After a nice, long reprieve during the month of December … when children (and their parents) became accustomed to holiday parties, PJ days, and a marked decrease in homework … suddenly the new year begins and the fire hose of academic life has been turned back on. Here's what we've been up to since the beginning of the year...
This month, our three sixth-graders had to present their "Wax Museum" projects. For those not in the know, Wax Museum, is a social studies assignment that spanned six months. Each child was assigned a character while still in fifth grade, who they have been studying since summer vacation.
They read their character's biography, and since the beginning of sixth grade, created a trifold board presenting their character's life and achievements, constructed some kind of special project, and created a cereal box and journal. The culmination of the project, was the student dressing up - as the character - and posing in a wax museum setting. They would stand before their full semester's work, and when you pushed a "button" they would launch in to memorized speech. Just like a character in a wax museum. Our characters were…
William - Henry David Thoreau.
Elizabeth - Clara Barton.
Carolyn - Florence Nightingale.
While this assignment has been coming together, by and large, at school - the responsibility for the child at home, was to pull together a costume. Elizabeth had been begging Santa for a sewing machine, but little did Santa know that it was her intent she would be making her very own Clara Barton costume. Santa just thought she really wanted to learn how to sew. Silly Santa!
Long story short, we have a wonderful neighbor who knows how to sew (very, very well) and after she came over and showed us how to set up the sewing machine, she hooked me up with these things called "patterns."
Unfortunately, my neighbor had other plans that weekend, so couldn't stay - so she left me with her patterns and the advice that I just READ EVERYTHING CAREFULLY. Even though I really did read everything carefully (twice), it didn't matter too much, because I had no idea what I was doing and wound up sewing the pattern to the fabric and then stitched the whole thing together.
Lesson learned: while sewing looks very easy; it's a bit more complicated and making a dress as the very first thing you ever sew with a pattern isn't recommended. Sleeves, especially, can be very difficult. Now I know!
In the end, the day before the projects were due, my blessed neighbor returned from her travels, and swooped in and saved us by helping to make the aprons. (I did Carolyn's apron all by myself, and affixed the red cross to Elizabeth's!) And my other blessed friends swooped in and rescued me by helping to cobble together the rest of the costumes with things they had at home.
Once we made it through Wax Museum (times three), we had to do a landform project for Henry's 3rd grade class. The assignment read, "This will require parental involvement." It also required a whopping three pounds of salt to make the formation.
And so it is, Charlie and I, and Henry, spent the better part of three evenings making, shaping, painting, and labeling this landform model.
The landform project was no sooner turned in, and Henry's science fair project was due. Now science fair applications came out in December, and when Henry first showed me the solicitation, he was SO EXCITED to participate. It was absolutely his idea.
There was to be no grade awarded - not even extra credit would be assigned. Participation was entirely voluntary. But Henry wanted in. So we came up with an idea that he could test, and he submitted the application in December. It was accepted.
And then Christmas came and whenever prompted if he wanted to get a jump start on his science fair project, Henry would respond, "Science Who?"
So it is, this past weekend - four days before the project was due, we brought Henry out to "the field" so that he could collect soil samples for his experiment.
Then we spent time testing his experiment - which was to understand if soil type had any influence on the speed of groundwater flow.
OK yes. If you really must know. His two hydrogeologist parents may have helped slightly influence him in his selection of a project topic.
Nonetheless, after Henry collected his soil samples, evaluated how they transmitted water, labeled his journal, and drew a few pictures … it was bedtime.
It was Sunday night when Charlie and I sent him to bed and then decided that since the project wasn't for a grade - nor extra credit - it was entirely a voluntary effort; we would help pull it (and a crossword), together.
This was our date night on Sunday night. Charlie and I, a bottle of red wine, and a tub of Modge Podge - making a 3rd grade science fair project while the Patriots won the AFC.
KEEPING THE LOVE, ALIVE!
When the kids got up on Monday morning, they took one look at the science fair project, and all gasped, "MOM! DAD! There is NO way a third grader made that!"
There's still some water in the fire hose - this weekend is the Pine Wood Derby. Charlie was planning to spend evenings this week, "helping" the children work on their cars (because every one wants to build and race one), but I'm optimistic he is going to swipe one from my "KEEP IT EASY" playbook.
If my prediction is correct, he'll be entering the award-winning "PWD" or "Pine Wood Derby Box Car" that was constructed in 15 minutes, a few years ago. After essentially seven years of Cub Scouts, and numerous pinewood derby cars constructed … the box car is still our favorite.
It's amazing the ingenuity that blossoms when you're pressed for time!