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Day 1 – First Day of School

First day of school

On Wednesday morning I had nothing planned.

Keeping somewhat in line with the Unschool method and Project Based Homeschooling (while borrowing also from Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and more traditional school methods) I decided to structure their time but not their curriculum.

Mondays and Thursdays would be humanities days, and Wednesdays and Fridays would be Science and Math days.

The girls woke up to a cheerful table and “First day of Homeschool” scribbled on a piece of construction paper. I had organized a few educational books on a shelf within reach. The sections are:

  • Crafts & Projects
  • Language & Literature (dictionaries are in this pile)
  • Geography & History
  • Math, Science, & Nature
  • Theology (Bible, prayer books, devotionals, etc.)

We ate breakfast, prayed together, and I let the girls read anything they want for 20 minutes from the “Theology” book stack.

While reading together in the morning, we spotted a young mockingbird in our Dogwood tree in the front yard. I remembered that I had just bought new bird seed, so for science we filled the bird feeders and talked about how the birds’ different beaks have adapted for survival.

While outside, Sera discovered a bizarre worm sliding (or sliming, rather) across the sidewalk. It was very long and it looked like the front of its head was flat. We came inside and did a little research and learned that it the worm is a “Land Planarian.”

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These worms have traveled to the U.S. from China via potted plants. They are earthworm predators and therefore harmful in the garden. A single planarian can devastate a significant portion of an earthworm colony in just a few hours.

 Here’s where I like to believe God dropped a little nugget of supernatural grace from heaven to seal the homeschool deal (and so I might not regret my decision within the first 12 hours).

On a ten minute snack break, Sera (9) designed and constructed 8 catapults out of craft sticks and pipe cleaners and began to ask questions like, “I wonder if how tall they are makes them launch farther.”

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I silently scanned all the possible subjects we could cover with this one project:

Math, Science, Physics, Engineering.

Unschool works!

*I felt triumphant and a teeny bit smug.

Meanwhile, Amelie broke out the math cubes and some word problem books I had bought and began to work quietly at the table.

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I decided to help Sera learn how to conduct a science experiment with the catapults. We lined them all up, taped them to the floor, and began.

  • She used a tiny ball of pipe cleaner and a lego for ammunition.
  • She launched each type of ammunition from each catapult and measured the distance.
  • She repeated the experiment.
  • She had been entering the data into a table in her notebook, and I taught her how to average the results.
  • She then figured out which catapult performed the best (on average) and which performed the worst.

Later that night, Josh taught her how to graph the data on her iPad using Numbers (the Mac version of Excel), which was probably the highlight of her day.

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Amelie wanted to teach me a science experiment she had done in 1st grade, so I tried to figure it out as she told me the things we would need: Food coloring, hot water, and cold water. I figured out that the project most likely had to do with diffusion and osmosis and kinetic energy. Chemistry!

As expected, the food coloring diffused more quickly in hot water than cold, and we talked about the reason for this: there is more energy in the hot water to move the food color molecules around more quickly.

At the end of the afternoon I had the girls journal about their day while I sat with them and journaled as well. We ate lunch at noon, and just like that, the “school day” was done. Success!

*Pay attention to the two images below. Do you notice anything strange?

first day of school

I noticed.

But only after posting a picture of our sign on Facebook, hashtag “homeschool.”

Perfect.

 

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Comments

  1. Daja says:

    I think you know how much I love this.

  2. Marianne says:

    I love it, Flo. You crack me up. We are largely curriculum-less too, and I love it.

  3. i am so glad you are doing a blog. very informative and entertaining, as always! i will be closely following. :)

    one question, how did you choose your umbrella school?

    also, i’ve never heard of project-based homeschooling so i’m off to read that link. thanks for linking to things–very helpful.

    1. Alana–great question. I will post a detailed description of our umbrella program soon and I am also working on a glossary. In the meantime, here’s the short answer:

      I wanted an umbrella program that allowed me the freedom to opt out of testing and grades. There are only 2 programs in TN (that I know of) that allow this. One is Home Life Academy. The other is The Farm School. I picked The Farm School because it is slightly cheaper. They report to the state for me, and I report to them. All I have to do is document my 180 days.

      Other umbrella programs may require testing, grades, etc. If you register with the state, you are bound (I think) to their curricula and must test and grade.

  4. Kara says:

    I am SO excited you are writing this blog! Those girls are so fortunate to have you leading them in their educational journey. No joke: I just learned 3 or 4 things in this post that I hadn’t know before. So, this blog is pretty much gonna be my jam–said the former public educator. // Also wanted to say the way you’re writing/presenting it is really great and accessible. I have a feeling this venture is going to be a pretty successful blog for all parties involved (especially me :) . Bravo!

  5. Babci says:

    Sooo we are curious. What did you do with that predator worm?

    1. We let it go before we discovered that it was bad! Oops:)

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