"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Advent Season: The Jesse Tree

      The Advent Season is upon us!  We're doing something a little different this season.  I have traditionally done advent readings each December but this year I really wanted us to press in, to savour the waiting, the joy and hope that Christmas holds, and to put that emphasis squarely on the Saviour's birth.

      I purchased a copy of Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift and we will be using that as a guide to our advent season this year.  It's a gorgeous book. I am very pleased with it.  The daily readings for advent are full of meaningful reflection and draw the readers attention back to focus on the anticipation of a Saviour, and the fullfillment of that promise.

     Along with these readings we will be building a Jesse Tree.  A Jesse Tree essentially depicts the lineage of Christ, with Jesse at the bottom and then working its way up to the Christ.  Our tree has a broad trunk and at the base are the verses found in Isaiah 11:1-2 & 10.

"Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the 
In that day the heir to David's throne
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious 
Following our advent readings each day we will add an ornament depicting the lineage of Christ.  There are also some activities we will be doing in tandem with the readings and ornaments.  I will post our adventure with this as we go along.

I can already see how beneficial this was to them.  They discussed all sorts of things as we worked, including the colours we added and what they depict, how the lineage of Christ was formed and to my great delight the lives of the people who were apart of that lineage.  My daughter made the point that these were ordinary people like you and me, who struggled with sin but God loved them and gave them grace.  I was literally astounded that she spoke these words on her own.  I was even more amazed by the discussion between her and her siblings on this point.  I just melted into the background and listened quietly.  I love when children engage in conversation completely unsolicited by an adult.  That was truly the highlight of my day.

Below are the pictures of the kids creating their Jesse Tree!  

I drew out the form of the tree on some heavy card board and then we added all the colour with acrylic paints.

They worked so hard and the it looked so pretty!

The finished product hung up on the wall in our dining room.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poetry: Haiku Style

      We have been diving into a unit on poetry for the last few weeks.  Poetry is not really their favourite genre but we've been having fun anyway!   I've started out the day with some simple readings from various sources: The Real Mother Goose, Poems and Prayers for the Very Young, Favorite Poems Old and New and Painless Poetry.  We've talked about different styles of poetry, and they have been making up their own poems.  The limericks, especially, have mesmerized them!

      This morning the kids were reading some Haiku (a simple form of Japanese Poetry, three lines; 1st line - 5 syllables, 2nd line - 7 and 3rd line 5 again). A Haiku poem usually talks about some aspect of nature, containing a clue about the change of nature and may also contain a surprise ending.  The assignment was to create a Haiku of their own.  I read out the assignment to them and then went to answer an email.  I chuckled at a part of the mail and the kids asked me what was funny.  I told them there was a squirrel in a friends backyard yelling loudly about something and she wondered if someone had taken its stash of food. The kids thought that was funny and decided it was Haiku worthy.  So they set about to make up their own Haiku about the squirrel in her backyard.  I really thought that was fantastic and great timing!  :) It ended up being Heather's Language Arts and copy work combined for the morning. She copied her Haiku in to her common place notebook. I joined in the fun and made one of my own.  I put it into my poetry notebook.   I wrote back to my friend giving her Heather's Haiku, she copied it into her commonplace notebook as well, much to Heather's delight!  I just thought this whole thing was so cool, and completely spur of the moment - non-teacher directed!!!  LOVE those moments, when the child takes the initiative and leads the learning.

Heather's Haiku:

Oh Poor Squirrel

Oh Squirrel, oh poor squirrel;
Oh who stole your nuts today?
Now you yell for them!

The Sassy Squirrel

Stash of winter nuts!
Who has stolen all of them?
Bring them back at once!

Our common place notebook entries:

      They enjoyed all the limericks we read today.  This one had them in stitches:

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger,
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.

      They practised it over and over again, using the inflection of their voices to communicate the spirit of the limerick.  The best part was that they were so engaged with the readings that it became fun and they were naturally enjoying poetry the way it was meant to be enjoyed.  It was a great morning!