Tuesday, January 11, 2011

back in the swing

We're starting back with some "lite" school rhythms this week. I'd already started working with a British Isles cultural theme back in December, but realized recently that I really would like to do a Latin America block with the boys to coincide with a cultural class and Spanish conversations class that they will be taking starting the last week of January with our Monday Homeschool Classes. After seeing how nicely keeping the cultural jive at the MHC classes worked for us during our African American block, I wanted to follow that trend into Latin America as well. I also think this is just the think to really get our Spanish program moving.

Since I don't have enough time to do a full tricksters/sage cycle with British Isles, we're reading chapters from The Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle, instead. The boys are really enjoying the book (and enjoying me tripping over the flowery language and making up tunes to go with the ballads), and there is loads of trickster energy in that book, right up my guys' ally. As a bonus, it ties in really well with the King Arthur stories we were reading last winter, as many of the ballads in the book are about the characters from Camelot. And since our full winter schedule won't swing into action for another couple of weeks, the "lite" approach (just reading chapters, one or two a day, along with some Scottish folk dancing we started during December, plus our handwriting and math practice work) is perfect for the next two weeks.

I'm bringing Robin Hood into our practice work, too, using the ballads as our poems for copy work/handwriting practice, and basing our word problem work around the characters and circumstances in the stories. For instance, today our word problems were as follows:

Robin Hood, Will Scarlet, Little John and the Tanner were walking down the path towards Sherwood Forest, when they came upon Allan a Dale. How many yeomen were in the woods? Robin blew three blasts upon his horn, and soon four more Merry Men joined them. How many yeomen were there now? Two of the yeomen went off to the Blue Boar Inn, while the rest returned to the greenwood tree to prepare their feast. While they were waiting, they each drank 3 cups of ale. How much ale was consumed? Thinking it wasn't wise to drink all that ale on an empty stomach, they decided to eat some bread. There were 28 servings of bread available. How many servings could each man eat? When the two Merry Men returned from the Blue Boar Inn, they found everyone full and merry and napping under the greenwood tree. How many snoring yeomen were there in Sherwood Forest that afternoon? (J tends to get lost in the details, so I am trying to add more words so that he has to work harder to find the equation in the question.)

Meanwhile, J starts piano lessons this week. His new digital piano came today. Amazingly, it was less expensive to buy this piano than it was to clean and tune my grandmother's upright acoustic piano, which has been sitting in our downstairs room for the past 8 years. Go figure. And since there's no sense in cleaning up that piano until we can get it into a less dusty room (which will require building a wall between the dog area of that room and the piano area), this just made a lot more sense. It was either that, or push off J starting lessons for another 6 months (or longer). And his guitar teacher wants him to start NOW, because he's playing on our keyboard anyway, and she says he's going to pick up bad habits. I agree that it's time to start, it probably has been time for the past 4 years! The first thing he does when he gets up in the morning is to "practice" piano for half an hour, then practice guitar for 45 minutes. I never have to remind him to practice, and everything he plays sounds great. The least I can do is get him lessons.

So we're off and rolling again! Back to swimming this week, and hopefully some Science Friday stuff, plus J's regular dance schedule resumes to finish out the semester at his ballet school. Look to my next post, where I'll talk about the changes in my plans for the rest of this school year, and how I came to the decision not to switch away from the sorts of things we've been working on (school-wise) until the fall.

1 comment:

Alyss said...

I did a post on Robin Hood last summer and kept thinking about what fun it would be to "teach" those stories to 7 or 8 year olds. The stories are trickster tales and hero/sage stories all wrapped in one. Sounds like you guys are off to a good start for 2011!