Month: April 2014

FIAR: a Pair of Red Clogs

As we began homeschooling, I looked at lots of different curricula. There are soooo many it is quite mind boggling and, until you know how your child (or children!) learn, it’s tricky to choose. There are lots of ‘out of the box’ ones which cover all topics with separate textbooks and a ton of worksheets… but for our Wee Bear, that would be a disaster. She thinks on her feet, she twirls and spins, she jiggles and dances. Finding a way to read is tricky. Then somehow, somewhere, I read about “Five in a Row”. A selection of well written, beautifully illustrated books, chosen by homeschooling parents and with a manual that supplies, for each book, a series of ideas to spark your little one’s imagination and thirst for understanding in the areas of science, mathematics, arts, language, geography, personal studies… You can go as far with each book as you, or more importantly, your child wants. On the days when you’re feeling less inspired, this will literally save your bacon!

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We started by having Wee Bear choose the book we were going to ‘row’ – “A Pair of Red Clogs”, about a little girl and her shiny red clogs in (what looked like) pre-WWII Japan. We went to our favourite outdoor garden cafe and I read her the book, asking her questions afterwards to see what had sparked her interest. There was a lot of discussion about motivation – why did she nearly lie? why did she do something that damaged her clogs? We talked briefly about the clothes she was wearing (“Make me a kimono Mama!”) and the way their house was laid out – the boiler for water in the kitchen, the table with mats around it rather than chairs, the paper screen doors etc.

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After our snack was finished, we went to our local Chinese supermarket – they sell all kinds of Asian food and since Wee Bear was unlikely to eat ANY of it, I figured it was more about the experience than the actual taste.

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The following day, we wrote out some of the key words (‘language’) in Wee Bear’s word book and of course they were illustrated. What I particularly enjoyed was the sketch of the bottom *cough* which was in the right place and size but done while the book was folded over, so she was kind of working blind! A word on her handwriting: yes, she is mixing upper and lower case. Yes, the way some of the letters are formed isn’t ideal. Her spelling also tends to the idiosyncratic. At this point, I don’t care – the urge to write and draw is far more important and (as I know her very well) any discouragement could backfire quite spectacularly.


 

 

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For our “Art” day, we made Japanese kimono peg dolls, complete with ‘obi’ belts, coloured in some of the printables from Homeschoolshare who have a great selection of free resources for almost every subject imaginable, looked at the pretty writing and packaging of our purchases and then goofed off in the garden explored the great outdoors,

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before we looked really carefully at the shading, use of colour and way the figures show us physical motion through their line drawings. By this time we had a really good selection of materials to get stuck into the lapbook!


Our final day was spent assembling the lapbook, colouring in and glueing and sticking, talking about earthquakes and tectonic plates (Geography), and really enjoying the feeling that we had got to grips with the book. We counted up clogs, we talked about pairs, we did very basic maths and number awareness…. Keeping it all very simple and low key so that no horses or small people were put off FIAR.

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Guinea Pig Lapbook

Now that we are homeschooling (or home educating, as it’s more commonly called here in Scotland) there are lots of ways to record our interests and what we investigate. One of the popular ones amongst homeschoolers are lapbooks: It’s a really simple way to collect information together and present it attractively (as well as provide lots of paper cutting and gluing time)…

We began our lapbook journey by using a template from Creative Learning, to celebrate the arrival of Robert & Rupert, our resident boar guinea pigs.

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So while we were doing the research, I found that this cage:

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Is far, far too small. So we built this one!

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And we added a base made from sign board material called “Correx” or “Coroplast” and then built some drawers for the base, so we have a lot of storage for all their food, hay, bedding and newspapers. It’s called Piggingham Palace.

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Although there was a lot of writing that Wee Bear is not yet ready for, we learned all about their life cycle, the kind of food they like best, the names of pups, boars & sows etc. She even drew portraits of our two boys. It’s since been doodled and and filled in rather randomly but I have a feeling we both like having these kind of ‘books’. So far she’s asked to make lots of lapbooks on subjects that randomly cross our path and the fabulous thing is, we can. Whatever she finds interesting, we can investigate. If something is boring, we won’t. I can hear some of you saying “we all have to do things that are boring” but just think: how much of the stuff that you crammed into your brains because you *had* to in school is still there? Did it encourage you to study, investigate, communicate with random passers by or shopworkers about your current project? No?

Education is to light a fire, not fill a bucket. (W.B. Yeats)