We spent a couple of weeks on the quality of numbers using a story of the Cloud Princesses. I began making up stories of the Cloud Princesses at bedtime, but since the girls were fascinated by them I made one up for our first math block. The story begins…
The Cloud Princesses:
Compare to my princesses:
'Up in the sky, above the grey and blue clouds, and far above the white clouds… up, up, up in the pink and purple clouds, lies the castle of the Cloud Princesses. The castle is made of jewels and crystals, and sparkles in the rays of the sun. The Cloud Princesses live with their mother the queen, their father the king, and their little brother, the baby prince. The princesses share a bedroom in the tallest tower of the castle. Their beds are made of sparkling gold and their walls are painted to look like the sunrise. Every day they go out into their gardens and take care of their plants. They go to the royal stables and take care of their ponies. And sometimes they go for adventures. This day, the Cloud Princesses were in the mood for adventure! They wandered out of the palace gardens and over to the forest on the edge of the clouds. There, they saw a strange little creature, unlike any they'd seen before. He seemed to smile at them, and something about the way he looked at the sisters made them know he wanted them to follow. The girls ran after the strange, furry little creature, over rocks, around trees, until - WHOOSH!!! - they fell through a hole in the clouds! Down, down, down they fell, until they landed softly in a strange place. It was all grey! Before them they saw a tall flight of stairs, and they immediately climbed it. At the top of the stairs was a beautiful old woman. She turned to them and smiled, but there was sadness in her eyes.
"I am so happy you've come!" she says. "Phaedra, Adira, I need your help. I am the Empress of Numeria, but I cannot return to my land without unlocking this box. (Here I present a lock-box.) I have been away from Numeria for so long that I have forgotten what the numbers mean. Can you help me to solve these ten riddles?"'
Of course the sisters agree to help the Empress. The first riddle is: What is one? The girls think and think. With the help of Father Sun they come up with many ideas: "There is only one of me!" "One sun!" and so on… The next morning they report what they have discovered to the Empress. As they tell her this, the number 1 on the lock-box begins to glow! (because I have colored it with a crayon…) Each day, with the help of special friends they meet, they come up with the answers to the riddles of numbers 1-10. In circle time, we sing songs about the quality of numbers, and I bought chalk for the girls with which we drew some hop-scotch on the driveway. On the last day, the princesses solve the last riddle - 10. With this, the final number on the lock-box glows and the box opens! Inside, the girls get a glimpse into Numeria (a watercolor of the magical land, complete with hiding gnomes which I have taped to the bottom of the box.) There are also two keys, one for each girl. They will need these later on to travel to and from Numeria… Which we will likely do next month.
I felt like we needed to reinforce the letters a little, so we revisited them by reading "The Wise Enchanter" with which I took a big literary license in order to make it less scary for the children. The story is great, and it is about four children on a quest to save all the worlds letters, thereby saving all the wisdom of the world, and finding the Wise Enchanter and his palace. Every day we did a new letter/chapter or two, and the day we started the story I gave the girls their own "Book of Knowledge":
Each day, as the children in the story discovered a new letter and drew a picture in their magic book, Isla wrote the letter and drew a picture in her own book. I drew pictures on the board beforehand (or quickly during):
I didn't take pictures of all of the letters, and some of them I will admit were not picture-worthy. One magical thing that happened, while reading about a nifty nebula for "N" was that a little round rainbow of light found its way onto the page, right over the nebula:
It contributed a touch of magic to the story, bridging the world from the book with the world of the girls.
More Outdoor Fun:
Raising our meat connects us to the food we eat. The girls take good care of their pigs, and know that once they are big they will be processed to nourish our bodies. They are respectful and thankful. I've been a vegetarian for the bulk of my life, but when I made the decision to eat meat, I also made the decision to care about where it comes from and how the animals are treated.