Friday, October 18, 2013

In Which Young Explorers Begins Again!

Look!  A post that actually involves homeschooling!  

Its funny, when I began this blog I was so enthusiastic about posting my thoughts on homeschooling but now, I'm reluctant. There are just soooo many ways to homeschool and it looks so different for everyone, I figure I probably don't have much to offer and I don't want to come across like you *should* do it a certain way, just because we do it that way and it works for us. Does that make sense? I mean, I like the way we do things and I found our rhythm years ago so now we just live it. And I don't write too much about it. Maybe I should? 

Anyhoo, Young Explorers is of course, the exception.  I LOVE to talk about YE because it is the epitome of creating a love of learning in a group setting. And we have begun our Fall 2013 block. This block is kind of like a unit study on France, with a focus on French cooking, because I had it in my head last March that we should travel to France. And eat a lot while we were there.

And interestingly enough, my husband recently told me he has a conference in Paris at the end of March. Like, that never happens. So ... God's plan for us to join him??? I don't know. Whatev. More on that whole travel thing later. In the meantime, I am back to reporting what our YE days look like.  We meet once a week for two hours, and this year I have limited it to five kids plus my own. Our focus is on the stories, art, science and music of France, with a special focus on French cooking!!! How fun is that???

Its very fun my friends. VERY fun.

Here's a brief rundown of what we did - primarily for the sake of my YE moms and dads :). 

We began with an icebreaker: Where have you travelled? Have you travelled outside the country before? I made it clear that the icebreaker was optional because some kids are shy but all the kids participated, even my 3yo Katie. I must say, the difference between Alexa last year being quite afraid to do an icebreaker, to this year where she can speak freely and easily - was remarkable. And for your kids too, YE moms & dads. 

Next, we dove in by introducing the whole concept of France, where it is on the globe, that its on its own continent, that it has a capital city (Paris), and so on. We watched several video clips throughout the morning, including a video of landing by plane in Paris, some snippets of beautiful places and castles in France, and we followed a young boy into the Louvre museum to see one of the most famous paintings in the world - the Mona Lisa.  I felt all this "introductory" stuff really sets the stage for our work in this block.

We read this wonderful 1959 classic which captures beautifully the essence of Paris in a charming and humorous manner: This is Paris by Miroslav Sask.

For our art picture study, well, we did the Mona Lisa. Most of the kids knew about her, but it seemed appropriate since she is the most visited girl in the Louvre. When we watched the video clip the girls were kind of surprised  at how small the painting was but really its just that she was surrounded by crowds of people in the room with high ceilings. Right?  Later, alone with my own kids, we read the story of the Italian man who actually stole her from the Louvre. Have you heard about it? Wonderful fun book, from the perspective of Mona, called The Mona Lisa Caper.

By this time in the morning, we were ready to get cooking. We talked about how it was going to work - I set up my kitchen so that there were 3 stations, each with its own mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc ready to go for the girls to work in pairs. We began our French cooking with making crepes!  It was a great success. I let the girls do it all themselves, including the cracking of the eggs - and my oldest daughter and I each supervised a pan at the stovetop. I'm always a little leery of kids getting burned but we were ultra-careful and one girl exclaimed that this was a "recipe that we can REALLY make all by ourselves!" Including my almost 3 yo:

We also watched a little video snippet of a Crepe stand at the Eiffel Tower, its really interesting how they make those yummy crepes!!!

This has revived my love of Nutella. Oh no.

Clean-up is part of cooking. Sadly. But these girls were all pro's at it. Good job mommas!

So proud of her crepe. And guess what we had to have for breakfast today? Uh-hum. They were delish.

Overall, our first morning of Young Explorers was a great deal of fun. I didn't cover some of the material I had planned - such as listening to the French national anthem - but it was hard to gauge how long to allow for the cooking and I didn't want to cut that part short.

I hope your little girls enjoyed our time together - I know that Alexa is all excited about France in general, and has spent more time playing with the globe than I've ever seen before - figuring out where different countries are. Its awesome to see a little fire lit in a 7-year old.

Till next time, au revoir!!!


  1. Wow, that looks like some crazy (and busy!) fun. We were in Paris last fall, I hope you get to go!! I must look for those books you used, they look great.

    And I hear you about posting on the subject of homeschooling. I was a total lurker in the online homeschool community for years. It wasn't until I started quilting that I joined the "conversation" online. It seemed a lot safer there, and less controversial than in homeschooling circles, lol!

    1. Carla - Hi! The "sewing" conversation is always uplifting to me because everyone is generally soooo supportive of each other's creative journey. Why not for homeschooling? I mean, both are creative journeys of sorts, we are attached to "methods" in both areas, no? There just seems to be more overt competition maybe in homeschooling? I don't know.

      And did your whole family go to Paris? I'd love to hear about it.

  2. Hi Michelle! Sorry I missed your reply until now. It was only my husband and I plus our two eldest (15 and 17) who went to Paris. It was a wonderful time!


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