Saturday, March 14, 2015

To Break or Not to Break

Part 2, Week 11 March 14, 2015
More school and more school and spring break?

I was pondering whether or not we should take a week off like the public schools do here for spring break. It would be a great time for me to have a bit of a curriculum rest and to catch up on a few things. BUT, when we have momentum in the classroom. We have momentum. And who am I to stop momentum? No one is experiencing fatigue here. Okay, except me. But I am probably in a perpetual state of fatigue. But I digress. So I am now thinking that we will not take the week off and we'll do school as usual. (Also someone special is coming to visit us in about a month and I think it is VERY likely that we will take most of THAT week off from school. I'll call it spring break then.)

I am planning to get out-of-doors a bit more in the coming weeks so that we can do some "out-side" time before the weather becomes unbearably hot. At that point it is likely that we'll retreat to more air conditioned enclosures once again, emerging once more when the landscape has cooled a bit in the fall and before the colder temps set in for winter. 

This is just all in my head at this point. So really anything can happen.
See, toddlers have big heads, long torsos, and very short arms. D still has all of the above.
Here he has the triangle drawer from the geometric cabinet and is trying to rotate and flip the shapes in their insets once again. Sometimes they fit inside the inset in more than one orientation, and other times they do not. I wrote more about this exploration here.
I think a while back I wrote about D not wanting to be in the classroom anymore. Well that has largely changed now. He seems to like all the story books I've been collecting lately, discussing different aspects of different works, and watching YouTube videos about the subjects he wants to know more about. I'll admit that there is a lot of before-thought and preparation that goes into making this kind of unit study happen. And there is a lot of patience when you have to gather a number of materials together from different sources. (I don't have much in the way of patience.) But it is paying off and D is once again excited about learning about the world around him and working with the materials in the classroom that pertain to those subjects.

This is the frog life cycle set up I came up with. I didn't plan all of this out, but at some point I realized that all of these separate materials could come together to create a more complete exploratory experience and could eliminate the need for housing amphibians in my home.

The plastic figures are from Insect Lore, the layered puzzle is from Nienhuis, the arrows are just cut from black card stock, and the card material is from Helpful Garden.
I really like these plastic coverings that libraries use to protect their dust jackets. But I am thinking that my camera lens could do without them. What you can't see here is that the author is Gail Gibbons. She is one I would highly recommend. We really love her books. The amount of information she gives is just right and her books always contain beautiful illustrations.
D saw this page, and he remembered seeing another picture in another book of a frog's air sac. He had thought that this part of the frog was particularly interesting the first time he saw it too.
So he immediately got up and went to go find that other picture.
We got a little side tracked.
But then, voila, we found it. After we looked at a few YouTube videos about frogs making sounds with their vocal sacs. D was delighted. I thought that the frogs got pretty loud.

There is a page in the language primary album about life cycles. It suggests that the guide prepare a number of materials for study and exploration, including books, pictures, a control card (ours you can't see above) and an experience with the live animal, if possible. 

The presentation should be a conversation about the animal's life cycle in the context of the materials and the way in which way the cycle progresses. D already knew which way the cycle progressed but at first he placed the black arrows in the wrong direction. Then he quickly fixed them when he figured out that the tadpoles don't turn into spawn. He also knows all the nomenclature for each stage of frog development.

The album also suggests exploring the life cycles of butterflies, chickens, and robins. I plan to cover butterflies, ants, and bees because of my knowledge and the items we have on hand.
T was back at the extensions for Game 4 of the Squares and Cubes sequence. Here he is doing the last extension activity before we move on to the next Paper Decanomial lesson.

I created itty-bitty little algebraic tickets we used to notate each term of (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10)^2. He had no problem placing them where they were supposed to go. The only issue he had with this work was that he could have used more golden ten bead bars and S was using the other ones at that time. He got along just fine without them though.

I organized the tickets in 10 different envelopes. The first envelope was for the squares, the second for the "legs" of the decanomial square (1* anything) and then I made a different envelope labeled 1-8 for each of the bead bar colors.

(I also looked at these videos before presenting this lesson. You may want to start with video 132 and go through 137 if you want to get an idea of the complete decanomial lesson sequence. These videos don't coincide with the KotU albums exactly, but they do give you an idea of how the sequence should go.)

Now it is on to the paper decanomial.
I decided to start a few seeds inside, though incidentally not the seeds in this above shot. With our growing season as it is here in zone 8b I am not sure that we need to start seeds inside, but since our other squash and lima bean plants are doing so well, I thought it might be nice to at least start our peppers and perilla inside to give them a leg-up.
We stole a bit more soil from the garden beds outside and put them in our plastic cups inside. (The cups have holes drilled through their bottoms and we filled the bottom of each with about a half inch of perlite for drainage.
Then we covered the outside of the cups with construction paper to help shield the roots from light and stuck in these bamboo appetizer picks to hold our little "signs."
Since these two seed varieties are Korean we used the Korean dictionary to make sure we were spelling them correctly on our little tags. The peppers are called go-chu (고추) and the perilla is ggae-nnip (깻잎). My favorite ways to eat the peppers, which are sometimes spicy, are in soups and fried up with anchovies. We eat the perilla leaves (which are from the plant that produces sesame seeds) either in "salads," wrapped around fried bbq meats, or marinaded and preserved in soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and red pepper flakes. (A word about perilla; this plant can become big and invasive, so, cut it down before it seeds or grow it in planters to be sure.)
These are D's butternut squash plants. The lima plant is on the end. He is super proud of these guys. He thinks it is funny that they "bend" toward the light. We have them in front of a window at the moment and they always bend toward the window. When we switch around the box so that the plants bend away from the window, within two hours they are worshiping the sun again. We discovered this before I saw the primary album page that says to show children how plants will grow toward light.
Oh, magnets! T found an experiment in a book we have about the iron in breakfast cereal. We don't breakfast out of a bag very often but this week we just happened to have a box of raisin bran on hand and it says it supplies 60% of your daily iron need. So, T crushed some up, stuck a magnet in the crumbs and saw how some of the crumbs actually were attracted to the magnet. 

So I guess don't eat raisin bran before you have to be around strong magnets.

This is a magnet set we got a while back from Home Science Tools. It is fun for the kids to do by themselves and there are task cards that come with the set. Sometimes an adult needs to assist with an activity.
I think that this is one of the task card activities. T and D taped a magnet onto the back of one of D's fire trucks, and used another magnet to "repel" the truck forward.
We got to more sound cards too. This card is of a cow, but the sound is the short "u" for "utter." So, for D, we looked at a couple of YouTube videos about milking cows. They were pretty amazed that the milk they drink got squeezed out of a cow.
We also saw some videos about otters.
T has finished the multiplication sequence and so we are rounding it out by revisiting racks and tubes division. He did one problem last fall and we haven't touched the test tubes since. Before that, my last post about this was in February of last year!

This time we started out from the beginning with a two digit divisor. We just went through the motions of setting up the dividend beads in the cup, the skittles that represent the divisor and distributing all the beads out on the boards and notating only our final quotient answer on paper. This went really smoothly, so we moved on.

At this point, T can make up his own equations. I think I have a box of equations set up for this material, but I seriously can't remember right now after spending an hour making labels for the backs of my 314 cultural cards. 

So, after doing the first problem the simple way with little-to-no notation, we skipped a couple of album lessons and started subtracting through to find partial remainders, which T did with no problem. I make a little game and see if he can, by subtracting through, magically tell me without looking how many beads are left over in the little cups. He thinks it is funny that he can guess how many beads are there without looking.
Wow, having brain-blahhh here. I can't remember if I wrote about S doing division with the stamp game. Okay, I looked and I did write about it here. 

She is doing well with this work overall. She is having trouble remembering when to exchange and why she needs to exchange. It is kind of like the steps are just jumbled up in her head, though they are all there and she understands how to do each part. We'll get things straightened out soon enough.

D did a little bit of our Guidecraft bag activity. I wrote more about it here.

S continued her division with bows work. I talk more about this work here.

And that is it for this installment. After I finish making a few geometry booklets, and some more of the continent folders, I'll be back with another installment to finish off this week. There is almost just as much more!

Oh, another side note, D told his daddy that he wanted a "state cake" for his birthday. Daddy asked him what type of "state cake" he wanted. D said, "just a state cake." Daddy asked if he wanted a cake the shape of Texas. He said that would be okay. Daddy asked if he wanted a cake the shape of Virginia and he said that would be okay. Daddy then said, "or a cake the shape of Africa?" D said, "yes, I want a state cake like Africa and it should be green." I am also working hard at the moment to gather things for an Africa continent study. (A P.S. Thanks to all those out there who have so nicely shared their continent box ideas!)

Oh, and another thing happened today, though, we don't do school on Saturdays, Pi happened! It is March 14 '15 and at 9:26 and 53 seconds, it was π. 3.141592653! This doesn't come around for another hundred years. So cool. Too bad the kids don't know what pi is yet.


  1. THANK you for posting about your squaring and cubing work and linking the videos. Last time I checked EdVid they didn't have nearly as much posted. I was so perplexed by this section of the album and now I know what to do.

  2. THANK you for posting about your squaring and cubing work and linking the videos. Last time I checked EdVid they didn't have nearly as much posted. I was so perplexed by this section of the album and now I know what to do.

  3. Wow! amazing work!! I also thank for the cubing work and links!!! Love your post, as MBT you both brings more light than the album!!LOL Thanks!!! Hugs