Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Enjoying Special Guests

Both of my groups of homeschool co-op kids have enjoyed special guests lately.

Today my teenagers met with Karissa Mooney, a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Since we have been playing the stock market simulation game How the Market Works, they were very interested in meeting a real stock broker. We played a Name Game trying to match publicly traded companies with their stock symbols, looked at a stock table and checked if our portfolios were properly diversified (between communication services, consumer discretionary, consumer staples, energy, financial services, health care, industrials, materials, technology, and utilities), and she explained dividend checks, small/mid/large cap stocks, and mutual funds. She also told us the story behind the very first mutual fund -- July 1, 1924 -- and explained to us exactly why you get $200 when you pass "Go" in Monopoly.

My older group is continuing to play their stock market simulation right up until the last day of school, but they've transitioned into their final Cultural block of the year: Renaissance & Reformation. We're using Charles Kovac's excellent book The Age of Discovery.

So far we have covered

    chapter 35 - The Renaissance
    chapter 36 - Leonardo: Childhood and Youth
    chapter 37 - Leonardo in Florence and Milan
    chapter 38 - The Last Supper
    chapter 39 - Inventions and the Mona Lisa
    chapter 40 - Raphael and Michelangelo
    chapter 41 - The Wars of the Roses
    chapter 42 - Borgia and Savonarola
    chapter 43 - Martin Luther
    chapter 44 - Luther and the Reformation
    chapter 45 - The Diet of Worms

We've also had a special guest (my mom, who has traveled extensively in Italy) share her experiences viewing Renaissance art, in particular, da Vinci's Last Supper. When I traveled in Italy as a teenager I saw the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's Moses and Pieta. The Pieta is the only work of art I've ever seen where I was spontaneosly moved to tears. It was extraordinary.

My mom was also able to talk about her visit to Istanbul / Constantinople. She said it's a city on two continents! You can be in one part of the city and be in Asia and then drive to another part of the city and be in Europe.

This group of students has also begun to do lessons in Perspective Drawing (The Artist's Guide to Persepective by Janet Shearer). We learned that Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to draw contour maps (of course!) and my group did the Contour Model Kit, which was really interesting.

My younger group of students has transitioned into their final Cultural block as well: Housebuilding around the World. There are so many fascinating houses that we can only look at a few examples on each continent.

In the first week we made our way through Europe (the Trojan Horse, floating houses of the Netherlands, cave houses of Spain) and Asia (beduoin tents of Arabia, yurts of Mongolia). Of course some of these kinds of houses are found in more than one place in the world... cave dwellings in particular. In the first part of week 2, we learned about houses of Africa (baobab trees of Sudan, earthen houses of Togo, woven Zulu huts). We used a wet felting technique which incorporates bubble wrap to make flat pieces of wool felt.

We also were extremely fortunate to have my mom and my aunt Janet as special guests last week in this block as well. Between the two of them they've been to 26 countries, and my aunt Janet (who has worked for peace her whole life) has either visited or lived in several kinds of interesting houses around the world, including a sod house, stilt house, floating house, bamboo and thatch house, beduoin tent, and a refugee camp.

Here's the complete list of their countries:

    Miss Rhoda

    Miss Janet
    United Kingdom

It was a very interesting presentation!!! My mom had been in a cave house in Italy which was over 1,000 years old, and was able to describe it in detail. When my aunt Janet was explaining about taking a sponge bath using only a cupful of water in the desert, I got out a pyrex liquid measuring cup. It was quite the visual shock to the class! Her experience explaining housing in a refugee camp was gently done but informative. She first asked them if they knew the words "refugee" or "refuge." Then she explained that a refuge is a safe place, and a refugee is someone who goes to a safe place. (She didn't talk about any of the horrible things that happen around the world.) Then she said, "If you were a refugee, what would you take with you?" and she let each child answer. Then she said, "Did any of you say you'd take things to make a house?" Of course not, because you can only take what you could carry. She explained that the refugee camps she saw had enough bamboo to make the walls of a house (she had already explained the bamboo and thatch houses of Cambodia) but that there wasn't enough thatch for everybody so the United Nations sent a tremendous amount of blue plastic and the refugees had houses with bamboo walls and plastic roofs. She talked about life in a stilt house in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos, and told us that people lived under the house in the dry season, where it was shady and cool, and in the house during the monsoon season. She also explained about the floating houses on the Cambodian Great Lake, which expands to 10 times its width during the rainy season. There are entire towns consisting of floating houses! The students were able to ask lots of detailed questions about things like electricity, grocery shopping, and the need to dispose of waste.

Not only is it really fun to have special guests, but I love finding connections between topics.

In reading House by Albert Lorenz with my group, I became interested in his book Metropolis: Ten Cities, Ten Centuries. I checked it out from the library; come to find out it had an entire spread on Florence during the Renaissance, and talked about Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. After sharing that with my older kids, I looked through it some more and found an entire spread on Genghis Khan and the Mongolian army and they made their huge army camps with... wait for it... yurts! The pictures were great. There were even some interesting facts about the yurts of Genghis Khan and Marco Polo!

When I shared the illustration of the city of yurts with my younger group, we looked at it alongside the illustration of the Zulu homesteads of woven huts. We could instantly see the similarities in the rounded shape of the structures, and recalled how our information on cave dwellings had also talked about the strength of a rounded roof. And I discussed Bucky Fuller's geodesic dome home, which my class saw last year when we all took rides in the replica of his Dymaxion.

We have only a short amount of time left this school year, but we are making the most of it! I even have a few more field trips left up my sleeve...

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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