Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waldorf Sixth Grade Geometry

From "Compass Drawings"

I know I say this about every block we study, but we have loved geometry. The Waldorf approach is so appealing, and gentle. The Boy and I both have benefited from the lovely way geometry is taught in the Waldorf curriculum.  We both gained a little confidence and were able to immerse ourselves in creating beautiful, orderly, shapes.

From "Compass Drawings"
Last year we spent time exploring geometry through form drawings, practicing various patterns of lines, circles, and squares, but all free hand. This year we broke out the compasses, rulers, and protractors to make our shapes more mathematically accurate.

Main Lesson Book Polygons, Circles

We learned how to measure radius, circumference, diameter, perimeter, and area. We learned how to divide a circle in halves, quarters, and in sixths, eighths, twelfths on up to 24ths. We created spirals, hexagons, octagons, squares, and stars. We learned about angles, intersecting lines, parallels, and perpendiculars. And the Boy spent quite a bit of time just experimenting with the compass and ruler. He would often ask if he could make up his own designs. I was happy to oblige, it's not often that I see such enthusiasm for "work" from him.
From "Making Math Meaningful"

 The main resources I used were "String, Straightedge, And Shadow, The Story of Geometry" by Julia Diggins, "Making Math Meaningful," Jamie York Press, and "Compass Drawings," Enasco.

I also picked up a few workbooks from a yard sale to use for concept practice (measuring area, perimeter, and determining radius, diameter, and circumference, etc) We don't typically use worksheets, so they're kind of a treat for the Boy. Yes, he likes worksheets!

Besides using our compasses and rulers, we also crocheted shapes. I found a great book, "Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs" at our local library. Choosing a pattern, I would begin, then would give verbal instruction to the Boy.(Single chain x amount,etc.) After a few rounds, he would begin to notice a pattern. We continued our crocheting until he would eventually start to verbalize the steps to the pattern. Then I knew he "got it." Not only in his head, but in his hands as well.

Patterns From "Beyond the Square"
We used paints, colored pencil, and chalk pastel to color our work. And we enjoyed it so much that the Boy has asked if we could continue with our compass drawings. 

We are moving on to our next block, Greek History, but I'll still throw in a compass drawing now and then.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Replacing Plastic Wrap: One More Use for Beeswax

Recently, as I wrestled with a stupid roll of plastic wrap (I know, plastic wrap can't be stupid, but you know what I mean. It refuses to tear on the little metal thingy in the box,unlike your fingers which shred to ribbons. Then the darn stuff won't stick to anything but itself eventually becoming a useless wad of plastic.) During this current wrestling match, I caught myself thinking, "What would my great grandmother have used?" She certainly didn't have plastic wrap back then. Maybe oilcloth? (I don't even know if you can get oilcloth anymore. Kind of sounds gross, anyway. ) What did my grandmother use? My mom never used plastic wrap. She always used waxed paper, much to my embarrassment. "Mom! everyone uses baggies!" Mom did not care what everyone else used.

We mostly use reusable containers, some plastic, although I'm working toward replacing those with glass. But some things don't require a container, they just need a wrap. While I sometimes use baggies, it irks my conscience. Waxed paper seems a better choice, but it's still another piece of trash to throw in the landfill. What else could I do?

So I thought and thought and decided to try making waxed cloth, instead of paper.

Here, in brief, is what I did:
  1. I washed (in soap, not detergent) an old cotton pillowcase, and let air dry
  2. Using pinking shears, I cut out two pieces (it was a small pillowcase) and trimmed each to fit a rimmed cookie sheet. I placed one cloth on each cookie sheet.
  3. I grated some beeswax, then sprinkled it over the cloth, making sure to evenly distribute, all the way to the edges. I used about a 1/4 cup of grated wax per cloth.
  4. I popped it in the oven for a minute or two (set at 300 degrees) til the wax was all melted
  5.  Let it cool
finished cloth, cooling

And it works! I've used them to wrap blocks of cheese and to place over containers. It doesn't seal like plastic wrap is supposed to, but if you warm in a bit in your hands, you can shape it nicely. I also have rubber bands (recycled!) that I'll snap around the rim of a container just to hold the cloth in place.

It does a pretty good job and it makes me happy every time I pull a cloth wrapped bundle from the fridge. It's not made of petroleum products, nor does it have lots of waste packaging. They can be wiped off, or rinsed in cool water. And no nasty serrated metal thingies so I can keep my fingers intact. It's all good.

Beeswax cloth bowl cover

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snapshot: A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mom

Recently I had a friend ask, "So what do you do all day? How do you get stuff done?" I had to laugh because our days are so full, and every day can be sooooo different. Even on days with regularly scheduled activities, the in between stuff can vary. But, I thought I'd take notes on a day in our life.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are fairly similar, with some exceptions for afternoons.

So, a day in the life of a homeschool family:

5:30 am last snuggle with the Husband, time for him to go to work.

7:00 am. Rise and shine. Morning chores for Mama: Medicate and feed the dog, feed the cat, stoke up the fire, fill the water pot, walk the dog, feed and water the chickens, fill nest boxes, collect eggs, open the sunporch windows for passive solar heating, tidy the living areas, organize today's lessons, prepare breakfast.

8:00 Time to wake the Boy. I climb under the covers for a morning hug and one of my favorite moments of the day. He moves so slowly as he wakes up, no pointy elbows to the nose..just a sweet snuggle.

After the morning wake up, clock time becomes irrelevant as we move into homeschool time....

We breakfast then take a morning walk. We check for eggs and bring in firewood.

Back to the table to start the morning routine with a wee bit of reverence: light our work day candle, recite our two morning verses.

Now we get to work. Math warmups...5-10 problems to get the brain going.

Followed by Latin. Any readings or written work due on Tuesday. This usually takes an hour and a half.

Envirothon studies. There are four topics to study each week, Aquatics, Current Issues (conservation this year), Wildlife, and Forestry. On Monday we usually work on Aquatics. This takes about an hour.

Snack time! While the Boy reads and enjoys a snack, I usually do some housework: laundry, make beds, take the dog out, sweep or vacuum, empty/fill the know, the drudgery-of-being-a-housewife kind of stuff. (For me, anyway.)

Piano practice, 20 minutes. Then music theory, 45 minutes. During this time I usually collect eggs, check on the animals, plan dinner, and continue housework.

(During these work "alone" times for the Boy, I have to remain available. As soon as I try to sneak away and make a cup of tea I will inevitably hear a "Mom?! I need your help!" Which is, in all reality, my job.)

Lunch!  We usually throw together something simple, leftovers, for example. Then we each get a little free time. I check email, make phone calls, collect the mail, "administrative stuff" The Boy will read, or as of late, work on his origami Star Wars figures.

Main Lesson. Ok, I know ML is supposed to be in the morning, but we had to adjust. Latin and Envirothon are so "heady" that the Boy was in tears more often than not, when we worked those in the afternoon. It was too much of a struggle for him to go into a heavy academic mode after lunch. Things have worked out so much better by switching them around. Main lesson always goes smoothly...he loves the afternoon readings, perusing library books, and artwork.

Snack and outside time. (Around 4:30 pm) The Boy will often run to the neighbor's to hang out or he'll work on some project in the yard (a fort, target practice with his bow and arrow, play with the dog, etc.) Meanwhile, I might walk the dog, check for any last eggs, finish housework, start dinner, and/or finish any outside chores that need completing. As the sun sets, it's time to close up the south facing curtains and trap in all that solar heat for the evening.

Daddy's home. Hugs and kisses for all. Husband and I try to fit a work out routine in right after work, as long as he's home by 5. Any later than that and we both are too hungry and grouchy. 

After working out and showering, we gather at the table for supper.

Fully satiated, we clean up, close in the animals for the night. Then we read, play games, work on a project, watch a little tv, and/or snuggle up on the sofa until bedtime.

Husband handles the Boy's bedtime routine, while I usually load up the firebox, take out the dog one last time, then get her settled in her crate. Then it's off to bed for the grownups.

A really full day.