Monday, November 21, 2005

How does it look...Unschooling?

I keep getting this question and I keep stumbling on it. It's like I'm a deer caught in the headlights and I can't move but in my case I just can't make coherent thoughts. It was bothering me so much I woke up in the middle of the night pondering.

After lots of thought I figured it out, I'm confused because I'm still defining what "we do" as "what we don't do" and I don't want to do that anymore.

So what does a typical day look like? Well in reality there are no typical days in our house. It is ever changing related to the kids interests. The following are snippets from many days and a few years of homeschooling in our family.

  1. Last night was my daughter's 10th birthday party, everyone had left and then Stephen wondered outloud. "Why do we do cakes on birthdays? When did that start?" So I googled it. Jade was curious too and listened to what we found. With this simple question we covered a bit about religion/spirituality of other cultures in history, why cakes are round, and when cakes as we know them started.
  2. When Jade was about 5 years old Stephen took her to a library program where she learned how to make a circuit. She thought that was so cool I bought things to put together our own circuits. This exploration lead to taking apart an Operation game to retrieve a buzzer, fixing some walkie talkies we bought second hand that didn't work so we fixed the circuit, taking apart a light saber to explore how the mechanisms worked. We made our own temporary flashlight.
  3. About a month ago I sat down to do some Art Trading Cards. As soon as I did Jade was in there making them with me. This just didn't cover art it covered reading and writing because I was putting quotes on my cards so Jade wanted to put some on hers too. Then Corbin came in and wanted to make a small book. So then I transcribed a book for him. Now he likes to read his book before bed sometimes. He wants to make more books like this. So more reading and writing.
  4. Jade listens to lots of books on tape and often comes in to tell me about something that intrigued her. She also talks with me about the TV shows she watches and what she learns form them.
  5. Jade learned some early American History from Liberty's Kids. She likes to do things on the website too.
  6. Both of the kids enjoy watching Cyber Chase which shares math concepts through stories.
  7. Jade actually likes to do flash cards and test herself with her math skills. We recently picked up some books by Greg Tang that gives hints through rhymes how to add/subtract or multiply large groups of numbers/thing more easily. Some day I will describe how Jade gets the correct answers. She thinks differently than I do.
  8. Corbin has been challenging himself to count to fairly big numbers. A few days ago he counted to 300.
  9. Corbin has learned some about history because of his love of knights. We have researched weapons in history and explored some physics with catapults.
  10. Corbin explores with electric circuits using this snap circuit kit. He has been using this kit since he was 6 years old.
  11. They both love to play Zoombinis a game that through play explores patterns and logic. They also like Math Arena.
  12. We have made marble runs from toilet paper tubes.
  13. We have made rock crystals from kits.
  14. We make our own play dough. The kids explore cornstarch goo how it's hard and gooey both.
  15. Last year the kids came home from a Magic School Bus Live show at the Lied Center to make their own silly putty. They had an easier way to do it than we had done before and spent lots of time making some. It required mixing glue, water and borax.
  16. We have blown up balloons with vinegar and baking soda
  17. We have played with magnets. Corbin made a screw driver magnetic with other magnets we had. He was probably inspired by Popular Mechanics for kids.
  18. Both of the kids enjoy watching Zoom, Popular Mechanics for Kids, Mystery Hunters which has led to trick picture taking, magnets, biodiesal cars (Jade would like us to have a biodiesal car for a our next car), and more..
  19. Corbin explores how fast his cars go down ramps he makes. He notices some cars go faster and we talk about why it could be.
  20. On Halloween we talk about pumpkins, seeds, plants, growing.
  21. Last year each of them planted their own gardens. We weeded and watched the seedlings grow.
  22. We listen to books as a family.
  23. Corbin writes songs.
  24. We make up our own rules for games.
  25. Superman has inspired Corbin to write small books.
  26. A few days ago Jade picked up a homes maintenance manual and figured out how our bathroom tub drains.
  27. Both of the kids like to tell jokes and riddles which leads to how words sound (phonics) and definitions of words.
  28. Corbin creates robots, cars, and planes with legos which requires observation of patterns and shapes. He also makes guns with K'nex.
  29. Jade has taken Spanish classes at the library and through parks and recreation.
  30. Jade and Corbin both get an allowance which has helped learn to add, subtract, and save their money.
  31. Jade has learned proportions and science inpired by her love of baking and sweets.
  32. Stephen is an amature naturalist so they learn about plants and animals along with him. A few weeks ago Stephen found a racoon and Corbin watched him skin it.
  33. I'm learning how to crochet, spin, and felt wool and the kids are learning along with me. We talk about the fibers and why they felt and why they bind together.

So we learn from everything, all the time, together as family.

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