The past few weeks have seen spring come in with full force – one moment is rather beautiful and warm and the next minute it is literally thundering and sleeting at the same time. Our homeschooling has gone in spurts and fits as well, but overall has been fairly productive…
Kindergarten: We moved from a late winter circle into an early spring circle and also into our new story about a little leprechaun from Suzanne Down’s wonderful little book, “Spring Tales”. We have been enjoying walks outside, even in blustery weather, and collecting interested dried seed pods still hanging on some of the foliage. We have been wet on wet painting with blue and yellow, modeling, baking and reciting nursery rhymes. We also spent a good deal of time on the stories of Saint David of Wales as part of our religious tradition.
Fifth Grade: We are still roaring through the mythology of Ancient Greece. For some reason, this feels much less laborious than it did when we did this block with our first child. We went through the minor gods and goddesses and the heroes of Ancient Greece (Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason). We wet -on- wet painted Prometheus bringing fire down to earth, and we did a painting of Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice. We have modeled Grecian urns/pottery and drew the different types of columns found in Greek architecture. We have also worked through many beginning geometry exercises, the life of Euclid, the six types of triangles and degrees in angles. We will be continuing through more geometry in the coming weeks. We also started reading the epic of Odysseus since we finished Lois Lenski’s “Strawberry Girl”.
Toward the end of this school week, we moved into the Ancient Americas with our math block. I used Marsha Johnson’s “The History of Chocolate” math block as a springboard to create a block combining review of four processes of math, decimals, the mythology of the Toltecs, Mayas and Aztecs and a little about the Ancient Americas, and chocolate. I just don’t see how I can live here in the United States and not talk about these early cultures in Native America in fifth grade. The first story I told was the Toltec story of how chocolate was brought down to earth (which sounds similar to the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology) and we talked about the cacao tree. We also practiced all four math processes through word problems involving the cacao pods and beans and the process of fermentation.
We are still working hard on spelling and math every day. Other than that , practices for two separate plays (one a Waldorf play and one a spring musical at our church), ribbon practice for church choir, horses, and 4H are keeping us busy.
Eighth Grade – Whew. That is all I can say. Our Geography of Asia block has ended, but we are still tying up loose ends with a Daruma doll made out of paper mache that needs finishing touches and a diorama of the Great Barrier Reef and a one page report on that in the works. We finished up our Oceania summary and have a wet on wet watercolor painting to go. Whew.
We are now in our last history block of eighth grade, which has the challenging task of covering from about The Gilded Age through the War on Terrorism and Digitality. So this week we have mainly covered the biographies of Rockefeller and Carnegie, the Gilded Age and all the myriad of things going on in that short time period, and looked at examples of architecture of The Gilded Age (especially the regional attraction we have visited: The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC). We also looked at the life of Albert Einstein, his theories and examples of this in the news with the discovery of gravitational waves. We looked at the overall themes of imperialism (which we had already covered in our seventh grade block on Africa last year), and the themes of totalitarian rule and our own Bill of Rights and are moving soon in the Russian Revolution and World War I. Wish us luck as we continue to cover major themes in this block.
We are still reading, “Red Scarf Girl” as a read aloud. Our eighth grader has said this is her favorite book of the entire year. She finished reading “The Good Earth” and we used that book as a beginning springboard to analyzing literature beyond plot – so into themes, symbolism, atmosphere, atmosphere, point of view. There was also a test. Our next book is “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” and we will delve even deeper into literary analysis, including more about foreshadowing and tone and all the other things mentioned above. These are good exercises for this second semester of eighth grade as over the summer I will be assigning three books to read, analyze upon a theme and write an essay. For independent reading, our eighth grader is reading a book that ties in with what we are doing now with World Geography about growing up in Palestine.
In World Geography, we are finishing up the projects regarding Asia from our block but now continuing with our weekly studies. We are studying the Middle East right now, along with Southwest and Central Asia. We went back and reviewed the history of the Middle East from Biblical times through now, including Palestine and the creation of Israel. We also spent a good deal of time looking at OPEC and also Afghanistan and the War in Afghanistan. These issues probably could have been left for high school, but an introduction here is sufficient. Perhaps we will do a more in-depth study of the Middle East in high school as well. In the meantime, we got about twenty books out from the library regarding individual countries in the Middle East, Southwest and Central Asia and will be leafing through all of those this week. We haven’t decided what to put in our Main Lesson Book yet regarding this area of the world; there is so much!!
In math we are working daily. Our eighth grader is busy with ribbon practice for church choir (that Anglican chorister tradition!) , the spring musical and the presentation for 4H this weekend.
I would love to hear what you have been up to!
Phew! Don’t know how you do it, Carrie! Hats off 🙂
My first grade twins and I have been enjoying our LA block- last week Frog Prince and this week Queen Bee, with puppet shows, drama, painting and first sentences. Our very first sentences though were of verses that we’ve recited since they were toddlers- so special to have those be the first real sentences they wrote! The earth is firm beneath my feet, the sun shines bright above…
I’ll note that we’re having a lot of fun with our circle time- practicing our skip counting and other number activities along with new poems, songs, and movement. We’ve been doing circle since they were 2 and at times it has felt stale and hard to see the potential for change, yet circle time this year has shown its great potential! We can expand or retract based on need, mood, demands of the day. Layering in for example our skip counting and alliterative verses along with movements has been such a great evolution. We’re knitting squares that we hope to turn into stuffed bunnies for Easter and spending some quality time in the kitchen – working on recipes and maybe our own cookbooks. We’re also learning some new games like backgammon and new card games. Oh and a friend of mine introduced us to some string games (cat’s cradle). What a hit and I am def. ordering a book for some of the “patterns”
As the wheels turn in the back of my head and I think ahead toward a first grade year end gathering (last year for K, we hosted an art show at our house and displayed their years’ work all over), I’m thinking some verse recitation or puppet show for a smaller audience of friends and family. Do others mark the end of their homeschool year?
Always lovely to visit your site Carrie. Thank you!
I am honestly not sure how it all happens either. LOL. I love the idea of marking the end of the school year. We usually go out with more of a whimper than a bang, (hahahaha) but this year I really want to do a little open house and lay out all the things my eighth grader has done over the years….I actually thought of videotaping some of it and talking about it for other homeschooling mothers to see progression of work through the grades, but I don’t know. We shall see!
These weekly updates have been so helpful as I am planning for fifth grade! (And always great to look at your kindergarten plans as well for my four year old!). I would love to know the resources you used for the Toltec, Mayan and Aztec mythology block. I really want to add this in to fifth grade as well.
Sure… I used Marsha Johnson’s History of Chocolate block available at The Magic of Waldorf website (you have to buy it), supplemented with a lot of things from the Internet on the Toltecs, Aztecs and Mayas and I used Montejo’s Popol Vuh, Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate by Dianne de Las Casas (picture book), The Chocolate Tree: A Mayan Folktale (early reader kind of book but for me to put in my own words after reading), and the very thick A Treasury of Mexican Folkways by Frances Toor.
Hope that helps