Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Introducing Our Spring Homeschool Theme Balance and Contrast

On the day of the Spring Equinox, night and day are perfectly balanced. Light and dark contrast each other in perfect symmetry.

In honor of this natural balance our first theme for Spring is Balance and Contrast.

When we do themes, like cirrciculum and schedule, it isn't a strict thing that my kiddos must adhere to, but more so a tool that I use to help organize my thoughts around the activities and projects that I want to share with my kids. The themes are loose and fluid. Each season, I organize my ideas for homeschool around two themes, each six weeks long.

All through spring (during both of our upcoming themes) we'll also be talking about where our food comes from as a major overarching seasonal theme.

Yesterday was the first day of our Balance and Contrast theme. We talked about the concept of balance as a physical phenomenon (rather than in a visual/artistic sense). Then we built some block towers in the curriculum room (basically an entire room filled with every educational toy and math manipulative you could imagine that exists as a resource for the Masters in Teaching students, but is open to the public) at the nearby college library as a way to play with the concept of balancing.

So my "lesson plan" was:
  • practice building block towers that balance
  • test which shapes balance and which ones don't
And what that looked like:

  • Chobie playing with blocks for a long time
  • Bee dumping out the entire container of blocks, then escaping into the hall

 Toward the end of our library block play party, I build some towers for testing.

Which one will be easier to tip over?

Then I made a structure that wouldn't balance. I asked Chobie if he could add some blocks to make it balance.

Both of these were easy for him. He loves building toys, so he'd already figured this out on his own and wasn't terribly impressed with the lesson in balancing blocks I'd created. Maybe it would have been better a year ago.

For our art project, we made homemade spray paint and sprayed paper using buttons as resists to make designs. I'll be posting that full project later.


Circus Girl by Tomek Bogacki

Color Farm by Lois Elhert

Market Day by Lois Elhert

*I'll be adding to this reading list as we continue to read new books each week.

In Circus Girl, a circus that comes to town, so there are a lot of examples of physical balance. Color Farm is illustrated with solid blocks of color that make is easy to talk about the visual elements on each side to describe the concept of balance in a picture.

This concept is a little abstract for a 4-year-old, but I think that it benefits him to hear detailed descriptions of pictures as a way to help build his vocabulary and develop his own descriptive capabilities. These are foundational skills for good writing later on, and in the mean time these kind of exercises will help him become more articulate.

Market Day incorporates our seasonal food theme, and is perfect for this week because it's the first week that our local farmer's market is going to be open and in full swing. We'll be visiting late in the week. The book is illustrated with collages made from photographs of folk art.  (Folk art is my favorite.)

 We had a chance to get some radish and spinach seeds in the garden yesterday too, so we incorporated the food growing into our day too. Although around here, we try to make that something we do year round.

So that's how we got started with Balance and Contrast.

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