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Not Reading

John Holt recommended in his book, Teach Your Own, that homeschooling parents ask their kids three questions:

1)  What are you already doing (learning about, studying) that you want to keep doing?

2)  What would you like my help to do (learn, study)? and,

3)  What do you never want to do again?

This time, Campster said that she doesn't want to learn to read this year.  Granted, her reading is better than it has ever been.  But at 7 years old, she is not reading chapter books like Jor Man was.  And she does not feel confident about her reading.  She frustrates herself when trying to read.  I have wondered if she is dyslexic.  She will write whole sentences backwards, from right to left, and not notice the disparity.  I have been reading The Gift of Dyslexia in an effort to determine how best to assist her in reading.  But I have not yet come to any conclusions.

I assured her that I would not "make her read" at all this year.  She was relieved.

So I find it so sweet and wonderful that when Sher Bear was feeling ill, Campster offered to read to her.  Nope, no reading in this house!  LOL.

Wish you were here!

How to Put Together a Unit Study

Did you gasp?  An unschooler talking about unit studies?  Sacrilege!  No, not really - unschooling has never been about avoiding learning.  It's about being a resource to my kids - whatever they are interested in, I become the docent at this museum we call life - showing them around.

If you imagine for a moment that you are really a docent in a museum, and you have all the resources in the entire world available to you - well, you could just wander the museum aimlessly from time to time.  But when your kids show a particular interest in one area, that's the time to gather the resources and make the most of the learning opportunity.

Sher Bear wants to know about Egypt.  The last three or four times we have been to the library, she has picked out (by the pictures on the covers) book about Egypt to bring home.  So based on her interest level, I have been putting together a unit study on the Ancients.

Thankfully, I have amassed a rather large library over the years.  I always keep my eyes open a yard sales, at the "dump" and at the library when they are casting off the old books for free.  I also never say no to a homeschool friend who would like to purge a bit.

So my big project this week has been to go through all my books, which are now overflowing the shelves, and pick out the resources we will use for this year.  I have also decided that I will be putting books that refer to other time periods away for the year.  That way, I will have more space, and the books will be much easier to get to.

I am also entering all my books into LibaryThing.  It's a free, online service you can use to catalog your books and then to sort them, and keep track of them.

Here's a widget showing my Ancients collection on LibraryThing:

Now, just because I have the books pulled and some projects planned does not mean that I will get all "teacher-y" and make the kids sit down and learn.  Rather, I am tempting them into the subject matter.  We have spent the last couple of days reading books, and for now they are all still very interested in continuing.  We also have some friends who are also studying the Ancients this year (they are using The Story of the World, which I used with Jor Man when he was four).  We will be getting together with them once a week to do crafts and other projects around the subject matter.  Next week we are going to their house where my friend will lead "Cave Painting".  The week after, I will lead "Mummifying a Chicken".

Washing the chicken
Now the chicken, having been dehydrated in spices for 6 weeks, is oiled.
Jor Man wraps the chicken in linen strips coated with glue

Here are some pictures of when Jor Man and I mummified a chicken.  Such fun!  I am also hoping that there will be enough money to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see their wonderful Antiquities collection that even includes an Egyptian Temple.

Hiding "golden" jewels in the wrappings

The finished "mummy"

Following this, Jor Man created a "sarcophagus" for the mummy, and it was buried in our yard.  Because we have since moved, we often joke about the construction project or idle digging in the future which will uncover our mummy and really have people wondering!

Wish you were here!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Despite Campster's serious look, everyone was having a great time.

Libraries in Connecticut sponsored a summer reading program this summer, complete with prizes from Barnes & Noble, Quassy, and Rockcats baseball.

All three kids won free tickets to a minor league, Rockcats baseball game.  We just had to pay for the adult tickets ($8 a piece) and parking ($3).  The kids even got free hot dogs and waters!

Minor league baseball is, in my mind, so much more enjoyable than major league. There is a strong feeling of community!  It's not as crowded, and there is much to see and do.

The view from our seats.  Not bad!
Always learning, the kids had fun finding their seats using the numbers and letters on their tickets.  Then we talked about the scoreboard, and reviewed the rules of baseball.  There's lots of counting involved in a baseball game.    We also noticed the sign tracking the speed of the pitch, and the many billboards to read.

At the minor games, every break is time for some other community group to be acknowledged.  On the field, children raced, danced, did Tae-Kwon-Do demonstrations, and sang the national anthem.

There were give aways, and the kids all got soccer balls (which we put in the car right away).  We even met Miss Connecticut, who was very nice.  The girls thought she was a princess, because of her tiara.  They had never heard of beauty pageants.  Jor Man got autographs from two of the teams three mascots.

Wish you were here!

Asking Questions

Jor Man has been wanting to see the movie, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" for some time now.  We were finally able to rent it.  I think we've watched it five times.  The kids love it - and I thought it was very good.

It is scary.  Uma Thurman is Medusa.  And there is a scene near the beginning that made me jump - something about a fury.  Ugly!!  But if your kids aren't nightmare prone, this movie is a great example of what unschooling can be like.

Following watching the movie, Jor Man was very interested in learning more about the Greek mythological gods and goddesses.  We watched
"The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization" on Netflix.  He loved it.  This is convenient since I intend to focus on the Ancients this year.  And I noticed that there are many more similar titles on Netflix.

We have discussed how these "gods and goddesses" are really false gods or demons.  For more ideas about how to talk with kids about this, see Kids in Ministry Internationals website or their curriculum, "Our Amazing God" - which we used with our family and loved.

Jor Man wanted to know - if when a "god" and a mortal have a baby, it's a "demi-god", what do you get if two "demi-gods" have a baby?  So we discussed genetics.(Although, who knows if it would work that way.  Would "gods" be a dominant or recessive gene?)  For the record, two demi-gods would have a 50% chance of having a demi-god baby, a 25% chance of having a mere mortal, and a 25% change of giving birth to a god.  Hmmm.

So many questions the kids had about the movie - so many jumping off points and learning moments.  It got me thinking - how great are questions?!

In school, kids are told what they SHOULD know, not what they WANT to know.  When my kids ask me a question, I know that they are sincerely interested in the subject and want to know the answer.  This is totally different than them memorizing the answer to a question they never asked so that they will be able to answer the question when they are tested.

I am attempting to inspire, delight, and create an environment of wonder and curiosity so compelling that I am inundated with questions!  Mom, how does this work?  Why is it blue?  How come?

Inquisitive kids make great learners.  I wonder if parents are afraid of questions, though?  What if your kids ask questions, and you don't know the answers?

That's when the real learning takes place, as you teach your kids how to find out the answers themselves.  Perhaps you show them how to look up a word in the dictionary.  Or you search for something on the internet.  Or you go to the library, and have them ask the librarian their question.

We want to create life long learners.  Not great test takers.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,
but it is the honor of kings to search it out,”
Proverbs 25:22

Wish you were here!

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