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Tribe Unschooling

Working Together as family, learners and teachers




November 3rd, 2006

Creative Stuff

On Thursday evenings, Soren and I have gotten into the habit of doing a creative project of some sort. Last night I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she'd like to write a song. She wrote the words and melody, and I put some chords around it. She decided to write the song about some problems she's been having with a friend of hers (we'd been talking earlier about that, and about different ways she could approach talking to her friend about it). She called the song "Friends But Not Friends".

What amazed me was how Soren latched on to the idea of writing songs as a way to express feelings. She was *really* excited about this aspect of it. It makes sense for a lot of reasons, but it was great to see her "connect" with that idea. We talked about how a lot of songs express feelings, and how good it can feel to express yourself in this way. We also worked through some of the practical aspects of writing a song (meter, rhythm, using different melodies for different parts of the song like the verse and chorus).

Hopefully I can make a recording of the song this weekend.

Things have been rushed on our short weekends lately, but we have been working on lots of creative-type stuff. One of the girls' favorite activities has been making candy. We've made lollipops and taffy so far. It's very interesting to experiment with how corn syrup and sugar act when they're heated to different temperatures.

I also wanted to mention that I've been impressed by how much Emma works her vocabulary words into her everyday speech. She's used "truculent" quite a few times (in reference to Soren, usually), and she worked "convex" and "concave" into her story in her Thursday writing class at Sharon's.

October 17th, 2006

Catching up

I'm posting the notes I was taking over the past month or so. I was going to try to back-date them, but that seems a little silly. The dates may not all be exactly correct, but here are the posts:

Math suddenly became easier. The girls' attitudes toward sitting down and working has really improved, and it's made a big difference. Emma worked through a bunch of problems, mostly dealing with fractions and percentages. Once she's got her mind around a problem, she does away with it pretty quickly. It's strange that she sees herself as not being very good at math. I think she's seeing it in terms of the calculations, which are hard for her, instead of the conceptual aspect, for which she's got a real talent. It's wild to see how different Emma and Soren's conceptual styles are. Soren uses objects and visualizations to grasp a problem, while Emma's methods are more internal. Emma will sometimes invent notations (tick marks, usually) that represent something abstract about the problem. Soren's problems this week were a little challenging for her, especially the number lines where the marks were more than one whole number apart. I reviewed the idea of number lines and coordinate systems with them for a while to build up that understanding.

Soren and I have been spending some of our Thursday nights together in serendipitous educational pursuits. We picked up a pocket handbook about insects, and she read the first 25 or so pages to me, then I read to her for a while. I was amazed by how many words she can figure out. She managed "abundant", "protective", "immature", "reproductive", "intricate", and "anatomy", to name a few, and almost got "nutritious" and "iridescence". We learned a lot of cool things about insects -- the stages of development, how some winged insects "pump up" their wings with blood after they emerge into their final stage of development, and how incredibly many types of insects there are. We were both kind of grossed out by the tarantula hawk wasp, that stings large spiders with its egg-laying tube and injects eggs into them. Soren, of course, thought dung flies were pretty funny.

Over the weekend the girls and I worked on English. Soren worked in the spelling book, which involved some difficult alphabetizing, and Emma did a whole ton of worksheets, covering abbreviations, alphabetizing, vocabulary, punctuation, and capitalization. She worked really hard and had a great attitude about it. Soren took forever to do a couple of pages in the spelling book, because she insisted on using a ruler to section off the paper she was writing her answers on, so there would be a "cell" for each answer. I've found that it hurts more than it helps to try to nudge her out of this sort of thing. It requires some patience.

This Thursday, Soren and I went to the craft store and got Sculpey. We had fun, but of course there is always the opportunity for learning. She figured out how to set the toaster oven to the correct temperature, even when the temperature she wanted wasn't on the dial, by interpolating between the existing numbers. I pointed out that the oven dial was a lot like a number line. She rolled her eyes.

We had a very busy day going, so we had to do a lot of learning on the run. We did a vocabulary list of strange words like "macerated", "fontanel", "mollify", and "diabolical". Actually it all started with the word "diabolical", because Emma asked Soren if she'd ever heard of the "Dewey Diabolical System". She was completely serious. We talked about the Spanish word "diablo", and learned how that word came from a common root. That, of course, led into some Latin and Greek roots. I need to find a way to make Latin and Greek roots a little more fun. The girls are endearingly intent about memorizing things. It's definitely not their strong point, though. One thing that worked pretty well was to try to make up sentences with more than one word using the root.

This Thursday, Soren and I did artwork. She learned how to draw a curve using a series of straight lines, and how a convoluted contour flattens out if you keep re-drawing it below or above (hard to explain -- hopefully I can post a picture). The big hit, though, turned out to be "kaleidoscope" drawings. We started out by making quadrants, then trying to "mirror" what we drew in one quadrant in the other three. After that, we drew things inside a right angle, then scanned the drawing into my computer, and used flipping and mirroring to make the other three quadrants. Soren has so much artistic talent. Her only shortcoming is a lack of patience -- which is really not that surprising for an eight-year-old kid. It's easy to forget how young she is sometimes.

Another extremely busy weekend. We went to Brown's Berry Patch in Waterport and got pumpkins to carve. And of course we had to carve them right away. We found some time Sunday, though, to go through some Greek and Latin roots. I thought it would be interesting to do roots with the same meaning in both languages, so we did bio/vivo, mega/magnus, and techne/artis. A good time was had by all, and I think some of it even stuck. Soren seems to learn well while she is doing something else with her hands (in this case, shrinky-dinks, of which she produced at least ten this weekend). I kept thinking she wasn't listening, and I'd ask her what the root was. She was right with it every time. They practiced their instruments for quite a while on Sunday as well. They are getting so good. Soren does slurs on the violin so naturally. And I love how she sways while she's playing. Emma is starting to get more control of volume and tone. The oboe seems like such a tough instrument, especially for someone with such small hands. She's doing really well.

September 14th, 2006


me me me me me
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May 10th, 2006


me me me me me
Good morning parents,

As we near the end of the year, I am growing even more fond of these Evergreens!

We had a very short day yesterday, starting with our verse and singing and some rousing clapping games, rhythmic "concentration" game (which is really improving) and some marching to calm the high spring energy.

Then I re-told the story of Moses as the children drew and wrote in their main lesson books. We moved right into snack to celebrate Molly's 11th birthday.

At the end of snack I told the children that I would not be teaching the class next year. Not unexpectedly, I started to cry as I told them. But, I'm happy to say that a number of them cheered when I told them Sarah would be their teacher. Please let me know if your child has any concerns about next year. I'd be happy to talk with any of the children.

Also, as I told Emma M, I'd be happy to be "pen pals" with anyone who likes to write!

We really enjoyed the Maples and Red Oaks' plays. I highly recommend the Friday performances!

Have a lovely week,

(no subject)

me me me me me
Dear Maple Families,
What a marvelous job your children all did on the play today! We were so impressed with how much work they had obviously put into learning their lines and developing their characters - the play was terrific! And I was glad to see the sentiments Audrey whispered to me backstage ("This is so much fun!") reflected in the happy, proud smiles of the children. The Maples took a larger role in this year's play in many ways - especially when it came to coming up with ideas for the set, costumes and staging. It was a real group effort.
Please remember that our evening performance is this Friday night. We need the children there by 6:30, and the play should start at 7. We hope that you will be able to remain for the Red Oak's performance of "As You Like It" - if you didn't catch it today you are in for a real treat. We'll see you all on Friday!
The Maple Teachers,
Sue, Anne and Cathleen

May 11th, 2006


me me me me me

I suddenly kicked myself in the ass this week. I am determined that we get through our ,ist of stuff before summer really hits!

Soren's play was awesome this week. She has one of the lead roles and did a great job!

Emma and Soren were in a talent show last night. Emma did gymnastics and Soren played a french folk song on the violin. she was amzing!

today soren and I worked on capital cursive letters (emma working on them now) and soren and I read most of her social studies book (!). she was super into it.

May 18th, 2006

lcg and such

me me me me me


me me me me me
Dear Maple class families and friends,
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