Our last quarter of Classical Conversations commenced Tuesday with week 19 and boy, was it jam packed! We learned how to find the area of a circle and our Latin Noun Endings, third declension. We began studying the orchestra and learned lots of new instruments and terms. We grew crystals out of borax and made lovely snowflakes and discussed the ocean zones. That’s just the beginning!
First, Creating Borax Snowflakes
Crystals are pretty awesome and fit nicely into our study of earth science. They’re easy to make and quite stunning. Here’s how you can make your own: http://www.marthastewart.com/269342/crystal-snowflake
Basically: “Twist three 5-inch pieces of pipe cleaner together to form a snowflake, then add a 1 1/2-inch piece to each point. Tie the flake with string to a pencil. Find a big enough jar so the suspended flake won’t touch the sides. Fill with 3 tablespoons borax and 1 drop blue food coloring per 1 cup of boiling water. Hang the snowflake in the jar. Let sit overnight; remove.”
D loved this project!
This project stuns because the snowflakes are so beautiful! You really do need to start with hot, boiling water or nothing happens. We had to try this experiment at home a few times before we got it right. Once you have the hang of it, though, it’s very easy and fun for little hands!
We’re going to try and make rock candy at home too. What better way to study crystals than to make something you can eat? I found some directions from Exploratorium if you want to make some too: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/recipe-rockcandy.html.
Speeches– Kids as Teachers
This week, each child taught the class about something important to them. Some of our students taught us about their favorite historical events. One taught us about the layers of the Earth and even brought in playdough so that everyone could make their own clay model. Several others, my daughter included, taught their classmates how to draw something. A taught them how to draw a horse grazing. She discussed the techniques required and demonstrated them step by step. I love how Classical Conversations emphasizes the importance of public speaking. By this time in the year, none of the students think twice about getting up before their class and presenting. They are all so creative!
A speaks in front of the class
A’s horse grazing
The class makes playdough globes
The layers of the Earth
Classical Music Does a Mind Well
The kids were sad to finish art, but I think they’ll like orchestra too. We’re going to delve into famous composers, music, and so much more. On Tuesday, we talked about what makes an orchestra. We learned about the history of the orchestra. I made large, three-part Montessori nomenclature cards to share with the class and help them learn to identify a wide variety of instruments found in the orchestra. This portion of the class went by quite quickly this week and I think the kids will be more interested next week when we start listening to music and talking about composers. My kids have enjoyed learning a lot more about instruments at home too. De and Be love the Montessori cards. They know so many instruments already!
Classical music is thought to make children smarter. Have you heard of the Mozart Effect? Listening to classical music and especially learning to play it increases children’s spatial-temporial reasoning. Does classical music enhance your intellect? Perhaps? It’s also thought to aid memory. While the kids likely won’t become famous musicians, every child can benefit from classical music and music study. We enjoy listening to Beethoven and Mozart during our school day! It creates a happy, productive studying environment.
D and B learn their instruments together
A whole bag of instruments to learn!
Here are some interesting links I found about Classical Music and Orchestra:
San Francisco Symphony Kids– Fun With Music- http://www.sfskids.org/templates/home.asp?pageid=1
Classics for Kids- Interactive Orchestra Chart- http://www.classicsforkids.com/music/orchestra.asp
DSO Kids- All Sorts of Music Games- http://www.dsokids.com/default.aspx
Orchestra for Kids- a Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra- http://orchestra.jwjonline.net/book.php
The Anasazi of the Southwestern US Built Adobe Villages…
Our history sentence this week is very catchy. I found a simple history of the Anasazi for the kids to listen to once they were familiar with our history sentence and gave them each a mound of clay to shape into a bowl and inscribe with Anasazi pictograms. This was fun! We’ve learned so much about the great civilizations of North and South America this year, more than I ever knew before! It’s awesome to learn together as a family. Everyone gets involved and everyone, from daddy all the way down to Bella, learns new and fascinating things.
Mt students work hard on their Anasazi pots
A and her friend study Anasazi pictographs and decorate their clay
To learn more about the Anasazi, check out these sites:
Basic intro to the Anasazi: http://nativeamericans.mrdonn.org/southwest/anasazi.html
Anasazi Homeland- http://www.kidscantravel.com/familyvacationdestinations/mesaverde/funstuffkids/index.html
Pueblo History- http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/northamerica/before1500/history/pueblo.htm
Digging for Truth- Mystery of the Anasazi Video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q1rVTvrDss
The First Americans- The Anasazi Video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q1rVTvrDss
Mayan Adventures Deep in Mesoamerica
We’ve continued out study of Mesoamerica because the kids are totally into it. We’re reading an amazing adventure book, Middleworld by J & P Voelkel, as a family and are enthralled. Basically, 14-year-old Max’s archeologist parents cancel their much anticipated family vacation to Italy in order to go on an important dig in Central America. They vanish into thin air and Max suddenly finds himself in the middle of a Mayan mystery, and a whole lot of danger. The book is phenomenal! The kids can’t get enough of the Maya. We’ve also watched movies about them on Netflix, made our own Maya hieroglyphs, and completed some informative Maya reading comprehension packets. The Mesoamerica lapbooks are progressing nicely. I’ve enjoyed this unit just as much as the kids and have learned so much. For example, the Maya had a strong, literate, and thriving culture for hundreds of years yet when the Spanish saw their books and writing, they thought it was devil worship and burned all of their writing. Only recently have archeologists begun to decipher the intricate Maya hieroglyphs that decorate their ruins. What a rich, complicated, and detailed history they left behind!
At ballet this week, A and her fellow dancers were doing their butterfly stretches when A piped up, “My butterfly is fluttering to Mesoamerica to find Maya ruins deep in the rain forest.” Yep, we homeschool. Being nerdy is okay! I love the vast amount of stories, ideas, and concepts the children have been exposed to. It simply makes their imagination flourish! While Centeral America is a tad dangerous for American tourists nowadays, I’d love to find a rich Maya exhibit to show the kids. Any ideas?
Hard at work labeling the geography of Mesoamerica
A’s Maya Hieroglyphs
Part of A’s lapbook project
Here are a few of the resources we’ve used thus far:
PBS Documentary- Lost King of the Maya: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeVI-tzku6k
Cracking the Maya Code- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56t6WSbg7eY
Discovery of World’s Largest Pyramid- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voY8jNcuGe8
BBC Documentary- Blood and Flowers- In Search of the Aztecs- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TQqta_W-RM
Ancient Americans- the Mayas and Aztecs- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZQZJqtHpg8
Conquistadors- The Fall of the Aztecs- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dVhgLVbbH4
Maya Hieroglyphics- http://www.omniglot.com/writing/mayan.htm
Under the Sea
For science, we learned about the ocean zones. I found a great project on Pinterest, with bingo cards for each zone and lots of sea creatures from each level. This totally put our science sentence into context! We read a bit about each zone, discussed it as a class, and played bingo one zone at a time. The kids loved it! We’ve played Ocean Zone Bingo at home time and again too. D and E like it most of all and are learning lots of ocean vocabulary. We’ve watched videos about some of the interesting ocean animals on our cards, like the flashlight fish and squid. They’re amazed that such strange and exotic animals exist!
Our week has been full of enriching activities and the kids are absorbing it like a sponge. When we started this program, I was worried about drilling facts and didn’t know if they’d be able to put what they learned in context. Today, A was doing her French and read about a building constructed during the time of Napoleon. She instantly told me her timeline song for the week we studied Napoleon as well as half a dozen facts about him and what was going on in the world when he was alive. WOW!!!!! B, who is not quite 3, learns just by being around us as we school. Yesterday evening, I heard her singing her Latin declensions as she played with her puzzles. Amazing! The boys recal so much too. I can’t imagine how deep and vast a knowledge pool they’ll have to pull from when they grow up. That’s what a classical education is all about!