Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Classes and Friendships

I haven't said much lately about homeschooling, but I'd better mention all the classes we are taking outside of home...because they are all ending!

Last Thursday was our final week of enrichment classes through a homeschool co-op, which means that many of the classes were taught by homeschool moms. But several were taught by science personnel in the area. For example, Bantam9 and Chicklet6 took a class taught by a science guy from Discovery World Science (which we have not visited yet but I guess it's in the area). Each week, they performed a lab on a subject like magnetism, electricity (they made working circuits that lit up a light bulb), elasticity (they made their own bouncy balls), chemistry (they made glue and "slime"), gravity (they created model space suits), etc. It was Chicklet's favorite class!

Her other classes were a crafts class where she cut and glued and colored and taped many and varied creations, a play time class which was basically just--"play time!", and a Bible stories class which included a craft each week. Bantam 3 was in the last two classes with her, but there was nothing available for his age group during the first two hours, so we usually spent the first one in the gym with another 3-year-old friend and his mom, and the second hour we went to the game and social room, where we played games and Duplos together.

Bantam13 had a Robotics class the first hour, which was taught by a prof from Carthage College who was volunteering his time. Their robot will be part of a competition next spring, in which the goal is to push, pull, hurl or otherwise eject another robot from a circle. The robot also has to be able to perform a task, which has not been announced yet, as part of the competition. So his class will actually meet another time or two, until the robot is finished.

Both Bantams 13 & 9 had a sketching class next, taught by a 15-year-old homeschooled boy who had spent the summer as a caricature artist at Great America (a huge amusement park near here). He taught them the basics of drawing the human face and figure, as well as the tricks of caricatures. They both enjoyed the class immensely, and B9, especially, is spending more of his free time drawing.

Next the same young man taught a Foam Swords class. Now, the Bantams have been creating their own swords out of broomsticks wrapped with shiny duct tape ever since the first musical our family was involved in, Robin Hood, because that's what they used for swords in that show. So the idea of a padded sword was new to them! "Wow," B13 said when I read the class description to him, "I bet you could REALLY hit hard with one of those!"

In the first class, he taught them how to make the swords (B13 wrote about the process here in his own blog, Super Dude.) In later weeks, he taught them the history of swords and weapons, the rules for different types of battles and competitions in which one can use the foam swords, and basic battle strategies. Each class time included team battles as well as individual matches. This class was a huge hit, and it really helped the Bantams get to know some of the other boys.

The Bantams ended the day with a Critical Thinking class, in which they studied riddles, analogies, optical illusions and other puzzles, as well as wrote critically about questions such as, "Is the glass half-full or half-empty?" The teacher of the class was so glad to have them and sought me out to tell me so. She said B13, especially, had played a real leadership role several time in the first few weeks, to call some of the boys (who were still wound up from the Foam Swords class, no doubt!) to settle down and treat the teacher respectfully.

I think we're all going to miss enrichment classes now! Though it will be nice to have our Thursday afternoons for other things.

On Tuesdays, we've been going out to Carthage College for an hour with their PE department's future gym teachers, who divide the kids up by age and teach them team sports, like volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, crab football and badminton, and other age-appropriate gym games involving bean bags, cones, balls or...a parachute! (I remember back to my elementary school days, walking into the gym and seeing the parachute spread out in the middle, and how the excited whispering would start up! Everybody loves a parachute, don't they?)

The kids have REALLY loved gym classes! Here is where the Bantams 13 & 9 have really bonded with a couple of brothers who are 13 & 11, and they have a tomboyish 9-year-old sister that B9 connects with too. It turns out that they live nearby (thank you, Lord!!) and they're into skateboarding, a sport in which the Bantams have been wanna-be's. So they've been spending lots of time outdoors together for the past few weeks, teaching each other tricks and moves. This is a real answer to prayer for Christian friends for them! (Thank you, all you prayer warriors out there!) This solid Christian family is adopting two preschoolers from Ethiopia in January. We barely know them, but we are already excited to meet their new family members!

And tonight, we had the final wrap-up, or "Showcase," for all the kids' theater classes. Chicklet6 made her CYT stage debut in the youngest class, in which they sang "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Happiness [Is]." On the way there, she said she was nervous, but I couldn't tell it during her performance--she kept a big toothless grin on her face the whole time and certainly looked like she was enjoying herself! She sang and she had all her moves down; we were so proud of her. (And from where we were sitting, you couldn't even see her black eye [from Sunday, when wrestling brothers knocked her into a drawer] or the huge bruised bump on her forehead [where, on Monday, she walked into the kitchen bar countertop]. No wonder I haven't posted a picture of her missing front teeth!)

Bantam9 was next, in a jazz and tap performance with his class of all girls. The highlight was in the tap number, Sinatra's "Chicago." Twice when they came to the line, "I saw a man, he danced with his wife/In Chicago, Chicago my home town," everyone else stopped dancing and posed, pointing to Bantam9 and a short little girl, who danced together until the end of the line, when he twirled her around and picked her up, as she leaned back and pointed one leg up. The move drew lots of applause both times, but B9 looked nonchalant throughout, to our great amusement. Though he started out not liking the class because he was the only boy, our kinesthetic son is now begging for tap lessons and his very own tap shoes (we borrowed a pair for this class). His teacher is urging him to continue too!

After some voice and drama classes, it was time for the "Tricks and Illusions" class. B13 and his classmates took turns, in groups, performing tricks with cards, rope, paper and props from the audience. B13 is eager to continue learning tricks from his book and hopes to eventually make a little money performing at birthday parties. (He was encouraged in this by a neighbor's brother, a police officer--who started doing magic as a small business after college and still performs frequently--who said he wished he had started earlier.)

Finally, Blondechick15's Hip-Hop class mooooved onstage and hopped and grooved for us like the uber-cool dancers they had become. Blondechick had a small featured part, but the whole class was impressive!

Theater classes aren't really ending for us, though, because the next session starts up again in two weeks, and it turns out that next week Blondechick and B13 have to go and audition for the Advanced Drama class that they'd both like to get into. And in just three weeks...BC15, B13 and B9 will audition for the next production, Schoolhouse Rock! (Wow, we better figure out what they're singing and start rehearsing...!)

So enrichment classes and gym class will be done just in time for the winter show rehearsals to begin--perfect timing! We are so glad we didn't do the fall show, Narnia. We saw it last Friday night and it was great, and fun to see a totally different interpretation--but still just too, too familiar to us all. (Newer readers, our whole family was in this show last summer, and our kids were in it the previous fall with the children's theater group--see the Archives!) We're not exactly sick of it or anything...but it was just too soon to do AGAIN. And it was good to spend the fall concentrating on new school experiences. But now we're all ready to get back into theater!

I am so grateful for the Christian friends our kids have made this fall at theater classes, enrichment classes and gym classes. And Blondechick15 has connected with a couple of "truly Christian" (her words) girls at her school and has been going to their youth group once a week. So thank you, those of you who have been faithfully praying for our requests listed there in my sidebar! I am going to leave this one up, because friendships take time...but some good ones are off to some good starts, I think.


Islandsparrow said...

I'm so glad to hear about the friends for your young ones. I've been remembering that request. It's so important.

Sounds like they are having lots of fun!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Have you ever been to see the armory exhibit at the Art Institute? That's always been one of my favorites. You can view some of their collection online here.

Heather said...

Those classes sound wonderful! I really hope that our local co-op has classes like that by the time BB is of age. I am currently listening to my Schoolhouse Rock DVD that BB is watching. Too bad you live so far away, or I would take him to see the show! He would get a kick out of watching the shorts performed. It sounds as though your kids have really enjoyed this semester, but I bet you'll enjoy the break from classes.

Melinda said...

It sounds like you guys have been busy! It's great that all the kiddos love their enrichment classes so much. It certainly seems your prayers have been answered in the way of friends in your new home.

Margaret Cloud said...

Boy your family are busy beavers, sounds like they enjoyed themselves.

MomCO3 said...

Sounds like some rootlets are diving down there. Praise God. Glad to hear of prayers being answered. Blessings,

Dani said...

Glad to hear that your children are finding good friends! And how exciting that the one family is adopting from Ethiopia! :)