An Unschool Journal (April)
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I’m back with my second monthly installment of what we’ve been up to and LOTS of photos to share as usual. April has been a fun month with lots of play outdoors with friends. We are enjoying the weather cooling down a bit here. Here’s what we’ve been learning.
Last month we were learning about the bean life cycle, and that continued into the beginning of this month. Our beans outgrew their jars and before they moved to a pot it was time for a closer inspection of them.
We had a look in our favourite seed book and identified all the parts of the plant.
Then I asked the girls if they would like to sketch their bean plants. Miss 6 wasn’t interested but Miss 4 was. I love this so much, she even labeled her drawing! I didn’t actually know she could write so many letters. Where did this come from? I wrote down the words for her and she copied them onto her picture and then drew a line from the word to the part on the plant. You can see she has written: leaf, stem, seed leaf, seed coat, and root.
I don’t think Miss 6 was too interested in doing her own diagram because she had been documenting the growth of her bean plant in the nature journal daily anyway.
Then it was time for the bean plants to be moved outside.
We decided to have an even closer look at some of the beans and bean plants. First we cut up some beans to see what was inside.
Next, we looked at all the different parts of the plant under the microscope.
For an even closer look we decided to make our own slides, something we’ve never done before but have been meaning to. Instructions were needed!
The girls did it all themselves with great care. The toughest part was cutting the specimen small enough. This piece was too big.
We eventually got it right and ended up making many slides of all the different parts.
Recording findings in the nature journal.
Continuing on with our seed theme, it was time to get the herb/veggie garden happening again this month! The whole thing needed to be cleaned out and replanted. The girls have told me they are going to look after it themselves. The first step was planting seeds. Here they are writing the names of the herbs on sticks to use as markers.
Filling the little pots with soil.
Very carefully planting the seeds.
Miss 4 was very pleased to be able to help with the writing.
Soon enough our little seedlings emerged. Now we’re just waiting for them to get big enough to go into the garden.
Writing writing everywhere from Miss 4 this month.
You see the top left there it says ‘Bt’, that’s the first word she’s tried to spell herself. Can you guess what it is? Yep, the world ‘Butt’. She told me and then laughed hysterically. I love this kid.
Along with writing she’s also started to try and read! She found the reading book Miss 6 first used when she started and is now onto her 3rd book. She’s sounding out the words herself and is very excited.
Her enthusiasm has also rubbed off on her older sister and she has been doing more reading again. Here they are snuggled together sharing some books.
As always, there’s been lots of art in our month. They’re particularly enjoying clay at the moment, even my 1 year old has a go!
This happy little alien I found gave me a chuckle.
They both like doing ‘secret drawings’ with white oil pastel and then painting over them with watercolours to reveal the picture.
Autumn tree on a rock.
There has been a lot of autumn themed art actually, as the girls notice the weather getting cooler.
A lot of our art has been made outside. We are loving our new outdoor table, you can read more about it here.
One of the highlights recently was this little gecko friend. He was found in the playroom one day and the girls noticed he wasn’t using one of his legs properly. Here Miss 4 is drawing a picture of him with a sore leg.
They decided they should look after him until he recovered and got to work making him a little home. Did you know that gecko’s change colour to camouflage? I didn’t! But the next time we went to check on him his skin was as dark as the dirt he was lying on!
They even went out at night and caught bugs to feed to him.
Although I wasn’t too hopeful for a recovery, only a few days later his leg seemed better and it was time to let him go.
He was relocated to the fairy garden.
A new music book came in the mail and Miss 6 started learning how to read and play music!
Recording what she had learned.
This month there was a lot of time outside! Even though it’s autumn here, the weather was good enough for a few beach days. They girls all love the beach. There is so much to explore.
Water fight! A lot of our time outdoors was spent with friends.
Bird watching together. Miss 1 LOVES birds.
I just love watching them play outside with their friends. All the little games they come up with.
Miss 1 was obviously watching too. It took her a while but she finally managed to work out how to get up onto the log like all the other kids.
Exploring at a different creek. Collecting water samples and catching bugs…
…experimenting and making potions.
I’m always hearing that one of the things homeschooled kids miss out on is ‘group work’. Watching my kids with their friends though I wonder where people get this idea from. It’s really quite simple. You want your kids to work with other kids? Get a group of kids together to play. ‘Group work’ happens naturally. It’s really nothing complicated. The kids naturally want to ‘work’ together. They share ideas, they inspire each other, they create together, they problem solve, they share, they cooperate, they have disagreements and work them out. They’re motivated to work together because it’s for a common goal they are all interested in, rather than a requirement of a curriculum. Meanwhile, the type of group work I had to do in school I’m more than happy to pass up, ha!
More team work happening.
A group game of restaurants. They negotiated turn taking for who would be taking orders, who was the chef, and who was the ‘server’.
A trip to a trampoline park with our homeschool co-op. And look at that, more team work. The older kids who worked out how to get to the top of this structure then helped the younger kids learn how to do it.
The past week the weather hasn’t been as great for going outside so we’ve been doing more indoors. Here Miss 6 is working on building a triangular prism. You can read more about how we were learning about solid shapes here.
And that’s pretty much it for the month of April! I also wrote a ‘day in the life’ post this month that you can read here if you missed it. I post more about what we get up to on Instagram as well, if you’d like to join me over there.
How was your month? What did you get up to?
It looks like you guys have so much fun. I am a homeschooler myself.
We do indeed! Thanks for reading 🙂
I love seeing how involved you are with science with your kids. I’m a certified teacher that has decided to stay home next year and homeschool my boys. I love the science journal ideas that you shared. Visit me at http://www.lifeallnatural.wordpress.com
Thank you 🙂
Beautiful! Many years ago, when we decided to take out creative and exhausted children out of public school, I stumbled on some unschooling sites and they spoke to my heart so much. It is the path we followed and I wish we had done it from the beginning.
I’m so grateful we found it so early!
I couldn’t agree with you more on group play, we meet weekly with a home ed group and the games that the children came up with, a lot of communication, negotiation, imagination, etc with different age groups, without any input or interference from a single adult, it’s amazing! One of my favorite parts
Yes! It’s awesome to watch isn’t it?
Lovely post Sara, reminds me to start taking more photos with my proper camera, I’ve been so slack lately. Totally agree with you about the ‘group’ work of-course, and you captured some brilliant photos to explain it all!
Love your post! I found some neat ideas for my boys 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Hi there! Just wondering what the favorite seed book is that you mention at the top of your post. I purchased the BUGS book that you recommended back when you were studying bees, and it’s been a big hit! Thanks so much for the inspiration you share!
Never mind – I think I just found it back on your bean post – A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston, right? We just checked out An Egg is Quiet also by Dianna Aston from the library – it’s a beautiful book 🙂
Yes! Aren’t they beautiful books?
We found A Seed is Sleepy in a shop downtown this afternoon! Yay! What a wonderful book – the perfect complement to all the seeds we’ve been studying and planting!
Great! I’d love to have such funny time as you and thanks for your useful sharing by which I can create smt interesting for my own guys.
These pictures are gorgeous! I wish we had access to the ocean !
I am loving all of your posts and finding them very useful.
I’d actually never really looked into unschooling until I stumbled across your instagram – and am so happy I did. I was thinking of homeschooling and following a curriculum, but never did I think that unschooling would be our thing.
I have a few questions though —
Do you keep a journal with all of the girls unschooling adventures / experiences?
How do you go with reporting back to the NSW School Board?
How is all of the learning documented? I’ve noticed you talk about their journal, and a nature journal – do all of the things they learn go into either of these books? Do they have a separate art journal? – I’m just trying to grasp where to get my son to document his experiences…
I’ve noticed a lot of ‘invitation to play/build/create’ – are these sparked by their interests from the day/s before? Or just motivators you think they would benefit from/enjoy?