Thursday, May 29

natural numbers

I adore real life learning of core schooley subjects. As I said on a Home Education forum recently, if you cook, play sports, do arts/crafts, play music, go shopping, play board games and certain computer games, a child will learn all the maths they need to learn to do well in ordinary life. Specific maths comes in later years, if and when they show interest - whether directly in maths or in a subject that requires maths.

However, my main interest and discussion with others, is that learning mathematical concepts is NOT the same as learning mathematical thinking. Logical and critical thinking, reasoning, and creative problem solving, are real life skills.

"We should reserve study of symbolic mathematics to those intending to be scientists, engineers, etc."
Dr. Keith Devlin, the NPR Math Guy and Stanford Mathematician


I also had a pile of resources to teach calendar skills - days, weeks, months, dates. There are all sorts of lapbooks and worksheets available online. All that has been left on my pinboards for others. Instead, she crosses out the days on our wall calendar, and naturally (i.e, from interest, a related question from me, and slowly across many weeks because she has no test to pass) she is learning.


Here are books and sites that support the kind of learning we like:


The 'I Love Maths' series of books ties maths into the world around us.
For example,
From Head to Toe (UK, USA) uses the human body to learn measurement and weight.

Other titles include; Right in Your Own Backyard: Nature Math, Look Both Ways: City Math, The Case of the Missing Zebra Stripes, How Do Octopi Eat Pizza Pie?: Pizza Math, Play Ball: Sports Math.

Let's Play Maths, Holt (UK, USA)

Moebius Noodles (pay what you can pdf)

These might be helpful and look interesting, but I haven't read them:
  • Let's Play Math: How Homeschooling Families Can Learn Math Together, and Enjoy It! (UK, USA)
  • That's a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen, Bruce Goldstone (UK, USA)
  • Great Estimations, Bruce Goldstone (UK, USA)
  • living math book list
  • Math Mama Writes - math books

Sites and articles online.

Wednesday, May 28

wild and domestic

Carrying on our Environment theme (movingbeyondthepage) we chatted about the difference between wild and domestic animals and what domestic animals require. We read and discussed The Salamander Room.

I got her to gather various animal soft toys around us and she went through and she enjoyed telling me what each one needed for a safe and healthy environment.

I then gave her the idea to create an environment for her new gecko soft toy. We gathered some rocks and a lid for her water. As I write this she's busy constructing a place for the gecko to climb and swing.

Her experimentation had her understand how joins are weak spots... which got her talking about human joints and we chatted about how they are weak too (cartilage wearing away, arthritis) ... she's also working out a way to stabilise the swing so it can remain still. Engineering....


We've been out and about the last two days, as it's warming up and the schools are on half-term break, so there is lots going on in the region. Monday was a small festival in Brixham (it included a double scoop of chocolate ice-cream and that gecko toy - I think that these were her highlights).

Yesterday it was a community open day at Dartington Hall, There were several free activities for the children. She played instruments, run through fields, watched a magic show, had a tractor ride, created a mud monoprint, played floor chess, and we all got to try target archery - both Miss6 and I managed a bullseye! Go girls!

Friday, May 23

MSB and books

I haven't written about further Magic School Bus episodes and work since April 9th. But she has done a few, including one this morning... let's see if I can recall them.

Cracks A Yolk + worksheet
Butterfly And The Bog Beast + worksheet
Hops Home + worksheet
Makes A Stink + worksheet

So we've stayed in the Life Science areas, and are finishing up our ongoing habitats topic.

No way I can keep up with her reading list, but here are some from the past few weeks.

Dragonology: Bringing Up Baby Dragons, Ernest Drake, 5/5

The Magic Elements Quartet, Mallory Loehr, 4/5
Earth Magic, Water Wishes, Wind Spell, Fire Dreams
She enjoyed them, wish there were more.

Oliver Moon's Troll Trouble, Sue Mongredien, 3/5
Oliver Moon's Christmas Cracker, Sue Mongredien, 4/5

Shark Baby, Ann Downer-Hazell, 4/5

Alice and Greta: A tale of two witches, Steven J. Simmons, 5/5

What's Your Sign? a Cosmic Guide for Young Astrologers, Madalyn Aslan, 5/5

Many Moons, James Thurber, 4/5

Wednesday, May 21

Flowing days

Miss 6 started the day with big cuddles and then retelling me her dream... proceeded to read an asthma fact book in bed (she had asked me a few weeks back to learn more about it, being always interested in the body and diseases and germs, etc)...

... out of bed she was a mermaid (2 legs in a pair of trousers will do that)... who had breakfast (always porridge), and told me various 'facts' about her mermaid ways as she waddled and bounced around the room...

... read a chapter book... and then worked on a few pages of a grammar book (-ed endings, and her writing is looking really great, just improving naturally)...

... she cut up old shark/writing worksheets and created shark photos, that apparently she took as a mermaid when her shark soft-toy was a baby... and then I was invited to watch a silent shark documentary of a shark feeding on anemone (cushion fringes)...

... a banana snack...

... asked me to look up the word dander, and we discussed that a bit... reading a shark book on the sunny window sill... waving to an adult neighbour outside and a quick chat about her books and reading...

... asked for the date and checked off the correct one from the wall calendar...

... I read to her a chapter from Gaia Girls... we looked at her toy rubber shark's teeth and she questioned, "Do sharks have tongues?", wow, all the shark facts and we didn't know! web research and we discover together...

... doll play and her doll learning about sharks... sang a song together (ants go marching - random! - with her changing the rhyming ends to nonsense)...

... lunch...

When I don't write here for days, this is a taste of what is often happening. Lots of bits of creativity and learning and experimenting and discussion. Poignant and important, but small and fleeting, that I just don't get it down in time.

Yet I wanted to capture a little of such a day. Mostly for us to look back on but also for anyone wondering what an unschooling (ish), or autonomous learning, day looks like for us. As you can see, I stopped at lunch because the post was long enough! The rest of the day proceeded much the same including; other topics, handwork, and some outdoor play with a friend in the glorious Spring sun.

Tuesday, May 20


Using Scientific Understanding as a guide to check ... understanding... showed us both that she knows the basics in Life Science.

She understands the concepts (i.e she uses them in discussion, can tell me what they are weeks later):
generation, fertilization, larvae, pupa, chrysalis, metamorphosis, reproduction, mating, species, breed, food chain, life cycle, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, exoskeleton, vertebrates, invertebrates.

She just loves all this stuff.

recommended for younger ones: Rookie Read-About Science series

We visited a local wildlife reserve of sorts over the weekend and chatted casually about life cycles. We walked 'adventurous and secret' paths, wondered at everything. Somehow there was ice-cream.


I downloaded Secret of Bones and she re-watched the first 3 episodes. The last covered the bones of birds and it inspired her to create wearable wings. I encouraged her to think it out and do it herself. I helped her reason out the length and position of the strings.

"I can't wait till I take to the air!"

"Can you add more cello-tape, I don't want them dropping off when I'm airborne."

Of course, no animal anything is complete without a full documentary-style description of it's habits and characteristics.

Monday, May 19


Seeing her mama weaving got her interested in doing her own. So I set her up with a cardboard loom. She chose white yarn.

She learnt how to thread a needle, what warp and weft are, and how to do plain weave. Concepts weren't taught, rather I just use the terminology as I work or guide her and of course she picks it up.

She's working on a blanket for her 'baby'.

Thursday, May 8

life cycles

We were away at her grandparents for a while so nothing got done. A few days to get settled in, re-arrange two rooms (new studio!), and we are back to our eclectic learning.

learning finger-knitting

Still in her ocean and shark interest, she does daily web games and videos on these. She has over 8 books in the house on sharks and fish - and it's never enough!

I'm dipping into Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, to get some framework and check if basics are in place before moving on. So I skipped some areas and we are on life cycles now. Lots of sites, games, and have reserved books from our local library. A lot of this she already knows from wildlife documentaries and such, but we are having fun with it and making sure understanding is in place.

resources on my animal cycles board.