Thursday, May 17, 2018

Albert Lorenz

I wonder sometimes what I will find to blog about when I'm not in the weeds of constant lesson planning. Between all the main lesson blocks I've taught to the mixed ages I'm working with, plus tutoring and after school clubs, it seems like every single book I see is one I want to remember about for an upcoming MLB, or wish I known about for a recently completed lesson. But an author/illustrator I've really become fond of lately is Albert Lorenz.

It all started with House.

House: Showing How People Have Lived Throughout History with Examples Drawn from the Lives of Legendary Men and Women

I bought this book, according to Amazon, on November 18, 2005. That means that Becca was ten months old, Leah had just turned two a few days before, and Natalie was three. WHY, you ask? Because I was determined to be a Waldorf homeschooling mom and someone recommended it on a Yahoo group as being useful for the Housebuilding block.

Fast forward to May 2018. For the first time in thirteen years, I used this book. It has been on my shelf all this time... then I finally got it down for my Housebuilding block and I love it!

So here's what is included (he organizes the book into pairs of houses):

    Sculptor's House, ancient Egyptian workshop
    Sculpted House, the Trojan horse

    Imperial Grandeur, ancient Roman town house
    Modest Beginnings, Jesus of Nazareth

    Southern Explorations, Kon-Tiki raft, South America
    Northern Explorations, Vikings, North America

    Monastic Cell, Martin Luther, Protestant Reformation
    Snow House, Inuit igloo

    Costume Drama, Elizabeth I, execution of Mary Queen of Scots
    A Lively Scene, William Shakespeare, Globe Theater

    Country People, peasant cottage in Flanders mid-sixteenth cent.
    City People, London Bridge

    Dutch Masters, Dutch merchant mid-seventeenth cent.
    Slave Ship, triangle trade

    Hall of Mirrors, King Louis XIV, Versailles
    Starter Home, Puritans in New England

    Longhouse, Iroquois
    Tent, Bedouin tribes, Arabian Desert

    Living in Nature, Amazon rain forest
    Shaping Nature, Japan, bonsai

    Ingenious Edifice, Thomas Jefferson, Monticello
    Palace of Thought, Empress Catherine the Great, Russia

    Bachelors' Lair, Sherlock Holmes, Victorian house
    Warrior's Corral, Zulu kingdom

    Floating Factory, New England whaling voyage
    Houseboat, Chinese junks

    House and Garden, Claude Monet, Giverny
    Room with a View, Frederic E. Church, Hudson River

    Tropical Prison, Devil's Island, French Guiana
    Hotel on Wheels, Orient Express

    Inn Down Under, Australian hotel 1909
    Endurance, Ernest Shackleton, Antarctica

    Artful Apartment House, Antoin Gaudi, Barcelona
    Life in a Trench, World War I bunkers

    Musical Mecca, Harlem, Manhattan Island
    Southern Roots, New Orleans

    Ranches for All, post-World War II suburban housing
    Settling In, State of Israel moshavim

    Outer Space, Mir space station
    Inner Space, child in the womb

Curious to see what else he'd written, I checked out Metropolis. Loved it. Bought it. Again, so useful for so many main lesson blocks!

Metropolis: Ten Cities, Ten Centuries

This is most helpful for Waldorf grades 6, 7, 8. Here's what's included:

    The Middle Ages, grade 6

    Jerusalem, 11th Century
    the First Crusade

    Paris, 12th Century
    the Cathedral of Notre-Dame

    A Mongol Tent City, 12th Century
    Genghis Khan

    Koblenz, 14th Century
    The Black Death / The Plague

    The Age of Discovery, grade 7

    Voyage of Discovery, 15th Century
    Part One: Lisbon
    Part Two: Mozambique
    Vasco da Gama

    Forence, 16th Century
    Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti

    Osaka, 17th Century

    Vienna, 18th Century
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    The Age of Revolution, grade 8

    London, 19th Century
    Industrial Revolution, Victorian England

    New York City, 20th Century

Excited by his work, I continued to check out books. Amazon had very mixed reviews of The Trojan Horse so I checked it out from the library instead of buying it sight-unseen, and I'm really glad I did. (You can read my two star review at Amazon.) But I also discovered he wrote Journey to Cahokia and that was one I decided to buy after checking it out and reading it.

Journey to Cahokia: A Boy's Visit to the Great Mound City

This is a narrative story about a boy named Little Hawk and although Lorenz clearly did his research, he is not as good at writing fiction as he is at straight non-fiction (in my opinion). I would NOT have bought this book if I didn't live in Illinois, where we teach about and visit Cahokia on a regular basis. But it's fun that my kids can see landmarks they recognize on the map in the introduction, it's useful that it gives more of a sense of what it would be like to walk around in that city when it was at its peak (pair with Bonnie Shemie's Mounds of Earth and Shell), and it is definitely a must-own if you're in Illinois or Missouri and teaching grade 4 Local History & Geography.

Our most recent Albert Lorenz purchase arrived on Tuesday and this one I did buy sight-unseen based on the glowing Amazon reviews. It's out of print so you have to get used copies and mine was missing the magnifying glass, so be prepared for that. It's called Buried Blueprints and I could barely get my 14 year old daughter to give it up so that I could write this blog post. She LOVES the detail in the illustrations (thus the magnifying glass).

Buried Blueprints: Maps and Sketches of Lost Worlds and Mysterious Places

She's obsessed with this creative look at history, mystery, and mythology. So here's what's included in the elaborately illustrated fold out sections:

    The Garden of Eden


    Noah's Ark

    The Tower of Babel

    An Egyptian Chronicle
    Giza, Pharaoh Ramses II, Moses and Aaron, the Exodus

    King Solomon's Mines

    The Odyssey
    "I got the material for this drawing from a blind street singer in Athens named Homer."

    Man Against Woman
    Emperor Titus, Roman gladiators, Colosseum, Pompeii

    The Seven Cities of Gold
    de Vaca, de Coronado, Eldorado

    The Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merry Men
    King John, Richard the Lion-Hearted, the Crusades

    The Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

    Genghis Khan and the Great Wall of China

    Dracula's Castle

    Dinosaur Island
    Professor George Edward Challenger from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Zac is Turning Three!

I am having the best time preparing for Zac's upcoming birthday. I've slowly been collecting things and getting organized over these past few months...

Birthday Dinner:

He has requested soup, bread, and pie for his birthday dinner. And he wants to have his good friend and her family over for the birthday dinner. Adorable. So sweet and simple. I can get a pie from the bakery and pop some soup ingredients into the crockpot that morning, go to Natalie's art show from 4-4:30 pm, and still be back in time to host a birthday meal at 5.

Birthday Decorations:

Obviously, we will need to set up the birthday ring. We've had that ring since Natalie was a baby. I got it for her first birthday, back in 2003. And we've been working on our collection of ornaments ever since.

I also love the idea of turning the magnolia into a ribbon tree!

Birthday Presents - Outside Play:

He is getting a ton of gifts from me because three is such an exciting age, and his play has advanced by leaps and bounds lately. For one thing, he's overcoming his sensory defensiveness with mud and that's a huge thing to celebrate. We have recently dug a deep digging pit in one corner of the yard... and he loves to pour water into it and poke the mud with sticks. Today for the very first time he stood in the pit. Hooray!

So... a fully stocked outdoor mud kitchen with pots and spoons and muffin pans and whisks, etc. is the obvious next step. In addition to the kitchen tools, we will be stenciling black circles on an old bench with paint, to be the "stove burners."

Beyond adding a mud kitchen for outdoor play, I'm putting down smooth river rocks where we have a bare area in our lawn, to make a dry streambed for imaginative play. The guy who mows my lawn probably won't be thrilled, but there's no grass there so why not have a pretend stream? I saw one at a Nature Explore playground in Maryland and never forgot it. Such a simple idea that sparks so much creativity.

Birthday Presents - Inside Play:

Indoors, Zac is getting a Jonti-Craft Light Box. I'm so excited!!!! I also have light table things ready to go in little bins below the coffee table.

Also in indoor play, he's getting a few Fagus wooden vehicles from Nova Natural. We have the car carrier and he loves it, so I got him the tractor, horse trailer, and hay wagon.

And I'm making him a ton of hand sewn wool felt foods. He has started making soup constantly in his play stands (bringing me pot after pot of colorful wooden blocks) and so I think it is time. Every evening after the kids go to bed I stay up sewing, creating patterns based on pictures on Pinterest which I think I can replicate. Of course some foods are just simple circles!

Here's the list (and I'll continue to update it as I sew):

For the sugar cookies I used my Kool-Aid sprinkle dyed wool felt for the icing and little glass seed beads for the candy sprinkles!

I've been so successfully using up my wool felt scraps (and some of my thread, leaving me with handy-dandy vintage wooden spools for crafts) that I am going to need to purchase a new wool felt assortment. I've gotten the one from Magic Cabin three times, and now I'm interested in the one at A Child's Dream Come True, which is 74 colors of merino wool felt for $185.00.

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Capital Letters R and N

R is for River
N is for Net

We started this week's tutoring session by building with the little bricks and cement from the Teifoc kit. The cement comes powdered and you mix it with water to reconstitute. The ratio is 6 tablespoons of cement powder to 2 tablespoons of water. After you've built your structure, you can soak it for five hours to dissolve the cement and then dry and reuse the bricks.

We talked about the patterns in brick building (this is covered in more detail in the Waldorf 3rd grade Shelters block, especially in Roy Wilkinson's book for Farming, Gardening, Housebuilding) and how it is important to make your structure stable. Then we reviewed the story The House That Ate Mosquito Pie and added a summary of it to the main lesson book along with the stamped brick illustration of the house with two chimneys from last week. I also gave him his dry piece of flat wool felt from last week. I asked him if he remembered the animal which the wool was made from (sheep) and if he remembered the other animal we talked about which was large and shaggy. I read him the "On the Menu" poem for the letter Y from Phonic Rhyme Time, and he remembered that the name of the animal was "Yak." We drew a long line for the yak's long snout and then two short lines protruding from the top for the horns. We also updated his MLB with the L is for Ledge and D is for Dragon from the previous session. When we put the crayons back in the box, we counted them to make sure they were in order and he went on and spontaneously counted all the way to 30, which was a big achievement!

Then it was time for a new story.

I asked him if he had ever been camping, and we talked about that for a bit, and then we read Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker.

We looked at the River illustration in L M N O P and All the Letters A to Z and read the R poem. Then he started talking about fish -- which was a perfect transition to our next letter -- and he carefully listed all the ways you could catch fish (with a fishing rod, with your hands). So I showed him the Net illustration in LMNOP and he said, oh, I didn't know you could use a net!

We did the Making Shiny Fish project using a fish pattern from Feltcraft by Petra Berger.

I showed him how to use tracing paper to trace the pattern; then we cut it out and laid it over the aluminum foil and made the fish shape out of foil. Then we placed a piece of the net bag from onions underneath and rubbed it to get the scale texture on our little fish. Then he colored it with Sharpies (fine tip is better ultra-fine which tears the foil). We used a few dots of liquid glue to glue it to our piece of blue card stock, which is already cut to fit in our MLB, and then I cut the piece of net bag into the shape of an N and we laid it overtop to "catch" the fish, and taped it in place with clear tape.

We ended our session by beginning a potholder. Tracing, cutting, gluing, and weaving are all excellent fine motor skills.

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"I Wanted to Have Something Real"

We wrapped up Organic Chemistry / Nutrition (one of my Science Clubs) with Fats & Oils and reading nutrition labels.

We started with David Michell's The Wonders of Waldorf Chemistry (this book is also available for free as a PDF from The Online Waldorf Library).

He has information on Fats & Oils at the seventh grade level ("Oils and Fats," page 155) and the eighth grade level ("Fats, Oils, and Waxes," page 218).

We did the Fat Test. Open up a brown paper grocery bag and cut off one of the large sides and lay it flat. Then simply trace a number of circles on the brown paper (we used one of the small wooden rainbow bowls from Grimm's and traced it nine times) and place a sample of a variety of foods on the paper, one in each circle. I let the girls wander around the kitchen and decide what they wanted to test. They chose things like a potato chip, butter, bread, an apple slice, a fruit candy, boxed cereal flakes, chocolate pudding, etc. By the end of our session, the fat had already spead and left its telltale stain.

Then I read them some information on surprising products which are not vegan because of the use of beef fat (stearic acid) in them, like Crayola crayons. The slip agent in grocery store plastic bags (8 Unexpected Items That Contain Animal By-Products) was the one that surprised and grossed me out the most. Stearic acid is not always synonymous with beef fat, I will point out, but it is much more abundant in animal fat than in vegetable fat. If you're vegan it's on the list of products to avoid unless the product label specifically says that it is from a non-animal source.

Next up, making towers of Crisco (fat) and sugar cubes (sugar) on paper plates to reflect the amount of each found in some foods on the menu at McDonald's. I had the girls name some foods they might order if they went to a McDonald's and we wrote them on 3x5 index cards. Then we looked up the nutrition information (you can download McDonald's Nutrition Facts FREE from Teachers Pay Teachers in a nice PDF) and wrote the fat and sugar on each index card, got out our kitchen scale, and went to work. It will save you some time to only weigh the Crisco out. Sugar cubes weigh 2 grams each and so that tower can be easily calculated. Place the index card by each paper plate and you have a compelling visual! Here's what they picked:

    6 grams sugar, 9 grams fat

    double quarter pounder w/cheese
    9 grams sugar, 42 grams fat

    big mac
    9 grams sugar, 29 grams fat

    medium fries
    0 grams sugar, 19 grams fat

    large coca-cola
    86 grams sugar, 0 grams fat

There are lots of food label scavenger hunt activity options but we used another FREE TpT product, Food Label Scavenger Hunt. This requires either buying the foods in question or printing off the full color pictures of the food labels. I chose to buy the foods.

We threw away the sugar free chocolate pudding afterwards, because it was full of really dangerous aritifical sweeteners. Some of the foods we sent to a church activity for teens and some we kept for ourselves to eat. One of the things we kept was the Hot Pockets. This is a Twinkie-situation. My girls never had one, and always wanted to try one, and one day I had a friend give them a Twinkie and they were completely revolted by it. My girls relived the same experience with the Hot Pockets. They were so excited and then they could barely eat it. I asked Becca what she thought and she told me that she couldn't even finish it. I asked her why and she said it was because they read the nutrition label. Then she told me, "I ate a carrot afterwards because I wanted to have something real."

When I asked the girls what they observed after reading all those nutrition labels, they talked about portion size manipulation so that a food will appear healthier. They also noticed how the packaging would highlight all of the good things about a food and leave off all the not-so-good things. I also explained to them about how a nutrition label lists items in order, but that if sugar is found in more than one form, those things can be listed separately, which serves to move the sugar lower down on the label (evaporated cane juice crystals, corn syrup, sugar, honey, etc.). If they were all combined into SUGAR, the percentage of it in the food would be much higher in the list.

If you want a really long scavenger hunt, there's a nice one on pages 18-19 of Food Label Reading Lesson: "Is This Product Healthy?", which is also available for FREE from TpT. However, we had to break this up into two trips last year because it took forever. The best part of it, though, was calculating what percentage of each breakfast cereal was sugar. That's an eye-opening experience! So I showed the girls yesterday how to do it. Just take the number of grams of sugar in a serving and divide it by the number of grams in the serving size. Convert the decimal to a percentage and there you have it! We wrote each cereal's sugar percentage on the box in red Sharpie.

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Capital Letters H and Y

H is for House
Y is for Yak

We started with a charming story from e.e. cummings' book of Fairy Tales, "The House that Ate Mosquito Pie."

The illustration for this story shows a house with two tall chimneys, which forms the shape of the capital letter H. You can also see an example on the front cover of Putting the Heart Back into Teaching: A Manual for Junior Primary Teachers by Stanford Maher and Yvonne Bleach.

We used brown paint and a little clay brick from a Teifoc Brick Construction Set to stamp the shape of the capital H / house on a small square piece of blue card stock. Then we used green paint and a Princeton Catalyst Silicone Brush to paint the textured grass around our little house.

Next we read Philip Steele's short and nicely illustrated book How Do People Live? about housebuilding around the world. We looked more closely at the Mongolian yurt with Wonderful Houses Around the World.

I gave a brief lesson on wool (feeling/smelling/comparing a freshly shorn fleece with a collection of dyed wool roving, showing how wool roving can be spun into yarn, explaining how wet felting works) and then we felted a flat piece of wool using the bubble wrap technique. I had a cafeteria tray, plenty of towels, an enamel washbasin of hot water, the wool roving assortment (which I purchased from a Child's Dream Come True), a long piece of small-bubble bubble wrap, and some grated Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap.

After the felting he compared the texture of his finished felted piece with the loose fluffy roving we had started with. You can see how warm a house would be that was covered all in wool! Then we talked about an animal which lives in cold places like Mongolia, and which is very shaggy to stay warm, and which has a name that starts with Y. The yak! We looked at the illustration in Eric Carle's Anismals Animals (pages 66-67) and saw how the yak has a long snout and then two long horns that stick out on either side. We read the "Yak" poem in the book, which is by Jack Prelutsky. And then it was time to wrap up our tutoring session and for my student to head home! He's very interested in actually making the house with the Teifoc brick kit so I promised that we would start next session with that activity.

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!