Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fifth Grade IHIP


Age: 11
On or about October 17, 2014, January 16, 2015, April 3, 2015, June 30, 2015.
Primary instruction will be provided by: Mikro's parents.

Plan of Instruction:

Our educational method remains a melange of Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, interest driven and unit studies approaches. We emphasize nature study, living books, and hands on, experiential learning. Our tools and resources include, but are not limited to, those listed hereinafter: reference materials (atlas, dictionaries, globe, maps, encyclopedias, non-fiction books, videos, the internet), workbooks, worksheets, hands-on activities, experiments, projects, newspapers, magazines, frequent field trips, group activities, nature walks, books from our family library and from the local libraries, games, creative thinking, predicting/forecasting, gathering facts, classes and programs at museums, zoos, nature centers and similar venues, music CDs, abundant art supplies (clay, paint, crayons, pencils, sketchpads, felt, chalk, etc.), free play, storytelling, conversations, and real life. We believe the world is our classroom, and eagerly avail ourselves of the wonderful cultural and educational opportunities available both here in Westchester and in New York City.

We incorporate math, reading, spelling, vocabulary, penmanship and narration activities in unit studies of areas of particular interest to Mikro. For example, evolution, reptiles, marine biology, the Hudson River, space, robotics, architecture, Vikings, medieval knights, arms and armor, mythology, biology, astronomy and physics will be launching points for poetry, penmanship, storytelling, reading, research, experiments, art projects and other activities centered on those themes.

We take a lot of field trips and take classes at nature centers, museums, and zoos and similar venues with our homeschool groups and as a family. We are members of NYCHEA, Tri-County Home Schoolers and Homeschool New York, all groups which provide many educational and social opportunities for Mikro. We are longtime members of many area museums and attractions, and make frequent visits to them, both as a family and with homeschooled friends. We also visit public libraries in Westchester, Manhattan and Queens.

The following subjects shall be reported, per Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education:

Our approach to Mathematics is a combination of real life learning through participation in daily life activities such as cooking, building, shopping, etc, and the use of manipulatives, textbooks, workbooks, videos and games. We use resources including, but not limited to, Beast Academy, Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred math books Learning Pathways (online), Khan Academy (online), BrainPOP (online), Time4Learning (online); various workbooks, living math books, and games such as Dragon Box (Algebra and Geometry Android Apps); The Number Devil and Carmen San Diego Math Detective. We also look at the history of math, which dovetails nicely with our history studies.

We will be working on such topics as operations with fractions and decimals, order of operations, percents and pre-algebra, as well as continuing to practice multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication and long division, geometry and fractions and decimals.

For reading/English language arts/spelling/writing, we have an extensive home library and visit the Croton Library, and libraries in New York City, often. Mikro will read content-related non-fiction materials to support his studies in other subjects and to explore his chosen areas of interest. He will read from self- and parent-chosen literature on a regular basis. He will engage in reflection on those literature pieces in one or more of the following ways: journal writing, book reviews, conversations, art projects, drama based on the books, and book clubs. Right now he is reading J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, and Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series, and some of the things on the horizon include: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Pullman’s Golden Compass trilogy. In addition to fiction, Mikro loves poetry and he will gladly read anything Jack Prelutsky, Doug Florian, Shel Silverstein, etc. or anything with a nature theme. He also loves myths, fairy tales and folktales, and we always tie them into our history studies.

Our goal is for Mikro to continue to enjoy reading, to gain exposure to a wide variety of genres, to be able to reflect critically on what he reads, to read for information, and to learn how and where to find written resources as needed. We will work on reading increasingly more complex material. Mikro reads picture books, chapter books and longer juvenile fiction of up to 875 pages in length. We read a lot of science and nonfiction, poetry, and just plain fun books as well. Mikro participated in the Croton Library's Summer Reading Game, and successfully completed it ahead of schedule and continued to participate thereafter.

We will practice spelling, and explore parts of speech, punctuation and proper sentence structure. Mikro will continue to narrate back readings in other subjects, such as history and science, will practice his penmanship, and will continue to create stories and poems. Mikro is working on learning note taking and annotation skills and typing. Mikro will participate in National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers’ Program for the fourth year running. Our goal is for Mikro to enjoy writing, to gain expertise in both the writing process and in technical writing and editing skills, and to develop a sense of power over the written word.

For history/geography, we will continue our study of world history, including, but not limited to ancient Australia , and the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages in Europe. We use Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World as a jumping off point, and read lots of fiction, nonfiction, folklore, fairy tales, and poetry about each civilization and historical period. We look at each culture’s art (through both books and visits to museums), food, and music as well. Mikro is auditing a course on Coursera called A Brief History of Humankind, which surveys human history from the cognitive revolution through the present day.

We will also explore topics in American history and New York history relevant to holidays such as Labor Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, President’s Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, etc. and will look at topics which may include, but shall not be limited to, pre-European contact, European settlement, the 13 colonies, American Revolution, adoption of the Constitution, westward expansion, slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, the labor movement, the presidential election and current events.

Mikro will develop his understanding of the social sciences and humanities by reading and discussing fiction and non-fiction materials, including the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer, living books, timelines, maps and other resources, by participating in field trips to historic and politically or culturally significant sites, through discussion and debate, through arts, crafts and cooking projects, and through videos, music and the internet. Our goal is for Mikro to develop a foundation for understanding the culture, history, resources, development, and government of New York State, the United States of America, and the world.

For science, our goal is to expose Mikro to a wide range of scientific disciplines, to continue to build upon his passion for science and nature, to help him understand and employ the scientific method and to appreciate the importance of science in daily life. We will explore earth science and physical science and continue our studies of physics, biology, evolution, earth science, chemistry, ecology and conservation, and space. We will also look at the history of science, particularly in connection with the cultures we are studying in our exploration of history.

We use resources which include, but are not limited to, living books, Time4Learning, BrainPOP and Supercharged Science (online programs). We have several science experiment kits which we will be doing this year. Mikro is registered for a Regents level Earth Science with Labs course beginning in the fall. Mikro and his father will be using their telescope along with the ISS Detector and Space Junk android applications, to observe the stars. Mikro is auditing classes on Coursera in Evolutionary Biology, Forensic Science, Physics and Astronomy. Mikro will continue watching an astronomy lecture series called Our Night Sky by The Teaching Company/The Great Courses. Mikro and his dad will also continue their experiments with electricity and building projects using the Arduino open source microcontroller and associated programming language and robotics kits. Mikro will be performing hands on experiments as set forth in the Supercharged Science e-Science program.

Mikro is passionately interested in dinosaurs, evolution, paleontology, and living animals of all kinds. We collect bugs, raise caterpillars, take night time bug safaris by flashlight, and participate in citizen science projects through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We maintain several bird feeders, nest boxes, and are a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.

We are raising a juvenile Chinese Water Dragon, a pair of adult Bearded Dragons, an Italian Wall Lizard, a Hermit Crab and a Red Eared Slider turtle. Mikro will be observing their behavior and assisting in their care.

Mikro enjoys reading Dig, National Geographic Kids, Kids Discover and Zoobooks. He watches educational programming on Discovery Streaming Education, and NASA TV. He also watches TED talks, webinars and other scientific programming online. We will also take field trips to museums and nature centers and special events such as Maker Faire and the World Science Festival.

For art/music, we experiment with watercolors, clay, crayons, pencils and other media, and will be engaging in several online art challenges. We visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and other similar venues and attend plays, concerts and dance performances at venues such as Tarrytown Music Hall, the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Urban Stages, the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the New Victory Theater in Manhattan.

We sing and listen to a variety of music from different cultures and genres and will use music as a tool in other areas of study (e.g. science and math songs, songs about the Hudson River.) We will be using resources including, but not limited to, books, YouTube and other online videos, our ever expanding collection of CDs, Coursera, and Classical Composers Monthly, an online program.

For physical education, Mikro swims in the summer, and enjoys nature hikes and park days with his friends year round. He plays Frisbee, wiffle ball, soccer and basketball informally with neighborhood friends, plays several active and creative role playing games involving mock battles with a group of homeschooled friends, and loves to run.

We will be covering Health topics such as good eating habits, personal hygiene, how the body works, physical fitness, basic human needs, self respect and self awareness, drug/alcohol/smoking awareness, water safety, gun safety and sun safety.

We will also cover Traffic, Bicycle & General Safety, including safety rules and symbols; safety equipment; awareness of strangers; playground safety; personal and social skills which contribute to individual safety; how to access help when illness, injury, or emergency situations occur; and how to recognize potentially dangerous situations and know how to avoid or reduce their risk.

We will cover the following Fire Safety & Prevention topics: how to dial 911; awareness of heat and burn hazards; awareness of how to evacuate in case of fire (practicing our family escape plan); and how to prevent fires. We will use internet resources, including the Smokey the Bear materials of the National Park Service, books, and appropriate field trips, such as the Croton Fire Fair.

We will cover Patriotism and Citizenship by discussing and reading about the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the principles upon which our country was founded, and by learning about patriotic songs and holidays.


Zoology at the Library

Fun with Animal Embassy at our library.





Inspired by Architecture Class: A Trip to St. Patrick's Cathedral






















Architecture Class, Week 6: The Guggenheim






The Italian Futurism exhibit was wonderful. No photos permitted, though...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

My amazing friend Leah organized a trip to Liberty Island and Ellis Island for our homeschool group. What a fun day! First we took the ferry to Liberty Island (and my son goofed around with his friends). We stayed on, because we have been there before, but neither Kev nor Mikro, nor Leah and her son, had ever been to Ellis Island before. I'm glad we did it this way, because we *still* didn't have enough time to see everything. We all vowed to go back.

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Approaching Ellis Island...

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Once we got there, we picked up the free audio tour. Since the boys all have cell phones, we let them explore on their own, though they had to check in with us on the hour. We split up and explored. Kev and I did the Through America's Gate exhibit first. We learned about what an immigrant coming to Ellis Island would have experienced, from debarking, to dropping their luggage (all they had in the world) in a huge pile, separation of families (women and children from the men), being observed while they walked upstairs to the huge Registry Room in a process known as the 30 second physical, having a medical exam, and being evaluated for entry based on legal requirements, having your clothes marked with chalk if they felt you were a problem and needed further examination, being detained if you were ill (they let your family stay on the island too, until you either got better or they decided (in about 2 percent of cases) to send you back, in which case your family had to chose whether to stay or go with you). If you were cleared, you went down the stairs in one direction to either a ferry to New York or Hoboken, and a train trip onward to your destination. If you were sent back or detained, you went another direction. They called the stairway "The Stairs of Separation." Later, we had a Ranger Tour with our friends, and learned more.

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The Registry Hall is massive, and would have been full of people. Our kids played inspector and quizzed each other about things like where they were from, married or single, and how much money they had, all questions that would have been cross checked against the ship's manifest of the vessel you arrived on.

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The huge vaulted ceiling was done by the Guastavino tileworks family. (There will be a post about them soon...)


This is a hearing room for people who were facing being sent back...


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We even saw Pete Seeger at Ellis Island, in an exhibit about music:


We enjoyed the museum up until the last ferry back to Battery Park.

Passing through the park, we saw The Sphere, which used to stand in the World Trade Center Plaza.

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