Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gearing up for "School"

Today's attempt at hands-on learning.
A sort-of shinai and a bamboo, duct-taped, "sword"
(and I use the term loosely).

Our weekly co-op starts in a few weeks, so I'm starting to plan my class. This semester I'm teaching "Arms and Armor," a look at weapons through history. I got, shall we say, stuck with this class, because my classes didn't make.

I offered Full-Contact Grammar (an active grammar class using props, charades, and other games) and Milestones in Science (a science-through-history class where kids learn about innovations by re-creating the original experiments). They didn't get enough votes to be offered, and I was seriously bummed - so bummed that I might have to offer a little science class outside the co-op to do Milestones.

I shouldn't say that I was "stuck" with "Arms and Armor," because I actually was going to offer that very class ... just for a much older age. It wasn't the class I got stuck with, it was the age. The kids are, um, young and, ahem, energetic, and ack!, mostly boys between the ages of four and seven. So how do I plan to keep seven young boys enthralled for an hour?


Weapons that they get to make.

Weapons that they get to make to beat each other up with.

S and T trying out their new weapons of mashed instruction.

My plan for the first week is to let them make a shinai, a practice bamboo kendo sword. I'll send home instructions for making a samurai sword, helmet, and armor - or maybe I'll have enough energy to do the shinai and the armor or helmet! Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Here's our shinai prototype.
What would homeschoolers do without duct tape?

(Shhh! Don't tell, but I plan to work in a little geography along with the history and the weapons making.)

This is what a real shinai looks like.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy The Mock Day.

Photo of shinai by Diego Martin from here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Camille, You have to make the very simple bow and arrow that ancient Hindus apparently used. My cousins and I made them as kids and ran around with them pretending to be Gods and Goddesses.

  3. Haw haw, "weapons of mashed instruction," touché!

    Ian voted for your Milestones of Science, class, BTW. Just trying to make you feel better. Both of them were excellent ideas and I would have signed up!