Monday, March 28, 2011

Joy School - Australia

I'm so far behind in my Joy School (and my letter-of-the-week) posts! We were having so much fun with St. Patrick's Day that I wanted to share that while you could still try it out with your families, and now my regular fun stuff is piled up! Look out for more catch-up posts!

Lesson Time: Several weeks ago, we had another very interesting lesson in our World Cultures unit. This host mom chose to showcase Australia.

*We learned about the flag, and why the flag for Great Britain is included in the flag for Australia.
*She used the globe to explain to the children why Australia is also known as, 'the land down-under.'
*We talked about the size and population, about the Sydney Opera House, and about the amazing rock formation called the Uluru.

But for me, the most interesting part of the lesson was the animals of Australia. Did you know that the Koala has two thumbs? I had never heard that before, and I know I'll never forget it.

*One more random fact that I loved. Even though Australia has many major cities, the national population of sheep is higher than that of their people. I find that completely delightful.

She had several really great books from the library that she showed us, many with pictures of aboriginal art. She pointed out how the natives in the country have made many pictures using dots rather than lines to make their images, and we looked at the neat effect that made.

Then we went to the table where she had pictures of Australian animals ready for us. She passed out little pots of paint and Q-tips, and the children got to paint their pictures by dabbing dots of paint on the page with the end of the Q-tip. My son dubbed this, "polka-dot painting." Ha! I'd used this method of painting with him before, but only if we were adding something that was meant to be a circle, (like ladybug spots). Doing it for an entire picture was new and thoroughly enjoyed.

Story Time: She had gotten a book from the library called, Stories from the Billabong that was full of traditional myths and legends from the native people. One that she read was all about a beautiful butterfly who went up too high on a mountain and had her colours washed off from the snow. But her colours landed on all the flowers and beautified the mountain. She was afraid to go home to her husband, (since she had lost all her beauty) but when he saw her, (devoid of all her spender) he told her that her gift to the flowers was the most beautiful thing she could have done and that he would always love her for it. Quite a nice little love story, actually.

Snack Time: She followed up the story with snack, and she had made sugar cookies in the shapes of butterflies and spring flowers. She decorated them with colourful icing, tying it further in with the book.

They were very yummy. I am pretty sure I had three!

Video Clips: She had several great videos on Australia's unique animals that we watched in pieces throughout the morning. There was one on Koalas, on echidnas, Kangaroos, and the last one we watched was about platypuses. (Did you know that the male platypus is the only poisonous mammal? It is true.) All the videos were really cool, and I was amazed by what different and strange animals live in Australia that are nothing like anything else found anywhere else in the world.

Craft Time:

The last thing we did that day was this cute little platypus puppet. She had printed out the bill and the flippers and the kids got to colour them and glue them on, then they added some googly eyes and it was done. So cute!

Thanks for the great Joy School day!

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