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Monday, May 25, 2009

Horse Unit Study (part 4) - Horse Breeds

We are slowly soaking up all we can from our readings and making minibooks for our Horse lapbook as we are gathering new information.

We have been reading about various horse breeds in Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry. The history of the more common breeds are described in well-written prose. The language used is a little too sophisticated for my eight-year-olds. Even I am unfamiliar with many words that were used :-b But the information given is just too fascinating to miss. So I tried to get round the language problem by reading just a paragraph or two, then stop to discuss about what we can gather from that section. Many inferences had to be made and this skill has yet to be honed. Only after the discussion did I get my boys to narrate (just that section) while I type it out. It was a very slow process but I think it was good training.

Here is what we gathered about the Arabs:

Type of Horse: Riding Horse

Country of Origin : Arabian Desert

Size: 14.2 – 15h

Colour : The Arab horses can be any colour but must have black skin underneath so that it can protect them from the sun’s ray.

Interesting Facts:

Arabian horses can survive on very little food. If there isn’t grass to graze on, they can eat dead locusts, bruised dates and dry herbs. Arabs are used for war. The Arabian fighters ride only the mares and they call them “Daughters of the Wind”.

The owners will always make sure that the mares mate with the best Arabian stallions so that the colt will be the best. The owners will let the horses drink camel milk even before their own family drinks. This is how well they treated their horses. The colts are given camel as stepmothers to nurse on.

There are two famous people who rode on Arabian horses. George Washington rode on an Arabian horse called Magnolia and Napoleon rode on one called Marengo.

Arabian horses have arched necks and high flung tails. Their bodies are slender. They are the oldest domesticated horse species in the world.

More of these little write-ups will be added into out lapbook as we continue to read about the other breeds. Although my boys wanted to read about ALL the breeds, I insisted that we at least first cover the Thoroughbreds, Shire, Lipizzan, Mustang, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse and Shetland Pony.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Good Books to Read Aloud for Art

A friend of mine (Thanks F!) shared a wonderful etext that will be a great resource for our future artist study - Knights of Art: Stories of Great Italian Painters by Amy Steedman.

I have known quite long ago of an art book by V. M. Hillyer. (He is the fantastic author of Child's History of the World and Child's Geography of the World!) I was intending to buy it secondhand. But because it is so good, the price is still high even when the books are old. I recently found a site that gives the etext of his book, A Child's History of Art.

I am now DANCING A JIG!!!

PS: If you have other good Art related books to recommend, please do leave a note here using the "comments" function. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Art : Jan van Eyck : Read Aloud

We are currently reading through Looking at Pictures: An Introduction to Art for Young People by Joy Richardson . My plan is let the chapter on "Hidden Meanings" coincide with our picture study of Jan van Eyck's painting "The Arnolfini Portrait".

This particular painting is also featured in Art Fraud Detective by Anna Nilsen. This book will be next in line in my boys' assigned reading list to heighten interest. Readers are supposed to pretend to be detectives to find out who painted the fakes in a gallery of paintings and hopefully learn a thing or two. Looks like fun to me!

Visit Rumphius Webpage Art to find out about how we approach Art in our homeschool.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Wish I Were a Fish (a poem)

We read a few poems with this form: AAB, CCB ... and liked it. A well-known one is the poem At the Seaside by Robert Louis Stevenson. We composed a poem using this form; drawing inspiration from the guppies in our aquarium.

I Wish I Were a Fish
How wonderful it is to be a fish
To always be free to swim and swish
My delicate rainbow tail.
I can sleep whenever I'm tired
And have lots of peace and quiet
No noisy siblings with tiresome tales.

I can play hide-and-seek all day
On pastures of green algae
Or chase and dance with pretty ladies.
No use crying if my friend dies
Just nibble him up! Isn’t that nice?
A fish's life is filled with jollies!

Horse Unit Study (part 3) - Horse Poetry Book

We found an anthology of poems on Horses called A Classic Illustrated Treasury: Horses at the library.

There was even one poem by William Shakespeare!
Round hooft, short jointed, fetlocks shag, and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs, & passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
Look what a Horse should have, he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.
I was a little amused at how Shakespeare used pairs of adjective-nouns in this poem. That was somewhat similar to what we'd started out with when we first drafted our poem on the Centipede!

Another poem stood out from the rest.

My Pony
by "A."

How charming it would be to rear,
And have hind legs to balance on;
Of hay and oats within a year
To leisurely devour a ton;
To stoop my head and quench my drought
With water in a lovely pail;
To wear a snaffle in my mouth,
Fling back my ears, and slash my tail!

This poem gave me an idea for our next writing assignment! In my following post, I will share our poem on how wonderful it is to be a fish. :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Horse Unit Study (part 2) - Picture Book Study

We did a Five-in-a-Row styled book study of a picture book Mrs. Mack by Patricia Polacco.

I chanced upon this book while I was searching for free lapbook templates on horses. I got all my teaching ideas from this page in homeschool share. I used most of the suggestions there and we learned loads! (More lessons plans for other books in this site! A treasure trove! We used most of the lapbook templates from the links on this page. I will post more about that in a separate post.)

I think this story is not one that will appeal to all readers. The subject matter is a serious one but written from the heart. It is an autobiography of the author's first experience learning how to ride a horse and the special relationship she shared with a horse, her riding coach and her riding friends. We read this book with great interest because our first riding experience was still fresh in our minds. I remembered being told to "keep my hands soft" and "don't hang on to the saddle horn!"- familiar words Mrs. Mack reiterated.
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