Folks all over have been posting about their first day of school. As usual, I am late to the party. We started school three weeks ago in an effort to have some time off around the date we move into our new home. Here in the Deep South, school tends to start in August, sometimes as early as the first of August, so we were in the company of many children we knew who had already been going to school for weeks!
Our first day of Fifth and Second grade was welcomed by the children, and the older girls insisted upon wearing matching outfits as their “uniform.” We took a picture of the all the children by the front door. Usually Daddy takes the children out for breakfast on the first day, but this year he was traveling, so we decided to jump in anyway.
I always start with a bit of review from the previous year, (or begin with something that we didn’t finish! LOL). And I usually start with form drawing. So, this year my second grader began with running forms. Some of you may be familiar with a story by Donna Simmons in the Christopherus Form Drawing book that incorporates quite a few running forms for first grade (http://www.christopherushomeschool.com/Form-Drawing-For-Beginners-p/chr0007.htm), and I decided to start there since we didn’t use that particular story last year.
My second grader can have some challenges with spatial relationships, so we warmed up with quite a few exercises where I peeked at overall body dominance and hand-eye tracking, hand-eye-foot tracking and then moved into practicing these forms with chalk on the driveway, walking the forms with our eye on a fixed point facing various directions, drawing the forms on each other’s back and guessing what they were, drawing them in the air, drawing them on the blackboard and scrap paper and then finally placing them in our main lesson book. We also began a review of math – numbers and counting, skip counting, Roman Numerals, all four math processes. After running forms, we moved into the mirrored forms typical of second grade with some Trickster Tales from the Cherokee, found in this book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Rabbit-Tricked-Otter-Trickster/dp/0930407601/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346611672&sr=8-1&keywords=cherokee+trickster+tales
Our fifth grader started with some geometric forms found in the Christopherus Fourth and Fifth Grade syllabi ( http://www.christopherushomeschool.com/Fifth-Grade-Package-p/CHR1005.htm). One of the first forms we tackled was the (not-so-simple) circle. I garnered some grand inspiration from the book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing The Universe” (http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Constructing-Universe-Mathematical/dp/0060926716/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346458910&sr=8-1&keywords=beginner%27s+guide+to+constructing+the+universe).
We started with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson found in the above book: “The eye is the first circle/The horizon which it found is the second/And throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.” So we looked at each other’s eyes, and we looked at the horizon. What circular things did we see in each other and in the cosmos?
We read the book, “North Star: St. Herman of Alaska”, as a read aloud for all of us, and looked carefully at the picture of the Northern Lights, such a circular pattern in the painting in the book, and such a grand representation of the cosmos. We liked it so much we got out our paints and painted it.
Here is the book’s picture of the Northern Lights, and here is what we painted below.
We then looked back at the sky, and wondered at this idea that if we took the trajectories of the planets around the sun, the moon around the planets, the galaxies itself and tracked that around a fixed point, it would also look rather circular..There is a good picture in the “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe” book…So we painted this (blue watercolor paint over the trajectories done in yellow beeswax crayon):
We dropped rocks into water to look for the dispersion of energy, which to our eye can look like a circle, and talked about other things we could find in nature that is circular.
All shapes are possible within the circle, and one person that came to mind was the great artist Giotto. I pulled out this book and we looked at Giotto’s famous frescoes and then I told this story:
A long time ago in the country of Italy, a little boy was born to one of the village blacksmiths. As he grew it was apparent he had a certain light about him. He observed everything in great detail, and had such merry eyes and inquisitive countenance that made everyone in the village love him. His name was Giotto, and he helped his family by watching the sheep of the family amongst the rolling hills of the Italian countryside.
One thing Giotto loved to do was draw and paint the things he observed. He was a keen observer, and he could draw things in such a lifelike manner that it would make all the villagers stop and admire his talent. One day, the greatest Florentine painter Cimabue discovered Giotto drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock. They were so real, they looked like they could wander off the rock and start grazing right then and there! Cimabue was astounded, and asked Giotto’s father if he could take Giotto on as his apprentice.
Giotto went on to do such marvelous work and he kept his funny sense of humor and merriness. Once when Cimabue was absent from his workshop, Giotto painted such a lifelike fly on a painting that Cimabue was working on! When Cimabue returned to his workshop to pick up his paintbrush again, he saw the fly and kept trying to brush it off! Giotto broke into laughter and the two had a merry chuckle over the painted fly that was so lifelike Cimabue was convinced it was real!
As time went on, Giotto painted beautiful frescoes on the walls of many chapels throughout Italy and became known as the most important Italian painter of the 1300’s. But yet, when Pope Benedictus the XII contacted him and asked him to send a painting representative of his skill in order to come to Rome and paint for the Roman Catholic Church, Giotto only drew a beautiful and simple circle and sent that back by messenger to the Pope.
Why would the greatest artist in Italy do that?
So we talked about that, about what that perfect “O” really symbolized to mathematicians, artists and theologians alike – the prefectness of the circle, how all shapes can be accommodated within the circle, how the circle became the symbol of heaven and paradise. We worked with drawing round circles freehand. Ours were not nearly as perfect as Giotto’s! After this, and over the next few weeks, we moved into other geometric shapes – the triangle, the quadrangle family- and then into lines, points, and rays.
And we off to the races in fifth and second grade! We have since move into a block on Botany for our fifth grader and a Saints and Heroes block for our second grader, which I hope I get a chance to write about soon.
If you have posted your first day of school on your blog, I would love to read it. Please leave a link below. If you don’t have a blog but would like to share your first day with my readers, please leave a comment in the comment box!
Many blessings on a new school year,