Saturday, December 10, 2016

Understanding the Standing Rock Conflict

We spend the good part of many days discussing the conflict at Standing Rock over the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  We read about the reasons for the conflict, watched a number of videos and discussed what we felt to be the motivations of each side of the conflict.  We discussed our right to protest and what it means to support a cause you believe in.  We talked about striving to understand both sides of the issue and peacefully and thoughtfully supporting what you believe in.  I hope this lesson will be one that sticks with them throughout their lives.


Creating an Explorer's Notebook

The big project for the unit study was to pretend you were an explorer and travel to a few different Native American tribes and record what you learned about them.  They each did quite a bit of research on each tribe, really focused in on a few facts that they found interesting and really went into a lot of detail (which I loved!).  They basically each ended up writing a few multi-paragraph essays with illustrations which was much more than I was expecting.  This was a great format and we'll definitely use it again!


Native American Timeline

Each day we researched a person or event from Native American history and pulled out a few facts and photos that interested us and created a timeline during our month long study.  


We started to learn the art of weaving!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Natural Weather Prediction Experiment

We asked ourselves, "Which natural events can reliably predict the weather?".  

We read about various ways to predict the weather using pinecones, trees, clouds, animals, the moon and the sky.  The girls each created a spreadsheet to test at least 5 of these events for the next 30 days by observing each event, using them separately and combined to predict the day's weather and then recording the actual weather for the day.

At the end of the month the girls concluded that .....

  • in order for a pinecone to predict the weather, it might still need to be attached to the tree
  • a ring around the moon does in fact predict precipitation the next day
  • a cloud cover at night does mean the next day will be warmer than normal
The rest of the predictions did not reliably predict the weather or did not occur often enough to give an accurate result.

Art Lesson ... Colored Pencil Feather

Simple feather lesson from Derrick the Artist!

Pajama Program

I started volunteering with the Pajama Program and what a great organization!  

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I thought it would be great for the kids to participate so I told them about doing a pajama drive and they loved the idea.  They came up with the idea of having a Pajama Day at dance where you could wear your pajamas to class if you donated a pair to Pajama Program.  They presented the idea to the director this morning and we will see what she says!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Native American Celebration

Today we had Native American Culture Day.

One of the girls organized the making of rain sticks then a little rain dance.  (It did in fact rain later in the day.)

Then lunch of Hopi Corn Stew and Fry Bread.

Followed by a Cherokee dice game using beans and sticks.

And dessert of Choctaw Grape Dumplings.


Writing A Story About a Horse

 The girls each made a comic involving horses.  (I honestly don't understand either story but I applaud the effort and hate to stifle their creativity with a critique!)


Monday, December 5, 2016

"Little House on the Prairie"

No idea how the topic came up but I found myself describing "Little House on the Prairie" to the girls today.  We piled on the couch to watch the first episode and I was delighted to find that the entire episode documented the family's trip from Wisconsin to Kansas, the building of their home and their life as homesteaders.  Which was great because this is what we have been talking about over the past month and now they got to see it come to life!  

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National Museum of the American Indian, New York NY

We took a field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.  

There were a few really interesting pieces and we were able to relate some of what we have studied so far to what we were seeing.  But it is a VERY small collection and while we did enjoy seeing the intricate beadwork up close and the artwork on the animal-hide cloaks it felt like most of the items were fairly from fairly recent times. 

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Art Lesson ....Dubuffet Figures

Another Carla Sonheim art lesson... Dubuffet Figures.   Crazy little figures using salt, watercolors, crayons and paint.  Liked the technique but probably should have left the face off my guy like my daughter did!

Building a Gingerbread Longhouse

We learned about longhouses and then we found the typical measurements of a longhouse, converted the dimensions into a gingerbread house size and created a plan for building the house.  Then the girls made their batches of gingerbread and cut out and baked the pieces.

The next day they began assembling the longhouse.  Loved to see them be creative when Plan A wasn't working.  Impressed that they kept their cool too!  Gingerbread houses can be frustrating!

The completed project came out great!  Totally looks like a longhouse to me!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tripod Rock, NJ

Took a hike out to Tripod Rock in northwest NJ.  It is said to be a spiritual energy vortex and a sacred Native American site.  It was beautiful and quite powerful.  Can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lakota Wolf Preserve, NJ

Took a trip out to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in northwest New Jersey to visit with the animals so revered by Native Americans.  We learned about how sacred the wolf was to the Native Americans and also read some folktales involving wolves to prepare for the trip.

The guides were amazing educators and caregivers.  What they are doing to protect these endangered animals is heartwarming!  In addition to meeting a number of different breeds of wolves we also met a few bobcats and foxes.  And of course read some tales about them on our way home!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Writing a Folktale

I wrote a very poor version of the Native American folktale, "How Chipmunk Got It's Stripes", and gave it to the girls to revise.  I asked them to organize the paragraphs well, stretch the sentences with lots of detail and be sure each sentence was different and interesting.   Here are the final versions.....

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Long ago, Chipmunks had no stripes. Chipmunk was very brave, and and loved to tease the other animals. She often got herself in trouble, but was always able to trick her captor into letting her go.
One day, Chipmunk was out gathering nuts, and fruits when she met Bear. Bear was walking along and gathering food, when he saw Chipmunk.
“I am the strongest of animals. I can do anything.” Bear said proudly.
“Is that true?” asked Chipmunk.
“Oh yes,”Bear bragged. “All the other animals are afraid of me. I could eat them up in one bite. I am a very good climber have a of energy. Usually I am awake from dawn to dusk.”
“Can you stop the sin from rising?” Chipmunk said.
“I haven’t tried yet, but tomorrow the sun won’t rise.” the  determined Bear said. He walked back to his den and lay down to sleep. Chipmunk laughed and ran away.
That night, Bear lay awake in worry. He had no idea how he would stop the sun from rising. Maybe he wasn’t strong enough.Soon he saw the sun peek over the horizon. Chipmunk ran over to watch.
“The sun will not rise!” Bear bellowed, standing up.
“The sun is stronger than Bear.” Chipmunk laughed.”Even Bear has a weakness. The sun came up, and Bear has proved he is not strong enough.”
Bear was furious. He let out a low grumble that made Chipmunk shiver.
“If I can’t stop the sun from rising, you won’t live to see it set!” Bear growled, pinning Chipmunk to the ground with his paw.
Chipmunk’s eyes went wide and her heartbeat quickened. She knew she had to get out, but how? Suddenly an idea popped into her mind.
“ Oh Bear, I’m sorry,” Chipmunk cried sweetly. “Before you eat me, please lift your paw so I can say a prayer to our Creator.”
Bear thought for a moment. He was angry but he felt that Chipmunk was really sorry. Bear lifted his paw, and his long claws scratched Chipmunk as she ran away. Bear had been tricked. Chipmunk’s little feet carried her away as she breathed a sigh of relief. She was safe from Bear, and she learned her lesson. Chipmunk never teased anyone after that.
Chipmunks now have stripes that look like scratches. They remind us what happens if we make fun of one another.

Image result for chipmunk

Long ago, chipmunks had no stripes. Then  one day chipmunk was gathering food and saw Bear. Bear was walking and eating a delicious leaf to fulfill his everlasting hunger.  He growled “I am the strongest of animals.  I am strong enough to do any that comes my way.”  

Chipmunk replied “Is that true?” Chipmunk did not believe Bear. Bear roared “It is! All the other animals are afraid of me.”  Chipmunk replied “Well then, can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?”  

Bear answered “I haven’t tried.  But you will see, tomorrow the sun won’t rise.”  Bear went to his den.  Chipmunk laughed and ran back home.  Bear couldn’t sleep that night in his den because he was nervous.

 In the morning, Bear watched the bright sun rise because nobody can stop the sun from rising.  Bear stood on his hind legs and screamed “The sun will not rise.”  

Chipmunk came to watch.  Chipmunk laughed and said “The sun is stronger than bear.  The sun came up and bear is angry.”

Bear growled and said “If I can’t stop the sun from rising, you won’t live to see it set.” He knew that would be the only way to show chipmunk a lesson.

“Oh Bear, cried Chipmunk. “I’m sorry!  Before you eat me, please let me say a prayer to our Creator. But I’m suffocating under your paw because it’s so heavy, please lift it a bit.” Bear lifted his paw and chipmunk ran away.  But Bear’s long claws scratched her as she ran away.  

Chipmunks now have stripes that look like scratches.  They remind us of what price we pay when we make fun of one another.

Art Lesson .... Painted Feathers

Made some painted feathers today.  Just some acrylic paint on craft feathers.  Very pretty!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Art Lesson ... Paul Klee Name Paintings

Did another Carla Sonheim art lesson paintings inspired by the style of the artist Paul Klee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art Lesson ... Leaf Painting

Collected a few fall leaves then did a rubbing with oil pastel and finally covered with watercolors.  Pretty!

Building a TeePee

Went out into the woods today and asked the girls to build a teepee that I could sit in. I hoped it would require them to make a plan, organize themselves and their materials, build, observe, problem solve and have some persistence. 

I was afraid this might be too easy and a bit boring.  Wrong!  They dove right into planning and then tried finding the perfect spot and collecting really, really long branches.  

I really wanted to direct the action but kept my comment to reminding them to keep their teepee off the trail.  Then I zipped my lip and let them work.

Then things got interesting.  They couldn't get the branches to support each other.  At first they threw out ideas and did a pretty good job at trying each other's idea.  Then as frustration set in they stopped listening and wanted to give up.

We talked about each little thing that was frustrating and how we might try to work each little thing out.  We eventually worked through our blocks and tried shorter branches and tried using an existing tree for support.  We all finally agreed that we were not able to construct a teepee with our plan.

At home they used popsicle sticks and twine to create little teepees and determined that you really need to tie the tops and that the sticks all need to be the same length and thickness and need to be straight. 

Now that we have sorted out our design we might actually go back out and try again!