Friday, 21 September 2007

fun unschooling ideas

I am not feeling well. *koff koff* and I am having a sense of humour failure. But my husband, bless his heart, has brought home Chinese food so I don't have to cook. So here I am, lazing like a lump online.

Here are some fun games we have played, which are probably educational or something!

Numberline Hop:
Draw a number line on the beach or other LONG place, and invent adding and subtracting games with the kids as markers. You can do negative numbers too, if the kids are ready for them. You can have more than one kid on the line at a time, and yell "Sam! Add three!" and he may have to knock people out of the way to get to his destination. This often deteriorates into a beach wrestling match, but girls may play differently... I wouldn't know!

Solar System walk on the beach: check online for actual distances from the sun for all the planets, i.e. Distances from each other.
This is a REAL eye-opener. Be prepared for a long walk! Use a large bright object to represent the sun. A beach umbrella is perfect. If you have other objects, such as balls, they can be used as the first few planets. Work out a step-to-distance ratio for your model. Mercury should be about one step from the sun, and you can work it from there. Place a ball as mercury, and off you go! Your planets should be all in one long line, walking away from the sun. Do not try to make it to pluto. Just the first 8 planets is fine! Pluto would be miles away! Kids are always amazed by this one (me too)! You get a great idea of "here is earth, so near the sun. We can see it and feel its warmth" by the time you get to the outer planets, your big beach umbrella is just a speck in the distance. Really interesting! Drawings never make you understand the vastness of space, because they obviously cannot be to scale!

Microscope:
Keep an inexpensive microscope in the car, with slides. Wherever you go, look at the cool tiny things all around you.

Aquarium:
Everything is cooler when seen through and aquarium. Water bugs, pond slime, crayfish, tadpoles, tiny fishes.... We once kept a Portuguese Man-o-War jellyfish in an aquarium for hours. Did you know that they can bend and flex their sail, to catch th wind? And their tentacles go down, touch the bottom of the aquarium, and pull back up. WEIRD! I have been told that a man-o-war is not a true jellyfish. It is a group of organisms, living symbiotically. Now I am not sure what to believe! That is weird! Does anyone know anything about this? Be VERY careful when catching jellyfish. Use a small bucket, and beware of trailing tentacles. Some of these can be 30 feet long and STING. Some other jellyfish are deadly. Please be careful!

Painting:
Buy quality watercolours, sable brushes, and watercolour paper. Give your child a big container of water, and some red paint. Just a little, in a separate pan or container. Let them have fun with red. Next, do the same exercise with just yellow. Then blue. (do these on separate days). Then, let him have red and yellow, then another 2. They will learn how colours behave, how to make primary colours mix to make other colours, etc. This exercise is no good on cheap paper, as the paint just soaks in and doesn't mix properly. Get a "watercolour painting" book, and let your kids experiment with techniques.

Cooking, and kitchen chores:
Reading recipes, measuring, weighing, watching bread rise, waiting, telling the time and adding 35 minutes, washing up the dishes, tasting the baking soda when mum isn't looking because she said not to and being laughed at because of the expression on your face! All good.

Stargazing:
My grandmother taught me about the stars, and passed on her love of space to me. Now, I keep an eye online for meteor showers and other space stuff. The boys and I lie out on sleeping bags, and we have seen some cool stuff. Once, a massive meteorite, which roared silently across the sky in flaming colours. For stargazing expeditions, use a torch which has been covered with red crepe paper or plastic, as red light doesn't impair your night vision as much as white light does.

We don't have a PC, but I do have a blackberry. This has been a great tool for the boys, who look stuff up "on site" whenever they are wondering about something. And they are ALWAYS wondering something!

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