Monday, April 24, 2017

Old Testament Block III: Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah

We are having to speed up through the remainder of the Old Testament Stories. This last week we need to cover the entirety of Jakob Streit's third book of the OT trilogy: We Will Build a Temple.

Today, we reviewed the lesson on Solomon from Friday, read the remainder of the story of Solomon (pp.13-17), and did our watercolor pencil drawings for the Main Lesson Book of the two bouquets of identical flowers. They were stunning. Becca also chose a verse from the book of Proverbs to add to her book, at the bottom of her summaries.

Then we did Elijah (pp.19-25), Isaiah (pp.33-35), and Jeremiah (pp.37-47) all in one day! Whew! But it took us nicely in an arc from the building of the temple by King Solomon, to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.

(By the way, the Child's History of the World book from the previous post handily shows how to write Nebuchadnezzar's name in cuneiform on p.99.)

The poem we have been memorizing this block is Isaiah 46:4, so this was a chance for the kids to finally learn who Isaiah was!

It's a lot for tomorrow's summary, so we are going to focus on how the temple was built, how the Israelites repeatedly turned away from the God of Abraham to worship false idols and God sent prophets to help them get back on track, and how ultimately the temple and Jerusalem were both destroyed. However, thanks to Jeremiah, the Ark of the Covenant was saved.

Today we also did some of our regular routines, like our weekly trip to the library and our circle time, including our daily math. Between the library, which I count as Hands because we go to the Homeschool Lego Challenge, and our watercolor pencil work, which is Heart, and the main lesson (summarizing yesterday's story in a rough draft, getting an edit, adding it to the MLB along with an illustration, and hearing the new story), the day flies by. It seems on each individual day that we haven't done much but when you look back at the whole week it's been very productive.

I actually want to mention here that a new routine we have been trying has worked wonders for both productivity and having the day feel balanced and relaxed. It seems counter-intuitive but it's true. My horseback riding instructor turned me onto this. When you plan your day in the morning you put everything in 50 minute blocks. Then in the ten minutes left of each hour, you drink water and stretch. Simple.

So I have a timer set for 9:50, 10:50, 11:50, 12:50, 1:50, and 2:50. Every time it goes off we stop work and drink a full cup of water and run races in the yard or do yoga or play the hokey pokey or whatever. So if you add that up, it's a full hour of every school day we spend drinking water and moving around. (The kids also get 45 minutes of recess.) It has actually increased our productivity! When we go to do MLBs, the kids are much more focused and productive. It doesn't take time away from our day. It puts time back in. So I wanted to pass that idea along. And I HAVE TO get up and drink water and move around too, which is a very good thing.

She actually told me to try to wake up a full hour before the kids each day and spend half of that time stretching and drinking water but I'm not doing that consistently yet. On the days that I have done it though I have felt amazing.

Another routine which I also really love is the daily math sheets we've started using. This is so simple but the daily nuts & bolts computation time has really helped me to see gaps in student understanding (dynamic subtraction which requires borrowing from multiple decimal places, all four of the operations with fractions) and I am more grateful than ever for the Montessori materials, even in 6th grade. The four that I find the most helpful and pull out nearly on a daily basis are the Cut-Out Labeled Fraction Circles, the Stamp Game, the Decimal Stamp Game, and the Checker Board. They are invaluable for introducing a concept correctly, or for giving kids remedial lessons to help them understand a concept which was presented too abstractly. The Decimal Stamp Game is my latest purchase and I'm thrilled to finally have one!

The next thing on my wish list is the Decimal Checker Board. You can actually get a quilted Checker Board mat, which is smaller and more convenient than the large wooden one and I will probably do that. It's also less expensive. No matter which Checker Board you have, you do need the Colored Bead Bars and Number Tiles as well in order to use it.

Tomorrow we have to do two stories, one in the AM and one in the PM. The first is Daniel in the Lion's Den and the second is Queen Esther. One AMAZING coincidence: one of the versions of the Queen Esther story actually quotes the very same chapter and verse from Isaiah which I'd been having us memorize. That made me really happy!

We also thinned out our seedlings today in the peat pots, and tomorrow a doctoral student from the university who is doing her research on WHY people grow backyard gardens, and who comes every few months to interview me and to help in our garden, is coming to help us put our straw bales into place and plant our seedlings. Hurrah!

I will also be showing the kids a very nice National Weather Service graph which I found called "Risk of Planting Too Soon - Historical Probability of Last Spring Freeze." It will help them to see that April 25 is an OK day to plant. Actually, we probably could have planted much sooner but you never know. I had an easy time starting and buying plants but I've had a hard time getting them in the straw bales. And it does help me a lot to have Aimee come around with her expertise and her enthusiasm!

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

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