Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homeschool Thursday: Unschooling Science

Shakin' things up a bit and moving our homeschool Tuesday to Thursdays.

We have math and history curricula that we follow loosely, and we use copy work and poem memorization for literature and handwriting skills, but for science we have always unschooled.  Wylie is passionate about all things mechanical and electrical, and Juniper and I love nature study so it has always been really easy for us to just do science, without having to think about it.  I also have always loved the scientific method of hypothesizing, experimenting, and observation and we started a lab journal of our experiments when Wylie was quite little.  Here's a bit of science we've been exploring recently:

Nature study

Wylie and Juniper knocked these old wasps nests down from the barn (they were from last year).  We read about paper wasps and how they build their nests and raise their young.  Wylie was afraid to touch any of them himself, but with him looking on I dissected the nests and we found the spaces for the eggs inside, and even a few young wasps that had died before emerging.  Pretty cool.  

We've all been enjoying our bog walk lately, and identifying a few flowers blooming there now.  Wild Rhododendron, High bush blueberry, as well as wild iris, "fairy cup" lichen, and Cranberries!  I've been so excited since Rob first spotted these a couple of weeks ago.  I've been brainstorming all kinds of ways to use them, and looking into how to harvest in the fall.

Physical Science

 A neighbor gave Wylie an old computer a few weeks ago.  He's been ripping it apart and putting it back together like a jigsaw puzzle ever since.  This week he disassembled the fan from within and hooked it up with alligator clips to some batteries.  It worked!  Just this afternoon I came out on the porch to find this (above) heavy pottery jug swinging from the dog leash.  I was mid sentence, "what are you doing, that's breakable--" when I stopped long enough to realize he'd built a scale and was seeing how many rocks it would take to lift the jug.  Nothing broke.

I'm realizing that in order to homeschool well I need to give my kids the benefit of the doubt.  I need to not shout "your going to break that!" each time I find something dangling precariously, and to bite my tongue when paints are being spilled across the table, or the baby is climbing 12ft. up to the tree house.  Sometimes I need to just follow quietly behind to make sure no one gets hurt.

In reality though, it can be really hard when I've been with my kids all day, every day for the past 4 or 5 days, with very little time off, to be patient and find the teachable moments. Since starting this blog I've found that keeping the camera nearby throughout the day helps me to freeze time a bit and reflect afterward on the things we've been doing.  Occasionally I'll take a picture of something and only in looking at it afterward realize some of the learning that was happening in the frame.  Staying at home with your kids there's no boss to tell you how well you're doing.  Sometimes seeing it in print is sort of like validation--look we did do something!  I like to think that in 5 yrs. I'll be able to think back to this time period, and see the whole picture, along with the many smaller one's I've taken, and realize all the little things we've learned along the way.  


  1. Hooray for science! I don't think you will have any problem delving into higher learning in this subject as they get older, especially with Wylie. I can't believe how big boyish Kale looks now. I know what you mean about letting the messes and experimentation occur. Especially living in an apartment, I always have to find a way to let things happen without sacrificing our deposit.

  2. Cranberries?! That is so neat.


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