Saturday, March 22, 2008

Underwater Dioramas and The Lochnest Monster

EDIT: This has been edited to add the requested link. The materials only go through third grade.

My parents are here for the weekend so my time is a little limited. I still intend to get a bunch of stuff done though. I'm just itching to sort through Tinks stuff and figure out exactly how to best incorporate the one subject a day for her. I found a site online with about three worksheets for every subject and every tiny thing that must be covered for third grade.

I looked at it and printed it all out for Tink. I’m going to have her go through those worksheets and if it turns out like I think it will, we will be able to move into 4th grade on everything. I looked at the pages and it really looks like Tink can do it. I'll let you know after spring break. Tink’s going to take her spring break and do all these pages. Hopefully she will be starting a new grade when we get back to school the first of April.

Wiping a slate clean is a good feeling. That's the biggest reason I stick with curriculum for most of our stuff. I need a quantative measure of where we are going and where we have been. It also helps Tink to feel like she's not just spinning her wheels. Without curriculum I am sure that we would have entire gaps in Tinks learning. For example, I can get all excited that she's showing an interest in Science and take off on that tangent and completely ignore that she's not where she should be in Math or Spelling. I see that as one of the biggest flaws in the unschool idea. I need actual workbooks done and set aside so I know exactly where Tink stands.

I see homeschool moms fall into this sort of rut all the time. You know, why is it that a child who excels in Science, Art or Music gets much more recognition than the child that knows all her parts of speech and can write wonderful essays. By the way, just in case you are wondering, Tink does not fall into any of these categories. Poor kid. But what I am trying to say is that some areas are just so much more showy than other areas and I think as homeschool moms its easy to go on and on about the showy things our kids can do but than never really get into the trenches and the nitty gritty of day to day schooling.

Having set school hours and a set school day helps a child learn discipline and structure that will carry them through life. I was watching Super Nanny the other night when I was too exhausted to do anything and too worn out to get to bed. She had gone into the home of Carly Wilsons sister, I forgot her name! I think it was Lisa. I'll call her that anyway. Lisa has a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a set of twins who are just infants. She was saying that as a child raised up under her father, who was one of the Beach Boys, that they had no structure in their home. Now as a result of that she had no idea how to structure her day and her kids and home.

This is one of the biggest advantages I can see to a structured school day. I know homeschoolers try to shy away from a school day as it is known in public school. They praise the virtues of children being self led and schooling just flowing into home life in one even stream. They say that there should be no separation between the end of the school day and the beginning of evening activities as all the day should be a day of learning.

Well this is really cute and cozy sounding but I have to wonder how those kids will do in the real world when they have to get jobs and go by a time clock. I just don’t think a structured day can be underestimated. But there now how did I get off on that? That certainly was not what I sat down to write.

What I sat down here to tell you all about was the exciting Underwater Diorama Tink is going to do. She has been reading about the Lock Ness Monster in her reading book so now we're going to do a diorama that shows life in the deep. This will involve choosing and planning first and foremost. This weekend she will be brainstorming what body of water she wants to learn about and what will be the best way to gather information.

We're going to the library and picking out one or two books that have detailed underwater scenes that she can show in her diorama. Next week, after choosing her scene she is going to start gathering information about the plant and animal life she is going to include. This is the beauty of doing one subject a day! We now have time to do all this extra stuff.

When our diorama is complete I plan on posting all the steps in the process and Tinks finished work here so you too can have the tools to do a diorama with your kids. It will take us several weeks to complete it though.

In the meantime I will leave you with these questions from Tink on the Loch Ness Monster. Before reading a story I have Tink write down Self Questions. She previews the pictures and scans through the story very briefly than she must know what she expects to learn; in this case it would be what she expects to learn about the Loch Ness Monster. She writes sown any questions she has about the story and than as she reads she writes down the answer to her question. Sometimes the story does not answer her question and being Tink, well....that upsets her! I still like using the preview and Self Question method though. Anyway here are the questions she wants to find out about the Loch Ness Monster. All spelling and wording are hers.

1) do people know that it is? (let me add here that in two years of home school I still have not been able to get her to read or write the word "what" for the word "that". She came out of public school confusing the two and she still does!!)

2) is it real?

3) Can it have baby's?

4) how long does it live?

5)how old is it?

6)what color is it?

7)what dose it eat?

8)how long is it?

9)Dose it hurt pople?

10)is it in a zoo.

11)how saw it?

12)do pople go in the water to find it?

Okay, I could sit here an pull my hair out at the spelling and punctuation but instead I choose to be thrilled that she now knows how to brainstorm and ask thse questions. It took hours upon hours and weeks upon weeks and months upon months to get her to this point. She rattled off these questions in about three minutes!

This is progress.

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