Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Art Class And The S Word

Every other Tuesday, Thing 4 heads to the big city for art class. She loves art class, just like she loves piano lessons and dance class. And she's very much looking forward to starting her acting classes. I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Math? Not so much. Anything related to the arts? Definitely.

Recently the S word has come up again. You know..."Don't you worry about socialization?" I don't even like the term socialization. It sounds so something we do to make people fit in. I find it negative and, frankly, kind of creepy. I suspect that what people really mean is, "Don't you worry that your children will never learn to interact with other children if you keep them locked in your house all day and they never see anyone but you and the UPS man when he makes the almost daily delivery of Amazon packages?" (I'm expecting to hear from the My Strange Addiction people any time now.)

But back to art class. When I walked in yesterday to pick up Thing 4 and her friend, it struck me that this is the way I want my children interacting with other children. On this day, my daughter was sitting in a class of 17 children of many different ages. A couple were close to her age, and most were at least 3-4 years older. It was such a diverse group of kids. I appreciate that she has kids in her class who have been at this art thing she can look up to. I appreciate that she has the opportunity to interact with children (and adults) of many ages. The "real world" is made up of many different kinds of people of all ages from many different backgrounds. What better way to learn to relate to people in the real world than to live in the real world every day?

I stood for a bit and listened to the casual conversations going on in the room. The kids were complimenting each other's work, asking "What shade of green do you think would look good here?", talking about past paintings they had done. The teacher was easily facilitating the work going on in the room and it was obvious that the kids respected her and she them. Several of the children (who I didn't know) came up to show me their paintings and asked what I thought about their work. They were very comfortable conversing with me and seemed so mature and, dare I say, normal.

What more could I want for my daughter? Socialization? Not so much. The ability to develop real and valuable interpersonal skills and maybe a true friendship or two? Definitely.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning With Weird Al

Today, one of the kiddos asked me what a palindrome is. Since I believe that music and memory are strongly connected, and that people remember things better if they can relate it something musical (think Schoolhouse Rock), I showed the kids Weird Al's Bob video. Every phrase is a palindrome.

Ok, that's not entirely true. It's not even mostly true. I showed them the Weird Al Bob video simply because I love Weird Al. The man is a genius, and he does a darn good Bob Dylan impersonation.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Practical Application

Thing 3 to Thing 4, "You are a grotesque and vulgar individual! Even odious pit bulls are more amiable than you, and worms are more venerable!"

Thing 3 to me, "Mom, I'm not serious. I'm just trying out my awesome new vocabulary."

Thank you, Caesar's English. (And a hat tip to my good friend for finding this fabulous language arts curriculum.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Terrafirmanator

I took the kids to see Gnomeo and Juliet today. It was a cute movie. In the movie, there was an ad for a do-it-all lawn tractor called The Terrafirmanator. My kids got the joke. Thank you Latin study.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Canaanite Mask

Last week in Oak Meadow 3 Social Studies, Thing 4 studied Phonecia and the Canaanites and how they used different types of resources to create and trade goods. We talked about natural, human and capital resources and how they interrelate. She was really interested in this, and I was really happy (again) to be using OM, because I would never have thought to teach her this at this point in her learning.

To go along with the lesson, she created a Canaanite ceremonial mask out of Sculpey clay. Cool!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Edible Cell

In Oak Meadow 5, we've moved on to Life Science. On Friday, we studied cells and made an edible cell. This was a really cool activity that made learning the parts of a cell a little less intimidating.

We started by gathering items from the kitchen to represent the organelles. We used a blueberry for the nucleus, a strip of fruit roll-up for the microtubles, Mike and Ikes for mitochondria, and rock candy for vacuoles. Not surprisingly, the candy didn't hold up too well in the Jell-o, but we worked with what we had because we were sort of snowed in.

Jell-o was our cytoplasm.

We poured the Jell-o in a quart-sized Zip-Loc bag (which was the cell membrane) and added the "organelles". As we added each item, we talked again about what it does. I don't have a photo of us actually creating the cell, because we had a slight mishap just as I was going to shoot the picture. Let's just say that cytoplasm on the floor, cabinets and Oak Meadow Science book makes for a sticky situation.

Here is our finished cell, which no one will eat because it looks too gross.

It's even worse than those nasty congealed salads that people of a certain generation like to bring to our church pot-luck dinners. All of our organelles, except for the nucleus, either dissolved completely or look really anemic. Oh well, it wouldn't be an Otherwise Educating science project if it worked well. The cell may not be edible, as the book suggested, but Thing 3 does have a really firm grasp on how the main parts of a cell work together. He also learned that rock candy completely disappears if you let it sit in Jell-o too long. Where else is he going to learn that?


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