Friday, September 7, 2012

Too tired to teach

I was up most of the night with my youngest son and I was just too tired to teach today.  That happens and I usually have a back up plan.  But today I didn't...

Usually when I am too tired to teach I pull out a few quiet materials to guide the children into playing while learning or I pull out schoolwork that doesn't require me to be right there leading and talking.  Things like:

  • Puzzles!  My kids enjoy putting puzzles together and it's a quiet activity that doesn't require my help. 
  • Building with blocks of any kind; pattern blocks, Lego bricks, Keva blocks, etc.  They all require a lot of hands on math and problem solving but not my help.
  • Movies!  Educational movies and TV shows are a God send when I am too tired to teach.  We watch a movie and learn together. 
  • Activity books.  My boys have a few books that don't require any input from me; some are easy school books but many are just kids activity books.  Books like extreme dot to dot or word searches and mazes; it gets the kids thinking and they're content to work on their own. 

But today I didn't pull out anything.  I sat back and let true unschooling happen.

I told the kids I was too tired to plan what they were going to do today and I was leaving it up to them.  I let them know I would help if they needed it, like when Ian told me he couldn't do his math book by himself (not that he then did any math or anything but I guess he was just checking).  For the most part they were left on their own and they did just fine keeping themselves occupied!

Ian and Alec finished their tree paintings.  I put green, yellow, orange, and red paint in paint cup lid and gave them some q-tips.  They dotted away to make leaves.  They really filled up the page with leaves, some on the trees and lots of leaves on the ground. 

We remembered we had a pineapple stem in the cabinet we had been waiting to dry out for planting.  the instructions said to wait one week before planting but it has been several and it looks pretty shriveled.  I have no idea if there's such a thing as too dried out to grow but we decided to plant it and see what happens.  According to the directions (for easy reference I attached a link to the instructions) we have to plant the stem about 1" down into the soil and only water once a week.  So Ian and Alec filled up the pot and packed the pineapple top down into the soil.  We watered liberally and set it in the sun.  We're going to try and remember to water it every Friday.  I am notorious for killing most any house or potted plant so I'm hopeful one of them will take over this job and be much better at it than I am.  Hopefully in a few weeks we'll have seen some sort of growth. 
Evan also wanted to plant apple seeds and see if they would grow so we put some dirt and seeds into a Cd case (an idea I modified from the one shown here.), though at the last minute Evan changed his mind and decided not to join us.  The other two boy eagerly set to work dumping dirt and seeds into the Cd cases.  I like the idea of using the cases because it will really allow us to watch what happens.  I took the advise on the site and taped the bottoms shut to keep them from getting "accidentally" opened and we'll use medicine droppers to water them. 

We used the apples we cut open for seeds to do some apple printing too.  Evan decided to join in on this project too.  I let them use the leftover paint from this morning and they either stamped the apple in the paint or used a paintbrush to layer on the paint then stamped on plain paper.  They soon realized too much paint led to slipping and not as neat of a print.

Next thing I knew Evan was painting his hand too.

I just let it go. 

I learned my own lesson yesterday, when my table turned green after our chalk painting and took 20 minutes to clean, and put down a disposable tablecloth today under the art work.  I was hopeful the mess wouldn't take too long to clean up and still allow them to create without my constant worry that they'll destroy my house.   Though, today they spilled the paint cup on the floor so now I'm thinking we need to find a winter art area; perhaps in the basement somewhere.    

Ian read a few books this morning; quick, easy, picture books, but still I was impressed he picked reading as an activity without being asked.  Alec and Evan pulled out their Pokemon cards and battled, set up a memory game, and just read and compared all the different cards they have.  It's always kind of surreal for me when they start talking Pokemon since it's like a whole different language they've learned.  There's talk of water, grass, fighting, flying and fire type Pokemon's.  There are small Pokemon and some have adult forms but not all of them change.  I'm never sure how they keep all these things straight as well as all the unusual names but I'm sure there has to be some learning taking place.

They watched another Wild America show today too, this one was about Prairie dogs.  We learned all bout their complicated system of barking as well as what predators they must watch out for and how they build their homes.  

We then went outside for some fresh air and sunshine.  

Alec brought his Illumino outside (it's kind of like a light bright but doesn't require any paper) and decided he wanted to make our cat out of the colored pegs.  It came out really well too.  In the corner is a picture of the sun w/ rays and the cat (in blue since there are no black pegs), with white paws, a pink tongue sticking out standing  in the grass.  After I took the picture he did modify it slightly to include a colorful sunset behind the cat and a pond at his tail that reflected all the colors of the sky above.  I was just so impressed with how well it came out.  He had to move some pegs around to figure out how to make it all fit just right but without following any directions he did a great job using his imagination.  

I find that if I let them lead they still find a way to learn; they focus on what they are interested in and relate it back to whatever we've been studying.  Today they covered art, science, and reading with a lot of emphasis on art and science.  

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1 comment :

  1. Nice to see Evan learning with fun.You can try some online practical tests on Maths and English for your kids at