Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A new school year and a new opportunity to blog. We'll see how I keep up with it this time. My record is not encouraging! We do year-'round school, so we're actually just beginning our summer break as everyone else is going back to school. It makes it nice to take our field trips this week because most schools do not plan field trips their first few weeks back to school. So apple orchard, children's museum, etc... are practically empty.
I am using what is left of our four week break to plan and prep for the fall term. I am getting things organized and cleaned so hopefully we can get on a little more of strict schedule. Starting school at 10:00 or later will not cut it as the children get older. One thing I need to do is get some Charlotte Mason books and incorporate some of her ideas/philosophies into our schedule next term.

Last week we had a few days of rain. As we were driving out of our neighborhood we found a yard that had the most beautiful mushrooms. They were large, stark white, growing in a sweet little fairy ring. We pulled the car over and did an impromptu study of mushroom. (Conveniently, the house was for sale, so no need to ring the bell for permission.) I must admit I know little to nothing about mushrooms. So it was fun to learn along with the children. I fully understand the we barely even scratched the surface of what there is to learn about mushrooms, but it sparked an interest in the kids (and me) so next time the idea of mushrooms comes up, we can build on what we learned this time.

We observed and recorded. Then, cut one apart to see inside and recorded our findings. Next, we did a K-W-L chart. We wrote down everything we Know (or think we know) about mushrooms. Then we made a list of all the things we Want to learn about mushrooms. And finally, as we researched I recorded everything we Learned about mushrooms. It was only simple ideas like, mushrooms come in many shapes and sizes. Mushrooms produce spores. The color of the spores help identify the mushroom. Mushrooms can grow on trees (saprotrophic) or on the ground (mycorrhizal.) Some mushrooms require light to grow, other need the darkness of a forest floor. 

I found a website by Taylor Lockwood . It had amazing photos of the most beautiful mushrooms I've ever seen. 
For art, we drew mushrooms with white crayon on white paper, then painted with watercolors over it. For language arts, they drew a mushroom, then dictated a sentence about mushrooms from our K-W-L chart. I printed out the sentence, cut it up and they had to put their sentence together and glue it in order on their picture. I did not cut up my 3 year old's sentence, he just glued it on his page. For my 4 year old, I printed out two sentences. One as a control and then cut up the other. My 6 year old had to put her sentence together by herself. 
I'm so glad we took the time to stop and do this little project because the next day they were gone. 

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