An Unschool Journal (May)
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It’s time for another update! I’m not sure if many people are reading along with these posts but it’s always good for me to look back over the month and reflect on what we’ve done. It often gives me some ideas of where we might go next. So here’s what we got up to in May…
Looking back over my photos, there seemed to be a lot of maths going on, so I’ll start with that! Miss 6 likes me to write maths problems for her to find on the chalk board outside, and keeps asking for harder and harder ones. This month we ventured into talking about regrouping.
I felt like the concept of regrouping was hard to understand when doing it only on paper (or the chalk board as the case may be), so I set up a little activity for her so she could really see what was happening. Using the base 10 blocks she would make both the numbers and then combine the ones together. If there were more than ten she could swap them for a ten block instead. Then all she had to do was count the tens and ones to find the answer.
This was really great for showing her exactly what was happening when we ‘carry the one’.
We also combined some sensory play with maths by using our geometric solids in kinetic sand.
They had lots of fun playing and building while also taking in information about the properties of different solid shapes.
I can’t quite remember how this came about now but I think Miss 6 asked me if we could ‘do some maths’, and this is what I came up with. Using one of our all time favourite resources, Magna-Tiles, to learn about fractions, and in particular how to read and write them. Fractions come up a lot in every day life (telling the time, cooking, etc) but we hadn’t talked much about what they looked like written down before. The Magna-Tiles were great for representing what the fractions looked like. I would make the fraction with the number cards, and Miss 6 would use tiles to show what that would look like.
I think sometimes people think that unschooling means that you avoid anything that looks ‘schooly’ at all. Obviously, as you can see, this is not the case. It’s about following the child. If they want to do some things that might be similar to school, then of course you do that! If they don’t want to, then you don’t force them to. So yes, sometimes what we do might be different to what you expect unschooling to look like but one thing is always the same, it is child-led.
And when Miss 6 is doing some maths, Miss 4 wants her own to do as well! Here she is doing some simple addition using rocks to help her work out the answers. She loved this.
You might have also seen in a previous post of mine she has been learning to write numbers, using our Spielgaben set to help her concentrate on how to form them.
She’s been doing more and more writing words too, often asking me to write things down for her to copy or just tell her how to spell certain words.
Miss 6’s writing lately has been mainly in the form of lists and plans! I love that homeschooling allows her all the time she wants to dream up her many plans and then bring them to life. This month her biggest plan was a fairy stage…
For a few days there the girls were all about building. For Christmas they had been given a big toolbox each with real tools, nails, screws, a tool belt, and some wood. However, as yet they hadn’t gotten much use as they were kept in the garage, out of sight out of mind. One morning I moved them to the outdoor area and when the girls discovered them there they immediately got to work. There was lots of hammering nails into wood in random places until finally they each decided on making a square.
Miss 6 decided hers would become a ‘fairy stage’.
After it was built, it needed some colour. She then decided it definitely needed curtains and went about planning how she would make them.
She picked some fabric from her fabric box and we cut it out just how she wanted. Then she asked if I could teach her how to use the sewing machine by herself. After a few quick instructions she was off! She was soooo proud to be able to do it all herself!
After a trip to the shops we had a curtain rod and her Dad helped her drill some holes for it. And here’s the finished product! All ready for the fairies to visit.
While I’m on the subject of building, Miss 4 has been working on some awesome Magna-Tile constructions lately! I love this one.
You might have seen another recent post of mine about what we’ve been reading lately (if not, check it out here). We usually read stories before bed time and this month we’ve been reading a page a night of a non-fiction book too. We have so many fabulous books that we’ve only read parts of so I thought we could add them in at our nightly story time. We started with this one called How Animals Live and we learnt so much. Lots of questions were asked and I also noticed during the day what they had learned coming out in their play.
The supplies of two ‘Nature Explorers’ set up outside. They were seeing what animals they could track in our backyard.
Notes in the nature journal. Miss 6 told me this was a picture of ants talking because they had watched them on the path and they seemed to stop and talk to each other.
One of the pages in the book mentioned that there are species of animals that we haven’t even discovered yet and this really fascinated the girls. They did some drawings of made up animals that hadn’t been found yet. I heard of a sea goat, a furry shark, and a land salmon, haha!
This month we finally opened up another Little Passports package too. I have been a bit slack with them! When they come in the mail I put them away for a convenient time to open them and then forget, oops! So we have a couple more to open still. This one was about Egypt.
This month was really cool and the girls loved getting to excavate a pyramid and find a sarcophagus inside.
We got out the iPad to see what else we could learn about Egypt on Barefoot World Atlas.
We then had a look through the bookshelf to see what other information we could find out about Egypt, starting with our kids atlas.
Whenever I see books that I think could be useful in the future for sale very cheaply, I buy them. We have quite a collection on a lot of topics now which is great because we usually have somewhere to look when a question or interest arises. This one is called 100 Facts – Ancient Egypt so was just what we needed to learn more.
Painting of a pyramid by Miss 6 who has asked if we can keep learning about Egypt!
We also have another interest emerging… Australian Aboriginal history and culture! Miss 6 has been asking questions about who the first people were in Australia and then coincidentally we received a couple of books in the mail from a family member of dreamtime stories. Looking at the artwork in the book inspired Miss 6 to get out the clay and make some impressions similar to what she had seen. We are also looking forward to an Aboriginal art and culture workshop we have coming up with our homeschool co-op!
Other art this month included more clay, with some nature added…
…and lots of beautiful loose parts creations.
I’ve left The Mandala Book in the block area for a bit of inspiration.
A wintery loose parts scene.
For one of our co-op days this month we went to a workshop at the art gallery called ‘Squishy Circuits’ which was really cool! The girls got to make their own circuits from play dough and an LED light and we even got to take them home!
And let’s not forget what the littlest girl has been up to! Now at 17 months old we are seeing more and more pretend play emerging. I just love this stage! How adorable is she here with her dolly?
And I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of our outside explorations, because of course there’s always lots of that.
Tell me, how was your month? What did you learn? Where did you explore?
Looks like a very full week! I love all of the activities! And your pictures are gorgeous 🙂
Thank you Erin 🙂
I love reading these. But I also feel sorry for my 3.5 year old because she cant ever build these kinds of towers etc because little brother 2 loves to knock things over etc etc. And in his nap time she just wants to chill. But I guess we’ll get there when mr 2 is ready
That’s a tough time! xx
I absolutely love reading about your month. I always get such inspiring ideas from it. I love seeing what other unschoolers are doing.
Thank you 🙂
Just wanted to let you know I read these posts eagerly; I love to see into other unschooling families’ days.
My Miss 6 is all about history, history, history, so our days include tons of reading, role play in costume, and field trips to historical sites. (She couldn’t even begin to understand the math problems your Miss 6 tackles, but she could tell you the history of the American Revolution, the pilgrims, the pioneers, suffragists, and oh, so much more!)
Wow how awesome!
I also love reading these posts and seeing what you are doing in your unschool! My kids are on a similar schedule, just two years behind (4, 2, and 4 months :-)), and we are considering homeschooling. From your posts, I really get an idea of the incredible depth and breadth of your kids’ interests and how they get to pursue them. And everything looks so beautiful. Thanks!
Thank you 🙂
Sounds like a delightful month! Isn’t that Barefoot Atlas app great?! My girls love it.
It’s great! We love it!
It really looks like a happy place. I’m really interested in your daily routines. In Germany it’s not allowed to do homeschooling or unschooling, so there is a great gap in knowledge. That’s why I follow you and I really enjoy all your posts.
Thanks for reading Ann 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing! Very inspirational!
Since you practice unschooling, I was wondering if you limit the time girls spend on iPad. I’ve read about radical unschooling and I am not sure that these amazing explorations would have happened, had they had unlimited access to Ipad. Am I wrong? What are your policies on screen time, if you have any?
I possibly do limit it but not with strict rules. I just try to have much more fun things on offer so that the iPad would be a more boring choice. My girls would much rather do some art or play outside than sit on the iPad. I also only have apps on it that I am happy for them to spend time on.
I just adore your days. The last photo is beautiful. You will need to frame it. Magical!
Thank you 🙂