Friday, October 23, 2009

A New Perspective

This morning on the way to work I was in a car accident. Luckily it happened after dropping the kids off at a friend's house. I've always complained about this particular highway since I grew up with a perfect view of it and would often see emergency vehicles headed north.

I was traveling to work (on a two lane hwy) when vehicles ahead of me slowed and came to a stop. I'm presuming it was for a vehicle waiting to make a turn. I was behind a large horse trailer who was behind a tanker truck of some sort. It was raining but not too heavy. Thank goodness for my Young Driver's training. I've always had the habit of looking in my mirrors as often as I look forward. Anyhow, I looked in the mirror and saw a car driver at a very high speed with no indication of slowing down. I'm always amazed at what goes through your mind in a situation like this....don't hit my new truck....she's going REALLY fast...horses in room! Anyhow, I slammed on the horn thinking that she would somehow hear me and wake up! Didn't happen. I then swerved to the right. That's when she hit me and knocked me into a guardrail. So many stars were aligned it was unbelievable. Somehow, the horse trailer didn't even become involved. I think at the moment of impact that's when the traffic and trailer started moving. Anyhow, luckily I was driving our full sized pick-up and well in a situation where there is a truck vs. a car...truck wins! It was a 17 year old girl driving with a passenger. She totaled the front of her vehicle but miraculously no one was injured. She gave me a pretty good jolt and as a result the aches and pains are starting to set in. I'm anticipating a weekend of reading and little movement. We had our (new truck - did I mention that before) assessed and it looks like it will be a minimum of $8000 to fix the damage. It doesn't take must to add up to this amount. The girl was charged with careless driving and is probable facing some very high insurance in her future and possible a near future without a vehicle. I feel awful for her and plan on checking in on her but we are very blessed that the damage was minimal.

Although I'm relatively fine and the truck can be fixed I am still in a little shock. It's hard not to think about the what ifs. I know trucks are horrible for the environment but had I been in the car and had the kids with me, the story would have had a different ending.

By the way, we have On Star on our new truck and wow...I highly recommend it. A voice came on immediately, they got me OPP dispatch and stayed on the line, the police found my exact location (quickly) and then the On Star (southern gentleman) asked me if I'd like him to stay on the line to keep me company until help arrived, if he could call anyone for me or if he could help me in any way. It was so reassuring and EASY. Worth every penny.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Design Your Own Country

We had a great day today with two little friends. I was inspired by this post by a friend of mine. The resources that I used (Montessori cards) can also be found at the bottom of her post. Thanks K! I wanted something that could be permanent and referred back to on occasion. I decided to have the students design a country. Using plastercine they shaped their country and then added various landforms as we discussed them. It was SO MUCH fun! This was one of the best projects we've done. I couldn't believe how well they did and each looked quite different. To take it further, the kids could draw a topographical map of their country.

For a base I used large Ziploc baggies and put a piece of thick cardboard and a piece of blue bristol board inside. The plastic bag allows the plastercine to easily be removed if need be. The blue acts as the water and the cardboard provides a good working surface.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MIchael Reist: The Dysfunctional School

Michael Reist is speaking to our homeschool group in the next few weeks and although I've heard him twice before, I still hadn't read his book "The Dysfunctional School". It's as though he's been reading my mind for the last 10 years. His book is quite harsh and for some, could be shocking, but the reality is that the majority of what he shares, is true. He is right that change needs to be made from the inside out because this type of change is doable. I felt compelled to share some of my favourite quotes.

Factory schooling is obsolete for three main reasons: it remains devoted to print literacy, it is rigidly hierarchical and insists on the application of one basic process to all students. pg. 20

If you go into any kindergarten class, you will see a hive of enthusiasm for learning - a sea of hands raised for every question posed by the teacher. Fast forward to the grade 12 class. You see stress, fear, apathy and "acting out." pg. 21

The person with a vocation will often have to depart from the herd - collective values will not always satisfy. Everyone has a vocation - something they are meant to do, someone they are meant to be.
pg. 29

Every classroom involves a power relationship. pg. 31

For many teenagers, what appears to be a lack of motivation is really a powerful motivation - to rebel - to not do what all these adults want me to do. pg. 34

There are so many good teachers who would love to change the system, but the system keeps them so busy there is little time left over for the things they feel strongly about.
pg. 37

People who work in institutions can end up serving the institution instead of the people the institution was meant to serve.

What would freedom look like at school? pg. 45

School is not made for boys. pg. 47

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving is my second most favourite holiday of the year. The crispness in the air, the colours, the heat being turned on, preparation of food, decorations, family, hikes in the woods and memories of past celebrations.

My sister and her kids were able to come up for two days and unexpectedly were able to stay at our place. Some family feel a sense of obligation to get together at major holidays. I truly love seeing all of my family and catching up on the latest news. It's nice though to be visited by family who truly wants to be with you and your family. It's comfortable, easy, relaxed and so enjoyable!

We enjoyed a walk at Mountsberg Conservation and another hike today along a nearby trail.

My sister Cynthia, my mom and Mason

My nephew Josh, my niece Laura, and Mickey.

Pies, pies, glorious pies! Mason was in heaven!

Heinrich and Mickey filling out the guest book and writing down what they are thankful to.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A day on Ancient Egypt

Today we spent the day with friends furthering our study of Ancient Egypt. 7 kids and 2 moms. It was busy! The first thing we did was make papyrus. Using strips of paper to emulate the reeds the kids soaked the "reeds" in a flour and water mixture and then created an overlapping pattern. I think this activity trumped every other messy activity we've ever done! Thanks K it was great!

In the morning before everyone arrived the three of us put together a Duplo pyramid. As one of the activities with our friends we mummified a teddy and buried the mummy with all of its worldly possessions inside the tomb. The kids went through the many stages of the process with each of their teddies.

All of the families are following Story of the World and we're often using maps to trace the historical events. Today we took the map and made it into a clay model. Later we can add the pyramids, red and white crowns, etc... . Something happened with our clay (some extra moisture) so we will have to do ours again. I think the next time we do it we'll do it with Plastercine. Although it's not the easiest to manipulate, at least it can stay uncovered and won't go bad.

Lastly we made some paper beads and discussed Egyptian jewellery. This was a fun and challenging activity. This might be a good craft for future Christmas gifts.

The kids were fantastic and as always got along beautifully. They even chilled and listened to a few chapters on the book on CD. Thanks everyone for a great day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Westfield Heritage Village

Just a few pics from our trip to Westfield today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A trip to the badlands

Yesterday we were in need of a hike and some fall colours so we went to the Badlands with some friends. Word to the wise. Don't go when it's wet. Many trails were closed but we still had a great time exploring. Wet clay was everywhere, even in my hair! Our feet were so bad Heinrich had to drive home in socks! Note to time bring other shoes! Very neat place.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Painting the seasons

We had our first try with our new watercolour crayons. A friend had told me about a craft that they did and I wanted to try something similar but with our new supplies.

1) First the kids practiced drawing trees in their sketchbook. We talked out our imaginations and how we can access our imaginations to create art.

2) Using watercolour paint the kids practiced watering down the paint. For some reason this is a huge challenge for kids. They always use very dark, saturated colours and find it difficult to lighten/soften them. This was our first focus. Once they had them watered to my satisfaction, I allowed them to paint on their tree. With the lightened brown it was also easier to correct mistakes. Watercolours aren't very forgiving. They painted a single tree on four pieces of paper.

3) We then talked about the seasons and how the tree would change. We talked about how we could show these changes with our paints. We started with the winter scene first and allowed the white of the paper to be the snow. Rubber cement can also be used to keep the paper white. Just brush on the rubber cement on the areas that you want to keep white. When your painting is done and dry just rub off the rubber cement.

4) We drew in our horizon line and then coloured in our sky with the crayons. The kids loved adding the water to their colouring and manipulating the paint on their paper.

5) The most exciting part of this artistic process was the picture of Fall. Using the crayons they created leaves in a variety of colours. Then they took their paintbrush and dabbed the colours with water to soften them and blended them together. They learned to have a light touch and to proceed slowly. They quickly learned that if they spread out the water and the colour that they would eventually become murky.

Mason (age 6)

Mickey (age 4)