The Middle Kids have been learning about the ancient civilizations of the Maya, the Inca, and the Aztec. Today we learned how important precious stones like jade, turquoise and malachite were to the Aztecs. This jade (or turquoise) serpent is one of the most iconic symbols of Aztec art. The kids started creating their own jade serpents today!
This week the Middle Kids worked on the process of writing true paragraphs. We learned all about the Earth’s moon, and then they each wrote a complete paragraph in true hamburger form – an introductory sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion sentence. These kids did a fantastic job!
The Middle Kids are working on a cool planet project! Today they worked on scratching through a layer of black paint to reveal the beautiful colors underneath. The goal is a representation of the planets in the solar system.
The Middle Kids have moved on to a new unit of study – Westward Expansion. We will be learning all about the lives of people who ventured west of the Mississippi River in the 1800’s. Our study begins with a close look at The Louisiana Purchase. This was a deal made between President Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte. For a mere $15,000,000 Jefferson purchased the land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains – essentially doubling the size of the United States at the time. It is still known as one of the best real estate deals in history! Jefferson hired Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an expedition into this unknown territory, in hopes of finding a Northwest passage to the Pacific, establishing relationships with the native tribes, and record as many new plants, animals, and natural features as they could along the way.
To record all of the cool information we are learning, the Middle Kids have created journals that we are calling “Field Guides of Discovery.” We made them from “doe skin” and tea stained paper so that they look quite authentic. Then we sewed all the pages together with string. They are now ready to be filled with information, starting with a list of supplies that Lewis and Clark took on their epic journey.
Let’s face it – working collaboratively with a partner takes patience. It can be frustrating! It can even be downright infuriating! However, out in the “real world”, in almost every occupation and relationship that exists, we are faced with working collaboratively with others. Children must learn to do this to be successful. This is exactly why we often do projects in Middle Kids that involve working collaboratively with another student or two.
This week in Middle Kids we have tasked pairs of students to find answers to various questions within a stack of nonfiction books. We call this our “Nonfiction Scavenger Hunt.” Learning to use nonfiction books is also part of our reading program. They are practicing using the features of nonfiction books such as the table of contents, the index, charts and diagrams, and headings and subheadings to locate the answers.
Book Talks are one way that we check comprehension in our Reader’s Workshop program. After finishing a book, students write Book Talks to try to “sell” the book to the other kids in class. There are 3 parts to a good Book Talk: “The Hook” – getting the audience interested, “The Summary” – a brief retelling of the story, and “The Cliffhanger” – leaving the audience hanging so that they want to read the book!
The kids had a blast playing in the first snow of the season today!
Deserts and Reptiles
The Middle Kid students have been exploring the many types of deserts. They have been learning about the climate, precipitation, and inhabitants of each type. They have been working on illustrating the types of deserts and giving descriptions.
The Middle Kids did their first recitation of the year on Friday. Their job was to choose 5 items that are so special to them that they would want to bring them into the after life. They wrote about their items in 5-8 sentences, describing them and telling why they are special. Then they had their first chance to stand in front of the class and speak. Public speaking skills are something we work on all year in Middle Kids. We talk about posture, eye contact, voice volume and engaging the audience. We still hear from some of our alumni that they felt they did a good job in speech classes in higher grades because of the early start they got at Rivendell.
Into The Afterlife!
The kids continued working on their pyramid projects today. They are creating a clay sarcophagus, canopic jars, and other items to put into their pyramid “tombs.”
Juicy tidbit of information: Along with a mummy enclosed inside a sarcophagus, an Egyptian burial tomb included 4 canopic jars which contained 4 mummified body organs. The canopic jars were adorned with the heads of the 4 sons of Horus. The four jars were: Imsety which had a human head and carried the liver. Qebehsenuf which had a falcon’s head and carried the intestines. Hapy which had the head of a baboon and carried the lungs. And Duamatef which had the head of a jackal and carried the stomach.