What Now?

The Olympics are drawing to a close.  I don’t know what we’re going to do with ourselves.  In the last 16 days or so, we’ve lived the Olympics.  We’ve watched it all.  Anything that’s been on network TV, we’ve seen (it’s the first time I’ve really missed having cable!).  We started our day every morning with “Today” in Beijing, and then on days when we didn’t have various appointments, we kept the TV on to see the morning/early afternoon coverage, breaking only for our Olympics school.  We watched all the primetime stuff (and I do mean all–I planned all the grocery shopping and other errands for the last few weeks so that I was always home in time for the games).  I even stayed up and watched some of the late night stuff.

The traditional favorites were, of course, enjoyed–gymnastics, swimming, diving, and volleyball.  Turkey also added cycling to his list of favorites, and I discovered a new love of water polo.  Heck, we even watched stuff we didn’t really like, including the entirety of both the men’s and women’s marathons (not necessarily by choice, but because we kept hoping they’d break in with something more interesting!)  We saw many records set, and cheered on our team.  We even turned into the NBC Nightly News and the Olympic Zone, because apparently we just weren’t getting enough of an Olympics fix without them!

Our school allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the Olympic spirit, and we covered almost every subject you could imagine studying about the Olympics, China, and sports.  We learned a Bible verse and talked about working your hardest, playing fair, and sportsmanship.  We learned a lot of geography in mapping the torch route, and in studying one country from each continent (save Antarctica, obviously), and added in history and government with our country studies.  We used counting our team’s medals to learn math, including counting by fives.  We learned more about our favorite sports, and then talked about events we’d never even heard of before.  In studying China, we learned about everything from architecture to fashion to history.  We had music appreciation and art (we colored a lot of pictures!)  We even studied a bit of foreign language, learning a smattering of Chinese, and even some Latin.  We read stories from around the world, and compared and contrasted the world’s flags.  We snuck in a bit of physical education with our family olympics, and craft time with making medals.  We even had fun with cooking–one night we made Chinese food for dinner, and then all ate with chopsticks (Turkey was surprisingly proficient in that area!), and we made an Olympics cake, complete with the Olympic rings made from M&Ms (brown is the new black!).

Yep, we’ve really enjoyed our Olympics experience.  It’s hard to say what we liked best, because we liked it all.  I just don’t know what we’re going to do tomorrow!

Night and Day

Turkey and Bunny are amusing to me.  Today was our first really involved day with our “practice school,” otherwise known as our Olympics unit.  We did have a short lesson on Friday, but it mostly involved them listening and looking at the map and some pictures.  Today we got fancy and had some counting, quizzing, and coloring, too!

Now, none of this was terribly surprising to me, but it was still funny to see how very different the two of them are in their approaches to learning.  For example, I gave them each a box of crayons to color pictures of the Olympic torch.  Bunny dumped her box of crayons everywhere, and, as far as I could tell, mostly just grabbed them at random (except for the pink, which, of course, had to be the first color she used).  She also colored quickly, even though she was trying to stay inside the lines. Turkey, on the other hand, took one crayon out of his box at a time, and put it back before he got the next color.  He picked his colors very deliberately, and colored very slowly and purposefully.

Their approach to something as simple as a coloring assignment showcased their different personalities quite well.  Bunny is very impulsive, rarely thinks things through, and works quickly, sometimes sacrificing the quality of the end result.  Part of this may be because she’s 16 months younger than Turkey, but I really think it’s mostly just who she is.  Turkey, on the other hand, is rather fastidious, very exact and orderly. This is how he has always been–he hates getting dirty, likes to know exactly when things are going to happen, and follows the letter (although not always the spirit!) of the law.

Funny how easy it is to spot differences in children when they’re doing schoolwork!

Go for the Gold!

I decided to plan one small lesson for each weekday the Olympics are on.  Some days are a little more in depth than others, but for the most part, I decided to keep it short and sweet, because this is Turkey and Bunny’s first school experience, and because it was hard to find stuff (especially about China) that wouldn’t go right over the heads of four and five year olds!  The Olympics starting on a Friday is a little awkward, since we’ll only have one day of “lessons” before the weekend, but nothing like easing into something slowly, right?

One thing I’m doing that I’m really excited about is events pictograms.  I printed off the official pictogram for each event, and I’ve put them in groups of five, so for seven days (I think that’s right) we’ll have a brief overview of five sports.  I’m going to try to coordinate at least some of the big events with the days they’ll be on, but we’ll have to see how that works out.

I picked 1 Corinthians 9:24 (“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.”  Oh, and they’ve already asked what the verse is, since I wrote it on our poster board in the school room, and also already asked what it means–I think I’m in trouble!) for our memory verse for the week (well, technically two weeks, I guess).  So, the Friday of the Opening Ceremonies, I’ll introduce that.  We’ll then review it every day, and hopefully they’ll be able to memorize it…it’s not the shortest verse, but it’s not too long, either.  We may also have a “family olympics” but I haven’t figured out what that will involve yet.

The rest of the Olympics will go as follows:

August 8–Learn the Olympic Motto and Olympic Oath, and what they mean.

August 11–Map the torch relay, color a picture of the torch.

August 12–Learn about Chinese numbers one through ten, practice writing them.

August 12–Color the Chinese flag, learn some basic facts about the country (population, size, etc.), go over the first set of events pictograms.

August 13–Color the Olympic flag, learn what the rings stand for and why they’re the colors they are, second set of pictograms.

August 15–Learn about the first Olympic mascot, and what it teaches us about China, color a mascot picture, third set of pictograms.

August 18–Second mascot, fourth set of pictograms.

August 19–Third mascot, fifth set of pictograms.

August 20–Fourth mascot, sixth set of pictograms.

August 21–Fifth mascot, seventh set of pictograms.

August 22–(Last weekday of the Olympics) Learn how to write our names in Chinese, make gold medals.

I know the “lessons” are pretty short, but it’s mostly for fun–we’re not even starting our school year until the Tuesday after Labor Day!  I hope I’ve planned appropriate things for their age levels… will they come away having learned something?  I sure hope so, because I had a blast planning it!