It is always interesting when you hit a week in school where your child is more excited about the subject material than you are, and I would definitely put Africa week into that category. Aria loved focusing on animals and several of the habitats you can find in Africa, while I was more excited about our Egypt and African culture day. Overall, the week was fun and successful, but I just wasn’t as excited to do school each day as Aria was.
When planning out the week, I picked a different subject for each day. Monday, we learned about the desert in Africa, Africa as a continent, and animals of the desert. That transitioned well to Tuesday, when we covered Egypt as we could use the desert box for practicing archaeology and finding Egyptian artifacts among the pyramids. Wednesday, we focused on African culture and did loads of crafts. Thursday we read folk tales and made up our own folk tales. And Friday was the African Savannah and animals we find there. I felt like organizing our week this way gave our learning a very clear structure. Unfortunately, it leant us more towards learning animals and cultures than the specific names of countries, so I may rethink the structure of the unit next year.
From Desert Day, our most successful activities was probably painting with colored desert sand (sand I dyed with different food dyes and shook in baggies to mix the color), with a desert sensory box a close second. Both girls really got into both, and buying a Safari Toob of desert animals last year was a really great investment for this unit. They also loved the cactus flower counting activity and making a beaded snake. Though Skylar is too little to do these activities really well, she loved being able to take part and try her hand at all of the sensory activities with her big sister. The weekend prior to this unit, we were able to go to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, where we were able to wander through a Desert room where they had loads of plants from African deserts. It was awesome getting to study the desert right after seeing a physical example in person!
Egypt day was my absolute favorite day, and I think that the girls had a blast too. We face painted using an Egyptian face paint and necklace kit and wore that to our library time later in the morning! We made pyramids multiple ways and built a pyramid out of sugar cubes only to melt it later with hot water and talk about solids to liquids. The biggest hit of the day, though, was mummifying a superhero we owned and surrounding his body with “wealth” (aka jewels that we own).
African culture day was a fun look into the village life of different African communities. We made “mud houses” out of construction paper, painted mud cloth, made masks and necklaces, and even played a math game. The coolest activity of the day, though, was making a sensory table with different spices for the girls to mash and transfer along with a place to practice weaving. We also made South African “crunchies,” which were very reminiscent of Nature Valley granola bars but easier to eat. The girls loved them!
We did folk tale day on the day Skylar had her weekly preschool prep class so that we would have a quieter environment to read all of the folk tales we wanted to read. We mostly focused on Anansi and his stories. I had planned to do crafts but ended up running out of time because Aria decided she wanted to do a lot in her Math U See book and I was super happy to oblige! But before we got Skylar we set up a puppet show and Aria told me a few of her own folk tales with her puppet box.
Our last day was the African Savannah. This was a hard day to get through because the girls weren’t very focused and so I wasn’t able to do some of the fun activities I wanted to do because it took us so long to get through the basics before getting to our themed unit. But the girls love animals and so simply playing with the animals in their box and matching them to pictures was fun, the giraffe science experiment was easy and turned out well, and Aria really enjoyed some of the worksheets I printed out for her to do.
After this week, I’ve decided I need a little bit of a rest from continent units before moving to the next, as they aren’t easy to plan or implement. So, we are going to switch it up and do the human body this week, which is always fun and I already have loads of materials for! Hopefully, I’ll get rejuvenated and in three weeks be ready to rock again. But, I will say, Aria really, really loves these units and can’t wait to learn about doing a new continent so even though I may be worn down, the work has been absolutely worth it and I hope it is for you too!
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Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.