Friday, September 25, 2015

ordinary unschooling moments

Our lives seem so very ordinary some days. We learn a little, play a little, cook a little, clean a little, explore some, laugh some, learn some more, sing something, make something, write something, discuss, and repeat. Some days we see friends, or go on adventures, or shop for groceries. It has continuity and flow and yet can look so very random from a distance. 

This unschooling life is ... life without a packaged curriculum, but not without abundant learning. Life without arbitrary bedtimes, but not without well-rested children (most days). Life without enforced chores, but not without willing helpers (most times). Parenting without discipline and shaming, but not without support and guidance. Parenting with honesty and respect and kindness towards the children, not demanded from them, as they learn by example. Life lived out loud at times, and simply and quietly at times, as mood and season and circumstances allow. It looks so different from family to family, but from here, it looks and feels joyful and messy and amazing and ordinary.

All of the following photos are random moments from our mid-September days. (Sept. 6-18)

Elroy Historical Society Museum

"Mama, look! I made my hands look fancy!"

snap circuits



more snap circuits

helping make cheesy gluten-free lasagna in the crock pot

 anatomy coloring book

cursive on the tablet

more snap circuits; an adjustable tone generator this time

sister love

in the overgrown garden


math fun on Khan Academy

sharing a computer game

playing and reading by the water

 display about Mongolia at the library

photo by Camille, on a country road

hydroelectric dam

  Castle Rock

*pic by Camille

 checking out geese through the spotting scopes
at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge

 whooping cranes and sandhill cranes

We were so excited to see these endangered beauties. In the 1940s, there were only twenty-some whooping cranes left in the wild. There are approximately 600 now in existence, with the majority living free. The whoopers were kind enough to let us stand there and watch them for over half-an-hour, only flying off after we were walking away.

 mammoth sunflower

  donkey at the apple orchard

 pep band

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” ―William Martin
art: Marla Frazee

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Not back to school

Well, a little bit back to school, but mostly just another week in this unschooling life. 

Camille plays the alto sax in the local public school band, as she has for the last two years. This year they bumped her up to high school band as a ninth grader (though she only just turned twelve which would otherwise make her a seventh grader). She also has the option to join pep band, marching band, and pit band (for the school musical), all of which she is excited for. The potential downside of this for me is that she needs to be driven into town daily for these activities. The actual upside is that Ayla, Sylvia, and I get to hang out in (or near) town while she is there and we can explore the parks, visit the library, check out the hydroelectric dam, look for clam shells, shop for groceries, or stop for a treat during that time.

During Camille's first day back in band, Ayla and Sylvia and I hung out at the park and played, swung, sang, and looked at mushrooms growing wild. We happened to touch on so many different topics during random conversation that I jotted them down on the back of an old receipt just to remember later. Centrifugal force, fungus, lichen, symbiotic relationships, kombucha, fermentation, springs, potential energy, karma, balance.  

After that, we headed for our nearest state park and set up camp. No surprise that we had the place to ourselves.

Sylvia and Ayla helped me pitch the tent and Camille used a hand pump to blow up our queen size air mattress.

This is our "first day" pic for what would be kindergarten, third, and seventh grades.

 This is what our day naturally evolved into.

The rest of the week was filled with the usual sort of goodness.
  dress-up play

 exploring town

 a Green Eggs and Ham floor puzzle from the thrift store

 garden harvest

  helping every chance she gets


 After watching an old episode of Mister Rogers where Bill Nye showed Fred how to combine baking soda and vinegar to blow up a balloon, they wanted to try it right away. Of course.

 After getting excited about parabolic arcs and midpoint formulas (for real) because of Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy, Camille came and asked me for a yarn needle.

Sure, what do you need it for.

Sewing a parabolic curve using straight lines, y'know?

 more explorations of what we've come to call Clam Shell River

Our very fine week also included CrashCourse history and chemistry on YouTube, digestion and chemical reactions episodes on Bill Nye, cursive writing apps on the tablet for Sylvia, meeting friends at the park, meal planning and cooking together, a spinosaurus episode on Nova, many different magazines, books, and audio books, an anatomy coloring book, snap circuits, Mythbusters ... I could go on, but you get the idea. Lots of learning and goodness and joy all rolled together.