Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!


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The Trip to the Children’s Museum

Yesterday we had another unexpected field trip. I was watching a friend’s son and she suggested I bring all of the kids to the Children’s Museum. It sounded like a great idea, though I think I was a little crazy taking five kids to the museum. Thankfully Corde was a great help. She took the day off of school to come with us.

The kids got to explore the whole museum, though they definitely had favorite spots. The water tables were one of them. I thought the kids might be to old for that, but even Corde had fun with it.

They all loved the climbing tower, though I was surprised Corde was able to get through there. Some of those areas were pretty tight squeezes. Luca was the only one that didn’t climb. It was too scary.

The construction stuff was fun for the younger ones, though Corde could have done without it. The rest of them played until Corde suggested we move on.

Another favorite was the dance pad floor with games. Their favorites were dodge ball and musical squares. They were here for quite some time. We even came through twice.

My favorite part was this house they all built together. It took almost every one of those blocks to do it. They had a blast building it, which took some time and engineering skills.

Of course, equally as much fun was demolishing it. That took a lot less time, but was a whole lot louder. They’ve decided that goes on the list when we go again!

Another favorite, and the space the kids spent the most time, was the little grocery store in the downtown area. I remember spending a ton of time there as a kid. I wasn’t surprised that they all wanted to play store for quite some time. My kids love play food and this was a great place for it. Plus, it was a store, which is even better!

The downtown neighborhood had these sitting outside the door to the store, which were a lot of fun too. They also had dominos and checkers, which the kids thought was pretty great.

We had a great day out and everyone was pretty tired on the train ride home, even after getting some ice cream to perk everyone up. It was a great highlight to out otherwise quiet week.

Though, there is another field trip coming up this weekend that we’ll be talking about soon. It’s going to be interesting with a lot of extended family there. It’s proving to be quite the week.

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Busy, Busy, But Totally Not…

It’s been busy around here lately, and by busy I mean in the “busy work” kind of way and not in the fun and crazy stuff way.  Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Some of the stuff we’ve been doing is pretty fun.  The kids have been watching a lot of Minecraft videos and the like.  They’ve been having fun with that.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.  I knit while they’re doing workbooks.  I knit while they’re watching television.  I’ve even been knitting to podcasts, my personal favorite being CraftLit, which does classic literature.  It’s been a great time for me to do something I love, plus the kids get a bit of freedom to do whatever it is they feel like doing without a hovering mom, not that I really hover, but you get the idea.

As for the podcasts, the kids have really enjoyed some of CraftLit’s premium content.  It’s all of $5 extra every month to get access to the premium books, which is kind of fun for us.  I’m listening to Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) with the kids.  They’re all getting a kick out of it.  With the younger three we’re listening to The Wizard of Oz.  I think when we’re done we may check out the other books in the series.  There’s a lot of them.  While it’s mostly something I do for me, it’s fun when I can get them involved, even if they do check out for a lot of the books.  They would probably like War of the Worlds, which I’m listening too now, but it’s a bit wordy.  I think I may read that to them later, or go back and listen again.

Well, can you tell I love books?  I’m really into classic literature.  There’s something about old stories that makes me happy.  I love that I have a format where I can share it, even if it’s not so much something we do together right now.  Still, I notice them popping in time and again when the story gets good.

So that’s what we’ve been up to, and will continue to be up to for the next few weeks at least.  We’ve got a WWII event coming up over Columbus Day Weekend.  After that there isn’t much.  We’re even planning to go simple with Halloween this year, and stuff the kids can wear in layers.  It was pretty cold last year.  Luca is going to be Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.  Sander wants to be a pirate minion.  I’m not sure how that will work out, but it’s creative at least.  I think A.J. may go as Rainbow Dash again, or he might opt to go the pirate route too.  That one’s easy.  We have pirate stuff on hand.  Corde will probably do an assassin from Assassin’s Creed again, something quick and easy.  We’re trying to go cheap, aside from Luca’s costume.  Getting something for Toothless was kind of expensive, but as Luca’s missing his top front teeth, he’s kind of bonded with toothless, so it works out.  It’s definitely going to be a chaotic month.

As things stand we have no real plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  I think we’re going to aim to keep Christmas cheap.  We’re probably going to do a board game for each of the kids, maybe an inexpensive video game, and some Pokemon cards so they can all play together.  The last thing we need is a bunch of stuff cluttering up our house.  We need to simplify as is, so it’s better to have a couple things, but have them things the kids really want.  I’m thinking next year I’m going to start sooner and knit them each something for Christmas.  If I’m feeling really ambitious I may go for sweaters, but I think I’ll probably be practical and go with hats and mittens or fingerless gloves.

Yeah, it’s been a long day.  We’ve had a lot of cleaning to get done.  Every once in a while we go through huge binge cleanings where we go behind and inside of pretty much everything to get the house looking as good as it can.  This happened to be one of those days.  I’m tired, and so are the kids.  I guess that’s the reason I’m going on and on like this.  Well, I’d better get these kids settled down for quiet time.  We’re all in need of it!


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Fort Warren and George’s Island

(Posted a week late because it got lost in draft limbo…but it’s up now, so that’s got to count for something, right?)

We had quite the adventure this past weekend. We ended up going on Monday due to weather, which worked out well because it was a beautiful day.

The trip in started with a train ride into the city. The kids always love a good train ride. Luca got to read a Cat in the Hat book about sharks, which was exciting because we were going to be taking the ferry in.

This was the kids first trip on a boat of any kind. Beekee was a little worried about being on a boat, but he got over it quickly when he realized how exciting it was. Luca loved watching the white waves coming off the side of the ferry. They all loved the ride out.

When we got to the island they wanted to do a couple things right off the bat. First they wanted to eat a quick lunch. Then they wanted to go touch the water, since we aren’t near the ocean much. After that they went to check out the playground that looked like a miniature version of the fort.

The trip into the fort was a lot of fun, once we got in there. It started with a walk around the fort, then we got in to investigate. The younger three loved getting to use flashlights to look around. I think that was the best part for them. Perhaps if we get a chance to go in the future we can take a ranger guided tour, but for now exploring without being bogged down with the history of the place was a lot of fun.

wp-image-145841421The kids have already said they want to go back again next summer, but I think first up on the list is a whale watch. The kids are super excited to get to do that in the future too. It seems this trip inspired a whole lot of excitement. It was a great way to end the summer!


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Upcoming Weekend Fun

It’s been a rather “unschooling” week around here.  We haven’t done much of the actual work we’ve decided to do, just so that it looks like we’re meeting standards.  Now that I’ve put some thought into it, I’ve realized that it’s important for Corde and Beekee (for reasons having to do with their biological father), so it’s worth making sure we toe that line for now at least.

This weekend we’ve got an incredible event coming up.  We’re going to explore a Civil War fort with my dad and my sister.  This is going to be extra fun because the kids will go on their first ever boat ride on the ferry out to the island.  They’re really looking forward to that.

I suppose (if we were that kind of family) I could have prepared them for this by talking about the Civil War and getting their heads set in the history before they showed up.  That’s just not who we are.  I think it’ll be far more fun to jump on in and explore, then worry about the history after the fact.  “Hey, this is cool!  I wonder why they did that…  Let’s find out.”

Hopefully we should have some good pictures from the weekend trip.  It’s going to be quite the adventure, by train, by ferry, and on foot.  It’s somewhere I went as a kid and I think the kids will really love it.  It’s going to be a great time!

 


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Cuddled Up to Sleep

Things have been good since we decided to nix bedtime. The kids do get cranky and need naps from time to time, but it’s gone pretty well. I count this an experiment well worth trying.

The tricky part has been finding a way to get Luca to sleep. If left to his own devices he would be up watching movies all night. It’s difficult because he still sleeps with me and the television keeps me up.

However, I have found a solution to this problem. Luca likes to cuddle. We spend time after the television goes off all cuddled up. Some nights we talk. Tonight Luca just wanted to cuddle to sleep. I’ve got him laying on my arm as I type this into my phone.

You know what? This is what life should be about. Life is too short for reading lessons and curriculum. What it really needs to be about is time together as a family.

I can’t say where the decisions I make today will lead the kids and I, but we will certainly spend more time on the things that matter.

And that’s only going to keep expanding. Luca found the other two tablets today so Sander and Beekee can watch movies while settling in to bed. We just need to get them headphones and they can listen without bothering each other if one wants to sleep.

Tomorrow will bring new changes in our lives, but tonight is simple. I just need to curl up on the bed with Luca and the dog. What better way is there to sleep?


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Pokemon Go and Science

About two weeks ago Oz got Corde and I into Pokemon Go. We decided it would be a thing we could do as a family. At the very least it would get us out and walking. There’s definitely something to be said about that. We need more reason to get out.

However, this has come with some unexpected bonuses. For example, we went on a raid for a legendary Pokemon. On our way there we came across a ladybug. The kids saw it on the wall they were climbing on. There were all these little bugs around it that we concluded were aphids. The ladybug hunted down these tiny bugs and we sat and watched it eat two. I had never seen a ladybug eat before.

Today while on errands we decided to stop in a park for yet another raid. The kids watched some geese for a while. Then, right by the bench we were sitting at, we found a blue jay feather. The kids learned about how feathers can be smoothed out when they get all pulled apart. The kids thought that was pretty cool.

We spent the week doing blah book work (something I hope to cut back on), but this was a fun way to inject science into daily life. We’ve been given more opportunities thanks to Pokemon Go, something I swore I would never get into, but now I’m glad we have. It’s been fun and educational!


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Doctor Who

It’s been a while since we’ve watched Doctor Who (at least 2 years), so we decided to start it again from the beginning.  This has been a family thing that we’ve always done together, so it’s been fun catching up again, especially since the kids haven’t seen all the way through Matt Smith yet, and none of us have seen the latest Doctor (though all that’s about to change again).  Needless to say, we’re a little behind.

So what does this have to do with unschooling/homeschooling?  I could just be writing about it because it’s something my family has done together, so there’s that, but really?  I think that this definitely has to do with unschooling.

Think about it, Doctor Who has some really creative story lines.  It throws in a little bit of real science along with the science fiction.  There’s an introduction to all kinds of periods in history, blended with fictional ideas about the future and aliens.  Then there’s all the story telling and the blending of a theme throughout each Doctor’s reign.  Each one has their own story arc, which is almost reset at the beginning of each new Doctor.  It’s got some great ideas for building stories upon.

But in reality, it’s all a good bit of fun.  It’s time we can kick back and relax while still engaging as a family.  It influences what the kids play and what we talk about.  It’s become a part of our family identity, something I think makes us all the better for having in our lives.  We’re a part of a culture of “Whovians” and the kids are getting to grow up as a part of that culture.  It’s really kind of cool how it’s helped shape their identities too.

And then there’s the social, interpersonal thing.  There are so many other Whovians out there.  It gives them an identity that they share with countless other people across the whole world, even if it seems centralized to Great Britain, USA, and Canada.  It can be a conversation starter and a way into like-minded communities.  It’s a great way to meet other people.  I mean, there’s no reason the kids should ever go without being connected to other people that share their interests, or at least one of them.  Whatever else they do in life they will always have that.  It only grows as they get into other fandoms, the biggest one I can think of being Harry Potter.  It’s an identity, something I didn’t have much of when I was their age beyond “Girl Scout” and maybe “horseback rider.”

It’s silly to think a television show has so much influence on how kids grow and change, but it’s definitely made an impact, especially for Corde, who identifies with fans of Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and the countless animes out there.  She’s starting to feel like she’s got a place (or at least a collective) that she can call home.  It gives her an identity in the world, and if you ask me (I know, you didn’t) it’s a pretty cool one because she can not only identify with the greater world, but also relates to her family, the whole family, not just her parents.

As the kids get older they’ll undoubtedly watch more of Doctor Who, and will definitely have the opportunity to get in on marathons of the older episodes.  They’ll grow up with the same immersion to Doctor Who as Corde really got into, and it might even give them a identity, a connection, like it did for Corde.  As they get older they’ll find more kids that have the same interest, which is harder for them right now because some of the episodes are a little scary for kids even Beekee’s age.  It will give them something to hold on to.

So it may not seem like much, but it’s a whole world for our family, and something we can truly bond over.  And Doctor Who isn’t the only one.  We’ve watched some of the superhero shows with the kids (Supergirl and Flash primarily).  Then there was A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.  Corde and I bonded over How I Met Your Mother, Leverage, and Bones.  It may sound like we watch a lot of television (we really don’t most of the time), but it’s more than just mind-numbing activity.  There’s so much to it, the elements of story and plot, the connection to other fans of the series, even just having something to talk about with other people, strike up a conversation.  It’s valuable enough that we want it to be a part of our family identity, as weird and quirky as we may be.