Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Long-Awaited Euwy Map

A few months ago the kids started talking about their desire to create a more detailed and comprehensive version of their map of Euwy World. They had a lot of sketches of various areas, and a lot of pretty clear ideas. I suggested a relief map, similar to what we had done years ago on a paper maché globe back when Erin first got interested in geography (photo on this page). But since Euwy World is, unlike our own world, affixed to the inner surface of its spherical planet (this fact explaining why science has yet to discover its existence), a globe presentation would not be terribly enlightening. So they opted for a flat projection, on a 30" x 50" piece of particle board.

Noah, Erin and Sophie sketched in the land masses. Sophie and Fiona made the first mountains and other relief features. Noah and Erin added some others a month or two later. Fiona, Sophie and I gesso'd the entire surface a couple of weeks ago. Then three days ago Fiona and Noah set about painting the oceans cobalt blue (see previous blog entry for reference to cobalt blue). And over the last two days the bunch of us have spent several hours painting the contour colours. It's amazing how this task has entertained us all. We almost missed soccer today because our "little bit of Euwy Map painting" turned out to have been almost two hours worth. Where had the time gone?

The contour painting has been very instructive. It sure beats instruction about the nature and purpose of contour lines. The kids understand that a ring of dark green will always surround a ring of light green, that in riverbeds and chasms the contours tend to form V's, that gently sloping areas have broad swaths of contour colours, they can spot a plateau easily from its colour and shape, understand what a watershed is and can create logical watersheds based on contour colours and patterns.

We're about two thirds of the way through painting the contour colours. No instruction has been given. A lot of discussion has happened, natural, un-teachy conversation, advice has been given and graciously received, questions have been asked, jokes and ideas shared.

Noah has a lot of trouble with the fine work (of which there is much) in this project. He did a lot of sighing and looking away and eventually opted to focus on the plateaus. It was a wake-up call for me. I think we need to look into getting him glasses; he's quite far-sighted (though Erin is even more so and is an insatiable reader -- go figure) and we were told that if he wasn't having difficulty with reading, he probably didn't need to bother with glasses. At that point (two years ago) his reading ability had just leapt and he was easily managing Harry Potter level stuff. He muttered something non-committal like "yeah, my eyes sometimes get tired, but it's not really a problem." We left it.

He who loves stories and loves alone-time is not the passionate reader I'd hoped he'd be. He struggles with small fonts when sight-reading on viola, and it was note-reading on piano that he really struggled with. His reading speed has not increased as Erin's and Sophie's have, and it's become apparent in the past week or two that he's exceedingly self-conscious about this.

It all fits. I think we need to see about some glasses for him.

Once we finish the contour colour painting, we'll be adding place names. The kids have scores of names in their heads, awaiting the completion of the map. New names are coined almost daily.

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