Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Young Explorers Block 1 - Day 2

Isn't that a creative title for this post?

Another great morning for my Young Explorers!

Before the kids went home yesterday, I encouraged them to discuss "courage" with their family at the suppertable. This morning, I asked how that went and heard all sorts of ideas about courage! Each child had an opportunity to speak if they wanted. I also asked them to share a time when they or their parent/friend displayed courage.

Icebreakers are not a waste of time even if you repeat them every class, and here is my thinking: They are an opportunity to develop confidence in speaking in front of a group of peers. What I'd like to lead up to is a morning recitation from each child - something a little more formal than a casual icebreaker - but something where they can share a passion or idea. And they are so capable of this!! After the first day yesterday, Alexa told me she was nervous to even say her name but she just "squeezed her hands together and spoke." She was very proud of herself. I want to build on that with all the kids.

Read-aloud - Habit #2 from 7 Habits of Happy Kids
The second habit featured Goob the Bear and Jumper the Rabbit. Goob sets some financial goals! He wants to buy a bug-collecting kit, a birthday present for a friend, go to a movie and put some money in the bank. He begins with the end in mind, which is Habit #2.  He and Jumper Rabbit run a lemonade stand and come into a nice little stash of cash - but Jumper blows his share on candy right away. Goob had a plan, and so was very purposeful with his money.  The story very sweetly illustrates the concept of setting goals and making plans right from the start.  The kids shared some of their experiences with how they spend money, or how they have set goals in their day-to-day lives. We talked about how you can make plans in even the small stuff, like setting out your clothes for the next day or cleaning your room.

Composer Study - Beethoven
"Who's the most famous composer you've ever heard of?" I asked them.

Gotta study Beethoven. And probably most of the children have formally studied him at some point during their homeschooling, because he is quite simply, a classic. There are lots of resources for kids, especially the widely popular book and CD "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" I have personally been to Beethoven's house in Bonn, Germany and was able to share that with the kids, showing them some of my old postcards and portraits of Ludwig the Man. I played for them Fur Elise because I knew they would recognize it. But the sonata I really wanted to share is nicknamed the "Tempest" Sonata. Its more popular at the moment because an excerpt is featured in the movie Total Recall (bad movie, don't bother, but the sonata is awesome!). I played them the motif, then we watched this You-Tube video of Wilhelm Kempff playing this famous sonata, officially called Sonata 17 in D minor (3rd movement).  We discussed that you can't just sit down and be an amazing pianist; it takes practice and you have to start from the beginning, but you CAN do it if you persevere and work hard for what you want.

Picture Study - Klimt's "Avenue of Schloss Kammer Park"

Yay, some of my artwork arrived yesterday!  The kids had amazing enthusiasm for inspecting and drinking up this beautiful print:

Living Science - Physics of Motion
I hated physics in school, but I bet I would have loved it had the concepts been explained in a more lively and interactive manner. I am really impressed, so far, with Supercharged E-Science by Aurora Lipper.  A monthly subscription gives you access to hundreds of experiments and teleclasses, which is what I'm basing all of our Living Science on. I just wish the main Supercharged website weren't so cheesy and gimmicky, with all the red and yellow flashing sales pitch and special offers. I linked you to the curriculum page which is much better and more professional, but if you sign up for emails you will receive a constant sales pitch. All that said ... Wow, its an amazing resource! And although the videos of the experiments can be played and viewed independently by your child, I'm using it as a personal resource for me to watch - then deliver to the kids in my own style.

Today we began a little physics! We demonstrated the power of force, objects in motion stay in motion while objects at rest stay at rest; gravitational force; air resistance; and centripetal force. This was fun because I swung a bucket of water in a huge circle to show that the water doesn't come splashing out.  Kind of like a roller coaster!  Then we moved on to building our own roller coasters out of foam pipe-insulation (cheap at a hardware store) and testing our designs with a marble.  The kids had to figure out how to create more velocity, how to make loops and U-turns, and well ... there was a whole lot of construction and teamwork going on.

My kids were really inspired by the roller-coasters, and Dawson (who helped us out in YE this morning), found some interesting resources for building your own paper roller-coasters.:

Read-Aloud and More Socratic Discussion - Wolves of Willoughby Chase
We spent a good hour building our roller coasters, so by that time we were ready to wrap up with some more read and discuss.  The kids were spent, I think, and were happy to settle back down on the couches for some introspection.

We read the first chapter of Wolves, where we meet the young girl Bonnie, and her new governess Miss Slighcarp. She is an evil character and the kids immediately picked up on that. Its really important to give kids a clear idea of traditional symbols in literature, where the villain is clearly portrayed as such. The first chapter also describes Bonnie's house, Willoughby Chase, as a warm and inviting building, so I asked the kids: What makes a house a home? Most all agreed that it was "family living there" that makes the distinction, but does that mean if your grandma lives alone she is not living in a "home?" It was great food for thought, and I asked them to discuss it at home with their parents.  What does make a house a home? I hope that if you carry this discussion far enough with your kids, THEY will come to the conclusion that it is LOVE and RELATIONSHIPS that make a house a home, whether one person or many persons live there, because love begins in one's heart.

And that was that!


  1. Great posts Michelle! My 2 children thoroughly enjoyed the sessions this week and have shared various things at home. They can't wait for next week!

    1. That is awesome, I'm so glad they are enjoying it! They are such a nice addition to our group :)


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