Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back-to-School Tardy Post!

Well, mark me down on the attendance sheet!  Miss Stella has been absent these six weeks - since the start of the school year - and that is no coincidence!  So MUCH has happened in these past weeks with our Constellation Academy debut Fall Semester that it is due time for a Report!


September 8 found a dozen homeschool moms sitting round the table at our host facility, Magnolia Hill Studios, with what has turned out to be our final workshop of 2012.  To say a good time was had by all is an understatement!

Everyone came bearing creative ideas and inspiration - just the ticket for kicking off a great new school year!  After our regular speaking segments, Adrienne with MAPPING YOUR WAY - Nikkole with her SPOONFULS OF SUGAR . . .

And Cindy with some HANDY CRAFTS advice . . .

Miss Kathy moderated discussion on various aspects of the homeschool curriculum and concerns.  Reading and language techniques, creative approaches to the homeschool day, plus math and science to-do's generated a host of great ideas and pens were clicking on three holed notebook paper jotting down clever ideas - like using food to teach math principles . . .

Resource information and more!

The value of teaching from a TIMELINE was highlighted and various books that have been favorites to use were passed around the room for SHOW & TELL.  In addition, Nikkole shared welcome information about how using essential oils can aide the ADHD child, and diffuse the homeschool environment with natural remedies for mental clarity and focus.  As an adult with, and mother of children with ADHD, she has had great success controlling the symptoms without synthetic drugs through the use of essential oils and dietary adjustments.

Of course, yummies on the tea table are always a pampering treat.

The Starlight Workshop Teas will resume in the new year each month with theme focuses including HomeSchool Spa Day, Charlotte Mason Appreciation Day, Spring Fling Outside-the-Box Day, and more!  Each workshop is designed to be a MINI-RETREAT for the homeschool mom where ideas are shared, inspiration and training is available, and a strong support system grows stronger each time you are greeted at the door upon arrival.

Many thanks to our host facility, Magnolia Hill Studios, and artistic director, Sandy Smith - a veteran homeschool mom of thirty years - who shares Constellation Academy's vision for the nurturing of children in all good things and beauty!  Visit Sandy HERE to learn more about her ongoing classes in art and dance!


Miss Kathy welcomed thirty-plus homeschool students to her selection of literature-driven unit studies this semester PLUS a Junior and Senior troupe of Parable Players currently in production of a Thanksgiving play and Medieval Morality Play respectively.

Primary and Elementary students have enjoyed an inspirational atmosphere in Miss Kathy's homeschool classroom and resource center studying the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder.   Primary Students get their first taste of "going to school" with the My First Little House Series of vibrant pictures books adapted from the Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, and Little House on the Prairie books in the novel series.

Adapting the Principle Approach Notebook Method for our littlest scholars, youngsters enjoy performance storytelling by Miss Kathy with a different picture book each week followed up by a weekly GOAL SHEET of assignments to be completed at home and organized in their indexed notebook.

Students take turns showing and telling all their work before the class, growing in their enthusiasm for the work week to week, their proficiency in connecting to the materials studied, and their speaking before the class to show the fruits of their labor.  It has been a joy to watch them grow so!

Field trips and hands-on activities are all part of the fun.  Recently, one of the classes made a day of it at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center to visit the old fashioned General Store, much like the General Store read about in their story that week.  They saw many of the things that were in the store in the book - and each came away with a piece of candy, just like Laura and Mary!

Elementary Students in grades 2 to 4 are doing an in-depth study of Little House in the Big Woods - working through a chapter each week - and learning how to mine the text for content, historical facts, character values, Biblical truths, grammatical applications, figures of speech, parts of speech, and more!  Employing Charlotte Mason's "narration" techniques, there are literature pages to be completed each day, vocabulary words, spelling words, and various studies in nature science and the American history settings during the lifetime of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

As added inspiration under the Art Appreciation index, students have been learning about the works and life of Grandma Moses - a contemporary of Laura Ingalls Wilder who captured her childhood on canvas during the years that Ms. Wilder penned her classic book series with words.

Lapbook and notebook projects about Alexander Graham Bell - and making telephones with string and cups - plus a grand time churning butter like Ma and Mary did in one of the chapters keeps the class time lively.

Time for dancing . . .

And, log cabin building . . .

And, playing detective while hunting down adverbs in the text send students home each week with a GOAL SHEET of assignments for home completion.  Each notebook, with specific guidelines in neatness and accuracy, becomes a work of art.  Lapbook projects are collecting in a special pocket for safekeeping until the last week of the semester when they will be arranged in the finished Lapbook - producing TWO works of art records of semester studies.

Intermediate Students in grades 5 through Junior High School are studying Marguerite DeAngeli's The Door in the Wall - a masterpiece of character studies and literary diamonds!  An overview of Medieval history accompanies this study with an emphasis on the setting of the story in the late 1340's England, during the reign of Edward III and the Black Death.  All language, grammar, and composition studies are mined from the story text with connections to Biblical truths and historical details.

To kick off the study, Professor Jean-Marc Grussenmeyer was guest speaker for an afternoon of time travel to the Middle Ages.  Professor Grussenmeyer is an old friend to Constellation Academy and recently returned to a position at Rowan University from a year's study in Canterbury, England.  A busy Civil War and Medieval history re-enactor, he shared an afternoon of fascinating facts on the subject, and even demonstrated the details of Medieval warfare . . .

After being "coifed" in chain mail by a Constellation Academy squire!

Photos afterward with students from the class and the cast of the Parable Players Senior play, The Empty Throne:  A Medieval Morality Play.  

The beginning of October saw a caravan of cars heading to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire for another Constellation Academy field trip where the Queen and her court dubbed some Constellation Academy students Lords and Ladies of the realm!

Mid-October finds Miss Stella catching her breath from all this busy - and looking forward to our Starshine Gala Exhibit Night where the Parable Players will perform and student projects will be displayed and semester awards will be given out to one and all.  A highlight for this semester will be the NEW Constellation Academy BELL CHOIR - the Junior troupe performing three selections within the context of both the plays.


And, if all this busy excitement in teaching and learning isn't enough - Narnia Night is fast approaching on Saturday, October 27, beginning at 4:00pm - co-hosted by Constellation Academy and Indian Trail Farms!
What NARNIAN COSTUME will you wear???

It's not too late to get your RSVP in for this amazing SCAVENGER HUNT of all things Narnian!  As a culmination to our Constellation Academy Summer Reading Recommendation - The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis (all seven books) - Indian Trail Farm is the perfect location for this grand event, boasting the Narnian woods on their grounds including the LAMPPOST and CAR PARAVEL!

Trail maps with riddle clues from the books will be given to each child with prizes and new riddles pointing the way from the lamppost to the castle!  Meet Mr. Tumnus and other characters from the books in the FAINTING GOAT PEN - plus PONY RIDES in the arena and a festive HAYRIDE through the fields.  Families are asked to bring a covered dish for a POTLUCK SUPPER - served in the huge and authentic western TIPI.  The Trading Post will be open, too!  All this - only $10 per child payable at the door - but RSVP ASAP using the Contact tab above, so we are prepared for everyone!!!


Miss Kathy is currently working on the winter/spring semester - beginning in January for Elementary and Intermediate students featuring literary and historical studies from the era of the American CIVIL WAR.

Photo by Jan Narducci - Mullica Hill Re-enactment - October 2012
The Parable Players will be in production on a melodramatic play with stories from this era, too!
Also, as part of the study students will be trained in HOW TO CONDUCT A LIVING HISTORY INTERVIEW and be assigned a local elder citizen to interview and create a presentation on something they learned from the experience.  Costumes will be gathered and students will host a Local Living History tent exhibit at the annual Founder's Day in Vineland on May 18.

A day trip to Gettysburg is being planned with some Civil War re-enactor friends of Constellation Academy so stay tuned on that score, too!  PLUS the new WRITER ON THE WAY class for Intermediate level students with an intense focus on writing skills - and writing to publish.

Primary students will begin meeting in March for a delightful romp through the English countryside with BEATRIX POTTER AND FRIENDS!  Not to be missed fun for K4 and K5-Grade 1 level students!

More details on what's to come in 2013 will be released soon - pass the word!  
If you are at all interested in getting your name reserved for a spot in one of the classes - contact Constellation Academy as soon as possible.  
Classes have limited space!

But, we're barely halfway through the semester - much more to come!  Shine brightly, my stars!!

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