Monday, August 27, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright's Gas Station

[Image source]
N. learned so much about Frank Lloyd Wright in second grade when Tim read him Wright's fascinating Autobiography and for weeks N. pored over huge library books full of gorgeous photos of his drawings and buildings.  So to follow up, this summer we stopped by one of his more obscure works: the R.W. Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet, MN.  Lloyd Wright built it in 1958 based on plans he'd developed in the 1930s (when he had little work) for a futuristic community called Broadacre City.

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to cultivate very long learning trajectories.  We can circle back to topics we've studied before to build and amplify and reinforce what N. (and we along with him!) has learned.  Seeing this station reminded N. about the quasi-suburban Broadacre City aspect of Lloyd Wright's vision;  we also talked about the functions of gas stations in American culture and why it seems surprising for an architect to design a gas station.  Where will Frank Lloyd Wright take us next?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Day of Homeschool Third Grade

N. chose today to be his first day of homeschool third grade, and while it didn't fall into the typical routine that has marked Tim and N.'s previous "school" days (and I'm sure a similar routine will take shape soon), it was a very pleasant, mellow entry into the academic year. 

N. woke up at 7 a.m. and read his cherished new book, Amtrak: An American Story until 8:30.  At 9:00 all three of us had breakfast together and read the local newspaper, which included N. asking what meth labs are and a long discussion about a tug-of-war between a local business owner and our city government which has been trying to redevelop a historic train station as a transportation hub.  N. practiced piano for about 35 minutes before Tim took him to his much anticipated 11 a.m. piano lesson (1 hour long), his first since late June.  After his lesson N. enjoyed some play time with his teacher's son who is around his age.

Upon returning home, N. worked on a Lego kit he received for his birthday while we got lunch ready.  We ate lunch around 1:15 and listened to a CD of Harold Arlen hits.  The new National Geographic arrived and N. pored over the articles about "Weather Gone Wild" for about a half hour while finishing his lunch.

After lunch he played with his electric train and did some more work on the Lego kit.  Then he and Tim had about 45 minutes of "school" time, reading in A History of Us about the national anthem and trying out a newly acquired science workbook that turned out to be lame.  N. then played with his best neighborhood friend for several hours; I heard them running and screaming outside as they played and later when I went to get him for dinner, I was shown the elaborate freestyle Lego castle they were building for a Lego Queen Katie and her army of protectors, which included Lego Superman and Cat Woman. 

We ate supper outside and then N. and I took a walk for about half an hour, stopping on the way to get a tour of a new neighbor's recently purchased bungalow during which N. especially admired an arched doorway framing the kitchen eating nook and discussed the merits of vinyl replacement windows with the owner.  While we walked, N. told me a story about some of the buildings in his imaginary world.

We returned home to leftover birthday cake and ice cream, followed by a chapter read aloud in Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown (a book we've read many times before, but which N. wanted to return to recently after a particularly disturbing chapter ambushed us in our current read-aloud Roller Skates).  As he was brushing his teeth, N. asked about some of the features on my new university laptop, and I happened to play him the audio files which I'd downloaded but never played from the Nallenart French curriculum I bought last year.  This prompted N. to ask me as he got into bed to bring his French picture dictionary to his room so he could read it in the morning.  He wanted to work on the French right then, and he wanted to read Winona's Pony Cart, which I'd mentioned because our Betsy-Tacy chapter was about the inimitable Winona Root and he apparently doesn't remember the book about her since we only read it once a couple years ago.  It's always hard to get him to slow his racing brain down at night, but he was tired enough from a full day to accept my insistence that French and Winona and Amtrak and friends would all keep till tomorrow, and he went to sleep about 9:10 p.m. 

We're looking forward to a rich third grade year together!