We are a home educating Catholic family just stumbling towards the Kingdom together - loving, learning and listening. We love a natural, nature-rich, literature rich, hands-on style of learning. Discovering this great big beautiful world of ours together brings us great joy.
I confess, it was a rough year for me this year. Most days my head was barely above the water. Our learning was pretty much on auto-pilot. The good news is . . . they still learn! Of course, I knew this . . . perhaps I just needed this year to confirm it in my heart.
Today our church celebrates the feast of St. Bernard, patron saint of candlemakers! It just so happened that were were going to make candles from rendered beef fat today (and a touch of beeswax for strength) like the American pioneers. This was lots of fun! We tried it both pouring and dipping.
. . . pretty self explanatory. Her 'enrichment' takes us out and about more and her 'free explorations' are just that. Some we will introduce and explore together but mostly I will make books and materials available for Rose Red to explore on her own. . . . "lighting the fire" so to speak!
We decided to dip into 'Excellence in Writing' this year with their Phonetic Zoo spelling program. The Phonetic Zoo allows Rose Red to work on her spelling more independently. I found she was really ready to work at a quicker pace and I was unintentionally holding her back a little last year when it came to her spelling. I think it was worth it to wait the extra year though as it benefits her to be able to write spelling words more quickly to meet the pace of their audio program. Last year she was still a little slow writing new words. . . The price is a little steep so I was very fortunate to have found it second hand through my homeschool co-op at a discounted price. Yay!
We tried it out today for the first time and she loved it! "Homeschooling is Awesome and I love spelling!" was Rose Red's response after the first lesson. I think it's a keeper!
Having the heart of a montessorian and being inclined to favor a classical education for my child I have been pursuing melding these two seemingly divergent methods in our homeschool. Natural Structure offers their book free online and has some insight into how this can be done as well as how truly compatible these two methods of education are to one another.
"They seemed – on the surface, at least – to be almost diametrically opposed. Convinced that there was a solution to this problem, and looking carefully below the surface of each, we began to realize that some critical elements were shared. Both rely heavily, classical education in the division of the Trivium and Dr. Montessori’s method in the sequence of work, on the natural development and interests of the child. Both also claim to produce the abilities to think clearly and learn on one’s own. In this light we realized that they could indeed be combined, and in fact complemented each other perfectly. Dorothy Sayers’ outline provided the overall framework, while Maria Montessori’s method provided the day-to-day detail. This is simply an application of the Montessori method which is based upon the concept of free choice within limits. Dorothy Sayers provided the content and Dr. Montessori provided the method of our curriculum." ~ Natural Structure
“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission. Perhaps as we watch we shall be reminded of the words of Him who was absolutely good, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me.’ That is to say, ‘Do not hinder them from coming, since, if they are left free and unhampered, they will come." ~ Maria Montessori
We were able to see a real prehistoric site today! Our nature study group had fun grinding mesquite pods into flour and searching for real Native American petroglyphs at our local Deer Valley Rock Art Center. We were even able to carve a few petroglyphs of our own and share the story they represented with one another.
We are working on learning how to set a proper table . . . Rose Red went all out . . . even made her own placemats! I just gave her the dinner menu and she went to work after watching this helpful video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V52nGn-coKo !
We celebrated Rose Red's second sacrament this weekend ~ 1st Confession ~ washed in Grace.
Her gift from us . . . this wooden Rosary from our pilgrimage to Medjugorje . . . blessed by Our Lady, herself.
"O almighty and most merciful God, I give You thanks with all the powers of my soul for this and all other mercies, graces, and blessings bestowed on me, and prostrating myself at Your sacred feet, I offer myself to be henceforth forever Yours. Let nothing in life or death ever separate me from You! I renounce with my whole soul all my treasons against You, and all the abominations and sins of my past life. I renew my promises made in Baptism, and from this moment I dedicate myself eternally to Your love and service. Grant that for the time to come, I may detest sin more than death itself, and avoid all such occasions and companies as have unhappily brought me to it. This I resolve to do by the aid of Your divine grace, without which I can do nothing." Amen.
We've been discovering how to identify different animal tracks and excercising our new skills in the real world . . . keeping our eyes open for prints, scat, scent markings, kill sites, scratchings, rubbings, and scent markings.
We've been recording sunrises and sunsets since the summer solstice and are now measuring and charting the length of daylight throughout the year. This chart has given us a great visual on day length through the seasons of a year... It also proved to be a great project for working with time/clock, seasons, measuring, and art. We will be continuing to chart our sunrises and sunsets until the next summer solstice. Rose Red predicts that the light will increase the closer we get to the solstice . . .
"Nature programs should invite children to make mud pies, climb trees, catch frogs, paint their faces with charcoal, get their hands dirty and their feet wet. They should be allowed to go off the trail and have fun. . . environmental educators need to focus way more on hands-on experience with children and way less on systematic knowledge. Or at least understand that systematic knowledge can emerge organically from lots of hands-on experience. Between the ages of six and twelve, learning about nature is less important than simply getting children out into nature."
"So how would Nature solve our so-called educational crisis? Biomimicry would suggest that education should be decentralized, self-regulating, co-operative, resourceful, always adapting and shifting in response to new information and changing conditions, active and always in motion, with built-in feedback mechanisms. Doesn’t that look a lot like life learning?!
Clearly, Nature wouldn’t create dedicated school buildings full of desks. It wouldn’t coop kids up indoors all day and even get rid of outdoor play time in favor of sitting at those desks. It wouldn’t create a top-down hierarchy where there is a high ratio of young students to adult “experts,” standardized curriculum, tests, or grades. There wouldn’t be passing and failing or report cards. . ."
We are easing into a fun measurement intensive this winter and kicking it off with a look at our first famous mathematician, Thales (THAY-leez). This book, Mathematicians Are People, Too, by Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer is an excellent resource as well as this squidoo link by Jimmie which has many printables etc.
We ate greek yogurt for breakfast this morning in honor of Thales :)
We're finishing up our Kaya American History lapbooks today and made a little dried fruit and nut mix to share - just like Kaya would eat! (Or almost, since we used the dried fruits, seeds and nuts we had on hand [pineapple, almonds, cashews, etc.] rather than running out to buy ones more typical of her region of the Pacific Northwest ie: berries and pine nuts. However, we were able to rustle up some dried cherrries and sunflower seeds!)
Next week we will be moving on to Felicity: An American Girl 1774 ... but for just a little extra Kaya fun - games and video online !
We collected all our data on clouds for our bar graph during the month of November. After reading our bar graph we noticed that clear cloudless days made up almost two weeks of the month! We got lucky though and today there were some clouds out to inspire us for our cloud painting project!
~painting high level cirrus clouds, mid-level alto clouds and various stratus and cumulus clouds (with shaving cream)
We are setting up the picture study at the beginning of the week in a display binder displaying Houselander's artwork on one side and the "closer look" page on the other. Rose Red has all week to absorb the art and search to find the "closer look" items. At the end of the week we read together the reflection written by Geoffrey Bliss. So far so good - she is very engaged :)!
(pre-reading reflections is a good idea to check for age appropriateness)
We love this book, Mr. Base Ten Invents Mathematics by Bethanie H. Tucker. I would highly recommend it! It makes regrouping simple to understand. This week we've been excercising our skills with the hundreds place (regrouping with addition and subtraction problems), as well as exploring inverse relationships between addition and subtraction. I was able to pick up free worksheets here at About.com.