Monday, September 17, 2012

Young Explorers - Block 1 Day 3

Howdy howdy!
We were rowdy today in YE. We spent most of the morning outside since it was just. so. glorious.  Here's what we did today.

1. Icebreaker
This morning, I invited any child who wanted to share something interesting they did over the past week. However, I asked them to stand up beside me, in front of the group, and do their telling. This is just a baby step towards being comfortable with public speaking, and most everybody took part :).
 I am so proud to see them display courage! One child who initially said they weren't ready to speak actually did stand up at the end and gave a little speech. Awesome!

2. 7 Habits of Happy Kids - Habit #3 - "Put First Things First. Work first, then play."
Before we even formally began our morning, some of the children were already asking if we were going to do another habit today! In today's habit, Pokey the Porcupine learned the hard way that you should study for a spelling test well in advance instead of pursuing playtime. We talked about the word "procrastination," (hey everyone I've never even heard of that word, honest haha!) and what it means. We shared what our most important responsibilities are at home, and talked about what it feels like to just do your job rather than put it off and put it off. We shared what it feels like to wake up in a clean room versus a messy room and asked WHY it feels so good to be in a clean orderly place. You might want to ask your kids WHY. I would suggest that our God is a God of order, so it only makes sense that we feel better when things are in order, no? (We did not discuss this last sentence - I leave that to let your kids discover for themselves with you).

3. Poetry - "The Mischievous Dog."
This is just a cute nonsense poem with pleasant rhyme, written by Dylan Thomas when he was 11 years old. I didn't share the title with the kids at first, and asked them to guess "who" was speaking in the poem. Enjoy!

The Song of the Mischievous Dog
by Dylan Thomas

There are many who say that a dog has its day, 
And a cat  has a number of lives;
There are others who think that a lobster is pink,
And that bees never work in their hives. 
There are fewer, of course, who insist that a horse
Has a horn and two humps on its head,
And a fellow who jests that a mare can build nests
Is as rare as a donkey that's red. 
Yet in spite of all this, I have moments of bliss,
For I cherish a passion for bones,
And though doubtful of biscuit, I'm willing to risk it,
And I love to chase rabbits and stones.
But my greatest delight is to take a good bite
At a calf that is plump and delicious;
And if I indulge in a bite at a bulge,
Let's hope you won't think me too vicious.

4. Living Math - Shadows, Value Scales & Thales
With the weather forecast looking so good, we needed to take advantage of it! We did sidewalk-chalk living math outside, based on a lesson from Family Math.  We did two things: first we explored shadows by tracing our feet, then measuring the length of our shadows from those same footprints every half hour. It was a sunny day; perfect for this activity. 

We wondered why those shadows kept shrinking and shifting. I asked them how this observation could be useful ... we talked about sundials and telling time and making those connections. Then I told them the story of Thales and the pyramids - rumor has it he was visiting the pyramids and asked his guide how tall the pyramids were but his guide didn't know - nobody knew! Thales used shadows and proportions to make the calculations. That story really came alive for them today!

Second - we drew out a number line in chalk, marking spaces from 0 to 10. We discussed the concept of "values" scales - tell me on a scale of 0 to 10 how much you like pizza.  Or, if 0 is no and 10 is yes, do you like pizza and pop? The entire group hopped around the values scale as I asked them questions. Then, I let each child take a turn asking a question and analyzing the results. They could tell if something was "popular" or not. Onions are all over the board, and mushrooms are not popular at all. We discussed how researchers can design questionaires to gain information this way, and even hospitals use this type of question to help describe the severity of your pain. It was interesting to see the wheels turn as the kids actually had to "analyze" and "describe" their results. One child looked at me and said "THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!"

5. Socratic Discussion: The Proud Grain of Wheat by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is a short story about two grains of wheat in a sack - one is proud but the other spends her time thinking and learning and is modest and humble. We follow each grain of wheat as they get sown into the ground, become blades, then crowns of wheat, ears, are threshed, etc. At each step, the proud grain of wheat thinks she is better than all the rest and makes whatever situation she is in seem very high indeed. Well, you can guess what eventually happens to the grain of wheat ... We will be discussing the virtues of humility in greater depth tomorrow.  We enjoyed this story outside while eating our snack; I - a lovely red apple. Ahem.

6. Picture Study - Van Gogh
It seemed appropriate to study "The Sower" (one of his many versions) and "Stacks of Wheat." He has many many wheat field portrayals. Today we did the normal study then hide the picture - then ask the kids questions. But we took it a step further and I asked for volunteers to actually try a "narration" where they stand and describe everything they remember about the piece and that worked really well.

We viewed art right after reading the Proud Grain of Wheat, in which there was a sower. When I told the kids this picture was called "The Sower (with Arles in Background), there were several "a-ha's" as they were able to visualize what a "sower" actually does and might look like. 

Stacks of Wheat. Some kids thought they looked like volcanoes. I guess when you don't see this in today's age, it must look very strange!

7. Composer - Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata - First Movement
We noted how sad and solemn and quiet the piece sounds. And how very famous it is.  This piece is "easy" to play in terms of the notes, but it is very difficult to play properly, with the right technique - most people butcher it (especially me!), but its complexity is found in its simplicity.  We listened to this version of the 1st Movement on You Tube.  But if you are at home with a few minutes to spare, consider comparing it to Wilhelm Klempff's version - hear the difference?  I am in awe at how the kids really listen and seem to thoughtfully consider the music they hear - by their comments, you can tell their hearts are made for this beauty felt in music. 

8. End with Read-Aloud - Wolves of Willoughby Chase
We wrapped up the last ten minutes of class with another chapter of Wolves. Earlier in the morning they asked if we were going to read Wolves today, and were high-fiving when I said yes - and I am not surprised in the least! Read-alouds and socratic discussion are not only good for the brain, they are just so enjoyable!  That's the wonderful thing about any classic - while we have lofty goals for thinking via the classics, they most importantly fully delight our souls!!

See you all tomorrow for another great morning!

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