Monday, August 22, 2011

Show & Tell: ECC Introduction

Hello, bonjour, buenos dias ... g'day, guten tag, konnichiwa ... ciao, shalom, dobrey dyen ...

For those of you who have gone through My Father's World Exploring Countries & Cultures, I have no doubt you just sang those words!  And I'm so sorry ... that catchy little tune will probably be in your head for a good two or three days now!

Things have been busy around here, to say the least ... fun, but busy!  On Friday we wrapped up the first unit of Exploring Countries and Cultures, our new 3rd grade curriculum.  I had heard that the first couple of weeks of ECC would be the toughest, and I'm glad I knew that going into it.  We worked long and we worked hard, but by golly, we lived to tell about it!  :)

We've been doing our Bible together as a family in the evenings now that Greg isn't coaching.  (Let me say it again:  Now that Greg isn't coaching.  One more time:  Now that Greg isn't coaching.  Ohhhh, that feels good!)  :)  This has been so great for a number of reasons.  For one thing, we tend to be really hit and miss with family devotions, so this has kind of filled in that gap for us.  Also, Greg not only gets to be there for our Bible discussions, but he also gets to lead them.  Priceless!  And finally, it makes our school day a little shorter.  And ECC has been quite a step up from Adventures, so anything we can do to shorten the days is okay with us!

We started out by reading God Speaks Numanggang, which was written by David Hazell, one of the authors of our curriculum.  It tells the story of a missionary family who went to live with the Numanggang people and ended up developing a written language for these people and translating the Bible into their written language.  It was an excellent resource for emphasizing not only the importance of missionary work in general but of Bible translation in particular. 

Although we'll be learning world geography this year, our goal is to understand why we need to know about these other places in our world, which is because there are billions of people who need to hear the good news that, through Jesus, God has made a way for sinful mankind to be restored to Him.  To help us maintain our focus, we made a poster with people from all over the world and added John 3:16 to it.

Hannah's cutting pictures of people from around the world out of a National Geographic magazine.  I found some for 25 cents each at our Friends of the Library book sale!  Big smile!

Once a week, we're getting together with our good friends the Durhams, who are also using ECC this year.  Here are Rachel, Hannah, and Cyrus with their posters of people around the world.
We also enjoyed reading several passages from Scripture and reading about various religions from our Window on the World book.

We had a really funny moment during our Bible study one night.  Greg has been studying a lot of apologetics lately, and he asked Hannah if she ever questioned whether what we believe is true or maybe thought that one of the other religions had it right instead of us.  She said no, and he said, "Because if you ever do, I hope that you'll take the time to examine the Bible and see that . . ." and he went on, and on, and on, and on.  Finally, Hannah said, "Dad, I think I'll just stay away from all those other religions.  That'll be a lot easier!"  :)

We've also really enjoyed Kingdom Tales.  I've been grabbing it after I'm done with my dinner and reading it to the family while the kids are finishing up.  (Keeps me from going back for seconds and ensures I have a captive audience.)  ;)  I knew Hannah would enjoy it, but I had no idea Millie would get into it so much.  She's jumped right in and been an integral part of our discussions at the end of each chapter.

In geography, we started out the year with a pretest.  Hannah scored 0.  Yep, she didn't even recognize the good ol' U.S. of A.  Even when I held up the map of North America and said, "Are you sure nothing on this map looks familiar?  Nothing at all?  Not anything?"  But on the bright side, there's nowhere to go but up on the posttest, right?!

We mainly focused our attention on map skills during this unit.  Hannah colored a map of the world and labeled the continents and oceans.

She hasn't learned about fractions yet—that'll come this year—so I got out the Unifix cubes to show her how much of the earth is covered with water.

Coloring a world map with colored pencils is one thing; coloring one with icing is completely different!  (This is one of the benefits of getting together with the Durhams once a week.  I can pretty much guarantee we wouldn't have done this if they hadn't come over, but I'm glad we did because the kids had so much fun with it!)

I got a picture of this step, but once we started licking the bowl, my hands were busy and the camera went down!  ;)

Here's Hannah coloring Africa.

They took turns labeling the continents and oceans.

The three chefs extraordinaire!
I'm not doing much to supplement ECC this year, but I did stumble across this great little resource in the free bins at The Homeschool Store last year (gotta love it when that happens!), and we put it to good use this week as we learned the names of the continents and oceans.  The book has blank maps in it that you can look at while you sing the songs, and by the end of the unit she could identify all seven continents and all five oceans.  Yeah!

We did a neat little activity to demonstrate how difficult it is for cartographers to take a round globe and try to make a flat map out of it.  First, we drew what was supposed to be the world on a rubber ball.  (I never claimed to be an artist.  You're about to see why.) ;)

Then Hannah cut the ball into pieces so we could lay it out and turn it into a flat map.

See how there are gaps at the poles?  You can get the pieces to connect at the equator, but the poles have to be stretched and, as a result, end up distorted when they make maps.  I never noticed it before, but compare Greenland to South America on a map and on a globe and see the difference.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Hannah and I got a good chuckle after this project when we looked up and saw this ...

Apparently Millie didn't like it when the whole world fell apart, so she got another ball and tried to put it all back together again.  :)

While we were learning about maps, we talked about scale.  Afterwards, Hannah measured her room and some of her furniture and made a map.  The instructions said to use a 1 foot:1 inch scale, but we didn't have enough room on the paper to do that, so we did 1 foot:1/2 inch instead.  And we used graph paper.  Because we might as well make it easy on ourselves when we can.  :)

Carefully measuring

Transferring it to her map

Attempting to write in cursive!  :)

The finished product!
We learned about physical maps and political maps, latitude and longitude, the equator and the way it divides our world into Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and the Prime Meridian and way it divides it into Eastern and Western Hemispheres.  Then we marked the equator and prime meridian our world map so they would stand out.

Once we had some basic map skills under our belt, it was time to create a map and read a map.

First, we created a map of our area.

We mainly focused on our little town, but we did end up venturing into "the big city" so Hannah could label church and piano.

She made a key to identify all the places she marked on her map ...

... and even tried to make the little highway symbol when it was needed.  I've never taught her that symbol, but I'm glad to know hours of riding around in the car ended up being educational!

After we finished the map, the girls took turns giving each other directions to get from one place to another.  They really enjoyed this activity!

And Millie made us laugh again when she looked at Hannah's key and asked to go to the earmuff store!  :)

 Our next project was to read a map.  I hid a treasure for each of the girls and marked the hiding spots on a map of our house.  They had a lot of fun with this one—and Millie was actually an integral part of figuring out the map!

Each girl had a Ring Pop and 50 cents in her treasure chest.

Here's the map with the hiding places marked.

They grabbed the map and began studying it, but they were stumped at first.

"Maybe if we look at it from a different angle ..."

Millie found hers in her closet.

And Hannah found hers in the bathroom hamper.  Success!!
Another fun geography activity we did was making Hands Across the World Paper Dolls.  Ours were all North American dolls, and Hannah decorated them like an Indian, an Eskimo, and an American.

Looks like she decorated herself like an Indian, too!  :)

We also read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and gave a shot at making an apple pie.  Apparently my baking skills rank right up there with my drawing skills.  But it did taste okay ... at least I think it did ... and even if it didn't, the Blue Bell ice cream covered it right up.  :)

The filling was delicious!

This is all I have to offer.  If you want to see a pretty apple pie, visit  Erin's blog!  :)
In science, we started off by learning what an ecosystem is.  We made a backyard habitat so we could observe the flora and fauna that are growing right under our noses.

I suppose it would have been better if she weren't squatting inside the habitat but, you know, sometimes you don't think of these things until after the fact.

This is the first thing she noticed, and she actually thought that's all that she would find in her square.  They were literally all over the place!

After looking a little more closely, she found a feather.

Then she noticed these little white flowers down in the grass.  There was a heavy sprinkling of them, but you really had to be looking to notice them because they're so small.

And finally she noticed some leaves that were caught under the grass.  I told her this could be shelter for a bug, but she thought it would make better food.
We also learned what a niche is, and while we were at the Durhams' house, we set up an earthworm habitat so we could oberve an earthworm's niche.

We added the soil, the sand, the oats, and a few dried leaves for good measure.

Next step ... add the worms!

All those fishing trips with Grandpa paid off ... she's handling her own worms!

Here is our worm habitat 9 days later.  The soil is somewhat mixed, and you can definitely see tunnels where the worms have worked through the soil.

Time to let them go.  We were curious to see if we had any survivors.

WOO HOO!  Five of the six made it out alive!  Only one casualty!
The girls put them in the garden so they could help make the soil more fertile.
We also did some bark rubbings and collected some leaf samples to try to become more familiar with our trees.  I learned from Pauline's experience and did it right in the comfort of our own yard.  ;)

We did a bark rubbing for this holly tree ...

... this pine tree ...

... and this unidentified tree.  I really want to be a Charlotte Mason kind of a girl, but I'm just plain not.  Fortunately, we have an elderly neighbor who knows all the different trees in this area, so we'll ask him what it is next time we see him.

Here are the leaves we collected.  Again, we have one mystery leaf we need to ask Mr. Taggart about.
We also learned about the water cycle.  The kids are pretty familiar with that already, thanks to the Magic School Bus.  But Hannah was surprised to learn that plants can release water from their leaves.  We made what is basically like a terrarium so she could see the water cycle in action.

Here she's adding grass to the soil in the jar.

We put the lid on and placed it in the windowsill.

You can see a few water droplets have already formed on the inside of the jar.

In math, Hannah is working on multiplication and division right now.  She pretty much has her x0, x1, x2, x5, and x10 facts down, but we're working on x3 and x4 right now.  We did get out the Unifix cubes the other day to help her solve a problem where she was divinding by 4.  I honestly don't understand why subtraction is so much harder than addition and division is so much harder than multiplication, but I'm learning to just be patient and help her find a way to solve it.

And last but not least, we have really enjoyed our writing the past two weeks.  We discussed how using descriptive verbs can make your sentences more lively.  We started off with "The animals came onto the ark," and Hannah had to replace came with more descriptive verbs.  Millie got in on the action, too, and they ran with it.  (Pun totally intended).

They decided that animals could hop onto the ark.
Or they could run onto the ark.

Or they could even slither onto the ark!
 Hannah really seems to be enjoying her Sonlight writing, and I'm sooo thankful it's a good fit for her.  The first week of school, she was to describe an animal using the five senses.  She chose to describe an imaginary animal called Wierdyduck.  Here's what she wrote:

Wierdyduck has a long skinny tail.  He makes a squeaky quack with his pelican beak.  His blue body is smooth.  He likes buttery carrots and the smell of fried fish!

This week we talked about similes, and she was to take last week's writing and incorporate similes into it.  This is what she came up with:

Wierdyduck's tail is as skinny as string.  He squeaks like a mouse.  His body is as smooth as an eel.  He thinks that vegetables are as good as ice cream.

And somehow in the midst of all the back-to-school craziness, we managed to squeeze in a birthday party for Hannah and one of her best friends, Kailian.

Here are the birthday girls, Kailian and Hannah.

We've had fun these past couple weeks, but they have been busy!  Only 32 more weeks until summer!  ;)


Gator Mommy said...

I love it! You guys did a great job and it looks like you had so much fun. I love your big map, I wish we would have gone bigger. Your apple pie looks awesome! I hope you feel better now that you know I cheated, ha!

Thank you so much for the encouragement, it means more than you know! Have a great week in the USA.

Pauline said...

Awesome, awesome week! I have no idea how you are fitting in BOTH Kinder and ECC, but it looks like your kiddos are lovin every minute of it :)

Tracey said...

Ha! Great post! I LOVE that you used a ball instead of an orange. I hope I remember that in 6 years when we do this again.

Shoregirl said...

We just started ECC today and I'm looking forward to it thanks to the great posts with lots of fun pics you've posted! Looks like you had a great time learning!
I also don't feel nearly so bad that my 3rd grader only knew 8 countries - and 1/2 of those only because she was in on a little contest between my husband and I when the MFW curriculum 1st arrived!

Mom said...

What an awesome week! I love the hands on learning...and the fact that the girls look so happy! The apple pie looks great too.
Love you all:)

lisaplus6 said...

this looks wonderful!!! what a perfect first week! your children seem to be loving every moment of it!

Cajunrose said...

Great job! We are doing a worm activity soon too. I hope ours is as successful!

Monica said...

What a wonderful week girl! I like how you labeled the world cake. The local map and treasure find you created looks awesome. I didn't take the time to do that but should have! That pie looks great girls! Did you know Kattie and I are hosting a MFW Highlights linky.? We will rotate everyother week on Thurs eve. Just post from the week before. This weeks link:

Kattie said...

WOW you had a busy week...looks like you got everything done! I love how you labeled your cake and the maps look great!!

Lisa said...

Wow, that has to be the longest blog post ever! I love it!!!

We did ECC during the 2009/2010 school year. It was great but that's when are school days became much longer. The science that year was great.

Hope you have a great year!

Anastasha A said...

We just started MFW ECC this past week and your post helped me see that we are on track! Thanks as I feel a bit overwhelmed and like I'm forgetting to do something. Your descriptions and photos are excellent!