Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pirate School

Doesn't that sound forbidden and fabulous all at once? Of course as a homeschooling mama I try to follow my boy's lead, and somehow we always end up on the pirate path. So I have been forced to come up with sneaky ways to make being a buccaneer somewhat educational without having it feel like a "lesson". I love this also because it helps us move away from the violent mishmosh that's always glamorized in the pirate life and get back to the basics of life on the sea.

This happens every. single. day. Sort treasure, count treasure, add treasure. The boy likes his treasure.

All pirates have to have maps to get around on the ocean and find their treasure. We have a map on the wall that we run to at least once a day to talk about a place that comes up in a story or sea tale. And Zach has just started getting in to making his own maps, mostly of the marina and where he imagines there's treasure buried. And finally we have an endless supply of tourist maps we get from our marina fuel dock that Zach loves to study and make up stories about and place X's all over.

Did you know that the Mutiny on the Bounty is a true story? Zach is obsessed with this tale of treason and adventure on the high seas. He loves hearing stories and looking at books from "olden times", and his main point of historical reference is Mutiny on the Bounty. "Mama, did the Civil War happen before or after they tossed Captain Bligh off the ship?" "Mama, did the Vikings cross the ocean before or after the Bounty made it's trip?" You get the idea.

We read a wonderful book called Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin that talks Darwin's journeys at sea and emphasizes how important a ship's naturalist/ scientist was at the time. This mama likes to emphasize the peace makers at sea and hopes her boy will love the sketching with equal fervor as the swashbuckling. Then of course there's navigating by the stars (daddy taught Zach how to find Orion when he was 3 years old and he continues to amaze me with his grasp on the night sky). And of course oodles of marine life to capture, poke, swim after, and gaze at.


Ships were the very first thing Zach drew after your basic little kid scribble. And it's seriously the only thing he draws. Well, there are a few other things and he IS starting to branch out, but drawing ships is nothing short of an obsession for Z. Nothing makes me smile more than when he hands me a drawing and says, "It's a junk rigged catamaran." Or, "This has a fancy bowsprit but it's just a regular sloop." Future marine architect?

(Zach saw the drawing on the computer over my shoulder and asked me to add this painting too)

Of course the most fun of all are pirate stories. Aside from the books mentioned before, we have some favorite audio tales that keep us going on long car trips to see the in-laws.
From what I know, Jessie Modic is a teacher in a one room school house in norther California. She recorded 3 CD's (all of which are FABULOUS! The others are about fairies and magic fiddles) and her pirate story one called Saltarello is perfection in my book. No bad guys, no fighting, just silly songs, sweet songs, and two lovely stories about good pirates and salty fisherwomen.

The best thing about Pirate School? No bells, no homework, no desks, no workbooks, no shoes, no shirt, lots fresh air and lots of sunshine!


wholarmor said...

So cool that you can incorporate his interests into schooling!

Cam said...

So cool! I love exploring Dylan's interests as a way to inspire some thinking! Seeing him be eager and happy and so receptive to learning is such a rewarding experience!

Here's hoping you'll stay on the little pirate's good side and not be walking the plank anytime soon!

Joy said...

Pirate school sounds fabulous! I love the little learning corner that you've carved out on your boat. You must be very organized to be able to maximize the space on board! It sounds like you're doing a great job at giving Zach a variety of learning while incorporating his love of pirates!

Kate said...

Love it....and just think, as he grows, priate school can grow with him-- for literature, Treasure Island (Noah just finished that one and loved it)...and there is chart plotting and reading, learning the signs of storms in the sky, and all the geometry that goes with making a boat sail (and now in Noah's case, sail fast). Such fun-- I'm thinking Zach will one day look back and realize that the real treasure was a mama willing to make school fun for her little pirate:)

And ps-- when I make the blog switch, I'll be using typepad..I've become a bit more familiar with it thanks to Cluck and Tweet (that craft/silly/recipe blog I help write with my friend Alison) and I really, really like what features it offers. That being said, I have no clue how to actually migrate the blog or do the initial set-up... technology is hard! :)

Linda said...

Pirate school sounds amazing, thanks for sharing :)

waldorfmama said...

what a fabulous post!

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