Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Before and after the Magna Carta

Before we jumped into a full blown study of the Magna Carta, we visited several places associated with King John.  First was Old Sarum, which King John once had a new hall built.

We walked around the whole site, surveyed the ruins and were fascinated by how much changes took place at the site since the Iron Age.

We wanted to learn more about the character of King John and the circumstances that led to the signing of the Magna Carta, so we played the King John: The Decision-Making Game.  Tiger enjoyed this activity very much as it gave him an insight into both situational factors as well as personality considerations that determined how anyone (in this case, King John) makes decisions.

We also discussed the importance of reading different sources and contrasting interpretations of historical accounts before making our own minds up about historical events and characters.  This view is supported by reading this particular article that suggests an alternative view to the usual 'bad King John' that almost everyone has of him.

Following our visit to Salisbury Cathedral where we saw one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, Tiger read through the book that gave a full translation and interpretation of the document:

Then we spent a long time looking through the resources on the Magna Carta available from the British Library, where two of the four copies are kept.

We also had a good read here which details the history of the Magna Carta.  The map is particularly useful in showing the significance of various places in the UK in relation to the document.

Not all was peaceful after signing the Magna Carta, as shown by the Key Magna Carta Battles.  Battles and warfare are the parts that interest Tiger the most, so we watched the following clip about the Battle of Bouvines:

King John also besieged the Rochester Castle in 1215, shortly after signing the Magna Carta.  The siege is described below:

We visited it to see for ourselves the structure of the castle as well as how the siege would have occured there:

Another castle siege was at the Dover Castle in 1216-1217.   Once again, we were able to visit this magnificent and historically significant castle to understand its structure and design.

The following documentary tells us more about the defence structure of Dover Castle:

A well researched and well illustrated book to learn about castle is the following:

Just out of curiostiy, we thought we would find out what King John's castle looked like:

To conclude, Tiger did narration and map work from the following books:

and read a few supplementary stories relating to the House of Angevin in the following books:

This post is linked up to:
1) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter 
2) Hearts for Home Blog Hop #6
3) History and Geography Meme # 64
4) Homeschool Mother's Journal: March 1, 2013
5) Hobbies and Handicrafts - March 1
6) Collage Friday - Sharks, Titanic, and Handel
7) TGIF Linky Party #65
8) It's a Wrap
9) Creative Learning Link Up #4
10) Weekly Wrap-Up: The Strangely Bittersweet One
11) Share it Saturday - Dr. Seuss Features
12) The Sunday Showcase - 3/2/13
13) Hip Homeschool Hop - 3/5/13

It is featured on Share It Saturday!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Manet: Still LIfe and Portraits

We did our usual study at home using postcards and printouts of a few of Manet's work as well as looking through the collection here.

Once again, we relied on documentaries to (1) tell us more about the man himself (caution: both clips contain artistic nudity):

and (2) understand one of his masterpieces a little bit better:

After watching the documentaries, we decided to set up a simple still life.  Tiger first did an observational sketch in pencil:

We melted broken crayon pieces that we have saved over the years in a muffin tin, and Tiger used a Q-tip to apply the melted crayons on his sketch.  He had to work fast as the crayons solidified very quickly.

After this step, Tiger switched to using tempera paint to complete the background of his work:

Here is Tiger's masterpiece:

I often tag along in Tiger's activities, especially in art, so I did a sketch using ballpoint pen then painted it in watercolour.  Still life is more difficult than I had imagined.

Then we went to see the Manet exhibition and attended a portraiture workshop at the Royal Academy of Arts.

After going around the exhibition looking at Manet's masterly brush strokes, we headed to the workshop room to participate in a preliminary exercise to help us loosen up and to understand how brush strokes work.  We were each given three brushes of varying sizes and a black-and-white copy of Manet's work.

We were to use only black acrylic paint to copy the still life photo in 5 minutes.   No prelimiary sketches; paint directly with the brushes.  It was hard!

Tiger's version
My version
Next we repeated the exercise using black and white acrylic paint.  Again in 5 minutes.

Tiger's version
My version
Finally, we were given 8 minutes to paint a portrait of someone famous, using black, white and blue paint.  We were given photos of five famous people to choose from.  Tiger chose pirates:

Here is his interpretation of the man on the left in the photo above:

I chose a local politician's glamourous wife.  I was just building up my painting to a recognisable stage when the 8 minutes were up.  Oh well.

This post is linked up to:
1) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter 
2) Hearts for Home Blog Hop #5
3) Homeschool Mother's Journal: February 22, 2013
4) Hobbies and Handicrafts - Feb 22
5) Collage Friday - Family, History, and More
6) TGIF Linky Party #64
7) It's a Wrap
8) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the Busy Break Week
9) Share it Saturday - Feb 23
10) The Sunday Showcase - 2/23/13
11) Hip Homeschool Hop - 2/26/13
12) Virtual Refrigerator

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Playing with numbers

Every now and then, Tiger and I get slightly bored by how maths is done at home and both of us want to make changes to how we do maths.  It seems that we have come to a point where I am comfortable with Tiger's grasp of the fundamental concepts in elementary maths that we can afford to be more adventurous in taking detours from our usual maths routine.

Rather than playing random maths games (nothing wrong with that), I am inclined to take a thematic route in this area.

We started with the topic of "numbers".  The first activity we did was to make a number chart puzzles.  This was intended to help cement the concept of consecutive whole numbers.

First I printed off a number chart of whole numbers from 1 to 100, and had Tiger block out different sections with coloured pencils (to be cut out later) to make the puzzle.

The first one with consecutive whole numbers was too easy, so we did another in multiples of 10.

That was just warm-up.  Next, we played all the games found on this page.  These games were fun refreshers for Tiger in the concepts of multiples and odd and even.  His favourite game was Read My Mind.

Tiger and I found more challenges and satisfaction at solving maths puzzles that require a combination of different skills, which involve mathematical thinking as well as visualisation skills.  The four puzzles we worked through together were:

1. Make 37 (main concept: odd and even numbers)

2. Mystery Matrix (main concept: multiplication)

3. Consecutive Numbers (main concept: addition and subtraction)

4. Magic Vs (main concept: odd and even numbers)

We love these maths games!  They tend towards the abstract side of mathematics, which helps if you have strong maths foundation and visualisation skills.  Manipulatives don't work so well to solve such puzzles.  Additionally, it is also a very involved process for parent and child in that we would discuss, debate, and argue about how we would approach the problem, before solving it together.  Discussion is a big part of the learning process for such puzzles (at least in our case), so I don't think these puzzles will be as effective without parental involvement.  We find the process to be very interesting and mutually beneficial in that Tiger can apply his intuitive problem-solving skills while I can observe and learn more about the way he thinks, which is very different from my thinking process.

Tiger can pretty much hold his own in our maths discussions now due to his strong intuitive and visualisation skills in solving maths problems, while I bring logic and methodology to the table.  So far, this has worked very well for us.

Another number game that Tiger has taken an interest in is Sudoku.  He takes the book with him and solves a few puzzle on the go each time we are out and about.

This post is linked up to:
1) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter 
2) Hearts for Home Blog Hop #5
3) Homeschool Mother's Journal: February 22, 2013
4) Hobbies and Handicrafts - Feb 22
5) Collage Friday - Family, History, and More
6) TGIF Linky Party #64
7) It's a Wrap
8) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the Busy Break Week
9) Share it Saturday - Feb 23
10) The Sunday Showcase - 2/23/13
11) Math Monday Blog Hop #88
12) Hip Homeschool Hop - 2/26/13
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