Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grade 4, Winter Term, Norse Mythology Week 2 ~ They Can't Get Enough

We are humming along with our Norse Mythology block. The boys love it ~ we're talking a grand slam here! They love the stories; right now we are reading from:

D'Aulaires Norse Gods and Giants (it is out-of-print, but has been reprinted as D'Aulaires Book of Norse Myths)
Leif the Lucky (D'Aulaire)
Children of the Northlights (D'Aulaire) (a wordy picture book)
Children of the Soil: A Story of Scandinavia by Nora Burglon and E. Parin D'Aulaire (out of print and hard to find)
Thor's Wedding Day by Bruce Coville
The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum

We already owned the Colum book, and were able to borrow D'Aulaires Norse Gods and Giants, Children of the Northlights, Odd and the Frost Giants, and Thor's Wedding Day from the library. Unfortunately our city library had "lost" their copy of Leif the Lucky (post it being returned) and neither the county library system nor the university library had a copy. I purchased that and tracked down a reasonably priced copy of Children of the Soil: A Story of Scandinavia.

Children of the Soil: A Story of Scandinavia has been a surprise hit. It follow the story of two poor crofter/farmer siblings and is set well in the past. In many ways it reminds me of The Seven-Year-Old Wonder Book with its focus on the simple lives these children live. Not that it segues into fairy tales, but the first story did involve a tomte.

I am reading some of the books out loud (such as the Burglon book, which is quite old and fragile), and others are being given as assigned reading. Odd and the Frost Giants has proven so popular that the boys both read it during their free time as well. They moved on to Thor's Wedding Day on their own and I realized how easy it is have them read independently when they like the material I have chosen.

Strewing the Path is an unschooling concept that involves the parents bringing items into the home that they think may spark something in their children. For instance, if a child expresses an interest in lightening the parent may bring home a book or kit on electricity. Implicit in radical unschooling is the idea that the child may not choose to use what has been strewn; indeed, some might say that any encouragement at all is coercive. I sure as heck wouldn't say that; we all need encouragement sometimes.

Each month before we start our main lesson block I head to the library by myself and take my time exploring the available books. Some of the books will be used directly in our lesson work and some of the books are chosen for strewing. This month I brought home a few children's books on fractions; we don't start our fraction block until next month, but I have seen the boys paging through the books. I see no reason to shroud fractions in mystery until the block begins; heck, I know my children have been using fractions since they were toddlers, beginning with 1/2, the first fraction that has meaning to a child. We have also worked with fractions organically when using the Miquon materials.

I am using Live Education's Norse Myths book to guide the block planning and to provide the verses that we are using both for copy work and memorization. The boys are loving memorizing a verse and performing it with swords. At first I was surprised, but then I remembered that I started memorizing poetry at school at pretty much the same age.

1 comment:

Tan Family said...

Norse Myths are really amazing...very different energy from Greek and Roman. Our family enjoyed finding Yggdrasil trees everywhere we go! The Live Ed. part sounds wonderful. We also love D'Aulaires book. Enjoy!!