Teaching Time

Cassie can tell time. On a real clock, not a digital one. Most people would read that statement and say “no big deal, isn’t this a basic that all kindergartner’s can do?” Truth is, it hasn’t been something I have thought to teach her formally. Whenever she asks what time it is, I’ll do one of two things, depending on what I’m doing at the time. When busy doing something else, I’ll just glance at the time and say “it’s two fifteen” or maybe I’ll say “it’s quarter after two”.

Most of the time an answer like that really has no meaning for a child. What she really wants to know is When is dad coming home, or how much longer before I can eat something again? I

f I have time I may look at the clock and say “well the little hand is on the two so that means it’s two something. The big hand tells us how many minutes past two o’clock it is. Each number represents 5 minutes, so if the big hand is on the 3, then we count 5, 10, 15 so it is 2:15.” If I’m really in the mood to impart some wisdom I’ll take it a step further and go through the quadrants on the clock face to explain why 2:15 is the same as quarter after two.

Little lessons like that happen in our daily conversation and I don’t think of them as “school” but more like “life lessons”. I see no need to sit with her and do worksheets of clock faces, having her draw hands and numbers to depict different times.  I’ve seen entire math workbooks delegated to teaching time. She listens to my 5 minute “lectures” and goes about her daily business. Next time she wants to know the time, she’ll look at the clock and see if she can figure it out, then ask me “is it five thirty now?” to see if she is correct. And yup, she is!

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Melon Marker Studios

You’ve heard it mentioned. You’ve seen the beginning pictures. Well, here it is in various stages of construction. Melon Marker Studios and Cassie’s Clubhouse. Eric is the owner and creative genius behind MMS and Cassie is CEO of CC. Each kid has their own entrance that we hope to paint respective signs on this week.

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Busy Summer

It has been a busy summer. I could just say we are taking the summer off, and that would be a good excuse for not updating the journal, but a kid’s love of learning never takes a break.

So we carry on and try to remember to quantify things. We know we are accountable to raise kids who are educated and productive. So far the powers that be wisely trust us to do so in a manner that is appropriate for our family and our community. So this journal is a formality and an experiment. All the same, I will try to keep up from now on.

We almost finished Melon Marker Studios, but rain came and now I have to re-think the roof. And re-install a roof. Our garden is flourishing with eggplant and cherry tomatoes, a couple of pretty useless vegetables when it comes to feeding a family. But Cassie and I have fun harvesting our bounty. She likes knowing she helped grow it.

Eric is working on creating his own video games in a DIY game factory cartridge we bought him. He asked for it because his big brother Adam recommended it. It has kept him occupied with creative pursuit and problem solving activities all summer. He has read some, but mostly works on his DSi.

A few days ago, he was suspiciously chipper in the early morning—6:30 early—and it turns out he was quite proud to have stayed awake all night working on DIY video games: one with zombies that gnaw on your head if you are too slow, another called Pancake Lake, and so on.

Stephanie has lately taken a break from the dive shop while they sell all their stuff and get ready to leave. We are going to at least get a couple of scuba sets so we can dive together. The rest of the time she does mysterious things I don’t quite understand. She reads and laughs at the computer. During the last couple of weeks, she has been working with her graphics pad. Yesterday she explained: One of her on-line friends, a RPG gaming buddy, won a contest and got a self publishing package. She never used it, and it was about to expire, when she gave it to her friend; her other friend, who is the one that Stephanie writes with during all hours of the night, on account of her friend is many time zones away and must, of course, attend school. So Steph and her writing buddy decided to collect some of their RPG stories and publish a book. The other girl is to compile the text, and Steph will draw the cover art. That is what she has been doing all week. The finished work is totally free-hand. I like it.

Adam has been writing songs. I enjoy the songs so much, I have a hard time not making a fool of myself trying to force people to listen. Sometimes when I listen to his songs in the car, I think I’m listening to Moody Blues or Pink Floyd. Other times it sounds like children’s music, but pleasant in its own way, and then I’m listening to a blistering electric guitar solo or a dramatic trumpet piece. The music certainly defies classification, and is always a joy to listen to. I am happy to protect and nurture his gift of music and thank God that he was not subjected to the withering meanness of school. How many delicate gifts are crushed in the name of conformity? It pains me to think of it.

I have a suspicion that in ten or twenty years, that gift will be well-developed and will bring pleasure to many.

Cassie can read words and communicates through notes. That’s fun, and a good demonstration of how reading and writing are part of life and it’s much better to know how to participate! So she is gradually improving. We have an occasional lesson, but she mostly learns by spending time with Stephanie and Eric, reading the commentary on video game screens and reading labels, posters and signs.

I am sure I missed some important educational thing, so I will clean up my mess later.


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What's up this week

We've all been doing a lot of independent learning this week. Even mom and dad.

Colleen (me) has been working on  getting certified on Stampin' Up's new MDS - My Design Studio. A computer based program for online scrapbooking, card making, calendars and so much more. I'm amazed at what i learned this program can do. I've tried other scrapbooking software, and though I can see the potential, I found myself enjoying the hands on aspect of scrapbooking instead of the digital version. Since I do spend a lot of time on computers most people would assume I'd like digital scrapbooking. MDS did peak my interest in giving this form of creativity a chance. And one of the great things I learned this program can do is interactive scrapbook pages! I can create a movie, download an audio file, or upload a hidden picture into "hot spots" on a scrapbook  or calendar page and share that on blogs, email or CD/DVD! So off to do more unschooling on this aspect this week.

Stephanie has been diligently working on the cover art of a book she is co-authoring with another young lady in the states. They have been communicating online for the past two years in a fan fiction forum. The girls had a deadline to meet today and I sure hope they made it! I don't know all the details on this one, but will be excited to see the finished project!

Adam's music has been passed along to some "influential" people. Or so we hope. Kind of vague, but just sharing it with people who were hope can lead us to those who can help get Adam noticed. I've been wanting to share some of it here but until we get a full set copyrighted we have decided to keep it limited to who has copies. This stuff is too good. Adrian Belew would be proud of how he influenced this boy indirectly.

Eric has been, well, being Eric this week. He decided he would reach a goal he's had since he was 3 or 4. To stay up all night until morning. Without sleeping even for a few minutes. Well, apparently he fulfilled this goal last week Thursday (Friday morning) and greeted me chipperly at 7am to inform me as I staggered out of bed. Like one of my online friend said, "who said unschoolers can't set and reach goals?" It's made for an interesting rest of the week as it took him a few days to re-adjust his schedule. In the meantime he has also been diligently working on his new Wario Ware DYI - Do it Yourself game for his DSi. You basically make little video game levels and then play them. Great for Eric and his creative imagination.

Cassie has been astounding us with pictures of kissing hedgehogs - Amy and Sonic to be exact. Her doodle can be found here. Her artistic skill is astounding me as she moves purposefully  and boldly forward in her drawings. She has this very unique style that is all her own, and her ability to portray expressions and movement are amazing. She has also been thoroughly enjoying a color by number books she found (Christmas stocking stuffer) and can be seen quietly coloring at the kitchen table.

Our family has just acquired an old Wurlitzer spinet piano. So last night I hauled out the music books and gave Cassie a basic lesson in the names of the piano keys and how to read the notes of the music staff. She is very interested and with the books we have, I think I can teach her enough to let her go off on her own. Hopefully we'll be getting a friend to tune it soon, but for now it actually works pretty well. I'm even dusting off my music books and plan to practice a few church songs so that I can be a backup when our small music team is out. It will take a lot of practice as I am rusty!

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We have decided to start this journal to keep track of our children's life lessons learned in our homeschool journey. We believe that as parents we are accountable for our own children's education. It is up to us to make sure we prepare them to be active and responsible citizens, not a drain on society. So this blog will be a place where we can share our daily lessons and activities that we incorporate into our homeschool.

About Me

Mother to 9 children, 5 on earth and 4 in heaven.
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Christian Unschoolers
Unschooling is learning as you live life. All of life involves learning. This is what we "teach" our children.


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