Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grade 4, Winter Term, Fraction Block ~ Ducks to Water

I divide our main lesson blocks roughly into months, and this month (March) we have been learning about fractions. Last weekend I checked my annual plan and realized that I had scheduled the Human Being and the Animal World (aka Man and Animal) block for March. I guess I was so excited to start fractions that I didn't check the plan. It's okay though; we've enjoyed fractions very much and April will be a great month for the animal block.

We started the fractions block by baking an Irish Soda Bread in a round casserole dish and then used it as a visual representation of "1". We cut it in half, then cut one half into quarters, and then cut those quarters into halves. Live Ed G4 recommends doing this with fruit, which would have been easier, but between the two boys' allergies there weren't any fruits that would work.

Next up came work with circles, from the Live Ed book. This gave us a very hands-on, visual representation of fractions. This was a very enjoyable part of the block for me; it had a crafty side to it.

Weeks two and three were based on the fractions story in Live Ed G4. The boys loved hearing the story of King Karl, which involved swords and separating heads from shoulders, always crowd pleasers around here. My boys have always connected to stories and this is one reason I sought out the Live Ed materials. We drew, divided, and tallied, showing how fractions have a place in everyday life.

This week we moved into the abstract, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions. We reduced fractions, turned improper fractions into mixed numbers and vice versa, found common denominators, inverted fractions, and more! The boys ate it all up; they were truly hungry for this real work of fractions after all of the preparation.

Indeed, today J-Baby actually needed a little bit more for it to make sense to him, asking "What is a fraction really and how is it a number?", so I brought in decimals/percentages. Somehow seeing that every fraction can be expressed as a decimal what something that he needed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I've Been Remiss

Part of me really wants to blog, and I can't claim that I don't have time when I spend so much time perusing other homeschooling/Waldorf/crafty blogs. Part of me isn't sure what to say and/or doesn't like where/how I am saying it. Clear as mud?

I love beautiful blogs, blogs with custom headers, lovely photographs, etc. I know these things aren't out of my reach and at the same time I know that *right now* I am not the kind of person who takes the time to do these things. I rarely remember to take photographs when we are in the middle of something, probably because we are in the middle of something! Faced with an hour and a burst of creativity I am probably sewing, crocheting, knitting, or pursuing some other fiber-related craft rather than researching how to pretty up my blog.

I am a percolator. Seriously, a friend taught me the basics of knitting and crochet 13 years ago, and after an hour I decided to pursue crochet. I bought knitting needles and yarn in 2002 and put them away, then bought more needles and yarn in 2005 and still didn't start knitting. I finally taught myself in 2007, right after my grandfather died (and of course I bought more yarn, although I finally used the lovely Brittany Birch needles from 2002).

So these days I joke that I must buy the supplies for any craft several years before I actually learn it. Don't believe me? I bought the book Doodle Stitching and a good stash of embroidery floss in 2007 and did nothing more than make a needle book until earlier this month when I started winding my floss into bobbins. In the meantime I had purchased a huge lot of vintage floss as well as an embroidery kit, scissors, and transfers.

Fabric and sewing? Don't get me started. I bought a machine 11 years ago, made baby wipes and fabric books 10 years ago, and then didn't really sew for 7 years, although I continued to buy fabric, notions, and yes, vintage sewing machines.

These are all things that I want to do and that I enjoy doing. The desire comes, I gather what I need (often used, given to me, or thrifted), I read books, and then I wait. Inspiration and time will come, not always when expected. The knitting? It was a clear response to grief. I ended up setting it down later that year when my mother died, unable to face the comfort shawl that I hadn't had time or the heart to finish once she was in the hospital. A visit from my grandmother is what inspired me to pick it up again. She doesn't knit so that isn't why; I think I just realized that I needed frog the project, discard the yarn, and start on something new.

I think I got off track there, which is probably why I find it so hard to blog regularly and post photos, lol.