Thank you for allowing me a little unannounced sabbatical from blogging here as I worked out some other projects like gardening from seed for the first time, writing a devotional book, hosting a weight-loss group and working with new clients…all while maintaining our family’s rhythm, order, and balance (and all by the grace of God!)
I thought I’d jump back in with a weekly snippet of the learning happening in my family’s life since I can hardly keep up with it! My kids are thirteen and ten and they enjoy a lot of the same classes and activities, but at their own level and pace. Here are eight snippets, or highlights, from our week with photos, links and a video I think you’ll enjoy: (By the way, thanks for reading my blog, Mom.)
In their art class, they recently completed a four-week project re-creating a superhero comic painting from the 1940s and 50s. They scaled and sketched their drawings and masked and layered acrylic paint with a final masking and spray painting through a screen.
These turned out so professional looking!
Trevor wanted to begin working on three areas of math learning at a time so he’s using Key-To workbooks to learn simultaneously Geometry, Percents and Decimals. Adam has been working through Geometry and is quite advanced. He knows way more geometry in eighth grade than I did when I took it for one year in tenth grade. The Key-To series are great workbooks which I had on hand based on my kids interest and learning style. I like the Key-To series because they are topical short books with aesthetically pleasing fonts, almost like a handwritten font, but nicer than that so they are easy on the eyes. Subject areas are broken down into topics further so that each book is short enough to give them a great feeling of accomplishment and drive to continue. They are easy to teach through when they feel stuck on their own. When they need to they take breaks and work through Khan Academy for a change of pace.
For the past sixteen weeks or so, they’ve been partaking in a weekly science class at a friend’s house within walking distance. Their current exploration is in environmental science, studying sustainable farming practices and permaculture. Weekly movies and field trips are the focus now. This week they watched the movie Fresh. Prior to this, they studied Physical Science – Heat, Light and Energy, reading through a book, learning new vocabulary and doing experiments with their friends. They learned a lot and enjoyed it very much.
For more project-based learning, both kids are heavily involved in creating their own video games, each using different software programs to accomplish their goals. My youngest uses Scratch and Java, while my oldest uses the more advanced Blender program and Java. This is their main project and from that they are learning computer programming, chemistry, physics, math, writing, economics, sketching, 3D modeling, animation, linguistics, science, critical thinking, problem solving and more. One book which we got from the library called The Elements: A Visual Periodic Table was such a hit that we ended up purchasing our very own copy. It’s so fantastic and I wish I had this when I was in high school. I memorized the Periodic Table element symbols and electrons and protons, but never knew what the elements actually did. This book has pictures of the elements and photos of products that use them in everyday life with informative and often humorous text that describes it all. The kids have been using this in building their worlds in their favorite game, Minecraft, as well as in developing realistic details of their own video game creations. One day, when we heard a commercial for gold investments, I told them that it really isn’t a very good investment, and was about to tell them why when my oldest said he knew because of the Elements book! He told me gold is rare and there just wouldn’t be enough to go around in an economic collapse, besides if there was an economic collapse, people would not have bags of gold lying around to trade, but water and fuel would be a valuable commodity. Smart kid.
Through the Boy Scouts, Adam has been learning Astronomy, surveying, First Aid and photography. This weekend he finishes the requirements for the Astronomy badge while on an overnight camping trip and hike. On the way there he mentioned how much he likes project-based learning, marvelling that one could have so much fun and it is still considered school. He loves what we do and it brings me great joy to see him totally motivated and engaged!
For exercise, the boys are involved in the sport of Fencing and have been attempting back-to-back classes for a total of two hours twice a week. Their next tournament is coming up in May in San Luis Obispo. Every other Tuesday they spend three hours in an adventure of hiking/backpacking, mountain biking, surfing or kayaking in and around our area. We are blessed to be very, very close to the ocean as well as to the foothills which provide incredibly beautiful creeks to hike up, forest trails to walk on and boulders to climb. Part of that outdoor adventure experience also includes studying the Bible and prayer. Here’s a video highlight from last week of their early morning hike to Seven Falls where they climbed boulders and slid down natural water slides into the gorgeous natural pools that lie at the bottom of each waterfall.
Every Tuesday afternoon, they also spend a couple of hours at Park Day, a homeschool group gathering at a local park which rotates monthly and where you can find all ages of children from babies through high school. There they play soccer, tag, flag football, ultimate frisbee, or make up new games. We live in a community where they walk at least twice a week to friends houses each within a quarter-mile to a half mile away. And when they are home, they are often found in the cul-de-sac in the later afternoon playing with the neighborhood kids in games of tag, hide-and-seek, biking, skateboarding or shooting hoops. And through Boy Scouts, Adam has been building up his hiking and backpacking miles, including a 5-mile city hike last weekend where they toured 11 historical sites around Santa Barbara, really learning our area’s history while getting even more exercise.
During my transplant days, I was unable to provide them these great outdoor excursions and they were also younger back then, so they didn’t have as much freedom as they do now to walk a long way to a friend’s house. Now they are spending loads of time outdoors, in nature often and getting lots of vigorous exercise. I love seeing them thrive in this way…no Last Child in the Woods natural deficit disorders allowed here!
We visit the library almost every week. Adam has been researching trees for his video game and checked out a couple of books on the subject…one was an encyclopedia of trees as big as a New York City telephone book in hardcover that I see him carry around with him everywhere as he learns about trees and sketches his favorites. The other was a pictorial book of Remarkable Trees of the World which is great inspiration for his sci-fi video game. Trevor has started checking out fiction books to read like Lord of the Rings, as well as companion books detailing the Lord of the Rings world. They have loved hearing the books read aloud twice in the past, then got to see the movies and now want to start reading them for themselves. It’s enough to make a mom’s heart swell with pride and joy.
It was a fantastic week and to top it off we were able to take in a visiting exhibit at UCSB called Mirazozo, from Architects of Air. A hard-to-explain experience, but a must-do field trip for my art and architecture-interested kids. Standing in line for 2.5 hours on the final day was not so fun, but once inside we were taken into another world of color, light, music and curves. Here are some of our photos from it (outside and inside):
That’s it for this week’s snippets of learning taking place in our family’s life. Please share just one or two highlights from your week in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you! And if you are a relaxed-schooler, a project-based learning homeschool, or consider yourself an unschooler, you’ll want to link-up your weekly highlights at Winging-It’s 7 Snippets Blog Hop: