Monday, March 16, 2009

Curious George W.Carver

"A weed is a flower growing in the wrong spot." This is what George Washington Carver believed and it was the title of the biography we read about him today. What an amazing man. He overcame a seemingly hopeless situation.
Born a sickly baby to slave parents, he grew up to be an insatiably curious boy. He had a passion for plants and learned to nurture and care for them so that he earned the name, "Plant Doctor." At the age of TEN he set off on his own to make his way in the world. Earning his keep by doing odd jobs, he taught himself many skills. Finally at age 30 he earned enough to go to college but was turned away many times because of his skin color. How unfair! Still, he never gave up and was finally accepted.
His goal was always to use his talents and knowledge to help people. As a Dr. at Tuskegee Institute he discovered 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 for the peanut! He was able to convince the southern farmers to grow these instead of cotton as they were much easier to grow and better for the soil. At age 80 he was still working tirelessly to improve the world.
Wow. With such a great example we were able to have a great discussion.
After our discussion we all wrote what inspired us most about his life and how we could learn from it.
Kate wrote, "I can be like George Washington Carver by not hiding my talents."
She also liked how he asked many questions and if no one could answer them he would work them out until he found the answer. Here are some of her questions:
How do they make markers? How do they make crayons? What is dirt made of? What is water made of? How are barbies made?
Looks like we'll be doing some fun internet searches.
We enjoyed some peanut butter sandwiches in honor of Dr. Carver today. He also inspired us to plant some flowers. Kate had a seed packet she bought the other day so she opened it and the seeds are soaking, and will ready to be plant tomorrow.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The kind of day I live for

This is the formula for a good education according to the book I'm currently reading: A Thomas Jefferson Education (Oliver DeMille) It reminds exactly of how we are to study the scriptures: by reading them, discussing them (at church or with family), writing down impressions in a journal, and applying the scriptures to our daily lives.

We tried this model today with our schooling. We read Chapter 4 of our kids Classics version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
First, we read it out loud together.
Next, we discussed the story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell.
The girls were each given a journal to write what they thought about the story and how they could follow the example of Sir Gawain.
Kate wrote about the story and concluded with, "I could be like Sir Gawain by keeping promises, even when it is hard to do."
By being true to his word, Sir Gawain was able to break the evil spell and turn the hideous Lady Ragnell into a lovely maiden to marry.

This went right along with another story we read today called Finders Keepers (Robert Arnett). This was a beautifully illustrated picture book that took us on a journey through India, learning about it's culture and people along the way.
After we read it, we discussed it: Brynn liked how those in the Jain religion, sweep in front of them before they walk to avoid stepping on any living things. Their respect for life is so deep they wear cloths over their mouth so they won't accidentally swallow any flying bugs.
Adrie said she learned how to say hello and goodbye, Namaste with a bow. Namaste means
my soul respects your soul.
Kate said she liked learning about Dharma, the philosophy that Indians live by: "Do what you ought to do, not what you want to do." This was illustrated in a little story about a poor little Indian boy returning a tourist's wallet. He refused any reward for doing his duty. "Why should I get a reward for doing what I should do."

We followed the TJEd model today and had a great day of learning!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oh Noble Sir of the Toilet

So, one of Kate's fascinations is Castles lately. This has fit in nicely with our History curriculum as we are learning about the Middle Ages or the Age of Knights. We have been reading King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Where are such brave, noble, chivalrous, gentleman to be found these days? Right here at home. Baby Cannon was knighted by Kate in a special ceremony for his bravery in eating anything off the floor and for his fearless adventures with toilet water.
We also learned about castles. We all, even I drew our own castles complete with torrents, flags, drawbridges and moats. Mine had a garden, park, and swimming pool inside with nice little homes for the servants. Kate said it looked like, "ZION?" Well, maybe if I lived like the servants instead of the luxurious quarters I had designed for myself....oops.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! We celebrated today by reading some of your books: Cat in the Hat, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Huevos Verdes con Jamon. That latter one, we only have in Spanish. But if our girls learned anything today it was how to ask, "Te gustan huevos con jamon?" Of course, we like green eggs and ham. We had them for lunch today. Ewww...I mean Yum!
We have read some good books in Language Arts the past couple of weeks: Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine, Crow Boy and Tye May and the Magic Brush. Crow Boy made me cry! What excellent stories to teach kindness and compassion.
Kate has been learning about adjectives, adverbs, verbs. These are much more fun to learn with the Mad Libs gamebooks where you write in your own adjectives, etc. to create silly stories.
In History, we finished up the Roman Empire. Kate's assignment was to draw a Thank You Rome picture for all their contributions. She drew a picture of a giant swimming pool and hot tub complete with slides and fountains. I hope she is also thankful for BOOKS and the idea of a REPUBLIC. Kate thought the Romans were okay but she didn't agree with having slaves or watching gladiators fight each other for entertainment or copying all of the Greek gods and changing their names and especially she didn't like that they persecuted the Christians. The story of "Androcles and the Lion" was one good story that came out of all the gladiator fighting in the Colosseum.
"Nero was a Zero" is how we remembered the ridiculously bad Emperor who watched Rome burn. He blamed the Christians and then rejoiced that there was now room to build a gargantuan golden home for himself while thousands of citizens remained homeless.
We also learned about Constantinople and how he was converted to Christianity through a vision in the clouds. He and his soldiers fought in the name of Christ so he could become Rome's leader.
The Roman Empire was HUGE. Attila the Hun and other barbarians were constantly a threat. In the end the Empire became too big to control and Visigoths and Vandals invaded and destroyed it.
This is how Kate learned to remember it:
In 476
Rome was in a fix.
Little Romulus said farewell
and the Roman Empire fell.
I attended a very uplifting and inspiring book club night with other k12/homeschoolers. We discussed A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. We as parents are to inspire our children to learn by reading and discussing the classics as well as letting children pursue their passions.
The next day I asked Kate what her passions were: mermaids, princesses, magic, soccer, singing, and being a rockstar. Those weren't exactly the subjects I had in mind for a curriculum...