Monday, May 09, 2005

Kelsey's game...

Kelsey made up a little game. I have to share it, not just because I’m proud of her, but because this game turned out to be very educational for the whole family! It seemed to give us practice with both Math and Language Arts! The rules are as follows: The first person rolls three dice, calculates the total from their roll, and writes that number down on a piece of paper. The person that rolled then has to create a sentence made up of the exact amount of words that the dice totaled. With three dice, you will get a possible total of 3-18 words, so you will create sentences using 3-18 words. You can think of your sentence really fast. I like to touch each dot as I say each word so that I know about how many I’ve used and how many I have to go. This allows for some instant split second planning. You might need to write down the sentence and count each word to make sure they total the roll. Somewhere between saying the sentence out loud and writing it down you usually forget a word or accidentally add one.

The next person rolls and creates a sentence. I don’t know how you would actually win this game or if you would care, it’s the playing that is fun!

At first I didn’t think there was anything educational about this game but as we played I realized that it was educational on many levels. I found as we tried to create a sentence with, say, fourteen words we would usually accidentally be one word short or one word over. This creates a little challenge and brings in the Language Arts practice. If you are one word short you will have to think up some describing words to add to one of your nouns. If your attempt at creating a sentence left you one word over your total roll you would be forced to look to see if you could make contractions or take out any words that weren’t absolutely necessary.

This gives a little practice with Math: adding up three numbers. Kelsey and I think alike: instead of being able to add three numbers we both rearrange the dots in our minds to get the total.

The more we play, the more ways we will find how educational this game is. For now it’s just fun!

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. -Roger Lewin

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Halloween Paradigm Shift

I researched the Druids and Samhain for an English course in college and got totally turned off by Halloween. It grossed me out. All the telling of the future by reading entrails, yuck! My family won't be doing that type of thing! Thinking that a gourd with a face cut into it could ward off demons, silly! We are not a superstitious family! Humans have such imaginations! I wanted to avoid Halloween just because of the associations and hints of the various cultures that contributed to its existence.

My "anthropology of magic witchcraft and religion" course had pretty much grossed me out too! I learned some things in that course I really wish I hadn't. We learned a little about the origins and history of Halloween and the rumors or reasons as to why we believe what we do about, say, witches. I can't even tell you some of the things that I learned, it would insult you. I want to tell you.... about why..... anyway.... let's just say we won't.... do that.... in this house... So, we didn't participate in any Halloween activities for 11 YEARS!

I went to "Fall Festivals" just because I felt really weird and paranoid sitting in a dark house with porch lights off, hiding from children....

Then, as I was researching it again I realized what we do for Halloween in America is NOTHING like all those things I detested. I remember how innocent it was. How excitedly we would look through my pumpkin! We really water it all down and poke fun at much of the detestable things. Our version of Halloween is meaningless and maybe insulting to a real Druid or Celt. And our portrayal of witches: that's an insult to real wiccans and they have often complained about it! Real witches don't have green skin, wear all black, or have a big nose. Real witches don't ride on brooms, which by the way, is totally impossible, laugh like a drunken Granny, or make bubbling stew in a black cauldron. So, Halloween is actually poking fun at all of those things for which we avoid Halloween! Does that make sense? Just my thoughts as I look back on my morphing opinions on Halloween. I guess I've had a Halloween paradigm shift!

As a child, I associated the scary costumes with Halloween and not with "evil." Evil was something else. Anytime I saw something scary: a witch or a ghost, I associated it with Halloween - pretend. I knew scary costumes could be made by a human, purchased in a store, and worn by anyone. As an adult I know that real Evil is something that you can't see. Real evil is the twice convicted child molester down the street who is actually a handsome young man. Real evil is not as easy to spot as a scary costume. The only costume that evil wears would look attractive, religious, pious, and moral. Otherwise, you would see it for what it is and not be tempted by it or fearful of it.

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. -Roger Lewin