I teach using a combination of several different teaching methods ( called the Heart of Wisdom approach) I have used these methods for years and rarely think of them being different methods. Just as when I am fixing a meal I rarely think of the different methods used (chopping, mixing, blending, frying), I focus on the end result. This morning was a combination of unit study, delight-directed, writing to learn, and thematic studies.
Here is a sample of our homeschool day. Our study took on a life of its own going in several unplanned directions (lessons running a muck is norm for us). Click on images to view larger images.
This morning (teaching two boys, ages 6 and 7) we read The Narrated Bible “The Final Week: Monday” (pp1442-1443)
We spent a few minutes on Jesus cursing the fig tree which lead us into a discussion of fruit and fruit trees. We touched on, but did not go into detail on, the barrenness of the priests and the house of Israel.
We spent a few minutes on Jesus clearing the temple and a discussion of money changers and unfair weights and balances (something I was recently studying so I shared what I was learning).
When we got to the part where Jesus explained “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it only remains a single seed.” This started my wheels turning. We have been saving watermelon seeds for planting. I was not ready to plant so we just discussed seeds, planting, vines, types of watermelons, and Jesus’ sayings about the seed. I bought them to the dining table. We discussed the seed dying, estimated the number of seeds and compared the size of a watermelon to the seed.
The boys copied “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it only remains a single seed.” for writing practice (copywork).
Meanwhile I went out to the barn to find a piece of wheat to illustrate the lesson. I usually see wheat in the hay but today couldn’t find one piece. So I went on the Internet to print a picture of wheat. The next two-plus hours turned into a science/history/language lesson on farming methods and the evolution of grinding mills.
I found and printed an image of wheat and a threshing tractor. As soon as I found the tractor, I knew I had hit pay dirt and could expand this into a delight-directed study as both boys are tractor crazy.
I used Google video search (which is quickly becoming part of our school day) to find several online videos on threshing and grinding wheat and corn. Each video is only a few minutes so we watched several.
- Threshing wheat in India
- Threshing at a farm museum thatching straw
- Threshing beans with a combine harvester (patented in 1834)
- Threshing wheat in the Middle Ages with a stick
- A snake coughing up a hippo (OK, not related, but the boys found it fascinating!)
- Grinding whole wheat (electric mill)
- Threshing wheat in 12th century England
- Water wheel powered grain mill
- Ancient Indian wheat grinding machine
- 1905 corn grinding machine
- Hmong woman grinding corn with stones
- Grinding corn with a gas engine
- Several modern tractors and threshing combines demos
We used Google image search to find images of threshing, milling and tractors. We used Scrapbooking to Learn methods and Scrapbook Max to create scrapbook pages showing changes in threshing and milling from Bible times to modern times.
David remembered a book on tractors and got it so we could examine the combine harvester. This lead to another Google image search and two more scrapbook pages of the steam engines and the modern combine harvester.
As the boys worked on the scrapbook pages, I read the book Johnny Appleseed aloud. I had the book out from the day before (ran out of time to read it) and had no idea it would fit with today’s Bible/history/science study.
When the boys finished the scrapbook pages they started playing the interactive game “How Things Work In Busytown.” Huckle and Lowly and other characters build a tractor, harvest wheat, mill the wheat, grind it into flour, and measure it to bake bread. I have to admit it would have been even better to grind my own wheat and bake fresh bread to wrap up the theme. But I gave my electric wheat grinder to my daughter years ago (no time to bake since I started writing. I now buy bread).
The reminder of our school day was structured with phonics and math.
This is pretty much a typical delight-directed day school day. We always start with Bible. Our phonics and math times are structured workbook time. And I have a large pile of history- and science-type books (like Johnny Appleseed) in the school area to read based on how the day goes. We were finished with school work by noon.
I’m a semi-structured homeschooler and the rest is, as they say, by the seat of my pants. Now, for those of you gasping at how I am probably missing large gaps, I can assure you I do have an overall plan and touch on all the required history and science topics (we’ve been homeschooling almost 20 years). We just do it a little differently. I try to encourage a love of learning by looking for a spark and fanning the flame.