Thursday, January 21, 2010

Midweek Balance

It's easy to get swept away by the busyness of our daily lives.  As parents, our schedules are crazy, our to-do lists are long, and our days are too short. By mid-week, it's easy to feel frazzled or even overwhelmed.  The weekend feels so far away and there is still so much left to do. But our kids mirror our energy, so it's essential for us to cultivate a little inner-Om.  Midweek is good day to set our intention to restoring balance.  

We began day three of the letter O with oatmeal but before we put it on the stove, I had Amelie make a letter O with her fingers in the dry oats. Feeling the shape of the letter is as essential to understanding it as seeing it. 

After breakfast we moved into the classroom for Circle Time. Because rhythms create balance and harmony, our Circle Time always consists of the same elements: a song, a verse, a blessing, meditation, "Creative Infinity" (finding something in our inner-world during our short meditation to "bring back" to the classroom), and sharing.  Today Amelie shared the piano composition she worked on before breakfast and some stones from our basket.  She wanted to compare and contrast the shape, size and weight of the stones so we got out our little scale and had an impromptu science experiment.  She recorded her findings in her Science Journal and we were both surprised that the smallest stone was one of the heaviest.

Then we popped open the laptop for five minutes of mindfulness with Susan Kaiser Greenland on mindfulness together.  Today's exercise was "zipping ourselves up" and listening deeply.  We're both enjoying sharing these practices this week and they help center our attention for the Morning Lesson.

Next it was desk time.  Today's O words were: of, old, on, one, or, and other. She traces each word once before writing it twice on her own.  Then we spell each word by singing it:

o-l-d "old"
o-l-d "old"
o-l-d "old"
that's how we spell old!

For story time today, I read from a book we have on loan from a dear friend, The Lady of Ten Thousand Names: Goddess Stories from Many Cultures retold by Burleigh Muten.  In the spirit of our letter of the week, I read "Oshun - the Great Mother."  This is a creation story from Nigeria and her name means "The Source." More than that, however, it is a timely story about the importance of honoring and balancing both the male and female ascpects of our human nature. 

When the gods sent to prepare the earth for human beings neglect to invite the goddess Oshun to their planning mettings, their effrots are thwarted.  Upon reporting this sad truth to Olodumare, the the Supreme Sky Being, Olodumare says, "You have upset the balance.  A team of men cannot create harmony on Earth without a woman.  Without Oshun, no plan will unfold."  To restore balance, they have to give up something they love and ask for her forgiveness. Oshun forgives them, but only after they share with her the secrets of the Universe.

Through archetypal stories like this, Language Arts integrates with Social Studies.  We also use art to demonstrate understanding of the story and to answer questions on content, sequence, characters and moral -- and keep a Main Lesson Book where Amelie draws pictures from the stories read in the classroom.  She writes the letter of the week on the left page a few times and then has 15-20 minutes to draw something from the story with crayons and colored pencils. Today she drew the goddess Oshun in colorful clothes, as expressed in the story, with big arms wrapped around three of her children. 

More valuable than anything we can tell our kids are their direct experiences. So for our Afternoon Lesson we got outside for Earth Science, O is for Organic.  Fresh air is calming and even just a few breaths can restore peace when we're fragmented.  Our plan was to collect all things organic and bring them back for a collage craft. (Crafts help with eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, reinforce core subjects... and they're fun!)  

Because immersion means retention we also set our minds to seeing oes everywhere. Amelie enjoyed learning that she can see her breath because it's warmer than the air outside and comparing organic things (rocks, leaves, branches, dirt, flowers) to non-organic things (rubber tires, plastic tubing, asphalt).  Then we brought in all of our samples and made a pretty collage.  

After dinner, Amelie read two of her favorite stories, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You by Dr. Seuss.  At bedtime tonight, I'll read Oshun - the Great Mother one more time.   Mid-week Wednesdays are for centering and creating Om in the home.  Tomorrow we'll tackle five more O words and then it's off to the city with daddy for some fun.
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