Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Extreme Parenting

Time is flying! I dropped these pictures into blogsy at least a month ago, and then got so caught up in, well, life that I forgot all about them. I recently heard homeschooling described as "parenting on steroids".... and that is incredibly accurate. Extreme parenting.

Botony from a Waldorf perspective was really something. Plant families as they relate to the development of a human being from birth to adulthood, how humans have brought about many plants from one base plant (check out the wild cabbage!), the different ways plants express themselves through scent, sweetness, color, shape, and size, the gifts plants give, the relationships plants have with other creatures (gall wasps!) and more. No mention of the standard info, like photosynthesis, parts of a seed, or cellular structure. That will come. First, the child must develop a relationship with and appreciation for the whole plant.

E wrote this after his first French lesson. He's using an app called Duolingo; so far so good.

Fractions. I started this year with Jamie York's Making Math Meaningful, but quickly realized that E is not ready for me to teach him math directly, and perhaps never will be. That's okay. Back to Teaching Textbooks!

This is e racing her clouds! I used Tales of the Shimmering Sky for her first weather block, and she enjoyed it immensely.

e helped me sew a set of math squirrels for a friend. They certainly have personality!

I have never been able to create green by layering. I know it can be done....but not by me. So after seven years, I finally just mixed a jar of green! And one of purple. Beautiful, deep purple.

Another idea from Tales of the Shimmering Sky: the rainbow snake who threw himself into the sky as a sculpy necklace! The downside of doing so many varied crafts for e's first block turned out to be that my little sanguine e now expects that much variance every week! Painting the seven days of creation (we are on day five) was too much of the same by day two!

 

So what have we done since these pics were taken in early September? Jewish culture, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, People of the Woodlands, the Jamestown Colony, Ancient Mythology and geography of India, typing, math, form drawing, painting, drawing, modeling, sewing, knitting, crocheting, building, food preparation and preservation, gardening, weather, fibers, Michaelmas, read-alouds (Wildwood series by Colin Melot), swim team, gymnastics, chorus.... And somewhere in there we've cleaned laundry, dishes, and toilets, too. Currently in the works is a pot of marigolds, boiling on the stove. I don't expect to get such a shade of yellow as Nicole achieved, as our marigolds are orange and red. Perhaps an earthy brown, good for knitting animals.

 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Blessings

A year and a half ago, I joined Waldorf Essentials Thinking Feeling Willing program, and wrote about it here. Since then, Melisa, TFW, and the TFW community have been amazing, especially as we worked on getting E sorted out last spring/summer.

This picture perfectly embodies our school life right now. E's pill box, with all the gut-healing supplements that have enabled him to sit and focus. Sunglasses, which he now frequently uses even indoors because of Irlen. A return to cursive, which for 6 months was too much to handle. Shading, that he never had the will to do before. Best of all, my E willingly completing seatwork. I have no doubt this year will have ups and downs, but right now I am going to enjoy the blessings of peace.

 

Then last week, I had the honor of seeing my first guest post published here! So exciting.

 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

First Week, Almost Complete!

We began slowly, with main lesson only. Botony for E, weather for e.

Bulbs: fleshy layers of leaves ready to spring up at the first warmth.

Some plants place their scent in the flower, while others keep it deep inside the bulb. We had an extra sixth grader with us for the first lesson. Two boys, onions, and knives...

 

The wonderful part of this is that the boy attends a school for the gifted, but didn't know parallel vs reticulate leaves, that onions and tulips were both bulbs, or what rhizomes might be. He was truly impressed, declared me an artist for my chalkboard drawing, and told E this is the best school ever. E came to a quiet conclusion that I may have been right when I told him every form of education leaves gaps of some kind.

Tulips are based on a six-point star.

What happens when one saut├ęs onions? The sugars caramelize. There are sugars?

The parallel quality of the leaf extends down into the bulb. Bulbs are made up of layers of colorless leaves, right? So this makes sense. Shown is a rhizome leaf alongside the onion skin. We have an amazing number of rhizome plants in our yard....

e has spent much of her time listening to wind stories. Her favorite is Gluskabi and the Wind Eagle. We even watched a third grade class production of it on YouTube. This is the start of her Beaufort Scale, a visual method of estimating wind speed.

Then on to roses, based on a five-point star. Briar roses have five petals. A long time ago, Persians created the garden rose from the briar rose, and today still all roses have petals in multiples of five. We learned about grafting, again with YouTube. And accents. One of the videos was a man from Alabama, and E was fascinated by his accent!

E has now completed an entire summer of 28-hours-a-week of gymnastics with the big boys, and his grips showed his efforts! Falling to pieces, they were. These are his new high bar grips, prior to breaking-in. He's the proud owner of buckles this time around!

 

We have just a few tasks left to pick up this weekend: comparing roses to apple blossoms, a main lesson book page, completing the Beaufort Scale for the wall, and flying a kite. I love Waldorf more every year!

 

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

On Mark, Get Set....

One week left! One week to pull this house together and be ready to start lessons. This has been a fast and beautiful summer, and my children have gained quite a few new skills. E, training with the big boys, has pretty much lived at the gym; he trains 28 hours a week! He is ready to compete as a level 7 gymnast this winter. e earned Most Valuable Swimmer in the 8 and under category for summer swim team, and can't wait to get back in the pool this fall. They've both gained handwork and painting skills....but shhhh...don't tell E that! I'm not sure he realized what he was doing. ;)

So, onward! Weather and botony are up first. e has her weather vane ready, and her weather journal arrived yesterday. E has been looking closer at our garden, and I found a few torn-apart flowers last week. Here we go!

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

The end.

Last week was our last week of main lessons. I had scheduled another month, but we are done. Botany can wait until August, and Stories of Wonder can be enjoyed anytime. I downloaded Jim Wiess audio stories onto the kids' devices that they haven't heard since our drive from Alaska two years ago. E's been listening to Treasure Island and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in addition to his usual Sparkle Stories. e is enjoying Good Luck Duck and Tom Sawyer. It's been a bit quieter than usual around here!

This is the first time in 8 years that our tangrams have been played with! I'm just a little excited.

e's penguin, standing on an ice block, nose in the air...

 

A volcano to go with our ancient studies. It led to quite a bit of experimenting.


I might have mentioned to the kids that I took all my notes in high school backwards....

Math review, because testing is a-comin'....

I'll be back with final pictures of main lesson books. Testing awaits....as does the beautiful sunshine!

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ancients, Geometry, Botony, oh my!

E's blocks are flying by! This month is Ancients, which means practice at drawing maps and taking notes.

We dyed silkworm cacoons and unwound them...unfortunately our attention didn't hold up to the mile of silk thread in each cacoon, so I used scissors to find the larvae and its final shed hiding inside. Fascinating.

We also read about Ancient Chinese gods and goddesses. Very different from the Greek and Norse.

We attended a concert of the African Children's Choir, which was perfectly timed right in the middle of the week E studied Africa! So much energy and dance and beauty. E was angry about going, anxious he'd catch Ebola, and unsettled by the change in routine, which made for a difficult week....but I am still glad we went. Totally worth it.

 

We also watched a documentary about the history of the Sahara. Ocean-life fossils in the blocks that make up the Great Pyramid? Whale fossils in the dessert? Piqued his interest.

Then back to Egypt. Amenhotep caught E's attention- that was the pharoah from the book Casting the Gods Adrift! Awesome.

This was the first map I insisted he trace. I wanted him to recognize the land shapes around the Mediteranean: Italy's boot, round (future) Spain, curvy Greece. He grumbled about tracing but noticed the shapes right away. He especially likes Italy's shape, and was surprised to see Greece so close to the Nile. Next side-reading will be D'Aulairs Book of Greek Myths!

Phoenicians produced a purple dye from boiling salt, lemon juice, and snails, so we thought we'd try our hand at blueberry dye. It turned out more pink than purple...

We just can't let geometry rest. It is far too interesting!

 

And here are the Botony pages I did not share for the end of March:

 

 

Gardening has given him many opportunities to demonstrate his knowledge and power of observation, like yesterday he pointed out that taproot leaves all funnel water to the center, while fibrous root leaves scatter the rain. Hmm....

This. I took e to the doctor this morning, leaving big E alone. When we returned, he had finished his entire school and chore list and had made plans to build a paralette! I took him to Home Depot for supples, and he created this, a mini high bar, all before lunch.

 

So proud of my boy. :)

 

Tricksters, a Saint, and a Few Forms

After a month mostly off from writing and drawing, e is back into it! She has even begun writing her own summaries. I ask her what scene she wishes to draw, and what story elements are necessary for a reader to understand the picture. She is proud of her new independent skill, as am I. :)

Anansi and his strange, moss-covered rock sitting on e's form.

Coyote's Rain Song from Enki kindergarten. One of our all-time favorites!

Zomo the Rabbit is by the same author as our beloved Raven.

Another favorite from Enki that we can't let go of: The Bojabi Tree.

Now we are working our way through Christopherus' trickster tales. e has decided she should read them herself, so each night while I am making dinner, she pulls out the binder and reads to me!

The trickster tales, combined with her ability to read them herself and write her own summaries, have met e exactly where she is at this moment in time.

The mirrored forms also catch her attention. It is harder than it looks to produce these!

Columba was the tale end of our Irish studies in March. She learned Einini, a sweet lullaby in Irish Gaelic, as well as an Irish step dance to Irish Washerwoman and (part of) a Scottish sword dance. We learned that Irish Gaelic does NOT sound like it looks. We looked at pictures of Ireland, memorized poems about Ireland, and found out that there is evidence that the Celts visited the shores of North America long before Columbus. We did not ever finish The King of Ireland's Son, though. Maybe this summer, if she asks.

She is still doing Teaching Textbooks four days a week, and squirrel number practice with me.

 

We are doing nature paintings this week, a few more trickster tales next week... A friend recommended Love and Roast Chicken. I can't wait to read it!

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Season With a Happy Ending

By the teeny little hairs of our chinny-chin-chins, we survived the few weeks between states and regionals.

And it was well worth it. E had some new experiences, like figuring out how to put on a singlet and competing with a cold after being up all night coughing. When all was complete, he had his highest ever all-around score and a fifth place award. My child, who used to perform worse under pressure of competition, had competed against the best level six athletes from seven states, with a cold, and came in fifth. Pretty freakin awesome. He had finally proven to himself that there were no excuses, no reason to worry...just give it your best and have fun.

This season, nearly everything that E worried about came true. He was injured and thus forced to scratch events, but the world didn't end. He was perfectly healthy but performed only okay, and his coach was not angry. He caught a cold right before a meet, and performed fine. He competed under pressure, and did better than ever. He nearly missed his moi support on parallel bars, but still earned his best ever all-around score.

 

This has been a fantastic season.

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

This past week has been a bit much. We have been busy with two physical therapy appointments, an African Children's Choir concert, and a Gathering of the Guilds in addition to the usual chorus, errands, play date, and gymnastic trainings. Whew! In addition (or because of?) the kids were rotten to each other and E fought school every day. Noted. But the PT was necessary (and will be ongoing), and the choir and guilds were amazing experiences that I believe we all benefitted from. It is tricky to sort out what is worth pushing E for, though. The backlash can be long-lasting.

 

The kids have been asking a lot of questions about countries, continents, capitols, states...and they have been listening to anthems and drawing flags. Many, many flags. So I attempted to draw a map of continents on my board. Not too bad. The kids compared it to our little globe, which led to questions about the lines criss-crossing on the globe, time zones, and hemispheres. Longitude and latitude! Did I say E missed geography last year? It is covered now, and in a fraction of the time.

Next up on E's agenda is science. He wants to know all the laws of of physics. All. The. Laws. Rather than googling it, I am reading through this science book. I want to approach this in a logical order. The author recommends starting with this book even if the children are middle school age, and I plan to read through the second book as well before we begin. E takes issue with science experiments he didn't create himself, so I am not sure how this will go. I may need to be teaching e, or myself, instead. I wonder how he would respond to something like Tinker Crate? It is pre-fabricated, but not by me...

 

Meanwhile, E is perfecting his 3D drawing. This is his first house with a roof.

Easter eggs! And, as part of our Ancient China lesson, silkworm cocoons that we are unraveling. We dipped them into the leftover egg dye!

Happy Easter!

 

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

All About the Plants

Botony has taken over! We received a gorgeous flower arrangement from Nana this morning, and what do we do? Dissect a daisy! We thought the yellow center was made up of stamens, but we were wrong! Many, many pistils. The stamens are tucked into the curve at the base of each petal. Soooo....how does the flower insure that the pollinator will come into contact with the pollen? Maybe the nectar is tucked in there, too. Interesting.

Last week I pulled up old (or invading) plants to prepare the garden for new growth. Noting that roots are similar to branches, E decided to see if they can switch duties. Will the branches begin to draw in nutrients? Will the roots grow leaves? Nope. But a mint plant will survive with only a teeny bit of root touching the soil, it's stem doing a U-turn to head upward again.

Ready, set, grow! Seeds are planted. Why are we still getting frost at night? Where is spring?

 

The garden is e's baby. She and I have worked on it from the start. She made the markers, planted seeds in the rain, watered it today in the sun.

I adore my chalkboard wall!! So much learning can happen without me saying a word. Today E ran in and out, matching roots he'd pulled up to the kinds on the board. He found everything: a great benefit to living in Virginia! He also dug a few holes in the grass...luckily grass grows back. :)

 

e is learning to read cursive. Not write it, just read. Fun stuff. I'm still not sure how my little e grew big enough to be reading cursive!

"I don't eat anything from a flower," declared my otherwise quite intelligent boy. Luckily we had a lot of fruit in the house to cut open. Crazy boy.

Symmetry! I found the kids playing with the laundry doors last month. Hilarious, and a great teachable moment.

E received a 3D pen for his birthday. Quite a lesson in melting points, different plastics, and architecture.

 

Geometry won't stay in its own block! We've moved on to using a compass, which at first elicited fits. It isn't as easy as mom makes it look! But he got it, and now draws his own compass creations during quiet time.

Aaaaand I'm still not caught up! More to come!