get there on it's own, I'll raise more questions, ask about specific lines or words, or share some ideas about my own interpretation. I'll accept any answer as legitimate as long as they can support it. There are so many great poems that it's easy to come up with one a week. As far as novels, as I said above, I try to do more work with fewer novels. There is a lot of ground to cover, so we usually spend about 6 weeks on a book like Mrs. Frisby or Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (a few chapters each week, meeting to discuss it once a week). I usually choose novels that they would not necessarily pick for themselves because I think it's a good opportunity to expand their horizons a bit. When we do novels, I will usually have some ideas or questions prepared ahead of time (you can usually find discussion questions online) and we talk about what happened. As when I was teaching college classes, I want to make sure the kids understand what happened in the book because if they are lost or confused about any aspect of it, we can't have any real substantive discussion. Next, we move on to talking about relevant things from the chapters, such as allusions, what is happening with the characters, how the book compares to others we have read, and so on. I have also had creative, hands-on projects to go with each book, and those have been a big hit. For example, we made birch bark canoes, maple candy, and model wigwams and had a feast with food mentioned in the book when we read the Birch Bark House, we played croquet and made board games when we read Alice in Wonderland, learned about simple machines and made herbal remedies when we read Mrs. Frisby, and so on. This year, for DD12, we are doing hard core literary analysis with character types, plot structure and devices, literary devices, and so on. We spend a couple of weeks on each story. I ask DS to read and annotate it and then to write either a response (at least a solid paragraph) on any aspect of it that struck him as interesting and noteworthy or to fill out a detailed plot diagram. We use the work he did as a starting point for our discussion, which often happens in the car on our way to music lessons. Apart from the responses, I don't require any other writing, but might have him expand one of his responses into a short analysis paper in the coming months. I think that classic short stories are almost the perfect genre when working with kids, but I also think that middle school is really the earliest they should be done.
  4. I have done a lot of this type of work with DD9 -- we have used a wide variety of poetry, world fairy tales, Goth Girl books, Harry Potter, some fables, and the Narnia books as well.
  5. I couldn't find anything like that, so I am writing my own, but it is in its very earliest stages and focuses on classic short stories. I have a PhD in English literature and taught literary analysis for nearly a decade before leaving academia, so I could probably help if I knew more of what, exactly, you are hoping to do. What books do you have in mind? I am working though my short stories book with DS12, but until this point, we have just read a lot of different types of stories and poems and talked about them, focusing primarily on character (who is the main character? What does he/she want more than anything (gives rise to plot)? Why does he/she want it (gives rise to conflict)? Does he/she succeed (climax)? What are the consequences (resolution)? What role do other characters play? and so on). I think that finding themes (i.e. thematic statements, not motifs) is really the heart of literary analysis, and kids need some life behind them before they can really see and articulate fully the larger issues in a story that has enough depth for sustained literary analysis (not stories written for young readers where the messages are often overt and heavy handed).
  6. Yes, this is our situation exactly. It is too bad we live so far apart -- if you take out board games and add in music, our DSs would have the same list of interests.
  7. You might check out The Scarlet Pimpernel, too. I never see it recommended, but it is very good -- I think it might be more generally appealing to high school kids than A Tale of Two Cities. If you aren't familiar with it, here's the summary from Amazon: The year is 1792. The French Revolution, driven to excess by its own triumph, has turned into a reign of terror. Daily, tumbrels bearing new victims to the guillotine roll over the cobbled streets of Paris.… Thus the stage is set for one of the most enthralling novels of historical adventure ever written. The mysterious figure known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, sworn to rescue helpless men, women, and children from their doom; his implacable foe, the French agent Chauvelin, relentlessly hunting him down; and lovely Marguerite Blakeney, a beautiful French exile married to an English lord and caught in a terrible conflict of loyalties—all play their parts in a suspenseful tale that ranges from the squalid slums of Paris to the aristocratic salons of London, from intrigue on a great English country estate to the final denouement on the cliffs of the French coast.
  8. In pother posts, you have indicated that your DS has made huge strides in his writing abilities. Perhaps it is possible that he has stepped back in his reading (which you say is also hard for him) in order to make that transition possible. Perhaps he just needs more time to level out/settle into his new normal? In any case, I think your idea of sort of "inviting" him back to more complex literature is a good one.
  9. I think I'm a little lost as to exactly what parameters you are looking for, but here are a few other non-depressing, substantive novels Bleak House (which, despite its title, is not bleak. It is long, though, and also my favorite Dickens novel. I have read them all, except the Pickwick Papers, which I couldn't get through) Autobiography of Ben Franklin Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Set during the plague years in England, so it is not exactly uplifting, but I think her world building is great -- a very vivid depiction of day-to-day life in medieval England) Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin I think that Mansfield Park, of all of Austin's novels has the most social commentary, though you might also try North and South by Gaskell. The Prince, by Machiavelli (not a novel, but definitely substantive) Dubliners by James Joyce (short stories, but very good ones) Gulliver's Travels (Swift) The Scarlet Pimpernel (this is a great audio book) His Dark Materials series (Pullman) You said you are looking for longer, substantive novels, but plays might be good to consider too -- Death of a Salesman, A Raisin in the Sun, A Streetcar Named Desire, Our Town, The Crucible, 'Night Mother, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Long Day's Journey into Night, and so on.
  10. This is all really helpful, even if it just makes me feel less crazy or alone in this challenge. We are already driving 2-3 days a week to the next city over for music lessons, and we might end up moving there, but it is kind of a lateral move overall. DS is firmly in middle school now, and DD is nearly there, so finding a community of some sort seems acute, and more challenging than ever. I suspect DS's situation will be similar to Lewelma's -- he will find connection, but not here. Thank you for sharing your son's story -- I find all of these details you share to be both encouraging and reassuring.
  11. I appreciate the perspectives. It pretty much confirms what we have suspected, and we just have to decide on the trade offs: spend 3-4 times as much on housing/taxes, spend more time in the car, or spend more money and time on workshops/camps.
  12. In the "If Money Were No Object" post below, Dmmetler said that she would have moved to a bigger city to meet the social and emotional needs of her DD. Is that all there is to it? Has anyone successfully figured out how to meet their PG kids' social and emotional needs in a smaller city (apart from on-line classes or summer camps)? If so, what is the secret? Is the higher COL in a big city worth it (even if you don't want tons and tons of activities -- just a few select, well-suited ones)?
  13. I was just looking on my shelf and thought this book (Twelve Assignments Every Middle School Student Should Write) might work for you too. It is written for classroom use, but still rather open-and-go, and very easily adaptable to a homeschool environment. I've never seen it recommended here, but it is quite good -- not a curriculum, but more of a guide, though one that does not require a lot of planning, apart from setting aside the time.
  14. So what do you think you might use for your daughter? Mine is the same -- very mathy, very strong intuitive sense, loves the BA puzzles, but has none of the deep drive of my DS, who is thriving with AOPS.
  15. If he likes creative writing, you might check out the Pirate's Guide to the Grammar of Story. My kids (9&11) are enjoying it, though we only do it about once a week and kind of make it our own, so to speak. Most of the writing is in the form of lists, and it is completely open-and-go/anyone could pick it up to do with him. For some of topics, there are LOTS of lists (too many), but we move on when the kids get the idea. It covers many different aspects of fiction, which are also useful when talking about literature (i.e. one activity has you list objects, and then make those objects significant for one reason or another, which we then used to talk about Harry Potter and significant objects in that story, or Mrs. Frisby and significant objects in that story and so on).
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