Friday, February 1, 2013

shapes and symmetry and flow

When you're two (or thirty-five), wooden blocks are a fun way to play with shapes.  If there are many blocks of all different shapes and sizes to build a large block city, so much the better.

"Ta da!"

We listened to some vintage albums that Papa used to listen to when he was a little guy.  Fun!

Thinking of shapes, led us to wonder why eggs are, well, egg-shaped.  Which led us to Discovery Kids.  So, it turns out that the curve of the egg-shape lends the egg strength, is easier to lay for the hen, prevents the egg from rolling down hills, and fits snugly together to keep warm in the nest.  If you want greater detail on the egg-laying process, this article from wiseGEEK was short but detailed.
We couldn't take anyone's word for it.  We had to squeeze raw eggs to see if we could crack them that way.  It's not possible if you apply even pressure, but of course if you dig in a finger, you could do it.

Then we wanted to roll them on flat and inclined surfaces. We picked evenly-oval ones to compare to the more pointed-ended ones, and found a significant difference in how they roll.  (We used hard-boiled on an upturned mini-trampoline for this.)  The pointier ones rolled in a more circular motion which would keep them safer on a hillside.
Of course, we had to roll tangerines and balls as well for comparison's sake.  We hypothesized about why so many fruits are spherical.  It would be advantageous for seed dispersal for the fruit to roll further from the parent tree. Also, ease of growth would be a factor.

This (above) led to this (below),

which led to this.  Yum!

Discussing shapes and biological reasons for shapes, led to symmetry.  We talked about reflection (bilateral), rotation (radial), and point (origin) symmetry.  We talked about biological symmetry and which animals (sea stars, jellyfish, etc.) have radial symmetry, and which have bilateral (us, and most others).  Same with plants.  Radial (most flowers), bilateral (leaves, orchids).

We found a fun symmetry activity and played around with reflection symmetry, both completing the patterns from the program, and creating our own patterns for each other to reflect.

We looked at the radial symmetry of fruit,
and talked about multiple lines of symmetry, and different ways of dividing shapes.

We played with ideas on the chalkboard.

And played with the Symmetry Artist program on

After a two-day-flow of learning from shapes to symmetry (and encompassing much more besides), Camille and Sylvia veered off into different games on Discovery Kids, and Pixie Hollow.  I recently wrote a post about "screen time", and the benefits of it, but the problem with calling it "screen time" at all, is that it lumps together such a wide variety of activities.  I could just as easily call this last hour that Camille and Sylvia spent together "sister time" or "giggle time" or "eating sprouts time".

It has been pointed out by other radical unschoolers, that people don't use "paper time" to refer to everything from reading a book, to doodling, to journaling, to origami, to paper airplanes, to reading a manual.  In order to see inspired learning flow and unfold, labels like "screen time" can keep us from seeing clearly the joyful engagement and varied learning that is happening.

I love catching a flow of learning that keeps us engaged from blocks to eggs to sea stars to computer games to art to sliced fruit to snacking.  And if you throw in a little dancing, some snow and sunshine, I am one very happy mama.


  1. Yay! Such a fantastic pic of Ayla! What an excellent example you are of terrific unschooling!! Screens are an unavoidable part of our everyday lives, whether we like it or not, and teaching our kids that a screen can offer us insight and inspiration in the same way that books can is a vital part of their education. It's a tool, after all, and like any other has to be used wisely to gain the most from it. Have a great weekend x

  2. What a perfect homeschool day!

    I'm always amazed at how you get the three of them engaged in the same activity.

  3. Gabriela, does it seem like I often engage them in the same activities? :) This is funny to me, because I feel like I'm Always splitting my attention between their various interests. Making playdough with one, reading something to another, checking out the latest, "Mama, come see! Come see!"

    Unless, of course, it's rolling food around on the floor, or somesuch :) and then they're all too happy!

  4. Now I want to make a block city!!! Loved your symmetry work :-) Have you looked at SymFace - it's interesting stuff (and shows how unsymmetrical our faces are!)

  5. Perfect. Love those days. So much!
    I didn't see your faces on there (to see if they're symmetrical)... you might like playing with that. Take a portrait, then cut it in half. Flip the one side, then the other, and put them together. It's very interesting! We did it a few years ago... Trev's face was pretty symmetrical, but Maddie looked like two different people! :) (It's in 'fun and games'.

    It's so nice to see you! I miss being here.

  6. Just have to say that I am so envious that you have those old childhood albums. I wish it had occurred to me (many, many years ago) to save mine!

    Looks like you all had such a lovely day!!!

  7. Ingi and Stephanie, thanks for the face symmetry suggestions. We're going to check it out :).


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