The National Moment of Remembrance

imagesMemorial Day, celebrated in the United States on the last Monday of May, is a day in which we honor those people that died while serving the country in the United States armed services. The day actually started as a way to commemorate those that died during the U.S. Civil War. In 1868 it was established and it was called images-1Decoration Day. At that time it was on May 30th and was a day to decorate the graves of those that died in the Civil War. In 1967 Memorial Day became a national holiday. In 1971 the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May. On the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, it states: “In December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.” The law actually requires that U.S. citizens pause, for one minute at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, and honor those that have died in service to our country.

 

Butterfly Art Project

Fly, fly butterfly.

Whither lies your way?

I fly to the sun

On this lovely spring day.

Fly, fly butterfly.

With wings of colored hue.

From the sun please bring us

A message or two.

Author unknown

I have discovered that watching butterflies is a delight at any age. I am in awe as I watch the butterflies emerge from their winter sleep or return home from their long migration. Butterfly watching is fast becoming a popular hobby. Did you know there are more than 650 species of these colorful winged insects in the U.S. alone? Did you know that people who study them are called lepidopterists?

Butterfly conservatories are a great way to observe many different species of butterflies, but most of you don’t even have to leave your backyard before you’ll notice them flitting about. If you are enthusiastic about attracting even more butterflies, you can plant particular varieties of flowers, such as Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Zinnia, Bergamot, Day Lily, Black-Eyed Susan, and Purple Coneflower, as well as herbs like Tansy, Garlic, and Chives.

1519fg78jCuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Oak Meadow’s science courses in grades k-4 include various studies of the butterfly. In addition to the suggested lesson activities, you might include a guidebook, such as Robert Michael Pyle’s book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Or perhaps you would enjoy sharing a butterfly story, such as Alan Madison’s Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly or Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Bruce Coville’s The Prince of Butterflies.

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Photo Credit: Leslie Daniels

If it’s a rainy day, and no butterflies can be observed, then you and your children might like to make a butterfly template, paint it with watercolors, and then create your own butterfly kite or wind waver. Before painting,  you might like to view pictures of butterflies to study the symmetry of their patterns. They truly are amazingly beautiful insects!

 

Dig It!

images-1Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into summer and many are looking forward to growing vegetables in their own gardens. In my state we have a Cooperative Extension Service that provides lots of information and offers activities about farming in my area. Since I’m in the city, I’ve started small this year with a few tomato plants in big pots, and some spinach and onions in a small bed. I look forward to my tiny harvest to make some spaghetti sauce! images

We know that the planet’s climate may change on its own, and we also know that humans do pollute the environment that can cause climate changes. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one way of helping to limit climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by growing your own food so that you don’t drive so often to the market. Many of you using the Oak Meadow curriculum are exploring types of soils in your science lessons. Here’s a fun game to play to try and maintain a sustainable farm that grows healthy crops and reduces emissions!

This website from the Smithsonian National Museum of History is awesome: Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.

Let us know:

What are some ways that you help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your community?

Change of Seasons (From the Archive)

by Lawrence Williams, EdD
excerpted from Living Education (April 1982) 

I always find the change of seasons to be such a fascinating time of year, for it offers opportunities for new insights into the nature of the world, and thus into ourselves and our children.

As parents and teachers, we have an obligation to learn as much as possible about the laws of nature, for these laws govern not only the plants which are so apparent at this time of the year, but every being in the entire universe. For there is only one set of laws under which we operate–the basic principles of the cosmos, and as we learn to see the operation of these laws in one realm of manifestation, such as the plant kingdom, we can begin to apply these laws to other realms, such as the education of children.

When we learn in this way, we are able to encompass diverse fields of knowledge very quickly, because we pierce to the heart of the matter, rather than spending years lost in the details.

We should always try to teach children in this manner, helping them to see the operation of basic laws which are common to many realms, rather than burdening them with details of each realm.

In this way we will be helping them unfold the greatest talent imaginable: the ability to look beyond the forms and discover the life which continually creates and sustains all forms.

When children have learned to recognize this, they will have in their possession the key to all knowledge, and will grow into true students of life itself, continually learning more about themselves and the world in which they live.

____________________________________________________________

This article first appeared in its original form in Living Education: The Monthly Journal of Oak Meadow School in April 1982. The early incarnation of Living Ed (as we fondly refer to it) provided a then-rare space for homeschooling parents to explore and share their thoughts about learning, parenting, and related topics.

What do you think of Oak Meadow founder Lawrence Williams’ profound and provocative words from three decades ago? Are there lines you agree with and lines that don’t fit so well? Do any of these ideas or phrases resonate with you? Would you add anything from your own experience?

As parents and educators, reading others’ thoughts, asking challenging questions, and considering new ideas will open up different opportunities for ourselves and our children. Our ideas continue to evolve as we move along our journey. How have your own thoughts grown and changed since your homeschooling adventure began?

If I Were President…

In Oak Meadow’s second grade social studies coursework, the students learn about the importance of a being a good leader. With the upcoming US presidential election, this is an especially valuable lesson to focus on. One of my seven-year-old Oak Meadow students, Carlos, wrote an essay for the Bethesda Literary Festival’s Youth Writing Contest. It was on the given subject matter of “If I Were President.” The way in which Carlos expressed his thoughts and words are definitely worth sharing:

“If I Were President”

If I were President of the United States, I would be at least 10 years old and speak at least 9 languages. Being able to communicate with other countries brings peace and friendship.

I would stop war and create peace by helping people deal with their anger. Anger comes from fear and some people might just be afraid so they get angry and violent and want war. People need to share and cooperate and maybe meditate more.

I would have smart people with good hearts around me to help make the best decisions. I would think of ways to help people without jobs find work they enjoy.

All kids would learn to read and write and love it, like I do. Learning is so much fun, but sometimes people forget. We are always learning, no matter how old.

If I were President of the United States, I would make protecting the environment a priority. Our planet earth is Mother Earth and we must take care of her. We must love animals and respect them.

The White House Student Film Festival

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Have hopes for the future? Thoughts on how your generation will bring them to life? Love to make films – or ever just secretly wished to give it a shot? Well, this is your chance!

From now through July 15th, 2016, we’ll be accepting submissions for the third annual White House Student Film Festival. Our theme is “The World I Want To Live In” and we’re inviting U.S. students, grades K-12, to participate. Tell us what you hope the future will hold for us – sci-fi lasers? flying cars? yourself as President? – in the form of a short film. It can be fictional, animated, live-action documentary, or anything else you dream up. We’re just excited to see what you make! (From the White House Student Film Festival website.)

Please read the website and, if you are inspired, then participate! Go here to find out how.

The Transit of Mercury

Today, a rare celestial event occurs: Mercury crosses in front of the sun. This celestial event only happens on the average thirteen times a century. For seven and a half hours, this unique “transit of Mercury” can be viewed through high powered binoculars or with solar filters. However, if you would like to follow today’s transit of the smallest planet in the solar system through a live webcam, please click on “Transit of Mercury 2016“.

Oak Meadow’s fourth grade astronomy unit includes a research report on planets, so today is a perfect opportunity to view and to learn more about Mercury – the planet that is not only the smallest of the eight planets, but also the closest one to the sun. To learn more about Mercury and the other planets in our solar system, you can also find educational information from the website, KidsAstronomy.com.

Summertime and the Listening is Easy!

sync-logo

SYNC is once again offering free downloadable books for teens!

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+

The 2016 season is May 5th – August 17th 2016.
SYNC 2016 will give away 30 titles – two paired audiobook downloads a week!

Week 1 * Summer 2016

This summer’s theme is: “It’s the Circle of Life!”
The mystery of human evolution is looked at from very different points of view.
Download the free pair from SYNC »here.

This Week’s Audiobooks are:

Vivian Apple at the End of the World By Katie Coyle
Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Dreamscape Media
Great Tennessee Monkey Trial By Peter Goodchild
An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
Remember these titles will be replaced by a new pairing on 5/12/2016. Download the MP3 files, and then you can listen any time you want!
Thank you to Dreamscape Media and L.A. Theatre Works for generously providing this week’s titles.

Downloading Tips:
Get the OverDrive App to access free SYNC audiobooks. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.

© 2016 * AudioFile Publications, Inc. * All Rights Reserved

 

 

Books for Kindergarten Students

As many of us are winding down the school year, it is encouraged to continue reading stories and picture books to our children throughout the summer season. This is especially important for the preschool and kindergarten aged students, so the Oak Meadow teachers teamed up and shared some of their favorite books for this age level:

Michelle Menegaz: Our family loved the very repetitive but very soothing Milly Molly Mandy stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. There really is something magical about this story of a little girl and her family doing very normal things in an old English village from somewhat long ago.

Another one with plenty of adventure that starts off seeming to be in the most nothing-ever-happens-here kind of place is Twig, written by Elizabeth Orton Jones.

If you want a rollicking very high adventure, very high language read aloud, and the child can sustain through long complex storylines, then The Borrowers, written by Mary Norton, is a treat and a half, but no easy ride for sure.

Another long-time favorite of ours forever and ever is Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm… very understated humor and delightful drawings accompanying tales of real animals living with a real family in a real and imperfect old farmhouse. This is just one of many that Alice and Martin Provensen wrote.

Regarding the letter activities, the book LMNOP and All the Letters A to Z looks at the poetic nature of letters with beautiful block/beeswax crayon drawings.

Your children may delight in a deeper approach to the alphabet. Maybe they can come up with their own ways to blend the letters into a picture, or make them from pretzel dough, or act them out with their body.

And have you ever read On Beyond Zebra?  It is about the letters AFTER Z, written by classic, hilarious Dr. Seuss.

Claudine Kaplan: For animal stories with valuable morals, Thornton Burgess’s Old Mother West Wind books are great stories that were first published in 1910.

Sarah Antel: Tasha Tudor wrote some sweet animal stories.

What about Robert McClosky’s Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine?

I have memories of my parents reading me The Wind in the Willows no matter how old I was; it was my favorite story growing up.

Shannon Miller: My boys and the kindergarten group I just worked with loved the whole series by Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, A Gold Star for Zog, etc.) They feature great rhyme schemes so younger kids who aren’t quite reading can “read” along. The author does an excellent job featuring female characters in different roles. (For example, one character refuses to be a princess because she really wants to be a dragon doctor.) They are fun and usually cheap to obtain!

Leslie Daniels: One of my favorites for a kindergarten student is Adrienne Keith’s book, Fairies From A to Z. The drawings are colorful and delightful, and the book is formatted in poetry style. This book also includes special “fairy words” for each letter that are found along the borders of the pages. In addition, there is a fairy box (home) to construct at the back of the book. My own children at this age level loved this book – and they also loved making their own fairy boxes.

Also, we can’t forget the wonderful books written by Margaret Wise Brown, Elsa Beskow, and Barbara Berger. They are perfect for kindergarten students!

Meg Minehan: In addition to some already mentioned, here are a few of my kids’ kindergarten favorites: My Father’s Dragon series, Jenny Linsky series, Pierre The Truffle Pig, and for a newer book – the Tumtum and Nutmeg series, which are contemporary but with that charm and adventure of The Wind in the Willows, etc. They are fabulous to read aloud.

Andy Kilroy: My kindergarten-aged granddaughter is already reading pretty easily, so I have been spending my time with her on Explode the Code books. I have also been doing poetry with her, as she loves to make up rhymes. We are both rhyming straight up and she is writing songs, which she loves to do. When we do read, we do books in the “easy reader” genre, so they vary. I have not hit upon any that she likes as much as she likes the rhyming books. I have been trying to do some longer stories with her; she likes Mo Willems books that are written in the non-rhyming format, and she loved Angela and Her Alligator, which is a “chapter book”. She also liked the Berenstain Bears series, which includes great morals and values. My granddaughter also loves Gruffalo and Where the Wild Things Are.

Michelle Menegaz: Choosing which books to share with your kindergartener is where the home teacher can use intuition and knowledge of the child to branch out and get creative!