Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Inchcape Rock, Balloon Racers and Stubborn Husbands - Young Explorers

Good day dear friends! Can you believe we are almost finished block 3 of YE? Only one more day left in this session! Here's a recap of what we did today.

1. Icebreaker
We each thought of a one-word topic, similar to table topics, but in this case you gave your topic to the person on your left.  The topics the kids came up with? Aliens, flowers, pigs, Kate's dirty diaper, toilets (but Maria interpreted that as tulips), dollhouses, and apples. Diverse! Happy to report that most of the kids are making it to the 30 second mark easily, so that's a huge success!

2. Socratic Discussion - Stubborn Husband, Stubborn Wife
This is a cute Persian folktale about a husband and wife who can't stop arguing, and make a wager that whoever speaks first has to feed the calf from now on. The wife goes out for the day while the husband sits on the bench outside, as he usually does (somewhat lazy!). While he's sitting, several people come by - a beggar, a barber, a lady peddling cosmetics, and a thief. The husband thinks each person is really being paid by his wife to make the husband speak first, so he doesn't utter a word to any of these visitors, who then take advantage of him. They think he's a deaf-mute. The guy ends up losing all his food, hair and beard, being mistaken for a woman and given a make-over of sorts, and finally the thief takes all their valuables from inside the house.  Next week we're going to discuss this story in more detail ...

3. Poetry - Robert Southey's Inchcape Rock
This poem is totally cool. It generates discussion on justice and what it is, who doles out justice, is justice always served? This poem is a favorite of my homeschool facilitator. We were discussing the YE program and the poetry aspect at our last meeting. How its important to just let the kids love it (poetry). And so we pick our poems accordingly - poems that capture the kids' attention somehow. Sometimes its funny, other times its the story behind the poem that captivates them. Other times still, its the story in the poem itself. That's the case here! 

There is a famous reef off the coast of Scotland, where sits Bell Rock Lighthouse.  Its called Bell Rock because the Abbot of Aberbrothok installed a bell to warn sailors of the surrounding   shallow and dangerous reef, especially important when the waters surged and hid the rock completely from sight.  In the poem, Ralph the Rover (translation - wicked sailor) cuts off the bell.  Justice is served though, when eventually he himself perishes at the hands of the bell-less rock. This is real Inchcape/Bell Rock, where they've built a lighthouse:

And a short excerpt to get a feel for the rhythm and rhyme:

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, "My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I'll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.

The boat is lower'd, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.

and later in the poem:

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

Read the entire poem here, on the Bellrock website. And, as always, I use my discretion to sensor out an offensive word here and there :).

4. Composer - Mozart's Sonata in C, (K545).
Wonderful. Who doesn't love Mozart? Did you know he only lived till he was 35? 

5. Art - Andy Warhol
I know I know. 
But he is just so darn interesting!! 
Andy Warhol is considered the father of pop art - a movement that looks at relationships between art, celebrity, and advertising. Makes icons out of icons, and leaves us to think and consider what this says about our culture. I showed the kids various items from a "Pop Art Box" I picked up at a Warhol exhibition. We talked a bit about his life and how he took some of those everyday "American" items, like the Campbells Soup Can, or a famous celebrity image, like Elvis or Marilyn Munro, and basically immortalized them.  He also became one of the first to experiment with mass-producing art - for example he silkscreened Marilyn Munro's public image multiple times, but each with different color representation, and did this in the same month she died. All of this made him highly controversial! I wonder if Van Gogh or Monet would be horrified. Then again, Van Gogh was not appreciated for his painting methodology at the time either, and Monet rocked his world by painting out of doors. Now, let's be clear, I personally cannot equate Warhol with Van Gogh or Monet. I think there is something divinely beautiful in the work of the masters of old, that somehow doesn't equate with pop art. But art is also defined by how we, the viewers, react, and in that respect Warhol is an artist worth studying.

We took headshots of the kids today, because next week we are going to be using them to make our own pop-style images, like Warhol's Marilyns.  

6. Living Science - Balloon Racers
We wrapped up our living science for the year with Newton's third law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.  Balloon racers - balloon-powered cars - rely on this third law, because as the air of the balloon streams out, it pushes the racer forward in the opposite direction.  We used the methods from  E-Science which I absolutely love, but you can make something very similar here.  We used popsicle sticks as our chassis, stiff cardboard for wheels and a clothespin to hold the balloon. Some of them were flying off the table! It was a great hands-on project that the kids really enjoyed.

And that's it that's all folks! Have a great day and swing by again soon.

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