Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Young Explorers - French Edition Two for One


I'm sheepishly saying bonjour.


I haven't really kept up posting what our Young Explorers have been doing - what with Halloween and All Saints and Sewing Sewing Sewing ... I also find that having YE on Thursdays makes it less conducive
to posting right away. Right after the YE kids leave, I get ready to teach my highschoolers a math class and prepare for my biology class the next day. Then I have a couple hours to rejuvenate, tidy up, and make supper before taking the big kids to choir ... well, its just really busy on the homeschooling front as usual and as it should be.

But anyhow, bonjour!

Let me update you on our adventures from the last couple of YE classes. Here is the quick and dirty!!

1. Icebreaker
We usually do a little go around telling the group something interesting, like what we are reading right now, or where we have travelled, that sort of thing. It only takes a few minutes but it gives the kids to practice public speaking in a really safe environment. I love that. So do they.

2. Socratic Core
We have done a couple of read-alouds where we have asked the big and lofty questions of these little children :). Last week, we chose a French folk tale and would you believe it was Puss in Boots. Now, we all know that story, but have you ever approached it socratically? If not, I'd suggest doing so! In this story, three sons inherit something when their father dies. Two sons do "well" but the third inherits the family cat. Turns out the cat is very clever on behalf of his master - he uses deceit, dishonesty, coersion, burglary/theft and even murder (eating an ogre who he's tricked into becoming a mouse) to make his master a wealthy husband to the princess. And the kids were ok with it all!! There are so many interesting themes to pursue with this story. Is it ok to obtain all those things through trickery? Did the princess marry this man because of his so-called wealth? What will their marriage be like? And so on. Have another look at this story with your children, people, it really is a fun one.

Last week, we did another French folktale called Quackling also known as Drakestail. In this story, a wealthy duck lends money to a king, who fails to pay him back. Quackling decides to go back to the king and ask for his money, and on the way meets and brings friends along (a ladder, a river, and a beehive), for you can "never have too many friends." Of course the king doesn't want to pay up; he tries to do away with Quackling, but Quackling's friends come to the rescue. The king runs away after being chased by the beehive and Quackling becomes the new king.  This story provided a lot of discussion about not being selfish (sharing your wealth), paying back debts, and being open to friendships. Cute little French tale.

3. Artist and Picture Study
Last week we studied Degas. He was born in Paris and is famous for painting ballet dancers, in an Impressionist style. I brought back a large poster of 
The Dance Class from NYC - we enjoyed studying and discussing it for several minutes before turning around and seeing what we remembered:

You can download this coloring page right here, as well as other famous artist/paintings to color.

This week, we studied another French artist, Matisse. Oh, I love Matisse. If you have been in my house, you have seen the painting that greets you when you walk into my house. Matisse was a contemporary of Picasso, and the two are considered the greatest artists of the 20th century. We studied the painting I have but alas, I cannot find it online to give you a link! But rest assured, its not the naked dancing people.

We read a cute storybook called "When Pigasso met Mootisse," which tells the story of their initial rivalry and then friendship. It provided some very fruitful discussion about friendship and competition. 

4. Music and Composer
We played the French national anthem, which is incredibly nationalistic and but was written during battle times ... so its really weird ... and all about fighting. 

We also heard from Chopin. Chopin was born in Poland and considered himself a Polish composer, but the fact is he was exiled to and remained in France from the age of 20 until his death. His music is rather haunting, actually, and one of my favorites. We listened to Chopin's Valse in C# Minor and listened for the repeating motifs.

5. Baking - the Fun Stuff!
Over the past few weeks we have had a great time in the kitchen.  Two week ago, our project was simple - Cinnamon Orange French Toast. It provided the girls with lots of opportunity to crack eggs! That's a skill most of us moms would rather do ourselves than let the little ones "play" at, but hey, go ahead and do it every now and then, because practice is the only way to get comfortable with it. 

Then, last week, we dove into Creme Brulee. This is a fantastic opportunity to practice separating egg white from the yolk - the trick is to play teeter-totter with them going back from one half-shell to the other. 

This recipe is a bit time-intensive because it needs to bake long enough to not be too jiggly, then cool long enough to set. I had tested this recipe for time and it looked like it would be fine. But ... we could have used more cooling time because when we sampled our product some of them were still too jiggly. They sure tasted good though (to most of us)!

Well, I think I've updated the last two weeks and I'm ready for another class tomorrow morning! We are making pain du chocolat - another French classic - and of course anything with chocolate is going to be good.

Au revoir!! A bien tôt!

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