Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Playmobil Greek History - Trojan War

Years ago, our older kids re-enacted The Civil War with Playmobil characters. It was a hit. We've been studying Greek History this year and the middle kids have been asking to do the same. It was well worth the time. The discussions that ensued showed me that they really did learn by playing.
Paris took Helen

Paris took Helen to Troy

Before Helen became King Menelaus's wife - the kings had vowed to help get Helen back should she ever be taken from whoever married her.  So he called all the kings together to help him to get her back. 

Odysseus didn't want to join the Trojan war because he was told that if he did he wouldn't return home for 20 years.  So he pretended to be crazy and plowed the beach and planted salt.  Someone put his son in front of the plow to test him, and since he avoided running over his son, they knew he wasn't crazy.

Achilles's mother, Thetis, sent him to an island and dressed him as a girl.  She believed that if he fought in the Trojan War that he would die.

Odysseus discovered that he wasn't a girl when a strong wind blew in and all the "other" girls ran.  Achilles took up arms.

Odysseus and Achilles joined the fight with Troy

The Trojans saw them coming.

Achilles mourning the death of his friend Patroclus (who was killed by Apollo)

Achilles avenged Patroclus's death and killed Paris's brother, Hector.

Paris mourned the death of Hector.

Paris then avenged Hector's death by killing Archilles.  He found the only spot he was vulnerable, his heel.  (When Achilles was a baby, immortal Thetis dipped her son into the River Styx to make him immortal also, she held him by his heel, so that is the only part that didn't touch the water...and that was the only part that was vulnerable.)

The Queen of Troy and Helen watched from a safe distance

The Greeks built the Trojan horse, and secretly had some men climb inside.

Then they pretended to sail away - as if they were giving up.  But they weren't, they were hiding on the other side of an island, out of sight.

The Trojans were told the horse was a gift and they pushed and pulled it inside the city gates.

The Trojans celebrated that night with strong drinks.  And while they were sleeping the Greeks climbed out of the horse and opened the gates.  Those on the ship had sailed back and helped in the fight inside the city walls.

King Menelaus and Helen left.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Rightstart Lightbulb

I used to use Righstart Math but stopped years ago...mainly because it takes more teacher time than most other programs I've seen, and I was also teaching a number of kids how to read.

But this is a program I refused to get rid of.  It's that good.  Even though I didn't know if I would ever use it again, I kept it.  I kept them all!

I pulled out one of the early levels of Righstart  at the beginning of the year for my 3rd grader who finds math frustrating.  It's finally making sense!!!

I pulled Level E out this week for my 4th grader.  He's fairly intuitive when it comes to math.  But give him 20 minutes of problems and it might take him an hour.  He's bored.  It was torture.  I couldn't really skip ahead any farther than he already is, he doesn't yet know the material.  He was a little uncertain as to whether or not I was making a good decision here....I don't normally switch gears mid year.  But I am so glad I did!  He is loving it!  He is doing extra work in his spare time for fun!  It does help that the book starts with Magic Squares.  He was particularly impressed that there is a painting by Durer from 1514 with a 4X4 Magic Square.  He is excited again about math.  And that makes the extra teaching time worth it!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A taste of winter

We've had a small taste of winter here.....just enough to remind us to get the yard work done NOW.  The snow has melted, the garden has been "flattened", the compost piles moved around, miscellaneous outside items have been washed.  This week we still need to empty the hoses, store the wrought iron outdoor furniture, and get our chicken tractor ready....Thanks to last week's snow....we won't put it off any longer.
Our chicken tractor has not yet been moved to it's winter location.

My favorite place to sit outside - need to get our bench, and more, out of the elements.

We have a hill right next to our house.   We actually didn't have enough snow to sled on, the kids hauled some from the driveway and pulled some off the roof.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quarter 1 Reflection: After my "MEA" break

So my planned MEA break to reassess our school plans didn't go as planned.  But then, I should have realized that.  One of the challenges we have been having this year is that things too often don't go as planned.  Why should my break week be any different?

Well, we've had a bountiful crop of apples this year.  It would be such a shame to let those go to waste.  We've given many apples away, but we also had 48 canning jars sitting in the kitchen waiting to be used for applesauce.  The "plan" was for the high school kids to continue working while the elementary age kids and I took a break from schoolwork.  They would do a lot of the canning, I would do a lot of the planning.   The kids are great, I could not have gotten that much done without them.  But they could not have gotten that much done without me either.  At first my planning to a backseat to canning and my thoughts turned to anger.  Seriously....how am I supposed to get anything done!  But now I think it was providence. 

I am a scheduler.  I like to move things around and make everything fit into our nice tidy little day.  I use the ideas from Managers of their Homes but do it all in my spreadsheets instead.  I've done it this way for years. I did get some time on Monday to work through things and decided we would have to start 90 minutes earlier and reshuffle a lot of things to get everything done.  Yeah....until I can find a way to get my K and 3rd grader to bed 90 minutes earlier....I don't think that's a smart plan.  Instead, while canning applesauce, I mulled it all over, and talked with a few friends, and did a lot more  mulling it over.

I redid the kids' schedules and told them all that I was going to try something brand new and we would do it for TWO weeks even if we didn't like it...because ONE week might not be enough time to really check it out.  You would think after homeschooling for 15 years that I would have seen the beauty in this....instead if always made me run.  I stuck with my old color scheme on their schedules (black - do it alone, red - do it with Mom, blue - do it as a family).  And this time I put the black items on top of the  list....so they didn't seem like an after thought that I wasn't really all that concerned about.  Now, in the morning everyone starts their solo work while I work with my Kindergartner.  When he's done he gets to play with his 23 mo old sister and I move on to work with the 3rd grader.  I just keep moving up the line.  If they get done with their solo work early they are to do their chores or ask me what they can help with - it's not play time yet.  (This has kept everyone on track - anyone else have the problem of going off somewhere quiet to give a reading lesson only to find out one older child (correctly) went to help the little ones with something and the next thing you know everyone is playing with the little ones???)  This has also helped with timing.   If I get pulled away because Abigail just needs her mamma, or someone gets hurt, etc. that isn't "infringing" on someone's time.  My kids get frustrated (and rightly so) when I have to step away from my 20 minute reading time with them or something to go attend to something else.  Hmmm...do I come back to them and push everyone else back, do we push back lunch, etc.  (wouldn't be so bad if this just happened once a day ;)  )  But now they know I will help them next.  If I get interrupted by something else, they know I am coming back and will help them when I am done.

No, this isn't perfect.  I do need to somehow squeeze my 10th grader into the mornings since he's usually gone for a few hours most afternoons.  My 6th grader has needed to be flexible because sometimes he gets helped before lunch and sometimes after.  My 9th grader has the afternoon naptime slot with fewer interruptions - which is really ideal for her, but she's gone 2 days a week at that time.  The 3 younger students always get done in the morning.  Monday afternoon is history, Tuesday afternoon is science, Wed afternoon is writing instruction, Thurs is temporarily busy with Lego League, and Friday afternoon is dedicated to time with the high schoolers.  Religion is floating at this point - but will settle into Thurs. 

So, my break started out looking bleak and frustrating.....my break was supposed to be time for me to reassess!  The apple canning turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I didn't have time to write, but I had time to think.

Hope this works out.