Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Projects abound!

Now we've been back for a while, life has resumed in full flow.

Of course that means barely a moment to sit and think, let alone write or plan . . .

Before we went away I tidied up a lot of our resources, and took a lot of books off our "downstairs bookshelf".  Mostly the books were pre-readers, or very early reading schemes - somehow we seem to have collected quite a few books from random reading schemes.  Sometimes I've actually bought them, a large chunk came from my mothers school, some were gifts from well meaning relatives.  Now I have four children who can read (!) we don't need the "A is for . . ." books.  So they all migrated to the loft.  They took with them a whole pile of board books, for very similar reasons.  That made space on some of the "upstairs bookshelves" for story books that had been downstairs.  That meant I had space on the shelves for some more of the educational resources I have collected - we have lots of project packs, work books, and reference books.  Until now most of the resources have been hidden away under the stairs.

As I got them out I reminded myself just how many enticing things we had, and as the younger three came and got in the way they all spotted things they wanted to explore.  I've decided that having these packs isn't enough, we actually need to *use* them! 

So I filled a shelf with books and packs that were about the right level for one or other of the younger three, and let them browse.

A decided that she liked the look of a pack I'd sent off for in 2003 from the Cats Protection League, and we're three or four sessions into it.  We have another from Battersea Dog and Cat home, sent off for years ago, which we may or may not move onto, depending on how enthusiastic she is.

J wants to finish off his Solar System lap book, then move onto a Mini beasts pack we got from our local scrap store.  He was fascinated to see how much his writing has improved since we began the lap book in November. 

M has started the First class project pack from iChild - down loadable here, though we have a hard copy.  This one is a bit odd - it doesn't go into enough detail for M, so he's asked to learn about several things as a result - notably the British Empire, the second World War, and the Industrial revolution.  I'm pretty sure we have several books that cover those, so I guess that we're lining up future projects there :)

I'm torn now though - is this Autonomy?  I think so, because all three asked to do their respective projects, I didn't suggest them, or even ask them to choose one.  I guess it's not unschooling though, because all of these packs are designed to be used in a classroom setting, so it's very much a case of "Introduce, discuss, activity, conclude."  For M that's not enough information, he wants to go off at a tangent, to follow his interests and talk about *everything* - in that he reminds me of L - for A the structure is novel, she is focusing on stories, and whilst her writing is still emerging, she is enthusiastic to get her thoughts down on paper - much more so than any of the boys at her age.  J likes the structure, sticks to the facts and the task at hand, wants to do it, and get it done well, but there is no distracting, no related conversation, no tangents.  He is very much about getting down to business and then getting out of the kitchen.  I was a bit surprised that he wanted to do a project, but he did, he does, and we'll see if it gets completed.

There are lots more books and packs under the stairs, lots more on the shelf.  Will this be a one off?  Or is it a bit like strewing - a Montesorian principle involving providing interesting / intriguing activities and leaving them to be discovered rather than imposing on or inviting in the child.  I know strewing works with J and A, especially with art supplies, but it has never worked for L or M.  With both of them if I want to interest them I either need to say "hey, look at this . . . " or start doing it myself, where they can see and then be prepared to work along side them.

So, at the moment we're being bookish.  I wonder if that is in reaction to a cold wet winter, outside looks so foreboding, and forbidding, and even ASD kids can only spend so long buried in Minecraft before they long for something more.


  1. Thanks for linking to the IChild pack. It looks good! We are like you with books - so many but still gotta use 'em! I think I just like looking at them and seeing them on the shelves! If ever I have a home ed wobble I seem to buy more books!!!!... We are at www.homeedwiththegibsons.blogspot.com .

  2. I do the same - if I feel insecure about how home ed is going I end up hunting for things to fill the gaps that only I can see!