Permaculture Learning Tools for Kids

Gathering Resources

If you’re a parent and your goal is to learn more about the Permaculture practice but you’re also trying to homeschool and get all the things done in a day that goes with training and raising a family I hope you’ll join our family as we learn to combine the very adult world of Permaculture information with a fun hands on experience for children.

While I never finished Permaculture Student 1 because Matt Powers keeps on coming out with new and exciting things to use in our learning adventure, I thought I’d go ahead and post a few things we’re using as we learn more about Permaculture and how I can get through all of Matt’s great information and scale it down for my kids. Our oldest is 29 years old and he actually introduced us to the Permaculture concept a few years ago via Bill Mollison’s Permaculture handbook. We’ve been on our homeschooling journey for so very long now and this is the first time in this adventure that I’ve decided to put what I want to learn in front of my kids so that we’re learning together and it’s been amazing!

Personally I have so much to learn and the Bill Mollison book is way over my head. Quite frankly so is Matt Power’s Permaculture 2 highschool text  BUT it’s more manageable and while I’m teaching my kids I’m learning the pieces that I’ve missed along the way. So here are some tools we’re using to make this fun and scale it down for younger learners while I still get the full benefit of the deeper information.

Games

On this journey we’re using some fun resources like Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture cards.

We’ve been using these for awhile and today they started recognizing the things we have in our garden. We ate mulberries today from our dwarf mulberry tree which is doing really well after just one year. We planted it by our lemon balm since it belongs to the same guild and they like each other a lot. In the deck there is information about Mulberry trees, guilds, the famous trail blazers in Permaculture etc. Anyway, if you’re at all like me and playing cards with kids that take a long, long, long time to think about their moves gets you a bit restless, these are super fun to read outloud while the kids are thinking! Repetition builds memory and these are perfect, except I think Paul Wheaton should be in the deck even if it’s as the joker. 🙂

Something as simple as playing a game like this allows for teachable moments on math, ascending and descending order, manners and game playing etiquette along with permaculture terms and the people who began sharing their knowledge about the subject.

There are many other Permaculture games out there now and we’re trying to add that to our homeschool budget for the future.

Coloring Pages!

Another cool tool we’re using is the Erik and Lauren Ohlsen coloring book series. With the proliferation of youtube permaculture videos to watch I’ve found the more technical ones that might lose their attention will keep them listening if their hands are busy. We also try to watch them after a busy play or gardening time so they’re a bit tired. We rarely watch tv while eating but I’m finding it very helpful to watch some educational stuff during lunch now. They also can color while I’m reading aloud from the textbook. This way I know I’ll read the whole thing and they ask the best questions! I know they’re listening 🙂

It was really time consuming to search the google universe for the exact coloring page to keep them busy but with this series I can page through and find the one I think fits our theme best.

Our Garden

Lunch with things like this beautiful spinach from our garden. We added cilantro too!

There is no substitute for learning permaculture from the garden. It’s a must even if you’re doing your food growing in recycled buckets on a patio.

Reusable Montessori Resources

I’ve also made and laminated some items from the Montessori Print Shop

I’m pretty good at the animal classifications that fall under the Chordata phylum  but all the living animals haven’t ever interested me. After reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway I became so fascinated with the creatures in the soil and then listening to Matt Power’s talks with Dr. Elaine Ingham sparked my interest even more and I knew if I taught my kids about this I’d be sure to gain greater understanding of the soil food web happening right beneath our feet!

So here in the picture above we have the control chart, which means it’s the “answer key” that the kids begin using to learn the names of the Class, Order, Phylums, and then they’ll move to a blank graph as they learn where each living thing falls in the plant and animal classification systems. This is becoming a really great tool for looking at patterns in nature and defining what those are by bringing in bugs and leaves then talking about which group they’re in and why. It’s a treasure hunt 🙂

We use other fun things like the Good Bug/Bad Bug Montessori activity from Carrots are Orange, and gathered some bugs from our garden. Then there are fun things like this too! Where does it go in the classification system? Where does it go in the beneficial vs pest category?

AND don’t forget dirt! Lots and lots of lovely soil to plant things in like this terrarium that is teaching us about ecosystems 🙂

Story Time

There are an amazing number of new stories out there that teach kids about permaculture and have a great homeschool, family learning feel. We like:

Farmer Phil’s Permaculture

The Magic Beans

The art in this story is all done in water colors using plant based paint!  

Eric Carle

These are adorable classic stories about the garden and hard work!

Outside!

There’s no substitute for hands on learning and actually getting out and discovering the sound, sights, touch, smell and taste of the world around you but on those to wet to play, super hot sun, or freezing (50 degree) Texas days it’s great to have tools that are reusable and fun.

Then there’s this:

Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game is a cooperative game that is super fun. The goal is to go up the hill, pick two buckets of huckleberries and get back to Grandma’s house before the sunsets WITH your whole team. You’re only as fast as your slowest hiker explains this game really well. Some kids find it hard to think in terms of the group winning 🙂 

Creative people in the Permaculture space are putting out new things all the time to enhance children’s understanding of the real world around them.

Course of Study

An integrated subject series of adventures!

Dr. Seuss – A series of activities and ideas that combine literature, reading skills, physical games, math, puzzles, crafts and making Seusstacular foods!

Sustainable Home Based Learning – As we return to the roots of our homeschool journey we’re returning to the garden and learning to dig deep into thinking and understanding the natural beauty of creation.

Ancient History – This will be a complicated web of interesting activities developed over the 2016-2017 calendar year as we gather with friends and enjoy leather work, singing, harvest eating, science projects, writing assignments, history and whatever else comes up surrounding things prior to 0 AD.

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss

10712930_10205082279399640_6393466967634475744_nThis is one of my favorite adventures to take with my kids in the dog days of summer here in South Texas or early September when our schedule permits.

Read more about Theodor Seuss Geisel here

Booklist –  in order of published date

Booklist  – in the order we’re doing them for our summer of 2016

Reading Club – where you can get ideas and post your ideas!

Spreadsheet – this is how I organize and track information when planning an activity for my kids or with friends.

All the individual activities, games and ideas will be added under each books page with links to pinterest, and other resources, along with last years pictures and this summers as we get to them.

Every subject you can think of can be added to this exciting authors work to spark imagination and learning.

Remember when you homeschool, the bell never rings, dad can read some of the bed time stories and a grandparent is great for “You’re Only Old Once.”

 

 

Dr Seuss Book List Summer 2016

You may not have been aware of all the books that Dr Seuss has written and you may see some that you think are missing but remember just because a book has a Cat in the Hat on the cover doesn’t mean Seuss wrote it. These are actually the books written by Seuss and his wife under various pseudonyms.

As we have time we’ll add links to youtube reads for the books you can’t easily find at your library or amazon.

Check out our “Reading Club” page for a lesson on adapting our plan to meet the goals of your family and friends.

These links and activity ideas aren’t meant to ALL be completed unless you’re taking an entire year to do this 🙂 You may pick one book each week or one book each day to do activities for as you read through the series of books.

I Can Draw Myself

Week 1 date title
1 1966 The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book – dictionary
2 1938 And to Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street
3 1938 The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
4 1939 The King’s Stilts
5 1940 Horton Hatches The Egg
6 1947 McElligot’s Pool
7 1950 Gerald McBoing Boing
8 1957 The Cat in the Hat
9 1960 Green Eggs and Ham
10 1960 One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Week 2 date title
1 1956 If I Ran the Circus
2 1963 Hop on Pop
3 1965 Fox in Socks
4 1965 I Wish I Had Duck Feet
5 1966 Come Over to My House
6 1968 The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
7 1968 The Eye Book
8 1965 I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
9 1967 The Cat in the Hat Song Book
10 1969 My Book About Me, By Me Myself
Week 3 date title
1 1961 Ten Apples Up On Top
2 1963 Dr. Seuss’ ABC Book
3 1957 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
4 1958 Yertle the Turtle & Other Stories
5 1959 Bartholomew and the Oobleck
6 1959 Happy Birthday To You!
7 1961 The Sneetches & Other Stories
8 1962 Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book
9 1968 The Foot Book
10 1969 I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!
Week 4 date title
1 1970 Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
2 1971 I Can Write
3 1972 In A People House
4 1972 Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now?
5 1975 Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!
6 1975 Would You Rather Be A Bullfrog?
7 1976 The Cat’s Quizzer
8 1976 Hopper Humperdink. . ?Not Him!
9 1977 Please Try to Remember The First of October
10 1978 I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
Week 5 date title
1 1970 I Can Draw it Myself
2 1971 The Lorax
3 1973 Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
4 1973 The Shape of Me and Other Stories
5 1974 Great Day For Up!
6 1974 The Many Mice of Mr. Brice
7 1974 There’s A Wocket In My Pocket
8 1974 Wacky Wednesday
9 1975 Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo
10 1986 You’re Only Old Once
Week 6 date title
1 1979 Oh, Say Can You Say?
2 1980 Maybe You Should Fly A Jet? Maybe You Should Be A Vet?
3 1981 The Tooth Book
4 1982 Hunches in Bunches
5 1984 The Butter Battle Book
6 1948 Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose
7 1950 If I Ran The Zoo
8 1954 Horton Hears A Who!
9 1954 Scrambled Egg Super!
10 1955 On Beyond Zebra
Week 7 date title
1 1987 I Am Not Going To Get Up Today
2 1990 Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
3 1991 My Many Colored Days
4 1995 Daisy Head Mayzie
5 1998 Hooray For Diffendoofer Day!
6 2011 The Bippolog Seed and other Lost Stories
7 2014 Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more lost stories
8 2015 What Pet Should I Get?

Our Curriculum

Curriculum generally comes right after “socialization” when people are thinking about homeschooling and it’s just as unimportant in the big picture as making sure you’re kid is properly socialized. When you go to research the history of education you’ll find that it generally begins at the advent of writing, as if no learning took place prior to man’s ability to write things down. If you watch the cool documentary, “How Beer Saved the World” it’s amazing all the learning that took place prior to writing stuff down. The theory in this documentary is that writing and tracking inventory began with beer and I don’t remember a whisper of that in any school I went to. What about you?

There are so many awesome things to learn about and if you’re going to homeschool make sure you put learning things over seat work and “doing school.”

All that to say we do use curriculum and we do take breaks from each of them depending on the ages and issues our individual kids are experiencing. I’m going to share on this page 1-what we use and then attach links to the 2-why we use it and 3-how we use it. When you’re asking other homeschoolers what they use make sure you include the why and how it’s being used. Tons of curriculum gets purchase with great intentions and never gets used. Let’s start with the single thing we’ve been using the longest with out changing.

Bible there have been attempts at curriculums, Awanas,  church children’s programming  but over time we’ve found that actually just reading our Bible and drawing pictures or discussing is the simplest and easiest thing to do.

Writing – 17 years ago when my oldest was 11 and I realized that I didn’t really know how to write and none of the curriculums I found were helping me as the teacher I went to the South Texas Homeschool Associations convention and decided I’d spend the day in a series of writing workshops but at the end of the first one I’d written a simple paragraph and suddenly understood the simplicity of the writing process. Andrew Pudewa, a homeschool dad and founder of Institute for Excellence in Writing is our go to for  writing. Over the years his company has continued to develop things like phonics, videos and a variety of other things we’ve used.

Math – At that same convention 17 years ago I attended a Math workshop that made sense to me, I invested for all 4 kids at a huge $$$ amount and was super excited but they kept complaining so we changed math curriculums many times up until we adopted and I told Michael that the original Math U See was what worked best for me as the teacher and it has prompts to remind you that subjects like clocks and measuring are best learned with real life application.

Science – We picked up on Apologia probably 10 years ago and have been using both the jr high/highschool level and then we added the Young Explorers series. However, the author of these books got bumped from his own company and has developed a new series that we’ll also be using, while pulling from his previous books that we own. BUT then we just stated Matt Power’s Permaculture Student and wow is that way more fun! Instead of doing experiments with marshmallows and gum drops we’re harvesting real food from our own effort!

History, Literature, Geography, Worldviews, Government, Arts & Activities- The winner is – Tapestry of Grace – I spent a year developing an  ancient roads program for our homeschool co-op and someone showed us this in 2005 and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, if you look it over and think you’re going to do everything listed it will eat your lunch! We pull out our favorite parts.

Languages – We’ve used some online resources and Memoria Press but none of my kids are terribly interested in languages. We’ve found languages work better in a group due to the conversational nature of the topic.

Other – that great unknown subject that your child has yet to show an interest in.

Scouting – this subject has driven much of the best of our homeschooling adventure, career development options and friendships. I’m just struggling with the structure and cost that goes with it as I’m getting older. We’ve attempted some small things but haven’t figured out how to maintain a consistent adventure with friends without having people pay. Pretty sad but . . . . maybe this problem will lead us to an awesome solution! For more than 10 years we’ve been using the above curriculum with small detours into other things. There are a few great reasons to stick with the curriculum that you purchased. 1- it’s paid for, 2-you know more about it then the new one, 3-your kids know the flow, 4-you’ve probably purchased stuff to go with it. By staying the course you are reducing both your costs and learning curve. Check out the individual links for the subjects to see the why and the  how of our homeschool.

The Homeschool 10

My plan is to add detail to each of these 10 categories! This all depends on me getting my schedule in order so I have time for this.

1-Why – Simple answer: Freedom

2-Socialization – Freedom of Association

3-Family & Marriage – Learning to find yourself

4-Finances – Freedom from Debt

5-Stress – Reducing and Handling a Different Type of Stress

6-Schedule – Enough to be Organized but not robbed of Freedom

7-Extracurricular – Think about real things that grown ups do

8-Curriculum – Low on this list for a reason

9-Highschool – WHAT? If you’ve taught for freedom they figure it out themselves

10-Transition to Life – Way more important than the highschool transcript!

How to Homeschool

Possibilities. How to Homeschool is full of so many possibilities that I had no idea existed 28 years ago when I started looking into the subject. Our family’s “how to” has changed over the course of the years in a kind of ebb and flow that goes with our family dynamic more than anything else. First you have to figure out why you’re going to homeschool. Then you have to decide that you’re going to be a resourceful, self reliant grown up and figure out in all the world of schools and the history of education what your learning home is going to look like.

Here’s where each path diverges. I’ll try to organize it as clearly as possible so please give suggestions and I can redo this as I get more questions.

1-Why you’re thinking about homeschooling will make a difference in how you get started. The point is to get started. 

Check with your state to see what the laws are. HSLDA Home School Legal Defense Association is a great help with this information.

Joining – maybe you’re starting to homeschool because a friend has invited you along on their journey. That’s pretty easy if you can just do what they’re doing to start with.

Urgent Removal – while working at the local homeschool store a few years back almost 100% of the families coming in with older kids who were removing them from government schools said it was for safety and to avoid bullying. They had to get their kid out of there! If you feel there is an urgent need of some sort to pull your kid out then do it and come up with the plan later. If your child is stressed and hurt they’re going to need a break.

Planner – you’re not sure but you’re thinking about it and what it would look like. Depending on your current schedule come up with a mock homeschool experience for you and your kid by starting with just a Saturday, maybe a couple Saturdays or an entire weekend. Some of the best homeschool materials have free samples that you can try or just free stuff online like this:

 

Phonics and Reading: Go to the library and get some books, read out loud to your kid, watch some youtube on whatever level your kid is at and just do that. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Mostly be patient and work on progressing your kid from one level to the next.

You’ve probably watched a lifetime worth of cat videos on youtube and weren’t even aware that there are hundreds of speech therapy videos on just the letter r.

Sticking with our 9 year old example you can do “guided reading” which sounds complicated but is basically reading with them. Most libraries will let you check out two of the same book and you just start with the super easy ones first. We adopted our 5th kid when he was 10 and I did this a ton until I could see where his real level was, not the one on his government school report.  You can see in the 13 minute video above that while the teacher is doing guided reading with some students she’s trained the rest of the class to do independent work quietly at their desk. If you have more than one kid there’s your example of what’s going on with the herd while you’re helping one kid.

 

It goes like this for every subject out there.

2-Who you’re thinking about homeschooling. 

Are these your children, one single child, your grandchildren, someone else’s kid? Can you make all the decisions with the kids or are there other inputs into your plan? If it’s not your kids you’re going to need to communicate clearly with the parents. If it’s your kids you have amazing opportunity to tailor the plan.

3-What are your goals?

It’s really important to figure out what your goals are before you start even though this changes as you go you need to think about it and set some goals that you can work toward. When I started my husband was opposed to homeschooling thinking it was for weird hippie type people.  My goal was to impress everyone with how awesome I was at teaching kids and I lucked out with my first kid reading at 4 with no program but going to the library and reading whatever the librarian said was good for each step along the way. There was no homeschool specific curriculum that I knew of at the time (this was before the great www universe) and it wasn’t until 2 years later we started getting free private school hand me downs.

Once I had a reader my goal was to create a rich environment that allowed freedom to do a variety of things. I checked out Kinder and 1st grade math books from the library and copied down the problems to create our first math books. I’m talking all by hand on dot matrix green lined paper!

4-How much does it cost?

This really depends on you and your budget. A few months ago I was telling our 28 year old how we were doing more hands on experiential learning in the Montessori style and had moved away from the textbooks he reminded me that that was exactly how we’d started out before we could “afford” curriculum. Now that I’ve done all my research and love all the curriculum I own for all levels of all subjects any of my kids have ever been interested in we find that we aren’t that interested in curriculum!

If you eat you can turn that into a lesson – history, art, science, math and with no curriculum needed.

On the other hand you can spend a great fortune and order an entire year of private school books, workbooks, manipulatives, and video resources for a couple thousand dollars.

It’s your homeschool so you get to decide.

5-I can’t homeschool my child, we don’t get along

I’m amazed at how often I hear this and the parent thinks it’s something the kid is doing and sometimes it is! The majority of the time it’s the grown up who isn’t wanting to grow up. If you have a serious problem with one of your kids and you, your spouse and your other children all get along fine without them present than by all means put that one kid in school.

Two years ago now we put one kid in school because I couldn’t see how to change what I’d been doing for years and this kid couldn’t figure out why he should behave. During that year in school we both figured some stuff out but I regret that I couldn’t stop the “school” portion of our life and deal with the deeper issues. A year ago if anyone told me I’d be homeschooling this kid again AND having a blast watching him think and find projects of his own I wouldn’t have believed it. He came to us at 10 with a shelter/government school mentality that we couldn’t seem to shake but that one year in school where he spent 12 weeks of shop class on safety topics and in the final 6 weeks make one single useful item, he wasn’t impressed since he’s had the chance to help build airplanes at a neighbors shop where the safety briefing was, “Don’t chop off your finger or poke your eye out.”

I had to give up alot of things I love “school wise” this year to focus on this kid and help him find some things to be passionate about. At first I was angry but now I know that he’s worth it! After all the years of homeschooling and learning to do a better job I was still stuck in the “school” needs to get done mentality:( I’m not sure why I couldn’t see that before but watching him think and talk about ideas and make things and rework them as he’s listening to other people’s ideas makes giving up those things so worth it and it’s changed my perspective on those things I loved so that in the future we’ll be doing things differently.

6-How do I plan? 

Step 1 – get your house in order. If you’re considering homeschooling a great way to start is by organizing your house both physically and with regular chores. There are many resources for doing this based on number of children, your kids ages, your lifestyle etc. Before you start homeschooling if you “own your home” and get a schedule set up where everyone in your house is pulling their weight, homeschooling will fall in line.

Step 2 – Spouses have to be on the same page. Come up with a budget even if that’s no budget because maybe one parent has to quit their job to stay home and homeschool. Set some small goals for the household and school to get started and set up a time to get together and review. We have monthly family meetings which are really helpful in a household with 9 people 🙂 When the kids were younger we had to spend more time planning but now it’s more staying in the rhythm of the week that makes the family meetings less necessary.

Step 3 – Start slowly! When we adopted our then 10 year old his report card had so many subjects! When I asked him about the various classes he didn’t remember doing music, computers was playing games, and many of them were once a week or every other week things he was evaluated on. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you have to do all of that every day.

We do math all year long, just a bit each day because we only school 4 days a week and we take month long breaks from history, writing and other subjects but reading and math are super regular. This is so ingrained that there are Saturday mornings that my 8 and 9 year old get their math out and sometimes I let them:)

Step 4 – learn google spreadsheets or excel

Fail

If you like the cute calendar with stickers and stuff, do it! If you want something more efficient spreadsheets hold alot of information for alot of subjects, people, supplies, and activities. There are many, many examples of lesson plans for you to browse through until you find one to copy and adapt for your own.

So, setting up a homeschool plan for the first week, depending on your kids ages you can just do chores, math, reading and be done. Now if you want to give this an extra boost you can have a no electronics week that first week and encourage them to find something to do. This will help you find out what they naturally gravitate toward so you can put it in the planning. I have a craft kid and a soldier kid so I try to be sure to have a wide variety of craft materials on hand and we buy soldier kits for the different history eras we do.

If you have the money and want to buy curriculum go right ahead but I’d recommend looking around you at the free options in the real world that you can do that first year. Your kids are probably curriculumed out and connecting to learning through the art, history, science or children’s museums can be really awesome.

7-Find a mentor

Things go wrong and while you can read alot online to glean some excellent help sometimes it’s most helpful for someone to come over and actually look at what you’re doing and offer suggestions. Don’t feel like you have to do them all but having an extra pair of eyes is great. When my mom came to live with us we made some great changes because of things she noticed that we hadn’t because they’d become routine. Let people speak into your life and be willing to try different things.

8 – A Family Goal

We’ve noticed recently as we’ve moved into learning about Permaculture that there are many new families homeschooling because they have a family goal to eat and live in a more sustainable way. We’ve been amazed at how this one “subject” permeates our life of learning and has an aspect that is interesting to everyone. The 3 and 4 year old love being outside, the 8 and 9 year old love watering, watching seeds come up and harvesting things, our 16 year old is building quail cages/tractors so we can raise quail for eggs and meat and my husband is learning to make beer, wine and mead. I get to do the weeding 🙂

Maybe a family business, ministry or other opportunity can be a starting point for developing how the learning happens at your house?

Think outside the “school” bus/box and ask yourself what does the world need more of? Do that

Why Homeschool?

hippie

Hippies were homeschoolers when I was growing up in So Cal and of course they were kids who didn’t have to go to school and could run free and wild all over the Agoura Hills. Just like we did in the summer but they got to do it ALL year long! I remember hating school from the beginning because it meant getting on a bus, sitting in a class with very little outside time instead of hanging out at the lake that we lived on with friends. Many of the kids in our neighborhood would carry their shoes to the school bus because you didn’t really need them at Malibou Lake but the bus driver wouldn’t let you on without them. Which is how I felt about school, I didn’t really need it. My mom literally had to pry one brother on to the bus at the beginning of the school year for a few days. He would push off the door with hands and feet, screaming!

I was robbed for a great portion of the year, of the freedom to explore and learn naturally because I needed to be on task, level, not left behind or whatever jargon they used then, which turned out to be a futile task for the first series of teachers whose responsibility it was to keep me on task. As I child I knew the difference because when there wasn’t school we learned through a marvelous set of adventures to museums, the tide pools, playing around the edges of the lake, building forts, shooting things, taking care of chickens and a garden and sometimes getting to watch tv at the neighbors. This “schooling” consisted of  Kindergarten, First, Second, at government school, a move to private school for Third, another year of Third at a different private school, followed by  Fourth and finally Fifth grade when I learned how to read and made it to the “on level” phase of being educated. Years later the irony of this was given to me by a man from India who’d grown up out beyond the reach of school and he and his two brothers were sent to school when they turned 11. Without a day of schooling before 11 they went on to acquire multiple degrees, masters and PhDs. He said it was very confusing in America where they spent so much time educating kids instead of letting them learn through play and work. I couldn’t get “on level” until 5th grade but I graduated 2nd in my highschool class? Who decided this was good?

Check out the great google universe for the history of “education” and you’ll find mostly that it starts with man’s ability to write and keep a record of how smart he is. It’s as if no learning took place prior to the ability to write and you know that’s crazy, right? Learning is a natural process we all go through and the more we align the process with nature and solving problems with young children the more thinkers we’ll raise. So, before you start thinking about “educating” your kids at home you have to separate the concept of systematic indoctrination with real learning. Indoctrination requires testing and scores and teaching kids to respond correctly to those tests and scores so the people in control can gain more control. Kind of like Pavlov’s Dog where the adults are testing the subjects over and over again.

While most homeschoolers simply transplant the education system to their home, which makes it super easy to give up because there’s so much  boring seat work and grading and scoring!!!!! there is a growing number who are thinking about real learning, thinking, creating and producing something with their children that is real. It’s not that there aren’t reasons to get your kids out of the government education camps and just do school at home, for example:

Conservative – you say you’re for limited government and to live your belief taking a handout from the government doesn’t seem very consistent. You say you don’t want your tax dollars to go toward abortion, welfare, food stamps but you have no problem taking your neighbors money for your kids schooling?

Christian – you know that “Train up a child in the way he should go” I think there’s an implied “you” in there. Don’t steal from your neighbor . . . .  this list is really long.

Libertarian – you say you believe in freedom but not for your kids?

Anarchist – I don’t have to tell you why.

Communist – um? Wait! Your kid should be in the camp so he can learn to be dependent on the system.

Freeing your kids from the system is the priority so that we can grow the free thinkers in our country and limit the government’s control over all our lives. When you let the system decide when, where, how you live the majority of your day, you’re not as free as you have the potential to be and your willingness to be a slave to that system affects the freedom of the people around you.

Why homeschool? Basically for the same reasons those early hippies did, freedom!

 

Zue’s Zoobilee

Are you the kind of person that hates the zoo? Loves the zoo? Thinks you should take your kid to the zoo regularly? Thinks the zoo is evil? If you’re on the evil end there’s a little x at the top of your browser tab that you can check.

BUT if you think a connection with the zoo is a great way to teach your child about a diverse set of animals follow along as I show you how you can spend 4 hours at the zoo with a 3, 4, 8 and 9 year old. (sometimes a 16 year old too)

Our zoo is small but constantly improving so we enjoy what’s available locally.

We start by buying an annual pass so if we have one hour or four hours we don’t worry about having to stay and get our monies worth if someone is acting up. They know we’ll leave if anyone is misbehaving so they’re really good 🙂

I can bring all the snacks in the world but they’ll still want popcorn so we bought the refillable container and it’s just $1. Except we have two because usually there are 6 of us. If you spill your groups popcorn it’s all gone so the keeper of the popcorn has to be careful.

We also take binoculars that we’ve purchased one at a time over the years. You can wear them or put them in your backpack BUT if you set them down somewhere I get them for the rest of the trip.

As I’m writing all of this I realize that one of the reasons we have fun at the zoo is because we have boundaries! It reduces stress and maintains realistic expectations. They can trust me to follow through the same each time.

The last rule is the two little people that are 3 and 4 can’t be at the front of the adventure and they can’t be at the back, just like the animal herds the little people have to be in the middle. Now if we get to the zoo, like we did two weeks ago, and I didn’t realize that government schools had Monday off, we just go home. We go once or twice a week and it isn’t worth it to stress with people that are rushing through the zoo trying to see everything in one hour.

Our zoo offers a couple things for additional costs like:

1-A Carousel

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2-A Butterfly House

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3- A Train

zoo train

4-And Shops – we don’t go into these unless someone has money of their own.

The first three we rotate through using a discounted pass if you buy all three. BUT we don’t use all three on one trip we do one special event every third or fourth trip to the zoo. The really cool part about this IS they will remember doing them “ALL THE TIME” when really they went about twice a year to each one 🙂 It’s a great way to say yes. Yes, we’ll ride the carousel again but today we’re . . . . .

Our zoo has other things besides animals that are fun when it’s not crowded like:

1-A river bed with toys to play with.

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2-Lorry feeding – you can walk in for free and the nectar is $1 which a kiddo can earn.

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3-There are goats to pet and we sometimes take a math manipulative with us to extend the time at an enclosure. Everyone takes turns from enclosure to enclosure getting to count the animals. An Abacus is great because each row can represent a different animal or you can add up the animals at each stop as you go along.

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4-There are indoor children’s play areas that often have an animal out that kids can get a close look at.

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5-Then there are the animals! We have flashcards and other sorting games that we take with us at different times. If we’re going to focus on cats we have an animal classification  flash card set that goes with us. Maybe we’re just looking at necks at the zoo, now that’s fun!

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6-Then you have to take the same picture every few times in the super awesome picture taking spots so you can look back and see how much you’ve grown!

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7-Then there are all the little animals that often get overlooked. We don’t look at everyone every time and we take turns “picking” what we’re going to see.

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8-Story Time at the Zoo! I try to take at least one book with me to read in a place where we’re waiting for the animal to get fed or trained. My current favorite is the Eric Carle series. During our Dr. Seuss month we take many books to the zoo because Dr. Seuss grew up going to the zoo with his dad and drew lots of his funny animals while waiting there.

9-And here’s a few more days you can try:

Shapes and Lines

Masks

Costumes

Geography

Story book animals like Paddington

We’re going to need more than 4 hours!