Monday, 24 February 2014

Continued Creativity

I almost had to pinch myself today when our eldest son appeared to be sitting at his laptop writing! Yet I was not mistaken. After some time, I was summoned to read his short story. I was secretly thrilled. As I read the page of text, I was pleasantly surprised. The story was well constructed and very creative. The spelling was not bad. I took the opportunity to explain the use of 'their' vs 'there' (which I don't think he'll forget) and we talked about a few punctuation marks. This was the culmination of a quiet day's absorption creating his own Warhammer army. Warhammer has emerged as the latest craze for our eldest boy, and various figures have been acquired, carefully assembled and painted. The Codex (guidebook) has been duly read and the rules absorbed. Various like-minded friends - of all ages - have been discovered and are regularly telephoned and met with to engage in battle. All this very independently. So today it was great to observe him utilising figures he already has to customise and create his own army. He explained that one of his Warhammer 'mentors' had told him his army must have a story behind them, hence the writing. All this spontaneously and without a word from me.

Just spotted this timely, relevant post on Intense Interests as Gateways from Project-Based Homeschooling.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Natural Learning

Task-oriented me, living in the land of limbo, waiting - still waiting - for a moving date, yet trying to sort out, clear out and pack up .... has stopped driving the home education for the moment, allowing the boys to follow their own interests and amuse themselves to a greater extent than I might normally. It has been a slip into 'unschooling', an experiment if you like into autonomous learning with the major obstacle (Me, always me!) conveniently distracted. So, what have they been getting up to? Well, our third son - now aged 8 - had been showing a real interest in the Lone Ranger and the Wild West. I think this sprang from a Lego kit originally, but we have supported his interest in a number of ways. I was in the library when I noticed an Usborne book of True Stories of the Wild West, which we have been reading. More of a hit were the Internet quicklinks from the book to various relevant websites. There, he watched with fascination the dramatised story of Billy the Kid and others. He and his older brother have tirelessly acted out stories of the Wild West in costume, and built an entire town for their Lone Ranger figures out of Lego, starting with the purchased kits, but developing and creating their own models from ideas online. Grandpa provided a DVD of the original Lone Ranger televised episodes in black and white, which held the boys captivated. We have baked corn fritters and are enjoying reading the first of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Usborne book of Cowboy Things to Make and Do has also provided some topical things to make and do. There have been a few WANTED posters up around the place, as well as foil-covered Sheriff badges and wooden pistols carefully made. We even had a Wanted poster birthday cake! All this stemming from a little boy's interest in The Lone Ranger ... A good example of how learning can flow from a child's own interest.

Another such example of autonomous learning through play came from our second son who is very interested in his tablet, and discovered a Star App where he can look at the night sky and zoom in, clicking on objects in the night sky for more information. This led to him and his younger brother setting up a space station under the dining table where they had their laptop and tablet with which to research the galaxies. They produced several pages of self-directed information sheets about various stars and planets and had a great ongoing game of space exploration whereby they would emerge periodically telling me, "We're exploring the Andromeda galaxy" or some other such place they had discovered.