Saturday, September 21, 2013

learning in our pajamas

We often have adventures and projects and outings and plans, but some days at home (or series of days) just flow organically.  Everyone follows their interests as they arise, joining together in an activity for awhile, drifting on to the next idea, or the next conversation, or solitary moment, or snuggle, or playful romp.  We recently had three (much needed) days like this. On the surface, it might look like we didn't do much.  There was no agenda. Sometimes we wore pajamas long into the day, but below the surface was a rich blend of creativity and learning and connection.

We worked puzzles and played games, practiced cartwheels, and had living room dance parties.  We sang Skip to My Lou, many times, with all of the verses.  (Sheep in the bathtub. Hullabaloo!)  We listened to classical music and 80's music and A Capella Science music about string theory.  What?  This.

Camille and I delved into the Crash Course Biology series, including this one, in which carbon is referred to as a tramp, for its willingness to make and break bonds.

We played Statetris, a tetris-like geography game.  Spanish on DuoLingo.  We discovered new, simple, fun games on the BeGamer website.  Sometimes Camille would be playing a game (like Escape from Yepi Planet) in one room while Sylvia and I would play together in another room, with lots of running back and forth.  Did you get past this section, yet?  Don't tell me how to do it.  Just give me a clue.

We fed the chickens and gathered eggs from the coop.  We built with blocks and jump-roped.

We watched Minecraft tutorials on YouTube.  FETCH on PBS Kids.  Trouble With Sophie on Netflix. The Making Stuff series on NOVA.  We looked into what it would take to make a magnetic non-Newtonian fluid at home (also called magnetorheological fluid or ferrofluid).

We re-shaved the sides of Camille's head.  We designed a skirt that Sylvia wants to sew and picked out fabric from my stash for it.  We hula-hooped in the rain with a magical unicorn.
We harvested and canned tomatoes.  We dug potatoes and listened to barred owls calling back and forth from the valley.  

We played in the mud.  We picked, sauced, and canned more apples.  

We read stacks of picture books and continued to read The Borrowers by Mary Norton aloud.  Camille read The Giver by Lois Lowry in a day, and listened to The Secret Garden on Storynory. She made several screenshots the old-fashioned way while listening to audio books.  She simply taped a piece of paper to her monitor and traced everything, including the ads :).

We doodled and colored and snipped with scissors and decorated with glitter glue.  There was watercolor painting, and Jackson Pollock-inspired painting, which somehow turned into body painting at some point. Go figure!

I returned to some knitting that had lain dormant all summer and I looked online for information on photography.  I ended up joining the supportive regional community of photography enthusiasts over at Capture Wisconsin

We ate lots of simple, nourishing food from the gardens and we ate pizza and potato chips.

We marveled at the moon and listened to coyotes howling.

Some of these activities brought us all together and some were a special way to connect with one child at a time.  Some lasted for short bouts and were easily dropped.  Some lingered and grew and morphed into the next thing.

In this way, we find balance and connection and such a varied lot of goodness and learning in our ordinary days at home.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke


  1. Beautiful.
    Sometimes I consider that to outsiders (non unschoolers) our days may appear disjointed, or unconnected. But really, they're Our days, with Our experiences, and that in itself makes them connected to us. Just a big, happy, juicy life full of interesting, inspiring, intriguing things. :)

  2. Stephanie, thanks for commenting. I love knowing others that live and learn in a similar way to us, and seeing what beautiful variety there is!

    The days could seem haphazard from the outside, but the flow that connects them is uniquely Ours. That's true, and I'm grateful for it :)

  3. Thanks for the awesome links!

    It was so helpful to read this today. I'm at a crossroads and feeling a powerful pull to move away from "homeschool" and closer to what you describe. I love your days - Stephanie's too. You are both so very inspirational to me. Gracias.

  4. Thanks, Gabriela! It was so nice to read your comment. We moved somewhat slowly into this 'style' of homeschooling in the beginning, but it feels like it's working really well in our family. I look forward to seeing what you and your son get up to, whichever way the crossroads leads you :)

  5. you just described my dream day around here. in and out, ebb and flow. it feeds us all to be in that spot, relaxed and taking so much in...
    (I am off to check out the Bohemian Gravity - science AND Queen?! Egads, how awesome!!)

  6. Ha! I was just thinking that it is time to get my hook out again. I need some rhythm.


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