Ancient India Block

Wow, we had a really busy second semester, and I just didn’t have the time to blog about it!  Before we get back into it in September, I wanted to record a bit of what we did.  Our two main blocks for the semester were Ancient India and Ancient Greece.  First up, our Ancient India Block.  Lots of stories, myths, and art in this one!  The Peeps really enjoyed submerging themselves in the culture of India.  The Mahabharata for Children and Bhagavad-Gita.  They memorized the Gayatri Mantra, and learned to write their names in Sanskrit.  We learned about Hinduism and Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as the religion of Buddhism and the life of Siddhartha.  We also studied discoveries in math and science from this time and place in history.  It was a rich and satisfying study!

Some chalkboard drawings for copywork…

Chalkboard Mandala

Karma Spiral (apologies for the poor quality!)

And some excerpts from their Main Lesson Books:

Here are a few of links we found useful (note, as of 2017 some of these links are no longer active. I’ve linked alternatives and noted where applicable.)

Science, Medicine & Technology in Ancient India

India & Astronomy

India’s Great Civilization- Gr. 6 (This website at etap.org is no longer available or you may need membership to access.)

More Astronomy in Ancient India

Sanskrit Alphabet

The Bhagavad Gita for Kids (Updated 2017)

The Gayatri Mantra (Updated 2017)

Ancient India Plan of Study Gr. 6 (This link is no longer active as of 2017-no alternative found, sorry!)

Next up, Ancient Greece!  I hope to get to that this weekend. Stay tuned. 🙂

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School’s Out! (Almost)

I probably should post an update about school, since we are wrapping up for the year. Let's see… this is where we are:

Grammar— Finished FLL4 with both Peeps, while Peep #1 supplemented with a grade-level grammar workbook.

Math— completed Saxon 5/4 and 7/6.

SOTW— finished through chapter 40.  Still have two more to go.

Spelling/Vocabulary— Peep #1 is finishing up Vocabulary from Classical Roots; Peep #2 is working on Spelling Workout E, but probably won't finish the book by the time we wrap up the first week of June.

Latin— both peeps continue to do Latin with my Dad.  They are almost finished with Minimus (Peep #2) and Learning Latin Through Mythology (Peep #1– he's completed Minimus and Secundus)

Science— we didn't do a formal curriculum this year.  We finished up a semester-long unit study on the human body in the fall/winter, and concentrated on life sciences the second part of the year.

All this in addition to piano lessons, book clubs, karate, tennis, art lessons, and various monthly homeschool programs offered locally over the year.  I feel really good about what we've accomplished.  The Peeps worked really hard, and it is so worth it to be able to finish up a bit early and enjoy the nice weather.  We're doing real world math activities now, as well as math based games; science is mostly nature journaling/plant and insect identification as well as some kits; grammar is journaling, letter writing, and history reports from SOTW.  It's a great way to wind down the year! 

I'm planning on doing something really different next year… I'm a little nervous about it but think it's time:  we are going to try a year of unstructured learning ((gasp!!))  (I hesitate to use the term "unschooling" because it won't exactly be that.  For example, I do plan to do some workbook type activities and will expect some written reports on what they're doing, lots of outside classes/activities.)  But generally, I'm going to let the Peeps choose the subject matter and the pace for the year.  When else in their lives are they going to get the opportunity to take a year and study what they're passionate about?  I'm really so excited about it.  I feel like the time is right;  we've covered all four blocks of history with SOTW, the major branches of science as outlined in WTM,  and have achieved a solid foundation in grammar and mathematics.  Now I want them to apply what they've learned… write about it, use it in everyday life (in the case of math).  For instance, we haven't done a lot of writing.  At all.  Well, this will be the year.  Writing writing writing… whatever they want– stories, poems, letters, essays, letters to the editor, etc etc etc. but WRITING.  The math acumen they've acquired… they will USE it.  Budget for groceries, balance a check book, figure out how much oil we use in a year, travel schedules and so forth.  They are also interested in taking our soon-to-be plethora of excess eggs and having their own little egg business.  They would be responsible for operating it, including factoring costs/labor and that kind of thing.  Along those same lines, we will be covering a lot life skills areas.

I can't wait!  I've always wanted to do this, and have admired unschooling/unschooling-type learning from afar, but didn't have the confidence to try it.  I was so afraid of them getting behind.  Well, a couple of friends went back to school this past year, and I have seen clearly that that simply is not an issue.  The kids catch up–quickly! 

Additionally, we struggled a bit with motivation in terms of school work this year.  Maybe it's the age– but I've been hearing similar stories of dissent
from their friends' parents (homeschoolers).  For instance Peep #2, who previously loved math, began to complain about doing it.  I got moans and groans about the length of the history reports, that writing wasn't "fun" anymore… that kind of thing.  RED FLAG!!  The whole point for me in doing this homeschool gig is to raise people that love to learn.  That never stop questioning and critically thinking about things, that never stop wondering why things work or happen the way they do.  With that in mind, I'm hoping to rekindle a little bit of what I fear we've lost this year.   

Now, Peep #2 is going to THRIVE with this style of learning.  She is my little butterfly, flitting around constantly finding things to discover and learn about.  Curiosity is one of her greatest assets.  However, Peep #1… he is much more like me in personality **cough** Type A ** cough**.    He loves his little check lists, finishing workbooks, making corrections, getting grades, and most of all — knowing exactly what needs to be done.  (And not only with school… this is the kid who has been asking me every single night since he could talk:  "What are we doing tomorrow?"  He wants to know the what, the when, the how– everything to be lined up for him.)  He is going to find it challenging to fill his own time and being in charge of his own scheduling.  This will be a real opportunity for growth for him! 

We'll see… we're going to run with it for a year and see how it flies.  We may go back to the more structured style next year.  Or, if it's working for Peep #2 and not Peep #1, I may let just her continue to do her own thing and go back to our usual MO with Peep #1.  I don't know… I don't know what to expect or what the next year will bring–only time will tell!

School Update

I haven't posted an update about school in a while, so here goes…

Things have been moving along pretty well, despite the fact that we've had several days this month of field trips and playing hooky!  We took a Monday off and went with some of our homeschool friends to see Avatar in 3-D at the iMax theatre.  (But, we made it up another day… that's the beauty of homeschooling )  The Peeps were so cute, they kept trying to reach out and grab things, like they weren't quite convinced it wasn't actually right in front of them, even though they knew better.  Gotta love kids…

We also took a field trip to Boston to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science…. it was awesome!  I wish they had allowed pictures.  We loved seeing all the props and sets up close.  I'm such a knitting geek that my favorite things were getting an up front view of Ron's sweaters and other goodies knitted by Mrs. Weasley. LOL  But, the best was the gorgeous knit blanket on the end of Ron's bed!  I soooo wanted to snap a picture to reference later but I didn't want to embarrass the kids by getting thrown out of the exhibit.    It inspired me to start working on my own patchwork blanket; it'll be a great way to use up leftover yarn!  Fortunately the Harry Potter Lovers Group at Ravelry had some great screen caps (page down) of said blanket.  *drool*  Anyway, we spent the whole day, had lunch, and got to look around other parts of the museum as well.  Fun day!

Our book work is moving along on schedule and I hope to be finished with the bulk of it by late April early May.  The exception is history–Story of the World has 42 chapters and we do 32 weeks of school, so that means that even if we double up a couple of weeks we will go right into June with history.  Which is fine since we really enjoy history and with our other subject finished up we can really sink our teeth into the topics.

Speaking of history, we are spending the next few weeks studying WWII and the Holocaust.  Ugh.  I truly believe there are things worth fighting for.  I'm a peace-loving gal but seriously, sometimes people need a little ass-kicking!

It’s That Time of Year…

We're back to school for another two weeks before we begin our winter break (to start back up in January).  I'm ready for it!  We took Thursday and Friday off this past week and it was nice; made me realize how much I DO need a bit of respite from school.  I'm really looking forward to all our Yule activities!  The calender for December has really filled up, but without the worry of getting our school work done, I'm happy to be busy with the bustle of the season.

Work-wise we are doing well… on schedule with all of our subjects.  The only thing I'm stressing a bit about is science; we haven't done as much as I'd like this semester.  With that in mind, I've signed us up for a bunch of fun activities and projects at the Nature Center during the month of December.  Though technically we're in the Physics phase, a little nature study will be a welcome change! 

I'm almost done with my shopping… since our holiday is a mish-mash of French, Catholic (DH) and pagan (me) traditions, I find myself in the position of getting a few things to be from Santa (stocking and a few under-the-tree gifts), Père Nöel (a couple gifts under the shoe), and me (on the Winter Solstice I give each Peep a small, usually handmade gift).  We don't go crazy with the gifts… I mean, it shouldn't be about the STUFF, you know??  In the past it was more difficult… friends and family literally inundated the Peeps with toys and trinkets.  After years of gentle persuasion on my part, they've all mellowed considerably in that regard, which I very much appreciate.  A few special, well-thought out gifts are much more appreciated these days, as they've learned to value quality over quantity.

At any rate, for now, we will spend our days the next couple of weeks concentrating on school,  while visions of sugar plums dance in our dreams at night.

The Flu Blues

The flu hit Firefly Farm last week.  Not sure if it was the dreaded H1N1 or not but I have a feeling it was because of the unusual way it presented:  For Peep #1, it was high fever, nasal congestion, and a cough; for Peep #2 the symptoms were high fever, achiness, and a bit of a cough.  For me, it was achiness, stomach upset, a very dry cough– but with NO FEVER.  Apparently that is not uncommon with Swine Flu, but it is unheard of in typical flu.  So I'm pretty confident that's what we had.  Regardless, I started us all on Oscilicoccinum at the start of symptoms.  Everyone one got two doses for two days, and I have to say I was amazed at the effect.  All of us experienced only one really bad day with it.  I also plied everyone with plenty of green tea and garlic, so I think that helped as well.

  I really believe in letting a fever burn out the virus, so I will let it go until it gets very high (over 103 is my marker).  At that point I will give acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but I am really loathe to do that.  For one thing, as I just mentioned– I want the fever to do it's job, but mostly it's all the extra CRAP they put in children's medications!  Red #40, sodium benzoate, ASPARTAME??  Yeah, here's the medicine to fix your main symptom, served up in a bunch of shiite that will poison the rest of you!    It is so typical of allopathic medicine I want to scream.  **deep breath**  At any rate… I am very glad to be on the mend and hopefully past this for the season.  Now we have a bit of catching up to do with school!

Out, Damned Spot!

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Took the Peeps to see a performance of Macbeth this morning.  Let me tell you, eight-thirty is early for Shakespeare, even for the caffeine-fortified!  Still, it was an awesome show, put on by a small local theatre group. Afterward the cast and director sat on the stage, talked with us, and answered various questions on the art of acting and in particular performing Shakespeare.

Macbeth

Macbeth

The Peeps enjoyed the preformance as well; they had been suitably prepped (I’d hoped).  Last week we read Macbeth from Tales from Shakespeare, as well as a study guide the theatre company provided and character bios.  We also re-listened to the SOTW adaptation from the Middle Ages audio CD.

 

I don’t know why, but I feel there is value in being well-versed (or even partially-versed) in Shakespeare.  The stories are timeless, the writing lyrical, and the characters compelling.  Fortunately for me there are so many wonderful adaptations to gently introduce  younger students to the world of the great Bard of Avon.  Even when the Peeps were little I remember reading them a fantastically illustrated version of a Midsummer Night’s Dream that they absolutely loved.  Hopefully, I am instilling a life-long love of his work, if not outright bardolotry.

ETA:  My favorite quote of the play, spoken by Lady Macbeth to her husband after he has made a scene of seeing Banquo’s ghost at his dinner party:  “You have displac’d the mirth.”   LOL

Good Reviews for Our Brandy-New Co-op

So our homeschool Co-op is going really well.  I wasn't sure what to expect but so far we are having a blast.  Friday mornings we arrive at a few minutes before 10 a.m. (not a little slap dash of dress, let me tell you… we're so not good at having clothes ready, packing up lunches and assorted accoutrements the night before…why do that when you can you experience that searing adrenaline rush in the morning?) Anyway– they go into their first class:  Writing Workshop.  They are LOVING this.  I hope it keeps their creative juices flowing.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, we have struggled with writing, especially of the creative kind, so I am very happy.  After Writing Workshop Peep#1 goes into Chess, and Peep#2 into Fun with Fractions.  I sit in on that class so it's been interesting to see how she's progressing.  Peep #2 is actually quite good in math, but it doesn't come naturally;  she's not a "numbers" gal like Peep #1 (she gets that from me).  The mom teaching the class was actually a math teacher B.K. (Before Kids) so that is cool.  At noon we break for lunch, which as long as the weather holds we are enjoying outside on the picnic tables beside the playground.  The Peeps wolf down a quick bite and then it's off to climb or swing or play a game of kickball while I eat and chat with some of the other moms.  It's a good group.  I normally feel so out of place with other moms…. oh who am I kidding, I feel that way with everyone!… sigh… but I digress… These moms are awesome.  It's an eclectic bunch but similarities definitely outweigh the more obvious differences, and I really enjoy spending time with them. 

Sometimes we do Drama Games at 1p.m., and sometimes we just head home.  Last week was their once-a-month Monopoly and More class but that wasn't a big hit.  I don't think they'll do that one again next semester. 

So, we have dipped our toe into the Co-op pool so to speak, dabbling with a few classes; but I think next semester we will go whole-hog and sign up for as much as we can.  There are some really interesting offerings and I'm looking forward to seeing what will be available on the next go-round.  Pretty impressive for a Co-op in its infancy!