Monday, September 10, 2012

The First Day - Young Explorers Block 1


This morning was our first morning of Young Explorers, the community homeschool program I'm currently piloting.  For the benefit of the parents, and for those of you who might be interested in forming a "Love of Learning" group of your own, here is a rundown of the morning.

The group is a good size - we have eight children ages 6-10, plus my own littles.  If  you do a larger group you will need another helper :).

I asked the children what an icebreaker was, and they gave me definitions involving types of machines in the arctic that break the ice for boats to go through LOL! They were right! And from there it was an easy leap to the concept of "breaking the ice" and getting to know one another better.  Our icebreaker was easy - say your name and tell us something about yourself, and we will all guess if that "something" was true or false. I had lots of interesting factoids, mostly involving wildlife. Some have seen penguins, bears, coyotes, wild turkeys and polar bears.  That was fun and got the kids warmed up.

Read-Aloud #1 - from the Seven Habits of Happy Kids
We read and discussed the first habit - where Sammy the Squirrel is "bored" and looks to each of his friends to entertain him  or suggest something to do. In the end, Sammy finds out that he can use his talents (he likes to fix old things like radios, phones, etc), to make someone else feel better (Allie the mouse was sick in bed). Sammy fixes an old radio and wraps it in a ribbon for Allie. Each of us shared what our passions and talents were and how we can use them to brighten someone else's day.  I had to laugh because one child's passion was eating! T'was good. The icebreaker and story took a good half-hour.

Living Math - Mobius Strips

By this time, the kids needed to move so it was perfect to switch to some hands-on Living Math.  Today we explored Mobius strips - they are super-cool! First, I read a little blurb about Mr. Mobius, found in Famous Problems and their Mathematicians.  Mobius had retired from a long career in math and astronomy, and was on vacation with his wife. They were in a cabin with no windows and flying insects were a problem. He tried hanging flypaper from the ceiling, but alas, Mr. Mobius is a tall guy and kept running into the flypaper. To make it shorter and more effective, rather than making a simple loop, Mobius twisted one end of the flypaper before making a loop. And he was amazed by its properties - as were we :). He started an entire new branch of mathematics! (Incidentally, there is also a Mobius-type bottle which might be fun for you to google and explore with your children).

So we explored Mobius strips. First we made a simple ring using adding-machine paper and tape, and chatted about it. It has an inside surface and an outside surface. It has two distinct edges. We cut it in half lengthwise around the loop and it formed two new and separate circles.  So far so good.

Then, we each made a Mobius strip and tested its properties. We drew a line down the middle and put our scissors to work, with interesting results!!

Some ended up with two new linked Mobius strips and some ended up with one big Mobius strip. Most of all, the kids wanted to keep going and keep cutting down the center of each new strip that evolved, to see what would happen.

And that's the idea, isn't it? To inspire them to be curious! One child said she couldn't wait to get home and make more strips to see how far she could take it :).  And after everyone left for the day, Alexa was busy making more strips as was my 12yo.

Break and Snack
We had spent a good 45 minutes at Living Math. And by that time, we were ready for a break. We took our snacks and headed outdoors. The kids REALLY needed this time to expend energy, and it was a beautiful day. We had a good 15 minutes of outdoor time and that was time well spent.

Power Hour and More Socratic
We moved right into our art picture study. Since my large poster-sized prints had not yet arrived, I had to use pictures out of my art books, which was hard with a large group! We set a sand-timer and I instructed everyone to examine the painting closely until the sand ran out, then I hid the picture and quizzed them on what they saw. We did this for several Monets - and they seemed to really enjoy this.

We read and discussed Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken.  First, I read it like a narration with no artistic pauses at the end of each line or verse so it didn't read as a poem at all. Then I read it like a poem - to illustrate to the kids firsthand how a poem is different and stylized and how its much more pleasurable to listen to as a poem. We discussed the meaning of the poem. I had to laugh in my head, as one child said there were two paths you could take in life - one is getting pierced and tattooed and the other is doing the right thing and being a good person LOL. You got it!!

Finally, we read Samba the Coward, from The Olive Fairy Book (free on Kindle!!). GREAT STORY!!! We laughed, we cried, we almost died. Seriously, we had so much fun reading this. ALL the kids were totally engaged. And we tackled the concept of courage, cowardice, and bravery.  Kids are so smart. They came to their own conclusions Socratic style. Are we born with courage? How do we get it? What IS it exactly? Its so funny to hear their thoughts on courage before reading the story versus after. Most importantly, provide time for your kids to THINK about these concepts.  If never given the opportunity ....

So there you have it - in a nutshell! Day 1 a total success.  We meet again tomorrow, this time the focus will be Living Science instead of math; all else will be similar to today.

God bless your week!!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds Great! The boys seemed to enjoy themselves and I can't wait to join in tomorrow to see first hand the things they talked about. Blogging about it really helps give me ideas to get them talking about what they did on days I can't be there.


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