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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Horses of Courses.

What little girl or boy doesn't love animals and horses. So this week past I decided to indulge the fantasies a little with a horse unit study. We read some really excellent books on, Lippizaner Stallions, The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)and the Rodeo. We delved into the world of horses more by watching two movies, National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor and Black Beauty. I wanted to read them Black Beauty but couldn't find a children's version. And DD five is very visual and I knew having tried to wade our way through all the Little House Books that she can only handle so many pages without some illustrations. Our small library is scant when it comes to books that aren't just 'twaddle' as Charlotte Mason puts it. I am not a follower of CM completely but I do see the value of good literature over books that are just a quick read with no learning value. Anyway I was hoping to also find the movie Misty as the video store online said they had a copy but alas they did not. So we made do with what we had :)
We made thanks to my wonderful ingenius man lovely lapbooks in the shape of barns. I was having a massive headache over creating something unique. I wanted them to have more fun with the lapbooks then just two folders. We do so many that it can become too routine. So in the name of fun education I racked my brains and everything I came up with seemed to complex or not quite adequate. So I enlisted my loving DH to come up with something and voila two folders are put together, taped on the back and cut slightly to create a barn shape. It was genius! Here are pics of DS's And then DD's I posted not all of the images because the information in the lapbooks are the same. I made this up using some sources like http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ and using images I found added with my own text. I downloaded a couple of horsey print fonts to use. And we used the scrapbook paper that you can get free here http://www.scrapbookscrapbook.com/ If you have any questions about this lapbook please leave a comment and I will get back to you asap.

The kids loved them. And DS loved that he didn't have huge amounts of copywork this week. There was so much to cover. And I will say here for those of you who are creationist's or believers of a young earth you may want to be forwarned we teach evolution and creation. However do feel free to use this design for a lapbook yourself.
We started with the beginnings of horses and discussed timelines. We learned about the terms B.C., B.C.E, A.D., and C.E. and what they meant. We looked at horses developement in the world when it was pangea. And we continued through history to when horses were hunted by man. Cave paintings of man and what they meant. How man came to domesticate horses and what domestication meant. We looked at horses and how they came to be reintroduced to North America. And Canada in particular. We talked about how Canadians treated the first horses here. And how that treatment led to the creation of the Canadian Horse, or the Little Iron Horse. From there we took a look at selective breeding and talked about how man came to create the Zorse by breeding a horse to a cousin the zebra. We talked about DNA and Chromosomes and how they are the makeup of all animals. And what that would mean to horses. We looked at the Northwest Mounted Police and how it came to be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their role in our country today. And we covered the Canadian Rodeo. And also we looked at the Lippizaner Stallions. We did the basics too of what male horse is called, what a female is called and what a baby is called. And finally when all our heads were swimming with this information the kids made up their own creative stories.
DS is showing some editorial skills naturally. Due to his lack of interest in creative writing last year I was letting him go easy this year by creating stories and copying them. I was only correcting punctuation and capitalization. When creative writing this year I have them dictate to me their stories and I write them on the whiteboard. They are then required to copy them down. Or if they are very long I will make a cursive sheet for him to do and a trace the letter sheet for DD.
Well this time DS noted a word omission by me :) and when he read it he realized the last part of the story made no sense. So we talked about editting and how he could rearrange or omit part to make it better. He chose to omit. I think it was because it shortened his copywork time. lol. But I let him do it since it was his story. :)
DD sat studiously writing her work down. For the first three sentences. Then she wanted to draw a picture of her story. And draw, draw, draw she did. It is amazing to me how many details she includes. I think the next step in her artistic pursuits is to get her to add more color.
All of that sounds like an emmense amount of information to convey in one week. But let me say that I make the information short and to the point. I do some ridiculous bad drawings on the whiteboard to convey my points as I am telling them the information. Which not only gets the point home but it is entertaining to see how awful my quick pics can be lol. And they love to critic my works of 'art'.
Further I don't require at this point in their learning that they retain all the information. Being that DS loves information I give it to him. And DD is encouraged to remember the most interesting fact that means something to her. She is only five after all.
My idea is that we will do these mini units and expose them to a huge array of topics. I will see what they are interested in and what completely bores them to tears. From there in the next year I can delve into the topics more indepth and require more from each student to be doing and retaining. Small baby steps forward into the world of learning. To get them to grasp the vastness of the world. The insurmountable task of learning all there is to learn in life and to make it interesting. And if at all possible to instill a insatiable love of learning.
Math this week was shortened because of the length of time put into the unit on horses. My requirement was the DS complete a large math problem on the board. The first one was addition in the hundred thousands something he has never done. I said 'before you melt down and panic. Realize it is the same as any other addition work from right to left.' So he looked relieved and got to it. And DD was required to answer verbal questions in addition, flashcards, and whiteboard pictoral math problem. They also played go fish. DS of course knows his numbers but DD is practicing all of them still. I opened a new pack of cards we got from a sale and discovered they actually had colorful pictures of fish and that they had the names of the fish underneath. So the kids had fun learning about different fish as well.
Friday they had finished the lapbooks and I thought they deserved some fun so I let them use the computer for some fun free games

To finish off our week. We planned a fun field trip for the kids to have pony rides. The rain in the morning made me wonder if we should cancel. But we decided to perservere and we got to the farm a couple of hours from home to find...more rain. While we waited for the sunny spot to come we were treated to looking around the barn at the horses. And the farmer brought her miniature horses in from the field. They hadn't been in all summer and they were filthy and full of burrs. She let the kids brush them down. I got in on it. What fun! Except we tried to avoid the manes and burrs.

We all had our favorite horses out of the stable. DD liked the Pinto, DS like the Bay Pony he was going to ride 'Echo', DH liked one that was a Dappled Grey and I fell in love with the nuzzling big Bay. And finally the sun arrived. We lead Sugar and Echo, the ponies out to the riding ring and the kids we so happy to get a mini riding lesson. My DS such a city slicker kept saying 'look I am driving!' It was so much fun and the kids didn't want to leave.

I told them we could go back as they also had a trout pond we could fish in.
And then one the way home we spied by the side of the road a huge flock of Canadian Geese preparing to leave for the winter.
And with them a flock of thirty or more Sandhill Cranes.
Further down the road we caught sight of someone waiting to cross and stopped to get a picture and closer look. I don't recall seeing one of these guys so far north since I was a little girl many moons ago. DH helped the fellow off the shoulder of the road so it didn't get hit.

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