18 November 2014

Day 40 / 104 - Meet Kit

Kit Kittredge is the American Girl whose story is set in Cincinnati, Ohio during the Great Depression.  She is probably my favorite of all the American Girls mostly because I love her clothes, and it is nearly impossible to destroy her hair.  Last Friday, we studied the 1930's era surrounding Kit's life for week five of our American Girl class.
Kit is studious and resourceful.  In her stories, we often read about her encounters with those who have been displaced by the Great Depression.  We discussed the symbols hobos used during that time to notify each other of various opportunities.  For this reason, we opted to make chalkboards during our craft time.  It was an enjoyable class with a take-home craft that should last awhile.

Day 39 / 104 - Veterans Day 2014

My son, along with his Scout troop, volunteered their time to place flags at the Beckley VA Medical Center on Veteran's Day.
They align the road that enters the center with American flags.  This year, they had the added task of hanging larger ones from the parking garage.

15 November 2014

Day 38 / 104 - Natural Science Research

My son loves his Challenge A Science Research strand this semester!

This coursework is designed specifically to teach students how to research.  Each week, my son is assigned a topic.  Throughout the week, he is expected to research that topic, using at least two sources, and write a multi-paragraph report.  Included with each report is a labeled drawing of the topic and a bibliography citing his sources.  On the following seminar day, he presents his research to his Challenge A classmates.
Again, I will state that my son loves this strand.  He has owned his work, even more than I assumed he would.  He takes incredible care of his notebook, and each week he expects his drawing to be better than the previous one.  Independently, he practices his presentations at home so that he is prepared on class day.  My son is a typical 13-year-old boy, so all of this is somewhat out of character for him.  However,  I have enjoyed witnessing his newly discovered ownership.  More than once, he has mentioned how proud he is of the work that he has been producing.
Because of our past experience with Classical Conversations, we have been fully prepared for this research strand for two distinct reasons.  First, my son has a ridiculous number of science facts memorized from his past years in Foundations.  Researching any one of these topics has been a joy for him because he is already familiar with the vocabulary of that topic.  Second, he previously learned how to write a non-fiction report from multiple sources thanks to the Essentials class utilizing materials from IEW.  With ease we have transitioned into this strand, and as a result, we've greatly enjoyed our learning.

Day 37 / 104 - Meet Addy

Week four of American Girl History had us visiting the Civil War era with Addy.  Addy Walker is the American Girl whose story begins with slavery on a plantation in North Carolina and ends with freedom in Philadelphia. 

Of course, there is a large amount history that can be discussed surrounding the American Civil War.  We did our best to cover as much as possible in a short period of time.  One aspect of the war that is unique to West Virginia is West Virginia was one of two states (Nevada being the other) that entered statehood during the Civil War.  The western part of Virginia seceded from the Confederacy and formalized admittance into the Union in 1863.  West Virgina was pivotal because it was a border state during the Civil War.  We touched on this importance during our class time.

We finished our hour creating Civil War Handkerchief Dolls (pictured above).  Since money was sparse during the Civil War, dolls were made for young girls out of handkerchiefs.  If the handkerchief once belonged to a loved one that was away at war, it helped to ease the pain of separation.

If interested, you can find simple instructions for making handkerchief dolls here.

Day 36 / 104 - Meet Cecile and Marie-Grace

Week three of our American Girl class had us discussing Cecile and Marie-Grace.  In 1853, Cecile and Marie-Grace are friends in New Orleans.

Briefly, we discussed how fifty years prior to the girls' friendship the United States purchased Louisiana (for only 15 million dollars !!) from the French, and what exactly that meant for the geography of our country.  We discussed how influential this port city has been in our nation's history.

Then, we traveled to this city, in the south land, way down on the river and made masquerade masks for our dolls and ourselves.  Naturally, we ended our classtime with (decaf) cafĂ© au laits and beignets.  I enjoyed this class because my daughter and I journeyed to New Orleans in July.

08 November 2014

Day 35 / 104 - Teaching Math

One of my favorite aspects of our Challenge A day has been the Math seminar. 

The students are expected to complete certain assignments at home throughout the week.  Then, on seminar day, they each bring a problem from a newly introduced concept to seminar and teach that problem to the rest of the class from the board.  I've learned throughout many instances in life that nothing helps you to understand a concept more than having to teach it to someone else.

My son is able to solve many problems mentally.  This year, arranging his thoughts in order to eloquently explain to his classmates how he arrived at his solution has taken some effort on his part.  But, he has risen to the challenge, and I have seen great improvement in those skills since the start of this semester.  Each week he makes sure he is using the proper math vocabulary to introduce his problem.  He also makes sure to show the various steps he took in order for his classmates to witness how he arrived at the solution.  His comprehension and retention of the concepts he teaches from the board has been incredible which proves to me this exercise has been worthwhile.

03 November 2014

Day 34 / 104 - Double, Double Toil and Trouble

Our standard for Halloween festivities, and any trick-or-treating, has always been your costume must be a character.  By holding to that standard, this holiday (like anything else) becomes a teachable moment.  We haven't been very festive the past few years mostly because our home is no longer in the suburbs.  Plus, one year Halloween was cancelled due to this blizzard.   However, this year my daughter had other plans.

Many weeks ago she began planning a Halloween overnight with one of her BFFs.  After a few discussions, they opted to dress as the witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth.   We did a little research to discover the witches' role in the tragedy.
But, to make this event even more special, her friend's mother undertook the vast chore of teaching the girls how to sew their costumes.  After picking out the pattern and the material, my daughter spent a couple afternoons at their home designing and constructing the perfect Shakespeare hag costume.
On Halloween, they roped in another friend to complete the witch trio, carried cauldrons to hold their candy, and voiced the phrase "Double, double toil and trouble.  Fire burn and cauldron bubble." when knocking on doors.  Naturally, they dressed a younger brother as Macbeth.  You can see the ladies cursing poor Macbeth in the very first photo of this post.  Fortunately, they came home only with candy and without any eyes of newts in their cauldrons.