Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Units So Far

Well, I hardly ever post here, but I think about it all the time! I think to myself, "hey! This is cool! I should share it on my blog!" ...but I never do. Here are some of the highlights so far.

We are doing unit studies on various countries and cultures. I do my best to draw Abby's language arts out of the country we are studying and so far the "Draw Write Now" series has allowed us to do this very successfully. We have language arts, reading and math every day. We have science once a week. Everything else seems to fall into place where it will.

For the unit studies, we started with Geography as a subject, then moved on to our first continent: Asia. In Asia, we have covered China, Japan, South Korea and now India. We are almost through with India. We start the week with an introduction to the country we're studying. We color a map of the country, then look it up on GoogleEarth to see where it is relative to where we are. Next, we use Wikipedia for general info which Abby adds to a section of her colored map (capitol, currency, religion, population and so forth.) Next, we look up traditional music and dances on Youtube. This part is always their favorite. We also read a lot of literature from each country. Traditional tales as well as books written by authors of that nationality give the children a good feel for the culture we're discussing.

For China, we watched people dancing with a Golden Dragon during a festival, listened to traditional Chinese instruments and watched a 2 year old Chinese girl kick our butts with her chopstick usage. Later in that week, we also watched NatGeo clips about Pandas. Other things we did for China: went on a "made in China" scavenger hunt, built a "great wall" out of Legos, purchased unusual foods from China and ate Chinese food (with chop sticks). It was a great unit!

For Japan, we watched a PBS documentary on Japan which included bullet trains, sumo wrestling, traditional culture and modern Japan. Baxter and Ford pretended to be sumo wrestlers - sorry I didn't video it. We also learned about origami and haiku. We played a really fun Japanese game called Fuku Warai. You basically draw a big circle on a piece of plain white paper (face shape) and cut out eyes, nose and mouth from other paper. Next, blind-fold one player who is handed the shapes and must try to put them on the face the right way. Needless to say, the kids thought this was hilarious! I had the idea to try it with Mr. Potato Head and it was even more hilarious. Fuku Warai is a fun and easy to recreate Japanese children's game. Finally, we went out for sushi and hibachi. That made this unit extra-special.

For India, we watched a Youtube clip of a young Indian girl dancing the bharatanatyam (don't ask me how to say it). We then made bell-ankle bracelets and tried to do our own version of the dance. They have begged to do this every day since. We have learned about monsoons (very appropriate considering the amounts of rain we've had). We've learned about elephants and tigers, snakes, the mongoose, and peacocks. We made a peacock art project. We have discussed religion in depth during this unit. It is hard for the children to wrap their heads around the idea that people worship "multiple gods" and not our God. We enjoyed a long read with Rudyard Kiplings' "Rikki Tikki Tavi." We will conclude this unit with an Indian Welcome Drawing and a real curry feast which we will prepare on Friday.

Before we conclude our study of Asia, I am spending a day (tomorrow) talking about missions there in SE Asia.

Next stop: Russia! Europe is next on the agenda and we will spend the rest of our time there until December 7th. I will try to post more highlights when I can. Here's the rest of our schedule:

10/19: Russia

10/26: Great Britain

11/2: France

11/9: Italy

11/16-11/26: Pilgrims/Thanksgiving

11/30: Spain

December: Christmas around the world

1/4: Antarctica

1/11: The Arctic

1/18: Canada

1/25: Mexico

2/1-2/12: USA

2/15: Australia

2/22: New Zealand

3/1: Germany

3/8: Holland

3/15: Ireland

3/22: Brazil

3/29: Venezuela

4/5: Peru

4/12: Argentina

4/19: South Africa

4/26: Kenya

5/3: Morocco

5/10: Nigeria

5/17: Egypt