It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.
Before we dive in, I want to remind everyone that according to the neighbourhood window walk schedule, tomorrow is the day that we are supposed to put encouraging words in windows. So make sure you set aside some time today to cut out some letters or make a poster.
Also, my work is starting to pick up and I need to spend more time each day supporting teachers so they can provide distance learning for their students. This means I may not be able to keep these posts up to the same level as I have been. I will do my best, but in case these don’t appear as often in your feed.
Now, onto today’s theme. Today is Tolkein Reading Day, a day created by the Tolkein Society to celebrate the works of JRR Tolkein. March 25th was chosen because it is apparently the day that the Ring was destroyed. There are a lot of ways you can tie curriculum into a celebration of this day.
The most obvious place to start is by reading some of Tolkein’s works. If you don’t own any, check with your local library’s digital service to see if you can get an electronic copy or an audio book.
But you can also spend some time reading Celtic, Finnish, Slavic, and Greek myths. Tolkein was, in part, inspired by these stories when crafting The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. There is also a heavy dose of the Arthurian legends in Tolkein’s work. Even if you’ve only ever watched the movies, have your kids try to figure out what parts are pulled from which myths. (This would be a great time to introduce your kids to the Myths and Legends podcast. Great for long car drives or quiet story time during social distancing.)
For your older, fantasy reading fan, have them spend some time looking at the influence of Tolkein on modern fantasy literature. The could create a mind map or a venn diagram where they contrast Tolkein’s work with their favourite piece of fantasy literature. They can share their findings with you, their siblings or even their grandparents.
One of the great things in Lord of the Rings are the runes that he created. Have your kids use the chart in this document to write secret messages using the runes and then have them decode each others’ messages. Alternately, you can leave some messages around the house for a scavenger hunt. How is this math? It’s a form of code, and codes are linked to cryptography and math. Cryptography has a great history. Explore other codes and have fun leaving and receiving messages.
One of the other things that influenced Tolkein’s work was his experiences in WWI. One of the most obvious is in the relationship between Frodo and Sam, with Sam representing the batman from the British army. This would be an excellent opportunity for your children to learn about WWI.
DK Findout has a great interactive site on WWI. For older kids, Canada’s History Museum has a lovely interactive site. And of course, you should spend some time with In Flanders Fields.
Tolkein made some very elaborate maps of Middle Earth. There is an amazing site where you can explore the maps. For older kids, they may enjoy this criticism of Tolkein’s map making which does an amazing job of talking about plate tectonics. This is a great activity on plate tectonics involving some graham crackers and Cool Whip. As a bonus, you could eat some of the experiment. Or break it up over several days to do around snack time. Sometimes lessons in small bits can be wonderful.
This would be a lovely moment to have your kids use what they have learned to look at our world. Print off a copy of the world map and have your kids cut out the continents. Have them then try and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle. (Hint: Africa kind of fits into South America). When they finish, or if they get stuck, show them this video.
Finally, some fun.
If you need a break and some fun, there is this lovely earworm of a song that you could play for your kids. It would make a nice dance party for everyone. If they are familiar with Tolkein, you can also play this video which posits a different ending for the series.
Deanna Toxopeus is a teacher with 20+ years of experience teaching students from Grade 1 to Grade 8. She is currently an Itinerant Teacher of Assistive with the OCDSB. The opinions she expresses in this blog are wholly her own.