So, some quick updates on what's new with us.
Handwork for Homeschoolers is still going on, and has been a big success. Today we had a "make up" day where we make up projects people missed. On those days, I don't choose a picture book or set up new lessons. We listen to a musical story and I get out supplies for projects we've done in past sessions and everyone decides what they are most interested in. Today it was Peter and the Wolf (we like the narration by David Bowie) for our story, and the activities were making hummingbird nectar, wet felted geodes, and some free sewing time where one child designed and sewed a layered fabric flower brooch with a button center and another child designed and sewed a trapeze swing short-sleeved dress for her stuffed monkey. Of course we had snack and played too!
I love hummingbird nectar as a simple lesson in ratios (Hands-On Math!: Ready-To-Use Games & Activities for Grades 4-8 is great for ratios and proportions and, in fact, all kinds of math lessons) but I've never thought of using blocks before to share the recipe. We have a bunch of colorful wooden stars from Star Stack-Up, a board game that Hearthsong made but apparently doesn't sell anymore, and so I explained what a ratio was visually. One part : four parts. The girls had never seen any math relationship written that way. And when I used the word "part," they didn't know what I meant. Even though I explained that the unit of measurement could be anything from a spoonful to a pound, as long as you had four of water to one of sugar, you were keeping the recipe correct, it didn't really click until they saw the blocks. In fact, when we measured out the ingredients, I laid the blocks down on the kitchen table instead of a written recipe.
We also discussed what it would be like if it was one part water : four parts sugar, and they were able to imagine how that would be MUCH different.
I think it would be great to use the colorful stars to make "star soup" and practice this some more. Let them write any "star soup" recipe they want -- let's say 1 blue : 2 green : 1 red -- and then make one batch of "soup" by putting the appropriate stars in a basket. Then have them double it or triple it and keep the relationship between the colors correct.
In non-math-teaching-news, Zac and I have been taking long leisurely walks every evening when it cools off. I found the best insect repellant for kids. It's a cream and easy to apply, it smells great, and it not only repels bugs it helps heal the skin. Zac's welts from previous bites went right away.
Zac is in developmental therapy and speech therapy, for a 30% expressive and receptive delay, but he is making great strides and we are fortunate to be in an area that has so much support for early intervention. FREE at-home early intervention with therapists that come to you, no less. He's gaining milestones all the time. It's fun to take him new places and see his reaction. We went to Castle Park and I got the sweetest shot of him playing peek-a-boo behind a tree.
It was hilarious, though, since this park is an art park and has tons of amazing statues, but he mainly ignored the statues and instead he watched the children playing and the animals nearby. And he spent a lot of time trying to pick up tree roots, thinking they were sticks. When he's older he will appreciate how amazing the multi-level castle playground structure is (complete with several hidden passages) and all of the fantastic art up in the trees and the dragons you can climb on, etc...
Next week we are doing a week-long Art/Handwork/Theatre camp where we will be putting on a play of "Peter and the Wolf." I'm so excited about doing it this way. So, there's no stress involved since the children don't have to learn any lines. David Bowie will take care of all that for us, not to mention Prokofiev. They can just focus on bringing the story to life through costumes, sets, additional music, dance, puppetry, masks, and so on. Whatever we come up with! We are cooking every day and putting on a reception at Friday's performance. We will be making hand-drawn programs. Everything artistic and hands-on and FUN that has to do with drama. I have seven kids and seven parts, so what could be more perfect than that? I can't wait to do a bunch of my theater workshop ideas with these kids. One of the workshops I went to years ago at Barbara Dewey's was a homeschool Art & Drama weekend and I still have my notes from all of the drama warm-up activities each morning. I remember Misty fondly!!!
I've completed my needle felting course, started my art of storytelling course, and am still working on the introduction to Anthroposophy. I love the online Waldorf teacher training program through the Sophia Institute. And I'll be traveling to take a watercolor painting class with Gail McManus, which I am super-excited about and have been wanting to take for years!
My garden has fallen behind since I don't have my husband to help keep me motivated and consistent. He loved loved loved going out to that garden every day to see what new was growing and ripening. But the heirloom tomatoes from Mother's Day are still going strong, there's a yellow squash which I started from seed that survived and has thrived, and the rhubarb is enormous. (So is the lamb's ear and the assorted collection of weeds... but I am participating in a research study on why people grow their own food in backyard gardens and she will be coming out to interview me, and help in the garden, every two weeks. So that should provide some incentive and much needed manpower!) I miss my prolific garden from last year. But I never did get my straw bales, since I don't have a truck right now, and that de-railed me quite a bit. Plus the emotional aspect of missing my husband. And now I know that the best thing to do if you want a straw bale garden is order them in the fall, put them in place, let them stand all winter and get conditioned, flip them over in the spring and plant right into that moist decaying mushroom-y loveliness.
Also in my mind as the fall approaches is my wish list of Montessori materials I want to buy. There are things I miss from my old classroom and would love to have, to supplement what we have at home for school. (The first thing I missed, immediately after moving to Illinois, was my classroom tapestry loom. And Adam got it for me for my very first Christmas here.)
My heart is with Waldorf for sure but there's no denying the value of Montessori math, grammar, and geography materials. And I need to narrow down my list of must-haves and create a budget. I will post it once I have created it. Also, I plan to photograph and post all of last year's main lesson books before a new school year begins!!!!!