Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring 2013 Charlotte Mason Co-op

Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool Co-op met once a week for the last 6 weeks. We gathered outside of one of our local library branches in the field. Thankfully, we had good weather all but one week. Our group is made of 7 families with kids ranging from infants up to 10 years old. Our schedule went as follows: Hymn, Nature Study, Composer, Artist/Picture Study, Folk Song, Habit, Poetry Recitation, and Swedish Drill/PE. Each parent was responsible for teaching one area the whole term. For hymn we learned For the Beauty of the Earth, adding motions to our singing as the weeks went on. The kids were exposed to a little information about the man who penned the words and then the music composer, which we have found is often two different people in the case of hymns. Our nature study was on trees. Each week the kids learned about a different part of the tree as well as a specific tree (Loblolly Pine, Southern Magnolia, Red Maple, Red Oak, Sweet Gum, and Shagbark Hickory). For composer, we listened to works by Stravinsky and, again, each week the kids were given a bit of information about him. Our artist this time was Carl Larsson (painter and interior designer). The kids looked at a different picture each week for a period of time. They were asked to try to see the picture in their heads. Then with pictures turned over they would go around and share what they had observed. His works provided many familiar things for the kids to talk about as he primarily used his family as his subjects. For folk song, we learned Michael, Row your Boat Ashore. Our habit was Cooperation. The kids heard or discussed what cooperation meant each week and then they played a game or two that involved cooperation. Such a fun way to teach good habits and get them excited about it. Then they heard a poem recited and learned about things like pronunciation, enunciation, projection, standing still, and nervousness. Then each kid had a chance to stand in front of the group and recite a poem. Olivia did excellently and recited a poem each week from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child Garden of Verses. Gabe also did well reciting a poem or rhyme each week. Ezra would practice at home with Gabe but always got shy once we got to the group. We finished up with Swedish Drill and PE. This was the part that Jeremy and I taught together. Swedish Drill involves giving the kids several steps of instructions followed by a "go" command (i.e. feet apart, feet together, turn right. Go.) This allows the kids to hear the instructions and practice keeping it in their minds until the "go" command is given, working on many good habits. The kids got pretty good at it and were able to move as a whole group, even many of the little guys. For PE, we did lots of various activities, exercises, games and stretches. We tried to incorporate the concept of cooperation or team work into PE too.

Listening to Mrs. Erin teach about leaves and specifically the Shagbark Hickory. It has compound leaves which sets it apart from the other deciduous trees we learned about this term.

Drawing in her Nature Journal: Olivia writes the proper name of what we are studying and the Latin name. Then she draws. At home after co-op she would write a few sentences in her journal about what she learned that day. Gabe and Ezra both color and we help them do leaf rubbings or whatever else they are willing to try. Occasionally Gabe will try to draw on his own with some direction. 
Picture Study
Habit Games

The littlest ones, like our Emma and our neice Rooney, just hung out with us, rode on our backs, or took naps. Considering how many varying ages we have in the group that we are trying to teach or keep occupied, it went really well. I actually believe that our kids benefit from learning together this way rather than being separated into their age groups. We get to see the older kids helping the younger kids. It is fun to watch them and work with them. In the ideals of Charlotte Mason, we encourage all the kids to participate but we do not force them too, especially the younger ones.

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