Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Young Explorers - Block 1, Days 5 & 6

So I had every intention of getting a recap of both days of Young Explorers, but gosh, the days have just gotten away from me! So this is more of a "week in review," which is what I'll probably switch to from now on.

1. Icebreakers
... were very casual for us - no standing in front of the group - we just shared interesting things. There were lots of visitors at your houses this weekend; lots of nanas and papas and grandmas and grandpas ... the kids enjoyed telling all about it.

2. Habit #5 from the 7 Habits of Happy Kids - "Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  Listen first, then talk."
Jumper Rabbit asked Goob to play, but Goob was not in the mood; he had lost his butterfly net. So, Jumper moved on to Tagalong Allie's house. Allie was very upset and kept saying some phrase which Jumper couldn't decipher.  Lily listened hard to Allie, not just with her ears, but with her heart and eyes, and figured out that Allie's sweater was on backwards.  This inspired Jumper to return to Goob, and really listen to why he was sad; they found the butterfly net together and all learned an important skill - a way of really listening.

3. Habit #6 - "Synergize!" In other words, use your strengths and talents to work as a team. Together you are better.
This was a cute story involving most of the Oak Street Gang.  They were playing soccer when the Big Bad Badgers came along and challenged them to a soccer game. The story describes each of the Oak Street character's strengths and how they made a big comeback to win the game by working more cohesively as a team. We had a good discussion about teamwork, which led to discussions about sports teams and being a poor loser or a good loser ... the kids had lots of interesting perspectives here. I was very touched by their general attitude of compassion towards the pouting poor sports. One sweet sixer said:
    "If someone is being a sore loser, and pouting, you should go and talk to him and make him feel better. You should tell him, "Its okay."
Then, a sevener said:
    "Everybody is going to make mistakes sometimes."

Next week we will read the last story from the Habits book. The kids are all hoping the main character is Tagalong Allie (but it is not).  I have to say, the kids have really taken to this book - maybe its the animal characters that everyone can relate to, not sure, but I highly highly recommend checking this one out of the library.

3. Socratic Discussion with Dramatic Classics for Children - The Fox and the Crow
In this fable, the Fox outsmarts Madame and Miss Crow, and gains himself a piece of cheese. Miss Crow is holding the cheese in her mouth, and Fox flatters the crows with compliments. But ... what a pity Miss Crow is unable to speak, bemoans Mr. Fox.  That's not true, replies Madame, and tells her daughter to "Caw like she has never cawed before."  To prove she can indeed speak. And out falls the cheese.

Like all fables, this one was excellent material for socratic discussion. Who is responsible for the crow losing the cheese? So the fox is sly ... but wasn't Madame Crow full of pride? Did Miss Crow also suffer from pride, or was she just super-obedient to her mother? We talked about the saying "Pride goes before the fall."

Then we acted out the play, several times so that anyone who wanted to could have a turn to play a role. The great thing about this play is that Miss Crow doesn't have any lines except to caw. This was a perfect role for our young-non-reading girls. And eventually, we were one big group acting out the play because we made it into a family of crows (Madame and her many daughters), outfoxed by several Mr.Foxes acting at once.  The kids seemed to really enjoy this activity; we kept it casual (just sat around the couch and read/acted) and also we laughed alot!

4. Picture Study
We starting to compare different artists' sunflowers; this week we looked at Monet's Sunflowers.

5. Composer
We listened to Freddy Kempf's version of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. We heard the 1st Mmvt. on Monday and the 2nd on Tuesday. I think we are all in love with the playing style of the Kempffs!  Next week, perhaps we'll listen to some symphonies as a little change from the piano sonatas.  They're just all so good.

6. Living Math - Citiblocks and Estimating
Have you ever heard of Citiblocs or Keva Blocks?

Well they are absolutely hands-down positively one of our family's favorite go-to toys that spans ALL ages! I first heard about them on the Living Math website, and happened across a couple of boxes on clearance for a steal. I don't think many people know what a goldmine they are and maybe they aren't big sellers? We have built up our collection over the past few years.  There are educational lesson plans online, citibloc galleries, and just so many possibilities.

After the kids got warmed up with building using the blocks, we used the educational lesson plan on estimating. Teams were given a basket with a specific number of blocks and asked to build either on edge, on end, or flat; they could build whatever they wanted using this guideline. Then, we estimated how many blocks were used. 

These boys were attempting the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

So proud!

Babes and toddlers love citiblocs too. This is an older pic of Maria and Kate.

7. Living Science
We are progressing through experiments about force; and today talked about gravity. We performed the classic experiment of seeing which objects touches the ground first - the heavier one (golf ball), or the lighter object (ping-pong ball).  Everyone got to try this out firsthand, after making our predictions. Some of the older kids were already familiar with the concept (good job you homeschooling moms!). However, we put a bit of a twist on the experiment when the kids were asked if the same result would happen if you throw one ball (completely horizontally and not "up") and drop the other straight down at the same time. Which will hit the ground first?

Same principle applies, my friend! Even a bullet shot directly horizontal will land at the same time as a bullet dropped straight down.  Is that cool or what. The only glitch is if you drop a feather and a hammer - the feather will not hit the ground first due to air resistance.  However, if you are on the moon, both will hit the ground at the same time - you can check out a You Tube video of an astronaut performing this experiment on the moon.

Gravity is such a neat force.  Its the only force that pulls exclusively, versus push and pull.  It accelerates every object equally (but it pulls harder on the heavier objects).  

So ... after these experiments ... the kids asked if they could have a little more time with citiblocs as they had enjoyed them so much during the living math component.

8. Poetry. POETRY!!  Was so fun this week!
We read limericks! Good clean ones!! Then we did some group composition of limericks so they could get the feel of it.  Here is a taste of what I recall we composed:

There once was a superhero from France,
Who had a really big lance,
He ran into a rock,
And got a really big chicken poc,
... and they finished this limerick with something about pooping his pants.

There were several others we composed, so have fun making up limericks with your children :)

9. Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Its getting good ... Bonnie's parents have left and Miss Slighcarp has turned even more evil - wearing Bonnie's mother's best dresses, firing the servants, selling the horses, boxing up and selling the toys, and locking Bonnie in the closet for protesting the wearing of her mother's dress.  We also met Simon, the boy who dresses in animal skins, lives in a cave in the nearby woods, raises geese and lives on chestnut-flour cakes.  Simon saves Bonnie and Sylvia from wolves. We also find out Mr. Grimshaw is in on the shenanigans ...

I'm sad to say I don't know if we will finish this book by the end of next week ... so you may have to put in a hold at the library ...

And that's a wrap!!!

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