Monday, August 16, 2010

School Begins: Secret Agent Style

School is off to a great start here in The Muddy Schoolhouse. Here is a picture of our first day blackboard. I am going to teach Cammy how to write in cursive this year. We ended the school year this spring reading creation stories from around the world. We probably read ten different versions...everything from Norse frost and fire giants creating the world to Japanese versions, Native American stories , Aboriginal accounts, biblical and more. So I felt it natural to move into the study of man and community and how we communicate. We are starting the year off by studying the origin of language. We talked today about the oral tradition of history and language and how man began to communicate in more elaborate ways. We are reading passages about the history and evolution of language in several different books but by far my main source is the book Letterbox:The art and history of Letters by Jan Adkins. My daughter is very comfortable with it now but I use the quote "What catches the eye, inspires the hand" all the time. It is kinda like a slogan around the house. So the eye represents what we see around us. The iris is like a clock with ancient symbols at each of the hours marks on the clock. In the pupil a sun radiates the time that our day is to begin 8:15. The eyelashes are the cursive letters that she will be learning this fall: tops are capitals and bottoms are lowercase. The eyebrow is a rainbow. I love to draw a new amazing picture to captivate and grab Cammy's attention at the beginning of each week.

I have been setting up our learning centers all summer. We have a new roommate in what used to be the office so we have had to make a few adjustments in furniture arrangements. This is a tray of rocks and pinecones and any other interesting nature finds on a low shelf so that Karma can get to them.

Here is Cammy posing in front of the new blackboard drawing. You can see the shelf beside her where I have our math center and all of the dividers for each subject ....color coded. I'm really trying to prove to myself that I can be organized.
I put up a bulletin board of sorts a few weeks ago. The idea was for her to write down anything she was interested in learning about. The light bulb above her head was her bright idea! Inside it I wrote the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? We have been talking about different ways of brainstorming ideas. Last year Cammy loved it when we built a time machine to study history. So I came up with the idea of extending that playful learning with a twist. Last year my husband issued Cammy her very own official Universal Time travelers license. This year I sent her an official letter stating that she has been recruited to be a special secret agent for the Universal Time Travelers organization. Today she had her first meeting with my husband complete with an ever changing accent and in disguise (a tablecloth over his head and a dust broom mustache) Cammy laughing her head off. The fake meeting to discuss her training (school work) lasted almost an hour. My husband played his role up so much I thought I was going to wake up the baby I was laughing so hard.

Here is our secret agent in training. In keeping with the secret agent theme we are going to be doing a lot of work on puzzles and riddles and decoding secret messages. Highlights magazine publishes some books that follow this theme. Today she had to decode a secret message that was tied in with ordinal numbers assigned to the alphabet and when she decoded the message it read "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"
Here I am trying to get organized for the school year again. Cammy seems to work best and is more focused and less anxious if she can see the plans visually. I have posted under each subject the basic concepts I would like to cover for the year. Hopefully this will help keep us on track. I am all about teaching Cammy what she is interested in but I also want to keep to some kind of path at the same time and meet certain goals even if we do branch off from the main tree trunk at least we have our roots firmly planted.
This is a glimpse of part of our science center. We go on a lot of nature walks and I am always collecting bits of eggs, bones, fossils, butterfly wings ....all kinds of things to study. Mark jokes that the kids are going to start thinking I am a witch....what with bat wings and slug slime in the jars beside the kitchen...I don't really have those but I can see where he is coming from.

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