An Unschooling Day

Tuesdays…Adam’s day off…lazy day…sleep in day…no school day…eat huge breakfast day.

This is how I thought our day would be. I should have known when I prayed a silent prayer at breakfast, “Lord, how do YOU want today to be?” that He would actually respond!

There was no sleeping in – Ivy awoke at 5:30 to nurse, then back at 7ish. Instead I read Dr. Seuss (specifically “The Sneetches”, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back”, and “What Was I Scared Of?”) to three of the kids as Ivy attempted to eat the pages and Adam slept in (lucky guy!).

Breakfast wasn’t huge, but still wonderful. Carrot muffins, extra sweet and fluffy with real butter and fresh coffee (mint cocoa for the kids) around 9ish thanks to my wonderful husband. Over breakfast we discussed dinosaurs. The kids had been reading at the table (a bad habit for all of us I must say) and Lily wanted to know why she couldn’t find a Pterydactal in the book on flying and swimming dinosaurs. I tried explaining the whole dino family tree and how they had found more fossils of what they thought were Pterydactals but actually ended up being different so they had to come up with new dino names…sort of like the Brontosaurus losing his status and becoming the Apatosaurus. I don’t know if this made sense or not. She couldn’t understand why the toy store would mistakenly call her dinosaur bird a Pterydactal if it was really a Pteronadon. I just left it at the Toy Makers probably didn’t read that science book.

Soon Gabe and Dad were discussing centrifugal force (don’t even ask me how that came up!) and how it is different then centripetal force. So much for our no school day.

I still had plans for a lazy day. I feel even more awful than yesterday, if that’s possible, full of goop and my head all fuzzy. I wanted to curl up on the couch, hope Adam would cater to my needs while I sipped hot tea and read gardening magazines, ignoring the shouts of kids playing as I dreamed of planting the perfect heirloom tomatoes that would turn into the perfect canned tomato sauce!

Instead, here is how our day really went.

First Lilah, over her muffins and cocoa, looked lovingly up at Daddy as she asked if she could pppllleeeaaassseee watch the Letter Factory. Who can say no to that? Luc joined her while the big kids cleaned up the table and mom and dad worked in the kitchen. Soon they were back upstairs wanting to practice letters. I happened to be in the middle of emailing my dear sister when Luc wanted to keep pushing buttons as I was trying to type. He was very interested in the letters he was seeing. So I set him to picking up his toy mess while I let Lilah on and she was thrilled to be pushing letters. At first she wouldn’t do it by herself but kept putting my hand over hers to be sure of herself. She eventually got the hang of it and loved how the letters zoomed across the page.

Meanwhile Luc, while patiently waiting his turn, deciding to pick something from his activity box. I soon saw dinosaur flash cards spread across the floor as Luc purposefully worked and told us the names of all the dinosaurs he picked.

After picking Ivy up and placing her in the playpen (mainly to avoid a dino trauma of an eaten card), I turn around and see that Lily is playing with the Math manipulatives box because she just “wanted” to sort numbers this morning for fun. Lilah soon came to join her and Luc hopped up on the computer (after rerouting him several times to first pick up his dino cards) thrilled that it was his turn for letters. I have fond memories of Gabe doing this same thing a age three.

As the girls are merrily playing with numbers…well, Lilah may have been eating a few…I overheard Dad and Gabe talking statistics. He had set up some sort of mission for Gabe – a probability puzzle. (He tried explaining it to me but it went “whoosh” flying straight over my head!) They were rolling dice and then figuring out through fractions and dividing about statistically getting the same number and which it would be…or something like that!

Then it quieted down somewhat. Luc was still merrily pushing away at buttons as Adam went to pick up my glasses, pay off our library fine, and stop by the store for dinner. Lily, who was very impatiently awaiting her turn at the computer, decided that I could read to her. She pulled a huge stack of books off the shelf and handed me one. It turned out to be this little gem currently out of print.

"Birds, Frogs, and Moonlight" - Haiku translated by Sylvia Cassedy and Kunihiro Suetke and illustrated by Vo-Dinh

I found this book at a library sale. It cost me 25 cents. We hadn’t actually read it yet. I’m glad we got to today. It has beautiful Haiku poetry (that part I knew) with wonderful watercolor paintings. What I hadn’t really noticed before was the poems in original Japanese on the side and the bottom.

After reading about half the poems, we got into a discussion on Japanese culture and watercoloring which led to Lily wanted to watercolor which led to me trying to see if we even had watercolors left (we didn’t) which led to me pulling out my professional artists Tombow markers as an idea formed in my head. We tested the markers, which have a paint-like brush on one end, and then used a brush with water over it to see if we could get the same effect. Oh how beautiful it was! I had watercolors on my “to buy” list for a future bird study we are doing in the spring and now I could take them off. Here was the perfect kid-friendly way to watercolor…no mess (well, almost none), no spills, no used-up-too-quickly-resulting-in-whiney-kids dilemas…the perfect solution.

Thank you God I breathed as I watched four of my children create. They loved “playing” with concepts and techniques, mixing colors and mediums. They were so purposeful and diligent about their work, respecting the markers and not pressing too hard. I believe they knew this work was meaningful, real, authentic. I was amazed by the finished products (post coming soon) and thrilled with our rabbit trail discovery!

After they cleaned up and we shooed them out to play, I got the baby down for a quick nap and helped with dishes while Adam whipped us up some lobster cream pasta (with from-scratch lobster stock made from the fresh tails), bruschetta, scratch Caesar salad, and strawberry/blackerry shortcakes with freshly whipped cream. What a nice treat!

Then came baths. For the evening’s entertainment we gathered some extra blankets and hunkered down on the couch to watch “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” movie. What a full day! And how thankful I am that my kids are home with me on my husband’s only day off to enjoy it!

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2 thoughts on “An Unschooling Day

  1. Pingback: Creative Play…Telling Stories « simply necessary

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