(This post has been edited, below.)
A lot of people have recently asked me how our home school experience has been going. And honestly? It's been going great.
Except for when I try to get the kids to do something ... like practicing their letters or writing their name. Then, I might get a little frustrated because they'll slump off their chairs and slide under the table like a bunch of rag dolls. And inevitably, I'll go a little crazy and say things like, "Hold your pencil!! Write your name!! YOU COULD DO THIS WHEN YOU WERE IN MONTESSORI!! Why aren't you doing it now?! Oh Mercy! I'm failing you!! THAT'S IT!! You're all going BACK to school!! GET YOUR BAGS!!"
And then everyone will cry. Me because I feel like I have no clue what I am doing. And the children because their mother is crazy. And ... they'd rather run around the house all day in their underwear than go back to school. This same scenario typically repeats itself at least once every day. And whenever that happens, I usually decide that it's time to move our classroom instruction to the outdoors.
Recently, during one of our neighborhood walks, we spotted a small stream of run-off from someone's sprinkler system.
We followed the run-off down the street and found where it spilled in to the storm drain. We talked about how water flows from higher elevations to lower elevations and will drain to the ocean. We talked about how important it is to not throw trash in to storm drains because they drain straight to the ocean and can hurt the diverse marine population. Whales. Fish. Sharks. And sea anemonenenesnesnees.
We discussed that if we see someone illegally discharging to the storm drain, the correct course of action is to contact the Regional Water Quality Control Board and if possible, provide an address of origin and license plate number for any vehicles observed. And if they don't master the art of holding a pencil ... it'll make filing an official complaint very difficult.
(Edited to add: I'm exaggerating our children's ability to not hold a pencil. They absolutely can. Infact, all three of them can write (almost) their entire alphabet and spell their names. But, they'd much prefer to run around the house like "Tarzan" then sit and practice "school" work. Every so often, I need to remind myself, that playing is exactly what they should be doing at their age. But sometimes, I do get a little uptight when I think of the structure that they had in Montessori versus the free-for-all that it seems we often have at home. That's when getting outside and telling the children about the world around us - helps me realize that maybe I'm not too bad of a preschool teacher, after all.)
We discussed that animals such as beavers build dams that block water flow, but people will build them, too. We discussed how various materials can be used to block the flow of surface water (mainly rivers) and that water can be used for hydroelectric power, recreation, irrigation, consumption and supply.
After rudimentary instruction on the basics of structural engineering, the children spent some time pretending that they were beavers as they set about gathering various materials to block the water flow. Dirts and rock. Pine needles. Small sticks. Pods. Flowers. And last but not least, a "sleeping" grasshopper.
Neighbors stopped by to talk with us while the children excitedly pointed out that water was slowly pooling up and the stream to the storm drain had almost stopped.
When one of the neighbors observed, "That's really damn good!" William looked at him for a moment before responding, "No. It's a really good dam."