Cue the music from Jaws.
He’s home, the boy, — tomorrow.
A couple days ago I made a visual schedule that he’s ecstatically excited about. Every day, since it went up, he asks if today is the day we get to do the schedule. Not yet, little one…don’t worry – it’s coming.
I made the schedule out of some old “story” cards that we weren’t using in tandem with consulting the schedule that the kindergarten teacher gave us in the fall last year. Well, actually – first I had to dig it out of a mountain of paper I haven’t looked at for almost a year, then I tried to set up my day with similar topics and “language”. For instance, all intensive learning happens in something called “Learning Circle,” on the back of the
teacher’s schedule she describes circle time as engaged learning about whatever topics the class is focused on that day. This works for me – because I have a phonics/reading goal for Hunter and I think first thing in the morning is the best time to tackle that. I have decided to approach the reading learning through various mediums including programs, computer games, alphabet identification with different letters I’ve made, games like alphabet hopscotch that we can play outside, and just good old fashioned sitting with a book
and sounding it all out.
As far as the schedule cards go, I sprayed them with chalkboard paint, rubbed them down with chalk and then did some pretty sketchy drawings of what our
schedule will look like and stuck them to the kitchen hallway wall with sticky tack.
I chose mini chalk boards so that when I needed to switch the schedule up because something wasn’t working – i can just erase the specific board and put something else in there. It’s not terribly “pretty” but it has worked in the past so I’m just going with what I know works.
Wake up around here is early (6am) so the schedule has a lot in it and lays out like this: my partner is around for early morning breakfast, and he will continue to do that routine with Hunter. He leaves the house around 830-9am and we go into our “Sun Salutation” exercise routine, which only takes around
10 minutes. After this I can start Hunter with a phonics game, or app that teaches something phonics related as I get Parker fed and down for her first nap. Once she’s down, ideally, we can end off the learning circle time with time together spent reading an actual book or playing one of the games
I’ve mentioned above.
We have a plethora of books in our house (which I’ll get to later in another post), but for variety’s sake I’m also scheduling in a walk down the block to the library if we need something new or just need to walk the baby to sleep. We can always do story time in the library if Parker needs the stroller motion to help her sleep.
Returning, we’ll do art. Always a fav, and then make lunch. We may or may not look at the different cookbooks for children that we have bouncing around the house in order to make something “special” – depending on time. Afternoons can be a mixture of either playing outside (my parents bought Hunter an enormous pool that I’ve already set up), we can go for nature/scavenging walks or urban/observing walks, or potentially get everything together for an outing to the zoo, Art Gallery of Ontario, or Royal Ontario Museum.
After all that excitement, there’s only quiet play or listening to music and dancing around left while I make dinner. We have been doing quiet play/music/dance after school for many weeks, so that one is pretty standard.
I have a few leftover ideas that are kicking around as well and I’d like to address one in this post so that I know where to begin when I start activities with the topic in mind.
I’m learning, with the help of another knowledgable mother, about the precepts of permaculture. Permaculture is defined on one website as:
a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking that uses ethics and design principles. It guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. By adopting the ethics and applying permaculture principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.
This is a massive undertaking for me, which I am committed to both as an educator for my son, but also as an educator for my students at the University level. It is important to balance critical inquiry with actual practice, as it is what gets our hands dirty, so to speak, and makes applied ethics in
environmental topics so personally powerful. It may take me all summer to get things moving on this topic – but little by little – I hope to post some of what I’ll learn that has been helpful and useful and how
I’ve adapted or applied it.
I’m starting simple with nature looms, or nature weaving activities. Hunter’s school has a website that posts interesting crafts for children, and this one was up on the blog for a summer activity compliments of the blog Whimsical Whimsies. This simple activity can find a supplement in another recommendation of nature “weaving” from a source permaculture website.
Permaculture, I’ve just recently learned is guided by 12 principles that were conceived by David Holmgren. As I looked them over and thought about how to teach about them, I realized that many of them are ideas I either already had in mind for the inquiry style of pedagogy that I admire, or gave me some more tools that I find useful as thought-provoking methods of teaching. The principles are laid out, generally as follows.
Holmgren’s 12 Principles.
Observe and Interact (Take a few moments to allow children to settle down, get into the natural rhythm of their surroundings, and begin to focus their awareness. What do they see?)
Catch and store energy (Example: a leaf can symbolize how energy is stored through photosynthesis. How do humans catch and store energy?)
Obtain a yield (Find something edible to snack on during the hike. Why is it necessary to reward ourselves?)
Apply self-regulation and accept feedback (Share suggestions with the child. Why is it important to consider the opinion of others?)
Use and value renewable resources (Have them choose something natural, then explain the ecological significance of it. How can this relate to the larger picture?)
Produce no waste (Include a piece of litter to represent trash. Why should we recycle?)
Design from patterns to details (Have them discover something with interesting patterns. Can they think of patterns in their own lives?)
Integrate rather than segregate (Ask them to think of a connection between the items they have chosen to include in their weaving. Why are the relationship between elements vital?)
Use small and slow solutions (Example: an acorn nut could represent how time transforms it into a mighty oak tree. How is a child like a seed?)
Use and value diversity (Challenge kids to find something different [perhaps a certain color, species, texture, etc. they haven’t used yet]. How does diversity make life more beautiful?)
Use edges and value the marginal (Collect something from a marginal area, e.g. where two or more areas meet. How are children and youth marginalized?)
Creatively use and respond to change (Have child pick an item, then replace it with something you have chosen. How can they positively respond to this change in plans?)
I am currently completing a Permaculture Design Course offered through Open Permaculture. As I complete the course, I’m certain that I will be able to move into more activities through the summer. The Permaculture Principles website is a great resource if you’re at all interested in the principles of permaculture and have a lot of free downloads. I leave you with a screen shot of this handy “12 principles” poster. (Link below image).