Monday, October 9, 2017

The Imaginary Island Project

Welcome to week two of our Language block, "Wonder, Wish & Surprise!"

All of my notes for this Seventh Grade block are on my website, as are my notes for the younger group's block, Jataka Tales.

In my next post I promise to have some pictures from the classroom! I take a ton and it takes me some time to sort through and pick the best ones. But in the meantime, here are some quick notes as to what we did last week.

Read-Aloud: working our way through our read aloud story, Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists. We learned about the life of Frances Hamerstrom.

Skill Cards: Playing a Game, Asking a Favor, Offering Help to a Classmate

Virtue of the Week: Confidence

Philosophy topic: Compassion

I ended up getting several picture books which had been honored with the Jane Addams book award and grouping the kids in pairs last session, having them read the books together, and then sharing with the group what the book was about and why they thought it won. The kids were amazed to discover that all four of these books are based on true stories:

Math puzzles from Jamie York's 7th Grade Math Workshop, which I just completed. If you're looking for math puzzles for grades 4 - 12, he has a great book: Making Math Meaningful: Fun with Puzzles, Games, and More!

A new classroom job chart, since we will be welcoming a new part-time student next week!

Having Wednesdays on the Farm, as usual, and also going to the Farm on Saturday to collect black walnuts and pokeberries. I have two different recipes to try out, and we hope to make our own inks for our fountain pens!

Finishing our first book of Jataka Tales by reading "The Flight of the Beasts," "The Wise Dove," "Three Friends in a Forest," and the conclusion to the book. Using water soluble oil pastels for the fig still life artwork. Measuring a piece of paper for an art project so that we could cut it in half... and learning how to find half of 15. Learning how to draw animals by using geometric shapes (with the Live Education! book Drawing Simple Animal Forms). Printing beautiful papers for our collage turtle shell artwork using my six inch Gelli printing plate.

Creating "Zactivities" for my little two-year old to do along with the big kids. He gets up from his nap now while they are finishing their morning work time, so each day we have prepared something special for him to do. Then he has lunch and recess with the big kids, and then goes down for his afternoon nap. To be honest, I get a lot of my ideas for toddler activities from Pinterest and I've put together a really fun Early Art & Sensory board.

We did Peanut Butter Playdough (the measuring for this was a great review of fractions), made a sensory bin full of nine different kinds of citrus fruits cut in half for him to explore (lemon, Meyer lemon, lime, naval orange, Valencia orange, ruby orange, red grapefruit, tangerine, and clementine), and dyed rice green using food coloring and made him a rice sensory bin full of rubber and plastic insects.

Finishing the Bridge to Terabithia essays (a persuasive essay AND a narrative essay) and giving each child a chance to assess his or her strengths and weaknesses when it comes to each type of writing. Reviewing thesis statements, and the value of creating an outline for an expository essay.

Beginning to write narratives for our Imaginary Island Project (last week's topic was Wish, so their prompt was "a story in which a Wish plays a central role"). Using our Faber-Castell Gelatos, set of 28 and our Derwent Inktense Watercolor Pencils, set of 72 to make amazing 2D artwork of our Imaginary Islands. Reading two books to go along with our theme of "Wish."

Assigning book report books to my oldest students. These are all books which have won the Jane Addams award. As with the picture books which we pair-read in Philosophy, the children were expected to not only share what their book was about but why they think it won the award. Book reports were presented this Monday and the children worked together to use the rubric to assign scores to one another's work. I like Not Your Grandma's Book Report: 30 Creative Ways to Respond to Literature, and it is free.

Students continue with all of their regular schoolwork. I give the younger group their main lesson in the morning while the older group has independent work time. In the afternoon, the older group has their main lesson while the younger group has independent work time. The Montessori materials are very helpful in this way because they are designed to be used independently, and students can follow up individually on lessons which I have given them one-on-one. One child liked her lesson on collective nouns so much she chose to do it again the next day! I had a lovely "Reading Meeting" and started a child on a new chapter book, The Boxcar Children. Another child asked me to review prime factoring with him. On Friday we brought our dog up into the living room so people could sit and read to him. One little boy was lying next to the dog, reading happily, and looked up at me and just said simply, "This dog is a kindness rock." I thought that was wonderful!

In Science Club on Thursday my group did the Egg Drop activity (back by popular demand from our last main lesson, the Physics block). They loved working on designs to protect their eggs as they plummeted from the roof of my house (the eggs, not the children).

I've found it's very effective to drop an unprotected egg first. This way, even kids whose eggs do crack some, or even break, can see that their design did make a difference and that it did offer some protection. We had each person make and drop an individual design. Then they worked in teams of two, pairing a successful designer with an unsuccessful designer, and every group got to tweak their contraptions and have a second go-round. It was so fun!

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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