Class Notes, Oct. 2013

Besides our Main Lesson Bloc in Shelter/Achitecture some of the other subjects we’re studying are:
Geometric Visualization Problems: This work challenges perceptions, math concepts and has the element of challenge which builds excitement in the class. Also, it cuts across the many levels of math competance you have in a mixed-age, mixed-rigor group of home-schoolers. Math divides. (Every fifth grade I’ve taught had at least four math levels in children of the same age.) So for the Finnstitute we find concepts and exercises that unite a disparate group.
Optical Illusions Drawing: These are for some mystically mysterious, for others a visual, physics conundrum to be solved, for all fun and considerably drawing-skill-stretching.
Recorder: Little by little we are beginning to learn the simple pure tones and being able to breathe and make reasonably harmonious sounds together, an important and for some difficult social step.
Music: We’re learning American History and playing in Ensemble fashion, using any instruments the children are comfortable with, American folk music. We’ve also started playing some two and four-part rounds.
Recitation: We’ve been reciting together seasonal autumn poems and practicing simple and difficult alliterative verses and tongue-twisters.
Dramatic Presentations: Groups of children will pantomime scenes or do still-life scenes for the other kids to guess. They seem to get very into this, which bodes well for a class production.
Native American Pattern Drawings: You never know what lessons will resonate; drawing these difficult Sioux, Ojibway, Woodland, etc. patterns, and requiring them to really follow them has inspred the children to invent their own patterns; and this has become a favorite free-time endeavor.
Clay and Beeswax Mental Math: While working modelling clay and warming and shaping beeswax we free our intellects to try and answer simple to complex mental math problems. It was an experiment, and it seems to work.
Writing Exercises: We’ve worked with a number of fun word games buiding up absurd class poems and sentences. We’ve written some stories, and will be moving into the study of simple forms and structures, as well as grammar games.
Life as Opera: We make up songs of all sorts about many subjects that occur during the day; and this sense of improvisation and creativity allows children to relax and intuitively recognize that learning has joy, humor and surprise, as well as hard work and intensity.
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