afternoon

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darla’s art projects always end the same way…inking up her body. i know what the future holds. i was told “this is a cyclops and his girlfriend.” I would actually be thrilled if Darla got this tattooed later in life. I think I’d get a matching one.

i’ve struggled a bit with teaching d to write. other than her name and the word poop she hasn’t had much motivation to learn to form letters and any lesson we’ve done up until now has seemed pretty pushy to me.

reading up on the unschooling philosophies has taught me to sit back and wait for the teachable moments. i have relied on the confidence that darla will show interest when she is ready and motivated and we finally had one of those moments. i suggested making a welcome sign for my mom and d was very into the whole process. she even seemed to like the process we developed of practicing each letter twice before putting it on the sign. this was a good time! i realize this is not the greatest penmanship but i’m mostly jazzed about the effort and enthusiasm she had for this activity. i’m thankful to be learning to be gentle with the learning process. We’ve been writing pretend letters and books for a few months so I think a real interest in learning to write is write around the corner. {pun!}

we shall see.

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Unschooling: Aullwood Farm

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our second half of our visit to Aullwood was spent at the farm. i found it very interesting that darla chose to spend most of her time and energy exploring was the herb garden. she asked about every single herb and we spent almost an hour smelling and comparing. there were hundreds of these little yellow butterflies that swirled around us every time we moved further along the path. i wish i had been able to get a picture of it but i’m glad i just left it as something to experience instead of document.

we thoroughly enjoyed visiting the animals but spent more time in the farm exhibit house.

another aspect i enjoy of unschooling is that it works even on days when i don’t really feel at my best. many days i’ve simply taken darla out into the world and let her be the guide about what we learn. i imagine it would be so hard as an educator on the days you feel less than tip top. all i have to do is provide an atmosphere in which learning can occur and be willing to interact as darla sees fit. it’s always very interesting to me to see the things she latches onto and inquires for more information. it’s usually not what i would have guessed and i’m thankful to be able to follow her lead.

thanks for checking in on our recent unschooling!

Unschooling: Aullwood Audubon Center

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d’s absence all weekend made me really ambitious towards unschooling last week. we didn’t even make it home before it began. we had stopped at the aullwood center last year as a fam but only saw a fraction of what the park had to offer so we stopped off again last week and spent the rest of the day there.

i’m splitting this post into two sections because there was soooo much going on with this day i kinda worry it was information overload. we spent the beginning of the trip in the center learning about turtles and creek life, bees, animal bones and tracks and the usual nature center stuff. the highlight here was petting the turtles. i really spent most of my time explaining to darla why she could not get in the turtle habitat.

then we took our time on the .75 mile hike to the farm through the woods. d was in an especially determined mood and lead the way through the forest picking up on all sorts of foresty details. i thought it was cool that some of the trees were labeled with the date and causation of their fell.

we stopped to say hello to an especially woolly friend at the gate into the farm. i love this outing and hope to return to the Aullwood Audubon Center again soon. some highlights from the farm will be coming shortly.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling today!

unschooling: burial mounds

whilst poking around on the Ohio Historical Society website the other day i discovered a historical treasure practically on our doorstep. yes, this is actually how i feel about it. why? because i was a history minor and a geek, that’s why. the wheels for day trips and outings have been spinning ever since but i knew i wanted to start with Shrum Mound. Located less than 2 miles from our house, I felt this would be a perfect doorway to connect darla’s fascination with ancient egyptian culture and mummies closer to home.

monday afternoon we packed up and headed to this almost forgotten little site. it’s bordered now by a quarry and condo developments. somehow, the forsight of preservationists in 1920 to protect this piece of land rang sadly in my heart as i gazed around at the surroundings, wondering what the ancient people who had chosen this as the final resting place for many of their kin would think of the site today.

but it’s a beautiful little piece of land.

and when i told darla about where we were going and what we were doing she could only exclaim “oh! oh!” and jump up and down.

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if you don’t believe me about her excitement, i present you with the below photo. i did not instruct her to do this. this pose, and honey-boo-boo-esque expression are something she art directed. my child is REALLY into burial places and practices. I’m ok with it. She is tuned into the sacredness and I’m happy to see how a fascination is fostering real respect for customs and life.

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these few pieces of information were all we really needed to build a day of learning. miss d was excited to make the hike to the top and look around.

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now you may have noticed the markings on her body. darla decided to engage the outing by drawing tattoos on herself. she has a penchant for body art but has learned from our readings that many native american tribes and ancient peoples tattooed their warriors as a sign of respect and honor. below is a picture of her making up a detailed story about the lives of the people buried in the mound, which her tattoos told the story of, similar to hieroglyphs {her words}.

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let’s get a close-up of that, shall we?

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it was a small little space but i’m sure it seemed a great adventure to her. the area was walled off and kept clean. i let her explore on her own as much as she liked. that’s kind of the advantage with such a high vantage. when you’re sitting on top of a great big pile of dirt you can see everything.

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she loved climbing and descending the trails and exploring the wall. i wanted to include this photo below to show the butterfly that swooped into the frame.

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i had brought along a couple books that seemed to connect with the space perfectly; our Nature All Year Long book and The Secret Garden, which darla has also taken to. we had packed a lunch and after we ate, i read to her for well over an hour while she played.

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she scampered around in the dirt and had a great time pretending that the wall around the mound was the wall of the secret garden and she was the robin that led mary to the garden. she gathered and made a nest and happily sat roosting on the nest while listening.

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it eventually got late and we packed up but i wanted to include this day as one of great success for us. this day showed how much can be learned from such a simple place. there weren’t tons of displays or exhibits. it was just a space open for our exploration in a way that can be out of reach at other sites. we explored nature, spirituality, history, literature, architecture and geography all in one simple setting.

i want this last picture to remind me that sometimes I can have the best time just sitting with my girl on a big pile of dirt.

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unschooling: home

most of my unschooling posts are from adventures out and about but the majority of our unschooling really happens in our home or from everyday living. a principle of unschooling i love is that learning comes from life. it comes from doing and everyday curiosity. it comes from letting my girl get into just about anything she has the motivation to. this results in an extremely messy house most of the time.

but darla reminds me often that “messy is about having fun” so we get into things a lot. and i try to use everything, all the doings of our life as teaching moments.

here are a few moments from this past week: darla drawing heiroglyphs on our concrete porch, drawing observations in her nature journal of a caterpillar she found, studied and played with for a few hours, and learning to play checkers {and re-learning for me} at our local coffee shop.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling this week.

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unschooling: batelle darby metro park

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it is gorgeous days like this one that remind me why i’m keeping this blog. i will cherish these times always.

so here is a not-so-short list of things i can remember that we discussed and learned at batelle darby:

  • architectural structures
  • rock formations
  • gravity
  • the difference between bison and buffalo {fact: there have never been buffalo in America, only bison.}
  • flower names
  • the ecosystems of a stream
  • touched a turtle and a snake {not me, but darla did}
  • practiced the different sounds a rock makes when it’s thrown in the water
  • looked at decaying wood
  • hiked in woods and prarie and compared them
  • looked at bones and pelts
  • examined feathers on bird’s wing and magnification
  • different frog sounds
  • bird migration patterns
  • bees
  • trees

and honestly, i can’t remember b/c there was just so much to take in. we spent a good 4 hours there. 4 hours and no bison, however. they were hiding for the day but that gives us a reason to go back.

i am so thoroughly in love with the metro parks system. I am hoping we have a good 2-3 more months of outdoor exploration. we still have so much to see and revisit.

i hope these posts show how truly thankful and grateful I am to have the opportunity to spend these days running around with darla. it’s hard to imagine ever doing anything differently than the way we are now but i know to take each day as it comes.

i’m just filled with gratitude and love when i look back on some of these days. i want to put that down here for my darla.

what is unschooling?

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since i’ve been passing our summer adventures off as unschooling i’ve received lots of questions about unschooling, mainly: what is it?

the truth is, i don’t know exactly. My first exposure to the idea of unschooling was on a tv program called extreme parenting. when i first saw it, probably due a bit to dramatic tv editorial, i thought it seemed very strange. but something piqued my interest and i began to poke around on the internet for more information.

i follow a couple of blogs {here and here} that employ unschooling in their homes. with the homeschool movement back in full force, unschooling now seems like not such a big leap.

what has appealed to me about it thus far is that it allows me to educate darla in a very fluid way. i don’t have to prepare intricate lesson plans. i or darla can determine an activity or adventure for the day and we “see what we can see. find what we can find.”  also, unschooling just makes sense to me. children learn by doing. children learn by seeing. children and ADULTS learn by gravitating towards their natural interests.

but i admit i am just now starting to really dig my fingers into the research. i just picked up my first two books on unschooling. i hope to follow these up with more. See, i’m unschooling myself.

i’ll share what i find out. then you can read if you want to and unschool yourself. or not.

unschooling: ohio historical center outdoor session

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dear people of ohio,

take your children to the ohio history center. you’re welcome.

i’m going to tell you about the second half of our day at the ohio history center along with these amusing photos. sound good?

for the second half of the day we visited the Ohio Village. activities like these are a dream come true for me since traveling back in time is my ultimate life goal. before we could actually visit the village we had to dress ourselves appropriately:

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bonnets!

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OMG, the bonnets!

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I like to call this next one “Sad Bonnet” because this is when darla faked sadness and said i never take pictures of her. hahahahaha. future darla has now read a whole entire blog composed just of pictures i’ve taken of her. silly sad bonnet girl.

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and in her sadness she declared she did not like the bonnet any more, so i wore the bonnet. and this took me back to the days when i would run around the yard in my own bonnet and prarie dress playing Little House.

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after dealing with the dressing and undressing, we were finally able to cross the bridge over to the magical Ohio Village. a place where all the volunteers think it’s funny to chastise you for wearing shorts and claim you are showing your undergarments. {it’s not funny.}

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indecent exposure aside, that did not stop us from having all kinds of old-time fun. like making lace!

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yeah, darla made lace! can you believe it? she also almost stabbed a woman but it’s cool.

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this was the point in the timeline that i started feeling like the ohio village was really, really rad. i mean, darla made lace!

side note: does it sound cool when i say rad?

next up, more dress up!

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and there it is. a dream come true for me. i finally got to wear a hoop skirt. i cannot for the life of me understand how those things ever went out of fashion. it was so breezy up in there! i want to make my own. i also want to be corseted but apparently i missed the boat on that about 27 years ago.

we rounded out with the druggist, the toy maker and the barn but i stopped taking pictures here. do we really need to see 50 pictures of our day at the ohio village? no. we don’t. although a few years from now I may be lamenting the fact that i didn’t take more pix of that hot, beautiful day. { i think not though. }

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ending on an advertisement for ridding your body of tapeworm seemed like a good idea. so there you go.

also, i’m going to bet that the kickapoo indians never saw a dime of money from this enterprise.

so that’s the end of a fine day of unschooling. the ohio historical center gets a top-notch rating from me for offering us an extremely interactive experience on our first visit.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling today!

unschooling: ohio historical society indoor session

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darla,

i’m going to begin this post with a pun. brace yourself.

i can really see myself in that vintage airstream.

oh gosh that’s good. you’re probably embarrassed now that you’re reading that.

but as a matter of fact i can see myself in that vintage bathing suit too. and in that vanity. wait, that’s you. i can see you in that vanity. but i can also see myself and envision a life buzzing about the sweet 50s modular home we toured at the ohio historical society last week. why was i born into the wrong decade?

i guess it’s because i was born when i was so i could birth you at the time you were born and everything is right as it should be. but i’ve never felt very attached to this time period. i’m nostalgic for things i never even experienced. this is weird. don’t be this way when you grow up.

anyway, i want you to know how much i enjoyed this day with you. there was so much to take in at the historical society. i loved watching you check out the 1950s home. i loved the somewhat disturbingly detailed scenario you were making up about it being your house as we went through. it’s pretty rad the entire exhibit was so interactive. at least i think it was…maybe we weren’t supposed to touch things, play with toys and put on clothes…but we did. i wonder if you’ll remember this day. can you stop whatever hover activity you’re doing right now as you read this and come tell me if you remember this day? thanks.

this is just half of the day. we spent the afternoon outside and i’ll post that for you separately.  and one last thing, since a future you is reading this, i hope you will have good news for me that i somehow managed to acquire that bathing suit and airstream from the past. i’m assuming there’s time travel. actually, this blog is a portal.

unschooling: the audubon center

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darla,

one of the things i struggle with the most with unschooling is feeling the self-imposed pressure to see that you squeeze every ounce of information from the great resources we have available for free in our world. i often have to stop myself and ask is she enjoying this right now? if she’s enjoying it then she is learning. if she’s not then she is reciting information to pacify me.

this was my struggle when we returned to the audubon center last week. our last trip here was on a monday when the center is not open. i actually love breaking this park up into an indoor/outdoor experience. there is just too much to experience to fit it all in on one day. but you had been asking to return on a day when the center was open ever since so that’s what we did.

you seemed to breeze past all the things i wanted you to explore at first. i could feel myself switching into control mode and i had to take a deep breath and let it go. you really wanted to play dress up in the animal outfits. me thinks those outfits are the whole reason you’ve been asking to come back. once i reminded myself that you are learning by playing i was able to incorporate some substantial information into our play. eventually you became curious and wanted to put a little more effort into fact-finding. we spent a few good hours there playing, looking at exhibits and lunching while reading books about caterpillars and butterflies in the bird-watching library.

i will have to remember that sometimes you’re going to be locked in and intent on information intake like when we went to blacklick and sometimes you’re just going to want to put on a bird costume and run around. both are valid and important. sometimes you’re going to want to read a book and sometimes you will want to veg in front of a movie. both are valid and important.

i want this to be fun for you. i want you to know that the whole world is yours to learn from. it’s there for the taking. i know i need to put the work into myself to remove the expectations i have so that this can be fun for both of us. let’s have an adventure together. let’s let it last all our days.

ps. plus when i let you do what you want it often looks like this

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