Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A while ago I was raving about our reuse centre and all of the great crafting supplies we have gotten from there. We have gotten everything from sewing patterns to plaster to paper plates to envelopes for my home made cards to zippers to plastic egg cartons (which I use for mixing paint).

And today I am wanting to rave about our thrift store. Aside from some wonderful resource books I have also found science kits and glasses for my kids. I wanted some glass cups (since I hate plastic so much) for my boys to use now that they are older and have gotten over the butter fingers part of childhood. But I wanted glasses that I wouldn’t mind if they got broken accidentally. They had a piles of glasses at $0.49 a piece. So I bought a matching set of eight and now I can store some of the plastic cups. Also, the plastic cups don’t clean well in my dishwasher and having my boys using glass cups will mean I can clean their cups in the dishwasher. And that saves me time!

One of the science kits we bought was a plant growing kit. Everything was still in the original packaging. It came with “hot house” tubes and peat moss pellets and even plaster for doing demonstrations about how seeds can crack through hard mediums like concrete. There was more to it than just that and it was worth every penny of that $2.99 I spent on it.

You can see a seed in peat above and the picture on the side is the pinto that we started many weeks ago and the other is one of the “hot house” seed things we have growing.

It’s hard to see as it’s in the background but it’ll be the same kind of idea as the time I grew seeds in a ziploc bag.

The other set I picked up was a large chemistry set for five bucks. It has many, many different experiments to try. Everything from basic chemical reactions to testing pH to creating reactions using electricity etc.

I also found three boxes of prepared slides for a microscope. The slides contain bits of plants and bugs. I don’t have a microscope yet but I didn’t want to pass on those slides.


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:  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!

My library had a box sale yesterday and so we loaded up the kids, drove downtown, and took home a green tub with about 50 books. All for $10!

When we got home we had to find a place for all of these books though. So I reorganized my sewing room and voila!

Here is our very own personal library. I still have many books in storage and all of our fiction books (including all of the kids books) are in a separate bookshelf so what you see is just our reference books! And at the very, very bottom right corner, some scrapbooks and baby books.

This morning I spent almost an hour creating labels and dividers for the bookshelf. It looks so good and it makes me feel so good. I have always been a book-a-holic.

I love books! I love my library!


The theme around our house right now is space (outer space).

We have a solar system on our computer desktop, we also have one hanging in our entrance. We have a Solar system on a poster in the living room above our globe. We also have a pile of books on various planets that we borrowed from the library and we have a couple of books at home on star gazing/astronomy.

My husband took the kids to the library and when they found the space section Trey just kept pulling off book after book off the shelves. Kevin had to put a bunch of them back.

Another place to find good illustrations of space is the Hubble Telescope website (thanks Taryn).

And yesterday, when the local homeschooling store had a 20% off sale, I found this constellation kit. It is pretty neat. It needs to be really dark in the room for it to work but it does work.

I couldn’t get a good picture of the lights since the room has to be quite dark but it did cast off little stars on the ceiling. I am even contemplating moving some mattresses into the living room and camping out under the stars in our living room. I love it when the boys get really interested in something and we can really roll with it. I loved it when Trey got interested in fossils and we took him to the dino museum a few hours away. He still talks about it. And we’ll likely take him there this summer again.

He is really into fossils still. So he grabbed some books about dinos when he was at the library but he mostly cares about the fossils and not so much about the illustrations of dinosaurs.

And he is also interested in people bones too. So we have him playing with some book models etc.

I love when he asks questions! This is what I have been waiting for for years.

I don’t have a lot to talk about since we have all been sick for three or four days now. That means a lot of time on the couch watching movies.

My kids have all spent many hours sleeping on that couch which is why I have encouraged movie times. It gives them a great excuse to lay down with their blankies and get some much needed rest.

We did go to the book sale at the Public Library here and we will go again for the box sale ($10 a box!!!). It’s a great place to get reference materials.

Otherwise we aren’t doing much at all. I have been reading a lot about religion and nonviolent communication. Can’t wait to get back to normal.

To wrap up this non-post, here is a picture of Anna using chop sticks. I was using them and she wanted to use them too. What a sweety!

And here is one of my unfinished sewing projects that I started a couple of days ago (won’t get finished until I find time to take my machine in since it has been eating fabric):

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Productive trips to the library.

Seriously though. Are there any other kind?

I love the library. It often makes me sad though. I think of all of those works of creativity or philosophy or research sitting mostly unused in a city full of people who don’t appreciate them.

We have become a generation of Internet users who want our information to be found quickly, be summarized in as few words as possible and if convenient, accurate or unbiased. Tall order right?

Here’s to all of my fellow library perusers who love books for being books!

I also love my dress form, my new yellow sweater and my many unfinished sewing projects. You know, the ones you start during a moment of inspiration but rarely find the time/inspiration to finish.

I have more of those than I’d care to admit. The problem with this pink top is that my machine started eating the fabric when I was trying to insert some darts on the sides. So frustrated I set the whole thing aside about a week ago and I haven’t picked it up since. 😦

I have to figure out what’s wrong with it since the needle is new and everything has just recently been cleaned.

And the last thing on my list of things I love today is my newly replenished acrylic paint stock. Doesn’t it look so cheery?

Hope your day is a colourful as mine was!


    • withoutloveweallperish: 50 books for $10!! As a book lover, that sounds like Christmas come early! Lovely library set up, need to set up one of those for myself!
    • theworldismysoyster: Sure. Just none of my kids. :)
    • goobrobinson: Hi! I'd like to seek your permission if I can reuse one of your pictures for my next post? Specifically the second picture.