Feeding the world through a small Farmer’s Market!

Finally the Farmer’s Market is here and we are finishing up our products and labelling for the sale! From making and packaging our home-made granola,

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to creating labels for our custom felt creations! It was fully integrated learning this week.IMG_2497

Modelling their choices and planning for everyone to wear their headbands at the sale.IMG_2498

Finally the day arrived with some light rain and occasional downpours. Our spirits were not dampened by the weather though as we were so excited to see it all come together after months of planning and creating! Throughout the year we have focussed on global poverty issues with our children and in partnership with Food for the Hungry, we are planning to donate 100% of our  profits to support various  FH projects around the world.IMG_2591 IMG_2593 IMG_2595 IMG_2597

Almost as exciting as the market was the actual presentation of our funds at the FH office! We met the office staff and found out which countries FH is currently working in.

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We learned about their child sponsorship program and how little it takes to feed a child in the developing world.IMG_2736

The children were given prayer cards for the different projects so that they can continue to support FH in prayer and to be mindful of the work still to be done.IMG_2744

We watched a video of a welcome ceremony in Burundi and the graduation of a school project in Uganda!IMG_2756

We met Mr. H, the director of FH Canda…IMG_2759

… and E was a ready and confident spokesperson for our group in explaining to Mr. H why were were touring his office and what we had done to fundraise for their organization!IMG_2761

Ms. M had thoughtfuully created a shopping list with the kids using the FH gift catalogue and an interactive, sticker voting system. The children were able to present the funds we raised along with their choices of projects to support. Their top choices were building a school, and a surprising choice of latrines.(Perhaps not so surprising though if you look back at our lesson on the Ganges river in India, they were all appalled at the devastating health effects of poor sanitation!)IMG_2762

I am so proud of these kids and the way they have embraced their global community through learning and acts of service!

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Random Acts of Kindness

In our part of the world we have a long weekend in May to celebrate the birthday of England’s Queen Victoria. This is always a holiday that kicks off summer but due to the unpredictable climate in our region summer sometimes looks pretty grey and overcast! Not to be deterred we headed off to do some local exploring along the coast, however, to our surprise, the water was warm and the rain was more of a gentle mist and our kids decided that it qualified as swimming weather! IMG_2274IMG_2304 It turned out to be a beautiful day with outdoor adventure, cultural exploration (their first Korean barbeque) and family connecting! Bring on summer!

IMG_2338 The next day we attended a parade in a nearby historic community and enjoyed seeing the tangible development of modes of transportation. From the pioneer days of covered wagons and horses,

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IMG_2370 … to trucks and cars!

IMG_2358 The marching bands were in good supply as well and we talked about the different instruments and how important it is for the band to keep the correct tempo in order to march and play in unison.

IMG_2372 Following the parade we joined some friends to participate in another nearby community celebration of kindness. 10 years ago a local church started doing small renovation projects for families in need. Over the years this has developed into an Extreme Home Makeover program that is supported by the local churches and community to help one family in need each year improve their home and by extension their lives.

IMG_2397  This single mom and her two boys were living in a mould-infested bungalow with no way of dealing with the problems. The A-OK team completely stripped their house down to the studs and rebuilt it from the inside out! What a thrill to watch this family see their new home for the first time and to join with this community in showing support and love to one another!

IMG_2396 For the kids there were hot-dogs, cake, fire trucks to clamber about in…

IMG_2416 and most importantly, friends to share it with.

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The greatest commandment is this, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. – Matthew 22:38-39

Investigating India

I’m going to lump together 2 weeks of co-op so that we can get caught up again 🙂

Three weeks ago the children were introduced to the country of India. Sadly we were ill and had to stay home so if you want to see their first lesson here are the pics on our friend’s blog: Gathered In

Last week the children learned where India is on a map and some major features of the land and culture and various Indian traditions, such as the festival where they throw coloured powders on passer-bys and about the extent to which religion isin every aspect of Indian life. Ms. K wore a beautiful Sari and told the children about the spiritual and practical significance of the Ganges River complete with a great science lesson on water quality.  She began by discussing the religious customs and the importance of the Ganges as a sacred river to the Hindu people. The children learned that Hindu people bury their loved ones by laying the bodies on a floating pallet and setting them on fire and letting them float down the Ganges river. Ms. K took clear water and then slowly added in other liquids and solids to represent what kinds of things are in the water of the river. She explained that India does not have sewage treatment and people use the river as a toilet. She also showed the industry and pollution that affects the river and finally she told the children that people bathe in and drink this water… ewwwww!

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This week we finished our time in India. Sadly after 4 weeks of South Africa I would have loved to spend more time on India as well but the year is running out on us so this week we wrapped up as much as we could.

In circle time, Ms. M played a fun game with the kids to figure out the virtue they were learning about.

This was a variation of hangman with these cute little people getting closer to the water with each missed letter.
Such pondering and brainstorming going on until finally that a ha moment arrived! 
And here we have G showing her incredible printing as she fills in the answer.
 
Today’s verse: Colossians 3:20
And the joyful singing as our kids imprint the scripture upon their minds and hearts!
 The children also practised their skip counting as they added up the money earned at the booth we set up at the homeschool convention. We sold soup mixes and bath salts as part of our initiative to raise money for Food for the Hungry. (We are setting up a booth at a local farmers market next weekend where we hope to sell the rest of our products!)
 We followed circle time with our lesson in Indian Dance. The song we danced to was called Po Po from the Sons of Sardaar soundtrack or on itunes the album was called Top 25 Songs of 2012 (Bollywood). 
This was our “lotus hands” movement where we took 4 side steps as we held up our arms up and out with middle fingers touching thumbs something approximating that 🙂
 And the slithering snake movement 
 This one wasn’t in our dance but it was so fun to do that we learned it anyways, we called it the “catch me” movement. 
 I love these happy faces when we learn. 
 Next Ms. K showed the kids different way children in India get to school. It was fun for the kids to think about riding to school in a rickshaw or on a camel! 
After that great book we learned about the different climate in India. The children discussed their feelings about the rain and how we react to the sunny hot days of spring and summer. Ms. K showed us a video of people dancing to welcome the monsoons and used a beautiful story about Monsoons to demonstrate the contrast of Indian feelings about weather to our own experiences. We learned that Indian people are joyful and excited when the monsoons come and even though it rains for weeks and weeks they are happy because the rain brings relief from the heat and feeds their animals and crops.
 Another time of body learning before recess as Ms. K taught the children the following yoga poses: tree, cow, cat and… 
 …downward dog. 
 Then during recess the children used the new positions to play yoga tag! (Like freeze tag but with yoga positions. )
 We are loving this sunny weather!!!
After recess Ms. K finished the morning with a mini-lesson on the 7 continents and a map of India. The children learned a song with the names of all the continents and brainstormed ways to recognize the shape of India on a world map or even just a map showing the continent of Asia. They used words like “ice-cream cone”, “pizza” and “upside down mountain to describe the shape of the country.
 Using the whiteboard and a guide map, they marked out significant landmarks such as the Himalayas, Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and the capital city of New Delhi. 
That was co-op this week and our last look at India. I can’t wait for our next co-op travel adventure! 🙂

Getting creative and doing the Craft Factory

In co-op this week we talked briefly about South Africa again and the social inequality that exists there. To continue with our social justice/ global action project we set up our craft factory again to make felt accessories to sell.

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After working hard to create headbands, broaches, bow-ties and super hero wristbands it was time for a break and the kids played some favourite games outside for recess.

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After recess we came in to do a literature lesson on making predictions. I had left a note in our circle area and when we gathered I read it aloud to the kids. “Dear Co-op kids, I came by to deliver a special parcel from South Africa that looks very yummy, but since you weren’t here I hid it somewhere for you. Ms. C knows the hiding place and will answer your questions to give you clues and help you find it. Happy Hunting. Love the mailman.” Before they could look for the parcel I told them we needed to practise our detective skills and see if we could make predictions using our prior knowledge. I had stapled several paper lunch bags closed with common objects hidden inside and a simple clue about the object on the outside. Each bag was passed around and the children were able to examine it by shape, weight and the clue to try and figure out what was inside.IMG_1554 IMG_1553

They wrote their predictions down in their journals then after passing the bag to each person we opened it up and revealed the item.

IMG_1366They loved the game and were so excited when I said that their detective skills seemed ready for the big parcel hunt. Apparently the “mailman” underestimated their sleuthing skill because one clue and approximately 3 seconds later they found a package of candy sent to us by our SA friends in a previous parcel!IMG_1370

So with a big candy finish that was our Monday at co-op!

Lamb, Lion, Saviour – Reflections of Faith

This is a departure from my usual format of school-focussed blog entries. As I was writing our March entry the metaphor below kept tickling my mind and heart and I just had to write about it 🙂

A final reflection on Easter and the explanation for my title. It is one of those years that Easter showed up in March but given the whole Lamb and Lion imagery used to describe March weather I think it’s a fitting metaphor for Easter.

At Easter we often talk about Jesus the lamb of God, slain to take away the sins of the world. I love this image of Jesus as heart rending as it is. It grabs my emotions and says “do not forget how innocent he was and how cruel his death was!” That being said, I think we need to see him as the Lion of Judah image within the Lamb as well. How brave and incredibly noble was his death! How bold his claim, and how deep his faith.

Jesus faced down a world of sins present, past and future and suffered unimaginably so that we could claim salvation. I don’t want to get into any debates with you about whether or not we are sinful – spend time with a 2 year old answer that one for yourself 🙂 The Father sacrificed his son for the rest of his human creation and yet time and time again we refuse this amazing grace! This gift freely given so that we might know true love. Why do we respond with cynicism and mockery? Why are we afraid to embrace this unfathomable truth?

As Easter is now past tense, we are even less likely to ponder on these things but in this tiny corner of the blogosphere I hope to encourage you and remind you that God’s love for us is AMAZING, AWESOME and AVAILABLE to all!

I serve a risen saviour,

AMEN!

Crafting, Patterning and Play

This week we had another look at our littles in their play zone. They have so much fun together!

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We are so blessed to have the talent and ministry of Ms. K and Ms. J working with our littles each week. We can see the love they have for our kids and our children love them in return! 

 

Ms. M wore a beautiful African dress and is continuing to focus on the virtue of truth and introduced an African fable about selfishness.  She did an African song with the children which they loved! 
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The children were able to play with their Jacob’s ladders again and spent some time placing stickers on them to mark the steps when doing tricks. 
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Then a wonderful surprise today with a special puppet theatre and loads of puppets! We continued our African literature study learning about various fables and the lessons that were being presented in them.  The children then split into groups to do a puppet show that taught a lesson, using African animal puppets.

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And our Actors in training took turns putting on shows for the group. 
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Here is our lovely audience showing their attentive listening!
 
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Some of us got very excited during the performance. 🙂

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For recess today Ms. S and Ms. M took advantage of the dry weather and took the group to the park for playground time and snack.

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Everyone loves the playground!
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After recess, Ms. S presented  a variety of examples of African geometric patterns and instructed the children to decorate their own African birdhouse with geometric patterns. We modelled our work after the artwork in the book African Animals ABC’s.  The children each worked on a miniature bird house using these techniques.  They were incredibly focussed working for over half an hour straight.)
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Here’s an independent inquiry to do with your children: look up pictures of African villages. These little houses look very similar to the grass and stick roofed homes found in the more rural/ traditional African villages. 

The children really embraced this project and we saw great diversity in their choice of patterns and colours! While they were colouring Ms. S read them the story of the Greedy Zebra – E really enjoyed retelling her brothers the story, she thought it was pretty funny. 

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One thing we are really proud of is how our children are becoming encouragers.  We have modelled walking around to gain inspiration from one another’s art work and pointing out the great thing that each child is doing.  Today we heard so many encouraging comments and compliments that were unsolicited by us, and were so uplifting to the students.

For closing circle Ms. M had the kids review all their memory verses from the past months. It was great to see their joy and pride in singing all the verses and seeing that they had learned  so many! 

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 If I as an earthly parent am filled with joy at these moments, how much more is our father in heaven delighted by the love our children are developing for him!!

 

Ubuntu! Bringing African philosophy around the World

This week our co-op travelled to South Africa! We had a display featuring some African arts, crafts and animals to set the stage for our journey and the word of the day was: UBUNTU
Ubuntu is a Zulu word that does not translate directly into English. The best definition I found was: “we are all family, belonging to God.” You see, Ubuntu is a concept rather than a word and this concept means that one person should never do something selfish because it would impact another member of their community negatively, or even better one can say that this word translates to “love your neighbour as yourself!” What a great summary of all the wonderful virtues are children are learning this year!

In circle time this week the children talked about the virtue of Honesty and Ms. M & Ms. C role-played a demonstration how even silence can be dishonest if you do not speak the truth when needed. Bible verse this week: Proverbs 12:19

 
We had a fantastic slide show from some far away friends telling us all about their life in South Africa and some special treats that they sent for us to enjoy! 
RECESS! With the glorious sunshine we spent about 20 minutes outside getting our vitamin D and practising our South African sports – soccer! We also learned about Cricket and had a brief discussion of how Rugby is played but due to the rather violent nature of Rugby opted to stick with soccer 🙂

In our discussion we talked about poverty in South Africa and as a hands-on experience of the innovations people can come up with, we played with a “ball” made from plastic grocery bags and string. We encouraged the children to think about how they can reuse things they have in their house for new purposes and hope you will all be upcycling all kinds of interesting things! 🙂 Please share pics and stories of any creations you make!!

Some observations after comparing the real soccer ball with our home-made one were: it doesn’t roll away too far, it is lighter and more fun to kick and easier to control. A great tool perhaps for teaching younger children some kicking skills without spending all your time corralling the ball! 🙂
 
After recess we learned about the African tradition of weaving and the children created their own book-covers and baskets.
 
 
Instructions for weaving the basic mat:
 
1) Using a piece of card-stock, fold in half and cut from the middle toward the edges stopping the cut about 2 cm from the edge of the paper.
2) Repeat all the way down so you have a folded piece of paper with a rows of slits going from top to bottom.
3) Taking strips of paper scraps weave them between the rows in an over-under-over-under pattern until each strip is fed all the way through.
4) Repeat this action with another strip of paper reversing the order from the previous piece (ie: under-over-under-over…)
5) Continue feeding strips through the slots in an alternating order and wiggle strips over until they are quite snug to each other and you have filled the page
6) Glue all the loose ends to the card then trim off any excess paper
 The kids were focussed and really industrious with creating these beautiful pieces!
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 The skills in this activity were patterning (MATH), Three-dimensional art with found materials, paper craft, (ART), and great fine motor skill development (PE).


 
Instructions for turning your woven mat into a basket:
 
2) Figure out how tall the sides will be (ie, does the child want a taller/narrower basket or a wider/shallower one?)
2) fold the edges over to show where the sides will be
3) carefully cut in from each end to make three sections, and try not to cut along an existing slot rather cut just over on the card stock as it will be stronger
4) taking the outer flaps, you should be able to pull them toward the center and over lap them to create a 3d square. Glue the 2 outer flaps together
5) Lift the 3rd middle flap and glue it to the other two flaps creating the outside “cap” piece to the basket (you can also staple them)
6) repeat on the other side and you should now have an open basket without a handle
7) to make the handle take an extra strip of cardstock and glue a strip of paper on the outside or colour to decorate
8) Cut a small slit in each end
9) put one side of the slit on the inside of the basket and one on the outside then glue, tape or staple it to the base
10) repeat on the other side and your basket should be done!


Next, as part of our ARTs PLOs; (create movement sequence based on patterns, move safely in both personal space and general space, move in a variety of levels, move in time to a variety of rhythms), Ms. C taught the children the beginning steps of the African Gumboot Dance. Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdvD5E4rZoE
Gumboot Dance Breakdown:
 
1) Quick hopping step of RIGHT – LEFT- RIGHT
2) cross right leg behind left and slap the sole of the right foot with your left hand
3) slap left thigh – right thigh – stomp right foot down – clap hands
 
do the above sequence 3 times then transition with the hop step (1) to the next move
 
4) criss cross arms while kicking right leg up and shout HA!
5) criss cross arms kicking left leg up and shouting HA!’
6) kick right leg and clap under knee while shouting HA! 

The tradition of this dance comes from men working in the mines and shuffling in and out of the tunnels while slapping out a marching rhythm on their gumboots!

 
We also learned some other South African words today: “a monkey’s wedding” – raining when it’s sunny, “robot”- a traffic light, and “Mbube”- lion
 
We played a game at the end of our lesson called Mbube, Mbube where 2 children were blindfolded while the rest formed a circle around them. One child was the lion and the other was the antelope.  The kids would say Mbube Mbube softly if the lion was far away from the antelope and louder as the lion got closer. The lion’s job was to catch the antelope while the antelope could try to hide  or keep away. They all enjoyed the game and loved switching roles and taking turns being in the centre! 
That was our day at co-op! The rest of the week looks to be good so stay tuned for more home learning adventures!