Sunday, October 01, 2006

Science (and other subjects)

Our first week of Natural Science was pretty successful. We did not do all of the activities I had planned. We did some and made up others. Exploring the Forest with Grandforest Tree is the main resource we're using for this block. I knew I liked this book when I first laid eyes on it (Thanks Andrea!). I started loving it when I read through it. Now, working the lessons with Nightowl I have to say that I really love it.

We started our week with a tale about how forests began. The story sets a very meditative mood. I had her lie down and look up at the branches of our silver maple. Nightowl was completely inspired when hearing about the rocks then the lichen then the moss then the ferns then the soil then the trees. She had some specific science questions about lichen etc. which we were able to find answers to from resources we had around the house. Then we went searching for lichen and moss and ferns. We found quite a bit - it's very humid and wet here. Next she wanted to draw the story into her main lesson book. Note that there are no trees in this picture just rain, rocks, lichen and moss.

The next day, on our morning walk I noticed that she was much more observant of the trees in our neighborhood. By the time we had reached home she had collected a variety of leaves. She wanted to do leaf prints - not on our schedule but ok. So we broke out the tempra paints, set up the easel for Bearcub and got to work using a selection of fall colors.

It was Bearcub's first attempt at painting and in about 3 minutes she painted herself, the paper on the easel, the cement, and me. In short she made a huge mess and had a great time. I was lucky to get the photo - the camera got painted too.

Leaf printing is tricky business and Nightowl found it frustrating as the leaves did not come out exactly as she wished. Her first inclination was to give up and start over. But, as she was putting the prints into her main lesson book there was no turning back. I think it was a good exercise for her. She worked for a long time and was, in the end, satisfied with the final result:

This picture inspired a nifty little math discussion about pattern and sequence which then led into leaf forms and form drawing - didn't see that coming.

On day three, during our walk, we searched for a tree that Nightowl could adopt and watch during the school year. She is most interested in pines so we stopped to examine most of the pines in the neighborhood. During this walk she discovered that:
  1. Different pine trees have different length needles
  2. Longer needles tend to be softer.
  3. Shorter needles tend to be sharper.
In the end she selected a medium sized tree located one street over from ours. It's a fat, full tree, 35 steps around, with medium needles that are "kinda pokey." She also figured out the street name from the street sign - reading in action!

On returning home we started our main lesson (hadn't it already started??) - a guided meditation with Grandforest Tree. Nightowl stood quietly next to our silver maple and tried to imagine her own roots and branches. From this exercise she got a pretty good idea of how trees get nutrients from the soil and how leaves take in moisture. She then happily dubbed our silver maple as our very own Grandforest Tree and gave it a big hug (I've created a tree hugger!).

When this was finished she still wasn't done. Now she wanted to write a story about her adopted tree.

So in we went. Opened the main lesson book and....well, I didn't actually mean to begin story writing until our next lesson block on language arts we go. I showed her how to set up the pages with golden lines and how to separate her words using golden stars (ala Donna Simmons) and she was off.

I tried to entice her with simple sentences and was successful with the first. But for the second she would not settle for: "It has pinecones." So we headed into the realm of the creating sentences with more than one multisyllabic word.

She ended her story with a picture of her pine. During last spring and summer we practiced drawing without outlines - the Waldorf way. This method is advocated for a variety of reasons (more than I will recount here). Nightowl hates it. She loves to draw - her way. She spends hours and hours and hours drawing her way. Drawing is her way of calming down, relaxing and soothing her soul. To be given directions in drawing is an insult deeply felt. So, we talk about it and she tries.

She was quite frustrated with her drawing of the pine. She kept defaulting to outlines and then getting angry. But she stuck with it and, in the end, made her picture into something she could live with. We'll continue with this type of drawing because it really taps into her focus, creativity, perfectionism and patience.

During the weekend we've visited her tree every day. She's quite insistent upon it. Plus she's learning to read all the street signs in our neighborhood - so she can find her tree. And she's been collecting things - for her main lesson book - from her tree.

So, we started out with the intent to explore science and ended up covering science, math, art, form drawing, language arts and a little bit of neighborhood geography what with the sign reading. The week ended with an episode our homeschool coop: The Learning Club, various music lessons and three soccer events. Whew. No wonder I felt so exhausted. No wonder Nightowl was so jazzed.

Wonder what next week will bring?

1 comment:

Sara said...

I love the flow of this lesson and all of the possibilities that it opens up. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!!