Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

Have Your Cake and Eat Pi Too

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Cupcakes of psi, pi and tria (3)

Mandi sure can bake.  Those are cupcakes with chocolate icing.  Isaac asked for an “alphabeta” cake for his birthday.  Isaac wanted a yellow cake instead of pumpkin cake, and Mandi offered white or chocolate icing.  Isaac chose chocolate.

The photo to the left has psi and pi on the top.  The bottom cupcake has “tria,” or the Greek word for “three” on it.  We had no idea Isaac would want Greek alphabeta cupcakes.  Isaac also helped Mandi put the ingredients in and counted with her while mixing them.

Children develop their own interests.  Isaac for now is interested in
helicopters and Greek letters.  I figure Why not? Not everyone agrees.  A couple of people on Facebook commented that his interest is weird.  The ironic thing is they spelled it “w-i-e-r-d.”  Any child-initiated opportunity for learning is a good thing.

A wise Chinese proverb says “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Free Resource: Videos Teaching Greek, Latin and Other Ancient Languages

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

We were searching on YouTube for more “alphabeta” that Isaac wanted.  I ran across a YouTube channel by a gentleman named Kleber Kosta.  He teaches Greek (both modern and ancient) as well as Latin and a few others.  It is really interesting and very comprehensive.

A Holy Curiosity

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Levi found my middle school yearbook yesterday, and managed to color several photos fuschia before I caught him. As I flipped through to survey the damage, I paused to reminisce.  One page spread showed pictures from various classes: physical education, math, science, social studies.  Aside from the captions, I couldn’t tell most of them apart.  Here, I’ve shared the picture labeled “Science.”  Pardon me, but I don’t see much science happening in this picture.

Contrast this with yesterday’s outing with the kids.  We took a nature hike, snapped some family photos, and took in the beautiful fall day.  They experienced firsthand the flora and fauna of a temperate forest, our local biome.  They experimented with physics by throwing small rocks over a ledge and widely missing the lake below.  They collected pods from locust trees and shook them, listening to the seeds rattle inside.  True, there is something to be said for systematic learning, and some science facts (e.g. the periodic table) must be memorized.  We’ll do plenty of both over the next several years.  Still, there is no replacement for observing one’s world, guided by innate curiosity.  Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best when he said:

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

As Nate and I educate our children, one of our goals is to preserve and enhance that curiosity.  I am concerned that the type of “science” occurring in this yearbook picture would stifle it.

Coolest Manipulatives Ever!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I’m not a huge fan of licensed characters.  I don’t forbid the kids from watching cartoon movies and shows, but I won’t be decking out their entire rooms with a character or buying all of the accompanying toys.  Still, when I saw Toy Story KerPlunk! on sale for $4.25, I thought it would make a good investment.  KerPlunk! (the classic game or otherwise) provides opportunities to practice early math skills like matching and counting.  The concept is pretty simple: you poke 30 little sticks through a canister (in this case, a rocket) and pour in marbles (or aliens) on top of that.  Then, you role a die with colored sides.  Whatever color you roll, you remove one stick of the same color.  If any aliens fall out when you remove your stick, you keep them.  Whoever ends up with the fewest aliens wins.

The boys weren’t into the traditional rules.  They preferred to shake the daylights out of the rocket until all of the aliens fell out.  That was OK.  We still counted the aliens, which are pretty cool manipulatives if you ask me.  The space theme would make a great tie-in for some science activities.  As a bonus, we got to do some subtraction to figure out just how many of the little guys had gone missing (11, as it turns out).

Levi was pretty excited to “do school” today.  He chose a shirt and “tie” for the occasion.  He wouldn’t let me tuck the top of the tie (or mismatched old sock) into his collar, so he was forced to hold it up to his neck.  When he tired of that, he discarded it on the table.  This explains the stray sock in the picture.

The Write Start

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Today’s first “official” day of homeschooling cemented in my mind that Levi is not ready for a classroom.  He spent a couple of hours on self-directed Starfall while I worked.  He looked through some of their Greek myth e-books, including the Minotaur and King Midas.  I’m not sure how much he actually read, but he did pick out words here and there, and had the computer pronounce others.  I also printed him out a few pages of dashed letter As (capital and lowercase) to trace.  He copied the letters in the blank spaces, but he didn’t trace the dashed ones (Isaac did trace some of them).  Instead, he colored them in.  I attempted to model the tracing and even guide his hand, but he wasn’t having any of it.  Later, when getting dressed for bed, I noticed that he had written a very convincing E, I, and O on his thigh in ink pen.  Go figure. As with most things, he seems to want to do it his own way, and that’s OK.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew how to write all of the capital letters (albeit, not “correctly”).  I have seen a few, and he generally knows more than he lets on.   If tracing isn’t for him, we can try simple copywork instead.  I have to keep in mind that he is still very young, and that he may not be ready for much instruction at all.  We can put it away for a few days (or weeks) and try again with another approach.  Thank goodness we have that flexibility.

We Have a Plan

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Mandi and I discussed how we are going to begin preschool (K4) beginning tomorrow.  We have developed a basic schedule what days we teach the main subjects.

The time spent on each item may take about 15 – 30 minutes per day.

Each week we plan to do:

  • Two days of formal math.
  • Everyday of about 15 minutes of fun reading and contextual math.
  • Two days of handwriting.
  • Two days of working in a reading primer (directed Starfall and accompanying activities).
  • One day of Latin or Greek vocabulary and writing.

Optional subjects.  Not necessarily done every week.

  • One day of informal history.  Coloring books or movie, etc..
  • One day of hands on science.

This translates into 5 – 10 hours a week over 5 days.  Some weeks will have more hours than others.  We will post our progress and changes as time goes by.

Resource Review: TumbleBooks Library

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I know that some in classical homeschooling circles are not fond of electronic media.  Some materials can be the equivalent of intellectual “junk food.”  Junk food is OK in moderation, but what about using electronic resources as an everyday part of your curriculum?  The Internet is an inextricable part of daily life in our family–in fact, our family wouldn’t be here without it!  I firmly believe content is much more important than format.  That’s why I really appreciate when I find a quality e-resource.  TumbleBook Library is one such resource.

TumbleBook Library is free to me (and to any of you who live in my hometown), since it is offered on the website of my local public library.  I’m not sure how it authenticates, but you may be able to access it from the link on the Marion Public Library’s home page.  If not, ask at your own library.  If they don’t have TumbleBook Library, chances are they offer some great alternatives!

A screen shot showing an e-book in the Tumblepad interface

TumbleBook Library includes interactive fiction and non-fiction titles for kids in the elementary grades.  If you’re looking for classics, there aren’t many in the collection. However, it does include many good quality selections from contemporary children’s literature.  Also included are several fun modern-day interpretations of classics, such as the version of of The Tell-Tale Heart pictured here (this one includes tell-tale beets).  Really, this fits right in with the classical education concept of introducing basic ideas to build on later.  When we get around to Edgar Allan Poe in later years, the story will sound familiar.

Once a book has been opened, the electronic interface is easy to control, even for young children.  Levi can easily navigate through a book on his own.  He isn’t able to handle searching and browsing yet, but an older child should be able to do so.  The stories engage children’s interest with animation and sound effects, but maintain a literary feel by providing the entire text along with the narration.  As the narrator reads, the corresponding words are highlighted in the text.  Some books even provide reading help, which allows users to click on a word and hear it pronounced.  Users can watch the book on “auto” mode, or navigate the pages manually.  So far, I have mostly used the e-books, but the database also includes games and puzzles that go along with the books.

TumbleBooks provides an excellent choice for entertainment and recreational reading.  I find it especially helpful these days when most library materials I bring home end up having helicopters drawn inside the covers.  TumbleBooks are delivered through a web browser, so we don’t have to worry about lost or damaged books.  I like to cue up several stories and play them for the kids while I’m working.  Of course, e-books are no substitute for sitting together as a family and enjoying a good, old-fashioned traditional book, but TumbleBooks gives us yet another way to enrich our home with literature.

Eh-Eh-Epsilon

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

We have been listening to the Song School Greek CD to see what it contained.  I thought Levi ignored most of it.  He came over and I pointed at each letter in the student book once or twice.  He looked at them and went back to playing.  So I continued to play the CD on our TV not really thinking much of it.

Levi kept playing with his blocks.  He stopped and brought two E blocks up to me.   In one hand was one of his Greek blocks (Epsilon) and in the other hand an English E block.  He held the English E block up and said, “Eh-eh-E, Daddy” and then with the other hand he held up the Greek Epsilon block up (looks like a capital E) and said, “Eh-eh-epsilon, Daddy.”  I was stunned.  I never thought he paid that much attention, let alone get some of it so quickly.  He was mad when I turned off the CD.  Kids are surprising sometimes as to what they are actually listening to and are learning.   I guess I had better watch what I say around them.