Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Imaginary Kingdom, Colonial Arts & Crafts and Responsibility ...

Academy of Zion Week in Review Week Four ...

I guess I'm posting this late again.  Tuesday, posting about last week.  Maybe I'm not really late.  Maybe this is on time ... for ME.  Who knows.  I try to get to the blog.  My brain is OFTEN blogging, but my fingers don't make it to the computer very often.  Such is life.  With time, I may get better at adding this as yet another new habit.  Until then ... I'll get to it when I get to it.  Which, apparently, is going to be on Tuesdays.  

This past week has been filled with TONS of outdoor play.  The weather has been just phenomenal.  There's nothing quite like the crisp, cool(ish) air of fall to put you in a good mood.  To make you want to let the kids play outside.  To make you want to listen to music with the doors and windows open.  To make you want to bake, cook, and just be NATURAL.  Well, that's just what we've been doing.  Let me share a bit of it with you. 

The Three Rs

Much to my amazement, the Fairy is starting to write.  She's been highly opposed to anything that involved her having to write for quite some time.  I think her short stint in a public school kindergarten class turned her against it.  Instead of making homemade applesauce and building castles and playing with playdough and painting and gardening and all of the stuff she SHOULD have been doing in kindergarten, she went to a school where she spent her days WRITING.  All the time.  Nothing but WORK.  No play.  Such is the life of the modern kindergarten student.  "Kindergarten is the new First Grade" said her teacher to me.  One of the MANY reasons we homeschool.  Those poor children are starting the rat race earlier and earlier.  No Thank You!

Anyway, this week she (by her own idea, by choice) wrote her best friend back in NC a letter.  She drew her a picture.  She addressed and stamped the envelope.  She placed it in the mailbox for the postman.  I was so proud.  This was all in her free time.  The funny thing is, I had already brainstormed the idea of having her write a letter once a week for her "Language Arts", but I had not yet implemented it.  You see, had it been MY idea, it probably would have been a chore, would have been met with disdain.  But, since SHE thought of it, we're golden.  Now, all I'll have to do is GENTLY suggest the next letter.  Maybe to her Nanu or her Gammy or to her best friend again.  We'll try to keep that going.  Secretly.  Not "school", just a "fun thing to do".  :-)  

So, you may be wondering why I say she is suddenly "writing".  I mean, one measly letter to a friend?  Well, she also has started a BOOK.  She has written an entire page and illustrated it on two different days.  I told her if she continues to just do a page a day, it won't feel too difficult, and she'll have a real book in no time.  I'm so proud!  Here are the first two pages (please note, this is in her quiet time, when her sister naps, so Momma is not there to tell her how to spell stuff.  This is just HER creative juices flowing, no worries about spelling, so obviously many of the words are not correct.  But, I'm SO tickled that she is writing, I would never hinder that with petty spelling corrections.  We will get to that!):  

As for the lessons, we are now at Step 6 in All About Spelling (AAS) and lesson 9 in Right Start Math (RS).  It's so cute to see her use what she's learned throughout the day!  The lessons in AAS have taught her to segment the sounds of words.  Now, every time she is writing something down, I hear her going "wuh wuh wuh" "ah ah ah" "tu tu tu" "eh eh eh" "er er er" ... to spell water.  It is SO rewarding to see the fruits of your labor!  

Other than that, I can tell you she LOVES her abacus and quite enjoyed playing a matching game in MATH of all things!  She is loving this math program.  It is 100% parent-intensive, meaning I cannot give her a math workbook and say "here, do this" ... Momma has to present a lesson and work WITH her, play the games WITH her, etc each day.  There aren't worksheets.  She LOVES this.  Momma is learning.  It's a lot of work for me, but if it's working for her, it is worth it!  The Princess is also quite enjoying her math lessons.  I can't say enough about how enjoyable the RightStart program seems to be for the children.  What kid wouldn't enjoy learning math with songs and rhymes and games and hands-on activities?  Momma just needs to learn to be better prepared for each lesson so that it doesn't take quite so long.  We'll get there ~ this is a learning journey for ALL of us!    

Spiritual Studies

We finished up the book Meet Jesus this week.  We talked about how Jesus wanted us to remember his LESSONS of love and kindness.  We talked about how his lessons spread throughout the world.  

The Princess ... note the LOVE all around the world!
The Fairy ... note all of the continents and God's Hands loving us all!

We read about the Last Supper.  Check out the Princess' picture ~ note the backwards "J" at the top ~ that is Jesus.  She says he is very HAPPY!  I just love the detail of all of the chalices and the food. 

We talked about how some people believe that Jesus was the son of God and that after he died, God resurrected him.  This is celebrated by many people as Easter.  We also talked about how Jesus could be a very wise teacher who had so much to share with us, whether or not he was the son of God.  We talked about how important it is to remember WHAT he taught us about LOVE and JUSTICE and PEACE.  We talked about how we can celebrate the life of Jesus by trying to BE LIKE him ... trying to live our lives with loving kindness!

Ancient History

This week we learned about the Nile River by reading chapter 3 of our Story of the World book and watching this video:

We also read The Murder of Osiris, an ancient Egyptian myth.  It was fascinating for Momma to notice (internally, these were not discussed) the similarities between this story and the stories of Moses in the bulrushes and of Jesus' resurrection.  Osiris is placed in a coffin in the Nile River, where he dies (for some reason this imagery just reminded me of all of the images of baby Moses in the river) and in the end his wife wraps his body in linen and he comes back to life (again, this imagery reminded me of the imagery in the Bible's depictions of Jesus being wrapped in linen and coming back to life).  We have plans to build a model of the Nile River (I'm using basil and parsley instead of grass so that it is more useful), but we have not done that yet.  Maybe this week.  Just for fun, we also read The Beginning of Life, an Aboriginal myth of creation.  Once again, it is always fascinating to see the similarities and differences in cultural stories.  Surprisingly, the serpent was a symbol for GOOD in this story! 

Science and Nature

We spent a lot of time out in nature this week!  The girls have created an entire imaginary kingdom in the bamboo in our backyard.  The kingdom is called Petilula and has even been invaded by Evil Edward, whom they easily defeated with magic bubbles!  There is a fantastic maze through the bamboo, but it "empties" or ends in the land of ants, so they had to be innovative and think to go put tights on so as not to be covered in ants when they come out of it!  The Fairy has been really exploring all of her nature magazines at breakfast lately.  It's amazing how much those things can teach a child!  Finally, she also started making tiny birds out of reeds or leaves she found in the yard.  Here is a shot of her first one:

We also started reading the Burgess Animal Book this week.  We learned the differences between a Hare and a Cottontail Rabbit.  The Fairy was absolutely amazed that there are rabbits that swim, that like to swim.  They are called Marsh Rabbits.  We're pretty excited about sticking with this book and learning about all the animals from Mother Nature.  Momma just loves how easily children learn when you read them stories and get them out in nature to experience it for themselves!

Homeschool Co-Op

As usual, we had a wonderful time at our co-op last week.  The girls both started learning soccer skills in PE and learned about manatees and walruses in their Swimming Creatures class.  They even did an experiment to show how sound waves travel.  Here are a few pictures:

In her Elementary Civics class, the Princess made a George Washington wig.  Such a funny little activity, but for Momma a moment to realize that the pressure to conform in this country has been around for over 200 years ... hmmmm.  

As I've told you before, the Fairy is taking an Art Treasury class where she learns about an artist and then copies one of his works.  This week she learned about James Abbott McNeill Whistler and made a really cool picture of city buildings on the horizon and their reflections in the water.  


In other news, we continued to listen to Bach whenever we did our written work.  I still have several books about him that I want to read, but we haven't found the time yet.  We will.  Some cute tidbits about this week:

The Fairy spent some time trying to teach the Princess to ride her Razor this week in preparation for hopefully getting a pink razor for the Princess for Christmas this year.  

One morning this week the girls wanted to exercise after Momma was finished, so they both did a family version of Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds called Family Walk.  The Fairy was over it after about 10 minutes, but the Princess did the entire thing and felt so much stronger after!  :-)

The Fairy is LOVING doing the mad-lib type things in her magazines!  I need to get her some Mad Libs for her birthday this year.  They are so much fun to her that she doesn't even realize that they are teaching her grammar!  

We're also learning some lessons in Responsibility this week.  The Fairy has been asked to take care of the neighbor's cats for a week and a half.  This is a huge responsibility, and one that she is doing quite nicely!  She's even going to get paid for it ... and the sweet girl that she is, she is allowing the Princess to come along so that she can share the money with her when she gets it.  

And, finally, we had a hands-on History lesson this week.  We went to the Colonial Arts and Crafts fair in the oldest city in America on Sunday.  The girls got to watch as a metal-worker made a spoon and melted it down, over and over.  They got to dress up in colonial clothing and were tickled to learn that even boys wore dresses (well, actually, they are called shifts, but they look like dresses) until they were seven!  We had tons of fun and have the pictures to prove it ... Enjoy!  

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