Friday, October 3, 2008

What Passes For School Around Here

This is called the "Snotty Slime Clock". It comes in a kit from the Horrible Science people who also publish all of these fun science books- this year we have"Disgusting Digestion" which promises to answer all kinds of questions, like~ How much pee can your bladder hold before it pops? ~What disease makes your eyeballs bleed? ~Why can't astronauts eat beans before a space flight? Totally gross and fun, perfect for an 8 year old whose bedtime chatter last night was whether anacondas continue strangling their victims for so long after they are dead because they're really crushing their bones so the animal (or person!) is malleable enough to swallow hole, and exactly how big an animal can an anaconda eat? Of course, we haven't gotten to digestion yet- that'll be much later in the year. But I decided to mix things up a bit this year, instead of trying to follow a strictly Waldorf curriculum, or following in the classical footsteps of so many of our homeschooling peers here.

So... so far we've completed one Waldorf style block on farming-harvest, we learned about local agriculture, followed the pear cycle, and the life cycle of the honeybee, an important agricultural partner around here, for sure! For the bee bit we worked out the components of a sort of lap-book kit, which looked fun, with all kinds of little booklets to make and paper-cutting and folding and staples and brads and everything. ABCD was not impressed. "Its just a lot of filling in the blanks kind of writing, just on little pieces of paper instead of big ones. Boring!" And really, to have all of those preprinted funny things in the middle of his hand-made looking Waldorf style lesson book is a little jarring, just from an aesthetic side. So, no more lap books, at least not for main lessons, and not for awhile.
This week we started a block on time- clocks and calendars- telling time and history of- but we've been sick and not really gotten much done. Except he made the green plastic slime clock. I have to say, I bought two of the horrible science kits hoping they'd be worth the money, and they are, definitely. Some kid science kits are so flimsy and have such awful directions and boring experiments. After all, how many times can you find vinegar and baking soda interesting? (Well, unfortunately, quite a few times, it seems, but still, I don't need to pay $30 for a kit about THAT!) These kits seem quite sturdy and nice, with funny experiments that teach science between the giggles. Also for this unit we are enjoying the book "The Story of Clocks and Calendars" by Betsy Maestro, which is quite informative and very readable and pretty much covers everything we're going to talk about in this block, so there you go! We will be practising telling time and making a calendar for 2009, and doing the experiments in the slime clock kit and some others as well.

So far our school days look a little like this: light a candle, circle, harmonica (1/2 the time or so we get to it), oral reading (Old Testament stories mostly), puzzler/story problem/maze/paper folding exercise. Main lesson- Monday is Math, with a story from "Number Stories of Long Ago" or some other Waldorfy type math lesson story, then working out the story with manipulatives or figures or drawings. Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday is block lesson time (3 farm, 2 building, 1 clothing, time, money, 2-3 measurement). Friday is sort of our fill-in time right now. Snack, then 15 minutes or so for latin (Lively Latin, we LOVE it), oral math/math drill (grammar on Friday), cursive practice (copywork from OT stories on Wednesday). Tuesday is msnucleus science lab day, Wednesday is an extra math practice (Miquon workbook), and a local history story, Thursday is Leonardo da Vinci, and Friday is form drawing and another Math practice period. Lunch. And so far we're pretty much done at that point, but not for long....

We haven't started with regular nature walks and keeping a nature journal yet- that's this week, with a Waldorf style nature story first. We haven't started handwork up yet- its too easy to push aside for other things. I'd like to get ABCD to make another wood project for a Christmas present for his brother or the Grandmas, and I plan to have him sew himself a wool felt vest or something for the new baby. I haven't broken out the beeswax yet- not sure why. We haven't even done play dough in ages. Like, since spring! Guitar hasn't started yet either- we're still trying to work it all out, schedule wise and $ wise. Gym and swim at the Y is two days a week, two hours each, and Thursdays we go to the library after. Gymnastics starts Tuesday, so we'll probably do that instead on those days- it's only an hour and more fun,less hassle. But ABCD was moved up to the highest level swimming class at the Y, so we're a little torn. They're so disorganized and have such a variety of teachers its a little off-putting, added to the general atmosphere of world's most family un-friendly YMCA ever. And he has soccer team- U-9 is a bit more intense than last year, and ABCD is not competitive, so its a bit much at times. His coach is great at trying to keep it fun, but most of the boys on the team are feeling competitive and paying more attention to how the other's play, and demanding to know the score all the time (though officially its no-score still, for some reason all the Dads keep and tell the points). We're waiting for Rosetta Stone Spanish, Artistic Pursuits modern art, some more science kits, art supplies, and the nature journal still.

I started writing this post feeling like we were not getting much done school-wise, but I feel pretty good, actually, about how well I planned out the schedule, and what we're learning. Its pretty good, and fitting in the things we're waiting for shouldn't be too big a struggle. Good.

1 comment:

Melisa & Erik Nielsen said...

Sounds like you are a great mama doing fun things!


Melisa Nielsen