Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Public school homeschool: snow and winter...

I am a homeschool mom at heart, but my kids are in public school.
And that is every bit as complicated as it sounds.

We are figuring out how to educate our kids, which we challenge on an almost daily basis.
I want to homeschool.
I do.
But I'm afraid, I guess.
Is it possible to homeschool when you suffer from depression? Will the drive and dedication required lift you out of the pit, or plunge you further into it?

I don't have the answers to those questions yet, and I won't risk my children's minds on my own uncertainty, and so my kids attend public school and preschool. But I have such a tremendous love and appreciation for homeschooling philosophies and truths, that we supplement here at home all the time.

All of this just to explain why I put together units--this week, a unit worth sharing with your kids on snow and snowflakes.

(Note: these are patterned on the idea of Five in a Row. There is a central book you read, every day, for the whole week. Then you do science one day, art one day, geography one day, etc. Reading and math can happen daily.)

Our daily-read books...
For beautiful children's literature in our Charlotte Mason moments, I really love Snow by Uri Shulevitz and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (Both classics, of course.)
For science...
Do me a favor, ok? Pick up one of Ken Libbrecht's Snowflake books. These books are photographs of actual flakes--I love the "art" version, but there's also a cool Field Guide. Spend an afternoon gazing at snowflakes with your children. If you live in a place where you HAVE snow, then follow that up by catching some snowflakes on black paper. Spend some time in the stillness of winter and just LOOK at some snowflakes. See if you can recognize all the different kids, and decide which is your favorite. It's nearly impossible to do. Ask questions. Be curious. Then go and find out--how do snowflakes form? Why are they each different? How many snowflakes are in a snowball???

Once you're done playing outside, then how about making a real snowflake out of crystals? (This project uses a jar, boiling water, Borax, and some pipe cleaners.) Find instructions here.

For art...
While you wait for that to set overnight, create a winter wonderland with paper snowflakes--a perfect challenge for fine motor skills in little ones. I always wanted to learn to make BEAUTIFUL snowflakes, like my mom, so if you're a little challenged, then you can catch any number of tutorials online or on youtube, or invest in a book like Snowflakes for All Seasons or Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. (Both on Amazon or Half.com.)

For geography...
How about a unit on Russia, to go along with Snow, or a unit on New York City if you're going for The Snowy Day. Make some ethnic food, learn some words in Russian, and talk about where it snows and where it doesn't, and why.

So, jump in and join us for a unit on snow!!

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