A blog about homeschooling, frugal living, books and life. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why You Should Thow Away Your Textbooks

If the kids learned absolutely nothing by unschooling I have to admit I'd still maybe choose to unschool simply because of the change it has made to our family life. I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent, like I don't care about my children's education, which of course I do. I do want my kids to have a great education but what is the point of education? Isn't the whole purpose of school to prepare kids for life? And isn't the best way to prepare for life is to simply start living? At least that's what all the unschooling sites, books and blogs seem to say. So instead of sitting down to fill out pages of arithmetic problems we go grocery shopping, we bake cookies or play monopoly or life. We count and multiply and measure and weigh things. Instead of reading science textbooks we have been studying our turtle (which we released last week after an explanation how wild animals are meant to be wild and don't really do well with long periods of captivity) and taking long nature walks, and examining different bird nests.

And in between the cooking and the games I realized kinda all of a suddenly how much better everyone seems to be getting along. I guess it's not surprising when I think about it. Without realizing it I created the same environment in my home that I was trying to get away from by homeschooling in the first place. One of the main reasons I started homeschooling was because I wanted to be with my kids. But spending all day doing math and reading lessons, trying to corral the little ones long enough to teach the older ones doesn't really count as quality family time. And by the time the school work is done the kids just want to be free to do what they want, free to go outside or watch television. And I just want some quiet time. But now they ask each other to play games, they watch t.v. together. Kyle and Ashley reads to Lacey and Lily. Donna watches shows with the little ones. And it seems like we have time to do all the things we wanted to do but never had the time. One example of this is playing cards with the girls and my dad. He comes over at least 3 or 4 times a week to play spades with me and the girls. It's so nice to see a real bond between him and the girls forming and I have learned so much about my dad and my own childhood during these card games.

I think the reason I like sonlight so much was because it did help make school time seem like family time. In fact I still enjoy reading my sonlight books to the kids. I think I've taken the relaxed time we felt while doing history and extended it to all our subjects. I struggle with whether or not the kids are learning enough but everytime I start thinking about going back to our old school ways something happens to encourage me to keep unschooling, at least one more week.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nature Books That Will Change Your Life!

OK, maybe not your life but definitely your Science class!

There are two books that we have used over and over through the years. I would say that every homeschooling family would benefit from these books. One is Pets in a Jar by Seymour Simon and the other book is Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. Both books are excellent to have on your bookshelf, especially if you have a kid that's always bringing some critter home.

The first book, Pets in a Jar, explains how to set up different habitats using gallon size jars. We have used this book so many times over the years. We have kept ants, tadpoles, frogs and toads, crickets and earthworms with it's help. All my kids with the exception of Ashley have brought home some critter at one time or another.

The other book is a great resource for studying nature in general. From birds to turtles, trees to rocks this book is really great for leading children to learn about the world around them in a very natural way. I love the way it leads kids to make discoveries on their own instead of me just telling them the information.

I've never been much into nature study but these two books have really helped. Lately I have been making a concentrated effort to get the kids more involved with nature. Maybe it's because the weather has been so nice, but I just really want to be outside more.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Teacher This Week Was Well....Different!

Did you know that turtle shells bleed? Or that turtles have 5 toes on their front feet but only 3 on the back. Did you know that turtles eat worms? And tomatoes? And hot dogs?

I didn't know any of these things until my dad brought a turtle home for us. Lacey promptly named the turtle Franklin ( of course), Kyle named it Raphael, after the teenage mutant ninja turtle. Every morning we take him/her/it outside to walk around and enjoy some fresh air and we dig for worms to feed it. We have learned a lot about worms also by doing this. Like where the best worms are, and for some reason we found that we have better luck the earlier we dig for them. Why is that I wonder? Do they burrow deeper later in the day? Also we learned that we have better luck closer to the ground and under bushes. We don't seem to find as many the deeper down we go. Oh and one day while we were digging for worms we found a really weird something. I don't know what it was. Worm? Centipede? Baby snake? I have no clue. It didn't look like anything I'd ever seen before. It was smooth like a worm but moved like a snake in a way. It slithered back and forth but also could go forward or backward. If agitated it struck out kinda like a snake. My dad said it was a centipede but it didn't have any legs. Shane said it was a baby snake but it was red and yellow without any black. And I don't know if snakes can move backwards! Anyway we feed it to the chickens but now I wish we had kept it a while. There is still lots of discussion about just what it really was.

Anyway back to the turtle. We also discovered that Franklin/ Raphael prefers fat long worms to the skinny ones. And he'll eat grub worms but he doesn't seem to like them very much. Sometimes we'll put him in a puddle of water to swim around for a while. He doesn't seem especially thrilled by this but Lily insists that he wants to go swimming so I let her put him in occasionally.

One day we decided to draw pictures of him. That's when we discovered that he had 5 claws on his front feet but only 3 on his back. That seems strange to me so hopefully we can check again the next time we draw him. Kyle and Lacey drew some really good pictures! I told them to really pay attention to the shape of his body and the color of his shell and body. They even drew the way his shell has a scalloped edge instead of a smooth edge.

Today we learned that their shells actually have blood and nerves in them. We learned this because Lily accidently dropped him and a tip of his shell broke a little. We saw blood and examined him and it looked like the blood was coming from his shell. We looked up on the computer about his shell and sure enough turtle shells can bleed! So now we are handling him much more carefully.

I think he is getting used to us. He'll walk around even if he sees us and he'll come out of his shell while Kyle is holding him. I think we'll keep him another week or two then let him go. I sure am enjoying having him aroung though.

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