09 September 2014

Last month I began planning ways to implement some flexible curriculum into our schedule. As unschoolers, we've never been very heavy into curriculum and workbooks but have instead usually focused on life learning, reading, and classes. This year it felt right to introduce to the kids the opportunity to work with some curriculum and I was fortunate to find some second hand items that are good matches for their interests.

We dipped our toes into the Five In A Row waters with Lentil, but now we're getting a better feel for things.
Yesterday, we started working with Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. We picked up a copy of this lovely little book from a friend recently. It's a nice story that has sparked numerous questions from the girls on each read through, and I like the sturdy structure of the board book format.

 The first activity we did with the book was to examine the elements of the story. I wrote out categories on the white board for setting, conflict, rising action, climax, second conflict, second climax, and denouement. We took another read through the books, discussing the meaning of the various elements and picking them out of the story. I'd intended to fill in the chart myself, but my girls of course jumped in with both feet and soon took turns with the marker themselves.

This morning we returned to the chart with a second book, Deep Snow by Robert Munsch, and filled in the second column with the information from this story. We were amused by the coincidence of people being stuck in holes in both stories.

We continued the Mike Mulligan theme with the art topic of examining the trees on some of the pages and then painting our own trees. We used some different types of paint, and alternated between paintbrushes and sponges.

We also did some vocabulary sheets I printed out (thank you Pinterest!). I helped Ollie with her page while Nick helped Lily with hers. Ollie decided that she would spell the words out herself and ignored the word list on the side other than to cross them out. For a kid not even a month past her fifth birthday, I am amazed at her writing skills.

After this, I switched gears for a bit with Nick. He was interested in checking out the BJU science text so we got started on that. He read a few sections and we went over the section and chapter reviews. His brow seemed to be furrowed a little harder than usual but he picked up on the concepts and vocabulary as he worked through it. I'm still not entirely sold on this set of books, but we'll keep working with it for now.

Next up, I made some time to start on a KONOS unit with Lily, who seemed to be feeling slighted at not yet having had any work geared specifically towards her. I decided to begin with the beaver theme under the responsibility unit because it looked like fun and it felt relevant with the family of beavers we often watch from our kitchen table.

We read The Beaver Pond by Alvin Tresselt (thank you Open Library for the instantaneous resource!) which was a nice picture book that gave lots of factual information about beavers within the context of a story.

After we read the book we discussed how beavers can hold their breath for up to fifteen minutes. We took turns seeing how long we could hold our own breath and wrote down our times on a chart.

We also began a round robin story about beavers that we'll work on throughout the week. The kids each dictated a paragraph while I typed and then I added a paragraph myself at the end. So far the story is filled with sibling strife and appearances from several beavers named after Frozen characters. Lily thinks we should publish our book at the end.

 Once the kids were in bed I found some more resources on Pinterest for both KONOS and FIAR. I'm chomping at the bit to get some things printed out but our printer has finally completely called it quits and will be replaced soon.

To cap things off, I wrote up some large sheets with some questions from the KONOS book about beavers. I was thinking Lily might like to fill the papers in with the answers she knows already and as we read more tomorrow. Knowing Lily, I'm sure she'll take a whole different path with it than I'd anticipated!


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