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Valentines for All!

We were not going to let a little snow (and ice… and rain…) get us down!  The students at GFT were busy preparing valentines in a number of ways for a number of recipients!

What better way to give back to the birds that provide us with such soaring pleasure and song than to make them their own bird feeders?   Students had a blast foraging for pine cones to then cover in sunflower butter and bird seed to make their feeders.  They also made a snow slide and continued working on their snow town in the forest.

The students then got to work in the kitchen baking delicious Valentine’s Day cookies as a special tutorial treat!  We rounded off the day listening to Valentine’s Day books while creating and decorating their own valentines for family and friends!  Oh, and did we mention it was also PAJAMA DAY?!  Talk about awesome childhood memories!

On top of all this holiday excitement, we welcomed another new family into the GFT community!  This family took advantage of our drop-in to drop-off day and signed up as soon as the day is done!  As you are busy planning out your homeschool path for next year, drop us a line if you are interested in seeing how a drop-off tutorial could enhance your homeschool experience.  We can’t wait to meet you!

So How Does It Work?…

People who may not have previously considered homeschooling and are used to the more traditional approach to education often ask us how we “teach” students when we have such a variety of ages present.  The short answer: we don’t.  Wait… what??  Please allow me to explain… Our tutors are facilitating learning in the students by encouraging self-discovery, problem-solving, and, maybe most importantly, what they can learn from each other.

Our younger students are thriving by picking up information from their environment and the older students.  Through imaginative and free play and the use of multiple modalities within the lessons, they are truly in the driver’s seat of their education, with plenty of resources along for the ride!  They are also learning that if they are having difficulty solving problems themselves, they do not need to instantly find an adult, as they have other models in front of them.  This is helping to encourage their independence and confidence in themselves and their abilities.

We have been asked how we intend on challenging the older students with the younger ones in the classroom.  Since our model is very student-centered, it is the students that are helping guide discussion, projects, and learning.  They are looking at larger problems locally and the world at large, discerning the information, then presenting it in ways that make sense to our younger students.  They are getting the chance to mentor and model for the younger students, as well, when they see each other working through more complex topics and problems.  We are working hard in our leadership team and with local families to create even more engaging activities for our middle school students!

One example of this symbiotic relationship is an activity that occurs during our math block.  “Go to the Dump” is a newer take on the classic “Go Fish”.  Instead of seeking matches, students work to find pairs that add up to 10… or are multiple of 5… or can be divided by 3.  The sky’s the limit!   The give-and-take is amazing to watch as the students work together in their quests to learn!

Do you have questions about how this relationship works in other subjects?  Are you interested in stopping by to see it for yourself?  Please reach out to schedule your free drop-in to drop-off day!  We can’t wait to meet you!

Full-Swing in February!

The weather will not hold us down at GFT, and we have been embracing the plentiful learning opportunities that it brings!  The students have been utilizing, “28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World” to discuss and acknowledge the contributions by African Americans during Black History Month.  Because each day gives tribute to a new person, we have enjoyed reading and discussing the book throughout the day.

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Additionally, February’s character trait is “fairness”.  The children have been diving into the discussion on how people that have been perceiving as being different have been treated in the past as well as today.  The varied ages help give younger and older students, alike, a chance to share and ponder the weight and interpretation of this conundrum.

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    And what February would be complete without discussion and literature surrounding President’s Day and Valentine’s Day?  The students will be collecting recycled and outdoor items to create their own Valentines to help celebrate the season, and we will showcase those as they are completed.

This is also a reminder that GFT operates on its own inclement weather system.  Families will be notified via text by 8:00 am if there are any changes to the normal hours.  We’re excited to dive deeper into our summer as the days are getting longer and next school year plans and cannot wait to share them!

Bubbles Away!

One activity that we were excited to get underway with this icy weather was blowing bubbles outside and watching them freeze.  What could go wrong, right?  YouTube always makes it look so easy!

Once again, our quest for fun led to an even deeper degree of discovery.  First up, the children had to figure out the best soap-to-water ratio to achieve the best bubbles.  The children learned quickly that a straight bubble solution was too dense.  The liquid glopped off of the wands without much fanfare in the bubble department.  Next, an overabundance of water meant that the solution was too runny, and, again, no bubbles were formed.  And, just like Goldilocks, our third time was a charm!

Not only did we achieve a better soap-to-water ratio that produced a variety of bubble sizes, one of our friends visiting for a drop-in day made another discovery!  While we weren’t quite able to achieve the “frozen” bubbles in midair, she realized by leaving the solution in the wands for just a few seconds, we could watch the solution freeze before our very eyes!  Talk about a teachable moment!

What are your favorite freezing weather activities?  Please let us know so we can try them out, too!

Action Jackson!

 

The students at GFT took advantage of the resident boulder at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church to do some “action painting” to keep us warm this snowy Tuesday!  In honor of Pollock’s birthday this past week, the students read, “Action Jackson” and discussed how his art differed and was the same as other art they have experienced.

We then created different mixtures of biodegradable, homemade paint made from cornstarch, water, and food coloring.  While mixing up the paint, the students sampled different amounts of cornstarch to get the consistency they desired.  They also discussed how to change the amounts of dye being added to create their desired colors.

Then, the real fun began!  The students practiced their “athletic” painting, using the brushes as extensions of their arms and getting their whole bodies in on the fun.  Since the weather was quite chilly, the action painting helped keep us warm on the snowy day.

They enjoyed getting their hands (and boots and pants!) a little dirty, just as Pollock did with his larger-than-life paintings.  We look forward to decorating our boulder again, action-painting style, once we can stand to be outside a little bit longer!
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And, of course, what snow day would be complete without a little snowflake catching??  Stay warm out there, everyone!

 

Winter Wonderland Open House!

One of the perks of making your own rules is that a little bit of snow won’t take away from the children’s fun of playing in the great outdoors.  We were elated to welcome a few families this past week that were interested in seeing and experiencing for themselves what a drop-off tutorial could do to enhance their homeschool experience. We look forward to welcoming some of them as “official” members in the coming weeks and appreciate them bringing their snow gear to dive right in!

I was personally invited by the children to take a tour of the winter “town” they created in the woods using whatever materials that were available… found latticework, branches, leaves, pallets, and tree trunks, just to name a few.

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While to the average outsider, the area looked little more than some organized bundles of materials.  I quickly learned, however, that they have come up with their own rules to govern their town.  There’s the “Town Hall” where all announcements take place, the different “houses” that serve two-to-three students each, the store, the shop, the path, and many other wonders that I may or may not have been privy to an introduction.  Their buy-in from creating it themselves was so evident, and they could not wait to share their excitement with an “outsider”.

Of course, the snow also lead to some more “traditional” winter activities.  Students body surfed down hills, made a huge snowman, and experimented with spray bottles and food coloring to create colors and decorate the winter wonderland.

Once inside, they used marshmallows and toothpicks to make their own hexagonal, 3D (is it considered 4D if they ate some of the materials?…) snowflakes.  We were so glad the weather cooperated to lend us some of these snowy experiences for our winter science exploration.

If you’re interested in setting up your own “Drop-In to Drop-Off Day”, please contact us.  We’d be delighted and look forward to meeting you soon!

 

NASA Invasion!

What an amazing treat GFT students and other local-area homeschoolers received when Scott Smith, NASA engineer, paid us a visit to discuss his love for engineering and science. Scott has decided to use his time during the government shut-down to educate children, and he did not disappoint!

The children were treated to videos of merging black holes, time-lapsed videos of huge telescopes being assembled and moved throughout the country, and an educational clip on how NASA is able to use specialized equipment to identify Earth-like planets that would normally be masked by their sun’s rays…. just to name a few!  They also received an awesome analogy of the difference between science and engineering using some much-loved characters… the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man!

Scott got the children engaged by scaffolding his questions to involve even our youngest of scientists while showing genuine awe for the knowledge of some of our older attendees.  He also incorporated the children’s multiple modalities to keep them engaged through the hour+ presentation.

GFT would also like to extend another special thank to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church for allowing us the use of their projection equipment to help bring Scott’s message to life and to Nathalie Savell for bringing this amazing opportunity to our attention!

If you want to be the first to know about other upcoming speakers and events being hosted by GFT, be sure to follow us on Facebook (@GlobalFoundationsTutorial) and subscribe to our email list.

Keep reaching for the stars, kids!