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!