Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People - Monica Brown

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

Today's Creativity Workshop started with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People.

I absolutely adore the illustrations in this evocative book about the power of words. After we read it we discussed similarities between Pablo Neruda and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One girl said, "They both had people out to get them," meaning that both men had powerful messages and they were attacked for what they had to say. She explained to me that both men thought things that weren't like how the other people thought. Very true.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

by Monica Brown

The whole group (my students + my daughters) worked together to write partner poems using magical realism... a popular activity this week! Here are some of the poetic images and questions which have come out of this work:

    Is lightning the lemons of God?
    Does the moon drink milk?
    Do flowers like writing poems?
    Can cardboard dance?
    Do cards play Uno?
    Do lotion ever eat?
    Do washers ever swim?
    When do eggs kill?
    When do grapes rip cardboard?
    Are the clouds mist from God's bath?
    When do bananas perform surgery?
    When do rubber bands faint?

    Can a chalkboard talk?
    Can a paper talk?
    Can pictures talk?
    Can cereal play?
    Do leaves have friends?
    Do trees want to be short?
    Are scarves ever cold?
    Can pens dance?
    Do clock hands ever feel embarrassed?

    Do chairs ever rest?
    When do thimbles sing?
    When you put on a headband are you thunder?
    Do books read?
    When does paint live?
    Can a pencil fly?
    Do leaves jump?
    Can sound color?
    Do pumpkins ever count?
    Can type leap?
    When do polka dots swim?
    How do roses break?
    Why can the stars fly?

    Do tulips turn somersaults?
    Does grass want to be green?
    Do clothespins like blueberries?
    Does a paperclip think it's chocolate pudding?
    Do you like apples?
    Apple, do you like me?
    Can a pile talk?
    Do socks ever get hot?
    Where would the button like to go?

    Can water talk?
    Do shoes have a purpose besides footwear?
    Can thunder whisper?
    Do couches like to be sat on?
    Where do the stars sleep?
    When do balls of yarn look like camels?
    What is in between A and B?
    Can A sing to me?

    Does yogurt like to swim?
    How do toadstools run?
    Can a clock talk?
    Can glue talk?
    Do dogs eat bananas?
    Can light eat?
    Do shorts want to be pants?
    Does hair like being long?

    Can a tree talk?
    Do books talk?
    Can water drink?
    Are the stars from yesterday the same as today?
    Does light get tired of shining?
    Do waterfalls want to stop running?
    Can hearts sing?
    Do feathers like to write?
    Can a banana speak to me?
    Can my future self speak to me?

These are all in the brainstorm/rough draft stage of the writing process. But I love how they all dove in and tried it! They sat in a circle and wrote two lines and then passed the clipboards on to the next person. It was lovely to watch. I am really drawn to some of these images and think they're worth taking to the "polish and publish" stage!

We made gluten-free dairy-free brownies next. Then Cosmic Suncatchers. I love projects which don't cost anything. This is a great use for the lids on all those containers of Noosa yogurt you keep eating (okay, maybe that's just me). Pour Elmer's glue into the lid (buy the big refill-size jug of glue), add just a few drops of food coloring in different colors, swirl with a toothpick (bearing in mind that the colors will keep spreading), and set on a LEVEL surface to dry for several days. Then peel out of the lid, punch a hole using a hole puncher, thread a piece of string through, and hang in a sunny spot!

Next up... the Incredible Edible Sludge which is still going strong (just store in fridge and add more water as needed). This is super sticky and sludgy and gross but so super easy to live with as a sensory play activity. Actually the gelatin in this makes it form stable shapes, so you can pick it up off the newspaper in a flash since the clumps stick together. It doesn't smear clammily into the newspaper and soak in. And it rinses off hands extremely quickly. Assuming you have chia seeds, it's not too expensive to make. Just remember that it has to chill overnight. Then spread out some newspaper first and get out some large mixing bowls to hold the sludge as they play.

After washing edible sludge off hands, they went outside to run around.

Once the brownies came out of the oven and cooled a bit, the whole pack of girls came back in for brownies. I asked them to choose an educational board game and they begged for our Early Humans Hunter & Gatherers simulation game again. After two rounds of that, we started on the templates for the Ark for tomorrow's play. The templates are on 1/4 inch graph paper and we enlarged them square by square onto 1 inch graph paper (we have a large pad of paper of this... you need pieces that are at least 36 inches or tape several sheets together). This was a great math lesson secretly tucked into a hands-on artistic activity!

Then we cut the paper patterns out. Next we will need to trace the cutouts onto the corrugated cardboard and cut those pieces out. One of my students took the curvy paper leftover from cutting out the waves, and colored and taped those scrap pieces into crowns for her little stuffed animals.

After my Creativity Workshop kids were picked up by their mom, Becca was then quarantined in her sisters' bedroom with the Ark template and supplies, tracing and cutting while they spent an hour decorating for her party!

Simple Family Birthday Party: We all put on our jammies. The older sisters (age 13 and 14) decorated the chalkboard with a birthday message for Becca, made a display of presents, set up the birthday ring with ornaments and candles, covered the living room and dining room with blankets (including slipcovering the dining room chairs with pillowcases) and pillows, put all the sleeping bags out on the foor, and set out hair products for a hairdo station. They set out her two stuffed animals and made a throne out of the rocking chair, with a pillow at her feet.

We also had a platter of snacks on the table, since my Granddaddy saves all the little pre-packaged snacks from his retirement home meals and sends us a box full every once in a while. So sweet!

She was thrilled with the Sleepover Theme! Happy 12th Birthday, Becca!

  • board games (birthday girl's choice)
  • snacks
  • playing with Zac
  • laying around on sleeping bags
  • pillow fight
  • hair salon - style
  • snacks
  • hair salon - shampoo
  • make dinner (roasted chicken thighs, mac 'n' cheese)

  • help Becca trace the Ark patterns
  • eat dinner (special angel plate for the birthday girl)
  • hair salon - re-style
  • make birthday dessert (tapioca pudding from scratch)
  • work on painting and assembling the Ark pieces
  • eat dessert
  • light candles and sing
  • open birthday presents
  • sleepover on the living room floor!
  • Saturday, January 14, 2017

    Early Human Skull Shapes & Capacity

    This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

    Today the board game of choice was

    Harry Potter Clue

    This was a Christmas present from my mom and the girls were so so excited!

    We also took down the Christmas tree today and packed away the Christmas ornaments, the nativity scene, the stockings and dime books, the platters and cookie cutters, etc. I just need to go take the bow off the mailbox! This year I'm determined to keep the ornaments more organized so we are putting them in the Christmas cookie tins. We only use those tins at Christmas time and so why not? And with a layer of tissue paper in them, they're perfectly tidy. And the ornaments aren't piled on top of each other in thick heaps with the ones on the bottom of the bin getting broken.

    Today I also went dumpster diving in the big pile of cardboard behind the hardware store and got some extra large cardboard for our Ark! We also went to Jo-Ann Fabrics and got some great scrapbooking papers (barn wood, hay stacks, a thick textured paper in "java bean" color, and a pack of 14 thin sheets of real cork). We already have burlap 12 x 12 paper leftover from the 2017 Homemade Calendar project. We can't wait to get started!

    Dinner is Easy Enchilada Casserole and if, like me, you get home from the grocery store and realize the one thing you forgot to get is enchilada sauce, here is a recipe for the spices which go in enchilada sauce. You can just doctor up a few cans of plain tomato sauce. This dinner recipe is a good use for that package of 6" corn tortillas!

      Easy Enchilada Casserole

      Brown 2 lb lean ground beef. Drain and set aside.

      Saute one chopped onion in a large skillet, then add

      • 2 10 oz cans enchilada sauce
      • 15 oz can black beans, drained
      • 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapeños
      • 11 oz can Mexican style corn, drained
      • 1 tsp chili powder
      • 1 tsp cumin

      Reduce heat and simmer sauce 5 minutes or until heated through and slightly thickened.

      Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Have ready the ground beef, the sauce, a bag of shredded Mexican cheese blend, and the package of corn tortillas.

      Layer in casserole dish as follows:

        1/3 sauce, 1/3 tortillas, 1/2 meat, 1/3 cheese

        1/3 sauce, 1/3 tortillas, 1/2 meat, 1/3 cheese

        remaining tortillas, remaining sauce, remaining cheese

      Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

    Other recipes on the list this week:

      Slow Cooker Beef and Cider Stew, biscuits

      Eggplant and Rice Dressing

      Marinated Roasted Chicken Thighs, macaroni and cheese, veg
      (this is Becca's birthday dinner)

      Slow Cooker Fresh Vegetable Soup

      Raisin Loaves
      (a nice yeast bread recipe that makes three loaves of bread)

    These are older recipes and I'm having a hard time finding them online so if one of them sounds good to you, just ask, and I'm happy to type it up.

    We are celebrating Becca's birthday (which was on the 11th) on the weekend so that it can be more relaxed. That and my mom mailed her box of gifts late... and I think her sisters forgot to make her something in time. I was ready. But I think I was the only one! She loves the herbal medicine classes with the master herbalist at Dayempur Farm each week, so I got her two books about herbal plants and the 12 Half Bar Handmade Organic Soap Sampler Set of wonderful handmade soaps by Sweet Sally's Soaps on Etsy. She can use her books, plus my books about essential oils, to see what each soap would be good for! I think she will have so much fun researching it all.

    Plus she and I are also going to make Nourishing Tallow Hard Lotion Bars with Essential Oils together using the tallow that my friend Lark gave me. Thanks Lark!

    Becca's party is tomorrow at 1 pm, after I teach my Creativity Workshop, and her teenage sisters planned it for her. It is a "Sleepover" Theme. They have so many creative ideas, and I think it's really sweet. Her birthday dessert? Homemade chocolate tapioca pudding. You know it's a labor of love to stand at the stove and stir pudding for half an hour. And they've always wanted to try the chocolate version from the back of the box. Tomorrow is the day!

    Today I wanted to post our pictures of the skull activities we did for the Early Humans topic. We didn't make a main lesson book for this. We completed the graphic organizer, made a chart comparing the heights of each hominid, and traced each skull and measured the size of the brain using rice.

    The size of the Neandertal brain, and the Cro-Magnon brain, was the same size as the modern human brain.

    There are other hominids which have been discovered since the Early Humans book we used was written, but I still really like it as a starting point for this lesson.

    You can see that we just taped each skull up to the door of the pantry as we traced it. We had the bags of rice displayed on the kitchen table. I liked the rice because you could feel the weight of each bag... but it didn't work as a side by side comparison very well because the rice moves around in the bag when you lay it down so some of the bags look the same. You can't really see that there's more rice in the bag. I think next time I would do the bags of rice AND jars of rice. You could also do one large jar and put lines on it at the level of each brain size... and as you learned about the next one you could add more rice and mark a new line. But I think a display of side by side jars would be nice. Brainstorming now... maybe you could even do different colors for each jar. Like how people dye pasta shapes and dried garbanzo beans in rainbow colors for sensory play (that's another subject).

    If you go with the bags AND the jars idea, you'll need four five pound bags of rice. And your jars will need to each hold 1.5 liters. Or go ahead and start building up your collection of scientific supplies for 7th grade Chemistry, and get 1.5 liter beakers! This is probably ultimately what I'll do.

    See how they all sort of blur together?

    I noted "stone tools" on Homo Habilis and "fire" on Homo Erectus. If we made a rice bag for Neandertal (1400 cc) it would say "religion and art."

    There is still quite a lot of discussion about when and where the first farming began, but 8,000 BC is a comfortable guess. The stomach contents of the 5,300 year old fossil Otzi included einkorn wheat bread. This was the first cultivated wheat. His leggings were made of domesticated goat leather.

    Iceman's Stomach Sampled—Filled With Goat Meat
    National Geographic, 06/23/2011

    Ötzi the Iceman’s Stomach Bacteria Offers Clues on Human Migration
    The New York Times, 01/08/2016

    Here's What the Iceman Was Wearing When He Died 5,300 Year Ago
    National Geographic, 08/18/2016

    Friday, January 13, 2017

    Ice Storm Musings

    This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

    Zac's new word is "ice" and if you live in Southern Illinois you know why! We had a big ice storm today. I do LOVE homeschooling with the co-op, though, because I can just shoot an email to the other child's family and let them know what we are doing. Then on Monday, he shows up with his summary and artwork for his MLB and we are on to the next story. NO WASTED TIME, unlike being a classroom teacher. Luckily, our book of Old Testament Stories is available online for free, so it's easy to share the link via email.

    Zac was happy because his teenage older sisters had the day at home, and they enjoyed playing with him (including the Incredible Edible Sludge and the bathtime that followed) and reading his two new board books:

    These books came in a big box along with my new purchases for our upcoming Geology/Astronomy block: the Solar System Card Deck plus...

    Here's what we've been working on this week, plus some helpful links I just learned about!

    Poem: Our poem is "Goblin Gold" by Molly de Havas, from The Waldorf Book of Poetry. This poem is full of alliteration and it is proving hard to memorize, so my two middle schoolers are alternating lines and reciting it as a team.

    Math Facts: We are working on the multiplication tables which are still tricky for Rebecca. This week it was x 7. We have also raised the bar a bit by doing our mental math facts using both positive and negative numbers.

      3 x (-9) = ?

      81 = (-9) x ?


    Math Homework: I have a sixth grader and a seventh grader, so they don't get the same homework. Here are the things I picked for them. The last two were added today as Integer practice at home on the unexpected Ice Day.

    Morning Pages: We did "found poetry" within pages of the newspaper, and began visual journaling with prompts from Journal Fodder 365: Daily Doses of Inspiration for the Art Addict

    Educational Games: We have had plenty this week, between the cold, the rain, and the downright nastiness. Indoor recess is a nice cozy time.

    Independent Reading Time:

    Hands: making Banana Nut Muffins, Peanut Butter Oat Bran Cookies, and Carrot Pineapple Muffins. AND Incredible Edible Sludge for sensory play!

    And Farm Day, obviously! The kids are thrilled to be designing and building their own personal cold frames. Just one of the many cool things they do.

    Heart: mirrored forms in Form Drawing, initial black & white exercise in charcoal (for which we used black chalk pastel), and Philosophy! Our new Philosophy topic is "Freedom" so we had our introductory discussion and then moved on to the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. My daughters Natalie and Becca loved writing partner poems using magical realism, and I can't wait to hear on Monday about what other families came up with at home. Here are some partner poems my students wrote the last time I taught this topic.

    Below is the lesson plan, an excerpt from the awesome book Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids by the lovely Marietta McCarty.

    I know that some Waldorf families worry about Philosophy but I think it's a perfect subject for Heart. Philosophy is NOT too academic. I assure you that it is creative and playful like this example, and truly respectful of kids and how their minds work the whole way through the book! Marietta writes:

    "Read, ponder, and laugh with Pablo Neruda's seemingly made-for-child-philosophers Book of Questions. In a style uniquely his own, this Chilean poet opens wide the philosophical wonderland of thrilling questions that defy answers. When I share Neruda with kids, they tell me that their mind actually feels free. Assurance that their minds are free regardless of other limitations on their young lives is big encouragement for children to continue in the uninhibited spirit of inquiry. Have a free-for-all with the kids in the release from the structure of linear thinking that pursues definite answers. Let them romp in the unfettered world of ideas with Neruda in his untitled poems that consist of questions. Wink at smiling rice, picture the shape of yellow, and guess what trees learn from the dirt. Think hard with the kids whether the convict's light is the same as yours, and ask them to write poems about the ways the light is the same or different or both for the prisoner and the free person. 'Why doesn't Thursday talk itself / into coming after Friday?' is Neruda's invitation to the kids to play Ping-Pong poetry with him and match his questions with ones of their own, back and forth. Then, with a partner, continue the game as each child writes a two-line question/poem and passes it to a friend."

    Head: We are in Old Testament Stories II. This week we covered "Cain and Abel" all the way through to "Noah and the Ark" using Jakob Streit's book And There Was Light. You can find this entire book online for free as a downloadable PDF from the Online Waldorf Library here.

    Speaking of free downloads, I want to share the newest thing I've found. I already knew about the Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter Archive (all past issues downloadable for free) but just recently discovered the Waldorf Science Newsletter! This not a complete list of all the issues, but it will serve to show you how rich the variety of topics is. I recommend checking it out!

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 18, #28, Autumn 2012

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Books of Interest
      The Hidden Geometry of Flowers: Living Rhythms, Forms and Numbers
      Adolescents: Their Relationship to the Night and the Senses in Connection with Their Own Development
      Masters of Physics, Imagination and Play
      Teen Brains' Growing Pains - Striking Changes are Possible in IQ and Neuroanatomy, Study Finds
      The Mind's Eye Revealed: New Technology Uses Brain Scans to See What a Person is Watching
      The Perplexing Pattern of the Painted Turtle
      Learning Languages
      Fifth Grade Projects
      A Path into the "Black Box": Making a 4-Bit Adder Using Electromagnetic Relay Switches in Class 10
      Alternative Approach to Making a Four-bit Binary Adder
      Information Technology Curriculum at Mt. Barker Waldorf School

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 17 #27, Spring 2011

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      New Books for Teachers
      Points to Consider in Teaching Science
      A Brief Overview of the Waldorf High School Mathematics Curriculum
      Some Fun Facts of Physiology
      The Imaginary in Geometry
      NASA Program puts Aspiring Engineer, Waldorf Graduate,to work on Mars Rover
      Sea Turtles have Magnetic Sense for Longitude
      Hydromonochord - Visualizing String Vibration by Water Swirls
      Return of the Sun After the Darkest Days
      Experiment: A Mini Robot
      Experiment: Making Soap
      Building an Electric Motor

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 16, #26, Spring 2010

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Going Through, Taking In, Considering by Manfred von Mackensen
      The Geometry of Life by Arthur Zajonc
      Phenomenology: Husserl's Philosophy and Goethe's Approach to Science by Michael Holdrege
      First Approach to Mineralogy by Frederick Hiebel
      Growing Salt Crystals by David Mitchell
      The Beauty of Slime Molds by David Mitchell
      Mutualism Between Elk and Magpies by Jeff Mitton
      Symbiotic Relationships
      An Interview with Daniel Pink
      Why Waldorf? by Tracy Stevens

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 15, #25, Spring 2009

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      *Doing Phenomenology in Science Education
      The Western Screech Owl
      Turtles use Earth’s Magnetic Field
      The Largest Bug in the World
      Tree Talk; the Phenomenon of Colored Shadows
      Photos from Hubble
      A Progression through the Mechanics Curriculum of 7th Grade Physics
      *Note: The first article on phenomenology is restricted by copyright laws— the journal from which we purchased the rights does not allow it to be transmitted electronically, however, it is available from AWSNA Publications in its entirety.

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 14, #24, Spring 2008

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Seventh Grade Fresco Project
      A Pinhole Camera Project for the Seventh Grade
      Other Projects for Elementary Physics Classes
      The Aurora Borealis
      Phenomenological Science Equipment
      The Karma of Calculus—Involving Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz
      Award Winning Photos of Nature and Animals

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 13, #23, Spring 2007

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Books of Interest
      Advice on Teaching 8th Grade Meteorology
      An Explanation of the Phenomenological Approach for Parents of Middle School Children
      Astronomy (Hubble Space Telescope Photographs)
      Environment, Morphology, and Physical Principles for Waldorf High School Teachers and Students (part 2)
      Sensible Science Workshop
      How Parachute Spiders Invade a New Territory
      Pluto Is No Longer a Planet
      Computer Curricula in U.S. Waldorf Schools
      Experiments:8th Grade Optics Demonstration or Puzzler; Making Nylon in the Laboratory

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 12, #22, Spring 2006

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      A compilation of articles for Waldorf teachers
      Preserving a Snowflake
      Environment, Morphology, and Physical Principles for Waldorf High School Teachers and Students (Part 1 of 2)
      Homemade Audio Speaker for Grade 8
      Mathematics and Natural Science, A Reflection from the Viewpoint of Pedagogy and the History of Ideas
      Animal Sight
      Kepler's Model of the Universe
      Teaching Sensible Science
      An Optics Demonstration for Grade Seven Chemistry Challenge for Grade Eight
      On Being an Insect
      Surveys and Mapping - An Attempt to Integrate New and Emerging Technology into Class 10 Curriculum

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 11, #20, Spring 2005

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      How does Sense-Nerve System Activity relate to Conscious Experience? by S.M. Elsas M.D.
      Acoustics in 6th Grade
      Fun Facts of Physiology
      About Formative Forces in Vertebrates and Human Beings by Dick van Romunde
      Global Perspective
      Point to Consider in Science Teaching
      Deconstructing Black Box Aspects of a Computerized Physics Lab by William P. O'Brien Jr

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 10, #20, Spring 2004

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Books of Note
      A Number Story for the Six Table
      Novel Entries for a Trig Table
      An Introduction to the Sine and Tangent
      Toss Out the Toss-up: Bias in Heads or Tails
      Song of the Rain, a poem
      Refrigeration in Physics, Heat Studies
      The Poetry of Astronomy
      The Xtant Project - Build Your own Sextant
      Highlights from Recent Science Teaching Periodicals
      Websites of Interest

    Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 10, #19, Fall 2003

      Click here for all articles in one pdf file

      Books of Note
      The Beaver
      Nature in the Human Being by Walter Liebendorfer
      Astronomy for the Middle School by John Trevillion
      Child Development and the Teaching of Science by David Mitchell
      Bibliography for Middle School
      What is Phenomenology? by Michael D'Aleo
      The Design of Human and Animal bodies by Peter De Boer
      The Brain and Finger Dexterity by Hella Kraus-Zimmer
      Observations of a Neurophysiologist by Matti Bergstrom

    A little light reading for when you get snowed in? :-)

    One more thing I wanted to share:

    I had never heard of the historical fiction books by George Alfred Henty, but they were mentioned in a thread at the Waldorf Home Educators Yahoo Group run by Marsha Johnson. I was so excited to find a whole new bunch of historical fiction! The chart in her blog post lists 99 books in chronological order from Ancient Egypt to the Boxer Rebellion. Check it out!

    One final tiny family note. We had Fun Friday Dinner again since the girls are finally home from their Christmas vacation at their dad's house. Since it was Friday the 13th, the costume contest theme was "Unlucky." I was Eve (yep, panties and an apple) and I was sure I would win. I thought it was so creative!!! I lost. Oh, well.... it was fun and that's what matters! And I've learned the hard way that teenage girls tend to vote for themselves. :-)