October 31, 2013

Ordinal Number Fun - Baseball Lineup Card

Teach with your student's interests in mind.  My first-grade son likes baseball, so when we did ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd...), he made his own lineup card. I'm not sure I agree with his batting order decisions but hey, it's math practice, not baseball manager practice.

October 16, 2013

Work While You Work - Poem Study

"Work" is another old, anonymous poem introduced in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind but with slightly different words. It speaks directly to the modern condition of multitasking and continuous partial attention. We would all do well to heed its advice.

 Work while you work
  Play while you play;
One thing each time,
  That is the way.
All that you do,
  Do with your might;
Things done by halves
  Are not done right.

"Work" has a snappy meter and a simple rhyme scheme. More than anything else though, the meaning of the words is what makes this poem worth studying. Work and play are equally valuable, but each must be done at its proper time and with all of one's might.

Working "Work" Through the Curriculum

Bible: Talk about similarities between the poem and Colossians 3:23. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." (KJV)

Math: Discuss the idea of doing things "by halves."

Life Skills: Help your child plan out a day on the calendar. Be sure to schedule some "work" time and some "play" time.

Music: March or drum to the poem. It has a very regular rhythm and each of the words has just one syllable.

I've also written poem study guides for Christina Rossetti's "The Caterpillar,"  the anonymous "Mr. Nobody," and "Hearts Are Like Doors." Please check them out, and feel free to leave a comment below. Also, check out the other posts on Trivium Tuesdays.

October 7, 2013

Uh-oh. Matthew 12 again.

I recently noticed my kids getting grouchy and snippety with one another during (home)school time, especially while working on something together without a parent involved. Kid One would read too fast or mumbly for Kid Two to hear. Kid Two would nudge and poke Kid Three into whining. A good time was being had by none.

So I did what came naturally--I got grouchy and snippety with them. That just validated their behavior. Then my morning reading took me to Matthew 12: "A house divided against itself cannot stand" As it has many times before, the light of Jesus' words illuminated the log of wood on which my critical eye was impaled. The problem didn't begin with my children. How could I expect them to treat one another lovingly when I was gruff and impatient?

Like it or not, I am the mood thermostat in my home. The attitude I have when I teach my kids in the morning, or when I come home in the evening, pervades the home. When I don't like what I see in my family, I need to check my own heart and take responsibility. That's just part of being Dad.

So after repenting and resolving to watch my own attitude, I asked my older kids to read Matthew 12 and tell me what they thought. It's a long chapter, 50 verses that span several topics, but both kids came right back with verse 25: "a house divided against itself cannot stand." They recognized that their attitudes toward one another had gone bad and they wanted to change.

It's been a week now. The house is peaceful. More laughing around the table. More helpfulness. More encouragement. Experience tells me this won't last forever. But at least for now, when whining starts or a temper begins to flare, someone is quick to laugh and say, "You'd better be nice or we'll have to read Matthew 12 again."

Love and unity are the way to go. They are what really make learning fun.

October 4, 2013

Homemade Risk Game

We have a closet-full of board games, but Risk isn't one of them. No problem. My son, who had played once at a friend's house, made his own Risk game with some army guys and an atlas, then got his little brother involved. Instant geography lesson!

Who knew Antarctica was so strategic?

Coincidence that we were studying Napoleon this week?