Sunday, December 26, 2010

Look at that – it's the New Year around the corner!

Well I think that it is – or else my TV is airing cartoons with a baby in a diaper and top hat riding a reindeer out of season... Lem'me check my calender. Yep, it's closing in on the New Year!

So where does that baby as a symbol of the New Year come from? Turns out the Greeks used it as far back as some time before 600 BC... it was the celebration of the rebirth of the god Dionysus who had evidently partied to hard just before the new year and had regressed to infantile behavior as an after effect... No? Well it sounded good here. Actually it was to celebrate his rebirth as the spirit of fertility. For the Egyptians – they used a baby as a symbol of fertility and the new year as well, so I guess Rankin and Bass were just trying to cash in on an existing myth...

Here in America we have a few traditions that give an opportunity to engage your students while teaching them. The Tournament of Roses Parade that was a mainstay in my childhood for New Years Day and is the same for my children dates back to 1886. In that year, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California. Playing football afterward was introduced in 1902 and replaced with chariot races until 1916, where we've had the football game played since. Learning about the parade and it's history gave a window in my childhood to learn so much more about the region and encompassed every subject that school could offer. Math, Art, Science, History, Social Studies, Language … it all could be done wrapped around that parade. has a number of interesting New Years traditions and myths, and will be a read for us as we prepare for our New Year.

What about you?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Some learning activities are better than others

So today we took some time to investigate various online curricula for the kids. I can say that without a doubt some of the online early education curricula are appreciated more than others by my two youngsters.

I am on twitter a bunch, and can be found looking at posts for online curriculum sources made by others, and checking them out. I think I've signed up for accounts at at least a half dozen to maybe a dozen sites and I have to say I couldn't tell you off the top of my head of those that were less memorable than others. I do have my munchkin rating system though – is something thumbs up or thumbs down. Right now, this mom is in the dog house as yesterday's experiment yielded a double dose of thumbs down from both kids. To make up for it we are visiting the National Geographic website as well as sites from BBC and exploring Christmas houses that light up with music programmed in syncopation with the patterns of the lights.

Do they need to know that this little lesson in electricity is also part of their education?

Well I won't tell if you don't.