Friday, September 18, 2009

First Week: Not-At-Home Schooling

One of the things I love about schooling at home is all the rich opportunities to leave home and explore. How lucky we are to live in an area where we have such fabulous resources and museums and culture at our feet. I can't imagine staying in one place all day, day after day, when the whole world and our local community beckons.

Our favorite local resource is SERC - the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. It's a gorgeous, waterfront, nature preserve that happens to offer amazing little homeschool classes taught by amazing, kid-friendly scientists for a very small cost (think, the price of a large latte).

Our "first week of school" we headed over to SERC for a morning of Colonial life fun. This was right up Zach's alley, my boy who has a deep love for all things "old timey" and even likes to wander antique stores now just for the heck of it. The kids learned how to make a compass and why compasses always point north.

They were reminded that there were no cameras in Colonial days, and the only way common folk had an image of themselves as children was through silhouette drawings (funny to these insanely documented blog-generation kids). They played hop scotch and read stories and make pinch pots out of clay.

That afternoon we gathered with some homeschool friends outside on a big quilt spread under an oak tree to continue the theme by making corn husk dolls.

Packs of ready to craft, dried out corn husks are available at the grocery store in the Latin American aisle (used for making tamales). It's about $5 for a HUGE bag of corn husks. There's no right or wrong way to make a corn husk doll. It's a nice, free form, creative endeavor. We layered about 4-5 sheets of husk and folded them over, tying the top off with strong or yarn to make the head. Zach wanted his to be a boy, so we cut up the middle of the bottom and tied off the ankles to make him look like he was wearing pants. You can roll another sheet or two of husk around the back of your doll and tie it on for arms, or carefully make a hole through the body with scissors and push a stick through.

The face can be made with markers, acorns, or even sewn with a really strong needle  and embroidery thread. Then you can dress your doll in scraps of cloth, add hair, bells, ribbon, lace, etc.

It didn't stop at dolls either. They made corn husk snakes, alligators, swords... how fabulous for the kids to use their own imaginations and their own two hands to create the playthings they wanted for the afternoon.

We are thinking of a little road trip to Colonial Williamsburg soon, plus Mount Vernon (George Washington's house) is right in our area. In a burst of enthusiasm he even spent a long morning grinding cinnamin sticks with  a mortar and pestle because, "that's how they did it in olden days when they needed it."

I love being able to see and touch and taste hear the things Zach is interested in. His passion is our curriculum. And the world is our classroom.

Some Colonial Reading for Kids:

Our Colonial Year
If You Lived in Colonial Times
Revolutionary War on Wednesday (Magic Tree House)
Colonial Days (games, crafts, & recipes)

Do you have any favorite Colonial books to add?


Joy said...

What an amazing day! That's so awesome that Zach can take classes there. I'm sure he loves it. We had plans for heading to Williamsburg over Christmas, but alas the situation with Paul's mom has usurped his every vacation day. Soon though! We like "old timey" things here too. You'll have to keep us posted on the other classes Zach takes there.

Erin J said...

More places are catering to homeschoolers and I love it! What opportunities to learn exist all around us.

You're going to have to quit calling yourself craft-impaired! I think you do more crafts than I do and I consider myself pretty crafty. :)

Have a great weekend!

Holly Noelle @ Domestic Dork said...

I'm loving this series of posts. I'm considering homeschooling Mini-Dork when the time comes and it is SO helpful to see the day to day of an unschooling family to help me decide if that's the method I want to try.

Cam said...

You guys are having an awesome first week! Dylan and I have been studying pioneer and American Indian culture all week, and he loves it! It's the first time I've posted to the unschooling blog in awhile! Ooops...

I would love a chance to get to the swamp park before it gets too cool to go (If it gets too cool to go? Starting to wonder if there are really winters here!) It is such a great resource to open up a dialogue about the ecosystems we find ourselves in...

History is my favorite subject! I am really enjoying these posts! Hope you have a great weekend!

lily boot said...

What a great day! I would love to be in your shoes - with my Abby in tow! - right now. :-) A book that Abby loved at Zach's age and still reads over and over is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder - the tales of Almanzo and his siblings, their daily routine, and the fun they made makes for delightful reading - and very old-timey. There's a great trick Zach can try with popcorn and milk. Abby never fails to enjoy this.

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