Friday, January 14, 2011

A Week of Classics (without even trying!)

Despite our math issues, this was a pretty great week!

I think we accomplished more without a formal lesson plan than we ever would have with a lesson plan!

We've taken a break from co-op, which allowed us to attend homeschool swim for the first time on Monday :)

Not having that full day of co-op also allowed us time on Wednesday for sledding with friends :)

I think it's pretty safe
 to say
 that any week
 where you get to 
swim & play in the snow
a pretty  great week!

Math got easier as the week progressed.  A moved from multi-digit multiplication to long division, which apparently, she tells me, that she enjoys more. (All of this is still review for her, since we began the year with Life of Fred and then I decided she needed a more comprehensive program--so she is only on lesson 22 of Teaching Textbooks!)  P has mastered the 6 and 7 times tables this week through song, memorization and quizzes and games on

Reading, History & Writing
Last Friday, our learning took a wonderful detour.  Last Friday, we were reading about Ancient Africa in Story of the World, part of the chapter was dedicated to African folk tales.  I knew our reading was focused on fairy tales.  When Jason called from work to say that he was coming home early due to another record snowfall, I called our children's librarian (who is also my friend and my boss!) and asked her to pull some African folk tales, which Jason picked up on his way home.  We all snuggled in bed and read African folk tales while it snowed outside.

Over the weekend and throughout the week, the girls have read many fairy tales and folk tales, legends and fables.  We looked for differences between the types of tales and tried to come up with lists of what we thought all fables had in common; lists of what all legends had in common, etc.  We discussed plot and as the week progressed, I saw the girls become more comfortable with recognizing and discussing the elements of the plot.  We discussed stereotypes and how many of the characters represented certain stereotypes.  The girls became adept at recognizing the stereotypes and what they meant for the character's actions, this helped them to make predictions about the story.  We discussed the morals of the fairy tales, folk tales and legends.  We made graphic organizers illustrating all of these points.

The girls also wrote their own fairy tales.  To get them started, we wrote the various types of people we had observed in fairy tales on slips of paper.  We also wrote various animals (more common in folk tales) on paper.  The girls selected one of each as a story beginning.  They took two days to write the fairy tales.  Then, they edited for punctuation.  Then they edited for spelling.  Then they circled all of the verbs and we learned to use a Thesaurus to find stronger verbs.  The girls then decided to do this with some of their adjectives, but that was without any prompting from me (although I was VERY impressed!!)

I discovered a wonderful website, Education World, that had some fantastic lesson plans for teaching about folk and fairy tales, legends and fables.  I can not recommend this website enough!!

We learned about Giotto di Bondone, in our Discovering Great Artists book.  Giotto was an Italian artist who lived from 1266-1337 AD.  In Giotto's time there were no art stores, so artists made paint by mixing minerals, berries and even insects with liquid.  Egg tempera is a strong, thick paint.  Giotto's egg tempera painting in Italian cathedrals are over 700 years old and still retain vibrancy.  We made egg tempera by crushing some old pieces of colored chalk

We beat one egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water and added it in very shallow teaspoonfuls to the powdered chalk.

Then the girls painted illustrations for their fairy tales.

On Tuesday night into Wednesday, we got a big snowstorm which kept Jason home from work for a day.  We hunkered down and watched "The Sound of Music" on blu-ray.  Jason and I were blown away by the quality of the cinematography--this movie does not look 45 years old!  The picture is crisp and clear and beautiful.  I'm not sure if it's that it was a blu-ray or if it was just that high quality of a film.  All of the other blu-ray discs we have watched were new movies, so it's hard to say.

A and I began reading Pies and Prejudice: A Mother-Daughter Book Club by  Heather Vogel Frederick.  It's a wonderful book where a mother shares her love of Jane Austen with her daughter as their family goes through some really big changes.  Jane Austen's novels serve as a binding force for the adolescent girl and her mother and help them to handle some obstacles that come their way.  A learned a lot about Jane Austen.  Jane Austen was homeschooled from the age of 11 on.  Jane Austen loved to read.  Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions. Jason had a committee meeting last night, so the girls and I snuggled in my bed and watched Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version).

A week or so ago, we started a 1000 piece puzzle of M.C. Escher's "Ascending and Descending"  .  Often one girl finishes an assignment before the other.  They have journals to write in and we have a box of activities they can do, but the puzzle was started as one more thing they can do if they finish early.

We abandoned Little Women partway through because I just felt, quite honestly, that it was not that great.  But, A was curious as to what happened.  So, we ordered the audiobook of Little Women and spent quite a bit of time working on our puzzle as we listened to Jamie Lee Curtis read Little Women.

Science & Writing
We never got to science this week, so today we perused our new Mind Blowing Science Kit and the girls decided that they wanted to erupt the clay volcano they made a while back. (I was inspired by the photos on Our Nest of 3 to add lots of red food coloring!) I challenged them to write a folk tale or story about a volcano.  It was a nice light exercise for a Friday.  They both did math, we erupted our volcano, they wrote their folk tales and we spent some time on our puzzle.  Tonight we are headed to our favorite restaurant to celebrate Jason being elected Chairman of a Committee that he serves on in our town.  We like to celebrate everything!!  It's a great end to a terrific week!

Without even trying, we had a very Classic week.  We also found time to meet some new friends at a local swim club for homeschool swim.  We are excited to ice and/or roller skate with some homeschool friends next week.  There are so many opportunities for homeschoolers and we are thinking long and hard about which commitments we want to make.  We are enjoying leaving ourselves open right now.  We may not have taken this side street into fairy & folk tales, legends and fables in the fall when our schedule was so packed.  We definitely would not have had time for homeschool swim or skating and then we would not have made some new friends.