Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hiatus...of Sorts

"School" around here has gone a bit sour.

At least that's all I can figure out, because every time I mention getting it worked on, my kids wrinkle up their noses and groan like they just opened the mystery container in the fridge!

Reminding them how good they've got it hasn't helped much. Neither has bribery. And extra days off still results in the same stink when school days resume. 

I'm tired of nagging and they obviously are immune to it anyway, so I decided it's time for a change.

I noticed the only thing they haven't complained about as much is geography, which is an occasional subject we add in.

So for at least the month of February.  We are taking a break from our traditional math and writing and science. (Which really can hardly be called traditional to begin with.) And we will focus on two things:

Geography and Cooking

Don't mistake those three little words for not real school.

We are by no means abandoning math and writing and science. Instead, we will be exploring them in new and more hands on ways.

There is practically countless ways to incorporate the primary three subjects into our focused two.

Here is a couple that we've already done.

Fun Fact Search

It basically goes like this:
  • One kid picks a state (or country, city, land or water formation, planet, galaxy,  etc.)
  • Grace is our designated scribe. (She needs the writing practice)
  • Zak is the head researcher, though they take turns on the tablet looking for facts and scrolling through pictures.
  • Zak is the fact feeder. (He needs practice condensing shared information into bite size pieces.)

Together, they read tidbits about their selected locale, and decide which facts to use. Some days they will be looking for specific answers to a list of questions I provide. Other days they may be exploring the natural world, or population centers, cultural aspects, the history of a place and it's people, the list goes on and on. 

And some days they do this:

Please excuse the chocolate and spelling.

You can see from the options that a lot more than just learning to read a map is involved.

Another venture is using and getting get familiar with maps and how to get from here to there. We'll call this...


It basically involves:

  • Using road maps and an atlas.
  • Selecting a starting point and ending point. 
  • Then figuring out a route.
  • Mapping and finding mileage, and breaking it down into how many miles each day.
  • How much gas? Where will you spend the night? What attractions are on the way? How much do they cost? Basically an entire trip budget. (They can get nearly exact figures by looking these up on the tablet.)
  • What if we flew? Or took the train? Or walked?

There is certainly no shortage of math there!

Also we will be playing lots of games to learn, get familiar with, and explore our world.

The other day, they put together our map of the US and Canada. Then they each selected a token. We assigned each number on a die to a corresponding color on the map. Then they took turns rolling the die, selecting a place with the assigned color and we would look up and talk about that place. 

The other thing we are focusing on is cooking. Both of the kids have lately expressed a lot more interest in moving beyond the basics of pb&j. So we are going to start tackling real cooking and baking. Together at first, but gradually letting them gain more and more independence.

The complaints when I initiate school have suddenly disappeared! I see smiles and excitement! Hooray!

Another skill we are working on is teamwork. This has become much more of a challenge for Zak lately. He likes working alone or being completely in charge, so the nature of these assignments will help him stretch those skills and help both of them practice and work on their social communication skills. And it will force them to practice patience with one another, which has been in more of a short supply than it used to be.

Looks like we found away to turn our sour to sweet again! We are really excited!


  1. Great job, Mom and Dad! 1. Without accurate and thorough knowledge of our world, we stay "ignorant" no matter how "smart" we may be academically. 2. No subject encompasses every needed skill set like geography. 3. Working together like that is good, helping, not competing. 4. Planets and galaxies might fall under "astro", not exactly "geo"? :) ....fun and more fun!

  2. Good idea. Make it work in any way. Very creative :)
    Really what child doesn't like eating