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"Animal School"

"Calvin and Hobbes" Discover Unschooling! ;-)

More History, Geography, Language, etc.  - we entertained a Flat Traveller from Woodbridge, Ontario.  A wee leprachaun named Shamus.  We've also learned that Shamus is Gaelic for the name, James.  We had Shamus for quite a bit longer than what he was supposed to stay, but we gave him a really good tour of Norfolk County and surrounding areas.  We got pictures of him looking at all kinds of agriculture that we have, around here:  ginseng, tobacco, grains, dairy, bison/buffalo, etc.  We also introduced him some of our local geography that may or may not have an impact on how we use our land:  Niagara escarpment, Hagersville Gypsum plant, rock quarries, ponds and lakes, Nanticoke Industries, etc.  We even took him to see some of our local heritage and special features, including a flying saucer and some Native tipis and carvings!  He also got to see Wesley play Lacrosse!  We sent him home with a large photo album full of pictures and information!  We had fun, rediscovering our own "neck of the woods" and we learned a lot, too!

HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, LANGUAGE, ETC:  Our first two Flat Travellers have JUST arrived!  Much faster than expected, as they came via email - all the way from Chile!  I am very excited about hosting them - there's a girl who I'm sure would love to meet Sarah and the horses, and a boy who is bound to find Wesley to be so very interesting!!!  lol    :-D  I think it will be fun thinking of ways to 'entertain' our guests and rediscovering our own 'neck of the woods' while we're at it!  I've already learned so much more about Chile, just trying to find out more about where they are from!  :-D  Will also create more 'need' to learn Spanish!
We've now also received a Manatee from Wisconsin - like that makes sense!  Actually, Amanda is a Manatee that was rescued and lives in Florida and her 'adoptive' family in Wisconsin  has created a Flat Amanda in her honour.   :-)  We hope to keep all three flats for another few days - we're hoping to have a great surprise for them, tomorrow!  Will have to get ready to send them home, soon, though~!  It's been fun having them.

Sarah and Wesley's Adventures in Chile

HS Flat Travellers Blog

yahoo group: flat_travelers_homeschool (may need to join to visit)

Flat Stanley Project - class-room based

A few more tools and toys:   A trip to Scholar's choice got us some new readers to add to the school bag - simple, sight word readers that Wesley CAN READ!!!  Yay!  Also, to help him practice, a seperate trip to Zellers got us a Fridge Phonics Word Whammer!  It's a great toy!!!  Why didn't I see that sooner!?!

Word Whammer!

STILL LEARNING TO READ:   I got a gift bag and some learn some words cards and a book that you can print on and wipe off, poker chips - two different kinds in a variety of colours, those plastic easter eggs that you can put stuff in and close them - like what nylons used to come packaged in, etc, etc, etc.

The bag is his 'school' bag and it's full of games that can help him with 'schoolwork'.  I put it together, last night and he wanted to play!  He didn't want to quit playing.  ( btw, we have been making word bingo - he loves it! - though it looks a little more like tic tac toe on a bingo board!  Three in a row but more chances to win?!  lol)

How does this 'schoolbag/schoolwork' fit into an unschooler's life?  Easy - it's not manditory - do some every day stuff - it's simply there for when he wants to hone his reading or math skills or play 'school' or for just having some fun.  We can go weeks without even looking at it or we can play with it for a whole evening!

So, the bag contains:

a deck of playing cards - can be used for math games!

a book for fun - creativity! - just stickers that help make silly faces - cats and mice!  (in space, as dancers, baseball players, etc) 

a wipe off book to practice printing some words on and some extra wipe off markers

two different sets of wipe off word cards (they can also be used for the bingo game)

a blank wipe off calendar for making into bingo game cards & two ziplocks of bingo chips for the game

a bunch of dice - Wes picked a 'magic number' and we rolled until someone finally got the right sum - Wes won that one!

a whole bunch of little Easter eggs full of poker chips.  The poker chips have letters on them that each set makes at least one word.  They're colour coded - the white ones are words that Wes already knows and the red ones are new words.   LOL, Wes had trouble remembering the word "I", with his calendar and I made the ice cream cone to help him - well, he got the word "I" right, right off the bat! and laughed at the one letter word egg!  :-)

the first level of play cards of "The Phonics Game"

a board book that I don't remember picking up, yesterday - oh well - lol

and a growing number of books, including  his word calendar.

LEARNING TO READ - WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:  I have searched the world over for something to help my 8yos learn to read, and have finally created my own 'system'.

It all started with lots of ideas, some from others, and some, my own improvements of such ideas - and a calendar.  Wesley has a very special calendar - it's a dollar store beauty with birds in it.  It was part of a $1 gift game - you deal out the cards and call the cards and each person goes and takes a new gift or steals one from someone else, who then is allowed to get another gift.  Anyway, we all know the game - in our family, it's no longer reserved for Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, but it's also enjoyed for almost all birthdays, now, too!

Any calendar will do - make it a special one if you can - they're all on sale half price or better, now!

We started this 'system' near the end of January - when the holidays had worn off enough for me to think clearly again.  With five days left, we did the words:





but that's only four words! :-O  I know!  We left the fifth day for something special!  a sentence!  wow!

I am Wes.

Wes was overjoyed that he could read a whole sentence by himself!  We had to cheat a bit - he still struggled with putting the A and M together in the word am, so I told him you almost don't hear the A - just say "m" and it works!  I M Wes.  :-) (even though my name is Donna!)

February has been busy - imagine that!  LOL!  We've not done every day this month - I won't tell you how many days we've missed - that might almost be embarrassing!

Today, we caught up with some to spare - like a whole week and then some! :)

Feb 1, 2 and 3 are as follows:  anna (Anna), an, a

he's still struggling with saying the word A as a short a sound - I know, it can be right either way, but sometimes just sounds better as a short sound.  And he's still really struggling with AN. 

Feb 4 is "Nana" - my mom - so it's a special word, as is Anna, as that is Wesley's good friend.  Wes was still struggling with the whole A/AN concept, so even Nana was a hard word to remember.

Feb 5,6 and 7, I did review, to rebuild confidence - I am Wes.

Feb 8 - because it is only the 7th, I put the word AND - he kept trying to make AND out of AN - so I just had to show him the difference.  That needed a little fun reinforcement, so Feb 9, 10 and 11 is Wes and Anna.

BTW, I try to make each word a different colour - then the sentences, I make all one colour.  Easier to see one section at a time, that way.

I'm not done - LOL! Feb 12, 13 and 14, I made a silly sentence - but it helps him to read the word "A".  I am a Wes.  He made a funny face and I reminded him it's a silly sentence - but hey!  he can read it!!! :-D and that's the point!

Another thing he was having trouble with was, he was struggling to remember if it's an I or an L that I was writing.  I drew an ice cream cone at the bottom of the page and put "Ii" in the ice cream.  Now he remembers it's "I" for sure!

SOOOO - Feb 15, 16, 17 and 18 has right across all the days, together:

Wes and Anna and an Ii (with an ice cream cone drawn around the "Ii").  I am not an artist, by any stretch of the imagination.  The Ii are in a circle with a cone under neath and a cherry on top!  LOL!  The cone is the cup-shaped cone - so as not to mistake it for anything else!  LOL!

Just today, I was thinking a little badly of myself for not keeping up with Wes' word calendar - he's very excited about it - I want to keep that going.  I did think at the time of reviewing I am Wes.  Here we are, days beyond that and it wasn't even really painful!  As we are so far ahead, now, we are going to continue to practice reading what we have already done.

In the end, we will have learned roughly 300 words - give or take.  Learn that many, and you can almost read anything, no?!

I don't want to use too many sight words in the beginning of the calendar - I do want to use lots of phonics - one, two and three letter words until he really gets an idea of how to put letter sounds together - the one thing that he's struggled with most.   He's written out letters and learned letter sounds until he doesn't ever want to see another letter again - about four years worth!  I don't blame him for being tired of that - if they have no use - they are pretty boring - and he just couldn't seem to unlock the usefulness of them.  Sight words will come later, with need, use and confidence!  :-D

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT:  Thank you, Sue, for the awesome tour of Domino's Pizza!  Very informative and delicious!  Kids learned a lot about how the store operates and got to make their own pizzas!
BIOLOGY, 103:  Not to be learned from a dog named Maggie.  She doesn't seem to know the difference between a live rodent and a stuffed purple bunny rabbit TOY!  She thinks she's a hero, anyway!
BIOLOGY, 102:  Not to be learned from Cocoa, the horse that moos!
BIOLOGY, 101:  Wes went to the zoo and saw a very fuzzy chicken running around that people could pet.  There was also snapping turtles; one kid pet one!  Wes got to pet a black fox, and it was a girl!  There was two wierd lizards, a little one and a big one.  One was from like Africa or something.  There was rabbits you could pick up.  Wes also saw a porcupine - it was in it's little home, in a corner, on the right, and it was down in the corner, laying down.  There were monkeys; baby monkeys and adult monkeys.  There was alligators and tigers and three parrots that were nice to each other.  And they would say 'cracker' and 'Bob'.
GEOGRAPHY, SCIENCE, MATH, HISTORY, ETC.: - oh, did we learn a lot, travelling to Rosebud, Alberta!  I've actually made a seperate page to summarize our trip! 
BUT HOW DO THEY SOCIALIZE???  One of many ways, our pool party for a local homeschool group was an incredibly awesome social function and the kids were very helpful in getting ready for it and everyone had a blast!  More ways we socialize?  Halloween and Christmas parties, an afternoon of bowling, a big homeschool 'birthday' party, skating, swimming, games/craft days at the Paris Library, ... the list is endless!

PIONEER CAMP:  A tour of a pioneer-style camp turned out to be a wonderful experience!  We learned so much about survival - clothing, shelter, hunting, trapping, cooking, furniture, quilting, crafts and entertainment and even how to throw a tomahawk!  The whole experience was so much fun and we all learned soo much, too!

BULLYING:  Homeschooling doesn't necessarily protect the kids from bullying; my kids do continue to live in a very real world.  Wes and Sarah worked very well together to deal with some bullies at a park.  (I was in a near-by building)  I am very proud of their teamwork and ability to stay safe!

NEOPETS.COM:  It's actually pretty good and can be used to build language,  math and computer skills at the very least, as well as strategy and more!  It's also a lot of fun (and addictive! - oops!).

WATER TREATMENT PLANT:  We had a very informative tour of the Water Treatment Plant in Brantford, learning not only the process of treating water for a city, but also some of the laws of physics and chemistry required for the process!

BUTTERFLIES:  We learned so much about butterflies - especially Monarch Butterflies - while visiting Wings of Paradise in Cambridge: .  We were even able to find some moth and butterfly eggs within the conservatory!  Now we know what to look for and when to find it in our back yard!!!

HORSES:  At the IMAX Theatre in London, Ontario, Sarah and I learned so much about horses, horsemanship, relationships, hierarchy, history, science and geography.  Wes mostly enjoyed 'the clouds'.  :-)  The skyscapes were incredible!!!

SPRING DAY HIKE IN BRANTFORD:  Discovering lost travellers and helping them find the best way back to Brantford requires a bit of geography knowledge.  Checking out the owl pellets and looking to see if owls can be seen during broad daylight is cool and discussing what it is that the turkey vultures might be interested in is also a very educational experience.

WINTER ON MANITOULIN ISLAND:  Sarah's back from her three-week visit to Manitoulin Island.  She visited the new Science Center there, practiced her writing skills by sending home some postcards, worked on her math skills, and even made a 'doggy bag' - a gorgeous tote bag with some doggy fabric on it, with Kris, and so much more!  She came home to a snow storm, but not snow as deep as the waist-deep snow on the Island!

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS:    At the  Bell Homestead, in Brantford, we celebrated a Victorian Christmas with other homeschoolers.  We were able to try some old-fashioned telephones,  make shortbread cookies in an old-fashioned kitchen and make a Victorian Christmas craft!

MATH:  how the Japanese teach math seems to be as close to unschooling as teaching methods can get:

Japanese-style Math Lesson


In buying a pony, we learned how to prepare a last minute place to keep him for the night and how fast one family really can install electric fencing in nasty weather!  LOL!  We've also discovered there's no equine 4H group in Norfolk County, so Sarah and I are starting up two groups/classes!

Along with buying a pony, comes many other learning opportunities, including the need for fencing and run-in shed and determining all finances, including taxes!, materials, dimensions, etc needed, and the never ending search for more knowledge on anything equine!

Sarah and I have been going to our local auction and have seen Holstein calves selling as low as 5.00 each. We have discussed factors like commission paid to the auctioneer, impact that has on the farmer and the economics of our community and beyond. We also discuss factors that have led to this demise: Mad Cow Disease, lack of political support for our farmers, (non-subsidised farming, etc.), etc.

We've also studied combines - processes done by one, how those processes were done before the invention of the combine and who invented it. Very cool!  Farm and tractor safety has also been a part of our study.

HISTORY / GEOGRAPHY: The Paris / Port Dover Pipe Band is going to France and Scotland in August, 2006. We've learned lots of things in helping the band prepare for that. In France, they will be going to a variety of historic venues, such as Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, and Juno Beach. They will be visiting small towns in Normandie and the cemetaries, as well.

SCIENCE / MEDICINE:  I've taken an on-line course for medical coding, so the kids, whether they're interested or not, had been learning bits and pieces of my course material.  Included were language study / medical terminology (English, Greek and Latin!), and anatomy.  Better to learn together, no?!?  ;-)  It's more like trivia for them than actual 'knowledge'!!!  Steven had expressed some interest in learning coding, too, as the demand for coders is great and the pay is too!  :-)

Then I discovered "Handology" - have become a licenced Handologist and is something I can do from home and also, something I can teach the kids that they can do as a profession, as well!  Perfect!!! :-D

HIGHSCHOOL & GRADUATION:  Steven is waiting to write the GED exam.  He does have to wait until his 18th birthday to take the test, even though he was ready to write when he turned 16 (as per our previous understanding).  He is very interested in video games and has started creating his own game scenarios and characters on the computer.  He's learning how to use simple and even some more complex programming modifications.  He spends hours discussing and studying games and strategies on-line and is hoping to one day secure a position of employment with Bungie - creators of his favourite games, Halo and Halo 2.  In the mean time, he did a fine job working as 'Chef Gustaf', promoting Werther's candies.

Click here for a great article on unschooling!

Unschooling Grad's Web Page!

Very useful website for horse training and care!

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