Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We haven't done a ton of school in the last few weeks.  Mostly, I've been concentrating on unpacking, going on my semiannual retreat, and now preparing for Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, I've had the kids working on three some major projects.

Project 1: Research Biography

We've been working on this research paper since the beginning of the year, taking it one minuscule step at a time because it is their first research paper.  They are working on final edits.  Mika is having a particularly difficult time because she picked a person with fewer sources to work with and topics that are harder to transition between.  She's working on it, and it is improving.

Project 2: Map

Several weeks ago, I gave the kids an assignment to create an imaginary continent complete with a long list of landforms.  They had to first learn about the landforms.  Then they had to brainstorm ideas of how to put it all together.  Then they had to draw it on poster board, color it, and name everything.  They are working on the final coloring before labeling their drawings with the continent's name, the names of major landforms, compass, scale, and legend.

This is Sam's map so far.  He's being quite colorful with it, making up different colors of grass that thrive on certain gases and/or minerals.  He's having to color darkly (which takes significantly more time and effort) because he left his map and the pencils out on the table unguarded.  Maddie decided to assist his coloring efforts, which he is now trying to hide under darker colors.

This is Mikaela's map so far.  It's coming along nicely.  She'll be darkening some of the details to help them show up better.

Project 3: Volcano

As a follow up to our visit to the Ape Caves, a lava tube on Mt. Saint Helens, we are learning more about volcanoes.  They are reading several library books about volcanoes in general.  A couple other books cover Mt. Saint Helens specifically.  In addition to that, we've decided to build our own volcano to erupt at home.  We've done a very simple one before, so they are enjoying making one a bit more detailed.  In the spring, we'll visit Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Mikaela and Sam are working together to lay down the first layer of paper mache.  We started with salt dough, which proved difficult to work with.  They enjoy paper mache more and are getting better results.

Here's the volcano so far.  It is sitting on our school table as I write this being air dried by the ceiling fan.  After they are done with the paper mache, they'll paint it, add Monopoly houses and Life people, and erupt it.

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