Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: Charlotte Mason?

By Friday, I can remember what we did on Friday. Monday is ancient history. Ancient. So, my weekly-wrap ups are "what I did yesterday", at best ;)

Though, a note about Thursday before I forget. The 6th grade science teacher at co-op wound up having to pull out due to changing family school circumstances. So, a few of the other mothers, and myself, each picked a science unit to teach. I took the unit on our solar system and space.

When I was in 6th grade, in public schools, our teacher did this most phenomenal activity in regards to the solar system. He took us all outside and walked with us to the far end of the school grounds, past the athletic fields and all that. We started over there with a red playground ball to represent the sun. He explained that each of his strides was about equal to a yard, or maybe a meter, I don't know. But we paced off the scale distance to each of the planets. And we left a child holding a notecard with scaled representation of each planet at the appropriate distance. I think Jupiter might have had half a walnut glued to its notecard. But I distinctly remember how unbelievably far it was between the planets. How we walked all the way across the school yards, across the street, and into the park across the street. How we lost sight of the students left holding the sun and the inner planets (due to the topography of the park). It was amazing. Because as a child, you grow up seeing the whole solar system colorfully represented in a two page book spread or done with little hanging styrofoam balls in a mobile. I had no idea, none, of the vastness of our solar system.

So, I wanted to recreate something like that for the 6th graders at co-op. Obviously, we couldn't walk down Winton Road stringing out 6th graders behind us. But I remembered an activity I had done with the Tenderfoots at AHG a few years ago that I thought would work. Its a scale model of the distance between the planets using toilet paper as a measuring tape. Each square equals 10,000,000 miles. It was a beautiful sunny day. I had the kids partner up. Each pair wrote the names of the planets on popsicle sticks, stuck in modeling clay bases, to represent the location of the planets. (The planets themselves are too small to represent on the scale we were using. The sun on this scale is .4 inches in diameter and the earth 0.001 inches.) Each pair had a roll of toilet paper and a chart with the number of sheets between each planet, and we headed out.

We took up positions in the far corner of the parking lot, intending to go diagonally across the parking lot and down the driveway if need be. It was going fine until the first breeze hit us. Not to be deterred, I had the kids dig rocks and pebbles out of a nearby drainage ditch to weight down their toilett paper as they were unrolling it. Each pair managed to get though the inner planets before the first rip occurred. I got out the roll of tape I had brought. They were into the outer planets when I began hearing "We have to count out 90? Seriously?" But at this point the wind gusts became to strong for the great lengths of toilet paper unrolled across the parking lot. Entire solar systems tore and began tumbling away. Shoes were removed and used as ballasts, but it was to no avail. We had to admit defeat in the face of the wind.

Sweetling said, "This was a disaster, but it was awesome!"

I have pictures on my phone. Maybe the Jedi can help me get them from the phone to the blog.

Today I woke up and didn't feel like doing school. Yeah, don't be too shocked. We're transitioning to a new curriculum next year...My Father's World. I decided to try a more Charlotte Mason approach to schooling today. We read from the Bible together. Sweetling did another section of her algebra unit assessment and I did spelling with Toa of Boy. Then I gave Sweetling the freedom to write anything she wanted, and she happily disappeared into her room to work on a short story. She was smiling and bubbly and thrilled....and I haven't seen that out of Sweetling in regards to school in a long time. Toa and I sat on a comfy chair by the window and I read Curious George to him. Then we laid on the waterbed in Mommy and Daddy's room and he read Giggle Giggle Quack to me.

After lunch, we headed out to the park for a nature hike. I told them before we left that there goal was to find something we could learn about. Toa found ivy growing up trees which he investigated. We snuck up on the rustling sound in the underbrush and found a pair of robins. We saw a large black shelter box of some kind on a pole, and went to investigate what it might be a shelter box for (bats, we decided, since it had a slotted open bottom.)

A drainage pipe was discovered, and children each had to call to the other from the various ends of the pipe. On one side of the pipe, the natural stream had been filled in with large rock chunks, and we wondered why that was and left the walked on the rocks till we got back to the natural stream. We noticed interesting rocks and talked about their composition as we walked.

Back in the wooded section, soft moss was admired, a fallen log turned into a balancing beam, and new leaf buds examined.

No journaling or sketching was done, so I'm not sure that it qualifies exactly as a Charlotte Mason approved outing, but it was an excellent Friday afternoon!


Alicia said...

Sometimes the short weeks are the best!! I have heard good things about My Father's World. I love the CM Style but, some weeks look better than others. :)

Childblessed said...

I'm new to the CM approach and don't often get things done exactly as I should. The reading part is easy for us but the art, composer, and nature walks are all new for us. Sounds like you had a great week and I would say the nature walk counted as "schooling". :)
Found you through weekly wrap-up!
Kid Junkie

Ritsumei said...

Sure looks like fun to me! I think that Miss Mason wouldn't mind a trip with no journaling, though I'm not super-familiar with her writings. But it seems that I remember that she thought kids ought to have a fair amount of latitude in what goes into their books - so as to maintain ownership over their books. Now, watch. A CM expert will come and I'll be completely wrong!

40winkzzz said...

your cm friday... we all need days like that every once in a while.

your thursday science class... "disaster" or not, i bet the kids got the general idea, and that's what counts. (that and they had fun, which also counts.) i bet that qualifies as a cm-ish day, too. after all, you were outside learning about the world (well, the universe)-- sounds cm to me!

i randomly hopped over here from weekly wrap-up because your title sounded interesting. :-)