Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘Science’

The work of a teacher

the work of a teacher

Read C.C. Long’s brilliant Primary Geography book at Gutenberg.org.

Shooting stars

Stellarium brings the galaxy to your computer.

Stellarium brings the galaxy to your computer.

This week we *officially* switched to the Charlotte Mason method of home education, drawing largely from the amazing work done by the ladies at Ambleside Online. I can hardly describe how pleased I am with the change.

First of all, I have to make it clear that I enjoyed what we did last year and that I am sure that if I had followed the system more closely (and actually WATCHED the DVD!) we’d have done a lot better. But the fact is that I didn’t. I was busy and overwhelmed, and I felt rudderless. What we got was nothing short of chaos, some days. We learnt a lot and spent a lot of time learning it, and I think we covered some very good, solid ground. But every day I’d panic, trying to work out what to do next, and how to do it. We’d spend hours each week just look for stuff that had been “tidied away” – or not tidied at all!

Now, I have a compass and oars, and I know where I’m going. We are super organised in terms of space and time. We have a plan. We’re ready.

The day looks pretty simple:

  • Bible
  • Poetry
  • Penmanship
  • A story (which they narrate back and illustrate)
  • Maths

Once a week we do each of the following:

  • History (century book)
  • Geography (map work)
  • Art
  • Handicrafts
  • Nature Study

We also do map work and history as an integral part of story time.

We’ve started reading a LOT more (which, if you knew us before, is hard to imagine since we were already reading a lot). And we’re working on spending more time outside.

The only lesson we didn’t get to this week was art, because I had a meeting. But the girls did draw and paint, and they started making a fairy house. I think that counts a little, and besides – tomorrow is Saturday! We can paint all day then.

We also didn’t do nature studies this week because I had a meeting. So tonight I took them outside with my laptop, which has Stellarium installed, and we charted the stars (a little). It was great. We read a book called “Stargazers” (Ladybird Early Readers Level 3), and tomorrow we will paint the night sky. It also fitted in nicely with Goldilocks’ poem of the week, namely William Blake’s “The Tyger” :

“When the stars threw down their spears | And watered heaven with their tears”

I’m excited about tracking the trajectory of my own little rising stars, now that we’re using this phenomenal philosophy to educate them.

Apologia Science

When we started home educating our darling daughters, one of many contributing factors that helped us to make the decision was the fact that evolution is taught as fact in schools. In fact, we battle to find ANY kind of material to use for science lessons, be it online, in the library, or in many of the available home education curricula that doesn’t assume evolution is truth.

We want our children to be taught the Truth about the earth, how it was created, and how it works, and it’s frustrating not being able to find supporting materials. While Papa Bear and I have learnt and studied a lot of this stuff ourselves, without having it written down somewhere reliable, we don’t always cover all the bases in our teaching.

That’s why we were so thrilled with the curriculum available from Oikos Family Ministries, which includes the Apologia Science books. We haven’t used them yet, but from the research we’ve done and reviews we’ve read, they look absolutely fabulous. I can’t wait to get a set and start working through them with my girls.

So, just imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered today that there’s a competition online at the moment to WIN some of these books! How fantastic and wonderfully timed!

If you want to win (please don’t – I want to win!!) just click here and follow the instructions. I’d say “good luck” but you’d know I didn’t mean it since I really am that selfish, but have a look at the rest of the blog and the Apologia review anyway, it’s really a good resource.

Oh okay, Good Luck. I mean it.

Dinosaurs and storybooks

As far as I’m concerned, if they’re reading, it’s a good thing. Agreed? So if DD#2 can only read Sleeping Beauty, but can read it almost fluently, that’s fine by me. I can hear about golden caskets and sealed invitations over and over, because my 6-year-old is telling me all about them. No matter that similar words in books about zoo animals, say, are illegible. We’ll get there.

I’ve always believed that once you can read there are no doors closed to you. You can do anything, be anything, know anything. You can find out anything.

This is why, if I find my kids reading instead of doing – well, pretty much anything else – I normally “let it go”. In other words, I pretend that they should be doing whatever task I had set, but they can carry on reading “for a little while”, since it is clearly so engrossing, and they’ll want to know how it ends, of course. It’s a trick, you see, so that they don’t think I’m too supportive of their disobedience. This is because:

a) I really shouldn’t encourage disobedience.

b) I want them to think reading the book was their idea alone, and let them maintain the pleasure that comes from clandestine activities for as long as possible. If reading is the “naughty” thing they do, that works for me. As long as they never really believe reading is “bad”. But we model enough addictive reading patterns in this house for that to be an unlikely scenario.

c) I’m at least as guilty of many, many hours of reading instead of – well, pretty much anything else. Who am I to judge, after all?

(Purists: yes, I know.)

So this afternoon I was delighted to find my eldest daughter reading a book instead of – well, pretty much anything else. And not just any book. A science book. With dinosaurs in. I subtly complimented her and obliquely encouraged her to continue without squelching her enthusiasm by actually approving too much. You know.

She looked at me sweetly and said, “Oh, I’m just trying to choose which dinosaur to be in the game. This one looks cool to me. Do you like it?”

And of course, I did.

Storms, calms, highs, lows, deep breaths and stepping back.

After my last post, I took a little time for reflection. It seems necessary in this life to step back and gain some perspective, and some of us need to do this more often than others.

The very next day, we sat down, zoomed through all our school work with no hassles of any kind, and the girls spent the rest of the day exploring their best friend’s wonderful new house and riding bicycles. It was idyllic for them and gave me a chance to evaluate things. I realised that I had expected far too much: we’d already done 30 minutes of maths when we had our altercation, and that was after reading, language, writing and Bible studies. Without a break. No one can be expected to stay focused for that long, especially when the work at hand is boring and repetitive.

I don’t think I was wrong to reiterate the value and importance of focus and concentration, but I do think I pushed too hard. I’m grateful for gracious daughters who forgive and understand (as much as they can) that their parents are human.

We all know the idiom “Calm before the Storm”, but I’d like to introduce (or revisit) “the Low after the High”. This weekend and the few weeks leading up to it have been full of energy and achievement. We’ve had wonderful family devotions, learnt valuable lessons, applied those lessons and seen the fruit of our labours. We have been deeply aware of God’s blessing in our lives on every level, and the activity seemed to culminate in DH preaching one of his most successful sermons on Sunday.

Since then, not so much. There seems to be a slump hanging over the whole family. Moods are low, health is quivering and tempers are short. I was listening to a sermon on the radio recently where the pastor described this very scenario. He gave some Biblical examples of it, too: Peter acknowledges Christ’s deity and messiahship, then denies Him three times! Elijah defeats and destroys 450 prophets of Baal in one of the Bible’s coolest demonstrations of divine power, then runs and hides in the desert from a single (albeit powerful) woman.

It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in these experiences. Even heroes from the Hall of Faith share them with us, and received their due reward.

It was also interesting to be reminded of Elijah’s trials, since we’re studying this prophet’s life in Konos at the moment. In fact, we’ve just covered that very bit about the prophets of Baal being destroyed and we’re heading towards Elijah’s flight to the desert. When all the messages from all the channels say the same thing, you can be sure God’s got a lesson in there for you. What is this one? Well, I suppose it’s trust.

As I was trying to get through the appropriate amount of educational material today, while juggling some perilously late deadlines, I began to spin into my panic-mode: we’re only studying Elijah. We’re not doing any contemporary history, geography, science … I’m not giving my kids what they need! I’m a terrible mother – and everything else. AAaarrghh!

I took a step back.

I returned to the Konos resource material and saw that we’re about to start a unit full of geography, history and science. I remembered that this week the girls presented some of their own parables: allegories for Christian living today. The metaphors were rich, detailed, accurate and full of scripture. What a blessing! Who really even needs history or geography when you have a living relationship with the One who made and owns the mountains, who was there for all the history?

When I have a chance, I’ll transcribe and share their beautiful parables, but just for today I take comfort in the fact that they are getting what they need: they’re getting Life.

It’s a kind of magic

In the Konos unit on trust, we look at optical illusions and so-called “magic” tricks (basically: really FUN science). The children make cloaks, wands and a stage, and performing a magic show using the tricks they’ve learned. This teaches them crafts and science and public speaking. The idea is to illustrate how simple deception can be to achieve, and then to contrast that to the Truth, and how knowing Truth protects us from deception.

The course material refers to some great looking books on the topic, but being a penny-pinching nethound, I decided to look online for ideas. About.com has some great step-by-step guides, which I made into a booklet for my family. We’ve printed it out, and now it’s DH’s turn to spend some time with the girls, explaining each step, the principles behind each trick, and helping them to master it.

We’ve decided to include the magic show in our Grandparents’ Day at the end of the year (date to be advised). On that day, we’ll also present the girls with awards for progress through the year, and lay on a special tea for Grannies and Grandpas, all made and served by the DDs. We’ll display their work, do the magic show, and perhaps incorporate another performance of some kind. I’m really looking forward to it, as I know it’ll be a wonderful treat for the entire family. (And of course all available Aunts and Uncles are invited and expected, too).

If you’d like to download that book of tricks for personal use, click here: 18 Fun, Easy Magic Tricks.

Science this week.

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

Well, we’re still working through Trust. Today we were concentrating on optical illusions (which we also touched on in the “Eyesight” section of Attentiveness). We studied the works of Escher and Salvador Dali, which are so mind boggling and fascinating. I love being able to share these great works of art with the girls, and I love having access to the Internet, which makes it so easy to achieve this sharing of knowledge.

We also created a thaumatrope. Ever heard of one? It’s pretty interesting, and at first it completely failed (as my science experiments tend to do), which was disappointing. However, once again the Internet came to the rescue. I found this website, which gave us an explanation of thaumatropes that we could understand, some simple experiments, and a shorty video tutorial.

We also found this website, with a list of animated GIFs, which perform the same illusion as the hard copy thaumatropes we made, but with fewer human errors. 🙂 . Random Motion was very useful in its definition and experiments, which even I managed eventually.

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope: n.

The thaumatrope was invented in the 1820s and it proved the phenomena of persistence of vision. The word “thaumatrope” has Greek roots. “Thauma” means magic in Greek and “trope” refers to something that turns. The thaumatrope is somewhat magical because it creates illusions dependent on persistence of vision.

And finally, DH came home and did his Daddy-trick, in which he just looks at a science-y thing and it works. So all of our thaumatropes worked and the girls had a good idea of how easily the eyes can be deceived. A good day for science and discernment, methinks.

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