Monday, October 3, 2011

Kaya- An American Girl Unit

We've slowly been working through the Portraits of American Girlhood in R11's homeschooling. Last year we did a unit on Felicity and of course I taught some American Girl co-op classes, but this year we decided to start with Kaya and since she is not one of the six original historical dolls, she is not in the Portraits unit study. So, I set out on my own to create something we could use. R11 is pretty familiar with all the time periods of history represented by the dolls, so I decided we needed to do some out-of-the-box thinking to make these units work. After all, NOW is the time while she is 11 even though she isn't learning a lot of new things in terms of history. Given that she has a lot of prior knowledge on most of this, it's time to add another layer to what she already knows. So, this is what we came up with to round our her studies and dig a little deeper.

Fashion Design- she has been designing a beaded dress for Kaya and has hit some bumps in the road in getting it completed. This has been a good exercise in diligence and problem solving.

Cooking & Cuisine- she studied what sorts of things Kaya's people would have eaten and has prepared a menu based on this information. We hope to get that cooked up by week's end (our family schedule is busy this week so this may be tricky)

Climate & Habitat- what is it like in that area of the US? how does it compare to where we live? How did their environment influence their lifestyle?

Comparisons- of other known historical figures and the doll's character. For example, R has been working on comparing Kaya with Sacajewea who was also a member of the same Nez Perce tribe.

Blogging- as part of her schooling, R11 is stepping her blogging over at Miss Bliss. This is an informal way of sharing her creativity and projects with others. This is great practice for keyboarding skills and will be a fabulous portfolio of her work in the years to come. It's also a good way to practice writing. We've been discussing how this format will be a friendly one for a creative girl who wants to showcase her work and possibly sell it in the future. It's time to make friends with it! (even though formats and interfaces can change this is good practice at the general form)

Stop Motion- R11 has made some really fun videos in the past and she has been working on developing some for her American Girl dolls. She made a video from a script she wrote for the dolls and is now trying to work with the sound. It's all about how the other dolls surprise Kaya with the fact that R11 is making her a new dress. Very cute with the movements and script, but sound is an issue.

Now this is all unit study work which she works on with me- mostly as a check point/advisory type role and on her own. In addition to unit study time, she is doing WriteShop Junior Level F (we are beta testing again), math, nature/art/music (CM type study that rotates), and Latin (twice a week).

We've been doing a lot of good work though it may appear unconventional. If you are going to try it out, I'd recommend regular check-in times and frequent conferencing about the student's work. Part of the deal with this custom design for R is that she has to really make an effort and we need to see that she is learning new skills and stretching herself. If not, then she knows the natural consequence is to go back to more traditional schooling on the same topic or a different one all together. 

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