Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our First Spring Nature Study of the Year

“Let [children] once get touch (sic) with nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through his life.” --Charlotte Mason; Home Education, pg. 61

Over the winter, we had a tremendous amount of snow in this area. In two snowfalls, within a week, we recieved nearly 5 feet of snow. That is out of the ordinary for our area.
Another two weeks while there was still snow on the ground, we had a tremendous rainfall. Of course, we noticed all the little creeks and streams in our area were over their banks. We decided to take a morning and go to Caledonia State Park to observe the many streams that wind through the park.

Here, DD11 is making a nature entry in her Commonplace Book.

She came prepared with mud boots so she could wade in the small currents and stay dry. She also brought along a bag of pretzels for a snack.

DD12 found the most interesting rocks. They looked like obsideon with streaks of marble through them. We are not sure if the rocks are native to the area or if they were brought in.

DS5 did what any reasonable boy his age would do ~ threw multitudes of rocks into the water. I'm especially excited to see the I caught the "splash" in this photo.

We walked by some favorite picnic spots to see how close the water came to them. We could see that the water was higher before we got there because of how the grass bent near the banks and the debris was piled up at the bottom of the trees and around picnic tables. It will be fun to take the many pictures we took today along with some new pictures we take over the upcoming summer to observe the differences in water levels.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Phonics anyone?

When I taught in public schools in the early to mid 90's, my favorite year was the year I taught 3rd grade. Those kids were great. They were already readers, but they were still young enough to be excited about activities I had planned.
The most frustrating grade level was 2nd grade. Half of the kids were readers and half were nonreaders.
At the end of every school year, we received our teaching assignments for the following year. The school where I taught thought it was healthy to move teachers from one grade to another every year.
One year, I suspected that my new teaching assignment would be in 1st grade. I went to the principal and begged him to not put me in a 1st grade classroom. Why? I did not want to teach phonics. I loathe phonics. The word phonics is not spelled phonetically. What's up with that?
This morning I came across two YouTube videos with possible explanations as to why I have such a dislike for the subject.


Found this one at A Peaceful Day this morning. I think it really drives home the need to teach a love of books. When children love books, they will have a desire to learn to read. I love this stuff.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chocolate Class #4 & #5

Due to illness traveling through our homeschool group, we canceled Chocolate Class #4 and did a double class today.

Day 4
February 26, 2010 (Canceled and moved to March 5)

Identify chocolate bars - What you see in the picture above is what I had on a table for the kids to look at when they walked in. They had to try to guess what each candy bar was.
Put Chocolate words in alphabetical order
Read Lesson 4 – How chocolate is made. Have students label the pictures taken from chocolate manufacturing.
Language Arts – Write a poem using words that are on the Sensory Chart that kids filled out in Class #3. Write the final draft of the poem on a Hershey Kiss shape cut out of brown consrtuction paper. Then use aluminum foil to but around the "kiss" and mount on a sheet of colored paper. (See my daughter above completing her page)
Reading Comprehension - Have students read independently (non readers pair up with readers), then give a narration (written or oral) about Milton Hershey.
Geography – Locate the town of Hershey on a map of Pa and mark it by drawing a Hershey Kiss shape in the appropriate location.

Day 5
March 5, 2010
1.Language Arts – Chocolate Similes
2.Art – Revisit picture study from Day 3. Using watercolors, create a picture similar to Tiebaud’s.
3.Hot Chocolate Testing – Do a blind taste test of three types of hot chocolate. Determine which the children like best then reveal the brand/type of hot chocolate.
4.Health – Compare and contrast the nutrition labels from three types of hot chocolate.
Language Arts – Is chocolate healthy?
Art – design a chocolate bar wrapper

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Commonplace Books

Upon doing some research, I found that Commomplace Books were common in the Middle Ages and up to the 19th century.

People like Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson kept these treasures and in the 1600's, compiling Commonplace Books was formally taught to college students at Oxford.

I guess commonplacing is the same as journaling, scrapbooking or blogging. Perhaps some would view this practice as "old-fashioned". No matter, the idea appeals to me and will easily be incorporated into our homeschool.

Inspired by Harmony Art Mom and her use of Commomplace Books, I went out and purchased the supplies for each of my children to start their own.

When I started telling my children about them, my oldest said that she knew what they were. She said they are mentioned frequently in the Series of Unfortunate Events. Go figure!

The part that intrigues me the most is the organization of information that is kept in these books. Although I think it will be challenging, we will work on keeping an index for their books so they can easily find past entries.

Here is how we are starting:

  • We each have a small 3-ring binder (7 X 9 inches).
  • I cut 8.5 X 11 inch paper in half and punched holes in it.

What will we put in them? Poetry, quotes, narrations, picture studies, newspaper clippings, nature sketches, etc.

The book should be personal so there is no right or wrong way to put them together.

My research on this project will continue.

In the meantime, I had the kids each decorate the covers of their books however they wanted and I have the paper that goes inside ready to go.

I like this idea so much that I made a Commonplace Book for myself.

These two were eager to get their first entries into their books.