Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back in the homeschool classroom: Autumn

I had the pleasure of educating my children at home for sixteen years until they both graduated from home school high school. One graduated from James Madison University with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing, and the other graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a double degree in Business and Marketing.

Autumn was one of our favorite times of the year and we would decorate the house with hand-made pumpkins, ghosts, and leaves. Outside we would hang decorations on a small tree. Carving a pumpkin was always a special event that took place on the front porch in the cool October weather.

In the classroom, I would make a tree trunk about four feet tall and tape it to the wall, and the kids would decorate cut-out autumn leaves to put on the tree. Each day as I read out loud from a favorite book, they would decorate a few more leaves and tape them to the autumn tree.

I probably miss reading out loud with my young children more than anything else. We devoured books of all kinds and poetry. One of our favorite poets was Robert Frost and every season we would read his words describing spring, winter, fall, or summer.

My kids' favorite fall poem from Robert Frost was "The Last Word of a Bluebird (As told to a child)" ... SWAC Daughter memorized it and still recites it when prompted:
As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, "Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)

That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.

He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And wear her red hood,
And look for skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax--
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing."
In our Calvert 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum, we found a Halloween poem that became a tradition right through 12th grade. "Little Orphant Annie" was written in 1885 by James Whitcomb Riley and later inspired the "Little Orphan Annie" comic.

Even now it's fun to pull out that poem and read it out loud, complete with the rising and lowering voice and spooky overtones that I used for 16 years. It's like riding a bicycle ... one never forgets. While reading, we would all join in together at the end of each verse with, "An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you ef you don't watch out!"

This year the pumpkins are on the front porch ... the decorations are throughout the house ... but there's no fall tree on the wall or reading out loud as in the past or decorations on an outside tree put there by little hands. But I pulled out the poems today and remembered ... and read "Little Orphant Annie" out loud just as I did for so many years.

Ah, memories. Happy Fall!

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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