Monday, September 19, 2011

Flapping, Feathers, Sphinxes, and Other Fun Stuff

Yesterday, we wrapped up our second week of homeschooling, which flew by!

Language Arts - Pamela picked some interesting quotes for her common place book, one of which is a foreshadowing of Mark Anthony's speech and Caesar's funeral in the play by Shakespeare. One of the most memorable moments of the week ended up in the common place book. We have been reading a book about a girl from Boston living in Charleston at the beginning of the Civil War. Another girl insults her by calling her a Yankee, and her father smooths it over by explaining that the British call Americans that name. Then, we were reading an entirely different book in which one of our ships was visiting London and giving tours to people. The Brits remarked, "The Yankees were most civil" and, as Pamela read the line aloud, she added, "War. Just like 'Yankee girl'" and chuckled at her play on words. She laughs aloud during readings quite often when something strikes her fancy. Pamela did more copywork of Benjamin Franklin's wit and made only one spelling error in her studied dictation. I opted not to turn it into a lesson since the word was unfamiliar to her (erect).

Literature - Two weeks ago, I wasn't sure how Pamela would do with one particularly fanciful book that I'm enjoying because I can see threads that surely must have inspired Tolkien and Lewis. Pamela's narrations are wonderful, calming my concerns. I also worried about a mythology book I substituted for the one on the curriculum list which jumped from story to story too quickly. She had no problem shifting from one setting, Eustace Bright telling stories to his younger siblings and friends, to the myth. Her narration of the Gorgon's head tells me she remembers the action from day to day, which was not happening with the original book! Because the book retells six myths in great detail, she will glean the background knowledge needed to leap from one story to the next down the road. Sometimes, two steps forward requires one step backward!

Math - While I love our math curriculum, Pamela has a few issues with it. The program assumes Pamela has background knowledge that she lacks. I have continued to make sheets that blend word roots and concrete illustrations and practice activities that prepare her for the next exercise. She is doing really well and worked on things like classifying triangles (equilateral/isosceles/scalene and acute/right/obtuse), constructing her own triangles, finding the relationship between different sides and their opposite angles, etc. Last year, I took a break from the curriculum to nail down fractions, area, perimeter, etc. I gave her some review problems and she remembered what to do! She absolutely adored the "magical" moment when you are finding the median of a triangle, and all the lines cross at the same point. Not only that, all on her own, Pamela connected the word median to mediano (the Spanish word she learned for medium in last year's Ricitos de oro y los tres osos). If your math lessons lack magical "aha" moments, then you are missing out on one of the great joys of life.

Science - We have struck a great balance between reading, doing, drawing, and writing for science. The lessons are short and varied, keeping Pamela's attention. We finally shredded enough paper and cardboard for our worm composting bin, so this week we made holes in the rubber maid bin. Because the drill wasn't working, I ended up hammering nails into the bin. It proved to be great work for Pamela's fine motor skills because, once the nail was stable and no longer needed to be held, Pamela finished the job and then retrieved the nail with the claw end. This finagled approach worked well for the holes in the top and bottom, but the springiness of the sides of the bin rendered it ineffective. Eventually, I stumbled on Plan C: screw a hole into the bin, pound the nail until stable, and let Pamela finish the job. Borrowing a drill from my father would have saved us a lot of trouble but would not have given Pamela's hands a solid workout. Redworm composting is full of information for beginners: we chose the "deluxe rubbermaid bin" because I'm not willing to shell out the big bucks yet. Besides, the process of building the thing will make us both better and handiwork.

We made fewer nature study entries because we spent two days on the garden spider and two days on the sphinx moth, which I have submitted to Butterflies and Moths of North America for identification. I believe it is a walnut sphinx moth, but none are listed for our county. By the way, you know you are a homeschooler when you sneak out on the back porch in your jammies to capture a moth! I had an old swallowtail lying around the house, so we carefully observed the differences between moths and butterflies with our own eyes as Pamela wrote down details about the moth. We are collecting feathers and drawing them. Once we have enough, we will be sorting them by kind (the position on the bird). A feather is not simply a feather as you can see in the photograph.

Pamela easily distinguishes puffy versus blanket versus no clouds. She is still working on the scientific names: cumulus and stratus. We have had absolutely no rain for our rain gauges and no opportunity to paint nimbus or cirrus clouds this week. I find it hard to call these watercolor paintings science because they are so beautiful. Do you notice the little symbol Pamela invented to reflect "no clouds"?

Since we are studying clouds, we are doing experiments with evaporation. The water from last week's experiment finally evaporated below the rim lines of the jar. Pamela clearly saw that the lidless jar evaporated more quickly. We started another experiment to see which container shape will evaporate more quickly. The most fun experiment involved massive amounts of flapping, and Pamela loved it as you can see in the pictures of our flap-a-thon. We were trying to see the effect of wind on evaporation rates. You may notice that the science journal are entirely Pamela's effort: drawing and simple sentences (I guide her in the phrasing). I can spend less time on planning by letting her notebook reflect her thinking rather than represent the thinking of someone who created elaborate lapbooks. Kids really can think for themselves if given the chance.

Watercolor Class - Pamela painted the top and side views of an apple in watercolor class this week. As always, her colors make the subject seem alive.

Fine Arts - We were supposed to do a picture study this week. When it came time to open the ziplock bag of print cards, half were gone! I have no idea where they are. People think I'm organized, but I'm not. My ideas and plans are organized, but the concrete things in my life, i.e., stuff, have room for improvement. I'm still thinking through the back-up plan. Pamela has added to her collection of arches and columns in her drawing notebook.

Handwork - Pamela should finish this knitting needle case next week and get back to her finger knitting.

Foreign Language, Music, Geography, History - I have nothing much to add, except for a few morsels. Pamela and I learned some new things in Spanish: la manzana, está comiendo, and el lápiz. We are on track to finish the ten lessons (which are broken up into five-mini lessons each) by the end of the year! Pamela loves the songs we are learning. The other day, while we were walking, she was singing all the songs she knew and even making a couple of jumps for joy. While we were pounding holes in the composting bins, we sang just for fun. Pamela is still covering the same geographical places and just made the first entries into her book of centuries. It deserves a post until itself.

Physical Exercise and Community Service - I will close with pictures from the Prayer Walk for all of the schools (public and private) in our county. Hey, wait a minute! I just realized there were no signs for the homeschools. Hmmmm. Anyway, we walked three miles and prayed for schools along the way (or signs representing the schools). The organization had a great turnout: I felt so thrilled to be surrounded by so many people who care about education and are willing to pray for them. Pamela balked about a mile into it but managed to get a grip. After that, she was a champ. I took the walks off our schedule for Friday and Monday to provide rest. Oh, yes, I just had to take pictures of the yucca plant and swallowtail butterfly.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

She is doing WELL~ Love all the details of the lessons. Yes, fun stuff!