This week is our first week with Classical Conversations. My eldest just turned five and is not ready for kindergarten but eager to learn so we’re trying it out. Having graduated from and taught at a Classical Christian school I’ve been curious about this homeschool spin off. What better way to learn than to participate? The kids loved their first day at school and can’t wait until next week – so so far so good!
Cycle 1 Week 1 includes memorizing the classification of living things as well as learning the “Oils.” “Oils,” (the word is actually a picture) are the five basic shapes of drawing as taken from Mona Brookes, “Drawing with Children.” In order to help explain what classifying is I came up with a sorting game that uses the letters in the first few lessons of Sigfied Engelmann’s “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”
First I printed out all the letters and made enough for three children. I explained how we were going to classify the letters. First we put all the letters into the largest bucket. Next I asked them to look through these letters and find any that had a curved line. Two of the kids even got into a tussle about whether or not the lowercase letter “t” had a curve at the bottom. I reminded them to each make their own decision about their own letters and then told them that scientists also sometimes disagree when classifying living things. (I wanted to say that when grown-ups disagree about sorting through where animals go they don’t yell at each other but know that’s not true!) The next bucket (which looks like it’s a no-smoking bucket) was for letters with no straight lines. Finally came letters that were a circle shape. The game was a huge hit. This along with a little handout of a picture of bears that I showed them helped make a bit more sense out of the terms we are memorizing this week.
The idea to include sandpaper letters came from Elizabeth G. Hainstock’s “Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years.” And yes, I know that these two educational philosophies of intense memorization on the one hand and self guidance by sensory experience on the other are polar opposites. I’m looking for via media.