Our 8 year old is passionate about animals. She just LOVES to talk about them, learn about them, read about them, see them, interact with them. Anything to do with animals, she’s there! Her favourite is the Koala. She has dreams of travelling the world making wildlife documentaries, and her favourite television show is Deadly 60. She knows SO much about all different types of animals and is constantly amazing me with all the random facts she comes out with that I had no idea about.
A few months ago when I mentioned to her that there was a science fair coming up with one of the homeschool groups we attend, she was instantly keen to be involved and knew just what she wanted to do. Her first documentary!
She was straight to work planning what animals she wanted to include, using her favourite animal book. She decided on 5 categories (based on some of the animals she’s most interested in): Life on Land, Insect World, Life as a Lemur, Life in a Swamp, and Life in the Sea. She seemed to have a clear vision in her head of how she wanted it to look, and it was so lovely to watch it unfold.
She also decided to make this model of an Aye-aye from craft materials to show as well and this was the first thing she did, seemingly taking some time to figure out exactly what the next steps would be for her documentary. While she made the Aye-aye she told me that she wanted to include lots of animals that weren’t as popular because they weren’t ‘cute’ or well-known, and some were a bit scary. She thought that if people just knew more about them then more people would love them too and they would want to help protect them.
A couple of days later she decided to write her script for the introduction to her video. It says “My name is ___ and I am an animal lover. Today I am going to take you for a journey through the animal kingdom. Our wildlife is fragile and precious. We need to care and look after it. If we don’t, our precious wildlife will become extinct. Let’s begin the journey…”
Scouting for the perfect location to film the introduction.
A few practices before filming.
Next she put the video into Movie Maker on the computer and edited it, adding some animal photos in certain places. She then created titles for each of the animal categories, and asked for help to find and add music to the video. I showed her how to browse some free music, download and save the ones she wanted, and then add them to her video. She did all that herself, with Miss 6 looking on and learning too.
She found photos of the animals she wanted online, and added them in the right places.
Next she wanted to add narration! I showed her how to record her voice on my phone and off she went to record. She mostly came up with it on the spot from what she already knew about each animal, only using my phone to check a few facts.
Now it was time to add the narration!
For each sound file she had to find out how long the recording went for, add 1 second extra to it (to give some pause between the narration for each animal) and then divide the number of seconds between however many photos she had included for that animal…
…she was then able to adjust the length of time each photo would play for so that her voice and the images would run together for the correct amount of time.
The video timeline. All getting quite complicated with the titles, narration, video, pictures, and music all having to be timed perfectly! She was so proud to be able to do it all herself.
Science fair day. Everyone who wanted to share something bought a table or picnic blanket to set up on and we went around to each as a group while they explained it to us.
Lots of interested little people to share with! She really enjoyed the experience.
All up the video ran for 7 minutes, here’s a short snippet so you can see how it all came together…
This was such a lovely project to watch unfold! It was completely owned by her from start to finish. From the idea, the motivation, the creation… ALL her. She asked for help where she needed it, but it was truly the vision in her head that she ended up producing. There was no one evaluating it at the end, no gold star or grade, just the pure joy and satisfaction that comes from seeing your ideas come to life. This is what unschooling is about. This kind of beautiful, unhindered, self-motivated, enjoyable learning.
This post is part of a series of posts documenting our day-to-day life as an unschooling family. Sometimes it’s hard to picture what unschooling looks like, so here I hope to provide a little window into the kid’s life and learning. This is just an example of what unschooling can look like, but it’s very different for each family. It’s not designed to be read as an ‘activity idea’ that you can set up for your child, but an account of four inspired young people who have the freedom to learn how and what they desire.