We are officially halfway through Block 1 - the "pilot" block of community homeschool! Here's what we did today.
Today's icebreaker was a blast! First off, I was very excited about showing our new artwork for picture study, so I asked if anyone was thirsty ... if anyone needed to "drink" something ... with their "eyes." We talked about how we can enjoy a feast for our eyes, and artwork falls into that category. The icebreaker then, before viewing the art (had to leave them in suspense), was to stand up in front and tell the group what they like to feast their eyes on. Oh, they were so sweet.
"I like to feast my eyes on nature."
"I like to feast my eyes on Jesus." (at least two kids)
"I like to feast my eyes on food."
"I like to feast my eyes on fall colors." (there were lots of these)
2. 7 Habits of Happy Kids - Habit #4 - Always Try for a Win-Win Situation
This was an interesting story of Lily Skunk who wanted a garden, but her mom was reluctant as she imagined she would end up doing all the work in the end. Poor little Lily. She could have pouted (Lose-Win), she could have defied her mom and planted a garden anyway (Win-Lose), but instead she wrote a letter to her mom outlining exactly how she would be responsible for the work of the garden. Her mom agreed (Win-Win). We discussed different situations and how we always have a choice in how we react. We should try to make choices where everyone can benefit if possible - like if you're fighting over a toy with your sibling, try to find a solution where you and your sibling can "win."
3. Picture Study
Ah, more Van Gogh, and can you really get enough? I showed the kids a large, framed print of "Sidewalk Cafe at Night," and we all studied it for awhile then the kids were invited to try a narration. I think because I was so hyped up about showing them this art, THEY were also really hyped up about viewing it. We counted the number of people, the number of tables, and wondered what the people in the cafe were eating :). Later in the day, Alexa was inspired to pull out the Van Gogh coloring book, and as we speak she is describing Van Gogh's Starry Night to her dad.
And this is the real cafe! Its now called Cafe Van Gogh:
I should mention that right now, we are focusing on just viewing and enjoying the art - we don't delve too much into analyzing paint strokes and such. But as they see more of the same artist, they are able to intuitively recognize the style of an artist. I think that is the magic of exploring art in this way - we don't reduce it to technical aspects. Van Gogh never did.
The poem today was a short one, a famous one, by Christina Rosetti: Who Has Seen the Wind? I challenged the kids to memorize this selection, if they like, and recite it to the group next week.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
5. Living Science: Forces and BridgesWe are still exploring physics and force - this time we talked about forces of nature (wind, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc) and how engineers have to consider these forces when designing buildings and bridges. We made our own buildings and bridges today, after a little demonstration. First, we propped up an index card on top of two blocks and put some "clay" people on top - watched them fall. Not a strong bridge. But when we turn that index card into an arch and place between two blocks, it holds more clay people. And when you add a foundation (clay), its even stronger. We also explored a pleated index card and noticed this is also a very strong shape. Who knows what common material uses a pleat to make it strong? Anyone say cardboard? In fact, if you look at a torn piece of cardboard you will notice the paper pleat. So ... the concept is that you can use the same materials in different ways to make them more functional.
Using blocks, index cards, modelling clay, straw and paper clips, the kids went to work designing and building. They split themselves up into a few groups, with the girls all going together and even naming themselves: The Scientific Thunder Tower Girls. Or something like that. The girls built all sorts of details into their bridge - including a boat for under the bridge, a lamp-pole to light the bridge, lovely little clay people and even a clay snake sauntering over the bridge - it was so cute. The boys formed several groups and were more concerned with making a strong foundation and building very masculine structures. Ah, the difference between men and women :)
A great pleated-over-arch bridge!
Not a bridge ... but you just can't interrupt that creative process!
Check out the green snake!
A great jumping point from this physics lesson is Usborne's Flap Book on Famous Buildings. We viewed the page with the Eiffel Tower, noting how the foundational substructure deep in the ground allows the tower to withstand a lot of force! Alexa got into this book later in the afternoon :).
If you want to try more of this at home, check out File Card Bridges over at the Exploratorium. Great fun!
6. Socratic Discussion
We continued our discussion about the Proud Grain of Wheat from yesterday and compared the proud grain with the more humble and learned grain. The kids focused on the learned grain and I asked them how he became so smart. The story says the humble grain of wheat spent more of his time thinking rather than talking. Does "thinking" make you wise? What is wisdom anyway, and how do you get it? Someone said you just have to think. Tee hee, so we all spent a few seconds "thinking" and found out that really didn't work. I'll let you pursue this discussion about wisdom at home, but I would suggest that a great place to start would be the Bible, especially the story of Solomon and the book of Proverbs. Would be a great jumping point!
7. Read-Aloud: Wolves of Willoughby Chase
We are enjoying finishing up the morning with this exciting classic. Lots happened today - a wolf jumped into Sylvia's train compartment (crashed right through the window); we more formally met Mr. Grimshaw and all the kids believe him to be a nice gentleman (hmmm, will that pan out?); and Sylvia arrived at Willoughby Chase.
8. Handing out of the Script - The Crow and the Fox
Next week we will be branching into drama! If you check out the Block 1 Booklist you will find a link to the book of children's classics in dramatic form. Essentially, they are Aesop's fables in the form of a play. This particular play has 3 parts - Madame Crow, Miss Crow, and Master Fox. Everyone can choose which part they want to play and we'll just take turns acting it out in groups of three. The kids can read right off the script or memorize their part if they wish. Performing is fun! We will also discuss this fable socratically :)
9. Composer Study
I had hoped to listen to Beethoven's (Pathetique) Sonata 8 in C Minor but it wouldn't load for me at the time so we will do it next week. This sonata is one of my personal favorites; the Rondo movement was my go-to piano piece back in the day, and you will all recognize the second movement by the song "Midnight Blue" by Bonnie Rait I think? Midnight blue, so lonely without you ... If you're game, check out Wilhelm Kempff's Pathetique here for the second movement, and here for the FANTABULOUS 3rd movement, the Rondo.
And finally, a word about how its going for me. As this is the half-way mark, I can make some small assessments. This is what I know for sure:
* The kids are engaged, ready to be inspired, and truly NEED to have their buckets filled with good things.
* They really CAN learn to "think" via socratic method if you allow it to happen naturally. I've witnessed that in only 4 classes.
* If YOU are excited, its contagious. And that excitement doesn't seem to end when class ends.
* They REALLY need a mid-morning break of physical activity. LOL!
* My Maria is a loose canon. Sometimes I feel discouraged :(
* I love it all - the talented kids, the LOVE they seem to have of learning, the material we expose ourselves to :).
Have a great week and God bless!