Friday, April 23, 2021

Week of April 19

Some quick notes & links about our Outdoor Classroom activities this week!

Current Main Lesson Blocks:
Jataka Tales
Ancient Mythology: Egypt

Monday, April 19

Tuesday, April 20

  • School Meeting / Community Building: sort out the very complicated rules for "Facial Hair," a spunky variation on tag which involves a salon, a barber, survivors, and a mechanic (they used the practice we've adopted for our Philosophy discussions of having the child who is talking call on the next child to speak -- instead of me moderating the discussion -- because only the person who's talking knows when he/she is truly finished and is ready for someone else to take a turn)
  • Early Childhood: recall tropical foods from yesterday and look at their seeds (mango, papaya), start an avocado tree from an avocado seed, start a pineapple plant from a pineapple top
  • Nature: read Yucky Worms by Vivian French, look at Giant Gippsland Earthworm in Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (and my lifesize knitted version), revisit and tweak our vermicomposting bin setup, share information about the invasive species of worm which is being found in Southern Illinois and how it can be identified, look at the large earthworm we collected on Friday and identify it positively (it is a jumping worm), report to the University of Illinois Extension Forester

    Jumping worms spreading throughout Illinois, confirmed in southern counties
    WSIL - April 15, 2021

    The "crazy worms" remaking forests aren't your friendly neighborhood garden worms. Then again, those aren't so great either.
    The Atlantic - January 23, 2020

    Invasive Species Bulletin - Jumping Worms (PDF)
    Cornell University Cooperative Extension

    Invasive Species Bulletin - Jumping Worms (PDF)
    University of Illinois Extension

    Knitting Pattern - Giant Gippsland Earthworm (PDF)

  • Analogies / Ratios: explain analogies and their relationship to ratios, write down the recipe for a Mustard Extraction, measure the mass of the ground mustard which I had on hand and decide whether the recipe needed to be scaled and if so how to keep the proportion, prepare and do the Mustard Extraction to see what earthworms are living in our soil

    the cocoons of the jumping worm are black and tiny; in fact, they are the size of a mustard seed (show some whole mustard seeds as well)

    recall that yesterday we went on a hike at Chautauqua Bottoms and I had each child line up and brush their boots before and after strictly out of habit BUT if there was a jumping worm living in our yard and we inadvertently were carrying the cocoons on our boots, we truly did prevent the spread of an invasive species to the Wildflower Glade!

    Our Recommendations for How to Do a Mustard Extraction

    if your ground is very dry and cracked, begin by pouring a liter of clean water in the area of your extraction

    add 10 grams of ground mustard to 1 liter of water and shake vigorously to combine, then pour the mixture very slowly in the area of your extraction (it is best to use a frame) and wait five minutes

    repeat the previous step

    count the number of worms (the mustard will irritate their skin, but not harm them, and they will come up out of the soil to escape it)

  • LE: do first step of DIY Scratch Art the Easy Way for the eyes in the pitch-black cave

    9 x 12 inch Bristol, oil pastels, black acrylic paint, foam brush, stylus

    it works best to cover the paper smoothly with only one layer of black paint (resisting the temptation to go back over thin spots while they are still wet, as the brush will only pick up the paint) and then do a second layer of black after the first has dried

  • UE: make watercolor resist map of Egypt (use oil pastels for the desert and watercolor paint for the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and Nile River and Delta), recall "Seth - God of Deserts, Storms, War, and Chaos" and add to MLB, hear "Nephthys and the Four Sons of Horus - Goddess of the Dead and Guardians of the Dead" and look at picture of canopic jars

Wednesday, April 21

  • Nature: read A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer while sitting outside right by a neighbor's large oak tree (it has a lot of impact that way!) and discuss how there are many more decomposers besides earthworms
  • EC: read Seeds Move! by Robin Page, drop a coconut in water to see if it floats, crack it open using the Bang Method (sadly our coconut cracked open too easily because it was rotten... I got 4 more fresh coconuts for tomorrow and they are sitting overnight in the freezer)

    How to Open a Coconut: 4 Easy Methods

    SWI for the word < coconut >
    yes, it is coco + nut
    do you know what < coco > signifies?

  • Gardening Projects: explain what peat is (review of the Carboniferous Period, fern forests, photosynthesis, and coal) and demonstrate how to rehydrate Jiffy peat pellets for our seed starting next week
  • LE: complete second step in Scratch Art and add to MLB (two children put it on the front cover and two put it inside the front cover), write rough draft of summary for "The Monkday and the Crocodile"
  • UE: make decisions about a shift to our daily work schedule, finish adding Seth to MLB, put map of Egypt in MLB using foam squares, set up cucumbers in salt experiment and review the process of mummification, choose our mummification projects for this year (individual apples and a group fish), use jeweler's loupes to look at tiny details in the illustrations in Buried Blueprints: Maps and Sketches of Lost Worlds and Mysterious Places by Albert Lorenz (specifically, the page showing the construction of a necropolis for Ramses II)
  • End of the Day: today at the end of the day the older children were getting lessons on Sudoku and beginning to solve puzzles... and everyone got an Audubon postcard to take home!

Thursday, April 22

  • Behind the Scenes: order more red wigglers for our vermicomposting system, order red harvester ants and replacement sand for ant farm
  • EC: rehydrate remaining Jilly peat pellets in a large bucket of warm water, read Seeds and More Seeds by Millicent E. Selsam, find a dandelion seed on a child's boot and pop it in one of our newly expanded peat pellets (if you plant a dandelion seed, will it grow into a dandelion plant?), look at seeds in a bell pepper, pass around sugar snap peas for dissection, find the peas neatly lined up inside as well as distinguish between the blossom end and stem end, do "Five Little Peas" fingerplay from A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones
  • Practical Life / SWI: revisit the word < coconut > and find the little face on your team's coconut

    today the children worked in partners since I had so many coconuts this time...
    one of our four today was not good for eating, so always buy extra!

    we were excited to try pre-scored ("Groovy" brand) coconuts and they already come in a little mesh bag, perfect for the Bang Method

    frozen overnight, as recommended in our instructions, we found that a coconut breaks quite well (3 or 4 tries, enough work to be satisfying but not so much as to make everyone miserable) and we didn't have to drain the coconut liquid first as a bonus, because it was frozen!

    enjoy canned coconut milk in Dixie cups with little paper umbrellas, and taste our fresh coconut meat

    the funniest moment of the afternoon was when one boy excitedly took a bite and then screwed up his face and said, "Wait, I forgot I don't like coconut!"

  • Ratios / Equivalent Fractions: revisit ratios and consider their relationship to finding equivalent fractions, review recipe for Oobleck (2 parts cornstarch : 1 part water), practice scaling the recipe up and down using both standard and non-standard units of measurement, measure the volume of our package of cornstarch


    our unit of measurement was a beaten up pan from the mud kitchen

    "What's half of 1 1/2 old beaten up pans?"

    an 8 year old promptly calls out, "3/4!"

    yes, that's correct!

    mix up and play with Oobleck contentedly

    "somehow liquid Oobleck can crack"

    "it solidized on your hand because you pushed it"

    "the pressure was morphing it"

    "if you throw it, it liquidizes in mid-air"

    "you gotta keep this moving. there has to be friction"

    "my ratio is back!" (he was adding more water after it dried out)

  • Nature: notice bees going into and out of the bee swarm trap and contact the beekeeper
  • Mistake of the Day: viviparous (I contacted Doug Harper of etymonline yesterday to tell him that I found a word that he left out of his dictionary... and he kindly pointed out that I was wrong... it didn't come up because I had misspelled it when I typed it in!!!!)
  • Script: emblem < n >

    n, m, r, k, h, b, p

  • LE: decide to wait on fish printing until tomorrow so that the youngest children can participate
  • UE: recall the Four Sons of Horus and choose which canopic jar figure each student would like to make, look at Pyramid by David Macaulay, hear "Anubis, God of Mummification" and start Apple Mummies (PDF) in quart ziploc bags

    next week we will begin the group project of mummifying a fish

    I recommend the 1983 Sesame Street special "Don't Eat the Pictures" to go along with the idea of having your heart weighed against a feather to see which is lighter... fascinating! I have it on VHS cassette but you can also see it on Youtube, although the picture is not of a very high quality. To skip to the weighing, start at 44:00.

Friday, April 23

  • EC: fun with Oobleck (2 containers of cornstarch), participate in fish printing, read More Potatoes! by Millicent E. Selsam and plan new plant-starting experiments for next week (celery, sweet potato)
  • Art / Fish Printing: we did fish printing this morning with rubber fish, acrylic ink (Turqoise and Silver Pearl), a foam brush, and newsprint

    for Lower Elementary, this was a piece of artwork for the MLB to accompany the story of "The Deceitful Heron"

    for Upper Elementary, this was a piece of artwork for the MLB to accompany notes about our fish mummification project

  • LE / Art / Photography: arrange and photograph still life for Monday's painting of figs, add "The Monkey and the Crocodile" to MLB
  • UE / Art / Clay: make canopic jar lids using self hardening clay, hear "Serqet, Goddess of Scorpions"

    How to Make Canopic Jars - Ancient Egypt Craft for Kids

    Imsety the human protects the liver

    Duamutef the jackal protects the stomach

    Hapi the baboon protects the lungs

    Qebehsenuef the falcon protects the intestines

    In my cupboard I had some Greek wildflower & thyme honey from the International Grocery Store... and it is the perfect shape for a canopic jar! Happily, they still carry the brand so I bought three more and will transfer all the honey to a different container and wash out the jars for our project. Our plan is to paint the front of each jar white and add hieroglyphs, but to leave the glass clear on the back so that you can turn it around and see which organ it contains (we will draw pictures of the organs and paste them inside the jars facing outward).

  • Board Games: at the end of the day, the Lower Elementary students played Who Pooped? A Matching and Memory Game and the Upper Elementary students played Passing Through the Netherworld: The Meaning and Play of Senet, an Ancient Egyptian Funerary Game

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