Our COOL friends gathered at our home on Friday for an engaging activity about birds of prey. We started out with a game from Ranger Rick’s Naturescope Birds Birds Birds called, “Pass the Part”. The kids worked in teams (I divided them strategically to assure there was a reader on each team) to review bird characteristics. After reading a riddle, the kids discuss the clue and decide what answer best matches. They then take turns using a straw (each child has his/her own straw) to pick up the answer (printed on a slip of paper) and take it to the answer chart posted on an adjacent wall. As soon as each team finishes, the game is over.I’ve done this activity many times in the classroom with great success. The kids love it and enjoy the silliness of using the straw to transfer their answers. In a mixed age-group like COOL, however, it was more difficult because not everyone was knowledgeable about bird anatomy and some terms were unfamiliar (air sacs, crop, gizzard, struts, etc.). I enjoy sharing activities and planning science lessons for the group but it is difficult to know what each family has been exposed to in the past. Nonetheless, I know they all enjoyed the activity and learned at least a little something. 😀
Perhaps the best thing about the day was the opportunity for the kids to interact with one another and learn from their peers. I love that homeschooling allows for children of all ages to interact more in a learning setting than they would isolated by age-group in a standard classroom. Of course, this also means I (as the one who planned the activity) need to mindful of different ability levels and varied interests.
I had expected all the kids to be interested in the owl pellet activity. As it was, only about half of the kids took the time to really investigate what was contained within each pellet. Some spent a good 20-30 minutes finding the little bones of the prey and worked to identify the tiny body part (vertebrate, scapula, skull, etc.). A few, like the girls pictured above, spent over an hour completely engaged and absorbed! Others, like Sweetie, spent only a couple of minutes at the table (I didn’t even get a chance to take her photo). Instead, she ran to get her crochet hook and sat down with another mom to practice her new skill.
This was perfectly fine! I love that she has her own interests and isn’t too timid to ask other adults for their help. Another great thing about homeschooling – the kids can follow their heart’s desire and learn what is of most interest to them! She will absolutely learn more this way than had I forced her to do the owl pellet activity.
The children will also be comfortable with other people – regardless of age, race, religion or otherwise. They will grow up appreciating that we can learn something from everyone. That everyone is valued.
As Buddy gets older, he surprises me with his curiousity and increased focus. He is beginning to play independently for longer and longer periods; building with legos or playing with his trains and trucks. He is also beginning to share an interest in doing schoolwork and periodically, when Sweetie is working on a task, he’ll say, “I do my schoolwork, too!”
He will sit and listen to picture books more and more. When I read aloud chapter books, he is beginning to use a much quieter voice as he plays on the floor nearby (he used to make very LOUD car noises which was not at all conducive to reading aloud). It is such a joy to me to be able to observe these little changes. To know that our presence in their lives is helping to assure that they are developing into happy, respectful, young people… curious about the world around them and eager to learn.