MLBs are the one time in our day -- every day -- when the full writing process is required. Rough draft, edit, final draft. This includes drafting the overall layout of the two-page spread, sketching out the illustration, and writing a rough draft of the summary, which we call "words of explanation." Rough drafts for the older children work best when they are double spaced, since often we need to add in extra details or transitions between paragraphs or move sentences into a different order.
Usually this work is done completely behind the scenes. MOST children recycle their rough drafts instead of taking them home to their parents because they want the finished books to be a complete surprise.
Here are some examples of rough draft work:
Sometimes, it makes more sense to start again and write a second draft, to be sure that the organization of the page makes sense and that the words of explanation would be easy for a reader to follow. In the case of this rough draft (the last one pictured above), we stopped the edit half-way through, which at first had just focused on spelling, and decided to completely rewrite the poem for two voices to make it easier for the reader to follow what was happening. The MLBs do more than just review content and help students to synthesis their learning. They are wonderful opportunities for one-on-one conferences and writing mini-lessons embedded in a real-world context!
I would like to do a blog post with lots of pictures of the completed MLB pages... once children have had a chance to share them with their parents, since I want to respect their wishes and not accidentally spoil someone's surprises.
We do not put names on the books, number the MLB pages, or write the title on the front cover until the very end of the block. Thus, it is easy to pick up the book, open it, and hastily add a page or two that are written upside down! Students need to work slowly and carefully and be organized to make an entire book out of what is essentially a blank packet of stapled pages.
Once every single story has been added, we number the pages, write a table of contents, add author information to the back cover (name, age, 2016-2017) and a title and illustration to the front cover. We worked VERY hard on Friday finishing all of these steps!
Here are some of the other highlights of the week:
Yoga, Farm Day, and Philosophy (sharing our research reports on endangered animals)
New Educational Game - Enchanted Forest. This game strengthens working memory so we are including it as a Brown work choice (P.E. and Health).
Art - Drawing - making alphabet books of animals, fruits & vegetables, or other items from A to Z (this required using the dictionaries and encyclopedias and practicing alphabetizing and using the tables of contents and indexes in reference materials). We especially like The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals and The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds!
Download a free PDF of giant block letters from A to Z, one page per letter, at The Measured Mom.com.
Art - Modeling - modeling two stories from the Ancient Civilizations block, Buddha (using still-warm homemade spice-citrus play dough) and Gilgamesh wrestling with Eabani (using clay).
- I adapted
the Spiced Citrus Playdough recipe from the Childhood 101 blog
by allowing the children to experiment with the spice mixture, choosing from the large variety of options I set out.
We ended up with this recipe:
- Combine in a large saucepan
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup salt
2 T cream of tartar
2 T vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
a few drops of lemon extract
zest of one lemon, finely grated
1 1/2 tsp lemongrass powder
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture congeals and forms a ball, approximately 3-5 min. Continue to heat for another minute, constantly turning over the ball of dough. Remove from heat and knead until the dough is smooth.
Extra Lesson - my older group had grammar lessons on punctuation (comma splices, apostrophes, and colons & semicolons), worked on spelling, and made Faloodeh (Persian Rose Water Ice) when we were learning about Persia
I work hard to help students to draw connections between what they are learning whenever possible. And I always try to maximize our time!!! Sharing animal research reports or hearing the read-aloud story during lunch (we started The Fox That Wanted Nine Golden Tails), working on alphabet books and being called one at a time to help make the play dough, then hearing a story about Buddha while kneading the play dough as it cools, the older students hearing the story of Zarathustra while drawing the border around the two-page main lesson book spread of Ahura Mazda and Ahrimen (warm colors and a border of flames on one page, cool colors and a border of icicles on the other), the younger students doing Handwork while hearing Fables (weaving potholders, finger knitting, sewing little felt gnomes)... we are always busy!
I'm going to make a separate post with our final stories for this main lesson block, since I have pictures to share and this post is already quite long!