Tuesday, 27 January 2015

To Cheer up Those who Torture Themselves with Comparisons...

Maybe it's not a fair comparison, given Youngest's dental traumas last week which caused him to refuse the actual tooth-pulling - but today certainly did end up feeling like the proverbial attempt to pull teeth.

We did OK to start with: I had prepared a Viking timeline activity, similar to the one I created for the Romans last summer, except this time, instead of asking the boys to write out the details for each date, I pre-printed it for them and they just cut out the information and then stuck it to the card with the matching date.  They were then challenged to work out a way to work as a team, to get all of the cards into date order.  After a bit of a wobbly start to the teamwork, they actually did pretty well!  We hung them onto a ribbon and then realised we had lost the sticky-tack, so it's not attached to the shelves yet (PDF available here for those interested).

As we finished the timeline, my sister and niece arrived for our second activity.  Part of our Wildlife Action Awards involve getting creative, so after the success of the winter poems a couple of weeks ago, we thought we'd write some poems about birds.  We used a similar format to last time (word banks, using our imagination and research, reading other bird poems etc) but this is where it turned from a bit of fun into a tortuous ativity. The word banks didn't seem to work so well and generally inspiration was very low.  Youngest started writing immediately about a chick, which was interesting as his spelling is still very much in the formative stage, and if I don't transcribe what he has written immediately, we both find it difficult to remember it in its entirety later - but as the others needed my input too he wrote quite a bit while I was distracted.  Not very peaceful!  Eldest decided straight away to write about a Kiwi and Middle chose a Lyre bird.  I suggested that a British bird might be more appropriate as it is the RSPB who are organising the awards, but Eldest was adamant, so he disappeared off somewhere quiet to do his writing.  Meanwhile Niece chose to write about a barn owl but struggled with writer's block and took a long time with lots of prompts to get going. Middle kept changing his mind about his choice of bird - he made several false starts while Youngest got carried away and started an illustration of a multi-coloured fantasy chick.  Niece was up and running, Eldest was occupied elsewhere, and Middle was on his second or third choice of bird so I turned my attention to Youngest, explaining that we were writing poems to celebrate real wildlife, and we started trying to unpick his writing.  As we were part way through, Niece asked what a barn owl sounded like, so I found a recording online to play her, including some footage of baby barn owls calling for food. Youngest was captivated by the owlets, so his poem morphed somewhat and became about a barn owl chick.  It was finished quite quickly, so I typed it up and printed it out for him to illustrate - only he decided that that was a totally unrealistic request and stropped off for a while, which gave me time to help Middle, now on his fourth or fifth choice of bird: a red kite.  He came and sat next to me and we found some video footage of slow motion scavenging kites - they really are beautiful birds!  Eldest came to show me his work and I said that while he had obviously done some great research and written a very informative piece on Kiwis, it wasn't really a poem - so rather than rewrite the whole thing by hand he wasked to rewrite it on my laptop, ready to print.  I typed out Niece's now-finished poem and handed it to her to illustrate, then passed my laptop to Eldest while I helped Middle.  By now I was already exhausted, and the next bit was the hardest of all.  Middle's poem took a LOT of prompts and suggestions and lasted a really long time, but we got there in the end.  Meanwhile Youngest had come back and very quickly drawn a super-cute owlet.  Eldest had typed up his poem, which I felt was still unfinished but he was in no mood to make any revisions so it was left as it was, and illustrated.  Middle's friends were by now arriving for a play date, so his illustration had to wait until teatime - it has just been completed now.

"Little Owlet" by Youngest

"Barn Owl" by Niece

"Kiwi" by Eldest

"Red Kite" by Middle

Apologies for the long-winded, rambling and confusing account - it was such a crazy session, I wanted to try to faithfully capture the chaotic nature of the activity lest anyone be tempted to think that our home education is always serene and intimidatingly perfect.  Yes, the finished results are still pretty lovely, in my opinion - but that was also a pretty exhausting session, and not one I am planning to replicate any time soon!  Funny how the previous poem-writing session went so well but this time it was so mad.  Undoubtedly it was different having the boys' cousin and auntie for them to mess around in front of - and we had the time pressure of further friends arriving not long afterwards, but I think it was also to do with their energy levels starting to flag as mentioned yesterday.  Anyway, the outline is available here, for anyone whose child(ren) are more inclined to have a go and less in crazy mode - help yourselves!

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