Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jacob's ladder

Above is J's story drawing, of Rebekah discussing with Jacob the plan that he should leave Canaan and seek refuge in Haran with her brother's family. Below is Zoo Boy's depiction of the dream Jacob had while traveling in the desert, of the ladder filled with angels and reaching up to heaven and Yahweh. I am extremely pleased at how much thought and detail Zoo Boy is putting into his drawings as this semester goes on. I'm patting myself on the back with my decision to continue working with the epic in this uninterrupted way rather than breaking out into separate math and science blocks, I feel like it's done Zoo Boy in particular a world of good to keep working with story drawings and full summaries.

Above, J's summary, below Zoo Boy's shortened version. In fact, even J's version needed to be shortened a little, because, for the first time, the boys composed a summary that was longer than they could fit on a single page -- they just insisted on including so many details. Zoo Boy wasn't happy about me shortening J's version as well as his, he thought that at least one of them should be writing the entire thing!

Havdalah candles and donut auction

During our Ancient Israeli Crafts class this week we made Havdalah candles. Havdalah is the closing bit of Shabbat, and the candles used for the ceremony have at least 3 wicks -- the idea being that 3 wicks burning together produce a stronger light than 3 separate candles burning. We started by dipping 3 different candles in 3 colors of wax.

Then we braided the candles together while they were still warm. They came out really cool!

In the Fun with Fractions class, we held a "donut auction" -- I brought in a dozen donuts, all different kinds, and everyone who wanted each kind got a piece, so we wound up cutting donuts into thirds, quarters, fifths, sevenths, eighths and tenths.

We also explored fractions in terms of liquids, making our own measuring cups out of paper cups, and doling out various fractions of various drinks (water and several kinds of sodas).

Then we did a simple craft, making ocean scenes from foam fish and sea creatures, then identifying what fraction of our scene was lobsters, what fraction was clown fish, etc.

The fractions class has really been super-fun, and we could easily have used up a 2 hour slot rather than just an hour, the kids are just so into it. And it's amazing what a good handle they all seem to be getting on fractions despite the totally playful introduction.

The kids also had Flight class today, where they competed in a flying competition of some sort, but I was busy tending to hot, melting wax, so I didn't even get to see a minute of it, or take any photos.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

nomadic tent, week 1

Last week I wrote about the start of our big Adobe Oven cultural project. Our other big cultural project for this semester is making a Nomadic Tent, from the goat up. Today we had our project co-op friends out to our farm to shear our Angora goats. First we talked about how our goats' lives are different from the goats of the ancient Israelis. (They are more sedentary and live in the same place year-round, as opposed to goats in the desert who must move from water hole to water hole.)

Then the kids picked up scissors and got to work. As we sheared, we talked about the tools the ancient Israelis actually had to shear their goats (sharp rocks and sharpened goat bones) and how much harder that must have been than using scissors. (Which made a pretty big impression, because all of the kids thought it was too hard as it was.)

The kids all lost interest before the first goat was done, but the lesson was learned -- it's not easy to shear a goat, imagine if you had an entire flock of them and depended on them for all of your clothing and shelter needs!

Afterwards the kids had fun collecting chicken eggs, herding ducks, snuggling with the pony, and climbing all over hay bales.

It was a chilly late-October afternoon, but a nice day to be out enjoying the cooler weather and visiting with friends.

We'll be getting back to working on the oven this coming week, the weather was rainy last week preventing us from working on it. Now that we have the goat fleece, we can work on that project on rainy days, so we'll have a bit more flexibility with our projects.

harvest party, 2011

We had our annual Harvest Bonfire party this weekend -- we roasted wieners, made s'mores, ate birthday cake, gorged ourselves on yummy food (and a good quantity of junk, too), and ran around in a dark pasture (well, the enormous pack of kids did anyway). Great fun had by all! Wish I could have gotten more pictures (especially of our pony, Butterscotch, snuggling with everyone), but I was too busy running around playing hostess.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jacob tricks Isaac

Above is J's story drawing, of Rebekah and Jacob scheming to trick Isaac into giving Esau's birthright blessing to Jacob. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing, of Jacob, disguised as Esau, delivering the meal Isaac had asked Esau for. (For Enki-users that might be confused, this story is really the 2nd half of the Enki Torah story "Esau Loses His Birthright".)

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's shorter one. When we finished composing our summary, J commented "I wonder if Esau will kill Jacob." Zoo Boy responded, "Nah, I'll bet he has another trick that keeps that from happening."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Esau Loses His Birthright

A quick note to other Enki-users. I've split some of the Enki Torah stories into 2 (or more) parts to try to keep the story content to one major theme/issue per story. This is to keep my kids from devising overwhelmingly long summaries that nobody would be happy copying, and since summarizing is one of my big focuses with them, this seemed to make the most sense to me. So when I start using story names you can't find in your curriculum package (like, in tomorrow's post), it's because it's really part of another story in there. You'll also notice that I began the epic at the chronological beginning rather than with Moses, as I also felt that served my kids best. Anyway, on to today's topic:

Above is J's story drawing of Esau asking his brother Jacob for some stew. Jacob eventually bargains with Esau, giving him stew in exchange for his birthright. I love the realistic nomadic tent in the background of this picture! And the adobe brick stove that Jacob is cooking his stew on. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of Esau eating the stew, and Jacob smiling because he'd tricked Esau out of his birthright. When I finished reading the story, J commented, "Well, that wasn't very smart of Esau!" and Zoo Boy said, "Esau is strong with his body, but Jacob is strong with his brain."

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's somewhat shorter one. You can see what I mean about the length of this -- imagine if we'd had to continue by summarizing the second half of the story as well, it would have taken pages to write it all out. Much easier to just read that second part as a separate story, that way none of the important parts are left out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rebekah at the well

Above is J's story drawing of Rebekah (Isaac's future wife) offering water to Abraham's steward and his men and camels (the men and camels in the background). One of the readers of this blog pointed out the cool perspectives that J is showing in his recent drawing work. This is developing naturally as he continues doing drawings, it's nothing that I've ever mentioned or worked on with him. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of the steward (and one of his camels) meeting Rebekah at the well.

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's somewhat shorter one below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

monday crafts

I had to make an emergency run for clay before my classes began yesterday, so I didn't get any photos of the boys' flight class. But they made cute little helicopters and learned all about the effects of wind on wings.

In Ancient Israeli Crafts, we talked about clay, where it comes from, and how the Ancient Israelis used it for everyday items. We looked at a lot of photos of adobe houses, both modern Egyptian houses and ruins of Ancient Israeli houses, and looked at some drawings and models of Israeli adobe houses as well. Then we talked about how clay was also used to record history, and got the class going with designing and making their own clay relief tablets.

I told the class they could either record a picture from Ancient History, or from their own personal Modern History. As an example, I said that if I was going to make my own clay relief tablet right now, I would depict a woman with a big belly, getting ready to have a baby. (Everyone liked that.)

J chose to make a farmer using a hoe (something from Ancient Israel).

Zoo Boy went the Modern personal history route, and depicted his DS.

After we finished our clay relief tablets, we made clay oil lamps. After these lamps dry (in another week), we'll fill them with Olive Oil and light the wicks.

I forgot to take photos during Fractions class, but we worked a little on equivalents and lowest denominator (without too much explanation, more just manipulation of seasonal candy on a plate), and we read through a fun little fractions play and assigned roles -- we'll present our play to the entire Monday Homeschool community during share day.

Meanwhile, at home, the kids continue to play around with the fraction pictures we did in the last class, continuing to create with wholes, halves, quarters and eighths.

photo shoot

This past weekend the ballet school held their formal promotional photo shoot for the Claras (there are 2 casts, each has it's own Clara) and Fritz (J is the only Fritz, so he dances with both casts), to use in advertising and the catalog. I thought J might find this a little overwhelming -- it took hours of formal posing -- but he said it was actually a lot of fun. The boy loves a spotlight.

J and one Clara get in a bit of practice while the other Clara is being photographed.

I'll have bunches of professional shots to share when they are available. We actually finally abandoned the shoot to go find other things to do -- J might have been having fun, but honestly, the rest of us thought it was a little boring.

Want to come see J dance in the Nutcracker?? The shows will be held at Manchester High School in Manchester, CT, and the dates are Sat Dec 10 at 2pm and 7pm, Sun Dec 11 at 2pm, Sat Dec 17 at 2pm and 7pm, and Sun Dec 18 at 2pm. I'll post ticket information when it becomes available. The school hires in professionals for some of the larger roles, as well as allowing all of their students to participate, it's really a WONDERFUL production, well worth making the time to see. Many homeschooled kids involved too -- in fact, one of the Claras is also homeschooled!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Abraham and Isaac

Above is J's drawing, of Abraham preparing to kill his only son, Isaac, according to the instruction of Yahweh. Below, Zoo Boy depicts a similar scene, but he included the angel of the Lord coming to stop Abraham from actually doing it. While we were reading the story initially, Zoo Boy interrupted me to ask, "Does Yahweh REALLY want Abraham to kill Issac?" I just told him we'd see and continued reading. He was trying to decide if it was worth getting upset or if he should just wait and see how the story ended.

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's slightly shorter one.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the sons of Abraham

When I read the title of this story, both kids cheered -- they were glad that Abraham and Sarah were FINALLY getting the children that Yahweh promised them. Of course, Zoo Boy then noted, "Why is it in these stories everyone is always giving birth to sons? SOMEONE must have had daughters!" Astute kid. Above is J's story drawing, of Hagar and Ishmael leaving Abraham's family (at Sarah's jealous insistence) and traveling into the wilderness. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing, of the well Yahweh provided to Hagar so that she could save Ishmael's life after the food and water Abraham had sent with them ran out.

Above is J's summary, below is Zoo Boy's slightly shorter version.

adobe ovens, week 1

Our little cultural projects co-op began yesterday. A big part of the Enki cultural units (the part that makes up the actual Science work) is based on longer-term, larger scale projects. My friend T is leading our first project, which will ultimately be an adobe oven.

The timing of the start of this project is perfect for us (purposely), because this week we've been reading stories about Abraham and Sarah, and in the stories Sarah bakes bread in her adobe oven.

In the first photo, T is just helping the kids get a feel for the landscape and materials available to the ancient Hebrew people.

Then we went outdoors for the real work. Our first job was to find clay. Fortunately, T lives on an old river bed, so her yard is just FULL of clay, and the kids didn't even need to dig all that deep to find it. They were pretty excited with how much clay they were able to dig up and collect in a fairly short amount of time.

Next, they came up with "recipes" -- different combinations of amounts of clay, sand, and composted soil. They mixed up each of the recipes, adding some water along the way to create enough moisture for it to stick together well.

Then they formed their clay recipes into test bricks (in our case, the bricks are just informal balls rather than molded bricks).

The whole point of this activity is discovery learning -- the kids are making various ratios of clay/sand/soil to determine which is the optimum mixture for constructing our oven.

Then they laid out their bricks to dry. Next week, we will drop the bricks and see which ones hold up the best, then use that recipe to start building our oven.

Our recording sheet to keep track of the recipes we used. Next week we'll fill in the results.

The entire scientific focus for this year is ecosystems -- in particular, determining what is needed for the human species to survive, and discovering how these ancient peoples went about providing these things for themselves. Right now we are working with "food" -- after we're done with this half our our semester, we will switch to working with "shelter" and will construct a nomadic tent from goat fiber.