Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for February 2010

We try to experiment with new foods as often as we can. I was at the grocery store last night and they had some dragon fruit in stock. I had never had any before so I saw an opportunity.

Here is what it looks like:

It looked and was unappetizing. You live, you learn right?

And then I happened upon this little treat:

They are maple syrup (candy badness) filled mini ice cream cones.

I have been avoiding buying junk food altogether in the hopes of getting my kids to develop a taste for wholesome foods. When there are chips etc. in the house they don’t want carrot sticks. So I avoid the junk and they eat the veggies.

But I couldn’t resist this one because these were the exact treat that my grandmother used to give to me when I was just une petite fille in Quebec.

It gave me a chance to tell the boys a bit about what it was like growing up in Quebec and getting maple goodies and maple syrup (without paying a fortune). I am also hoping to take them to a Cabane de sucre thing in March. That would be a great thing for them to experience.

I am sure you are all annoyed with the space stuff…I am sorry.

But here is our living room solar system:

And here is the blue goo (recipe from here: http://scienceprojectideasforkids.com/) that took me five days to solidify enough to be used. My kids call it BOB because it reminds them of the character of that name from Monsters vs. Alien. He’s an indestructible gelatinous mass. LOL.

This is my painting from yesterday:

These are the boys’ clay projects: 

They are unfinished of course. We will paint them tomorrow.

This one is mine:

And yesterday I let Trey take pictures with my digital camera.

This one I just had to share:

He caught his little sister and brother curled up in the corner cupboard in the kitchen eating brown sugar straight out of the container. Look at Anna’s little face. That sugar is plastered all over her. Ha ha ha.

I bought Ani Phyo’s book ani’s raw food kitchen and in it she talks about how she picked up this sickly rescue dog and nursed it back to health on a raw vegan diet.

The dog is now at the correct weight and has a coat so shiny that all of the other owners of the same breed can’t help but come over to pet hers.

We have been feeling guilty about buying our dog grocery store food for a long time but we couldn’t afford to be spending close to $50 a bag for dog food at the doggie health food store. Especially with a Labrador that eats a lot.

But now we can put our dogs on a 50% raw diet (for now) and use up all of the leftover pulp from my juicer etc. as a base. I add some herbs, nuts and garlic and, yum yum, I have doggie food.

It didn’t take very long for my dogs to swallow up their first meal.

The problem with dog food is entirely found in its processing. The ingredients are often of poor quality, the heat that the food is processed at kills the nutrients in the food and there are not really any regulations on the additives and preservatives that manufacturers can add.

Sounds yummy doesn’t it?

You can read more about it here: http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=359&more=1

Since vegan diets can reduce the rate of cancer etc. in humans it isn’t unreasonable to conclude that this diet could increase the life expectancy of my dogs.

Tags: ,

I am not talking about a formal education here but rather an informal one. My kids have been a major driver in the topics that I have chosen to learn about in the last five years.

When I became pregnant with my first child I started reading about pregnancy and child birth. I was interested in natural birth but I didn’t know where to find midwives etc. And like many people who lack information I was also a little bit scared of birthing away from an hospital that had “professionals” on hand. So I went with a hospital birth.

I won’t go into it right now but my experience was not pleasant and I started searching for alternatives when I became pregnant with baby #2 (who was born at home in the water).  FYI: Baby #3 was born in a birth centre with a midwife. We did this simply because it was free and it was an equally  wonderful water birth. I heart my midwives. 🙂

My midwife with baby #2 was very holistic and encouraged me to look at more natural way of doing things.  I spent many, many months reading about everything from the safety of  natural childbirth and home birth, to the unhealthiness of processed foods and meat, to the merit of natural medicines.

This research branched off in many areas and resulted in our adopting many different philosophies in parenting and eating. We became vegetarians (who are mostly raw vegan now) who wore our babies in slings and co-slept. Even now, my baby is 15 months old and I am still nursing her. I have no immediate plans to stop.

Then when Trey started to grow older and started to become a lot more challenging I started pouring through dozens and dozens of parenting books. We desperately tried to undo the damage we had done by following Dobsonian (LOL! Dr. James Dobson) parenting methods. We followed his advice for a while but that seemed to only make our kids rebel more. Time outs, punishments, yelling and in our desperation, spanking, only made Trey angrier and less cooperative. I have now learned that a hug can be much more effective at encouraging good behaviour than a time out!

It was through this learning that we learned to practise attachment parenting with our children and not just our babies. I am constantly falling off of the wagon but I try again and again because the happiness, security and self esteem of my children is important. In our parenting we strive to show our kids that we love them even when they act in ways that are difficult for us to accept. And that is hard for us to do too.

I have also looked into many different topics relating to their health. I have read extensively about vaccination, vegan diets, antibiotic use in children and treating childhood diseases at home.

When our eldest was about three and a half we started thinking about schooling. I had always known that I wanted to homeschool but as we started looking at all of the different philosophies of parenting we became aware of one called unschooling. We fell in love with it and have been thoroughly enjoying practising it in our home.

And when our kids show interest in a topic now we find that we begin to learn about it too. For example we started learning quite a bit about nature on our nature walks. We now have all kinds of field guides that help us to identify plants, clouds, animals and bugs.

And lately our kids have sparked an interest in space in my husband. My husband has been avidly reading about the different planets and I have been inspired by his interest and have been immersing myself in the articles and photos from the Hubble Telescope site as well as from my own guides at home and from Wikipedia. 

I have learned things about space that have been blowing my mind.

For example. I have learned that the sun is actually a star. And that there are many, many stars that are much, much, MUCH bigger than ours (see illustation below). I have also learned that some of these other stars have solar systems of their own.

Which means there is potential for life in other areas of our very vast universe. I have also learned a lot about telescopes (how they are built and which ones are good for which conditions etc.) and Kevin has been teaching me all about planets.

I am also up to date on the current theory of star birth and am getting to be pretty well versed in the terminology. Words like nebula used to mean nothing to me but I can tell you what it is and what the difference between an asteroid, a meteor and a comet is. LOL.

All this just because my son got interested in planets. 🙂

The image below came from this blog post: http://tomsastroblog.com/?p=5198  You can click on the image to see it zoomed in. It helps with reading the names etc.

This has been our favorite thing to learn about these days. Kevin is fascinated with the solar system (an interest that the kids tweaked in him) so he has been reading book after book about planets and he is even talking about the local astronomy chapter so that he can learn more about telescopes and star gazing. I am just loving this new development.

I, on the other hand, am finding myself more interested in weather. So I have been reading more about tornadoes, volcanoes etc.

I bought a book today that gives a basic, pictorial description of various clouds etc. and tells you what they mean. For example, a wispy cloud means good weather is on the way. A heavy, “fluffy” one means moisture and means rain. A tall one with an anvil type head means a thunderstorm. Neat heh?

Here is our little tornado experiment for the day:

It’s pretty hard to see. I added some watercolour paint to try to make it more realistic (Ha!) and while it did look really cool it was hard to photograph.

It was a good segway into talking about wind currents and low pressure systems.

I love unschooling!

I can’t wait to start getting to our nature walks in the spring. We have guides for clouds, birds, trees, plants, bugs, tracks and mammals. We’ll have so much fun!

Here is a pretty wax resist the boys and I did last week. The idea came from that one science activity book that Trey got for his birthday. Joel will often ask for it and tell me what he wants to do that day. 🙂

They usually do their own drawings when we do this but this time he wanted me to do it so that it could look like the one in the book. Fair enough!

Tags: