## Tuesday, January 08, 2013

### First-week-back school thoughts

So how are the winter school plans working out so far (after two days)?

Best resource we have right now:  a backyard full of snow.  Snow forts!  Snow digging!  Snow sliding!  After a dark, bleak, and mostly snowless December, a cold but bright week with lots of snow definitely feels like a new start for January.

Best books so far:  Augustus Caesar's World, which we had just started before the holidays; and The Pushcart War, which we're reading together as well.  A couple of the others, I'm not sure yet, or we haven't actually started.  Ponytails and I read Augustus Caesar's World two years ago, so I remember it pretty well, but I'm still impressed at Genevieve Foster's ability to bring some potentially dry and hard-to-tell-apart characters to life.  It's not every writer who could handle introducing Cicero and even manage to include some of his backstory in a convincing way...although he's basically her Voltaire (from George Washington's World) in a toga.  I photocopied the two character pages from the first pages of Part One, and gave them to Dollygirl to colour while I read a few sections today.  (I notice she spent most of her time colouring Cleopatra and Octavia, the only women on the pages.)

Best idea for a short project:  make a coupon clipper booklet on the topic of Ancient Greece, while reading through a small stack of daily-life-type books.  The Apprentice did this years ago for a study of the Romans...I still remember the ads for "toga dry cleaning" and a "private academy for boys--we promise not to beat them too hard."

Best math question:  there's a photograph of a man in a hard hat standing beside the business end of what looks like a giant mechanical shovel, or something to chew things up anyway.  Estimating the size of the man, determine the scale of the photograph, and use the scale to figure out how wide the shovel actually is.  (It turned out to be about twelve feet wide, if the man was about six feet tall.  Although we had to figure that in centimeters.)  Bonus question:  what do you think the piece of machinery is?

It turned out to be one of these--only a contemporary version. A gravel pit shovel!