Saturday, September 29, 2012

Country Day - Greece

Our first Country Day of the new year. We enjoyed Greek salads and baklava and heard presentations on the history of the Olympics (twice), the evolution of ancient Greek pottery, Greek sports, Greek myths (Minatour and Hercules), the lives of ancient Greek children (horrifying), ancient Greek makeup, and the Trojan horse. Displays included an impressive labryinth, a small model Trojan horse complete with trap door, modern Greek pottery (thanks, Mom), my painting of a Greek ocean scene that was a gift long ago, and the crafts that we've been working on in G's day of classes. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring G's shield and mask; fortunately, other moms aren't so forgetful and so that work was represented. Next... off to Korea!
Gathered to start the presentations
Watching and waiting
K presents on the history of the Olympics

Watching a presentation about the Minotaur's labrynth

Participating in a presentation about the battle of Marathon. 
K was a Greek, G a Persian.

Fielding questions about her presentation on Greek pottery

Friday, September 28, 2012

Science Class - Learning about Sublimation

This class is a blast - it takes place at the end of G's day-long series of classes, which starts with Spanish and includes culture studies and storytelling. The earlier classes are fun, with great teachers and include some really neat learning activities, but this one (taught by Charles) has become a favorite. He has a great way of teaching about a scientific topic (in this case, sublimation - going from solid to gas and skipping the liquid stage) while allowing them to experiment, get really messy, and have loads of fun. Last week, the kids co-oped his plans and decided to make perfume to start the class. The ringleader told him, "we'll do this now while you tell us about the elements." With that kind of leadership, who can help following the learner? I am just there as an assistant and the photographer, but as an observer, I have been super impressed with both learners and teacher. And I've learned a lot myself!

Gathered for the experiment

Bubbles that snap!

She was quoting Macbeth's witches...  double, double, toil and trouble...

Whoa!  Check this out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SF History: Ohlone Life

Really cool class on Ohlone life. The instructor was knowledgable and had many really interesting artifacts and replicas... below G is in traditional Ohlone clothing and K is thrilled with her quiver of arrows. The kids ground acorns, made pine nut jewelry, and learned about basket making, flute making, hunting, fish traps, and more. Eavesdropping moms were as eager as the kids to learn even more!

Monday, September 24, 2012

No Skeletons in our Closet

Nope, our skeleton is at the entrance of the house!  (I had a lot of plans for getting things done on Sunday, not expecting that putting this dude together would take up pretty much my whole day.  But now that he's up, he looks pretty cool.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012


First, "Mommy, you have GOT to come see this spider!"   Indeed, the body alone was nearly the size of a quarter and in a better light than shown in this photo, it was quite spectacular.

Later and unrelated: 

Me:  "Stop teasing your sister!"

K:  "I'm not teasing her... I'm taunting her."  Relevant difference? To some, apparently....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SF History - Tour

I thought that it would be fun to launch our tour of SF History with a tour of SF itself in one of those double decker buses you see around town. The first half of the tour was okay, even if we had a guide who was annoyingly full of1) advertisements for other tours or 2) not-so-subtle hints about tipping him. The second half was a drag; the kids wanted to sit downstairs, we got stuck in traffic, and it became very apparent that the guide knew next to nothing about the City or its history. Ah well... we learned a bit, got to have a higher perspective on some City views, and enjoyed beautiful weather and relaxed and fun company. All in all, a good day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Science and Medusa

One of the kids in the science class took over, deciding to make perfume. She was so totally in charge, first directing the others in what to do and then saying to Charles, "we will be doing this while you tell us about the elements." And with that, he was off to discuss Lithium and do experiments with coke (no more soda drinkers in this group!) and getting that egg through the top of the bottle without actually touching it. In the latter two pictures, the kids are showing off their Medusa shields and masks, made with in our Country/Culture class with the help of their Spanish teacher. What fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Fun Wild Day

Fun, fun! Running, sprinting (I am so sore!), storytelling, building a fort, checking out banana slugs, and more.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Curriculum Topics

Ancient World History (as represented by G's decision to write "Gilgamesh" on our timeline and Anatomy (with materials that she began to explore before I could even plan my introduction.) I was pleased by their enthusiasm and was especially amazed to see the miracle of self-directed learning in action.  With that, we finish our first two busy weeks back at school and work keeping up with the ambitious goals we set and having fun too. Hurray!

I admit that I still haven't been for a run and Latin has pretty much falled off of our radar of current possibilities, but most of the other topics we planned have actually fallen into place for at least one of the girls.  I still need to look into piano, dance, and martial arts, but am waiting for finances to fall into place to see if there is enough for extras without undue stress on wallet or time.  And our schedule feels full, but not overwhelming, even with some extra weekend work-related events thrown in to compete for available hours.  For this I give continued thanks....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Club September - A Midsummer Night's Dream

A fabulous (and now the third annual) tradition - to include one Shakespeare play as one of our monthly Book Club books. A Midsummer Night's Dream is probably the work that the girls know best in any genre and this production was so funny, so well done, that it moved some of us to tears of joy and appreciation. I broke the no-camera rule, not taking pictures of the actors, but sneaking some of the kids' reactions during the performance, for they were so clearly delighted.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Fun Day of Learning with Friends

Learning about the Perseus and Medusa myth, then building shields.

Storytelling!  The kids don't want their teacher to leave and after these two tried to drag him down, Gabriana tackled him and actually knocked him down.  Good one!  If not quite the departure we planned...

Science class - molecules and what influences their motion.

Very engaged class... and they soon became very involved, with science experiments that became incredibly messy art projects with raw eggs and food coloring.  Even I went to work that night with still-stained fingers!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SF History: Ohlone Children's Lives

The first picture has nothing to do with SF History - I just have a hard time interrupting children who are playing math games. :-)  But we did focus on Ohlone children, these first residents of San Francisco. We learned about how their environment was different from what we see today - not just the absence of the human-made structures that we see, but in the flora and fauna and even creek patterns as well. We made dice and stick dolls, made fire, created balls from leaves and played group games with them, gathered materials for baskets, collected food (yes, even real wild strawberries) and staged for video several other activities related to how Ohlone youth spent their days from the first migration to this area until about 300 years ago when the Spanish first arrived. The second (not-so-great) photo of the kids eating was our reenactment of a lunch with traditional foods, or our modern subsitutes for those foods (i.e. we didn't actually use acorn flour, but we did discuss it....)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cousin Fun and Sunflowers

Few words necessary, just a song, "... these are a few of my favorite things!" (With grammar adjustments to reflect that these are a few of our favorite people and being with them is one of our favorite things to do.)  A consensus around here.  As for the sunflowers, the beauty of their details are not unlike the people whom we love, an exuberant reflection of God's love in lovely details (smiles, hugs, petals, and more).

Monday, September 10, 2012

SF History: More Natural History and Ohlone Culture

At Crown State Park, we stumbled upon a great visitor's center with great displays about the Bay's Natural History and Ohlone Culture. Nice find and unexpected reinforcement to this month's SF History focus.