Monday, February 11, 2008

Why I chose a literature-based, no-craft curriculum

For years we have used Sonlight Curriculum and loved it. And I still call myself a Sonlighter. But we have deviated so far from the SL Instructor's Guide (to the point we aren't even using it) that I feel a little fraudulent.

SL chooses all the best books for you, sells them to you in a complete, reasonably-priced package and provides math, language arts, science and some other extras should you choose to use them. Their booklists are top-notch and Rose Bud and I have enjoyed almost all of those we've read.

But this year (and to some extent last year, too) I have felt the need to reinvent the wheel. Maybe it's because the girls are a bit young for SL's Core 3 (American History, Part 1). Maybe it's because they are such different animals than Rose Bud.

Rose Bud THRIVED on SL's heavy schedule of reading and read-alouds (the books I read to her). Whenever I had the brilliant idea to toss in some hands-on craft or learning experiences, she balked and fussed and it was generally a poor experience for both of us.

Daisy and Pepper also love the reading, but they NEED hands-on like they need air to breathe. So this year I have put together my own American History curriculum based on their desires (Native Americans), a website with some great "younger" resources, and my library and a slew of craft books and kits.

So now my formerly pretty-messy house is most days taken over by crafts. We no longer eat at our dining room table because it is always covered in school.

Anyway, to relate back to today's blog title, here is why I initially chose a literature-based, no-craft curriculum:

Southwest Indian Clay MessSouthwest Indian Coil Pot Mess

I had the red Mexican air-drying pottery clay on hand (remnant of an expensive and little-used art curriculum I once had to have) only it was mostly hardened. So into a bucket of warm water it went and I stroked and caressed it back into softness. Or rather gloop. Because once I got enough clay off the block and retrieved it from the bottom of the bucket, it was a slithery mess. So I kneaded it (while the girls did math) and I squished it (while they did geography) and I scraped it off my counter and off my hands (while they ran off to play). Every half hour I poked it to see if it was dry enough to roll into snakes and then scraped it off my hands again.

Eventually, it was dry enough and the girls rolled out their snakes and made their pots, which are beautiful.

And then Daisy had a half-hour crying jag because I said her pot might fall apart if she didn't smooth the coils together, but she thought it was just right the way it was and hadn't I said it was beautiful, but yes, I also said it might fall apart and she didn't want it any more if it was going to fall apart but no-way was she making another one because she was tired of clay and I hurt her feelings by stating a simple fact. sigh.

On a positive note, all that clay has removed any dead skin that ever existed on my hands. Sort of like a free spa treatment, only with Sunshine dipping his fingers into the slurry and smearing red clay everywhere and the girls asking every 30 seconds if it was ready and Banana Boy demanding to "make one too!" So just like a spa only not relaxing. At all.

And this is why I chose Sonlight in the first place.

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