We have had a very sweet week in life and in homeschooling. With Thanksgiving on our minds I wanted to try to pull us in toward our hearth and then Rowan got a fever! What better way is there to focus us in on being home, on being grateful for small blessings, on taking it easy and being gentle? While we nursed Rowan's illness, I found some very nice Native American tales and was able to bring us easily from the animal stories we had been working with into the human realm. We also felt like working with beeswax and I was lucky enough to stumble upon the blog Mountain Pulse with a very fine description of a great game of Native American dice. We made the dice out of walnut shells and melted beeswax and then, once Rowan felt better and we had a warm sunny day, we went to the beach and found some perfect driftwood sticks for the final part of the project. As Thanksgiving came closer we decided to bake! Pumpkin pie, of course, but also an apple tart and a pear-walnut tart were on the menu. Pumpkin pie from scratch is great fun to make. It is also a bit of a science lesson the way you combine all these wet things and get a yummy solid pie in the end!
This week we had fun with some Native American animal stories. One fun story was about Jumping Mouse and Magic Frog. Jumping Mouse must go through many trials and find both courage and compassion on his journey to find the far-off land. I felt inspired to work with my general felt animal pattern a little bit and came up with a nice little felt mouse. Here is how I did it.
This week I was drawn to study the fairytale The Frog Prince for myself. Even though, with the third grade curriculum, we are not really "doing" fairytales anymore, I still find them very satisfying to read and study. In looking again at The Frog Prince, I came away with a much deeper interpretation of the story than I had when I first told the story to Rowan back in kindergarten.
It seems to be a perfect story of the nine year change, and any time of change, for that matter. The princess has this golden ball (gold is always symbolic of the higher spiritual power, right). She takes the ball out of the garden and into the woods throwing the ball higher and higher (here she is pushing the boundaries, going further than she perhaps should). She loses the ball in the spring and cannot get it out herself. She must rely on the help of a frog (who is ugly and represents change in the form of metamorphosis). She makes a promise but quickly tries to forget it. But change keeps knocking at the door. The king (representing the truth) insists that she face her fate. She resists (here we have that magic number three, letting the transformation meet her at all three levels: thinking, feeling willing) but ultimately she faces the change by fulfilling her promise to let the frog sit next to her and eat from her plate and sleep on her bed. In the end, of course, she is rewarded with the transformation of the frog into a prince (representing the bright future). I don't see this just as the girl getting the guy, but more like all the characters are within the being of the main character (or even the one hearing or reading the story). In a way, the essence of the golden ball is transferred to the Prince in his transformation. I think perhaps I am getting a little bit out there, but it all fits together well in my mind and that helps me get into telling the story.
So I have not yet told the story to Rowan this week. I have been making character dolls (it all started with me wanting to make a frog out of felt) and showing them to him for advice. I am waiting until I have all the dolls finished just right to put on a little performance with him. It does seem to me that just in my contemplating the story and its possible meanings, there has been an effect on Rowan's ability to meet his current challenges. Perhaps this is just my perception, perhaps there really is magic in fairytales.
I love Mondays and home schooling. Every Monday is a new beginning. Monday contains the most uninterrupted schooling hours in the week in our house. We always paint on Mondays and start on new stories, poems and songs. Often, I even have time to bake on Mondays. Today has been another fabulous Monday!
Today I began a new block, one focused on Animal tales and Native American stories. I plan to focus in on language arts - reading, writing, spelling, grammar. We had a Squirrel poem and an Autumn animal story both from the Wynstones Autumn book. As Rowan grapples with his 9 year change I sense a need in him to feel protected, sheltered, well-clothed. I would like to meditate on a sense of nourishing hibernation as we move into the winter days. We will study animal homes, habits and habitats and hear stories of animal characters. I think that for Rowan, he will be comforted to leave the somewhat heavy Old Testament themes for a while and go a little back to something familiar. We experienced many animal stories in the 2nd grade blocks. Now in 3rd grade, I would like to take those familiar animal characters and allow them to be the material for a more serious effort at composition, both written and artistic. Painting and drawing animals requires a new level of attention and technique and will challenge Rowan to stay focused. Handwork is always fun in the colder days, and gifts are good to make at this time of year. My skills lie mostly in fiber arts, so that is what Rowan gets more than woodwork. Oh well, you can't do everything.
Today in math, I took some time to review some well known shape names and learn a few new ones. Square, Rectangle, Triangle and Circle are all easy ones. New ones included the parallelogram, trapezoid and hexagon. This was a very low-key conversation with manipulatives and drawing. It was a good opportunity to practice observation skills and descriptinve language.