Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning Through Play- It Works for Older Kids too!

I'm loving our laid back week off!  We're not implementing any planned lessons and it's been nice having no set agenda each day.  I enjoy watching my kids engage themselves in learning; also known as unschooling.  




Here's how our typical unschooling day shaped up: 


  •  Alec had started a load of laundry (life skills).  
  •  We piled into the car, the boys played Kindles, and we listened to The Blood of Olympus while driving to do errands (reading).  
Once home:
  • The younger two made their own meals (life skills).  
  • Evan worked on putting together some more Lego guys and vehicles most of the morning though he did play with all his Tenkai Knights figures too.  (construction/ following directions/ imaginative play)
  • Alec started working on a watercolor painting kit. (art)   
  • Ian had a new truck magazine and was busy looking up toy websites from all the magazine ads. (reading/ technology)
     I tried to watch and participate without really interrupting their flow.  It's not always easy to keep a great balance between being involved and hovering over them making them feel like I'm watching and critiquing.  I want them to be independent but I do enjoy watching them all work too.

Reading the color guide and learning how to mix liquid
watercolors.  
He was so proud of himself for putting his sets
together on his own 






  • Before long Ian was begging Alec to share his art kit.  Inside Alec's box of supplies there were three dolphin painting sheets and Ian really wanted to paint.  They finally agreed that Ian would buy the same set and replace whatever picture he used today.  Sitting side by side they worked on their paintings working together to mix colors and give each other compliments on their work.

Working side by side sharing tools and tips

Ian is a pretty quick painter 

All finished! 

All finished! 
We had lunch
  • The boys asked me to read the rest of the Harry Potter chapter we had started yesterday. (reading) 
  •  Ian and Evan wanted to go outside for a bit.   Ian and Evan didn't make it outside very long since it's pretty cold today but they were out long enough for them to try out Ian's new machete (or at least that's what Ian is calling it).  They had asked if they could take his new tool out to the woods and try to chop down a few trees to make another fort.  I was nervous but he is getting older and I didn't want to say no either so with a huge leap of faith I let them try it out.  I warned them to stay close enough that they could hear each other if help was needed but to stay far enough away so no one would get hurt.  Ian is pretty responsible and great with tools so I just reminded them to be aware of who and what was around them and that only Ian was allowed to use tools without an adult present.  Luckily they came home in one piece and I didn't have to worry or wonder about them long.  I find as they get older it's always a struggle to let them go, let them take on responsibilities, and to allow them to make their own mistakes.  I know they need to in order to become self- sufficient but it's still not easy! (Life skills/ Independence/ using real life tools) 
After warming up from playing outside the boys all went their own way:
  •  Ian came downstairs in the afternoon and handed me one of the library books I had put in his room earlier in the day.  I assumed he wasn't interested in reading I'm My Own Dog but he assured me that he had read the whole thing.  "Pretty good, hugh?  I read a book without you asking me to.  Are you surprised?"  Blown away was more like it!  My kid who loudly complains he hates to read decided to read a book?! For fun?!  On his week off?!  This is reason to celebrate!! (self- guided reading!) 
  • They slowly migrated back to screens as the afternoon wore on.  Alec and Evan are both playing the same Pokemon game on their DS's and they linked up to battle each other.  They played together and Alec was giving Evan tips on how to improve his Pokemon's performance.  They talked about the different types of Pokemon and what types beat other types.  It was a whole lot of discussion that went right over my head but it was adorable to see them playing screens side by side with their heads bent together. (technology/ cooperation)
  •  Ian settled down to watch Redwood Kings and watch them create a wonderful tree house for a veteran's housing development.  He also watched Tanked and learned about making fish tanks and different types of fish. (life skills/ learning about job opportunities.  

    After watching a few shows Ian decided to gear up and head outside.  He's trying to finish organizing his job site and "mining" before winter really comes and the ground freezes over completely.  I went out to see what he had been up to and I was surprised at all the work he had done:

  • He showed me a few things including what we believe is a hibernating bug/slug that he dug up and then I hightailed it inside.  BRR! Is it cold!  He asked about clearing out the leaves and branches in front of his trucks and the next thing I knew he was using my clippers to trim brush and the leaf blower to try and clear away the leaves.  I saw him using the metal rake to try and move some of the leaves too.  Unfortunately the cold weather won out and he ended up giving up to come inside.  Most of the leaves are frozen in place and I don't think the leaf blower liked running in this weather either. (life skills/ using real tools)



  • Ian and I cleaned out the wood stove, filled up the wood rack and got a fire going. (life skills)
  • He saw that I used a few small pieces of cardboard that had a few drops of paint on them (since we tend to use flattened boxes as drop cloths.  He started worrying and obsessing about burning paint.  I tried to reassure him and told him that yes you should not burn paint but the tiny amounts on the cardboard weren't really an issue.  He didn't believe me so he spent a few minutes on-line looking up what happens when you burn paint, what happens when you burn latex paint, and how much paint is too much paint if you burn it.  We talked about lead paint versus oil based paint versus latex paint.  We talked about credible sites and how to tell if the information is most likely correct or not.  (typing/spelling/ researching/science) 

 Meanwhile the younger boys broke up their co-operative Pokemon play to pursue their own intersts for a while.

  • Alec and I put up his new window bird feeder today and he's been hanging out in his room this afternoon trying to see if any birds come to use it. (science)
  • He also started working on putting his marble maze together.  He got a set for Christmas and he was anxious to see how it would work.  I don't think he was prepared for just how many pieces there actually were in that box.  He did put a bit of it together following the step by step instructions and then decided to take a break for today when he ran into a snag. (logic/ math/ science)
All in all another awesome day!  I really think we might be starting to get the hang of this homeschooling thing!

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