Thursday, January 29, 2015

Discovering the Power of the Written Word; Unschooling-Style

Charles, at ten, is a happy, eager reader, but until a few days ago, was not an avid writer. However, he figured out how to bug his sister through note-writing last night, though where the impetus came from is anyone's guess. The first slip of paper read; "Greetings. Valentine is fit. I am a robot from outer space." HE was about be tied...when he found out the insult he had meant for his beloved sister had been turned to a complement through the mistake of a single vowel.

 Spelling instantly became a hot topic with him, after a second attempt gone awry to do harm through writing. He spends way more time than I seem to have free, asking me to spell this, or making sure he spelled that right. He said himself; "Mama, I am so happy to write what I want to write, instead of what you make me write."

Go for it, kid.

Spanish Co-op Class

I realized, after yesterday's post on Spanish Class, that I had not posted previously about this addition to our homeschool year; a co-op with one other family, two days a week, where we exchange children and areas of expertise to teach science and Spanish. Up until this year, the sheer number of children and a sometimes unpredictable schedule, have made me hesitate to take part in a co-op. The need to hold a daily rhythm was greater than the desire to take advantage of extra opportunities. Add to that illness, work, and simply children reluctant to leave the was enough.

However, when a good friend offered an exchange, just a small one; I would teach a Spanish class to her one son and she would take my TWO boys for a science class, Tuesday and Thursday each week; it sounded like an excellent idea. And here we are; five months into our lessons and having the time of our lives.
I studied Senderos, an approach to teaching Spanish in a Waldorf classroom, available there and at other Waldorf bookstores. I thought about what has worked well and not so well in past French classes that I have offered. I knew I needed a plan; one teen girl, three boys ages 7-10 would be my pupils, and their favorite thing to do (at least for the boys) is to tear around the house or the yard like crazed warriors, yelling battle cries and brandishing boffers or Nerf guns. First part of plan; lots and lots of "recess" time. This has been beautifully captured by their science facilitator on her own blog Archie Down! Next up; a set rhythm for each lesson. They have ten minutes or so to greet each other before we begin by reciting our poem. They learn new stanzas and work on a project, which may be drawing or sculpting...or spray-painting and glue-guns. For "Estando la Mora en Su Lugar," a sort of Spanish version of "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly," we created a set of flashcards to remember the sequence of the mosca, rato, gato, etc. They each have a Spanish good book in which they write new vocabulary, dialogs, verses and illustrate to their hearts' content. Then they have free time. Once they have rid themselves of a bit of energy, we sit down and read together, in Spanish and English.

Content is not novel; colors, weather, clothing, food, numbers, the basics of what one needs to begin functioning in a language. We do many mini-dialogs, however, based on real-life, the same way I've been teaching French. "Come in, give me your coat. Honey, take his coat. You can put your shoes over here, etc." One of those dialogs was designed to be used in a special situation; eating out in a Mexican restaurant. We learned how to greet, request and thank politely, and then studied the menu to learn how to order before we went. Our server was gracious in speaking to us in only Spanish. It took her a lot longer, I imagine, than a normal table, but she was very patient and we left a good tip.  It was a fun outing!

Thinking of offering language lessons? Go ahead, there are many resources out there. Are you already teaching a foreign language in your homeschool or classroom? Please share your best ideas in the comment section below! And bonne journée!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January and Birthdays

A busy month for such a normally cold, quiet one.  Starting on the 6th, la Fete des Rois, or Epiphany:

For my birthday; a day in heaven! Thierry stayed home and offered me breakfast in bed, time to read and knit while he took care of dishes and cooking. In the afternoon, we went to see "The Hobbit," in the theatre, then came home and watched "The Lord of the Rings." Birthday photos taken in the basement, where the screen well as many other useful things. The bowl? Homemade mousse au chocolat.

The December birthdays fell behind this year, as I was not posting much. Here is my new 18-year-old:

And her father, with whom she shares a birthday:

A present from her 10-year-old brother...something about poo, I'm afraid, but really containing Swedish fish:

Christmastime at church:

Cate singing in holiday church program:

Lunch afterwards with my parents:

Spanish Class

In our little Spanish class, we are on to our second poem of the year. The first was the traditional; "Estando la Mora en su Lugar," set to music and learned so quickly that I was taken off guard. We tried a couple of others until we found one that best fit our first-year Spanish needs. This is it, and this is how we've gone about learning it:

Una Poesia de Parches

It is a poem of patchwork colors, knit with love. So, as far as vocabulary is concerned, we cover the colors and another important term; "knitting." Perfect. Also; sky, sun, night, day, happiness, sadness.

First; we made our own patchwork on paper:

Next, came the construction unit. We are going to present it as a play, and there was a request for masks, which led to papier maché and spray painting and 3-D paints.

They are a work in progress, but here are, so far, sadness (gris), night (negro) and happiness (rojo):

The books we are reading aloud now during lessons are:

And a fun kit we use for the games and vocabulary review:

For reference and for reading together, a picture dictionary:

!Que tenga un buen dia!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Year! (and where have the posts been?)

There is only so much free time for a mother of five. Even eschewing proper amounts of sleep, there are not enough hours in the day. So, a sort of choice, not really a conscious one, more of an "oops, another day without a blog post," consequence came about, because of an ambitious knitting project,