Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Naturally Learning...about the planets

So I thought every now and then I'd post about what this journey of ours into a more 'natural learning' actually looks like.
It's a journey, as is all our life, so it will continue to morph and change as time goes on I'm sure.
This is where we are right now.
In all honesty, it is really just another way of describing our life to you.
We recognise that there are learning opportunities in all that we do!
We learn right along side our children.
We try and provide suitable stimuli that will encourage them to explore new concepts and the world around them.
We listen when they ask questions.
We help them when they need it and interact constantly. 
John Holt once said, "Learning is as natural as breathing".
This seems to be the case in our family!
Please let me show you as an example what took place yesterday at our house!

Last weekend, we went to some shops and Elijah (who just turned 8 last month) spotted these sytrofoam balls. He asked while we were in the shop if we could get some.

Me: What do you want these for mate?
Liji: We could paint them and make some planets.
Me (sidetracked): I'm not
Liji: See there are 8 planets mum; Mercury Venus, Earth and Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune....Pluto is a dwarf planet now so we don't need that one. Could we get them please?
Me: Ok mate :)
Liji: Can we paint them today?
Me: Probably not today but maybe sometime during the week.

Skills Shown: demonstrating initiative, oral narration, factual recall, clear communication of an idea, ability to comprehend (that today was not a good day to do no meltdown followed!)

A couple of days later, Liji asked if we could paint the balls. I asked him which colours he would use and he said he wasn't sure. I suggested getting out the solar system floor puzzle which he constructed immediately.

Skills Shown: communication, self-motivation, organisation, ability to follow instruction, taking the initiative to want to complete the project he'd thought of on the weekend, ability to reason + sequence along with hand-eye coordination, concentration + spatial awareness when completing the floor puzzle

I asked if he wanted to write down the planets and the colours they were on the puzzle and he thought that was a great idea so he got some paper and began to make a colour key.

Skills Shown: identification, notation, evaluation

All of the kids joined in and Liji told them which planets he wanted them to paint and in which colours.

Skills Shown: delegation, team work, co operation, leadership

There were a couple of times when there were disagreements about which colours the planets should be. Stass remembered seeing one of the planets pictured in a book as a different colour than Liji had said and noted down. We ended up getting out the DK Space book that we love along with a 'My First Space Wipe and Learn' book that I'd bought for the kids about a fortnight ago. We all voted on which colour we thought it should be based on what the two books plus the floor puzzle showed.
Skills Shown: conflict resolution, discussion, research, deliberation, concentration

Liji was trying to work out a way that he could paint the bit that his fingers had been holding. One of the other children suggested using a skewer and then to hold onto that while painting. Great idea!

Skills Shown: creative thinking, application of an idea, decision making, clear logic, problem solving

Once the planets had been painted, Ethi asked if he could do some hand prints on paper

You are never too old for handprinting!

The other kids decided that was a great idea and joined in too!

Skills Shown: Clearly presenting an idea, time management skills (as we were getting close to Zeeki waking and I said we needed to do a short activity which they did by choosing hand printing)

Such a fun way to end our painting time!

At the end of this, it was time to wash hands and again, another great learning opportunity presented itself...this time just as simple as being able to help Zippi to wash the paint off her hands. I demonstrated the idea and she copied.

Skills Shown: Imitation, Independence, Concentration 

Once dry, Liji wanted to assemble the planets for display. I asked him if he had any ideas about how to hang them together. He decided to get a skewer and thread them on one at a time. When I pointed out that the one skewer may not hold them all, he said,
"That's ok! I'm going to thread the other planets onto another one and then let them join in the middle where both the pointy ends are!"

Skills Shown: forward-thinking, planning, decison making, design, problem solving, prediction, ability to construct, perseverance
Ta da!

As you can see, children learn all the time!
They gain skills that will help them both now and in the future through everyday activities.
They are motivated to learn!
We feel that part of our job is to give an opportunity to encourage moments like this (which of course we can all do whether we are 'homeschoolers' or not).

One of the most important lessons I am learning at the moment is to ask questions!
Instead of telling them what I think, I'm asking them more about "why do you think that happened?" or "what do you think will happen next?" and allowing them the opportunity to explore the possibilities, present ideas and contribute to discussions.

See, we are ALL learning!
More to come another time,


Andi said...

Absolutely Wonderful...I love the hands in the faucet. :)

Michelle said...

Awesome, Lusi! Love the kids at the table working together, the planets and all the bright colors. . . and ALL the natural learning going on! =)

caz1975 said...

Great post!!!

Nat said...

That's AWESOME hun, and what a FUN idea!!
That Liji of yours is so super smart!!

kathy said...

Looks like some fun times at your house! Great memories made too :)

singing mama said...

Love so much how natural learning encoutages our children to learn and to think for themselves. This is a great post Lusi with great examples of how life is full of learning moments !
Luv Donna

Anonymous said...

Fabulous family time your having together. I always enjoy seeing the wonderful things your children create and all your great photos. Excellent effort from them all. Thanks for sharing. Have a fun and safe week end Lusi :)

From Susan McGuire xxoo

Enid said...

Love this Lusi what a great lesson, thanks for sharing!


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