These last few weeks have been heartbreaking. The giant dog that we owned and loved, the best dog we have ever had out of the four dogs we have owned over our nearly twenty-four years of marriage, was diagnosed with bone cancer and died. So, it has been a time of great sorrow and now emptiness in our household.
It has also been a time of spring, of new life and new beginnings, and trying to homeschool in the midst of the jumble of emotions and juxtapositions has been a challenge. We move forward each day, one foot in front of the other, and sometimes that is all that there really is. In the meantime, we are moving slowly through our blocks, but here are some of the things we have been working on (if you need to see where last were, try this back post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/03/06/weeks-23-and-24-homeschooling-eighth-fifth-and-kindy/)
Kindy: Holding a steady rhythm has been a real challenge throughout all the uncommon things going on. However, we have managed to do braiding, wet felting and knitting; loose parts play; painting and modeling; hiking and biking and being outside in the yard especially. Our dog really enjoyed that most in her last days especially, even when we all had to carry her outside.
We were doing an Early Spring Circle but now have changed into a circle of “Rabbit’s Adventure” as I have modified it from the book “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures”. Our story earlier this month was Suzanne Down’s “Lucky Patrick” and now we have moved to one of my seasonal favorites for spring, also by Suzanne Down, called, “Spring Kite Magic.”
Our preparations for Lent were way behind what we normally did, other than making wet felted eggs and dying eggs. We missed all the Great Liturgies for Holy Week because I just felt too fragile and sad (except for the Great Liturgy of Easter), but I hope to attend the celebrations of Eastertide to the fullest.
Fifth Grade: We finished our Greek Mythology and we finished our math block of the Ancient Americas/Chocolate, where we focused on all four math processes, the stories of Toltec and Mayan mythology, and cooking with chocolate. My original inspiration for this block was from Marsha Johnson, and you can find her notes on her “Magic of Waldorf” website, but I built on it quite a bit from there. We also spent a bit of time this week on the Ancestral Puebloans of the American Southwest and will swing back around to this when we do North American Geography in a few short weeks. We kept on with geometry and have worked our way through the six types of triangles, discovering interior angles, the chords of a circle, quadrilaterals, some biographies of Ancient mathematicians and their discoveries, and will be moving into circles and ellipses this week in conjunction with our new block. This week we will be beginning a block on the metric system based around the geography and sites of our neighbor, Canada. We just finished the read-aloud of Padraic Colum’s Children’s Homer and will be starting Holling C. Holling’s “Seabird”. My original goal was to make a board game of the journey of Odysseus, but I feel as if we are running out of time and no longer in that place as we have moved on in blocks. We shall see. Other than that, we have been working on spelling in addition to the math. I find when we have a math block it is very taxing for our fifth grader and there is not a lot of energy left for as many artistic pursuits, so cooking has been a good adjunct to this block.
Eighth Grade: We finished the Gilded Age with a summary and a lovely map of the Biltmore Estate that is our regional representation of the architecture of the Gilded Age. We did talk about Einstein, we discussed Trotsky and Stalin and the Russian Revolution and spent some time comparing totalitarian regimes to our own country and our Bill of Rights, and then moved into the causes, events and outcomes of World War I and read a biography of Woodrow Wilson. (The causes of World War I tied in nicely into our World Geography course where went back over the history of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire).
We talked about the outcomes of World War I planting the seeds for World War II, the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance and some poetry from that time period, drew a picture of the flapper for the Main Lesson Book, discovered the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, along with more poetry. This week we are finishing up World War II – we looked at the causes of the war and conditions in Germany, Japan, and Italy; we are reading a biography of Churchill; I told the stories of FDR, Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito; we discussed the complete horrors of the Holocaust and the people who were lights within the Holocaust – for this time around I focused on the role of the Grand Mosque in Paris as a short-term safe haven; we reviewed all the events of the war and the prominent American generals of the war, the horrors of Japanese-American Internment and the reasons the Allies “won”. We looked at if there were any parallels between WW II and what is happening in our world with the Islamic State. FDR died here in our state, so it is my hope to visit Warm Springs and talk more about FDR’s life. We are now moving into the aftermath of World War II and the timeline and development of the events of the Cold War, including Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War – mainly through biography, just as we did in studying World War II. This week has mainly been the history of this period, including the struggle for Civil Rights, through the biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK.
We will also look at the Space Race, and the era of Reagan and end with the War on Terrorism and the Age of Digitality before this block is over. I Our eighth grader read “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” and we discussed it as a piece of literature, and now she is reading JKF’s “Profiles in Courage.”
In World Geography, we finished Oceania and also finished the area of North Africa/Southwest and Central Asia. We looked thoroughly at the Middle East and its history again, through the modern era, and focused on OPEC and the Creation of Israel. We read Julia Johnson’s “Saluki, Hound of the Bedouins” and our eighth grader drew a picture from that. She also made a very large map in which we labeled all the tribes of the Middle East. We covered the geography and culture of the sub-Saharan African countries and discussed the intertwining of electricity, economic growth and how South Africa has been displaced in economic growth by Nigeria and how it is predicted that Nigeria will be replaced by Ethiopia and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo (in second place) by 2050 depending upon infrastructure and power. We also have discussed President Obama’s 2013 initiative, “Power Africa”. We have Russia and Europe to finish off our World Geography course. I feel this course has been a very successful one this year and a high school credit will be well-earned for the amount of work it has been.
We are working on math daily as well, and I am looking forward to ending our World History block and moving into Oceanography and Meteorology in April. Our eighth grader did her presentation on the Junior Ranger Badge/Get Outdoors Program for her 4-H presentation and is looking at options for 4-H next year. I am also excited about a regional homeschool field trip group that has formed that has over 3,000 members and will be doing all kinds of wonderful field trips this summer.
I hope your spring is springy and sprongy and full of sweetness, always full of light in the shadows –