I did not plan to do the Great Lessons so early in the school year. I don’t think Meatball got more that the First Lesson last school year, so when school closed in March, I jumped in and we did them all. Doing them again now seemed premature. I thought I’d wait until at least October.
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However, we are now “official” homeschoolers, through our school district. We are combining science and art with another family, and my kids have picked a couple of topics to learn about that stem from the Great Lessons (what doesn’t?), so I’ve changed my mind. We will start now! However, rather than teach the lessons all at once, we’ll space them our to allow time for follow up after the lessons. At the moment I plan to do a lesson once every 4-6 weeks.
As I’ve read more and actually tried to emulate a Montessori learning environment in my home over the past five months, I think I did far too much last time. I tried to tell the First Great Lesson while doing almost all of the 20 experiments! Needless to say, the eyes of the children glazed over…however they did really enjoy repeating an experiment every day for the next two weeks!
This time around, I’m going for a hybrid approach. I love the story telling of Michael Doerr and other sources, but I also love the drama of the balloon being popped and the volcano erupting, so I’ve done a little of both – a story with the five impressionistic charts, and four experiments interspersed during the story.
As the decision to teach the Great Lessons came somewhat last minute, we have not prepared by doing any of the 20 law of nature experiments ahead of time. That’s OK. I have an area set up that will house supplies for a few of the experiments at a time. Since the girls saw them earlier in the year, the focus will be on experiments they can do independently.
The morning started with some cosmic address art. The kids painted 8 images, increasing in size, representing themselves, their house, their city, their state, their country, Earth, the Solar System, and the Milky Way.
When the kids were somewhere around painting the Solar System we took a backyard snack and story break. I’d love to say the story went of without a hitch, but of course it did not. Just as the stage was set and the kids were quiet in anticipation of the balloon pop…a neighborhood cat walked by and distracted everyone. Twice. Ah well. When we got back on track it all went fine. The kids loved the impressionistic charts, the glitter swirling to demonstrate the forces of attraction of matter, and of course, the volcano.
After the story we finished up our art. A very fun morning! Now, for follow up work…