Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Lessons

Correne asked me in one of the comments what the Great Lessons were. I thought I'd devote a single entry to them!

The Great Lessons are the start, if you will, of the social studies and science study at the elementary level. They are impressionistic stories which are aimed at giving an interesting, big picture presentation to the kids.

The first Great Lessons is God Who Has No Hands. It's basically the story of the creation of the universe and solar system (not a Biblical rendition--it's really designed to just be a story which gives an impression of how things happened). It is accompanied by some basic science demonstrations (like hole-punch circles on the surface of water on a bowl) and is the beginning of looking at science. From what I understand, some Key Lessons tied with this are in the areas of astronomy, physics and chemistry.

The second lesson is The Coming of Life. It gets into the development of life on Earth, from first life up until the appearance of man, exposes the children to eras and periods, etc. It is accompanied by a timeline chart and usually a black ribbon, proportional to the time since the beginning of Earth, with a tiny red line at one end to show when humans showed up. From this lesson, the children are encouraged to explore biology, zoology and other scientific areas.

The third lesson is The Coming of Humans. Discusses how we are different from other animals, gets into things like houses, clothing, how people started writing down history, etc. This is a starting point for a study in history, cultures, anthropology, archaeology... One Key Lesson tied to this is The Fundamental Needs of Humans: shelter, food, transportation, etc.

The fourth lesson is The Story of Writing--how human writing developed from pictures to alphabets.

The final lesson is The Story of Numerals--the development of writing down quantities from pictures to the numerals we use today.

All of this is available here except I can't seem to find the English version of The Fundamental Needs of Humans, but the French version is there. There are extra lessons in the History for 6-9 album. Two of the timelines are also available there.


Monday, September 01, 2008

School starts tomorrow!

And I don't feel ready! lol. I should check posts from other years and see if I felt the same way then, too. ;) Actually, maybe I shouldn't, because if I was really ready then I'll feel even more "behind" in my prep.

I do have some stuff ready--the two oldest have lots of stuff set up in Homeschool Tracker Plus, the 17yo has her starting schedule picked out, I have her math and social syllabi done, I've done one of the chapters in her chemistry, Bob's is all laid out since he's doing a "virtual" program, although I should still plan in some extra things like phonics, spelling and math facts. I have a vague idea of what I'm going to do with my dd and ds, as well as with my 3yo niece. But vague doesn't really tell me what I'm doing tomorrow morning!!!!

What do I need to do for tomorrow? Let me just brainstorm publicly here ;).

For the 17yo:
  • Because we're going to be gone in the afternoon, she's only going to do three subjects tomorrow morning: math, French and social. For social, I just have to print off the worksheets and her syllabus. For math, get my teaching notes typed up or written in a notebook specifically for it. For French, I don't have a syllabus together because some of it has to be pieced together as we go along. I do know what I would like to have her do. Okay, well, that's not too bad. It's that on Wed., she'll be starting chem and THAT syllabus (with recommended timeframes) is not done, nor are the sheets that need to go with the work she'll be doing.

For Bob:

  • Well, Bob doesn't have any of his texts yet. Some of the stuff he can still get started on, though. He'll probably spend most of the morning checking out the school's website and learning about what he's got to do to get the year going--things like writing letters to the teachers. He does need to have a phys. ed. log printed off.
  • My main thing with Bob tomorrow will be to harness his energy and emotions. I had him here briefly on Fri. and the mix of whatever he's feeling came out in MAJOR ADD-type behaviours. He's going to be excited and anxious tomorrow and simply wanting to socialize!

For dd:

  • I know that I want to start on place value presentations with her, but I haven't picked a specific lesson to show.
  • I need to figure out what I would like to show her this year in terms of French and English grammar, spelling, phonics, word study; science, social studies, art and music. I had wanted to do the Great Lessons, but I haven't even read through them at all and really don't think I'll be ready for tomorrow (actually, tomorrow's probably a bad day to do the first one anyhow). But besides the Great Lessons (of which there are only 5), I'm not sure what else. I don't know all the Key Lessons that go with the Great Lessons and I'm certainly not going to have my house full of the materials that are typically in a Montessori classroom that are tied to all those lessons in one way or another. I need to figure out what to do.

For ds:

  • I know I want to work on phonics with him daily, but haven't decided what, specifically, to start with.
  • I know I want to start the year off in math with Golden Bead work: refresher presentation for the material itself, then progress to the layout, getting quantities based on cards chosen, etc.
  • Science, social, art and music--I face the same problems with him as with dd. I'd like to combine the two. Hm, I just had a thought--what about combining *3* of them? I could use Bob's science studies as a starting point. I can't remember what he's doing, though. I'd really like to start zoology, at least with ds, though. I think I need to purchase a manual.

For my niece:

  • Start with practical life. But what? And where will these items be? Hm...

Other than that, part of my prep today is getting the "school shelves" in the family room better organized, cleaning the laundry room (it's now the room for the kids' wire cubbies and where the little shelf unit with some of the art materials is; it's right beside the den and is actually supposed to be an ensuite or similar, in case it sounds weird that I'm storing school stuff in my laundry room!) and ideally, make it to the basement and clean up some of that, esp. since we'll need to use the one bookcase in the basement for school stuff. With dd claiming the bedroom upstairs, things, like the bookcase and art unit, have had to find new homes wherever we could place them!