Immersion Learning

Time for an adventure. Time to let our senses rise to the forefront of our awareness. Time to slow down and watch.

The Writer’s Jungle has a number of excellent activities designed to activate the part of your mind that notices and the part that delights in a well-turned descriptive phrase.  We don’t want our children simply jumping through writing hoops, after all.  We want them sharing parts of themselves on the page.  We want to get to know them through their writing.

On Monday we did the Keen Observation exercise.  The purpose: to get to really know an object before they write about it.  A descriptive paragraph without much description, a boring string of sentences, is likely to result when there is a paucity of personal experience and information.  Therefore, acquaintance before description.

I wanted the kids to really get into this one.  We’ll be doing the exercise more than once, but I wanted this first time to really engage their fascination.  I’ll be frank – the Mary Poppins and Ms Frizzle inside of me clamored to come out and play.  I bought a box of teaposy tea.  I hid the box so that the kids couldn’t see the unfurled petals of the beautiful work of art that awaited them and asked them to set the table.  “Make it a little fancy,” I said.  “Let’s enjoy this.”

We spread a dark blue cloth on the glass table on the deck, lit a candle, and gathered flowers. Sandra wanted to know why I made them use the big glass mugs rather than Ur-Oma’s china tea set.

“You’ll see.” I handed them each a little dry ball.

___

Tea Posy writing

___

“Tell me about these. Use your five senses. I’ll be your secretary and write for you.”

A few excerpts…

Sandra:
· smells like Earl Grey
· smells of nut and spice
· when you move with the lines, top to bottom, it’s smooth, but side to side it’s rougher
· looks like an acorn made of a thousand strings
· size of the centre of a Black-eyed Susan

Matthias:
· looks like a ball of yarn with the ends tucked into the middle
· size of a rubber bouncy ball
· size of a dandelion
· heavier than a Ping-Pong ball

We add hot water.

___

Tea Posy writing

___

Tea Posy writing

___

Matthias:
· getting bigger! getting bigger!
· darker now
· mine’s sinking!

Sandra:
· the strands are letting go of the tight form they were in and going outwards. You can see them popping away
· smells like lilacs
· can see more yellow
· little air bubbles
· little tendrils that were encased are now going free like a bud opens
· strands look like grass

___

Tea Posy writing

___

Sandra:
· petals not all the same colour – some are yellow and some are beige
· around the edge where the water stops I can see a reflection of the petals
· there seems to be a ring of yellow petals around a more beige inside group of petals

Matthias:
· looks like a flower, only a lot more strands, petals look like grass pointing straight up
· mine looks like it’s hovering just over the bottom
· I can see more yellow
· it looks like a ball of tentacles

___

Tea Posy writing

___

Tea Posy writing

___

Sandra:
· around the edge where the water stops I can see a reflection of the petals
· there seems to be a ring of yellow petals around a more beige inside group of petals

___

Tea Posy writing

___

We drink slowly, carefully, tenderly.

Matthias:
· makes me feel warm
· a gentle taste yet attention-getting

Sandra:
· tastes like green tea
· a gentle, calming taste and yet inspires curiosity

Tias wandered away, but I read some poetry to Sandra.  In particular, the Mary Oliver poem “This World”.  I have fallen in love with Oliver’s work this month, and I’m not the type to say that lightly.  I don’t toss “love” and “hate” around like dollar store beads.

The poem begins:

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it

nothing fancy.

But it seems impossible.

Whatever the subject, the morning sun

glimmers it.

It was a wonderful morning.  Slow and focused.  No rush.  Just mystery unfolding in front of us while we let words spill.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Immersion Learning

  1. Tinkermama says:

    Must. Get. Teaposy. Tea.!!!
    Soooo amazing, dramatic, and breathtaking!

    My students and I always keep our focus on slowing down and really observing. After all, this is what writers, artists, scientists, and mathematicians do. It is the work of life. Our writer’s workshops sound similar to the process you describe above.

    This IS the writing process, natural, organic, personal. Not workbooks. Fabulous.

  2. GailV says:

    Wonderful! And a great description of how Bravewriter can work in a family — I hope other people find this post so they can get a taste of it.

    I had to laugh, though, that Matthias chose not just the “typical” kid things such as a rubber ball and dandelion, but also a BALL OF YARN. Nothing quite says “house full of knitting” like those unscripted moments when your child’s first thought is that something reminds him of yarn.

  3. Heidicrafts says:

    Wonderful entry. Great choice of the dark blue cloth to highlight the yellowy flowers. The photos are a delight.

    ‘Round here, I’m called the scribe, rather than the secretary. It just sounds fancier or more weighty.

  4. Annie says:

    This reminds me of Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood, where she recounts studying (and drawing) her baseball mitt for an entire summer. It was her figure study, for lack of a model. But how she knew the ins and outs of that mitt!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s