Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Learning via Flickr

learning from my flickr friends

Some of these are things I am learning about through my flickr friends' photos and blogs, and some of them are things my flickr friends and their kids are learning. Some are from other unschoolers, some are not, and for some I'm not even sure if they have kids or any particular learning philosophy. But clearly, all of them are from people who are interested in life and the world around them, learning all the time.  They are beautiful, inspiring, and interesting (the photos and the people behind the camera). I'm so very thankful for a resource like flickr!

1. tools from stone, 2. rogue, 3. Inukshuks, 4. Untitled, 5. embracing language, 6. dragonfly, 7. Carapace, 8. the stick is stuck, 9. Running Free, 10. felting, 11. this won't do, 12. last day of nature study class., 13. Mermaid's Purse, 14. Busy work, 15. we have silkmoths {day 51}, 16. Untitled

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Through the Senses


Usually you hear about learning through the five senses--sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

mudpie kitchen

Yes, Lucy will dig her hands in the sand and put rocks in her mouth. She smells flowers and listens to the chickens peeping their hearts out as she picks them up (yep, Lucy has already figured out how to catch a chicken). Her eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and hands are amazing tools that help her figure out the world around her.

makeshift slide

But when I really watch Lucy, I see something else. I see her using her whole body to sense and interact with the world. There is something else at work here, something big and physical and more than a collection of the five senses at work at one time. No, there are more than just five senses.

hanging out in the garden

I see Lucy using her body to figure out balance, gravity, motion, direction and I'm sure a million other things I could never name. She climbs, she swings, she does circus tricks (really, you need to see what this girl can do on a tire swing). She like heights, she likes motion, she likes speed and sudden drops and she likes to jump and spin. She likes to put her body to work and feel it move. I suspect she likes the feeling of the wind in her face, and the feeling of your heart dropping into your stomach for that brief moment before you realize you are safe and secure on the ground after all. I bet she'll love roller coasters, and motorcycles too if Lyle can sneak that by me.

my crazy kids

To be technical about it, I think Lucy has a keen awareness of the vestibular sense (which deals with sensing movement and balance, among other things) and the kinesthetic sense (which deals with the parts of your body in relation to each other, knowing where your left foot is even when your eyes are closed to put it simply). To put it in a non-technical way, Lucy uses her entire body, and her awareness of her body and all its parts, to experiment with her environment.

Wait, that still sounds too technical. Let's go back to what I said before:

But when I really watch Lucy, I see something else. I see her using her whole body to sense and interact with the world.

Let's just call it the whole person sense--the whole person in the world, figuring stuff out.

*And just because I find this interesting, I wanted to mention that I first heard about the vestibular sense through my passion for babywearing. Babywearing (carrying your baby in a sling) helps develop your baby's vestibular sense. All that being carried about in a sling, sensing the movement of the caregiver's step, being jostled about, etc. helps develop a baby's sense of balance, motion, and much more. That's not the only reason to babywear, but it is an interesting one and you can read more about it in Our Babies, Ourselves.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In which we become...

feeding chickens

...chicken farmers!

our six girls

Starting at top left, clockwise: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Delaware, Barred Rock, and Australorp. I'm hoping to find a couple of Ameraucana/Araucania/Easter Eggers to round out the group (they lay blue/green eggs). For more info on chicken breeds, check out Henderson's chart. This chart was very helpful to me during this whole process of choosing chickens. I love that we were able to get six different breeds all in one go. I met the woman who raised these chicks through Craigs.list--she was over at our house yesterday to dig up a hops plant that I was offering for free. It turns out she sells chickens and had around two dozen six week old pullets who were outside and ready for new homes. I was able to go by today and see her flock. She had such a sweet garden (a bit wild, it looked like it would be fun to explore) and I'm still thinking about her Blue Andalusians. I am also dreaming about finding some Marans, known for their eggs that are a dark chocolate brown.

Golden and Sweet

Josh named these two Golden and Sweet, though I suspect they will go through quite a few name changes before something sticks.

I also had my first adventure as a chicken farmer. I was a little concerned that our little chickens were going to try to spend the night under the coop instead of in it. Thankfully we thought to put wire down all around the outside of the coop, but we forgot to put the wire down on the side that attaches to the run. Because of this, our chickens spent all afternoon hiding under there. So this evening I went out there to try to catch chickens and put them to bed in the coop (and so I could put up some rocks to temporarily block the underside of the coop). I had five chickens inside the coop, and while I was trying to lure the last chicken (that speckled sussex) out, I looked up and saw a chicken on the other side of the coop, outside the wire.

My first thought was, "Please tell me that is not my chicken. That is my neighbor's chicken." I think I said this to myself a couple of times, maybe even out loud, before I admitted that my neighbor's chickens were full grown hens and this was definitely a young pullet. This was definitely my chicken, outside of the run, and heading for the trees. I had left the door to the run open (what was I thinking?!) and she had managed to get behind me and sneak out while I was trying to lure her out from under the coop. I also knew that if I didn't get her in for the night we would probably never see her again.

I jumped up and ran after her (yes, I remembered to close the door to the run first), crashing through the brush and catching on all the catbriar thorns. My legs really suffered, those briars are nasty! After a few minutes of this I realized I was never going to catch this chicken on my own. Thankfully I have really great neighbors, and in response to my plea for a chicken catcher they sent their kids out with me (having chickens themselves, they are quite experienced with this). In less than two minutes, their ten-year old had caught my chicken. Then both kids helped me get the rest of them inside and cover the underside of the coop so that I wouldn't have any more chickens hiding out under there. Yep, I think these kids have a lot to teach me about raising chickens!

my little farm in the making

Looking at this photo makes me so happy. We've been seriously hoping and then planning for chickens for over a year now, and to see it finally happen is very exciting. Also, in the foreground you can see our potato bed on the left and onion bed on the right. They were koi ponds we drained last fall (no koi in them, just frogs we re-homed at the pond across the street) and this year we put them to use as extra garden space. It is so nice to see our little homestead coming together at last, the realization of a dream. Lyle and I do not have any experience with gardens or chickens or anything of that nature, so this has all definitely been a learning adventure for our whole family.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Building Together

building with Daddy

When Lyle heads to the garage to work on something, Josh will often follow and bounce between the house, the yard, and the garage to play and help. Whether it is tinkering with one of Lyle's motorcycles or building shelves, he is becoming more and more interested in these types of projects. One day I walked into the garage when I thought they were building a workbench and found them hunched over an entirely different project. Josh had asked if he could use some of the scrap wood to build a small house, so they stopped what they were doing and got to work on Josh's idea right away. I suppose this may be leading to the treehouse we have been talking about over the last year!

coop and run

One of Lyle's recent projects has been making a run for our chicken coop (and future chickens). We hope to let them free range as much as possible, but we wanted to make sure they had a safe enclosed run as well.

Lucy helps out

Lucy always wants to help out with projects around the house, even if it involves lifting heavy rocks.

building with Daddy

I like seeing my family at work, together!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Garden Visitor

our garden visitor

We recently had a visitor in the garden outside our front window. We watched her nibbling grass, digging, and filling her hole with leaves. We didn't want to leave our house that morning for fear of scaring her away. Unfortunately we think she must have decided this area was too high traffic for her nest because she hasn't been back. A few days later our neighbor did mention that a little brown rabbit has taken up residence under their front porch so maybe she isn't too far away. I hope she stops by for a visit sometime, maybe with a few babies in tow?

the bunny

Josh was entranced by this bunny and sat at the window quietly watching her for a long time. He was also really hoping we'd have many more mornings of bunny watching ahead of us, so I'm glad he had the idea to draw a picture during that first visit.

spot the bunny

There she is crouching down in the little hole she dug and soon after she filled it back up with leaves. Now you can hardly tell a rabbit was there at all, so I'm glad we got to see her at work even if she didn't stick around.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Herring Run

the herring are running

About a week ago we went to a local pond and stream with a fish ladder to see the herring run.

Josh is running too

But I have to confess, I saw more Josh running than herring running. There were lots of herring in the stream, but they were staying put for the most part. I hear they are more active early in the morning.

lots of children running

There were also lots of other children running, so we had a great time together. It was a wonderful windy afternoon here on the Cape.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Unschooling

"When unschooling is working well, life is rich and learning is happening all the time, no one needs "to lead"--it will be happening all the time, without any days off."
                                                                  ~Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Playing All the Time


Josh got his first set of regular legos (instead of just the bigger toddler sized blocks), and we've been spending a lot of time building and un-building and building again. It has been interesting to watch how he interprets the pictorial instructions and his attempts to build things from the photos that don't have explicit instructions. Sometimes he wants a lot of help so he can build something exactly how it is in the book. They rarely seem to stay that way for very long when he's got so many interesting bits to add on here and there, and the need to dismantle one thing in order to make something new. Of course there are plenty of creations happening without the use of instructions at all.

lego gypsy caravan

Why build a tiny little horse cart when we can make a gypsy caravan instead? This one started out as Josh's idea to make a bigger horse cart, and once we got going I though it would be neat to make a caravan so I have to admit that this was largely my creation. Some of my favorite details are purely Josh's though, including the stairs leading up to a rooftop bed and the flower garden on top.


I don't want to sit here and analyze our time with legos too much, because really this is just us having fun together. Josh gets so excited when he comes up with a new idea and I love seeing that happen over and over again. When we are digging through that box of legos looking for the right piece, I remember my own childhood and some of my lego creations. My favorite set ever was a tree that had hinges and opened up to reveal a house inside. I love that something I enjoyed as a child is just as much fun for my son as it was (and still is) for me.

Of course, if I was going to analyze the experience I could talk about using diagrams and instructions, which are a pretty new experience for Josh. I'm sure that legos help build spatial awareness and problem-solving skills among other things, but really we are just playing. I know he is learning through his play, but my guess is that I will never fully know or understand what exactly he is gaining through these kinds of experiences other than pure childhood joy. The rest is happening somewhere under the surface, building skills and learning about new ideas, but who knows where it will lead. This is just one tiny piece of his childhood, one tiny piece of the experiences that will make up his life.

Learning all the time, playing all the time.