Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nim, Catapults and Tolkien - This Week in Young Explorers

Wow, what a whirlwind week! We had two full mornings with YE this week; I had some shopping to do for a Xmas party; my hubby was away all week; extra practices for show choir ... so I'm a bit exhausted and this post is a bit late but its ALL good! Ha!

Here are some highlights from our week.

Icebreakers and Oh Canada continue to be a big hit with the kids and they are getting better at both! I taught them some basic "conducting" and we all conduct ourselves during Oh Canada. And I have to laugh because Alexa is singing our national anthem all the time. What kid does that?

Socratic Discussion
We have dived into Tolkien's short (but long) story, Farmer Giles of Ham, which we will finish next week. This is an AWESOME story to discuss the topic of what is a hero, in literature and in real life.  Throughout reading this story, I keep hearing comments from the peanut gallery such as, "I can't believe Tolkien wrote this!" These kids are all familiar with The Hobbit, and LOTR, and all of Tolkien's elements (dragons, knights, giants, and lots of dry humor) are present. Yet, they didn't expect that he wrote short stories too.  I have A nice little collection on my handy dandy kindle but I think you can probably find the stories free on Gutenburg.

Something that worked quite well this week during socratic discussion was to get the kids sitting around the table, give them a pencil and a piece of paper, and let them sketch while I read. I think many of us homeschooling moms let the kids play quietly during a read-aloud, and so why not here too?  Normally we sit on the couches and while that is cozy and heartwarming and all that, the kids can get fidgety.  The tables were set up for science anyway, and so now I'll keep this practice going forward.

Composer - William Tell Overture by Rossini
Can you picture the bow and arrow as you stand with the apple on your head? Great music, great opera and very fun story about a Swiss hero who was such an expert with the bow and arrow he could shoot an apple off his son's head. Yup.  You can hear this piece and learn more about Rossini over here at Classics for Kids.

Living Math
We focused on logic puzzles/brain teasers in our living math this week and the kids LOVED it.  I used this book as my inspiration.

Have you heard of the classic game of Nim? There are many variations. We used the version for two players where you set up 16 toothpicks in rows - the first row has one pick, the second row has 3 picks, the third row has 5 picks, and the last row has 7 toothpicks. You can use buttons, beans, whatever you have on hand.  The object of the game is to NOT be the one to pick up the very last toothpick. Each player takes turns picking up as many or as little toothpicks as he wants, but you can only take from one row at a turn.  You can pick up an entire row on your turn if you want.  First, I had the kids play against me to get the hang of the game, then I turned them loose.  I found this was a game all ages could play and enjoy.  There is strategy involved, and I'd encourage your kids to keep playing it in order to figure out the pattern to win.

From there, we moved on to similar logic games using a "gameboard" of 16 dots placed in a 4x4 square.  The first game, take turns linking two dots either vertically or horizontally. You can only link 2 dots together, and then you can't touch those dots anymore. The goal of the game is to NOT be the one with no dots left to link.

Using the same 4x4 dot gameboard, two players can play "Up and Over." The game starts in the lower left corner, and to win you need to get to the upper righthand corner.  The players take turns joining dots either vertically or horizontally, as many dots as they want but ONLY vertical OR horizontally at a turn. You win if you are the person to reach the upper righthand dot.

Logic puzzles and brainteasers are an important part of a math education, yet somehow it feels like cheating because they are just so fun. You can find some great puzzles at Archimedes' Lab. You can also play the computer at Nim, but I will forewarn you its highly addictive and the computer always wins. They even explain why :)

Living Science
We continue our love of all things physics.  Building upon our study of motion, we learned all about catapults and then built our own out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, plastic spoons and clothespins.  I was glad to have my son to help us out with this project!  You can find a ton of catapult instructions online, but I was happy to have the whole package from Supercharged Science, our escience program.

And that's a wrap.  We didn't make it to an art picture study because the science was quite intensive this week, but not to worry, we will be back at it next week.  Next week also marks the LAST DAY of Block 2.  I love wrapping up school-y stuff in order to slow down (a bit) for Advent.  The big kids do have some online classes well into December, but for the little girls it means a nice change of pace.  Looking so forward to it!

Have a lovely weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you! Let's talk!