Monday, January 4, 2010

Shepherds and Shelter

We had a lovely Monday back to school today. We started out with a new years verse and a discussion of new year celebrations in different cultures. We remembered Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and our fun celebration of that holiday back in the autumn. We talked about the Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac. We also talked about the tradition of New Year's resolutions and goal setting. Rowan said that his school goals were to get faster at both reading and writing and to work more on his times tables. He also remembered his goals of becoming more agile and stealthy at his nature awareness program on Thursdays.

I found a nice way to enliven the Abraham story and introduce our Clothing and Shelter block at the same time. As I told the story of Abraham I spoke of how he was instructed by God more than once to take his family and flocks and move to a new place. Rowan and I talked about the kinds of sheep and goats that they might have had and how different they probably looked from the sheep we see on farms today. He may have had camels and donkeys as well. We also talked about the kinds of shelters that Abraham might have lived in. He was born in a cave, as his parents hid out from King Nimrod. Then he lived for many years with Noah, we imagined in a modest clay farm house. Next he spent time traveling, first to Canaan and then on to Egypt. During his travels he must have lived in tents that could be easily packed up for the move. We pulled out the clay ziggurat that his older brother made a few years back in fourth grade and spoke of the building materials available in the desert regions Abraham lived in. Our story ended with the amazing news that Abraham and Sarah became parents when they were one hundred years old, with the birth of thier son, Isaac, the one who laughs.

After violin practice, we painted. My instructions were that we needed to paint a desert scene and there must be at least one animal in it. Rowan chose to do a difficult painting of Egypt with pyramids and a palm tree and people and camels. All of his creatures were on a very minimal scale and it was a challenge to keep the wet on wet paint from bleeding his fine details all over the page. We waited for the paper to dry a bit before he added his animals and discussed the importance of putting in the sky before the details to avoid the tedious work of bringing the sky down and around these features. The rest of the day was filled with familiar school work: math, writing (thank you notes!) and reading. I do think his reading was just a tad bit faster than the last time...

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