Well, today William the Conqueror conquered England and we started six fires at Skidaway Island State Park. But it's okay, Ranger Dave was there to help us out! We had a really great class at the park on how to build a campfire using magnesium stones. The kids loved it, and Amirah actually got the sparks going and we made fires. Very fun. We *were* the class too, and he commented that no one had showed up for the morning class (an art project involving animal tracks). I've resolved to get us to a class there at least once a week. It's a wonderful (and FREE) resource, and the staff has always been exceedingly helpful and interested when we've visited. The interpretive center is wonderful. The bird observation room is our favorite place, and for the first time ever I saw a red-bellied woodpecker, a female. Very striking. We also found an owl tree at the playground there, and sure enough, beneath it we found two owl pellets. We're hoping to tear them apart tomorrow and see what's there.
Today went so well that I'm going to see if on Tuesdays and Thursdays we can work just 9:30-12:00 (which means just getting Amirah's learning time done) and taking the afternoons for longer excursions and experiences. It was glorious to be outside in the crisp sunshine. We even did our traditional channukah gelt hunt on the playground (since the gelt is dairy and we had meat last night!). We also got to see where the turtles had dug into the mud to hibernate and we got to touch the baby alligator and wonder when it would eat the mice in its tank (just after we left the room, of course).
We did a little carschooling too. Amirah read from her McGuffey reader to us, and on the way home we recounted all the birds we had seen in the observation room - chickadees, cowbirds, red-bellied woodpecker, cardinals...
And math! We started our Saxon adventures this week. We tried starting in the middle, but it was tricky. Saxon has all the different skills sort of intertwined instead of in discreet units, like Singapore. We ended up having to start at the beginning and skim through it. We're doing 5-10 pages a day (2-3 lessons?). The timed math facts sheet are really good and frequent. I think we'll zoom through the first half pretty fast, then slow our pace for the second half. We'll see. Amirah is happy, and still learning new things.
Channukah was very nice, B"H. We had a party/dinner at the JEA (JCC) on Sunday, friends over on Tuesday night (for the latke, bagel, doughnut blowout), a shul dinner on Wednesday night, and the day school's performance on Thursday night. Seeing all those guys up there really got me reminiscing about my own school performance evenings. What fond memories I have of my students. I started fantasizing about doing a channukah story production, and the kids writing the music and the script, and... We had such a good time!!!!!!! For now, I'm looking forward to (please, Hashem, soon - gotta get those floors removed!) starting our own little music class. The kids here are also begging to write a little play and turn it into a movie. That would be a fun project too.
We started a new thing this week. I'm choosing a weekly halacha to focus on (this week it's v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha AKA love your neighbor as yourself). I made up a simple song that includes the Hebrew and English words. We talk about what it means and how to apply it, and how to not just do the act but to be conscious that we are also doing a mitzvah. Whenever one of us catches the other in an act of "loving their neighbor as themselves" we either sing the song or just say the phrase in Hebrew. Or, when someone needs reminding of what good middos are... :) We also talked about what we meant by "neighbor" and how that included a lot of different kinds of people, and specifically how we could help each one. We had some great conversations, and it was fun to hear the song being sung on various appropriate occasions.
I tried unsuccessfully to upload a MIDI of the song plus a copy of the sheet music to this blog. I'm not quite talented enough to pull it off, but DH says we can upload the files to our parked (and empty-for-now) website (alpidarko.org) and have the blog refer to archives there. SO, that seems relatively simple so hopefully we can do that soon.
Lots of fun things! I love this learning adventure we're on. So many interesting things to explore and we can explore any one of them to our heart's content. Ahhhhhhh... Good shabbos!!