Saturday, March 31, 2012

Art in a Quiet Backyard

It is becoming a more real possibility that our art school run out of funding. As a way of reducing costs and stretching out what we have, we have cut months. The school has normally run 10 or 11 months every year, but this year it will only be 8 months.

April is our first "cut" month. It feels strange to not have the chaos of 70 kids running around throughout the week. It's heartbreaking, but we try to keep our hopes up that funding will come, and that if we ever do have to shut down, that it won't be permanent, but it's made even more difficult by Lu loving the programs so much, and that they are his main opportunity for group socializing. On the bright side, we've been able to have more classes in the backyard (where project activities are usually happening). Because Lu gets so much art through the programs, I don't usually do many artistic activities on our homeschool time, but we needed some color to cheer us up. Here are some pics that Cha took of our little art session yesterday.

Our kittens celebrated their first birthday this week, and
next week is our one year anniversary of starting homeschool!
It was perfect that kittens and homeschool came together.
I'm so glad we made this decision.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Making of a Poster

So, we're done with our first unit: Early Hominids - Neolithic Revolution,
and in a few weeks we'll be starting our next unit: The Rise of Civilization

Some of the resources we used:
Discovery Channel, Neanderthal

From our reading and research, here is Lu's summary (based on questions that we worked on together). He typed this up himself straight from his notebook. It's also the information he used to make his poster, so he's worked with the information in many ways: discussing, writing in notebook, typing, editing, printing, cutting, pasting to timeline... He knows these things well now - the order of the appearance of the different hominids and the most important developments. He knows that scientists believe that the Big Bang was 13 billion years ago, that the Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago, and that the first hominids appeared 4.5 million years ago. These are the only numbers/dates that he's memorized. For the rest, we just focused on understanding the order and relative "distance" from TODAY.

Early Hominids to Neolithic Revolution

Radio carbon dating is a method that scientists use to determine how old fossils or artifacts are. It is believed the first hominids lived 4.4 million years ago on the southern coast of Africa. Anthropologists can tell the different hominids apart by comparing their bones. Humankind began keeping written history about 5,000 years ago.

The Australopithecus were the first hominids. They were 3-5 feet tall, and mostly ate leaves and fruit. They may have used sticks to dig and to defend themselves, but there is no evidence that they made their own tools.

Homo habilis, or person with abilities, lived between 2.4 - 1.4 million years ago.

Homo erectus, or person who walks upright, lived between 1.8 million years ago - 200,000 years ago.

Homo sapiens, or person who can think, appeared around 500,000 years ago and still lives today.

Ice ages made life very difficult for early hominids. They had to adapt or migrate, or they would die. Glaciers formed and the sea levels dropped, creating land bridges over which hominids could travel.

The Stone Age started about 2 million years ago, when Homo habilis made and used the first tools, and ended when written history began.

It is believed that Homo erectus migrated from Africa 1.6 million years ago, arriving in Asia and Europe around 400,000 years ago. Homo erectus spoke the first simple language and discovered fire control in the last 500,000 years.

Tools and fire allowed early humans to hunt, dig, fish, make other tools, make clothing and music, cook, live in deeper caves, keep warm, and gather together. Spoken language affected early humans by allowing them to discuss plans, teach and pass on skills, and communicate ideas.

Neanderthal appeared 500,000 years ago in Asia and Europe. They were 5-6 feet tall. Their bodies were thick and muscular, and their brains were slightly larger than ours. Their tools were much more advanced than those of earlier hominids. Some lived in caves, while others built shelters out of branches and animal skins. They had ceremonial burials for their dead, and cared for the sick and injured. It is possible that Neanderthal used medicines.

Anatomically modern humans, or AMH, appeared somewhere between 24,000 - 50,000 years ago in Africa. Within just a few thousand years, they spread across the entire world. Their technological developments included axes, fishhooks, bows and arrows, spear throwers, canoes, looms, oxen driven plows, and homes built out of logs or stones. Their social life developed quickly. They started living in larger groups and staying in one place, which led to farming and the development of irrigation systems. The Agricultural or Neolithic Revolution started around 10,000 years ago, when people started farming. Their population exploded. They had more time to think, observe, learn new things, invent, and make. They started measuring the passage of time with sundials and star charts. The first rules and laws were developed because people were living together in larger groups.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lu's Pics

Lu's been asking for the camera a lot lately.
Here are some of his latest pics...



Floating Flowers

Mama in the Kitchen

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sculptures and Dance and Stuff

Lu put a lot of time into this Youth Group assignment
- a sculpture made with found objects.
He explained that his sculpture represented the importance of nature over money.

Here are some others that I thought were especially cool:

Lu is typing a document from all of our notes on
Early Humans - Neolithic Revolution.
We're still not sure if we want to make a big poster,
a fold-up timeline, or a cartoon-type book.

We watched these
Discovery Channel documentaries on the Neanderthal on YouTube.
Very, very cool! I love watching documentaries in the afternoon.

Lu finished his booklet on the Living World
working with this Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia

(should be pollen instead of nectar)

Animal Groups
Human Body

Youth Group is having a month off in April, and yesterday was the last class before the break. Lu's kinda bummed (especially because he won't see his girlfriend during the break). I'm glad that we'll have one extra full morning a week to catch up on stuff and do some extra, fun projects. I have quite a few science experiments I want to try out - especially because I've been so slack about including more of them in our science classes.

Here are some pics from their dance class yesterday -

Hope you had a good week!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I've been up since the buttcrack of dawn - 3:45 to be exact. Sleep has always been easy for me, but lately I've been waking up around 2am and struggling to get back to sleep. Even though we built Lu his own bedroom last year, he still often sleeps with us (more often than not actually). So, I just cuddle up to him and wait an hour or so for sleep to kick back in. But today it came a bit later - around 3am. I cuddled a bit, but it was useless, I was wide awake. Cha always wakes up at 4am, and was surprised to see me up and making coffee before him.

Being awake that early gives me this weird going-to-the-airport feeling, and on top of that, it's been drizzling for the last two hours. Dark and drizzly, and I'm just now seeing the first light. I'm pretty sure my new sleep pattern has a lot to do with the extra energy I have from quitting smoking (7 weeks now!), and from no longer dancing (bad knees as of last April) - not needing to sleep/rest as much as before.

Lu just woke up and already has the yo-yo action going on. It's been several weeks now of being glued to the thing. The other day I heard Cha saying something like - "Look how much you've progressed with that yo-yo. You see! Look how good you get when you focus on something."

In the homeschool circuit there's always somebody talking about finding passion. Now, I know all about passion. I had one since I can remember. My passion was dance, and that was that. Sure I liked other things, but nothing as much as dance - nothing enough to take my attention away from dance. For me, school was a 7 hour wait in hell that I had to endure 5 times a week, until that bell rang. Then I was free to run home, turn on the music and dance, or go to dance class. Not science, music, math, the books they gave me to read, nor dreaded P.E. were ever of any interest at all to me.

Lu, on the other hand, doesn't have that kind of one-tracked mind.
He has genuine interest in many things... so many things that it's not actually possible to do all of them each week, or even each month. Instead, Lu does one at a time, consistently and even compulsively, for a week or so. He then moves on to a million other things, in equally short and intense doses, eventually returning to each one after a few months.

This week it was the trumpet
(approx. one week per year over the last 5 years)

Last week it was the piano.
(approx. 8 weeks per year over the past 4 years)
There's also a guitar, several flutes and recorders, drums, and a harmonica. He knows how to play them all, a little bit. He has the general idea anyway, and can play at least one song on each instrument - pretty well.

Lu is consistent about dance, not only in his classes, but also in practicing or choreographing his own dances. Of course I love that he loves to dance, but I am thrilled that he doesn't ONLY love to dance, or any one thing for that matter. I love that he finds so many things interesting, and that he learns so much about each one in these natural spirals of dedication of his.

I realize that this wouldn't be possible if we were actually signing him up for classes, paying a registration fee, or membership somewhere. Instead, he learns from us, from our friends, from YouTube(rocks my world), from books, or on his own. It truly does just happen. Lately, I've been appreciating even more all the things that Lu learns outside of our homeschool classes. He's really been surprising me with all this knowledge and know-how that he's just picking up somehow.

His vocabulary is blowing my mind, and I'm not talking about the new words that we're learning in Vocabulary Class. They are words from shows, movies, music, conversations, books he's reading... and they are many, many more than the ones we learn in class.

I'm starting to wonder...
should we consider...
(slightly cringing)a more unschooly approach

But why am I cringing???
Well, it scares the crap out of me to completely jump out of the box like that, even though I like to think of myself as a free and radical thinker. When it comes to my son's education, it's hard to be quite so radical. But who knows. Maybe I'll come around.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Typical Sunday

Sundays are pretty routine around here. Saturdays are our going-out days, so on Sundays we usually stay home. Cha (dh) makes breakfast around 9:30am - papaya, pineapple, poached eggs, bacon, and toast. Today we were very naughty and watched an episode of "The Wonder Years" with breakfast (not typical).

Sundays are also the days that Cha and Lu get to
spend more time together.

I do a big cooking session - usually two days worth of some kind of stew and two days worth of lentils or pasta sauce. This gets us through the week without me having to do much more than reheat and make some rice or pasta.

I'm in charge of Mon-Thurs dinners, Cha does Fri-Sun. I had never cooked in bulk and frozen food like this until we started homeschooling. It's not my ideal, but it does save a lot of time.

Here's what my kitchen looks like mid-morning -

While I cook, Lu and Cha get up to their dominical randomness, which today started with playing the trumpet. Where I am more of a one-track specialist, they are both generalists and can hop from one thing to another all day long. With all the building, making, and experimenting they do together on Sundays, I don't need to worry about my lack of hands-on-ness on the homeschool front.

Once they got tired of the trumpet, they moved on out to the yard...

to make a bow, arrows, and quiver. Pretty cool thinks me.

We only eat two meals on Sundays - brunch and lupper.

Mid-afternoon Cha and I will have our drinkie-poos while Lu plays video games (a once-a-week happening). Lupper around 6pm (with another episode of the WY), then the guys do the washing-up while I do my computer what-nots, and off to bed we go. That's about it. It doesn't sound very exciting, but for us it's absolute luxury to have one day with our home empty and quiet, as Mon-Sat there is always the hustle and bustle of volunteers and project activities.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bee-Stung Swollen Foot

On Monday evening, Lu stepped on a bee. He's been stung before and had different reactions each time. On Tuesday, his foot was a bit swollen and he couldn't walk on it. We had a pajama day and spent most of it working on the day bed in our office/classroom.

We finished this graphic summary
of what we've been learning in our History class,

and learned more about Neanderthal and Modern Humans.

Our sources say all kinds of different things about the appearance of Anatomically Modern Humans. Some say it was 50,000 years ago, others say 24,000. We talked about this with Lu - discrepancies between sources, why we shouldn't trust any one source, and how to decide which sources are more credible. Mostly, I want him to SEE (which is why we're doing so many timelines) all the time that went by without much happening, and then how SO MUCH has happened in relatively such little time. So it doesn't matter if it was 25,000 or 50,000. Either way, it was basically yesterday considering that our earliest ancestors appeared 4.5 million years ago.

His Youth Group homework tied in nicely with our timeline work -
an autobiographical timeline.

On Wednesday, the swollen foot got much worse. There was moaning and screaming every 10 minutes or so, almost like birthing contractions. I gave him a mild pain killer, we iced and elevated the foot. Math exercises and some reading in between the pangs was pretty much all we managed.

So we had another pajama day
(in the same pajamas as yesterday)
and lots of comfort food.
Tamalitos with melted cheese and paprika, and fried egg.

Not my favorite game, but it seems to be Lu's this month.
Last month it was Scrabble, and Uno the month before.

I wish he would vary his games,
he gets stuck on one and plays it until he kills it.

Today, miraculously, the foot (though still a bit swollen) was good enough to participate in his Youth Group aerial class. Have I mentioned that his girlfriend (meaning the girl he likes) is in his Youth Group? I suspect this had a lot to do with the sudden recovery.