Monday, February 24


I bought a small part of a curriculum from Moving Beyond the Page when we first set off on Home Education. I chose what they offer because it's interdisciplinary, it's very relaxed, and they encourage individualised use, such as using it as a supplement.

I know, I know, I'm not really a curriculum sort of person. However, there is so much that she and I are interested in, that I can become quite lost in the abyss of resources. I truly enjoy putting together bits of work for her, but I can end up making it a little chaotic too. Just a tiny bit of structure - still free to choose when and how much - is useful.

I chose their Environment 'Concept' because I felt it was something that she was already interested in. And that's how I am using this Concept and any future ones if I choose to purchase them - pick up what I feel she has an interest in already.

They call them Concepts because they deal with Big Ideas, or over-arching concepts, rather than simply a subject or topic. Environments isn't just abou habitats or maps, but about the connectedness of place and person/animal, and about community.

Your favourite room in the house is.... "Wherever my mama is"

If I had the money I would probably buy their entire curriculum and pick and choose what she liked. As I don't have that luxury, a Concept here and there is fine. She really enjoyed doing her 'lessons' and asked for a 2nd activity. Although it turned out to be too much and we called it quits for the day.

I bought the 5-7 age suggestion, and it isn't a challenge for her but it does support what she already knows, or partially knows, and has practice in handwriting and such things. All in small chunks and we didn't do more than an hour from start to finish.

As I said, it's a framework. It got us talking about related things (we pored over a huge map of Italy for a bit) and it means that I can find articles, books, and online games, that are related.

This way she's following a thread, rather than jumping all over the place. Although of course we're free to jump, if the water looks good elsewhere ;)

Sunday, February 23

More Dali

Two more books she and I enjoyed.

Dali and the Path of Dreams

Salvador Dali (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)

We chatted about surrealism versus realism, dreams, art and what it can be, following your own path if if it feels right (did you know that even other surrealists started thinking Dali's work too weird?)....

She's been enjoying Maths games such as Hero Michael and his adventures, as well as creativity on Kerpoof.

Thursday, February 20

Dali and the flow... of learning

In my zest for teaching and her enthusiasm for learning, I have amassed a pile of research, unit study ideas, resources, printables, book lists, and websites.

Miss 5 is enthusiastic when I suggest a unit study and thoroughly enjoys doing my little note/lapbook type activities. She has also initiated a unit study - all about Spain. All well and good, it's working for us. But we are still in our early Home Ed days, so adaptability is part of the journey.

I had been putting an art unit together - Spanish artists to work along the whole Spain thread. Yet something about learning about fine art put me off. I can't explain what my thoughts were exactly, it was more intuitive.

Despite being an artist and my adoration of all sorts of fine art, as well as the techniques and talking about art, art history was never a subject I enjoyed. It's one of those teaching areas that easily kills the bliss of a topic. Not that I was going to 'teach' her anything so intense! But that experience probably coloured my feelings on this.

What I've decided is to take a big step back from unit studies (keeping in mind that my units are simple, short, loose, and flexible anyway) and go along a different route, which I'm calling Exposure Method. I'm sure some expert out there does this, but I'm not one to read too much about such things, so I just stumble onto ideas and that's how I roll.

So rather than studying Picasso, Dali and Gaudi... and Mozart... (and I do mean in a light and fun way) I simply expose her to their worlds. It's really what I had done already with Mozart. Over the past year I had bought her CDs, we heard symphonies online, and she had watched snippets of operas. I had been considering doing a unit study on Mozart but have now gone back to what I had done intuitively.

So we have books on the artists, their lives and their work (including children's versions), and we'll be watching the full 3hr The Magic Flute soon (in parts!). Last night we sat together and looked at Dali's works and chatted lightly about the weird and wonderful images. This morning she picked up the huge Dali book of her own accord and flicked through half of it.

Reading about their lives is very interesting, especially parts about their childhood for children. Yet I have seen unit studies online where children do lap/note books on the artist/composer. I'm just not convinced that colouring an image of Mozart or playing a game on his life timeline adds anything truly meaningful.

That she walks around humming Eine kleine Nachtmusik simply because she's been exposed to it and she loves it, is what matters to me.

That's it, that's all a child needs really. To be exposed to, and have access to, the rich imagery and sounds of culture. It's then their choice if they want to pursue the interest.

I'll suggest unit studies and so will she, in the future, but I'll be more mindful of how much joy in the topic they will instill.

Pets 101

If you don't know about savefrom, then wait to be over-joyed! You can save videos from the Internet onto your computer. Great for anyone of course, but I especially appreciate it for children. It means that I can save youtube videos for my girl and not have to wait for ads or spot any inappropriate/unwanted ads or videos from their sidebar. As well as the convenience that she can watch them from her PC when she feels like it.

She requested the Pets 101 series which we've watched months before. Her favourites are any that include a skeletal simulation view of the animal.

Watching videos like these always prompts her own made-up documentaries. Usually about her fantasy Boybol. She enjoys imparting information and facts.

Saving these included an organic learning; how to open her downloads folder, how to create a new folder on her desktop, how to name it, and how to move files from one folder to the other.

Wednesday, February 19

Anatomy & Guitar

These past two weeks she has been absorbed in a Human Anatomy site for children. I had to monitor how many sections she went through as the first day was brain over-load! It's an American site and she once played a documentary game putting on an American accent (which was awful btw lol).

She has wanted a toy guitar for many months and I had considered buying a proper one (half size for children) for her 6th birthday. Visiting a charity shop last Tuesday to drop off some items, she spotted one and, "at first sight it was love". She hugged it tight. She had made an impression on the sales woman, with her maturity (telling her she was home educated after the woman asked if she had just got out from school), that it was no trouble getting a 50% discount (it was rather pricey really).. Apparently it's a proper ukulele, brand new too. The icing on the cake, it's PINK. It was made for her.

So she has messed about with it as well as watched a couple of youtube videos.

Tiny Learning:
How alligators sound when they bellow
The hottest place on earth (Lut desert in Iran)

I created a Self-Awareness board, and have started working through some ideas. Despite the big subjects of anatomy, animals, and the solar system, I think it's a good idea to pull things back and look within as well. Start that self-exploration now while young.


Last week forgot to post couple of things...

Merida costume inspired some creative role-playing.

Photos, info, videos about the Iberian Lynx, as part of our continuing Spain study. Inspired role-playing where she was a Lynx in long grass (brown paper and cushions), and narrated her own documentary.

Thursday, February 13

Animal Habitats

We've been looking at animal habitats a little. This is one of those long-term ongoing units we'll do. Although it's very spontaneous and is secondary to Spain studies.

It started with her own habitat and basic home map and every time she is interested in an animal we discuss it's habitat.

I found some fun websites for her. This is a nice one except there are only four creatures, and there are others on my Animal Habitats board.

We've looked specifically at the habitat of the mudskipper, Iberian Lynx (Spain unit), and marine eco-sytems.

Her imaginary Boybol creature apparently requires a lot of warmth, so it lives in the hottest place on earth. We checked online and double-checked, and NASA confirms that the hottest place on earth is the Lut Desert in Iran. She found the place on her world map poster. So that's from where Boybols originate.

Wednesday, February 5

Tiny Learning

Those tiny moments, spontaneous questions, random thoughts.... they are so difficult to record. They are small and fleeting, but so wonderful. This is the learning that happens outside of workbooks, educational games and videos, or mama-inspired work. The real magic, in my eyes.

I try to jot them down, but in wanting to be in the moment, it's inevitable that most are swept into the winds.

Some I can recall... (all from her questions, thoughts, experiments, personal reading)

What a cylinder is.
The breeding life of mudskippers.
The trajectory of an arrow.
The pronunciation or Uranus (there are two).
The difference between the spots of leopards, cheetahs, and jaguars.
East and West.
Chamomile good for teething (she has a loose tooth).
How to trace a drawing.
Can girls be Kings? Leading to Queen Elizabeth and Queen Isabela while having lunch.