Sunday, August 16, 2009

Random Bits of Learning...July/August 2009

These are some of the projects and activities the kids engaged in over the last few weeks...not, by any means, everything. Some things I never see, or don't find until much much later, or the camera isn't handy, or the moment itself might be spoiled by using it...

Anyway, it just seems like a good time to post some of these, before the collection grows out of control! =)

These are of our trip to the Waterford Harbor Visitor's Center to hear stories and songs from the heyday of the Erie Canal. The kids got to try playing the bones, small handmade instruments that work like spoons...

Annalise seemed to have a natural talent for the bones.

We bought a jaw harp, and the kids had fun experimenting with pictures of that, but there's always the next time it becomes interesting.

I came into the art room one even to find Lise playing with the magnet letters. "Look, Mommy, I spelled 'honey'!" She had the letters 'h-n-y' out, and was tracing them on the paper. She asked if she had it right; otherwise, I wouldn't have corrected her. She has a lifetime, after all, to learn to spell honey, and many other words, too.

But she did ask, and so I helped her add the letters she'd missed. Next, she asked me to spell 'pony', and so I did. Her happy face says she had as much fun as I did!

Both kids enjoy building things...often, things I'd never thought of, like fantastical machines made out of TinkerToys or pattern blocks, french fry volcanoes and popsicle stick fences with clothespin posts...others are more basic, like Jeremiah's Hideout.

Annalise has been working through what began as a terror of volcanoes. With this French-fry volcano (the sugar is the lava), she moved from fear to fascination. It was cool to witness the process!

Jeremiah's amazing pattern block machine, which took up the entire coffee table. Sorry about the poor quality of video and sound - the camera was temporarily MIA, and so I recorded this too good to be missed creation by holding the laptop almost upside down - not an easy feat for me!

Annalise has had a great passion for Little Toot during the last couple of months. This has led her in a variety of directions, including assembling a stuffed "cast of characters": Little Toot the tugboat, Salty the pelican, Echo the dolphin, Andy and Tina the orphaned puppies, and a cat to collectively represent Myra, Charlie, and Claws - the antagonists...

Watching Little Toot with the cast of Little Toot!

Little Toot has some music Lise really loves. First, she learned the songs, then began to choreograph her own dances to go with them, often accompanied by an inflatable dolphin named - what else? - Echo!

Next, she asked Miah to dance with her. His typical, velocity-based dancing didn't suit her purposes for a dance routine. She demonstrated, but he still wasn't quite where she wanted him to be. So, in a moment that seemed to reveal all the depth and breadth of unschooling's potential to allow children to be themselves, our five-year-old took pen and paper and produced this:

This picture doesn't do it justice. There are symbols for things like arm twirls, ballet step (tondue devant, I think, for those who care), rests, and Downward Dog. On the right, there are numbers (she makes many backwards, but only the 5 isn't recognizable) from 1 to 9. The steps don't quite line up, but no one has "taught" her to draw dance steps, make a chart, or write numbers. When I saw what she had done, I was simply amazed at the sophistication of her problem-solving abilities!

And solve the problem she did, in a way that her reading brother could easily on to the sibling dance! =)

The BIG FINISH! view.

Hideout...side view.

What to do with a new package of toilet paper!

Leftovers from experiments with the marble run and Twister, as well as a random snowman.

Annalise has lately taken a huge interest in writing, and loves my old-fashioned travel writing kit with the fountain pen, glass stylus, and homemade quill pen.

And just some of the man, many fruits of her writing and drawing efforts...

For the grocery list...

And the story of a big dog and a little dog she added to my fanfic notebook...

A pirate ship with a pirate flag....

I bought these heels in an ill-advised attempt to please Jim - i don't have the grace to move across any floor in them! Annalise rescued them from the give-away pile, and claimed them for her own. Even though her feet are many sizes smaller, she manages just fine, even dancing and climbing in them. Notice, too, the unschooling dog on the coffee!

And so, we come to the end of another long account of the wacky, wonderful unschooling life of the Burton kids...we will leave Jeremiah in one of his favorite the computer! =)

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