Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Self- guided discovery

I'm learning more and more that when it comes to homeschooling our days flow best when I put the boys in charge and follow their lead.  I have set aside my plan book and decided to just wait and see how our days unfold.



Today  Ian quietly went to work reading a book he had gotten from the library yesterday and read 18 pages!  For Ian this was huge.  Unlike his younger brother, Ian hates to read. He likes stories and enjoys hearing me read but he doesn't like to read.  He actually cheered when I mentioned we might go to the grocery store this afternoon, when I asked why he told me it's because he can listen to Harry Potter on his MP3 player on the way there!

He then headed outside to play in the sand and his brothers followed.

I grabbed the weaving kit I got from Amazon (of course- where else would I get it right?) and headed outside.  I showed them briefly how to weave a pot holder and then left Alec to it.  The other two were real anxious for him to finish so they could start and immediately planned what colors they wanted to use.  Alec had a rainbow pattern and they all talked about different patterns they could use.
They remembered we talked about this at Old Sturbridge Village and the different weaving we saw them doing there.





 As the morning progressed they spotted a birds nest in one of our oak trees that had baby birds in it and we watched the mommy bird flying back & forth feeding her babies.  Evan had the idea to get binoculars and before I knew it he wanted to "go all around and look at little things with it!"

 I said "sure that's a wonderful science activity then you get to see things up close through the lens of the binoculars and see lots of details." 

He also made the observation that if you turned the binoculars around everything looks much smaller and further away.   He found a frog, some ants- red, black, and yellow (or so the boys claim) and lots of sand, and leaves. 

 They got to finger paint today too.  This was a huge hit with all the boys.  They got the idea to fill up a bucket with lake water so they could wash their hands between colors.  Alec gets real upset if colors get mixed and messy so this was a perfect solution and took a lot of teamwork to implement.  As the masterpieces were drying they all went swimming. 


The kids remembered at lunch time that I had offered to make pancakes for breakfast this morning.  We all had forgotten so I suggested pancakes for lunch.  They all said great and before they could move I told them they were in charge of making the batter and then I'd cook.  I pulled out the cookbook and coached them.

 Alec totally surprised me when I said it took 3/4 of a cup of milk and he said "so.... would I use three of these then since there isn't one that says 3/4?" (he was holding up a 1/4 cup measure!).  I can't get over all the math they are learning.  Especially once we decided to double the recipe!  They had gotten some Reece's pieces at a party we went to and wanted to add them to the batter so they had yummy Reece's pancakes that they helped make for lunch. 

A short while later when I was making my lunch and prepping some stuff for dinner I turned around to find Ian unloading and reloading the dishwasher without having been asked even once!  Alec happily joined in and helped.

Then they decided that they wanted to play with Alec's animal zoos again so they worked together to carry everything over to the table and fill them up with water.  Negotiating and trying very hard to play together without fighting.  I had to interject once or twice over some bickering but they managed to play pretty well for a while. 

Out of the blue this afternoon Evan says to me "back in the olden days they didn't have grocery stores or food.  Well they had food, but I don't know what they ate."  With just a few short questions about farms and foods found on farms he had his answer.

Really quick and impromptu learning is what our day has been about again today!

Alec was singing a song (to the theme of I want candy) while cleaning up and thought busy was spelled b-u-z-z-y. I told him there's no "z" in busy and he immediately spelled it the right way.  That might not seem like much to most people but I know he was not only learning spelling but also creative writing.  A creative way to get kids to write is to make up new lyrics for existing songs.

My kids (and really most kids I know) do this ALL the time.

 It's language skills!

Ian asked to play a board game and after much debate with his brothers we sat down to play life.  I make Ian be the banker and after playing only once or twice he can add up the money and even figure out change back!   A huge feat since everything is usually in the 100's and thousands and he does it all in his head.  We're working on letting Alec figure that out for himself too without Ian chiming in with an answer. They read all the squares and count spaces.  We love the game of Life as so many life skills are introduced too like loans, decisions of whether to go to college or not, investments, and even gambling.

While we played life Evan played trouble by himself.  He too was learning numbers and counting but I'm sure he doesn't know it.  Then he came over and brought his baby book with him and made me read every page to him.  That was extra nice for me to look back and see how much everything has changed!

So many friends and family members tell me they could never home school because of all the planning and organization that goes into it.

While I would never say there's no planning or organization involved, I'm learning more and more that if you watch, wait for, and really pay attention to all the small details of the day learning just sort of happens and creeps up on you without a ton of planning.  

Obviously I have the supplies on hand and I plan a rough outline of what I'd like to accomplish in a week, but really after weeks of having my plan book a series of crossed out activities we didn't do and trying to cram in those activities we did do I completely abandoned a plan book altogether.

This blog is my way of looking back to see what we've done and reminds me of what I'd still like to do.  I never have a shortage of ideas, talking to other homeschooling moms, looking at non- fiction books with the boys, reading Pinterest and my Family Fun subscription gives me too many ideas actually and I sometimes find myself wishing we had EVEN more hours in the day.

Well, at least those days where they aren't driving me nutty.

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