Thursday, October 28, 2010

On The Rocks

I've concluded that my kids have never had as much fun as we did this day...a day on the rocks.

I'll admit the two of them typically error on the side of CAUTION.  They are not risk takers, but they took to this rocky hill like a couple of mountain goats.

They weren't content to stop.  They wanted to climb higher and higher.

The park ranger called it a 'controlled adventure'---a good description.  There were plenty of places to hang on, but the going was rough enough to get everyone's juices flowing.  Dad put the icing on the cake by producing a new sling shoot at the top of the climb.

Uh-oh, I think he has his sights set on some poor sap down below.  Don't worry, no hikers were harmed.

It was a perfect day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Week 6, Renaissance Man

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Classical Conversation's history memory work was on key figures of the Renaissance, including Shakespeare.

Now, my own Shakespearean education included a reading of Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew in high school English class.  We also sang a couple of his sonnets in choir (I still can remember some of the words).  Suffice it to say, I don't know much 'bout Shakespeare.  It's one of the many holes in my education that I hope to fill while providing an education to my children.  I don't believe six and three is too early to start to get them familiar with his works.
William Shakespeare & the Globe (Trophy Picture Books)
We began our little Shakespearean adventure with some general information about the man himself.  We read two picture books, Aliki's William Shakespeare and The Globe:

Of the two, the three of us unanimously picked the second as our favorite as we're fond of those rhyming couplets and the kids really enjoyed the children's illustrations, but both were good.

Now, here's where I prove that I'm Shakespeare illiterate.  I decided to delve into one of his plays, and for my two young children I chose, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Mistake.  I found that kids cannot  relate to lovers' triangles.  Plus, the back and forth of affections between the four, almost indistinguishable, main characters is reminiscent of a 'who's on first' skit.  Their little heads were spinning.  But, I chose it based on my one bit of knowledge--that it was a comedy.  

It was not a total loss, as they did find Puck and a man named Bottom amusing.  We persevered and now they've been exposed.  I hope they caught some of it.  We ended up considering four different versions:

Edith Nesbitt's from Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare:

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children: Being a Choice Collection from the World's Greatest Classic Writer Wm. Shakespeare

Lois Burdett's, which, despite the rhyming couplets and illustrations, we found too long and detailed:

The BBC video version from here.

And finally, Bruce Coville's version:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

This Coville version was our favorite.  It was the last one we read and we had watched the video version, so they were catching on to the story by them.  Plus the illustrations in this one are great.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trash Day

Our Classical Conversations science sentence this week dealt with pollution.  So, we got up close and personal to land pollution in the form of litter in our neighborhood.  We live in a new neighborhood still under construction.  Construction workers don't tend to tidy up after themselves, so there are a lot of opportunities for trash collecting.  Here's the litter we accumulated in just a short while.

There's plenty left where that came from.

Our history sentence dealt with Renaissance men, we focused on one....Shakespeare.  There was a scheduled break this week from Classical Conversations, so we had two weeks to cover Week 6.  It's a good thing, because our introduction to Shakespeare took a while.  More on that to come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Soul's Energies

Educating my children awakens all the energies of my soul.

I came across those words while reading Uncle Tom's Cabin last month.  Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote that about Tom's wife, Aunt Chloe, and it was cooking that awakened her soul's energies, not homeschooling.

However, the phrase caught my attention because it put into words how I was feeling about teaching my kids.

Not everyday is paradise, but I LOVE it.  I'm going to save the reasons why for later posts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week 5, Joan of Arc and Animal Adaption

In Classical Conversations, we learn a timeline of history based on the beautiful cards published by Veritas press.  Last year my children's attention was always arrested by the Joan of Arc card, which featured a painting similar to this:

Joan of Arc was a 
powerful symbol 
of French defiance 
in the  Hundred 
Years War against 
the English.

They were full of questions about that girl in armor astride a horse.  It really captured their fancy.  So, I was glad when a history sentence this year featured the young heroine.

In preparation, I ordered Diane Stanley's Joan of Arc.  Unfortunately, my children's attention spans were not ready for  Ms. Stanley.  Instead, I obtained a library copy of Joan of Arc:  The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges.  They REALLY liked this one.  

I was familiar with another Margaret Hodges book, Saint George and the Dragon, but was unaware she had written so many books set in the middle ages.  Since my children like Joan of Arc and Saint George the the Dragon, I decided to just make it Margaret Hodges week, and we also went on to read Dick Whittington and His Cat.

Our geography memory work featured the Alps.  I was eager to read a book from Sonlight's kindergarten list, The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Bluff, which is set in the Alps during the 13th century.  This is a terrific historical 'novel' that we read over several days.  I really feel repetition is good, so we'll no doubt read this one again when we learn about Switzerland.

While reading this book, the kids colored a couple of castles from this coloring book, part of this new collection.

For science, our memory work related to the ways animals adapt to environmental change.  We revisited The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader, which is a perfect fit for the topic.  Because it related well to ecology in general, we also read The Salamander Room, a Five In a Row selection.  

Along with the book we watched the Reading Rainbow video.  However my son declared it, the 'worst show he's ever seen.'  Well, not a good attitude, but I'm not really a LeVar fan either.