February 8, 2005

Thailand Culture Co-op

Today was week two in our study of Thailand. It was a fun lesson plan. This week the kids took a "trip" to Thailand and recorded it in a homemade book. The teacher had packed a suitcase and would take items out one at a time to explain why she would need them. She began by asking the kids why they thought they would need each item.

My personal favorite was the first one she pulled out of her suitcase, a bucket. The kids answers were logical: to carry water, to play on the beaches in the sand, to catch a frog or fish and so on. Her answer stunned all of us and I think it took a minute for the kids to even believe her. She was packing the bucket so she could dump water on the heads of people! See I bet it surprised you too unless of course you are familiar with the Sonkran, also known as the Thailand Water Festival.

Moments like this


and even

are common and to be expected. If you do not want to get wet, stay indoors! To read more about this festival you can read this and this. And for those of you who are dying to know - no we did not allow the kids to actually dump water on each other!

The rest of the talk was also fun, interesting and informative but that was definately the highlight and what the kids were talking about tonight at the dinner table. You could see their eyes light up at the thought of a water festival. Who knows maybe some hot summer day we will decide to demonstrate Songkran -- and hope our neighbors forgive us! Aren't you glad you don't live next to the crazy homeschoolers? Or maybe you are one who would join in?

The kids learned about some other festivals, religion, culture, dress, homes and work. Unfortunately I can't tell you much more as Ciaran, Sirah and I spent some quality time in the hallway for much of the remainder of the lesson

After snack they worked on a craft, a Krathong which is a little flower boat used to celebrate the Loi Krathong Festival in Thailand. These are traditionally made out of banana leaves and flowers. They place candles, incense sticks and a coin on the Krathong and float them in lakes, rivers and canals all across the country, wishing for good fortune in the coming year.

Our kids made their out of paper bowls, flower petals and had an artifical flower, votive candle with insence and a coin in the middle. We did not float them in a river, though Rhiannon intends to do so tommorrow. All our major bodies of water are frozen here in Minnesota so we might be filling up our bathtub!

Atleast this time they should not be as messy and possibly damaging to our tub as our last tub Experiment on ancient writings - when the cunieform (clay tablet) broke apart into large and small chunks of clay mess to clean up and the paint from the papyrus (tracing paper) left a black ring to clean up after we experimented with what would happen if they were exposed to a flood (our bathtub).

The craft came out good once it was discovered how to get the petals to glue to the plate without falling off. It is still all in one piece so far. Ciaran and I will be finishing his tommorrow as again we headed out to the hall for much of the lesson.

We will finish off our studies on Thailand with a study on history, government and animals next week. Then we will all dine together at a local Thai restuarant. So far the most memorable things my kids have been talking about Thailand are Sawadee (hello), Thailand is the land of smiles, the tsunami (more resources and lesson plan here), eating lots of fruit, and of course Songkran (the festival where you pour water on one another).

This is our fifth month of country coop (United States, Israel, Iraq, China, Thailand) and I can see the kids are getting much more out of it now. I think it is a combination of the kids getting more used to it and the moms getting better at how to teach the material in interesting ways. Also I think the last two countries we have done have been particularly interesting to the kids - at least my own kids seem to have taken much more out of the lessons on China and Thialand then the rest.

This has been a great thing to do with our homeschool group and I highly recommend it if you have a group of people you are thinking about working together with. It is interesting, fun and not that difficult to pull together and it works nicely with a mixed age group. We have 10 kids from ages 3-12 and Sirah who has not been involved that much yet.


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