Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fantasy Comes Alive!

Yesterday evening, our family attended a show entitled, "Fantasy Comes Alive," at The Grand Theatre, which originally was a vaudeville theatre in th 1920s. Plopping front and center in the first row, we talked with the comedic ushers and rolled our heads taking in all the sights. The theatre is certainly old, and I imagined the stage filled with vaudevillians, wondering who sat in my seat almost 100 years ago.

We were delightfully surprised that the show carried a Disney theme (I swear I did not know!). We were introduced to each Disney princess as well as the Giant from Disney's Mickey and the Beanstalk, along with witches and fairy godmothers. The sweet part was that the show interacted with the audience quite heavily, asking for audience volunteers and tossing out gifts to the crowd.
Afterward there was an egg hunt in a beautiful wonderland and a meeting with the Easter bunny himself. Aidyn scored autographs from all the Disney characters on his Easter bucket and plucked nearly a dozen eggs. After a hug and a high-five from the Easter bunny, we made our way home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Screening The Velveteen Rabbit

Getting excited watching me pull out any "critter-themed" movies for next month, Aidyn asked if we could watch The Velveteen Rabbit together. We snuggled and shared the film on a lazy Sunday morning. Although I grew up with the old cartoon version of the same name, Aidyn has come to enjoy both the oldie and this 2009 live action/animated movie about a boy who befriends a toy rabbit and learns a powerful lesson about love.

Afterwards, we each painted a picture of a rabbit with watercolors and titled it.

These little moments excite me for what's to come. Since he is still attending public school kindergarten, we need not focus too much on certain aspects of academia; however, he does not do many science-related activties in kindergarten so I am hoping this ten-month project will supplement that.

If anything, our activities will be sweet family moments shared with a common goal of enjoying a long family vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

April Plans- Critter Country

Below is our tentative April schedule, focusing on the sweet and wholesome Critter Country. With old time country music twanging in the background, we will explore themes related to the critters of the American Northwoods.

Week One: All Things Rabbity
Week Two: Br'er Rabbit Stories and Introduction to the Trickster
Week Three: The Wonderful World of A.A. Milne
Week Four: Those Sneaky Foxes and Other Woodland Critters

Along with that, Family Movie Nights will include films such as Song of the South, The Velveteen Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh and Honey Tree, Robin Hood, Bambi, and others.

Rabbit Unit Plans

What a fitting unit study with Easter right around the corner!
Given the wide array of rabbit-related reading and rabbit crafts available to the searching parent, I had to be sure not to overload ourselves. Instead, we will simply enjoy rabbit-stories like The Little Rabbit, Moon Rabbit, A Small Surprise, and some non-fiction rabbit books. We also have some bunny crafts ready to create and a fun lapbook to make. We also plan on nightly readings from the chapter book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which I hear is fantastic. Aside from that, we'll snuggle and watch rabbit-related movies and decorate for Easter.
Reading list:
The Little Rabbit
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit
One Brown Bunny
Moon Rabbit
A Small Surprise
Not a Box
What Does a Bunny See?
Rabbits, Rabbits, and More Rabbits
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Homeschool Share

Paper-Mache Rabbit

Rabbit Lapbook

Friday, March 23, 2012

Disneyland Curriculum 2.0

When Aidyn was three, we embarked on a year-long unit study of Disneyland with a family trip to the Happiest Place on Earth as the apex. We chunked the units into the lands of Disneyland (and some from California Adventures). For instance, during Adventureland month, we learned about jungle and savanna animals, listened to African music, and made wild animal crafts.
Although it was Disney-inspired, the resulting unit studies were academic and real-life based. Following the Disneyland curriculum was a blast for us all, learning about everything from jungle animals to fire engines and New Orleans culture. I even taught a week-long Disneyland curriculum at the local community college. We had so much fun in 2009 that we have decided to give it another shot now that Aidyn is even more able to delve into these unit studies.

Our family makes the trek to D-land very often, but as of today we haven't been there in about 9 months. Sounds normal for most families, but we go anywhere from 2-4 times a year. Now, our family wants to plan an extended trip to the Park with our whole family for January, a notoriously low-attendance period. That gives us roughly ten months to enjoy our Disneyland-inspired unit studies.

Here is my very rough plan for the following 10 months. I've begun making library lists, jotting down science experiment ideas, and favoriting valuable websites.

Critter Country
-Woodland animals (rabbits, bears, foxes, skunks, raccoons, bees, birds, squirrels, and such)
-A.A. Milne stories and crafts
- Br'er Rabbit stories (and possibly other trickster characters like Ananse) alongside other fables with woodland animals.
-A look at human behavior and values, largely from the fables
-Country music

-Space exploration/astronomy (planets, sun, moons, stars, comets, etc.)
-Space travel
-Star Wars-inspired arts, crafts, and reading
-Ocean life (per Finding Nemo) and submarines
-The agrifuture/ innovations in technology
-Music about/inspired by outer space

-Wild animals from the jungle and savanna
-The rainforest
-The Story of Little Babaji
-World geography
-Famous explorers (Sir Richard Francis Burton, David Livingston, Isabella Bird Bishop)
-Music from tropical locations

California Adventure Park (as a whole)
-CA geography, history, famous landmarks, statistics
-Aviation history in CA
-Humphrey the Lost Whale
-Gold Rush of 1849
-Old Hollywood (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, old animation)
-Californian musicians

Bugs' Land
-Eric Carle insects unit study
-Outdoor-insect hunt (with no trapping, just observing!)

Main Street U. S. A.
-Small towns in the early 20th century
-Fire stations, engines, and firefighters
-Horses and horse-drawn carriages
-Abraham Lincoln unit study
-The Little House unti study
-How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
-Ragtime music

New Orleans Square
-Caribbean islands
-Pirate Diary
-Lousiana unit study
-New Orleans culture and cuisine
-Ghost stories

-frontier life
-Davy Crockett
-The Wild West
-Revisit Gold Rush of 1849
-Little Toot on the Mississippi

-Arthurian legends
-Matterhorn Yeti legends
-fairy tales

Tangled within the curriculum, art and animation will be studied as well. As Disneyland was begun with animation, we will also study the history of animation. In addition, I can't resist throwing in some Disney classics to watch.

On Family Movie Night, we will screen some Disney classics (striving for those Aidyn has not seen, like the classic Parent Trap and such).

I also plan on taking tiny field trips that coordinate with each unit; however, I don't plan for them to be extravagant as we are saving for our D-land trip primarily.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Heracles and the 12 Labors

Aidyn and I have been on a Greek myth kick lately. I just finished re-reading The Odyssey by Homer, and Aidyn and I have been snuggling up with Usborne's Greek Myths for Young Children. Specifically, we have been reading about the might Heracles (Hercules) and his dazzling feats of strength and cunning. Although exciting to see Heracles defeat the creatures he is ordered to destroy, it's heartwarming to see him spare innocent creatures, per goddess Athenea's objections.
Alongside the reading, we have been watching an old Hercules cartoon from the 1960's. The cartoon twists stories around, of course, pairing Hercules with Helen, for example, but it does a good job introducing different mythological characters.
Last night, I stumbled upon Jim Henson's Storytellers, which features different Greek myths, no of which we have yet covered. I plan on reading him myths in conjunction with those videos, after we finish Heracles, of course.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Long Time No Type

It is shameful how long it has been since I posted last. Many things have changed, but our outlook on a solid, well-rounded and life-based education has not swayed. Because of my demanding schedule, we enrolled Aidyn in public school kindergarten. While he has learned much, loves his teacher, and found new buddies, we still dream of homeschooling. I have still supplemented his education with storybooks, field trips, and activities at home to enhance what he's learning in school. I also volunteer in the classroom once a week to show my support and involvement with his education.

Aidyn's a big boy now and has mastered many new skills. He has learned to read several sight words. If arranged carefully, the sight words are readable to him as sentences and story lines. He can sit and independently read most of Green Eggs and Ham, plus I make him little books using his sight words. His handwriting has improved, and he can write his name, little sentences and numbers. His artistic creativity has blossomed even more, and he loves making crafts, most times from scratch. Although he's still my slow-to-warm-up boy, he's developed more confidence and instigates conversations with his friends and teacher with ease. At home, he has participated more in chore work and handicrafts. Now his responsibilities include vaccuuming the floor every day, dusting, and generally helping out on Clean Up Day. He's also picked up sewing and, while he's no master tailor just yet, his enthusiasm has led him to feel comfortable handing a needle and thread. A source of pride from me, his newfound ability to patiently save his money delights us. He can hold onto his tooth fairy money and allowance well, saving it up until there is a specific purchase he wants to make. His vocabulary has also expanded to include words like "normally," "usually," "horrifying," among others which he uses in sentences quite naturally. He still has a fascination with science and often hypothesizes about activities in space.

In other news, we are saving up to purchase our first home, and I dream of buying a small home on a lot of land where we can grow apple trees, among other fruits and vegetables. I, myself, am still in school and heading steadily toward my Master's in Rhetoric and Teaching Writing. My husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage this October; furthermore, our family feels more bonded than ever while we anticipate our future.

We are still undecided if Aidyn will attend 1st grade at his school or if we will homeschool or enroll him in a charter school; however, it feels like a decision that both must be thought over carefully and decided quickly so we can provide stability in his educational routines.