Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up.....Through the Tall Grass

More on Africa. (I wanted to call the post "In the Tall, Tall Grass", but that is a title of an unrelated picture book, so I refrained.)


We watched two Planet Earth episodes. I just snagged the series from the library, so we started the week by watching the first episode in the series, From Pole to Pole on Monday. Then watched Great Plains on Tuesday. I was worried that Toa might find them boring, but he was requesting more Planet Earth on Thursday and on Friday, so I think he enjoyed them. Equally important, he remembered and retained some of the information.

On Wednesday, I wanted to do something more hands-on for science, but didn't have the energy or time to track down an experiment or project. So we did a quick and easy review of what we had learned from the video. I wrote a few facts on the kitchen white board, leaving some key words blank. (ie...The tallest grass in the world is _______ _______ which grows in ________.) I did this while the kids were sitting at the table eating snack. They were enjoying coming up with the answers. After snack, I got out green construction paper, and drew lines along its length to divide each piece into 10-11 long strips. I told the kids they were each to write 7-10 facts about grass or grasslands, one sentence per strip. They could use any of the five fill-in the blank facts I had put on the whiteboard, or they could come up with their own. If they couldn't remember something, they could look through the non-fiction library books we had on grasslands.  I  also warned them that we would cut the strips apart after they had written, so to be careful to keep their letters to the center of the strip so that tails of p's and y's and such didn't get cut off.  (Sweetling elected to type her facts up and then send her green paper through the printer.)

After they had their collection of facts, they cut the green strips apart, and tapered the ends of each strip to make blades of grass. Then they glued their grass blades to blue paper. Voila, green grass facts. :)

As a side note, let me relate a conversation between Sweetling and our senior pastor which took place this week. Pastor had asked Sweetling how her school was going. Attempting to draw Sweetling into a more extended conversation, he asked her,

"Tell me one thing you've learned in the past four weeks."

Sweetling replied, "Grass grows underwater."

This probably wasn't the sort of response he was expecting from a young lady known at church for being intelligent and academically advance, but Pastor didn't miss a beat. He simply asked, "Really? How do you cut it?"

The Jedi then jumped in and, with a completely stoic face, answered, "Sea cows."

Moooooving on....


I found an awesome PDF packet of African Art Lessons on Deep Space Sparkle.

The Jedi bought them for me, downloaded them, (noticed  in the process that all my school files were scattered throughout several drives and directories so quickly collected them all in one easily accessible place), and then set up the media center computer to display the pdf pages on the big flat screen in the living room.

In preparation for the lesson, I did some google image searches and found some nice pictures of the Maasai people and their clothing. While looking for images, I also found a really interesting blog post about a visit to a Masai village. We started our art lesson reading this blog post as a read aloud and looking at her pictures together. Although we had read a few books with the Masai, the blog seemed to make the Masai people much more real and more interesting to all of us. Maybe it was the link of blogging....since blogging is something I do regularly about our lives, it was easy for all of us to sit down and know we were reading someone else's blog about their life. It made a visit to a Masai village much more real and personable than reading about the Masai culture in a library book.

 After reading the blog post, and looking at and discussing the google images I had found, we started our art lesson on Maasai figures. We read through the illustrated directions in the packet and looked at the many sample photos of other children's art. We used the worksheet that came in the packet to practice making patterns using thin and thick lines. Inspired by a sample page of patterns in the packet, we made our own pattern sampler. (I'm not usually drawn to working in black and white, especially in such a stark form as permanent ink, but I was so enamored by the page of sample patterns that I had to try my hand at making my own. That's the real reason we added this step of the lesson....Mommy wanted to play with patterns.)

I took a break from drawing in my own sketch book to model drawing a Maasai figure on the kitchen whiteboard, again, following the directions from our packet. Then I got back to drawing patterns in my sketchbook while Sweetling and Toa began drawing and coloring their Maasai figure art.

They used colored permanent markers so that they could add a background wash to their art.

I'm really, really happy with how these pieces turned out and we're looking forward to doing another project from our Deep Space Sparkle packet next week.


We made two recipes from Cooking the African Way this week. On Friday night, we made samusas. The fun thing about samusas were that we needed to go to Jungle Jim's to get egg roll wrappers. Jungle Jim's is a field trip in and of itself. When we walked in the door, we found a brain chair machine. I, obviously, don't know what it was an old movie prop, and pictures had to be taken in it.

From there we chuckled at the singing corn (who was pretty corny), saw the big cheese, ate dragon eyes and ugli fruit, waited for Elvis to sing, listened to a cereal band, purchased delicious chocolate truffles and strawberry shortcake, were grossed out by shrink-wrapped hogs' heads, spied the hidden treasure of Sherwood forest, walked under a fire truck, and completed a whirl wind tour of Europe. We were successful in finding egg roll wrappers, but alas....Jungle Jim's no longer carries ostrich eggs.

The samusas were not as delicious as we had hoped. We found ours to be a little plain.

BUT, the shish-kabobs we made on Saturday night were a huge hit.

And no, the term shish kabob isn't an African term, but "meat on a stick" was in our cookbook, so....we felt justified in going for the shish kabobs.


Our favorite books this week were the Anansi stories. Sweetling and Toa spent a good amount of time trying to trick each other into saying "Isn't that a strange moss-covered rock?" Neither were successful. Equally enjoyable were Anansi and the Magic Stick and Anansi Goes Fishing.

Sweetling also went on an elephant reading binge. Elephants have always held a special place in her heart, so we did a lot of reading about elephant families and elephant life.

Mommy liked the Kenya ABCs as a nice introduction and overview of the culture of East Africa. Both children felt it a bit elementary for them.

If You Should Hear a Honeyguide has beautiful prose and illustrations, and is a rather remarkable "true story" of the honeyguide birds of East Africa.

And, we read Masai and I on the day we did our Maasai figure art.


Last, I want to share a cool math game Toa and I played to practice his multiplication facts. I found the rules for this domino multiplication race. We used a tape measure to measure out our 3' race track and marked the start and finish line with masking tape on the living room carpet.  We put all our dominos face up in between the two race tracks. And then, the game was on.(Follow the link to read the rules. it will make much more sense than me trying to explain it.) Toa was unbeatable. I tried to win, because I did not want to go down to a seven year old, but I couldn't pull off a victory.

To read what others did this week, check out Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


6kids said...

Thank you so much for putting our blog on your blog. :-) It looks like you are doing some amazing things with your kids!
All the best,

Our Side of the Mountain said...

LOVE the artwork! What a GREAT job! Wonderful unit!


Patty Palmer said...

Wow! I feel like this is my first review of one of my packets! I love the process you went through and the drawings turned out lovely. Do you think I could link your blog to my post on my African Art Lesson?
Patty Deep Space Sparkle

Mrs Random said...


I sent you an email, using the email addy in your blogger profile. JUST IN CASE you don't get it (I hardly ever check my own gmail account)...

Yes. Please feel free to post a link or a portion of my blog on yours. We loved the African art packet. We also did the mud huts, and they turned out beautiful as well!