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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

1st week -- September

I am enthralled with our Ancient China study and have borrowed a stack of books about Ancient China's inventors/inventions and ways of life. I knew next to nothing about this country, so each new source is like opening a gift. The kids humor me, mostly, but they pick up on references, too. They watched a cartoon that spoofed the Great Wall--which they now know is in Northern China.

Today's Wild China episode was about the Himalayas and Tibet. Some things we learned:

  • the world's highest altitude snake is the Tibetan Hot Springs Snake. (We said he was like Nate--who was born the year of the snake--because no one loves a hot soak better than Nathan).
  • there's a jumping spider who lives near the top of Mount Everest (at "base camp" for hikers). That's one cool arachnid.
  • it is predicted that 80% of the glaciers of the Himalayas will not be there in 30 years due to global temperatures rising. Those glaciers feed the main rivers of China, Pakistan, and other places I can't recall, but the region is dependent on that water.
  • the Tibetan Buddhist culture encourages living in accordance with nature since they believe all living things have souls. To help an animal is to help a fellow soul.
For writing, I asked them to write an "If" daydream.

Nathan's daydream was about having a YouTube account to make videos about Pokemon gaming. I went online to look at movie-making downloadable software. Thirty minutes later I had downloaded some free software, but couldn't find them and other windows were popping up. I was nervous about having clicked on the wrong window (were they slipping in some malware? A virus?).

Nate finished his reading and plunked himself onto the couch. He opened his Mac, found the movie-making software (it was already loaded on his laptop), and uploaded the practice video I had shot. This took him five minutes. Now he's playing with editing. I'm relieved...and proud...and annoyed that electronics stump me. I went back and deleted the movie-making programs. I'm suspicious of free software.

I finally got a haircut. It has been so many months, I can't recall exactly when I last had one. The woman who cuts our hair also home-schools, and she's so refreshingly okay with kids being...kids. I am the edgy one. My two had to take their reading --for something to do-- but they only want to read the minimum. 
"How much of this do I hafta read?" they call from across the salon.
"Two chapters."

In Madelyn's case, a chapter is about four pages, so she's done in about ten minutes. 
"How 'bout you read another couple, huh? Those are short."
"But Mom, I want to watch you. It's interesting."

She's got me there. I grew up fascinated by watching people fix their hair and make-up. I can't blame her. This is a real-world educational experience. Our friend explains as she goes--being attuned to learning experiences where they rise. 

Alas, hair snips and highlights don't beguile Madelyn long enough. She and her brother eventually erode into playing grabby-grabby, which makes me...crabby-crabby. I can only do so much from a salon chair, across the room. "Hey, easy!" I call out. And then: "Sit up!" Etc. These are the moments when...
a. I wish I had left them at home
b. I wish I knew how to make them quiet, bookish children who love nothing more than to curl up with a salon magazine and wait 75 minutes for Mom to get her hair done.

When we leave, my hair looks photo-shoot perfect but my wrinkles have deepened. So much for being made over.

Madelyn is broad-spectrum curious; she's a dabbler. After we read a comic book about a Chinese inventor who figured out how to build a seismograph (earthquake detector), she woke up the next day and made a scroll, copying the illustration:

Another morning, she came racing in from the backyard. "Mom, you have got to come see the most awesome bug ever!" Outside, perched on the projecting leg of an overturned lawn chair, was a leaf bug:

We watched him chewing at his front leg (cleaning it, I suppose), working his mandibles constantly. From his backside, a stick seemed to emerge. It was dark brown, thin, and stiff. Then the small length fell to the ground.
I said, "I think we just saw him poop."
Nathan: "Gross!"
Madelyn: "Cool!"


 I have found a site through another blog to songs about science: Symphony of Science. The creator takes snippets of talks by scientists, feeds them through music software to change the voices' pitch, edits catchy pieces together to create a theme, embellishes with video graphics, and sets it to music.

The latest song--The Quantum World-- has an especially catchy hook. Madelyn asked to hear it, oh, about five times. We hummed the hook for the rest of the day:  

"The universe is made of...12 particles of matter...4 forces of nature..."

"What are the four forces of nature?" she asks. We look it up. They are Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong Force and Weak Force.

Stephen Hawking is one of the scientists in the video. I tell her that even though he is wheelchair bound, can hardly move, and must use a computer to speak, his is one of the keenest minds alive today.


In the car, on the way to one of my jobs, Nathan shared how his 3rd grade teacher taught them multiplicatioins tables through songs. The teachers in higher grades thought they "were too old for songs like that, " but his teacher used them anyway.
"I probably wouldn't remember [multiplication tables] if she hadn't used those songs, " he said.
"Music is an excellent mnemonic, " I replied. "I learned the books of the Bible when I was seventeen, as a camp counselor, and I still remember them because of that song. You're never too old to use music to remember something. It's one of the best ways to remember!" 
On Friday we did "Freelearning Friday." I gave the kids an option to either do their "light day's work" (math and reading) or watch a documentary of their choosing. They chose the video: The Science of Dogs.

Friday was our first day with a home-school group. They are religious, but do not require the members to be. The gym day was held at a church, and it was thankfully a praying- and preaching-free event. Another parent and I took turns leading the kids in physical games and contests. Nate met a boy in his group who's only a notch taller and just as lean as he. Madelyn made a couple friends and remarked how polite one boy was while they took turns in some game.

It was a pleasant, light ending to a full week.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful first week of school! I love "Freelearning Friday." Our Fridays are generally lighter than the other days, so I may borrow this idea!