Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sharks In The Rainbow, Or An Unschooled Day

A couple of months ago, I posted a play by play of one of our days. As it so happens, it was one of our more structured days. I thought maybe it might be good (hopefully not too boring), for those of you interested in unschooling, to post a glimpse of one our more unschooled days. Yesterday, just happened to be one.

We had company coming in the evening, so I needed to get the house ready, and the distraction of the news out of Japan, has been making normal studies seem trivial, not to mention the time change throwing us off. Even so, the day was not lost - just different.

7:30 a.m. - D (age 8) is the first of the children to get up. He emerges from his room full of observations about a new set of "Wild Republic", toy sharks, he's received recently. The set contains 12 different sharks, each with its name on the bottom, and has really sparked his imagination.

Trying to capture some of that interest, and direct toward writing skills, which so far he hasn't been to interested in pursuing, I picked up The Everything Kids' Sharks Book by Kathi and Obe Wagner.

While I have a few minutes alone with him, I pull out the book, and after skipping over the first few, heavily evolutionary laden pages, he settles very happily, into a puzzle page dealing with Megalodons, writing out words without complaint.

Then, he drags the book off to his room, where I know he is looking through it, by the number of very corny shark jokes I'm treated to for the rest of the day.

8:00 a.m. - T gets up, and reads his Bible while waiting for D to finish his puzzle, and the rest of the children to get up, too.

9ish - The rest of the children are up, breakfast is served, while we all listen to a few chapters of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer, and look through Vermeer, The Complete Works by Arthur K. Wheelock, for a visual of the paintings mentioned in Balliett's book.

9:30 The older children, and I watch Ken Ham's Why is There Death & Suffering, in response to C (age 4) asking, "Why is God killing everyone?" A question prompted by the news out of Japan.

I did my best to explain the nature of a fallen world to her, in simple terms for a four year old, but wanted something more in depth for the older children. The Answers In Genesis video, is directed at Christians, and spends about as much time refuting old earth theology, as it does explaining suffering in the world - but it was perfect for our day.

10ish The younger girls demand a craft. So, while the older girls oversee bath time, I set out tissue paper scraps, and cut a paper plate in half...

...for the girls to squish, and glue together...

...into rainbows.

Then, we read Eric Carle's Let's Paint a Rainbow. It's a board book, and too simple for the girls (ages 4 and 6), but it is the only rainbow themed book within easy reach, and the illustrations in typical Carle fashion, are interesting enough to hold the girls' interest.

At the same time, A (age 10) has pulled out the craft sticks, and set to work on what she tells me, will be a pencil holder.

While everyone is crafting, I clean the kitchen, and field more shark, and ocean related questions from D, such as, "How big is a plankton?" It's, about half a centimeter, if you're curious. We check the size on a ruler.

T (age 13), reads about multiplying polynomials in Algebra Unplugged by Kenn Amdahl.

G (age 11), works on a list of spelling words, she'd like to master.

By 11:30 when the Man of the House arrives home for lunch:

  • Everyone has bathed.

  • The crafts are cleaned up, and cleared away.

  • The three younger children have settled in to watch "The Magic School Bus Takes a Dive" (click the link to watch it on Gamequarium), mainly to determine the name of the fish, that attaches itself in a symbiotic manner, to sharks (the remora fish).

  • The older children are playing Roblox.

We have lunch, with cherry pie for dessert, and reread How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the U.S.A. by Marjorie Peiceman. The younger children look at the map in the back of the book, and ask whether Alaska, and Hawaii are part of the United States. We discuss the terms "continental United States" and "contiguous United States".

The Man of the House, and I watch more coverage on Japan, while the children eavesdrop. This leads to a number of discussions about Japan, and its history, and culture, WWII, earthquakes, the tilt of the earth, our responsibility to help, and so on.

After lunch - I have to run out to deliver a youth retreat form to our church for the older children, and stop by the library, to return one pile of books, and pick up another. I leave T in charge, and D reading from Betsy Maestro's A See Full of Sharks, to his younger sisters.

When I get back, I find T and D discussing whether the bald eagle is large enough to take on a great white shark. T has Googled bald eagles, and pulled out a yard stick to demonstrate height, and wing span. I find myself on my knees, modeling the height of an eagle, holding a yard stick, along an outstretched arm, representing wing span.

I pass out the library books, and ask T if he'd be willing to read Dr. Stanley F Schmidt's Life of Fred, Advanced Algebra. The math will be too advanced for him, but I'm curious about the story, and format. He asks me if I'll pay him for a review. We negotiate, and agree on back allowance due, in exchange for reading.

The older girls ask to make cookies, since we have company coming in the evening. I give them a cake mix cookie recipe, orally (1 chocolate cake mix minus 3 tablespoons, 1/3 cup of oil, and two eggs, mixed together, and added to 1 cup of white chocolate chips, rolled into balls, and baked for 9 minutes, on a greased cookie sheet, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit), from memory, and leave them alone, to see if they will follow the instructions.

The younger girls have gone off to play "library", D has returned to his sharks, and T is off reading.

I straighten up in preparation for our evening company, and return to the kitchen, to find the girls have made the cookies, and written the recipe into their own recipe book. The kitchen is a disaster, but the cookies look great.

2ish - The children go down for a "nap". The older children read, except for G, who writes a long overdue, thank you letter to her aunt. And, the girls clean their room.

I read a couple of chapters in my own book, start dinner, and work on a Jell-O rainbow snack for later - just one of those layered Jell-O things...

...but with a larger layer of blue, so I can stick in a few gummy sharks.

They eat it after the company leaves, while watching "The Magic School Bus Makes a Rainbow".

This is not a complete day, of course, other things happened, that I simply missed, or can't remember to include, such as random piano playing (mainly Christmas songs), spelling (often directed into Roblox), checking of strange, miscellaneous facts (to solve arguments), younger children playing learning games on, a lot of time, though not enough, spent in prayer for the people of Japan, and so on.

Oh, and by 10 p.m., while I was working on the beginning of this post, T emerged from his room, having finished The Life of Fred book. He skipped over most of the math problems, but was interested enough in the story, and the idea, that I will be searching out Life of Fred, Beginning Algebra, as soon as I can. And that one, I won't pay him to read.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Christy Killoran said...

You are incredibly productive. I am so impressed.

I might make some of those cake mix cookies today. I keep saying I'm going to do it and I never do.

Did you see the MA family that made national news quite a while ago because they are unschoolers? I saw them recently at an event at the library. They were talking about their idea of unschooling which includes not making the children bathe or brush their teeth if they don't want to, and allowing them to eat whatever they want whenever they want. Obviously, they have taken unschooling to an extreme, radical level. They seem to have given homeschoolers a bad name around here and it really upsets me; I am thinking of posting a memo in the library directing everyone to your blog. I love the way you homeschool.

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

I should write out one of these - When I sit down to try to pull it all together in a post less than a novel in length, I have a hard time focusing - Both boths, and a hubby home for Monday and Tuesday, me with a new camera, we had two really full days, even with the "workbooks" dusty in their bin. Today, we need to play a bit with the texts. I have on the list today to make "cake batter cookies". I'm waiting for yongest to get up to research it out. Oldest is - On Roblox. ;) FunyNate and Jonnylego are my two, They run alot of ads - Mr. Freak is JonnyLego's neest. ;)

Unknown said...

Wow, you do a lot- cooking and crafts. That is great!
I never have the energy to do that much for my kids daily.

My youngest does Life Of Fred sometimes.

our week has been full of "LIFE" (cuz that is was CS Lewis calls interuptions..LOL)

We took off and spent the day at the Beach Monday.
Yesterday was Chemistry Test Day (as we didn't do much else)

Today was going to be just a little bit of school in the morning - b/c we were going to meet a friend for lunch- but they had to change days- so now the boys are eating lunch and working on some math.


Phyllis said...

Thank you for this post. It was a VERY interesting read. I wondered how your days go. Sounds like you have got a lot of natural readers there. I have to push mine to read. Sounds like in both of your types of days that your kids do not have a lot of chores to do. It is so interesting for me to see other homeschoolers days. In some ways they are the same and in some ways they are different.

Debbie said...

This post really inspired me, while I only have Selena, it is the type of day I can truly see her and I settling into. Even at her tender age it does in so many ways represent just what we do around here.

Kylie said...

Great post, always love reading these and yours in particular.

Christy Killoran said...

I just wanted to come back and tell you that we made cake mix cookies today! We used chocolate cake mix and peanut butter chips. They are great! Thanks!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I enjoyed reading about your day. I am still amazed with your ability to juggle so many balls... er... children. I was contemplating making a rainbow jello today, but considering that I have never made any jello, I settled on lime green for St Patrick day. Now I have to figure out what to do with leftovers. I hope our neighbors love lime jello!

Marcee said...

Wow, Leah! I wish I had your imagination and creativity to be an almost "unschooler". I'm really the workbook type teacher, that's what I am comfortable with.

Ticia said...

I think as long as each day is different it's fun to read a "Day in the Life of" posts. I keep thinking about writing one, but then I'd have to admit how much time I'm on the computer........ Which I'm working on. Kind of.

Unknown said...

Even though you dubbed this day as not as structured it still packed alot in. Unschooling always interests me and I really enjoyed reading your post.