We are studying India in social studies. It is fascinating and slightly overwhelming. There is so much to learn. There are so many different cultures, languages, religions, and history to cover all in one country. You really could spend a solid year covering India. We are reading a lot of books. I will share any gems we find. Last week we focused on the Taj Mahal. The story behind it, the art in it, and the remarkable architecture. The kids had fun creating a paper replica. Here is a link to the model we made.
A dear friend treated my family to an evening at the theater. I can not say enough nice things about Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”. We all loved it! Granted, there are very few musicals I don’t love. The first musical I ever saw was “Oklahoma”. I definitely have a soft spot for Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. With that full disclosure it really is worth seeing. The set is magical!
The costume changes the actors performed on stage were pretty amazing. I can’t even begin to imagine what it takes to design costumes that are beautiful and can seamlessly transform into a completely different costume in the matter of seconds. The music was wonderful. The kids were so excited when they realized it was a live orchestra not a recording.
Here is the link to the tour schedule so you can see if it is coming to a town near you.
The angel on the top of my Christmas tree spoke volumes about not only my holiday season but the entire fall for me and my family. Normally, a tipsy angel would be something I would correct immediately. I am a little ocd and this would seriously bother me. This year I didn’t have time. I just hit the ground running and tried to survive the holidays. We had an event everyday. Many of which we were hosting. All these events were good things….even wonderful things. However, when you put it all together it was too much. By the end of the whirl wind everyone in my house had been sick except my husband. By some miracle he was able to dodge what the rest of us had. I have been trying to make sense of what happened, what I would change and do differently next year. When you only remember sitting in front of your Christmas tree one night you know there needs to be changes for next year.
New Years represents a time for reflection and growth for me. In scouting we call it “thorns and roses”. It is a time to reflect on those things we did right and those things we did wrong and how to make the most of the upcoming year. My goals for 2017 are pretty simple. I told the kids in 2017 I want us to ask ourselves is this fun? We have done a lot of things that we should do. We have a lot of things we have to do in 2017 that might not be super fun. So in the little window of time that we have free what is fun, and what brings happiness? It sounds pretty basic but I think we overlook this a lot in my house. My husband shared with me a concept that a friend of his had read in a book. The book is on my list to read in 2017. The concept is when you look at your engagements ask yourself “would I pay $100 dollars to do this?” If the answer is “no” maybe you shouldn’t have that engagement. While this isn’t always practical or realistic it definitely gets you thinking and reevaluating your priorities. I hope everyone’s first week of 2017 has been great. I hope everyone has a lot of fun in 2017.
If you have taken a flight you have a scientist named Bernoulli to thank. When you realize all the things Bernoulli did it’s kind of crazy he isn’t a household name. Besides the principle that led to flight he also made strides in medicine. He experimented with blood pressure. He was a mathematical genius and made strides with kinetic energy well before Maxwell. We started our study of Bernoulli by learning about the man. I had the kids write a mini report about him. We used this page.
Next we studied the principle. Bernoulli’s principal states the speed of a moving fluid (liquid or gas) increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases. There were several youtube video’s we watched to help us better understand. We particularly enjoyed this video.
A great mom in one of the home school groups I belong put together this fantastic field trip to the National Weather Service today in Miami. It was particularly timely considering we just dodged a category 4 storm “Hurricane Matthew”. In thematic form we had terrible weather driving down to Miami but miraculously managed to only be ten minutes late….phew. It turned out to be an absolutely phenomenal field trip. I am so relieved we didn’t miss anything. The building itself is even fascinating. It is a hurricane bunker, built to withstand a very serious storm. We learned all about hurricanes, how they track the storms, how they collect information from the storms, how they distribute information to the media, what meteorologists study in college, how much their starting salary typically is, all about weather balloons and so much more.
One of the highlights for my kids was speaking with one of the meteorologists that use to go in the planes that record information about the storms. They were fascinated by his recount of what it is like to fly through a hurricane. He showed them the device that the meteorologists drop in the storm from the air to collect data. He showed them some video from one of his trips. He had models in his office of the planes. He told them the tale of how the first plane flew through a hurricane.
If you have the opportunity to visit NOAA I would highly recommend it. It was fascinating for the kids and the parents. It is a true educational field trip. In usual form when we arrived home I had the kids write what they learned. I was very happy with their take away from our excursion.
This time of the year many historical sights offer “ghost tours.” The Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale has teamed up with the water taxi and offers a hauntingly historical ghost tour. What I liked about this tour was that it kept to the history, was spooky not scary, and included an evening boat ride. It was delightful and my kids learned some local history and had a good time doing so. The tour is $25 a person. It begins with a tour of Stranahan House. You are given magnetic rods so you can try to detect spirits with in the house. The guide takes you room by room and tells stories of the individuals that passed away in the house. This is done in a very respectful manor. The kids loved the rods and watching them move in certain areas of the house. The lights are dimmed to create a spooky effect. Guests are then helped on board the water taxi where your thematically dressed guide shares stories of people who lived and died along the New River.
We have been studying Japan. We stumbled upon this true account of the first person to ever come to the United States from Japan. The book is a fascinating tale of two vastly different cultures and one boy’s encounter with both. If you are studying Japan I would definitely put it on your list. We tied a cherry blossom art project into our studies. The bottom of a small coke bottle makes beautiful cherry blossoms. Did I mention it was also a lesson in creative recycling?
It was also fun going on the internet and using google translator to write words on our cherry blossom art piece.
This summer my children fell in love with the movie “Woman In Gold”. It is the true story of Maria Altmann’s quest to recover a Klimt painting taken from her family during the holocaust. The movie is truly excellent. I would not recommend it for young children. Part of the movie is set in Vienna during World War II. There are a few vivid scenes of the atrocities that occurred to the Jewish population in Austria at the hands of the Nazis.
The movie completely triggered the kid’s interest in Gustave Klimt and his paintings. We dove right in the Art Nouveau movement and Gustave Klimt. In the process I discovered a wonderful kid’s art blog “Art Smarts 4 Kids.” I loved this sight because it was geared towards older kids. The author’s information about Klimt, art nouveau, the Vienna Succession movement, and other artists that were part of the Art Nouveau style pretty much made the information side of my unit. For the project we decided to make our own “Woman in Gold Painting.” Our paintings did not feature Adele Bloch-Bauer. We had a little help from the J Crew catalogue that I am currently salivating over.
The kids cut out faces and arms for the Klimt inspired portraits. Then they used Mod Podge to affix it to their canvases.
You would be amazed how many different shades of gold there are. I gave the kids metallic acrylic paints, gold leaf, and some gold sequins to create their masterpieces.
We were pleased with their finished results.
We finished our portraits by writing a brief paragraph about why our painting was in the essence of Klimt. I used the sentence “My painting is in the essence of Gustave Klimt” as a writing starter. My daughter wrote:
“My painting is in the essence of Gustave Klimt. I wanted to use a lot of curved lines and geometric shapes like Klimt. I tried to use a lot of rich colors. I also added a realistic style to the women’s face. Klimt used many patterns with texture which I tried to incorporate in my painting. Some of the similarities between our paintings are gold leaf, ornate details, and deep hues. I tried to incorporate abstract patterns in my gown. One of my favorite things about Klimt is how he uses symbolism and symbolic tones in his paintings.”
If you have very young children “Slow and Steady Get Me Ready” is a great resource. It has activities for your child planned for everyday from birth to age 5. It’s pretty incredible when you think about how many days that is. I really loved this book when my children were little. It has wonderful ideas for guided, play learning. Most of the lessons have you use things you probably have lying around your house. My kids really enjoyed the activities and it made me feel like we had some learning time each and everyday. Even when they started attending half day preschool I continued to do an activity a day from this book in the afternoons after nap time.
We continue our adventures with physics. We have been particularly focused on Newton. Each of the kids made a Newton’s Cradle using an old box, a box cutter, ping pong balls, sharpies, packaging tape, and fishing line. The project went really well. I have done this project with kids in the past. I think the heavier, bouncy rubber balls work better than ping pong balls. I would recommend using them instead.