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Fall into the Forest!

“If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impression of the senses are fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.” International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, Volume 2, Number 1 Winter 2014

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Is there anything more beautiful than the beautifully changing leaves on a crisp, autumn day?  As October has felt more like summer to this point, we’ve needed to be a little creative in the “crispness” department, but we’ve loved frolicking through the woods just the same.  One of the huge draws for having GFT at St. Thomas’ is their beautiful grounds.  Notre Dame Prep is just through the woods, so we take advantage of their cross country and nature trails regularly.

We have shared our belief in free and outdoor play being paramount for developing minds.  I also stumbled across this excerpt today while doing a little motivational research of my own to get up and get moving:  Walking through a forest or green area with trees has been found to aid memory and learning. Forest kindergartens have become popular in Germany where there are approximately 450 while in the US and the UK, the idea is slowly taking off. Research indicates that children playing in these forest environments are better at many cognitive skills but also have better manual dexterity and can assess risks better than those kids educated in an enclosed space. The great thing about this outdoor education, even if it is just a day out, is that children learn about the importance of forests, their maintenance and how they help the planet.

This is just one more way we’re putting the “Global” in GFT.  Care to join us?

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Pack in the Poetry!

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Each day after the lunch-and-play hour, the students help choose the literature that will be shared during the “Real Aloud” time.  Jennifer has an excellent eye for beautifully illustrated works that introduce different time periods across the world as well as represent a variety of backgrounds and nationalities of their authors.  She is a regular at the Baltimore County libraries and, again, we at GFT are so fortunate to have her and her love of learning helping to guide our students’ inquisitive minds!

Some of my favorite memories of reading when I was a child were the poems we would read together as a family.  I do have to admit, this is a practice I need to incorporate more into our homeschool life!  What are some of your favorites from the past?  Please feel free to let us know so we can share the works with our children, as well!

 

 

Bulbs Away!

Do you know the difference between a grub and a worm?  To be honest, I’m not sure this was a topic to which I had even given much thought.  Luckily, the students dug up a bunch of both during our bulb-planting experience today!  We observed their different shapes and sizes and noted how the grubs REALLY did not appreciate this October heat wave and worked hard to get back to some dark, cozy soil.

We were excited to ask St. Thomas’ for the opportunity to make their already beautiful grounds a little brighter with our tulips.  The church did let us know that the soil is a little harsh, so the students had the added bonus of learning about the composition of compost and how compost creates a more hospitable environment for the bulbs to grow.

We look forward to seeing all the fruits of our labor (on this almost 90-degree October day!) in the spring!

Mummy-rific!

The students had a mummifying experience today with their social studies curriculum, Curiosity Chronicles!  They were excited to read and observe artwork depicting sarcophaguses and mummies, as well as learning about why the people of Ancient Eygpt chose to preserve some people this way.

They also tied in some science wither their own classroom project, “Mummify an Apple Experiment”.  Half of an apple was put in the following solutions: water, vinegar, salt, and salt and baking soda.  The students will observe what happens to the apples at different intervals over the next two weeks and will record their observations.

But what took the cake with the students today had to be their rendering of a sarcophagus using a shoebox and toilet paper to represent the mummy inside.  They found a special “home” for their new “friend” and were so excited to share him!

As always, if you’re interested in hearing more about our program or discuss if GFT might be a good fit for your family, please feel free to reach out to me.  I love sharing what we’re doing and look forward to growing our community!

 

 

Tutor’s Corner~Science Rules!

 

 

In this week’s “Tutor’s Corner”, we’re taking a look at the science the children have been learning over the past few weeks.  Jennifer approaches all topics from a holistic and global standpoint, meaning many subjects are entwined into each of the lessons.  The recent study of anatomy particularly lends itself well to enriching and engaging nonfiction, health, and creating artistic collages for the students to share.  I know the use of magnifying glasses to study the skin (and anything else they could get their hands on!) was of particular interest and fun for the children.

Here is a sneak peek behind some of Jennifer’s lessons.  We hope the shred resources will help enrich your homeschooling journies, as well!

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Anatomy

How my body works

  • We read “See How We Move” by Scot Ritchie & “The Great Big Body Book” by Mary Hoffman. We played with the squishy human model kit (internal organs are squishy!) and did a human body floor puzzle
  • Bodies change as they grow older. How have we changed?
    • Human life cycles
    • Other life cycles (plants, dogs, frogs & butterflies)
  • The body has internal and external parts
    • We traced the outline of their bodies on a roll of craft paper
    • Named exterior body parts/head shoulders, knees & toes/played “where is it?”
    • Made collages using different body parts from different pictures
    • What’s inside my body (looked at pop up book of organs & other anatomy books)
  • Skin
    • Looked at through magnifying glass, talked about the functions of
    • Fingerprints/fingerprint art

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     We look forward to sharing our work in the other subject areas with you soon!  As always, please reach out to us with any questions and if you’re interested in hearing more about GFT!

Just Monkeying Around!

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As we bid farewell to summer and that familiar bite of autumn returns to the air, we love taking advantage of the beautiful grounds at St. Thomas’ Church.  Today’s lunch hour was spent climbing trees and eating on a blanket in the breeze while the students chatted and sang and enjoyed one another’s company.  About fifty minutes into the hour break, the students naturally started packing up and expressed their desire to go back inside to start the Real Aloud.   Naturally.  What an amazing gift it is to give our kids to let their natural patterns and rhythms help determine the ebbs and flows of their days!

Happy (almost!) autumn, everyone!

Help Us Help You!

Umbrella advertisement

One of the more exciting, very recent developments at GFT is the formation of our umbrella!  We want to reach new-to-homeschool and thinking-about-homeschool families to help them see that they are NOT alone, and we’re here to help!  We have a tier to address the many different needs/wants of a homeschooling family, and here are how they break down:

Tier 1:  $75 per year, per family.

We recommend Tier 1 for people who are comfortable with their chosen method of homeschooling and are looking for an additional sense of community and comradery through our peer reviews.  Tier 1 includes the following:

*Access to our members-only Facebook site that will store all online communication, upcoming events, and a way for members to connect and engage between reviews

*An every-other-month online Q&A where we address common homeschooling challenges as well as save time to discuss your questions

*Invitation to FREE, quarterly, in-person events being hosted by GFT

*Planning tools to help you keep track of your homeschooling year

*An in-person, peer-review in the spring

Tier 2: $150 per year, per family

Tier 2 includes all of the amazing benefits of Tier 1 with some added bonuses!  We recommend Tier 2 for people who are looking for a little more structure and support with their homeschooling journeys, such as people new to homeschooling and people starting to homeschool mid-year.  In addition to all Tier 1 activities and events, Tier 2 includes:

*A beginning of the year/end of summer curriculum planning session.  In this session, we’ll dive deeper into your reasons for homeschooling, your strengths and areas where you may need additional support, and help you develop, plan, and determine curricula that match your family’s needs.

*A mid-year check-in on curricula choices.

*Choice of an online or in-person peer review at the end of the year

We are so excited that our umbrella organization will help enhance the lives and education of even more families and look forward to you joining us!  As always, please reach out to us directly with any questions or to enroll.