Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Unusual day in the life...

I'm due a description of a typical day in our unschooling life. So I decided this morning that I would keep track of what we did today. It proved to be a challenging one for me to post - not the greatest example of unschooling, for any non-unschooling reader who doesn't know the bigger picture.

9 am - Both boys came out from their room. Gillen played Crusader on the computer.

After hanging out with me for a bit, cuddling and telling me about the rest of "Pirates of the Carribean - Dead Man's Chest" (I fell asleep in it last night) - Jesse made himself a bowl of granola. I sat with him while he ate and I got some very vivid descriptions of all of the "undeads" in the film. It seems Jesse has become less sensitive to scary movies. He loved this one.

Gillen made himself some eggs and I ate granola. Jesse went upstairs to work on his lego creations. I asked he and Gillen if they wanted me to read to them. I sometimes read while they do legos. They said yes. I read several chapters of "My Side of the Mountain" about a boy who runs away from home and lives in the wilderness alone, training a Peregrine Falcon to hunt for him. Jesse made a lego boat with a moving wheel in the back. We talked about paddle boats and steam ships and how they work. This ship did not run on steam, I was informed, but on wind. : ) We stopped reading several times to talk about things that interested us - how the boy's traps (from the book) might be engineered, whether trapping was humane, how to raise a bird, how much Jesse's dressed lego horse looked like the Greek horses he'd been talking about with Papa yesterday.

When they'd had enough reading, I made us a snack and checked my email. Gillen sat at our second computer, next to me, and started an online chat with me. I learned how to create a face that turns from sideways to upright (it actually moves!) on gmail chat.

Jesse brought his guitar upstairs and continued working on a song he's been writing called "Eternity". Gillen (this is not typical at all) decided that he wanted to work on "math"! He often does difficult addition and even multiplication at times, in his head. He wanted to try the math he knew that people in school did. So I taught him written multiplication. We'd looked at it before but it's been awhile. It was amazing to me that he got it so easily. He wanted more! We did division, using the fractions that he'd always used in life experiences like cooking to bridge the path into the written formula.

I am hoping that we get to build something soon as a family. I think it would be fun to have a small guest/teen house in our yard. That would be one way in which I would have imagined math coming up, just as it has when they have needed it to add up totals in their head at our farmer's market. But for whatever reason, he was wanting to see what this "math" thing (as it is used by those he knows in school) is about. He's used math in games, in cooking, at the market. We just hadn't often talked about it in this scholastic way before. Because he felt ready for it and curious, it was easy. I'll have to relearn some harder stuff now, like algebra, which I think can be really fun.

Jesse must have picked up the smell of "subjects" too as he brought out the Usborne History Encyclopedia, flipping through it (backwards mostly) for an hour and reading things as they seemed interesting, sometimes reading out loud to me. He said that his favorite parts were the descriptions of the Hebrews, of the Normans and of the Mesopotamians "because I knew nothing about them before this." I couldn't help thinking about how much exploring this book would have meant to me a few years ago (I worked for Usborne four years ago just so we could have lots of their books). Today, it was just one more interesting resource in our world. This morning, he had talked about the connection between the the Flying Dutchman boat in the "Pirates" movie last night and how he'd also seen it in a "Sponge Bob" episode and he wondered where else it might be. We ended up in a round-about way talking about Vikings. History comes up all the time, without the beautiful Usborne book (though we do now like it very much).

Gillen wanted to go to the farm to watch Nicolas use the chain-saw to cut up some fallen trees. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the sawing was over. Gillen fed his turkeys. I filmed a farm tutorial. Jesse tried a few times to make a mud ball but the mud was too wet. Gillen decided to stay at the farm and I went home with Jesse, who wanted me to help him make a lego video. We spent the rest of the afternoon making and editing this short video. At 5:30, I went to my zumba class.

It was strange to post about this day, once it had included such unusual "subject" matter. Yet another surprising day on our journey.


Stacey said...

thank you for sharing I love hearing how people's days progress even when they aren't normal. I lost your blog for a while I am glad to "refind you"

laura said...

this sounds like a really wonderful day. i need to do this again sometime!

i love that you all have tried the mud balls. i am hoping to organize a day with our group here to do these!! thanks for the reminder.

and zumba!? really, that is sooo cool!

kelli said...

How fun :)I love that our days can sometimes look like your day that you wrote about and then other days completely different. I think that's why unschooling works so well it just lends itself to connections. What a great life!

Ronnie said...

I did day-in-the-life posts for a while and had the same hesitation as you when our day ended up sort of schooly (although of course those days are nothing like school). There's a fear that newbies will build expectations for school-style academic moments, or think that we value those moments more than the Lego (or Barbie or XBox or American Idol or whatever) moments. But personally I love to read about days like this and the way school-valued learning is part and parcel of—but not primary in—a rich unschooling life.

Madeline said...

Ronnie, you put it so well! Exactly!

Rachel said...

I didn't think it sounded like a "schooly" day, since even the way you guys approached typical subjects was done in such an unschooly way. But it was indeed very full day, and our recent lounge-about days pale in comparison! Hee hee. I know that even our less "busy" days are still very full. I loved to hear about all the things you did, and I'm especially interested to see this Lego movie, as we've been trying to make some of our own Lego and clay animations around here. Did you post it somewhere? Will you post it somewhere? I'm totally curious.