Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Learning Spills Over into Play

In Karen Andreola's book A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, Chapter Four tells us that Education is a Science of Relations. I have always said that we make connections with what we already know.

I get so excited when I see my kids making connections. During the month of November, I have been reading Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey to them. All the while, they are building their Thanksgiving notebooks. Yesterday, I walked past the living room where my daughters were playing with a friend of theirs. Their friend was wrapped up tight in a blanket and I asked what they were doing. They said they were pretending it was the Pilgrims' first winter at Plymouth and the friend was pretending to be Priscilla Mullins and dd10 was pretending to be Mistress Brewster. Priscilla was sick and Mistress Brewster trying to bring her back to health. DD11 was pretending to be Squanto and was showing them how to grow food.
Inside my brain I did a loud "WOOHOO!!!!!" because this form of play shows me that they got something out of what I read to them. They made a connection! This also tells me that they will remember what we learned about Thanksgiving for a long, long time. They didn't learn anything for a test only to forget it right away.
Here are a couple of pictures.

We are not so sure that Squanto had eggs to bring, but in our version, dd11 went to our chicken coupe in our back yard and brought eggs to the ailing pilgrims.

Mistress Brewster also took care of sick babies at our Plymouth hospital.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Carol class and notebook

Every December is filled with one thing after another. Sometimes it can get busy and lessons sometimes fall to the wayside. Last year, I had the thought to teach a class for homeschoolers from my home that last full week before Christmas. The class was based on Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. It was nice, because it kept me "on track" but was within the spirit of the season. My kids got to spend some time with friends and their parents had the chance to do some things they needed to do without worrying about the lessons falling to the wayside.

A Christmas Carol was a good book to study. It is written in 5 staves (chapters) and we covered one stave a day. Each day at the end of reading, writing, creating notebook pages, etc, we would watch a different version of the movie. At the end of the week, the kids were to critique the movies and write about their favorite. The versions included a 1935 version starring Sir Cedric Hardwick I found at Target for $1, a Mickey Mouse version, the Muppets version, and the version with George C. Scott.

Each day, the kids would write a narration of the stave we were focusing on for the day. Then we would do different activities. One day, they had to sculpt a character from the story out of clay. That was great.
On the last day, each child had a notebook that he/she could take home and share with relatives over the holidays. In the back of the notebook, I added a couple of blank pages so that they could get signatures and comments of those with whom they shared their lapbooks.

The following pictures are from dd10's complete notebook. I am only posting the original pages I came up with. There are other pages in the book that I purchased online. The notebook has about 22 pages (counting fronts and backs its 44 pages).
This is the cover she designed herself.

Inside the front cover.
On index cards, we wrote significant events in Charles Dickens' life. We then put the cards in this pocket.

A watercolor painting of Jacob Marley's ghost painted on appropriate paper and cut out and placed in the notebook.

A trifold of dd10's Christmas 5 years ago, Christmas present, and Christmas in 10 years from now. Notice my little princess thinks she'll be driving a pink car in 10 years.
A written narration of "Want" and "Ignorance" along with an illustration of each tucked inside the "rounded triangle petal book" found at Homeschool Share .
Movie review page. They chose which was their favorite version and gave reasons why.
My sis-in-law actually took us to see a performance on stage. These are photographs and a ticket stub from the performance.
Reader's Signature Page
"Each time you share this notebook with others, have them sign and comment on your notebook on these pages."
Whenever a child shares his/her notebook, it reinforces what was learned and provides opportunity for oral narration. It can be fun for them to try to get those last couple of pages filled with signatures.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trampolines, PE and Music

Over the summer I found a little trampoline at Goodwill for $5. I have been wanting one for a while to keep indoors for those long winter months of limited physical activity. In the last week or so, it's been hard to get outside and my kids discovered the trampoline. My 4 year old son likes to jump while shouting out is ABC's. The older girls shout out the Greek alphabet. They are trying to invent games that involve bouncing on the trampoline (kind of like an obstacle course in our basement).

My favorite has to be when they get on it and sing their favorite songs. Today, ds4 was singing "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline and "Yo Ho Hero" by the Newsboys. Here are a couple of pictures of ds4 with dd10 getting in on the action.

This was $5 well spent.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dirtbikes and Habit Training

One of the things I love about my husband is that he works very hard to provide for us. He works really hard. He is a professional firefighter and works 24 hour shifts. During his shift, he may get a couple of hours of sleep and be out at all hours of the night helping people. While we are snug in our beds, he is out there taking verbal abuse from those experiencing drug overdoses, those who made a bad decision while driving or from those who have been in pain for the last 12 hours and thought that 3am is a good time to call for help.
He also sees stuff that the rest of us couldn't even imagine. I realize he censors what he tells me and that is all bad enough.
All of that said, he loves his job. He gets off at 7am and drives about 1.5 hours to get home.

I try really hard to convey to the children that daddy deserves to come home to a house that is straightened up. He works hard and the least we can do is make sure he has a clear path to the bed so he can rest when he gets here.

Somehow, last night, I missed our dirt bike that was sitting out on our sidewalk. The kids had it out yesterday and failed to put it away. They also failed to pick the helmets up out of the yard. This morning he came home and found our dirtbike out on the sidewalk. That made him really angry.

I feel that I talk until I am blue in the face and the children just don't seem to be listening. I think the problem is the lack of consequences for bad habits. So this morning, the dirt bike was the straw that broke the camel's back.

When I first thought of grounding them, I thought that would be the best thing to do. Then I remembered all the stuff on our calendar for the next two days and started to reconsider. Here is another great thing about my husband, he helped me to see that they may just have to miss these things this time.

Although I am following through with this grounding for two days, my heart is breaking because of what they will miss. At the same time, I'm thinking, "Woohoo! I don't have to drive anywhere today!"
Is that wrong?