25 January 2013

January Unschooling

It's been a very bookish month.  Jenna has read Charlie and the Chocolate factory, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Just So Stories to herself, and I've read about a quarter of Order of the Phoenix aloud to her in the evenings.  We've read a children's edition of Beowulf together as a family, some more of The Story of the World, finally made it through Peter Pan - and spent more time with an Atlas and a book of aerial photographs of the world (this is Rowan's favourite activity after painting and running around pretending to be an Octonaut).

It still feels strange to actually do things together like this.  Three or four of us, because Morgan really "gets" what we're reading and spends less time inside her own head now, and Rowan is so curious and so determined to be taken seriously as one of the "big girls".  It used to be mostly Jenna and I, and Morgan dipping in when something caught her imagination.


I bought some fun resources this month.  We are noticing a slight easing in our budget recently, it has been *so long* since I could just buy new books (well, second hand) without months of waiting and compromise.  Jenna's interest in visual illusions has taken her to Escher's life and works.  I bought isometric graph paper to see what they'd all do with it, and she has produced lots of drawings involving cubes at different angles, and sets of steps.  Her interest in space has taken her mostly to a lot of drawing and writing little science fiction stories, and she is also learning a lot about the night sky from a favourite computer program, Nova.

Morgan is still using a lot of plain paper, and finds writing on lines terribly distracting, so I bought pretty novelty recycled paper from Oxfam to add to her two blank journals.  Morgan is also reading a lot of short picture books.  Rowan loves writing on lines, and writes very neatly and very small, usually exclusively in upper case letters.  They both love painting, but I have to confess that since Talia became so very mobile I have resisted getting messy crafts out so much.


I keep telling myself that THIS week I will get out the paints and let them go crazy, THIS week I will get out the watercolours and spray bottles, THIS week we will get the clay out again and I will breathe and not keep commenting on the mess or trying to get them to make a "product" that I feel good about!  Our messy craft fix is mostly happening at the Museum on Fridays where the baby can be mostly kept out of the glue (though she did manage to cut me with safety scissors this morning)...


Another book buy this month, The Unworkbook, is full of inspiration and worksheets for unschoolers.  We haven't had time to dip into this very much (my mum made off with it) but it looks like fun!  I feel like I've been needing inspiration this month, and a bit of a lift from other people.  Getting to groups has been harder but more necessary for my sanity.  What would I do without a circle of mamas to make me feel normal and distract me from bad days and endless laundry and cold wet feet from my leaky boots?

The children don't seem to need any kind of extra input apart from all of the things they are reading.  Jenna has been directing lengthy games of Narnia with talking animals and dryads aplenty, including sessions of map making and crown making.  Morgan's game of choice is most often Harry Potter or pirate related at the moment.


Jenna's performances in a local am-dram company's panto have been going well and she has really enjoyed the whole experience, even if it *has* meant more impromptu performances being put on for me every day - and a lot of late late nights leading up to the week of shows we're in the middle of.  (I have to share these two dance pictures, because the intent expressions on their faces crack me up every time!)


Media-wise Jenna has been borrowing my e-reader and treating it so carefully.  They also argue over Angry Birds on Martin's phone, though they probably only get hold of that once a week at most because he worries about it getting broken.  Jenna's favourite film right now is Matilda and her favourite program is Horrible Histories.  Morgan's favourite films right now are The Lorax and Brave.  Rowan's favourite film is the Scholastic Maurice Sendak DVD, and she is still Octonauts obsessed.  None of them are having much computer time at the moment apart from the odd turn on Poisson Rouge or Nova.

This is one of the things I hoped for - that they would make choices about electronics usage that didn't turn me into a neurotic wreck.  :)  There is a healthy balance, and they are so great at respecting everyone else's limits at the moment.  The bigger ones will often initiate conversation asking each other for permission to turn the television on (or for agreement to change programs or turn everything off to have music on or a quiet time).  It has taken a long time in coming, but it's funny how when the biggest starts to do something the others are often quick to imitate, good or bad!

Meanwhile, Talia, that little monkey...  She has mostly been learning this month how to turn things on and off, how to make a tower of seven blocks, how to hoover up any food her sisters put down the instant they turn their backs on her, and how to torment everyone by winding herself up in my yarn, eating corners of books, breaking favourite toys, melting crayons on the radiator, and all sorts of other mischief.  She's such a bundle of fun!

Here she is trying to get a normal camera battery to fit into Jenna's little book light:


  1. How lovely that Jenna is reading chapter books to herself :)
    We just bought the dvd of series one of Horrible Histories as we haven't ever seen them before and they look like fun!

    Always so much happy activity taking place in your home, so lovely to share the photos with you x x

  2. Wow! There are lots of amazing inspirational ideas here. Thank you, Sarah. :-)

  3. I *love* this. Full of ideas for me, and so lovely to see what your girls are up to! Such a fun busy house :) xxx

  4. Wow! Sounds as though January has been a wonderfully full month. Very inspiring :)


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