Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Year's History, Part 2

Later in the year, we got into the history of Greece and its science and culture. As part of the curriculum, we read two books: one about Archimedes and the other was a children's version of Homer's The Odyssey.

 Archimedes and the Door of Science was great because it not only gave us a look at the life of Archimedes, but also had tons of scientific info that we could use to make small experiments to try or observations to make. We talked about simple machines (levers, pulleys, screws), buoyancy, geometry, and numbers themselves. It's really amazing the contributions he made to modern math and science.

 We looked at buoyancy by making a boat from aluminum foil and floating it in some water. Then we crumpled the boat into a ball and dropped it back in and saw how the same piece of foil can float or sink depending on its shape.

We also experimented with centers of gravity and balance points. We made a tower of 5 bricks and saw how easy it was to knock over. Then we built a pyramid from the same 5 bricks and observed that a structure with a lower center of gravity are more stable than one with a high center.

Olivia then had to find the balance point (or center of gravity) of a butter knife, which has a heavy handle. She quickly found out that it wasn't right in the middle like she thought.

The Children's Homer was a great retelling of the Odyssey and the Trojan War. It was, by no means, easy to read but it was far easier than reading the original. The Trojan War story was somewhat confusing with all the various characters involved, but when we got to the story of Odysseus, Olivia was rather impatient to find out what would happen next each night.

To go along with the reading, we talked about the structure of Greek culture, which was primarily independent city-states, each with its own king and government. We talked about how each city ruled itself and how they often fought against each other.

Olivia also studied Greek art, which, for this year, was primarily pottery.

  She looked at all the different kinds of pots they used for different functions. She also had to make a few geometric patterns similar to ones that we saw in her history books.  

Also, we have been reading Aseop's Fables for Children at the table to all the kids. The kids have a chance then to narrate back to us the stories. They are short stories so it gives Gabe a chance to get in on some narration, even if it is just telling us who was in the story and where they were at or what they were doing. Olivia enjoys trying to guess the moral for each story. Ezra sits and listens and then comments on the pictures when there is one.

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