Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homeschool Thursday: Low Tide

Several times I've referred to our style of homeschooling using Melissa Wiley's term, Tidal Learning.  There are periods of high tide where our focus is high, our way is clear, and we cover a lot of ground in a short time.  And then there's low tide.  We poke around.  We lift every rock, and enjoy the sensation of mud between our toes.  The past few weeks the tide of our learning beach has been out.  We've drifted about between planets, WWI, famous dead people (check out "How They Croaked" for a good young adult read and some interesting history) and plenty of making things, but without sticking to a set schedule, or following my lead so much.  Its been a nice, easy pace to balance our somewhat too busy "in town" schedule these days.

Kale has been thrilled with rhyming words recently. Throughout the day he exclaims with pure glee, "Mom, Hat! Cat! That's a rhyme!" or "Tree! Treehouse! That's a rhyme!".  He's right about half the time, but he is always extremely pleased with himself.  Yesterday Juniper and I made him this little rhyme matching game.
If you know any three year olds this would be a good little gift.  


The Playmo guys got themselves a new little shop courtesy of Wylie and some hot glue.

There was some cardboard/small circuitry construction, 

and a treasure hunt for the big kids.  I drew a simple outline of our floor plan, the kids added some details, then mapped out a route for the other to follow to find the "treasure".  This game was a lot of fun until it ended in a big sibling argument--but, I still feel good about the learning experience.  We'll definitely try this one again.  
Encouraged by the book, "Girls Will Be Girls" by Joann Deak, I've been trying to create learning experiences for the children that will encourage them to use their non-dominant skills.  Wylie, for example, is very spatially aware and typically (as young boys tend to be) right brain focused.  He will go for maps and building any time.  However, writing--by this I mean the physical act of forming letters with a pencil is still very difficult for him.  So--while I'm not altogether proud with how this has played out, we've agreed upon extra screen time for nicely written (full sentences, proper punctuation, his own spelling, and neat handwriting.) We started with a minute a word, but we may have to change up the rules before too long.  He does do some writing on his own in his journal, and he does some spelling/handwriting work throughout the week, but the incentive of a bit of screen time gets him excited about writing a story and gives him the encouragement to try spelling on his own and work longer than he normally would.  While these stories pale in comparison to those he dictates, his confidence is building and the task of writing has become a little less daunting in the past two weeks.  I'm planning to set up some appealing art areas as well, to encourage a bit more painting and drawing among the males in the house.  
For Juniper this encouragement takes the form or mapping games, block building, and brain teasers (the big kids and I are really enjoying "Logic Links" from MindWare). She's also been interested in learning about space, which I'm sure could lead itself to some spacial exercises.  

Something about spring seems to have brought out a dramatic streak in the kids.  Kale has been changing outfits hourly, from Farmer Kale (below) to soccer player, worker guy, space man, and beautiful dancer.  The big kids have been staging some medieval plays with princesses, knights (who look more like gnomes) and Ninjas.  

Or course Lego play makes up a large portion of all the play time here, and has become a venue for independent as well as group play.  Their favorite thing to build right now are floor plans.  The big kids make theirs quite detailed with little toilets, sinks, computers and coffee makers. 

But, I feel a shift about to happen--a turning of the tides if you will.  Outside changes are happening and I'm ready for a similar shift in our daily routine.  Today I heard the geese return to the pond up the road and saw our first doves of the season.  There was a new song bird calling--though we couldn't see him for identifying.  We're thinking about starting seeds, doing some bird study, being outdoors more.  I'd like more clarity in our focus and a bit more intention.  In spring everything is new and exciting, and I'm ready for a bit of that.  I'm sure it will come.  It always does.

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