Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beautiful in Its Time

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

Today (er, Monday, but I'll pretend I posted two nights ago) should have been a disaster. Steve came home for an extremely short visit over the weekend, leaving us bummed at how little we see him. Pamela and I began the weekend about a half a day behind schedule. In the name of masterly inactivity, we took Friday afternoon off, hoping to catch up here and there over the weekend. We did knock out some books, but we started Monday a tad behind.

I meant to wake up early to start promptly at eight o'clock. I didn't roll out of bed until eight after dreaming about accidentally putting my nature notebook in the washing machine. On top of that, I had a headache and we had to go on an errand that required an hour of driving plus an hour of running around.

We started late, already "behind." Since I don't obsess over schedules, I figured we would do what we could do with delight and no more. Pamela did her best to supply the delight. She picks the order of what we do: some days she is methodical. She usually walks her favorite route and selects books in chronological order (from ancient to modern and vice versa). Sometimes, she picks her favorite route backwards or takes a completely new one. Lately, she has preferred reading books in random order.

Today, random didn't add enough joy, so Pamela invented her own game. For every book, she covered her eyes and told me, "Pick a random one." She giggled while I picked a book out of the crate and laughed when she saw what I picked. I improvised on her game and gave her clues while she had her eyes covered. I would hum the tune of a train song when I picked a book on that topic or "Hail to the Chief" when I picked one on the presidents. Then, she really laughed uproariously. Selecting the next book was a hilarious game that melted my headache.

Mother Nature had a lovely surprise when we headed out to study the magnolia tree. The creamy peach fruit, a fascinating study in its own right, popped out cheery red seeds, something we had never noticed before. We collected three different colors of leaves and recorded all of our finds in our nature notebooks. Then, we headed to the computer to classify the tree with the help of the Clemson Extension biological key. Pamela wrote down the name in English (Southern magnolia) and Latin (Magnolia grandiflora). Pamela has enough Spanish under her belt to translate the Latin word grandiflora. Without any help, she figured out right away that it meant "big flower".

Pamela found joy in mathematics too. She was looking at the relationship between the circumference of a circle and the diameter, calculating the ratio of the former to the latter. When the book asked her "How many times does the diameter fit around the circumference?" Even though she wrote an equation based upon the ratio (C = 3.1 x D), Pamela did not think to solve for D (D = .34 x C). I think the decimal was throwing her off. Since she enjoys playing with numbers, I showed her how to plug numbers into her calculator to figure it out.

I encouraged Pamela to guess a starting number, any number. She guessed three and plugged it into an equation based on an actual data point (a cookie cutter tin): 14.3 x _____ = 4.5. Her guess (3) yielded a number much too high, so she tried and discarded 2 and 1 (too high) and 0 (too low).
14.3 x 3 = 42.9
14.3 x 2 = 28.6
14.3 x 1 = 14.3
14.3 x 0 = 0

With a upper boundary (1, which was too high) and a bottom boundary (0, which was too low), I guided her through the search: the point half-way between 1 and 0. She plugged in .5 found it too high.
14.3 x .5 = 7.15

Then, she tried and rejected .4 (too high) and .3 and .2 (too low):
14.3 x .4 = 5.72
14.3 x .3 = 4.29
14.3 x .2 = 2.86

Every time we tried a new number, Pamela grew more and more delighted as the product got closer and closer to 4.5. She squealed with joy! Then, I asked her to try "Point three what?": .3__.

She tried .35 and squealed at getting even closer: 5.005! More joy with .34 (4.862), .33 (4.719),  and finally .32 (4.576)!

As always, we spent our time in the car wisely, doing our audio work (Spanish, recitation, a few audio books, music), and waiting for assistance in various offices, doing written work. I smiled at Pamela's misspellings in her studied dictation: how can you not see the logic of writing introducted? I smiled at her choice quote for her commonplace book, "Care for him as for the apple of your eye." She started her narration about gorillas in her science notebook and added two drawings of ancient sculptures to the drawings of those we have found in town.

Another delightful study is on the telegraph. I created five audio files (one per day) of a message in Morse Code. I picked quotations and lines Pamela might recognize from her reading to practice decoding using a tree. The file was not too difficult to create: I used Audacity to create series of 1,000 Hertz tones lasting 1/4 of a second for a dot and 1 second for a dash. Today's message was the title of a hymn we learned last year: Open Our Eyes, Lord. Watching Pamela's face light up anytime she makes a discovery is another source of joy.


Last June, I bought a calendar of firsts from Red Mountain Community School, but it has taken some time to wrap my head around it. How do you know a first is a first? God clued me in on Saturday when the camellia that always blooms in October revealed its blossoms right on schedule. The second issue for a math geek like me is that the book has 86 pages, each of which has four columns, which equates to 344 days of entry. A leap year, which has 366 days, would skip 22 days. That meant we needed to have two days per column, twice, in ten of the months and two days per column, once, in ten of the months. I made a command decision to set up January 1 through 27 on single columns, put 28/29 together, and 30/31 together. We will apply the same logic to the last four days of every month until we hit November and December, which will only be the last two days of the month. You can see why I have put off making any decisions because I can't even follow my reckoning here. Since we had plenty of spare time, Pamela started setting up her calendar and made it half of the way through February. Because Pamela loves calendars, she enjoyed this immensely.

They find that, in Bacon's phrase, "Studies serve for delight"; this delight being not in the lessons or the personality of the teacher, but purely in their 'lovely books,' 'glorious books.' ~ Charlotte Mason


Phyllis said...

Her progress is amazing!

Natasha said...

What a lovely day! The focus on delight was a wonderful reminder to me.