A Week of Unschooling

Times When You Just HAVE to Get Out

Last Friday morning was rough. I hadn’t gotten to sleep until after midnight the night before. Compound that with a 3:30 a.m. visit by “I had a bad dream, can I sleep with you?” Emily, a dog that would not stop licking herself loudly, a cat that insisted on being loved, and a very cranky sleep-deprived husband who made noise every time he was woken up (many times) thus waking me up. I was tired.

After struggling to comprehend simple math (me struggling with it, not Emily), and taking two tries to balance a bank account, it was suddenly noon. I was still tired, grouchy, and hungry. I’ve been responsible for fixing meals for most of the week and I was all “fixed” out.

I looked at Emily, still in her nightgown (she had refused to entertain the idea of getting dressed up until this point) and said very clearly and plainly, “I will take you to McDonald’s IF you will get dressed and brush your hair immediately.”

I’ve never seen my daughter move so fast. It usually takes half an hour for the hair brushing…minimum. She was done in four minutes flat.

Four Days in the Life Of a Homeschooler…

So here are the first four days of entries from our homeschool diary. It is not comprehensive, many of the topics we touch on I forget to log or morph into other subjects…

9/4: Worked on needlepoint project, read book on solar system & discussed composition of inner and outer planets, practiced reading with “One Fish, Two Fish”

9/5: Discussed what to do in emergency (ordered some books on subject), worked on needlepoint project, watched two Magic Schoolbus videos, read a book about Earth Day and discussed impact of pollution on environment and animal extinction. Pulled out the Spin Art for some more crafty fun and ran out of paint, so I found a recipe for a new paint and we made it. We read a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story about a girl who wouldn’t brush her teeth.

9/6: Read about colonial times and way of life in book about George Washington, compared prices and introduced handling a calculator today during a shopping trip, watched several Magic Schoolbus episodes, played Memory game and Hide & Seek, read about Susan B. Anthony (examined a SBA dollar coin) and also read the ABCs of Black History and discussed African American contributions to society (I had no idea who had invented the stoplight!). Emily got to keep the SBA coin, but only after she passed an impromptu quiz on the material we had just read.

9/7: After breakfast I read a book on finding your talent, Emily watched several Magic Schoolbus videos, then visited Starfall.com to practice her reading skills, we read a story on how to behave during an emergency – “Peanut’s Emergency” and picked up plenty more books for other lessons and topics from the library.

My Excel file looks a little different than this. The format is as follows:

Subject(s) Covered
Date Notes Language
Math Science Social
Art Music Health
& P.E.
Life Skills

I fill out the date and have a wide section for typing in my Notes. I then mark an ‘x’ in the categories covered, but it doesn’t format well on this blog, so I had to abbreviate it for ease in reading.

The act of writing it down, or reviewing what had happened the day before, gave me a big boost. We don’t have to cover everything, every day. The only real requisite here is that learning occurs.

Books, Books, Books!

Here is a snapshot of our “library bookshelf”…

I use the middle shelf for all of Emily’s library books and the bottom one for any I have checked out. Emily’s job upon returning from the library is to sort through them and put them in the appropriate spots and then hang the empty bag on the door, ready to take any of the books back to the library once we are finished with them.

I’m still incorporating plenty of the stated goals for 1st grade by borrowing books from the local library, which you will see listed as they are read. And there are stacks more – last Tuesday I picked up 28 books on hold and picked up more then 20 three days later!

At this moment I have 97 books checked out of the library. That’s got to be a record. However, no worries, I have 103 more to go before I reach my maximum checkout limit!

Mama Gets Crafty

Despite my crafting, DIY, learn something new, default mode – I don’t like children’s crafts much at all. Encouraging her to scribble on yet another piece of paper that I must find another place for on my already full fridge, wall, door, et cetera, seems like a real PITA. Chalk it up to being old and cantankerous.

However, I broke the mold the other day and helped Emily replenish her Spin Art paint supplies. I’m quite proud of the fact that I did not complain, drag my heels, or otherwise spoil the moment. After all, it isn’t Emily’s fault that I’m old and cantankerous.

She had discovered her Spin Art machine when rooting about in the long-ignored homeschool cabinet. That was definitely a drawback I did not anticipate when I arranged everything neatly inside by subject – close the doors and it is all out of sight and out of mind.

“Oh no! Mama, I’m nearly out of paint!” she exclaimed, shaking the little bottles and looking sad.

Did I mention that I’m cheap? Really cheap and even sort of miserly?

Are you feeling sorry for my kiddo yet? Well, I sort of did. So I looked up a recipe on making paint and ran across a simple recipe:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 4 cups water
  • food coloring

Basically you heat the flour and water up over low heat until it thickens, pour it into baby food jars and then add the food coloring.

I would actually advise using white flour, not wheat, as this made tiny wheat-flake sized clumps in the paint. I also added about 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to the mix to help thicken it and turned the heat up to just under medium, otherwise I would have been there all day stirring that stuff.

We made the basic four colors…

And then we branched out a little…

The lighter shades were simply made by using less food coloring. And the purple was a mix between the red and blue food coloring.

We cleaned out the old squeeze bottles and loaded them up with new paint…

The color is rather light…

And the tips get clogged with the wheat flakes. And now the batteries are dead in the spin art!

Nevertheless it was a good experiment that we will be repeating soon. Along with other art projects…like the Spoon Family she discovered in the cabinet…yeah…and the art books…


Eleven Years Ago Today

I realized (too late to order any books) as I typed up this post last Saturday that another anniversary of 9/11 was almost upon us. My grandmother died just a few weeks before the attacks. Like all Americans, I remember exactly where I was when I learned the horrible news.

I tried renting a book on the subject to explain to Emily – but everything had already been snatched up. I guess I will explain as best I can the attacks, and later we will read a book on the subject. It is an important part of our national history.

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