Adventures in Learning and Super Reads

6 Oct

I have been trying to keep a journal of our family’s homeschool activities; the songs we sing, the stories we read, the crafts/ handskills we work on, the focus of our Circle Time, etc., each day. This has not been working out. I think I’ve just done so much typing- writing lately that the old school method of pen and paper seems devastatingly slow. So, my new plan is to blog- at least once a week- about the amazing minds and spirits of Chickadee and Chickadoo and the beautiful wonder-moments that have lately filled our days.

I’ve also been thinking about sharing some of the treasures we’ve been finding during our weekly library excursions. I know that there are websites where one can make a list, complete with photos, of favorite books, but frankly, Scarlet, I don’t have time for another social website in my life. So. . . that’s another list for the blog!

Here’s a brief recap of a couple of my favorite learning moments of the last few weeks, along with a mad-dash through some tomes that deserve more praise and more time than I am able to give. Then I’ll consider myself caught up with all the things I’m bursting to share (but not really, because I’m blessed with more than I could ever fully realize).

Book: This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman. Have you ever been walking through the library/bookstore and suddenly spotted a book that-by its title and/or cover art alone- captivates you? Makes your stomach jump and your heart pound like you’re in the junior high cafeteria and he (or she) looked your way? I hugged this book before I even opened it. This anthology of apology poetry is named for a poem by William Carlos Williams entitled This is Just to Say and it is one of my all-time favorite poems. I can’t fully explain why. It’s sparse. And nothing profound. But. . . at the same time, I can taste the plum and I can feel the cold of the icebox and I just know that he-Williams- really, really truly loved the person he was taking the time to apologize to. How does he do that with so few words? Sidman’s tribute does the original poem justice, and touched my heart as well.

Lesson: Week-long Moon Unit (not Zappa). We made a Lunar Phases chart, did some night-sky watching, read some Native American mythology about the moon, watched a great little short film by Henry Selick called Moongirl, and visited our local university-owned observatory. We also learned to spell and write MOON, and sign the phrase “The moon and stars shine at night” in ASL.

Lesson: In learning letters (mainly for Chickadoo) Waldorf style, we use a fairy tale, usually a Grimm Brothers or something else equally rich in detail and symbolism, and, after reading it several times, draw the story with some key element shaped like a letter of the alphabet. Does that make sense? For example, Little Red Riding Hood becomes the letter R (imagine a side view of a little girl with her hood up) and the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs becomes the letter A.

Book: A Collection of Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (note: this is an abridged version of the original, but I felt the illustrations were intriguing enough to make up for that. I still plan to seek out the original, but highly recommend this collection). I like to read to the children- well, that’s it. I like to read to the children. But I really like to read them stories that are beautiful worded, imaginative explanations of the way things are. Fables, myths, folklore, etc.  What I particularly love about these Rudyard Kipling stories is that Kipling wrote them for his own daughter and every once in a while the narrative is interjected with his endearment for her, “My best beloved.” That personal reference gives the tales an intimate feeling, without detracting from the sense of adventure inherent in each one.

Books: Poppy, Ragweed, and Poppy and Rye by Avi. This is a series of middle-grade chapter books that I’ve been reading aloud to the kids at bedtime each night for several weeks. We love them! To me, there is no truer indication of a writer’s talent than the emotional reaction of readers to his/her words. These stories are about mice. And an occasional porcupine, beaver, or cat. But  I have laughed, I have clenched the book with white knuckles and gritted my teeth, and, yes, I have even cried. Now, granted, I’m not that tough of a walnut to crack, but still. . .the man can write.

This week is Building Week. We’re making a model of a pioneer/ settler type house with rocks, twigs, and homemade, mixed- from- mud- mortar. Stay tuned. . .

AM 🙂


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