Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guilt-Free Learning Notes, Sept. 16

Thanks to Melanie for hosting Guilt-Free Learning Notes!

Last week: we had Uncle D (whose name does not start with D) up all week, recuperating from back surgery, and Uncle D is an experienced watcher of Youtube videos, so we did some science:

It worked as advertised! After about 300 rubber bands later, the watermelon was visibly bulging. Then it cracked open. And then, after a few agonizing moments, it blew, just like that. Unfortunately, Isabel, who was filming, turned away the second before the explosion to say hi to the neighbor, so our exploding watermelon wasn't immortalized. It did, however, shoot a great rubber band ball at my brother.

We also finished Northanger Abbey. The kids really seemed to enjoy it, and were always able to describe the plot and the motivations. Julia in particular is turning into quite the Austen fan. She read Pride and Prejudice in the spring, and wants to be Elizabeth Bennet for Halloween. Isabel also followed closely, with great scorn for her name character, Isabella Thorpe. Any time things got romantic, Isabel was in the forefront of the action, cheering people on. I asked her what her favorite part of the movie was, after we'd watched that, and she said with gusto, "Catherine's daydreams!" Sigh.

Diana, 4, does not recognize many of her letters yet, so I thought we'd combine fun and games by teaching her and Jack War. They played avidly, and generally got the scoring right, but I don't feel like we made a lot of progress, as she generally just eyeballed the cards and guessed which one had the bigger number. Jack needs to work on writing numbers, so maybe Diana can get in on that.

A particular child has reached a crisis point with writing, and I'm going to have to stand over her every time she writes a sentence or a paragraph for the next week and nip any errors in the bud. Sometimes I feel like I'm handholding people through their educational process, but then I remember my parents standing over me, making me do everything right, and how I thought them severe taskmasters instead of soft touches who were giving me all the answers. Anyway, I'm not sure that letting her keep writing things incorrectly is the right way to instill grammar and craftsmanship. Practicing correctly is a good deal more helpful than practicing wrongly.

Speaking of practice, organ will be starting up again soon, and there's a review this Saturday. So this week is the time to catch up on all the playing we didn't do this summer. As I type, someone is practicing Christmas carols and show tunes from The Sound Of Music, which speaks to a catholic taste in music, if not what the teacher will be covering.

The big girls are very taken lately with a series of fairy tale retellings by Adam Gidwitz called A Tale Dark and Grimm, Through a Glass Grimmly, and The Grimm Conclusion. Each book links together a series of Grimm tales through brother/sister protagonists (Hansel/Gretel, Jack/Jill, Jorinda/Joringel) and all the gory bits from the originals are retained, with asides from the author begging you not to let little children read these horrible stories. Eleanor has been begging each night to be able to read them aloud to us, although she usually starts remembering at 9 pm as we're hustling everyone upstairs. The girls read them to each other in lieu of ghost stories. I thought that our next readaloud might be a good set of Grimms' Fairy Tales so that even the little ones have a good knowledge of the original tales, so that they have a basis for understanding all rejiggerings and spoofs and twists.

Today we went to the county fair, where we watched 4-H kids haul their goats through obstacle courses. That's my favorite part of the fair, and after that we explored the kids' favorite, all the crappy carnival rides. Then we toured the rabbit and poultry barn and soaked in the farmy goodness of it all, probably sounding like the worst city slickers to the polite kids tending their stock. At a different booth, Julia was entranced by the local Fred Astaire studio dancers performing a Latin Dance exhibition, and mentioned that she would like to try lessons there sometimes. I liked that idea. Ballroom dancing is more generally applicable in life than ballet, and the dancers were just better than anyone from our studio. I'd forgotten what a joy it was to watch good live dancing, but oh, could these people move! It made me wish for a moment that I were up there salsa-ing and merengue-ing, and I myself am only a wedding dancer and am not generally noted for my slick moves.

I feel like I really ought to be writing up notes every night, because I'm simply not remembering conversations we're having (unless they have to do with people begging not to have to read the rest of their book of very interesting tales about Charlemagne).


Melanie Bettinelli said...

What happens when you give the 8 year old the camera. I am impressed that you did the watermelon thing and it worked, though.

Jenny said...

Mildly jealous of the watermelon thing. How explosive are the pieces when it finally busts?

entropy said...

I love the 4H part of the fair best too!

The exploding watermelons and your kids are explaining the motivations of characters in an Austen novel? You win the homeschool this week. They better rebuild a car engine next week or your slipping.