Why the Tree of Life?


Nature Table: Winter

Here's our nature table for the beginning of winter with our little wintry tree (is it a Winter tree or a Christmas tree?). We hung crabapples from it, and K spontaneously made a little paper ornament one day. We also added the boys' pom-pom crafts from this year's Winter Faire at the top of our tree.
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Verse Readers

K illustrated and bound his first readers. We used some of his paintings as covers, which I thought was a good use for them, and verses from stories we did in our first language arts block. K was reluctant illustrating the first one, but once he realized what he was making, he became much more enthusiastic. These readers contain verses that he has already memorized. The idea here is that his first reading experiences are completely positive ones when we sit down to 'read' them together. Reading readers that he doesn't have memorized comes later down the road.

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Inner Light

Here's another painting from Kristie's book. It's a story for Martinmas. Though we don't celebrate Martinmas, the story's mood fits nicely with this season. Dunagan's above, Kirven's below, and mine last. You are supposed to end up with a lantern. I mixed up new paint, and we definitely need more water! The blues were almost black.

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Independent Painting

Time to mix up more paint! Wow! Can you tell?? D's above.

K's painting. Notice the interesting mixing of colors. His paper was pretty wet.

And A's first attempt at wet-on-wet watercoloring.
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Combination Castle

This was another easy one for K. He didn't see it at first when we were walking it, but he has gotten a bit over-confident there anyway. We take two steps, and he proclaims that he knows what form we're walking! But, he did have it in his head by the third day, and had no problem drawing it.
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Little People

We haven't been doing many drawings from the nature stories--- just not enough time in the day. But we did do Little People. I was going to draw a big foot instead of a hand, but didn't leave myself room. K pointed out right away that that was wrong. Mom, what are you doing??? Me: Huh? Oh, yeah... One of the main themes in the story is: don't touch the mushrooms! OOPS! So, I remedied it by writing in red letters "Don't Touch!!" K and D thought that was pretty funny.

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100's Chart

K and I finished up this first math black by making a 100's chart. It took us three days to do, mostly because we have to work with A-zilla's interference. We will be working with Even/Odd and Greater/Less Than qualities after our next language arts block. I chose to have us make each number column a different color. When we work with Even/Odd, I will probably print out a second 100's chart so that he can color the even numbers one color and the odd colors another color. That activity won't be clear on this 100's chart. The main purpose of writing out this whole chart was to give K a chance to practice writing the numbers over and over, and sequencing.

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Ten! Finally! Ten is ten fingers and ten toes, both double fives. It's the first two-digit number. We drew a ten pointed star as our geometric figure. How did we do that you ask? Why two five-pointed stars, one on top of the other, of course! K thought this was super cool. Look how complicated it appears to be!

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Tripling! Nine is three three's. We got out our counting stones again, and as I called out small numbers, K would triple them. In nature, Nine is the number of months in human gestation (my pregnant mama above came out weird... a perfect case of just stop drawing... more won't fix it).

We didn't have a geometric figure for Nine.

Nine is also nine planets in our solar system. Knowing that Pluto has been demoted from planetary status, K drew Pluto all by itself in the upper left-hand corner of the page. In number lore, nine is longevity, a sacred trinity of trinities and has some pretty cool properties in relation to multiplication.

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More doubling! Eight can be a pair of four spider legs, or from Rascal, in four pairs of racoon kit eyes. We brought out the counting stones again and played around with doubling more numbers. Our geometric form was a diamond overlapping a square-- two four-sided figures. If you connected the dots, you'd get an octagon. In number lore (which K and I didn't talk about), Eight is the number of new beginnings or regeneration because Seven is the number of completion.

Drawing an Eight is very challenging for a first grader. There's that midline to cross, and it is fascinating to watch the brain and hand working so hard to cooperate! K and I drew together over my figure 8 numerous times until K seemed to feel comfortable enough to attempt it in his own Good Book.

Here are my racoon kits discovered in their sandy burrow under a tree. I initially wrote "Eight is four pairs of eyes," but on second thought, I told Kirven I was crossing that out and putting "can be," because Eight can be the sum of other numbers as well.
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We skipped Six and saved it for after Seven in order to introduce "doubling." Again, we looked to nature, this time to find double three's. Insects have pairs of three legs. A pair of clover has six leaves. The Star of David has two triangles.
We got out our counting stones and played with doubling numbers. I would tell him to count out two rocks, and then I would ask him to double that. Four! Then, count out five rocks. Double that. 10!

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Seven is the Big Dipper (Kirven's above), and the rainbow (mine below). Some interesting number lore: Seven is a pivotal number in many traditions, the completion of a cycle leading toward realization or the divine. There are seven years in each cycle of human development (birth to seven years, seven to fourteen, fourteen to twenty-one, and on...) In mystical stories, there are often seven steps or seven gates through which one passes to reach the goal. In the Kabbalah, there are seven branches on the Tree of Life. Just interesting stuff. Kirven and I didn't talk about number lore, but we did look for the magic of seven in nature.

For the geometric figure, we combined the square with the triangle.

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Mine (and Dunagan's hand)

Kirven's. Kirven also drew Rascal's hand.
Kirven found drawing the five-pointed star to be really interesting. He liked the continuity of the motion and practiced it on his own later in the day to make a tree ornament.