Our Town Together

Homeschooling lends itself to such rich learning.  It's the kind of learning that I can get lost in.  The kind where time lines are chucked in the trash and concepts like quality & content are just the best river stones you want to rub over and over in your hands.  In the fall, the boys and I learned about community.  We read books about parts of a community, discovered different types of communities and examined more of how a community is made based on location and job opportunities.  As an educator,   I have always struggled with pigeon holing learning and memorizing facts. As in, I have a hard time making them narrow cities and communities into areas considered rural, suburban and urban.  Perhaps it's because I, myself, am unsure of just what constitutes a suburban town.  We live in a town just 30 minutes from a big city in Tennessee, and our town is anything but suburban.  Our town is rural with a capital "R".
And, I guess, what I want the boys to gather most from my time as their teacher is knowledge not facts. I want them to have a devout curiosity for learning and observing.  I know that facts are important, moreover, that they are a necessary part of making life easier.  We are on that too.  Fact families are drilled. Reciprocal processes are enforced.  Time tables are tested.  But, before all of that, I gotta know that they know the process and the why behind it.  Teaching Eli his multiplication tables in 1st grade was so much easier to facilitate as he was the one who observed that addition could be grouped and counted.  Once he had this discovery, it was simply the best next step to show him grouping and multiplication.  I cared not that he was 6 or in 1st grade.  He was ready because it made sense to him to learn a better way.  This is the joy of learning; this is the reason I love being their Mrs. Cobble.

For our community project, the boys and I decided to define our community.  We simply talked this out on our daily routines and routes that we drive.  What made their space theirs?  Eli was the first to state that cardinal directions were important for knowing where things were located.  Yeah, Casey and I could care less about which way was up.  So, cardinal directions were included for E-man.  Casey wanted the places we visit and use as a part of the project.  Particularly, the eating establishments we frequent.  The boy is sure to be in the entertainment/social job field, I have no doubt.  They both wanted to have  the elapsed time included to places they love to go nearby {Mom-Mom & Larro's house, Nana & Papaw's house, and Knoxville's sun sphere.}  We don't visit the sun sphere often, but they love to locate it when we are traveling west to see family in my hometown.  Plus, they love knowing that on our return home, there's just 32 minutes to our front door once they spot that sparkly copper ball in the sky.

They work brilliantly together on these collaborative projects.  The boys are so astutely aware of the other's strengths.  The same holds true for when they tackled this art piece.  Like bookends, they see a project through with nothing more than guidance, supply lugging and a few re-directions from me in between.
The boys made a list of the roads most traveled in their community, places that were necessary to their community {our bank, our church, police department, our grocery, our local hospital, the trash dump, nearby schools, etc.} It was important to Casey that the community center shaped like an octagon was included as that's where he attends gymnastics.
Eli wanted the rail road documented.  We, by no means, live as close to the tracks as we used in our old home, but  for Eli, either be it for nostalgia's sake or for the sake of proper documentation, the railroad was included.  As were the barns.  The boys have it on full authority that from our house to the turn off to Mom-Mom & Larro's, there are 69 barns.  We counted, remember?  Smoky Mountains were in there too, in addition to the surrounding counties and their names.
They drew with pencil and then used multi-mediums for final construction.  Acrylic paints, oil pastels, colored pencils and crayons did the job just right.  For further depth & detail, they went through magazines and cut out cool words/images that had meaning to our community.  Casey found a patriot in one magazine and could hardly wait to paste it on Daddy's football field they drew behind the high school.
Next, it was time to label.  The boys gave me their list with which I typed & printed only to give back to them.  They took turns typing each piece of their community on the computer.
Efficient Eli had the brilliant idea to highlight each word to signify its completion.  Where does he get this?

I was most impressed with both boys' ability to type.  Initially, I thought they would tire of this mundane process, and that I would be the one to finish the job.  Nope.  With efficiency, these 2 knocked out their list completely on their own.

Ahh, cutting and gluing.  So not my strong suit.  I would like to blame that on having right-handed scissors for the first 3 years of my left-handed education.  I find it funny that much of my profession as a designer is cutting.  E & C plowed through the snips chatting the entire time.
I really was quite concerned the gluing process would end in torn typed pieces to which would lead to major melt downs and disgruntled-ness.  Wrong again.  These 2 had about 40 labels to adhere to their canvas.  Only one was torn.  Wow.
The water/Mod Podge glue solution was like magic potion to them.  The delight they took in using angled sponges attached to sticks was such a treat to watch.  Casey got all over-gluey as he was "Bob Ross'n"  with his play-play verbal description of what he was doing each step of the way. Eli, the dictator, was quick to snap him back into proficiency in the world of adhering.
I mentioned in my end-of-the-month November review post that I had big plans for their community finished project. I framed their masterpiece and placed it in our kitchen in between the Dan Gibson painting I purchased from a local craft festival I attended this fall and the self portrait art pieces the boys did of themselves when they were just 5 and 3.  I have enough space to the left of their portraits for a narrow piece of art.  I would like it to be a piece Kenny & I create together.  My mind isn't concrete just yet on what that piece will be, but I look forward to watching the beauty of our piece unfold when just the right idea hits.
I adore their finished product.  I love it even more that it helps to define the composition of our home. I look at it everyday with pride as this piece is yet another symbol of the boys together and immersed in creating and collecting knowledge under their roof of home.  Together.  Immersed in collecting and sharing knowledge to create good in your space.  Sounds like the perfect community to me.
.mac :)
{week 51:  my 2 in 52}