Monday, October 25, 2010

::Shortbread and Chickadees::

::Week 7::
Monday, October 18th~I have settled upon another necessary shift in the method and pace of my teaching. I am no longer going to frantically try and finish all of the week's work in the one week time slot I had organized it into. Neither will I cut out the precious material that is pulling us behind. Instead, I am just going to allow Cae and I to flow through the material at the pace that our life allows. This might mean that my 36-week schedule for the year stretches to be a 42 week schedule. As long as I continue to carefully keep track of what we have covered, there is no need to panic. I want to live the biblical mandate: Do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough worries of it's own!

What this means is that our Math Monday was actually an Arts Monday this week. We had a large lump of fun and colourful things to enjoy that were squeezed out of last week. Rather than rush through them, I wanted to enjoy them.

::Nature Study:: Cae and I were going to take a closer look at Autumn leaves back on "Leaf Day" but never got around to it. So, we walked around the backyard today and found a few leaves still lingering on branches. We learned about why they change colour, and what chemicals need to be present for each colour. For fun, we made a Leaf Ballerina and labeled her skirt with the scientific names for the pigments of the leaves: chlorophyll, carotene. . .

We read some ::Poetry:: that was refreshingly transparent.
"About Jesus and God. About how God made us. He gave us life."~Cae~

We have been exploring poetry styles. This week: Nonsense Verse. It was most convenient that Roald Dahl is our Feature Writer because the man spews nonsensical prose. Cae gave it a try:

The Wibby Woy
My Dad bought a little toy
and said it was a Wibby Woy.
My dad gave it a bibby-scuit,
instead it threw the gaggoo stick.
My dad told it to trock along
to the faffoo place to sing a song.

We studied some ::Art:: by Raphael Sanzio. La Donna Velato was thought to be the woman Sanzio was inlove with. Her face appears in a few of his paintings, including on the Virgin herself. This painting was Cae's favourite so far. She thought that this woman was simply beautiful. "I would call it 'The Beautiful Lady' because she is beautiful. And her hair is dark like mine. I would be happy to wear a dress like hers." When asked to "get inside" the painting and tell me what she thought it smelled like she said; "makeup." Funny.

We finally made our Egyptian beverage: Saudi Champaign. It is, basically, a lemonade.

Tuesday, October 19th~Today I really practiced my new self-imposed chill. We had a
friend over for most of the afternoon and very little school work was done. However, Cae got a lesson in shortbread making. I tried out my new stoneware. It will take a few tries to get it properly seasoned. In preparation for our ::African:: Animals Unit, Cae watched: "Deadly Dozen" with very wide eyes. Lots of gore and frightening beasts. I can never get over how dramatic the music is in wildlife documentaries. They go over the top, I find. I begged her not to study the Lion-- the least imaginative choice, {and the very choice I made back in elementary school.} I had hoped she would pick an odd animal, like the Meer Cat or warthog. But she strayed just beyond the top pick to settled on the Cheetah. This was always her Dad's favorite animal, so I felt it worthy of our attention. A few books we have been enjoying on speedy cats:

This was our springboard. "African Critters" is a visually stunning book with more eye candy than actual information. From there moved onto more focused books: "Face to Face with Cheetah's" by National Geo's Chris Johns. "Cheetah's" by Sally Morgan. And "Cheetah" by Rachael Hanel.

::English:: offered up the perfect opportunity for Caelah to spew some of her new-found knowledge about Cheetah's. She was asked to compose a note to someone about an animal from the zoo, underlining all of the nouns:

Hi Anna, today I learned about cheetahs. The cheetah has a small head to support it's weight of it's body and this is funny it has a long tail to balance when it runs fast. It also has black spots that look like tear marks, but they protect it from the sun. Love Caelah

Cae and I have begun to really explore ::Shakespeare:: We have been working through an amazing book called "Shakespeare for Kids". It is easy to read with really fun activities. We have already learned how to "juggle" with two "balls"--{my socks, rolled into themselves}. Soon we will be making pomander balls with oranges and cloves. This lovely craft, however, came by way of a close look into the Bubonic plague, and the nasty ways it killed people. Pomander balls were used to dispel "stinking aire" that the populace believed was responsible for the outbreaks.
Part of our Shakespearian studies involve re-writing "Midsummer's Night's Dream" in our own words. Very fun. I read the original play out loud. Caelah looks at me in complete bafflement. We giggle over the weird words. Then look up what it all means and put into words we actually understand. Here's an taste of what we have to show for our labours:

After studying Libya, we have begun to read a fantastic book called "The Shadows of Ghadames". We are both completely hooked. It's about the rooftop life of Muslim women in Libya.
"In the Libyan city of Ghadames at the end of the nineteenth century, Malika is dreading her twelfth birthday. That is the time when, according to her family's Berber customs, she will be close to marriageable age and confined to the world of women. In Ghadames that means restriction to the rooftops, "a city above the city, an open sunny town for women only, where . . . they never talk to men." Malika longs to live beyond the segregated city and travel, like her father, a trader. But the wider world comes to Malika after her father's two wives agree to harbor, in secret, a wounded stranger."
Thursday, October 21st~ ::Canadian History:: We are studying our final First Nations tribe today: Iroquois. She enjoyed the book "If you lived with the Iroquois". "They didn't shave their hair, they yanked it out!" I had her play a fun game I found on ::EcoKids:: called ::Heal the Drummer::. It really is amazing how God provides us with the healing power of plants.
"The Iroquois lived in a very long house, and a whole bunch of different families lived in it. Your aunts, your moms. . . The Iroquois trail is a trail through the woods for messengers. They told stories. They didn't speak the same language but they understood each other. Wampum were belts made of beads. If you needed a bath you went in the stream. The Iroquois moved a lot, if there weren't enough tress. . . Clans were a type of people named after animals, like beaver, moose. Babies were named at the Corn Festival/Winter Festival. You didn't have the same name your whole life. Once you are made chief your name changes to the last chiefs name. the oldest person in the longhouse was the big chief who made the big decision. You would eat corn, squash, beans, deer, moose. You would go hunting in the woods or fishing. You use corn in many ways: on the cob, soup, hung to dry, dolls. You would eat breakfast as a family but the rest of the day you were by yourself and would help yourself to the pot of soup your mother had made. The earth is not owned but passed on to your children. You would wear pants and a vest of deer skin if you were a man. The women would wear long skirt almost down to their feet and a blouse and vest. Deerskin shoes, decorated. They didn't sew a seam at the bottom because it would be uncomfortable. A girl would wear braids if she was unmarried. If she was married she would wear one braid. The men would have a Mohawk by picking their hair out. They didn't like beards because they thought it made them look too much like a hairy animal.You use the brains of whatever you killed and the women would make it into a cake. They would boil the brain cake and soak the skin. The women would stretch it out and dry it over the fire. If you were really bad "longnose" would come and threaten you by saying if you don't change your behaviour he will come after you. Longnose is really an adult with a mask on that the children found scary. Plants were used for medicine. They told time by watching the sky. Boys would be taught by Uncles and girls by the Aunts and mothers. Games: running, a snake game using branches and logs. The Iroquois believed that Creator made the earth. Burning tobacco sent messages of thanks up to the Creator."~Cae Narration~
She also read "Paddle-to-the-Sea."

We looked at map making in ::Geography:: We learned that mapmakers hundreds of years ago, embellished maps with crazy creatures in order to appeal to settlers. They figured settlers would find sea monsters and people with eyes on their chest alluring!
Maps were also used to represent what the mapmaker felt about a place, rather than what was actually there. In the above map, Cae spotted the following things: People with horses, wooden houses, deer, people with guns, a little town, hills and trees. You can bet there was a lot more to the place, but this is what left on impression in the mapmakers mind. For fun, I asked her to embellish a map of our road. Her creatures included an ice dragon, a spiky fish swimming in the Carp river {which is scary enough as it is, thank you!} and various beasts that looked suspiciously like Pokemon.

Sphinxes! We learned a thing or two about these odd sculptures in ::Egypt:: They have the head of a Pharaoh and the body of a lion. They are all over Egypt. They were worshiped by the Egyptians. For a long time, people thought the Sphinx lost it's nose because the French use for target practice during the Napoleonic wars. Not true. The nose was long gone before then.
The clay pendants we began last week to celebrate our ::Soil:: Unit are painted. Cae made a Blue Morpho, just like her Halloween costume a few years ago. I am very impressed with my burgeoning artist.

We began our new Unit on ::Mountains:: just before dinner. Cae managed to read "How do Mountains Form?" by Terry Allan Hicks, while playing a piece on the piano. She played, and sang the book out loud to the rhythm of the song. That is what I call multi-tasking!
Friday, October 22nd~We squeezed in a little bit of learning before a trip to a local gem: the Jack Pine Trail. The birds there are fearless. If you have birdseed in the palm of your hand, the chickadees will come and perch there. I always have a Snow White moment when they do that.
Caelah was not interested in tiny claws scritch-scratching into her palm, so we found a way to give her an up-close interaction with the birds anyhow:
Learning moment: I had no idea chickadees could hover in the air, much like hummingbirds do!

Just before we left, she watched "Bill Nye: Earth Crust" {DVD} I overheard Aidan saying; "You are going to watch it without me?!" Yes, we all love Bill Nye.
"The Earth crust is really thin. There is a core that is hot and solid with a liquid outer core. That is what lava is. Mountains are formed from plates joining together. On Mars there is a mountain that is way higher than any mountain on Earth."~Cae~
We made some homemade Playdoh, {my very first time}, to give us a better idea how Fold mountains are formed. She pancaked layers together and then compressed them. Then we chopped the "mountain at certain points to see the effects of erosion. Very cool.
::French:: A lovely book about a little tiger. She understood it very well, but we still filled out Mots Remarkables list full of foreign words.
"A young tiger whose name is Tikka. He went out to look for his Mother but she wasn't there because most of the time she comes back with something to eat because she hunts all night. He goes exploring in the woods and he sees a peacock. He tries to get it as food but the peacock flies into a tree. He doesn't get it. He smells an odour and he saw some monkeys near the wtaer. They went into the tree. He took a drink. He sees a wild chicken and frogs and lizards in the water. He walks and sees a porcupine. The porcupine feels secure because he has all sorts of quills that are sharp enough to make a young tiger like Tikka bleed. He walks to a tree where a BIG python snake appears. The python is big enough to eat Tikka. Tikka looks up and he screams. His mother hears him and comes rushing. The python isn't ready to fight a grown tiger so he goes back into the tree. Tikka's mother brings him back t the cave where she hid the food. They ate and while Tikka's mother was licking his ears he fell fast asleep."~Cae~

Curled up by the evening fire, Cae and I began to get to know C.S.Lewis. We read a bit of a biography. He and his brother used to write plays and stories for one another, but after the deaths of their parents they hid their childhood treasures in a chest and buried it in the yard of their home. Decades later we now have copies of those imaginings:
I must admit, we just couldn't get into it, although it was adorable. The publishers/editors left in all of the spelling mistakes and oddities. The boyish and wordy English text was unable to hold Caelah's attention. I may try and work through it a little longer.