Helen Keller

For the last two weeks we’ve been doing a Beyond FIAR unit on Helen Keller. E10 and R8 are doing this together. Originally, it was to be a family unit study but as mentioned in the Mike Mulligan post, I decided I-6 shouldn’t miss some of the best FIAR titles now that he is older.

So far we’ve had the chance to study the eye and the ear and a little bit with sound. The kids fought over who could finish reading the book first. This biography of Ms. Keller is rather short and they grew impatient with the “read by the chapter” format. I gave in and let them read it to the end by themselves. R8 had already read a different biography of Helen Keller and she had some profound thoughts on how the perspective from which each book was written was different.

Some books we have on hand about the human body and the senses. I have lots of little experiments/investigations in my science teacher stash about the senses. R8 felt that this copy of Helen Keller focused more on her childhood, while the version for BY tells more about what happens to her later on in her life. Pretty perceptive…but then R8 is very good at that sort of thing.

As always, the Beyond notebook of choice is a three-pronged folder. I like to do the book cover for the front, but not all the time and it is laminated with a sticky backing and put on the front. Love that Xyron 900!

E10’s diagram of the ear- R8 actually requested a study on the ear because she did not study it when E10 did Thomas Edison. The kids did a sensory deprivation exercise in our bathroom and wrote about it afterward. I’d like to say it was a really deep exercise that elicited esoteric thoughts, but …that would be lying. Let’s just say it was less than effective and leave it at that.

R8’s diagram of the eye and our little eye model/puzzle. I opted out of dissecting a cow’s eye for now. Sure- I’m a science teacher. Sure- I’m a biology teacher. Sure- I’ve done untold numbers of my own dissections. And untold numbers of dissections with students. I just figured it was an activity meant for kids slightly older (I did teach middle school science after all) and we’ve already discussed how almost anything is worth a try in a classroom. But in the home environment things are different. I have not brought myself to a place where I can dissect stuff on the same table I eat dinner on. That said, when I was in school we used to dissect AND fry the stuff we investigated! Those were the days friends. Indeed. I even came home and taught my parents how to efficiently dissect a whole squid before my mom fried it up. Remember that one Dad??

This model and puzzle of the eye was recommended to me…we tried to put it together the first day while I dutifully pointed out all the parts. On this day (below) last week I let them sit down and try it out on their own. We talked about each part and what it’s for. I think they’ve got it. However, that thing is nearly impossible to get all together! But hey…it’s been fun.

This week we’ll be picking up with R8’s American Sign Language again. She took a class last semester in our homeschool co-op and loved it. ASL is perfect for her because she is such a hands on learner. Sign language simply appeals to her kinesthetic nature (that one’s for you Alana!) I hope to do several lessons a week or just let her play around with it for a while. These books were recommended to me in the spring. There’s a text for learning signs and syntax, etc and two puzzle books. The puzzles are designed to help you practice the signs without needing another person.

We had this book on hand from a friend when I-6 was in speech therapy. Some of you may not know that he was diagnosed severely apraxic when he was just 27 months old. He had the speech of a nine month old and even then not all of his sounds. However, his receptive language was that of a 36 mos old. He took to sign language immediately and signed everything he said- even phrases for six to eight months before beginning to really use spoken words. Then as he gained more vocabulary, he began to drop the signs. He doesn’t remember that any more but we all used signs with him for quite some time.

I picked this up at our local science center- it should be a lot of fun.

Basically, you have magnets that have words on one side and the signs on the other. So, you can compose sentences using the words then flip them over and sign the sentence. I’m anxious to see if this is a helpful tool.


I plan to continue on with the Helen Keller unit through to the 23rd. We’ll have the chance to talk about some geography, some history while adding to our general timeline and our timeline of Helen’s life. Plus, we want to find out about Braille and the man behind it. After all, we have to find out how Helen read since she could not see. She loved her books.

Our read aloud right now is The Door in the Wall which is about a noble boy in the middle ages who was to be a page to a knight. Instead, he falls ill and ends up disabled. There will be adventure in the book as well as the compassion of a teacher and the determination of a young person. Lots of parallels to Helen Keller. I happened to pick it up at my favorite consignment shop on Saturday. Love it when stuff comes together like that.

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7 thoughts on “Helen Keller

  1. I know Holly! Really gross isn’t it? We did that in high school with clams (which some folks down raw), squid, and crabs…all bought in edible grade form of course NOT from Fisher Scientific!!That was back in the mid to late 80s and we could still type our own blood then too!!

  2. Oh, she’s a kinesthetic learner you say? Wow! But the real question is, does she have multiple intelligences? LOL! http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm#Learning%20Styles%20Explained Great post! I found someone at Andrew’s school that will let the kids come do science experiments at the school. SCORE! I am hoping to do the owl pellet and the cow’s eye. EWWWWW….I told her I am so squeamish, and she said no prob. Gotta love it!

  3. I think it’s really great that you studied Helen Keller, the ear, and sign language. I am an interpreter and have been for 14 years. I think it’s important to find a way to connect the deaf to the hearing community.

  4. wow very interesting research, maybe you can answer me this, there's any kind of posibility than a boy with authism can understand what I'm saying ? or I mean the meaning of my words ?Thanks for sharing, very interesting, I'll put on my facebook if you don't mind.

  5. I am truly grateful with those responsible for creating this blog, reading is something that I enjoy very much (specially if you are mention the biography of Ms. Keller ),and to be chaste, I have a habit to read articles like this every day. The theme was really interesting, as the content.

  6. This seems very interesting to me. I was looking for info about this stuff, but I hadn't been able to find exactly what I wanted. I even got more resumes about Viagra than about this theme, can you believe it, I mean, it's so weird isn't it?

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