K's first row of the year was Volume 4's Albert. It is the story of a man in a city apartment who befriends a bird family. There were so many great activities to go with this book, I can see how the Volume 4 stories are going to take a long time to row. Unfortunately, when we got to the end of this unit, I discovered that I hadn't taken a single picture. So I will just briefly describe some our activities!
We started this unit by learning about plant tropism, which is plant movement in response to different stimuli. I used a piece of playdough to demonstrate how one side of a plant stem will lengthen on the side opposite the side receiving the most sunlight so that the plant becomes tilted toward the sun. We watched this video which shows morning glory vines reaching for and twining around a support. We have some morning glories growing in our yard, so of course we took some time to observe those.
We learned about radios. First we dialed through the entire AM and FM range of stations to show K the variety of stations that are available. She thought this was interesting since B and I each have just one or two stations that we usually listen to. B also did a nice job of explaining how radio signals work.
We talked about pantomime and acted out the part of the story where Albert watches people interacting on the street below. Then I showed K a few Youtube videos that showed a variety of pantomime styles. The first was Charlie Chaplin's efforts to escape the cage of a sleeping lion.
K thought this one was "a little scary" and squirmed when the suspense grew.
We also watched Mr. Bean having a picnic. T (who never misses a Youtube video that K watches) laughed uproariously at his antics. Then we watched this video which shows one mime pretending to trap another in a box. These two men have a lot of talent. I thought it was cute that the kids started giving the actors suggestions of how to escape the invisible box.
Another activity was after talking about noise and decibels, I had the kids make a tape recording. I had happened to pick up an old tape recorder at a neighbor's garage sale, and when I pulled it out to show the kids, K asked, "What is that thing?" After I showed her how it worked, she and T had a grand time filling up an entire 90 minute cassette tape with songs, stories and much more.
One reason I wanted to do this row first was because tomatoes were a topic to study, which we were still harvesting from our garden. We researched their nutritional value, the fruit/vegetable designation debate, and went outside to observe the several varieties we had growing. We also made homemade tomato juice. It was delicious. A much more complex flavor and richer taste than store bought.
Another food related activity was to talk about all the different varieties of berries. K studied a blackberry as closely as she could, dissected it, and drew what she saw. Then we made blackberry vinaigrette for a salad we had for dinner. It was very tasty. I think the FIAR recipes are going to be keepers!
We also started Nature Study notebooks. T, K and I went out to the backyard and chose a leaf or flower to observe. We drew sketches of them in our notebooks and wrote or dictated descriptions. It is my intent to continue these through the school year, though of course we have not done nearly as many as I had hoped. It is excellent practice to get in the habit of closely observing nature, and something that I'd like to do alongside the kids. My hope is that we will pick this back up in spring.
The last activity I'll mention was to discuss the similarities and differences between house and apartment living. We drove through a nearby apartment complex and talked about what we saw. The kids were struck by the number and closeness of the housing units, the lack of yards, though they thought it would be nice to have such a closeby swimming pool. It was an eye-opening experience for them. K was inspired to write a story about a family that has a debate about whether they should move into a house or apartment.
There were other activities we did, but I'll stop here. I am looking forward to our other Volume 4 rows!