Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun Friday Dinner: Art Theme

I just want to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to my friend, Leslie, who donated so many amazing art supplies to the homeschool co-op!

In her honor, we made Art the theme of Fun Friday Dinner. (This is a weekly themed costume contest. The winner gets no actual prize... just prestige.)

Natalie, age 15
She came in sporting an adorable vintage apron, flour spilled all over her clothing, an enormous yellow mixing bowl, a metal whisk, and a huge patch of flour on the tip of her nose. "Don't you know that Cooking is an Art?"

Leah, age 13
She came in with black heeled shoes, opaque black tights, a lovely pale pink lace dress, and a black coat with an asymmetrical zipper closure. And rouge! And she was carrying a long mailing tube (presumably with a world-famous painting in it). Pure glamour. "I heard that there's an Art show here tonight?"

Becca, age 12
She came as a free-spirited girl named Art... with flowers face painted on her cheeks and chin, the word Art in yellow face paint across her forehead, layers of headwear (a crocheted headband, a dyed bandanna, a felted wool hat), plus a lively pink flowered dress and colorful polka-dotted rainboots.

Renee, age 41
I wore extremely silly slippers made entirely of adhesive bubble wrap. (Zac's new enamelware dishes from Nova Natural came wrapped in the stuff. At first I just wanted to get him the little creamer so that he could pour his own milk on his cereal, but I gave in and got the entire set.) I carried a tube of orange fluorescent acrylic paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. I told the children that I was an artist who squirted paint on the ground and then walked in it. So Becca said, "What is the brush for?" I replied calmly, "It's ART, Dahhhhling."

(By the way, there's a very cool picture book about the invention of day-glo paint. We read it when we learned about Famous Inventors.)

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors

Anyway, back to the family dinnertime costume contest. Natalie won!

Here is a list of the new goodies we got from Leslie. I'm so inspired! And positively giddy. It was great timing because my birthday was Tuesday; my friend didn't even know that when she brought the supplies to my door. Golly, my head is swimming with great new art ideas for my Summer Camp!

    set of 72 Derwent Inktense pencils

    8 inch round gel printing plate

    watercolor paper:
    9 x 12 inch watercolor block
    10 1/2 x 14 1/2 inch watercolor paper sampler
    12 inch x 16 inch watercolor block

    acrylic paints:
    fluorescent orange-yellow, grass green, cobalt green, veridian, iridescent copper, red-violet, caribbean, cadmium orange, aqua, sweet mint, ultramarine blue, titanium white, light buttermilk, buttermilk, pistachio mint, raw umber, sap green, lake, cloud, interference blue, interference green-blue

    Liquitex acrylic iridescent medium

    paint markers:
    yellow, red, titanium white

    two boxes of washable kids paint, 10 bottles each box

    set of 6 Grumbacher brushes
    Winsor & Newton Wilton fan brush
    plus 13 more assorted bristle brushes
    plus an assortment of foam brushes

    1 lb scrap pack of assorted cardstock pieces

    9 x 12 tracing paper

    box of carbon paper

    9 x 12 construction paper
    white, orange, red, blue

    5 bottles of glitter glue
    red, yellow, green, white, silver

    12 gel pens (these went in the Easter baskets!)

    box of 50 Cray-Pas student oil pastels

She also brought some rocks and minerals from her collection for us, which was fantastic! And they'll go really well with our Summer Camp topic too.

Summer Camp Theme: From Lava to Life
June 12 - 23, 2017

From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells Our Earth Story

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Old Testament Block III: Joseph, Moses

We are finishing the Old Testament Stories and I found teaching Joseph and Moses pretty overwhelming. They are LONG and rich stories, and it seems hard to sort through and decide between all the great retellings and art ideas. I made an extensive list on my website and then found it didn't really help me too much because it had so many ideas! Jakob Streit's book is great, and it's free, but it is soooo long (for these two stories) that it would be three days apiece to tell them, and I just didn't have that much time.

So, here is what we did:


    We read Joseph, retold and illustrated by Brian Wildsmith. This introduced the story.

    We watched the second half of The Story of Jacob and Joseph.

    For artwork, I really wanted to do a coat of many colors fabric collage art piece, but I couldn't find my fat quarters so we did a collage of textured scrapbook papers instead. Happily, I had a great collection! Becca even used Sparkle Mod Podge to give it that extra special touch (make it worth killing a brother over).


    We read Brian Wildsmith's companion volume, Exodus. This introduced the story.

    The next day, we read Miriam's Cup for review.

    We made matzo pizzas (be careful with these... the fire dept. had to come to my house because they caught on fire under the broiler) and watched the 1923 silent movie version of The Ten Commandments. It was my first-ever silent movie, so I was very excited.

    Then my own daughters begged and begged me, so we also watched the 1956 version over the weekend (and we lay in bed and ate sushi because I was taking a break from using the kitchen after that fire).

    The next day, we read The Four Questions for review, and to see if the children had been paying enough attention to the story that they could figure out some of the answers to the questions -- and the symbolism of different components of the Seder -- without being told in advance. They did well!

    Finally, I read them a story about the death of Moses, The Shadow of a Flying Bird by Mordecai Gerstein, and we added Moses to our MLBs.

    For her illustration, Becca picked Moses parting the Red Sea, but if you divided this up over more days, you would obviously have more illustrations.

I did not have us do the chapter on Joshua, although I told the children about Joshua being the next leader, and that there was a long line of judges, and then we went ahead to Saul and David. I did read Streit's description of the Ark of the Covenant.

In other homeschool news from last week, we had SWI and Farm Day, as always.

We started a new Philosophy topic, Courage, and our first philosopher is Epictetus. He will take us through the end of the year, because I'm tying him in with lessons on NVC (and using The No-Fault Classroom: Tools to Resolve Conflict & Foster Relationship Intelligence). We did our Classroom Vision Statement, as well as our Group Agreements. We needle felted our aliens, Michi and Nao, and drew our iOS Power Panels. Yes, it seems a little hokey but it is a step-by-step way to teach nonviolent communication to children, so I'm willing to give it a trial run.

I came up with the tie-in with Epictetus because they have a quote from him in the margin of the No-Fault Classrom book. It was perfect! Then it wasn't like, you guys aren't getting along and we have to do something about it. It was like, let's learn about Epictetus.

Some links we used for Math Homework last week:

We decorated eggs for Easter (Sharpie dot silhouette eggs and shaving cream eggs) and made a ton of Easter baskets and I pulled an all-nighter and went to bed at 5 am trying to make Easter perfect and then proceeded to spend most of Easter Sunday either sleeping or sobbing. I stamped Zac's feet with white paint on burlap and turned it into little Easter bunnies and made one for us and one for each grandmother. I hid 500 puzzle pieces in 500 plastic Easter eggs in my yard. Then the older girls had to find all the eggs and assemble the pieces... and it was one of those puzzles which you color after you put it together, so that made it even more challenging. And, yes, one puzzle piece fell out of an egg and we never did find it and then it rained. It was an edge piece too!

We did a sweet little egg hunt with Zac. I used 20 lbs of cornmeal to draw a line in the yard, in a long windy trail, and then we hid his eggs along the line. He got 7 little hard-cooked dyed eggs. He took his little red metal pail (with two dish towels folded inside to keep the eggs from breaking when he dropped them in) and he walked along the line and found them all!

We also went on Saturday to the farm pond and got a load of pond water and tadpoles and set up an aquarium in our living room. We have an air stone bubbling away in it (the pump and tubing and air stone are leftover from the hydroponics system) and little Tadpole Observation Journals for everyone to drawn and write in (I didn't use her front cover... prefer the kids to make their own... but I liked the inside pages and having them be half-sheets). We also saw deer and raccoon tracks in the mud!

wading in the pond and watching the tadpoles

happily throwing rocks in the water

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Precession of the Equinox; The Cosmic Year

We were talking about this in my book group, and I wanted to share an interesting excerpt from Geology and Astronomy by Charles Kovacs.

Chapter 26
The Zodiac and Precession of the Equinox

    The circle of twelve constellations through which the sun goes in one year is called the zodiac, a Greek word meaning the "circle of animals." However, not all the twelve are named after animals....

    This "circle of animals" or zodiac is not merely circle but a circular belt. The reason it is important in astronomy is that not only the sun, but also the planets all move along this belt. There are many constellations in the sky, but sun, moon and planets move only within the narrow belt of these 12 constellations of the zodiac.

    As well as sun, moon and planets moving through the zodiac, something else also moves through the zodiac, though we cannot see it at all because it is only a mathematical point. It moves so slowly that it takes hundreds of years to notice that it has moved at all. Yet, this movement is very important for the whole of humanity. What is this strange mathematical point?

    There are two days of the year when day and night are equal, when there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness: one in the spring and one in the autumn. They are called equinox (from the Latin, equi, equal and nox, night). The equator of the earth has its name because it is the circle where day and night are always equal.

    The spring equinox is... the beginning of spring. And in Egypt a sacred white bull, the Apis-Bull, was led through the streets to celebrate this occasion. Why a bull? Because at the time of ancient Egypt on the day of the spring equinox, March 20, the sun stood in the constellation of Taurus, the Bull. [The sun being "in" a constellation means that if you could see the sun shining AND see the stars which are behind it, usually rendered invisible by the sunlight, the sun would be standing in front of a constellation.]

    About two thousand years later, in the time of ancient Greece and Rome, people no longer celebrated March 20, the spring equinox. But if they had, it would not have been a bull that was led through the streets, it would have been a ram, because at that time the sun shone from the constellation Aries, the Ram, on March 20. And if we had such a custom today, we would have to carry two fishes through the streets, because now the sun stands in the constellation of Pisces, the Fishes, on March 20.

    The position of the sun at the spring equinox, or the vernal point has moved through three constellations since the time of ancient Egypt: Taurus, Aries, Pisces. This movement is called the precession of the equinox. But why should it matter to us where the sun stands on March 20?

    Around AD 1400 a number of great things began to be discovered or invented. About this time the European voyages of discovery began; these led to the discovery of America and culminated in the circumnavigation of the world. New inventions were made, such as book printing, which made it possible for many people to have books and learn about the world. There was also the invention of gun-powder which made knights' armour useless. From that time onwards the flow of discoveries and inventions never stopped. In the 600 years since 1400 more things have been discovered and invented than in all the thousands of years of human history before 1400.

    This is not, as one might think, because the Greeks or Romans were not clever enough. For instance, Heron, a clever Greek in Alexandria made a little contraption which used the steam of boiling water to turn a wheel, but this was only a toy to amuse and no one thought that there could be a practical use for this idea. The Greeks and Romans were as clever as we are, but they were not interested in techincal inventions. What has changed is human interest.

    The interest of the Egyptians and Babylonians were different from those of the Greeks, just as the interests of the Greeks were not the same as ours. Whenever the spring equinox passes from one constellation to another there is such a change of human interest. There are people who say that when the next change comes, when the spring equinox will pass from the constellation Pisces, the Fishes, into the constellation Aquarius, the Water-Carrier, then humanity will become more interested in spiritual matters that in material things, and will have a much stronger feeling that all people are brothers and sisters, and must help each other. So the movement of this mathematical point of the vernal equinox means something for humanity.

Chapter 27
The Cosmic or Platonic Year

    The spring equinox, the point where the sun stands on March 20, moves through the zodiac. While the sun moves round the whole zodiac in 12 months, astronomers have calculated that it takes about 25,920 years for the spring equinox to move around the zodiac. That is a long time, but it is a figure which is interesting for another reason. We breathe at an average about 18 times a minute, and that makes 25,920 times in a day.

    The Greek astronomers, who worked out this figure of 25,920 years, called this movement of the spring equinox around the zodiac a Cosmic Year, or a Platonic Year, after the great Greek philosopher Plato.... For 2,160 years [a cosmic year divided by 12; i.e. a cosmic month] the spring equinox is in the same constellation, slowly moving through it. And then it passes on to the next constellation....

    An ordinary month has 30 days. Dividing the cosmic month of 2,160 years by 30 we get a "cosmic day" of 72 years. A cosmic day is 72 years long which consists of 25,920 ordinary days, which means one ordinary day is one "cosmic breath." Or, in other words, one cosmic breath takes as long as 25,920 human breaths.

    Our own breathing and even our life is "tuned in" to the great rhythm of the cosmos. But our breathing is not something separate from our whole organization: our heartbeat is "tuned in" to our breathing. There are four heartbeats to one breath. And as our heart beats, so the blood flows through our body. The most important rhythms of our life are in tune or in harmony with the rhythms of the cosmos. And it is therefore not so strange that a change in the cosmos -- for instance, when the spring equinox passes over from the constellation Ram to the constellation Fishes -- is accompanied by a change in the way human beings feel and where their interests lie....

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

US Geography: Northwest Coast, Far North, and MORE

The time is flying by... and we've finished our last region in U.S. Geography and started the third block of the Old Testament. I've made pages on the website filled with curriculum notes for both, so check there for more details.

So, some quick notes about last week before it's a too distant memory. And then I will do a post about this week and the new main lesson block.

Why the "and MORE"? Because we made sure to cover the U.S. Territories and Tribal Lands in addition to the States.

Poem - "Buffalo Dusk" by Carl Sandburg

Math Practice - dynamic addition, dynamic subtraction, dynamic long multiplication, dynamic long division with rounding to the hundredths place, order of operations

    Don't underestimate the power of daily math practice. The pages I'm using are great because she writes the problems horizontally and so the students have to rewrite vertically to solve them, which involves lining up the place value correctly. I especially like problems like

    .4 + 18 + 5.709 + 906.03

    79 - 3.0062

    And I had a student who automatically rounded his answer (in addition) and knocked off that hundredths place because, as he told me, "There's NEVER more than two digits." We had a long conversation about it. So remember to give your students lots of different types of problems, or they will end up with these assumptions and distortions, like there are no digits after the hundredths place. Think about it. Are you giving enough variety?

Morning Pages - we started using Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook and the kids love it! I read a section until it comes to a "If You Dare" challenge and then that's our writing prompt for the day

The Great Debate over the Oxford Comma mini lesson

continuing our read aloud story, Minn of the Mississippi

Monday - trip to the library to return books, check out books, and participate in the weekly homeschool Lego Challenge

Tuesday - trip to the university for the "Edible Book Festival," a celebration of recipes which are puns on book titles

    my favorite was "Game of Scones" -- and she had two types of scones arranged on a checkerboard woven placemat, to look like a chess game -- but the winner was "Cakes on a Plane"

Becca started veg and herb seeds in peat pellets for our home garden

Wednesday - Farm Day

participating in Carbondale's 11 Days of Compassion, including Leah going to the SIU Craft Studio to make Random Tokens of Kindness at the clay studio, and me going to Gaia House for the NVC workshop

Becca's extra activities including going with me to vote on Election Day, attending her poetry workshop at the library, volunteering at Flyover Garden, and the Sustainable Cooking Initiative (a lesson on building a solar oven)

choosing dates for our upcoming field trip to the Trail of Tears State Park and Cahokia Mounds, both in Missouri

more U.S. Geography: working on our clay models of adobe houses, hearing about the Northwest Coast (Houses of Wood; If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast; Echoes of the Elders: The Stories and Paintings of Chief Lelooska with CD) and the Far North (Houses of Snow, Skin, and Bones; Building an Igloo), adding the Northwest Coast to the MLB, adding Alaska and Hawaii (and biome maps and some Inuit art), adding U.S. Territories (inhabited, uninhabited, disputed), looking at the Original Tribal Nations Map and comparing it to the current map of American Indian Reservations (PDF) and adding a description of tribal lands to the MLB

finishing up our main lesson block with U.S. Territory reports and a fabulous feast representing Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands!

working together to score the presentations using the rubric

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