Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Even the Girls Can See the Irony in This One

Someplace... I bought a book about de-cluttering and I can't find it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

(a few minutes later)
I found it! The reason why I put it down is because I was helping Natalie find the watercolor pencils that she couldn't find.

She couldn't find them because she had put them away.

Introduction to Beowulf

This has been really fun!

Yesterday: introduction to Beowulf, trying to read it in Old English, listening to it in Old English and trying to follow along, adding "Words and Phrases Not in General Use" to the MLB, reading chapters I to X translated into Modern English, discussion questions

Today: reviewing events of the story thus far, adding family tree to the chalkboard, wet on wet watercolor painting - with watercolor pencil details - of Grendel in his dark lair looking out at the light coming from Herot, the same illustration rendered as a wet felted piece, drafting the summary of the first part of the story (to be added to MLB tomorrow morning)

Beowulf in Old English free online through Project Gutenberg

Beowulf in Modern English free online through Project Gutenberg

Beowulf: An Adaptation by Julian Glover of the Verse Translations of Michael Alexander and Edwin Morgan

Beowulf CD

Beowulf: A Teacher's Guide to the Signet Classic Edition (PDF)

Beowulf family tree (JPG)

Watercolor Pencil Magic

How to Make Flat Felt (Wet Felting) Tutorial

In an unrelated note, I feel like cooking today so I'm thinking Pomegranate Syrup with the pomegranate juice the food pantry gave us (expired) because Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Pomegranate Molasses and Basil sounds like the most delicious thing EVER... Refrigerator Pickled Okra... Frittata Squares with zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red and green bell pepper, and goat cheese... angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomatoes... Fresh Mango Bread.

Adam is super-excited about starting with hydroponics and is doing a bunch of research. We are thinking of focusing on this, with the seedlings I already started for fall cold frames, and just growing hydroponically. And then seed starting indoors over the winter and working on building cold frames in the early early spring.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Teaching Poetry

Last week we did three haiku for the weekly poem-to-memorize at Circle Time. One by Basho, one by Buson, and one by Issa.

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa

We have lots of haiku books for children that I really like.

One Leaf Rides the Wind

GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys

Wabi Sabi

Red Dragonfly on My Shoulder

Basho and the River Stones

Basho and the Fox

But reading haiku is different from being able to write it!

I chose these three:

A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

Coolness --
the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.

All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitos.

And I had this spiffy little idea that the girls would write haiku poems about Peace and we could add them to the tree for Peace One Day.

First attempts were BEYOND dreadful:

Peaceful thinking peace
Peaceful wishing peaceful love
Peace Peace everywhere

Peace day everywhere peace
Everyone peaceful

Day of peace about
Being peacefully

Again, just being exposed to something doesn't mean you can do it!!! In this case, like lots of school children, they focused on the 5-7-5 rhyme scheme, paid cursory attention to the topic, and tried to get it over with.

I filed this away in my mind to think about it.

So I thought back to Basho, Buson, and Issa and the next day I talked with the girls about their personalities and their differing styles (the book The Essential Haiku has helpful biographies in addition to the poetry) and we looked at finding the details in little moments. The empty cicada shell. The sound of the bell. The irony hidden in a small motion...

So I asked the girls to go outdoors. Haiku are about nature but we were writing them in our living room. We were focusing on rhyme scheme to the exclusion of all else. So I asked them to go to a part of the yard where they thought a poem might be hiding, using Georgia Heard's EXCELLENT book Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School

I read from pages 47 and 48 about where poetry hides... and then sent them outside... and this is what they came back with:

Spider web
draped over trees
like a silky shawl
in between plant stems
int he corners of our dreams
in windows
one large egg
it bursts open
millions of spiders come out
building new webs
hatching new young

Why is Red,
Red? Who chose it?
I guess I will never know

So now we are doing more exercises from her book. And I will collect them and share them!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting Started with Hydroponics

My husband turned 35 today.

He is interested in hydroponics, as a new hobby for this winter, so I got him some starter supplies. Not a lot! But you have to begin somewhere. I didn't buy any solution to raise and lower the pH though; you can use vinegar to lower the PH and baking soda to raise it. Put this in our Farming & Gardening notes!

We are especially interested in growing lettuces indoors throughout the winter. We may also experiment with a simple hay bale cold frame as well.

Best Seller Hydroponic LED Grow Light, TaoTronics Plant Grow Lights E27 Growing Lamp For Garden Greenhouse in 12w in Best 3 Bands Growing Combination (660nm and 630nm Red and 460nm Blue)

I was especially interested in the grow light because one of the reviewers said she tested it in the summer against her plants grown outdoors and the one under the grow light did better!

I have so many gardening projects in mind for the Winter and for next Spring as well. I'm really growing to love it as a hobby. My whole family gardens and I was always, as a child, thinking it sounded really boring. My paternal grandfather bred azaleas and my maternal grandfather was a Botany professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. My mom is an avid gardener as well. Now, I guess I'm joining their ranks!

I'm also really interested in the third grade topic of Housebuilding, even though none of my children are that age. But you're never the wrong age for an interesting hands-on project! I love the idea of building with cob... I love the idea of an earth oven... and I love the idea of a Tiny House.

The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage

Build Your Own Earth Oven: A Low-Cost Wood-Fired Mud Oven, Simple Sourdough Bread, Perfect Loaves

We also live right by Buckminster Fuller's stomping grounds... what a perfect chance to learn about the geodesic dome!

Lesson Planning - Language Block

Lesson planning for our next main lesson block, which is Language.

Beowulf for my older and Tall Tales & Personal Narratives for my younger.

I just finished reading an article on unschooling called School's Out - Forever and it got me thinking about Natalie, grade 8. She was so excited about this Geometry block because she said Math is her favorite subject, but getting her to do a main lesson book page is like pulling teeth. It's 4:16 p.m. and she's still working on her two page spread for The Golden Mean. She does beautiful work but she is excruciatingly slow. We are always still doing schoolwork at 6 pm, and even then it spills into the weekends. Love and Logic is all about setting boundaries... and it says you shouldn't work harder on your kids' schoolwork than they do. So I have to ask myself, am I working harder than Natalie? She's perfectly content listening in on Leah's lessons, or reading, or taking an hour to wash the lunch dishes, or petting the cat, or sipping slowly on a drink, or looking out the window. Right now she's coloring her fingertip grey with the tip of her pencil.

So do I slow down and accept her pace because when she DOES work it is great? Or do I stop teaching her totally until she takes it more seriously (I'm feeling really disrespected by her attitude)? Or do I nag and push so that we get more done? I haven't had this problem when homeschooling before, when they were younger, and I don't have it with my very internally-motivated middle child, but Natalie has me stumped. She wasn't this way with the first block so either it's Geometry or she feels that homeschooling doesn't have any "teeth" to it and she is happy to wander around the house. Freedom with responsibility is how Maria Montessori would put it, and she has gotten out of balance: too much on the freedom side and not enough on the responsibility side.

And I wonder what will happen when she goes to college.

Here is the list of what I have on my shelf and what I just finished requesting from the library:


Beowulf (Signet Classics)

Beowulf - Signet Classic Edition teacher guide - basis for my ideas for this block (PDF)

Beowulf CD
Selections from the epic poem, Beowulf, and other examples of early English poetry

Beowulf (Audio CD - unabridged)

Beowulf CD

Beowulf: An Adaptation by Julian Glover of the Verse Translations of Michael Alexander and Edwin Morgan

Tall Tales

American Tall Tales

John Henry: An American Legend

Heroes, Outlaws & Funny Fellows of American Popular Tales
so happy to have found this! 1939!

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

McBroom Tells a Lie

McBroom's Ghost

McBroom's Zoo

Three Strong Women: A Tall Tale from Japan

Personal Narratives

Reviving The Essay: How To Teach Structure Without Formula

Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School

Stringbean's Trip to the Shining Sea


My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter

If I Owned a Candy Factory

Do You Know What I'll Do?