~a month of unschool~ chickenasaurus


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quinn presented his research project on australia. i think the pictures explain more than i ever could in words, just how proud and competent he felt about this project. his research covered the states or australia, the land types (including the desert interior “outback”), as well as quite a number of facts regarding wombats. he also did an amazing poster of several of the fossil dinosaurs that have been discovered in australia, which are rare, and like its extant animals, unique to this continent. when it was time to read his facts, quinn elected to have a fellow student, one of the proficient readers, whisper the facts i had helped him record into his ear so that he could be the one to say them aloud. one of the many, many, many benefits of having overlapping ages in one classroom is the way they are able to support and encourage one another’s learning process in ways that adults cannot. the reader, in this case, gets to really feel how proficient he is in his reading skill, and quinn as a non-reader receives inspiration to become a reader from someone not much older than him (hey if he can do it, maybe i can, too!) as well as the opportunity to make a presentation that isn’t even intended for students of his age level.

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i led the kids at ols through planting bean seeds in a cd case (it was fun to watch them sprout this way!) and sprouting sweet potatoes. we also had the honor of hosting some incubating chicken eggs and witnessing their hatching. this was a mixed event, in that the eggs had been from a nest that a hen abandoned, and therefore there were several non-viable eggs that did not hatch. also, we had some mortality after hatching, and it was a deeply moving learning process to behold in the kids. a funeral ceremony was held, and we had lots of discussion about how people handle feelings about animals’ deaths differently, and how to honor one another’s feelings.

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lots and lots of chick handling was good medicine for broken hearts! the kids drew pictures in their scrapbooks of science showing how the development of a chick inside its egg proceeds, and we noticed similarities between chick development and the development of a sprouting bean seed…

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lots of lego building happened. i particularly enjoyed this dinosaur egg incubator that quinn designed, pictured on the left.

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for quinn’s second research presentation (as non-mandatory as the first one was), he researched “how dinosaurs are related to birds” and we explored a lot of his dinosaur books at home (and some from the library) together to present his facts. he also helped choose the you-tube videos he was allowed to present, and told me very seriously that some of the ones i was showing him were not serious enough, did not contain enough paleontology. he wanted real paleontologists, talking about their work. we settled on one showcasing research by hans larson from mcgill university, and this ted talk by jack horner, a famous paleontologist from the american museum of natural history that quinn was already on a first-name basis with, due to one of his “learning dinosaurs movies” at his dad’s house. the clips were very well received by the students, and generated probably more questions than answers, including everything from embryological technique to ethics. we all have jokingly referred to the chickenosaurus in casual conversation ever since.

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we began our first ever unit in ceramics at ols, thanks entirely to one other mama who volunteers a lot of her time at school, and happens to be an artist. we started with pinch pots, and proceeded on to making other creations. quinn’s ewok is pictured in the center.

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another parent comes regularly to teach drawing lessons. in october we worked on monsters, and then a pumpkin triptych, including carving the pumpkins we were drawing from life, in various stages from whole brand new pumpkin, to carved pumpkin, to decaying, slumping pumpkin (part 3 to come next month).

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quinn did plenty of artistic projects at home as well, including designing his own halloween costume:

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he has also been continuing to experiment with choosing his wardrobe… this month a ninja turtle mask was added to his accessories.

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he also started a ninja turtles club with another student, as well as tracing ninja turtles on the light table. he participated in lots of discussions concerning stick rights and the rules around rough-and-tumble play at school.

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we finished reading giraffe juice, and did a study of skin color, in which we all used skin-colored paints to blend our own exact skin color, then made faces using our “formula” and made a beautiful rainbow of faces on the classroom wall. i love the way ols approaches things like racism in such a gentle yet straightforward way, approaching it head on without shying away, and yet presenting it in such a child-accessible manner.

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one worksheet was sighted at school this month- quinn got really into the crazy stories that the older kids were working on one day, while he was supposed to be making playdough letters. the playdough wasn’t really floating his boat, but he really liked diving into parts of speech (think mad libs). i like that worksheets are less likely to be on the menu, than, say, salsa dancing or sculpting in clay.

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we did a fun family gathering for our annual apple cider pressing extravaganza, and quinn got right into playing and helping out with the apple chores. he is seen here hosing out the wheelbarrow used to haul away apple pulp. our homeschool family is alive and well, and we cherish our time with them even more now that we see them a little bit less.

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this month in the lunchbox….

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all in all, a great month of unschool, as usual!

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