We're having a relatively warm November, which means that last week we were outside a lot. The question here is not if it will get cold soon, but which day. Our forecast doesn't look bad, but usually the snow moves in around Thanksgiving and stays until... oh... April... May... a long time anyway. So I think we can be forgiven for ditching some academics to take advantage of the occasional warm spell. It's a really long winter.
Anyway, the little boys spent a lot of time this week digging.
In a Montessori classroom, I guess "digging" would count as practical life. The boys actually dug their deep holes so they could be "cities". I have had a hard time making "cities" into a formal project, but I think that's because it's really a game. They don't really want too much interference from me, because this is a kid universe. So they dug deep holes and tunnels all week, and built up "volcanoes" and "cliffs", and told each other how people got around their cities, whether they could use cars or not because there were or weren't roads.
One day I was trying to keep the little boys occupied while we read in the morning and I suggested they might like to draw a picture of their cities. Somehow this became drawing planets and imaginary solar systems.
N. started it, and soon all the other boys (including Gareth) were doing their own solar system pictures.
(My camera lens seems to have a tiny scratch on it which sometimes shows up as a smudge. I dropped the camera a while ago and smashed the viewfinder, too, so I may be in the market for a new camera soon.)
The solar system pictures aren't finished yet, because the boys wanted to add background and didn't have time. I'm hoping to give them time to finish their pictures this week in the midst of all our Thanksgiving cleaning. Or maybe next week while I cook. Farmerboy started painting a model solar system, too, but hasn't finished it yet.
When I said we "ditched" academics, I meant that we didn't spend long hours on them. The big kids did still actually do some academic work. The One Year Adventure Novel kit arrived and Gareth and Katydid actually gave up playing outside to go inside and start working on it. So far, so good. Gareth also finished his Life of Fred: Fractions book and is preparing to get started on the second half of the pre-algebra sequence, Decimals. Life of Fred hasn't magically cured his math frustration, but he did like it more than Saxon. Life of Fred is much less rote learning than Saxon, and much more application. He covered all the fraction topics included in Saxon's Algebra 1/2 , but in a much more informal, applied way. My only quibble with the book is that there's not enough practice available on topics that students stumble on (say, unit analysis).
And Katydid started working on long division. As with most things mathematical, she is not doing this the traditional way. Which I suppose only proves the maxim that in order to really understand a concept, you have to teach it. I'm 37 years old and have gotten through the last 20 years breezing through long division problems with aboslutely no idea why the method works. Katydid has to know the why's and wherefore's, though, before she gets a concept. Which means I have had to do a little thinking. In the future, I'll try and detail our process, just in case anyone else out there needs a non-traditional approach to long division.
Our history reading in the morning continued to go well this week. We began Beowulf: the Warrior, which is one of the best boy read-alouds ever. This re-telling is awesome. It remains faithful to the poetry of the original, and also -- for the boys in your family -- it still retains the scene where Beowulf rips off Grendel's arm. So there you go.
And just in case you want to envision me and all my kids snuggled on the couch while we read aloud...
You probably shouldn't. (Make sure you look underneath the table. Also, I am sure that even the kind people who said they didn't notice the clutter in the other photos will notice the clutter in these pictures. Why does decluttering always make my house look so bad?)
Not enough picture books this week to make a nifty widget, so I'll just have to list them...
- Destination: Space