Sunday, February 10, 2013

School Days

This year for history, I have brought all the kids together and we are doing a year-long unit on CA history with some world geography mixed in, as well as some cultural studies for Emily and David that tie in with their Spanish and Systematic Theology classes.

Most of our kids like to draw, so we’ve read a lot of literature together (many of Scott O’Dell’s books) while they sketch some “portraits of CA history”. Just recently they have sketched the CA quail and poppy, along with the iconic figure representing the Pony Express. We’ve sketched the different gold mining techniques. David tackled and conquered a sketch of a train representing the transcontinental railroad. During the very cold mornings we’ve had recently, our history hour (10 am – 11 am) usually finds us bundled up reading and sketching and discussing together.

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Speaking of the transcontinental railroad, we learned about the Chinese people who helped tremendously in CA bringing about the completion of the railroad. And the timing just happened to coincide with the celebration of the Chinese New Year. We have a very high Asian population around here, so we thought it would be good to learn a little bit more about our neighbors. Thursdays are our “geography” days, so we did some Chinese activities instead of our usual “book learning”.

First, we made Chinese hats:

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Some of the more artistic of us, actually drew Chinese characters on their hat:

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Then we all worked on making Chinese “slat books”. These were the first books used in Ancient China, usually made with bamboo strips and tied together with bark.

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Projects rarely turn out like the instructions, in our home. But we try.

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Grandma stopped by for a spontaneous visit and that was fun getting to share our Chinese activities with her, before she zipped off again.

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For lunch, Molly and I ran to the Asian market behind our house (It is a very cultural and fun place to visit for us these days. It’s like stepping into another world!). We bought some chopsticks and tried to find some fortune cookies, but they didn’t have any. So we bought instead some rice cakes and rice sticks. Then I cooked up some noodles and some seasoned chicken and steamed some broccoli – just what we had on hand. 

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Then we all tried to follow the instructions for using chopsticks that Annie found in her “Dangerous book for Girls”. It was hard. Some of us resorted to using a fork. I think that being forced to use chopsticks might be a great weight loss technique for me!

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All in all, it was a fun day and a good diversion from our . . .                 regularly scheduled program.

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