~a month of unschool~ read this backwards

i have been forgetting to write much about quinn’s spanish lessons at ols, mostly because for the first part of the year, he kept opting out of them. i know he has always been fascinated with language, so i think it was more the fact that it was a “lesson”, but in the last month he has transitioned to attending more often than not. one of the favorite lessons this month was writing their own funny book about a fat ant together as a group en espanol. you could hear the laughter all through the rest of the school!

speaking of books, in his reading group, quinn reports that he has been reading brave father mouse – an early reader. but not only has he been reading it, he has been practicing turning brave father mouse‘s sentences into questions, reading the story backwards (a great technique for kids like mine who memorize in one take!), and making his own sequels to the story.

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in ceramics, we attempted three community projects as a school – a teapot, a flowerpot, and a bowl. it is amazing what happens when we all collaborate – somehow the whole is ever so much more than the sum of its individual parts.

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we have a new set of drums at ols, and all the kids, but especially some of the boys, have really enjoyed using them. they did drummed greetings as students arrived, sat in a drum circle of sorts, pounding out various rhythms, and then sat across the yard from one another, in the style of african talking drums, used to communicate over long distances.

we reviewed the scientific method this month (we use it all the time, but took a moment to define and refresh our memories. some kids took notes.) we also did a lot of microscope work looking at cells (cheek cells and onion cells to exhibit the characteristics of typical animal and plant cells). we also delved into the wonderful world of dna, one of my specialties, and extracted dna from broccoli, using a blender and some typical household reagents (rubbing alcohol and dish soap being key players). i also made a mystery whale dna worksheet that the kids loved, in which they got to decode the dna from several different male whales and find out which male could be the father to the calf in question.


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also in the realm of science and mb specialties, we dug up a garden bed in preparation for spring planting! the kids got so involved and it was so neat to see their enthusiasm! we had everything going on from transplanting shrubs, carrying piles of weeds to the compost, trimming and pruning various bushes and vines, and of course, tilling our garden soil.

a few kids (including quinn) created a garden collage timeline using pictures cut from seed catalogs, to show during what month different vegetables should be planted both indoors and outdoors.

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math lessons this month included finding patterns using the 100s board, practicing improper fractions (this was another instance of quinn latching onto an older kid lesson), and geometry. geometry is such a treasure trove if you approach it the right way. this month we made pyramids using magnatiles and tracing them onto cardstock, then cutting out and folding and taping. we also had lots of fun creating floor plans for our dream homes! the students all had such amazing ideas for rooms- stuffed animal rooms, science labs, reading nooks, basketball courts, secret rooms to hide in, and quinn’s features a backyard treehouse. most kids had several sheets of paper going, since they wanted to have several floors in their dream houses!

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quinn finished his pinewood derby car and got to put it to the test! he managed to pull off third place, and was very pleased with his experience!

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in our mindful awareness unit we studied mindfulness concerning foods, and how we can be mindful in our reactions to trying new foods. the kids perused grocery store flyers and cut out favorite foods, then thought of adjectives to describe them. they also practiced tasting various foods.

quinn got to attend several presentations from older kids, including topics such as leonardo davinci, dogs, horses, and teenage mutant ninja turtles.


the kids all wanted to climb trees this month, so we had a discussion where we established the rights and responsibilities of tree climbing at ols. i love the democratic process these kids are living each day.


and last but not least… turtle power!



1 comment to ~a month of unschool~ read this backwards

  • Leticia

    Reading it backwards – brilliant! It’s just what I would have thought of, if only I had. (Pooh-ish-ness intended). Felipe does tend to memorize – I will introduce him to this new game 🙂

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