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Posts Tagged ‘unschool’

Tadpole Hunting

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Our tadpole habitat is all set up. It’s quite a palace for the one tadpole we managed to find today.

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After we replaced the leaking ten dollar tank we got at the used pet supply store with a better ten dollar tank, R hauled up some river water. T and J dragged a few pails of it to the house.

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Then off to a pond.
Land of the silver birch,…

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….home of the beaver. We looked and looked for the beavers’ dam, but no luck. We did see some beautiful red-winged blackbirds though. L was hoping to see some garter snakes, but they must have heard us coming.

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All of our newly learned water bug identification skills were called upon as we saw tiny dot after tiny dot dart around in the murky, marshy pond. We saw snails and all sorts of insect lifeforms, but only one small tadpole, which my fast-reflexed daughter managed to net. Thankfully. Or there would have been one empty fish tank.

I think we’re just a little early in the season for tadpoles yet, because of our cold spring. Maybe we’ll go to a different pond next week.

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Today I observed the spontaneous emergence of loan sharking in a primitive culture. Overheard during a Monopoly game between the seven and nine-year old: “I’ll let you owe me the $100 if you pay me an extra $30 every time you pass Go.”

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When Tee was ready to begin baking his birthday cake, he asked me which of the pans was 9×13. I showed him, and asked if he knew what the names of those dimensions were. He did, so I asked if he knew how to find the area of that rectangle. He did, so I began talking volume. He yawned. (Which infuriated me, but that’s a side note, related to him being “unable” to fall asleep at a reasonable hour at night, an ongoing issue around here.)

 Anyway, we moved on to a discussion of square and cube numbers, which he kind of knew, and then, because I was annoyed with him for looking uninterested, I told him I wanted him to figure out the surface area of a dodecahedron. I had to help him figure out the formula for the area of a triangle, but once he knew that, he was on a roll. He worked on that math problem for an hour, and took great pride in getting the answer. I asked him to “show his work”, and he wrote it down step-by-step in the neatest printing I’ve ever seen him produce.

Sit this kid down with a math workbook, and it’s like he’s in a torture chamber. Rolling eyes, flopping arms, doodling, procrastinating, whining, and very little productive work. Give him a challenge, and he’s all over it. That’s clearly the way to interest this kid. Find ways of posing information he doesn’t know in the form of a problem that he needs to solve. Give him a reason for learning. He sees no reason to sit down and work on pen-and-pencil math questions, and isn’t interested in showing me what a good little student he is. He’s a smart kid, an independent thinker, and he wants to know why he should be bothered with any of it. Fair enough. He is my son after all. Another apple not falling too far from mama tree. He doesn’t like slow and steady instruction. He likes a challenge.

By jove, I think I’ve got it!

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