We trudged through swamps and had crocodiles snap at our heels. We squealed as we ran through a tiger-infested jungle. We shivered through a snowstorm, tiptoed through a cave, and discovered treasure on a pirate ship.
“We’re going on a treasure hunt! We’re going to find a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared!” We adapted the chant from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen to fit our treasure hunting scenario. Of course, as soon as we encountered pirates, we ran back through the house and hid under a blanket with our “loot”. Little Bear napped; Plum and I adventured.
Plum has been asking about school lately. I appreciate all that she has learned and retained just through talking and reading and playing. Play is paramount. Learning is fluid with daily life. But she also likes activities that I set out, challenges I present, and even an occasional worksheet (like a dot to dot, or “find all the letter B’s” page).
I know my daughter and what she is craving and capable of. I also know myself, where my passions lie and how many unkempt projects I can handle. I love preparing engaging activities for my littles. I love the creativity of art projects and diy learning games. Sensory bins and messy experiments happen in this house because it doesn’t completely make me break out in hives. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all education. Or family life, for that matter. I know myself, and I know my kids. That is the foundation that we start from.
September began our relaxed-style home learning adventure.
We are following the plan for God’s Little Explorer’s which is based on a Bible story each week as well as a letter and theme. Every couple weeks we will be switching over to Five In A Row plan, a literary-based curriculum. I’m not going strictly off these plans, but choosing what will work best for us. I also have other activities that we’ll add in each week.
This past week we started our home learning experience with lots of fun and talk about treasure. “God’s Word is a treasure” was our theme, and the letter X was incorporated into a few activities.
Here’s a rundown of what we did:
- Pretend treasure hunts.
- A hunt to find clues left around the house, that eventually led us to our treasure (a candy treat and Plum’s Bible).
- Writing X’s on the mini chalkboard.
- Making our own treasure map.
- Making and decorating binoculars (out of toilet paper tubes).
- A movement checklist (ex: “Hop 4 times”). Plum completed each task, then wrote an “x” in each box.
- Reading favorite Bible stories (and acting some out). Talking about how the Bible is like a treasure, and also a map.
- A nature treasure hunt. Collecting leaves, sticks, acorns, etc in the woods.
- A rice/lentil bin with heart gem “treasures” to find…The gems became birds (Plum’s idea) and we made nests and fed them the rice. (This sparked about 30 minutes of independent playing! Yay!)
- Making “X”s with different body parts: fingers, legs, arms, toes, and even hair!
- Identifying letter sounds that different objects started with (see photo below).
A spontaneous activity came about with some fresh flowers we’d been given. The flowers were starting to wilt, but instead of throwing them out, Plum and I dissected them. She pulled off the petals and arranged them on the table. We examined and talked about the different parts of the flowers. Plum decided to make perfume with some of the petals.
We dried the petals (for later use in a sensory bin). Flattened the Baby’s Breathe between books. And a few days later, we did a crayon rubbing of the flattened flowers.
It was quite a fun week, for both of us. I only dedicate 20-30 minutes a few days a week for these planned activities, but from them spark further independent play and exploration for Plum. It’s not about a checklist of things to accomplish, but genuine interest and exploring together (down whatever rabbit hole that may lead us).
I can tell you right now that my house is not pristine, and has a relative amount of mess about it. I can tell you my grocery list for the week usually gets scribbled down last minute. I am no master chef in the kitchen. And there’s some trial-and-error parenting going on with the latest bout of sibling rivalry. I can’t keep track of how many times I make mistakes on a weekly (or daily) basis. But here is what is working. Here is what we are (at least this past week) doing well. Reading books. Enjoying time together. Talking about God. Loving the learning journey.