Tuesday, 22 January 2013

I Have a Dream - Martin Luther King Jr.

I cover a lot of exciting educational material with both girls each week. We have finished one of our history topics and we have moved onto the next topic. Actually we swapped the order around because Martin Luther King Jr Day was on the 21st. We decided to do race relations in America because of the tie in with MLK Jr. Our next topic will be the Great Depression and New Deal.

I read an excerpt aloud to L from the infamous 'I have a dream' speech and I was very moved by his words. He was a powerful writer and leader. We started off by reading about him and his life and L has a research project to finish on him. Did you know he was actually originally called Michael?

Here is an excerpt from his powerful and moving speech:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

M is a bit young for such a heavy topic, so we are doing a Finding Nemo lapbook which will take us two weeks to finish. ♫ Just keep swimming, just keep swimming ♫ The lapbook covers many skills and is cross curricular. I just need to add some Math sheets to her week and that's it. She is learning words like bioluminesence and camouflage and what they mean.

We disassembled the Dyson vacuum cleaner and reassembled the Dyson vacuum cleaner a few times and on Friday it will go back to the Dyson Foundation which is a charity. We were so fortunate to be able to have this item. Schools get it for three or four weeks and homeschoolers get it for two weeks.

L attends two drama groups and for one of them she has to memorise dualogues and monologues. M is such a good reader that she reads the other person's part for L and it's so fun to watch them doing that together. L was amazed by M's ability to read a script. Reading a script is not like reading a book and she does it without getting lost.

We are going to buy some bird seed and in February do the nature challenge as outlined here February is the month for birds so we will look at the birds that come to our bird feeder. We will also go for walks to observe birds in nature and take photos. Hopefully I will get some good ones.

I am looking forward to seeing how we progress through the topics we are studying over the next few weeks. Have a lovely day, wherever you are!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Dyson Engineering Box

Our Dyson Engineering box arrived this week and the girls have completed the disassembly and reassembly of the vacuum cleaner, several times. When L feels like it, she will go take it out of the box and take it all apart and put it back together again. She can do it in 20 minutes flat!

We plugged on with English and History for the exams. I had a full week this week of band practices and choir practice.

It's quite late and I'm very tired, so good night all!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year New Rhythm

About six weeks ago, I came up with a new idea which gives L and M individual educational attention and allows us all to be productive. We are fortunate enough to have a home office. My nephew came for a visit, and when he visits we share my desk. I have an extra office chair which I gave him to use. After he went back home, I had what Oprah calls an 'Aha moment'. I realised that I could share my desk with my girls to do our 'homeschooling' or 'home education'

Now each girl sits at my desk with me for one to one time having their lessons. I rearranged my desk and section of the office, and in the process found things that I had printed off for completion. Now, they are all in file folders and easily accessible.

There are some activities that require more space and so we go to the living room or kitchen and carry out the activity there. If we were doing a messy science experiment, I certainly would not want that happening in my office! That would be done outside, in the kitchen or in the bathroom where clean up would be easy.

There are certain things that we all do together like Composer Study and here is my playlist for this term. We are listening to selections by Bach. We listen to the music, discuss the mood of it and then we listen to other selections to see if we can notice a style that is specific to the composer.

We also do Artist study and look at six paintings each term. This term we have two artists to study and the are Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682) and Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684). We will look at three paintings from each of them.

Here are the six paintings we will look at:

Jacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628/9-1682)

1. Two Watermills and an Open Sluice near Singraven, 1650-52, National Gallery, London
2. View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds, c.1665, Kunsthaus, Zurich
3. Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede, c. 1670, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Pieter de Hooch (Dutch, 1629-after 1684)

4. Courtyard of a House in Delft, 1658, National Gallery, London
5. Woman Peeling Apples, c. 1663, Wallace Collection, London
6. At the Linen Closet, also here, 1663, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

We often will look at paintings done by other artists of the same era to see if we can see a style that is typical for an era and have looked at more than the six paintings of the artist of the term. We also learn about the artist. We analyse the paintings in the same way we analyse the pieces of music we listen to.

We discuss whether the music or painting is telling a story and next term we will be listening to some opera. I will have to work hard to not transfer my dislike of opera to them. This means I cannot wear earplugs! I expect the earplugs would be a clue to my dislike of opera. Perhaps the fact that I don't listen to it at all is another clue. Alas, I am sure they know I don't like it, when we are looking for something on the radio I make sure that if we land on a station that is playing opera, we change the station with lightning speed.

All in all, this system that we have is working very well for us and it is really helping us to focus on the material that we need to cover, especially for L's exams in May! She has two exams that are essay style exams. We are starting off with verbal essays and we will eventually move to writing on paper. Starting off with a verbal narration is part of the Charlotte Mason method and when they are able to successfully narrate what they have learned verbally, they move on to written narrations.

Have you made any changes for the new year? Have you found a new rhythm? Or is your new year in September when school years tend to start?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

That Safe Place...

I am sure everyone has a 'safe place', you know the one I mean, it's that 'safe place' that you use to keep an item or paper safe so that you won't lose it.

It usually ends up being so safe that you can't even find it despite your best efforts. I filed some papers, and yes I really did file some papers, back in September. They were nicely organised in a file folder and the file folder was in plain sight. It was too obvious and I didn't see it.

I didn't remember filing these papers and so I ripped my office apart several times over looking for these papers. I checked everywhere except for that file folder! I checked file folders that were not even related to the topic of education!

The papers I was looking for were the charts that I use for keeping track of what I do each day with the girls. Not only had a 'lost' the logs I had filled in, I 'lost' the blank logs that I printed off because of course I was being efficient and wanted my year's worth of logs printed off so that I simply had to fill them in.

I 'lost' the first batch of papers and the blank ones, so I printed off logs for another two months and filled those in. I filed those elsewhere because I wasn't going to make that mistake twice!

Then I couldn't find those logs, so I printed off yet more and filled them in. This was ridiculous! I had to find those logs. I knew I had them, I knew they were somewhere but they were not in plain sight in the way I expected them to be. They were not filed where I expected them to be. I searched everywhere and finally I picked up what I thought was a lapbook file folder and there is where I had filed the blank logs, all the completed logs up until June 2012 and a study programme I was going to do with the girls.

I looked in another file folder that has curriculum that I printed off for M and found the other logs that I was missing. I am very relieved because I now have all of our logs from January 2012 to January 2013 in once place!

On Thursday, L and I sat down and mapped out her English IGCSE programme, she has an exam in May. We also mapped out her IGCSE History at the same time. Friday we sat together and finished off the outstanding chapter in her textbook and she showed me her project in The Great Depression and New Deal. She has a bit more left to do on that and then she has the task of assembling it.

Friday I looked at the History syllabus once more and realised that I had made a mistake with the amount of time we need to spend on a topic. I also discovered that I left out a week when we were writing out our time map. That extra week makes a huge difference when you are down to the wire.

We will go through the entire syllabus this term and finish it by the end of March and that will leave us a few weeks to review everything and get her ready for her exams.

Tonight I introduced M to stencils and she loved tracing the stencil letters. Maybe one day we will finish that Mr Men Show lapbook we started. The challenge for me is that she keeps drawing more characters to add into the lapbook. We need to glue them in and then she is going to tell me the story and I will transcribe it for her into the lapbook. We have other lapbooks to work on too and some unit studies.

I started a new system, the girls get one to one time with me at my desk as that seems to be a better place for us to work rather than at the kitchen table. I have two office chairs at my desk. It also means quick and easy access to the computer if we need to look anything up or print something off. They get one to one attention at my desk therefore they accomplish a lot in a short time.

I think I will set up a notebook and write down where I put things but I might put my notebook in 'that safe place'...

Friday, 4 January 2013

Does a New Year Mean a New Beginning?

We have entered into 2013 now and 2012 was a year of change and transition; I think that can be said for every year!

December ended up being a very busy month and so we took the month off from formal studies and the girls carried on with following their interests.

January has started and we have formulated a plan for L's IGCSE work and we need to stick to it.

She has three exams (done in five sessions) in May and June!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of Christmas crafts to show, however, I will put up a picture of our Christmas tree, which is up until January 6th.

We had a quieter than usual Christmas due to illness in the house.

We wish you all a happy and productive new year!