I’ve mentioned that I’m equal parts structured and creative. When I was younger, I felt like these aspects of my personality warred against each other. Now, I understand both make up the unique creation that is me and give them both room to manifest as needed. Thus, I’ve learned to leave room for rabbit trails in my homeschool lesson plans. Recently while I ate lunch and watched the rain, I thought, “We should sing songs about rain during music today.” This one idea triggered a neural avalanche of rain-themed lessons that usurped all of my afternoon school plans.
- We started with a simple conversation about rain, defining it and describing it. Tot is a man of view words, so I encourage him to express himself verbally whenever I can.
- We read A.A. Milne’s “In which Piglet is entirely Surrounded by Water.” It usually takes us a couple of days to read one of Pooh’s stories due to Tot’s attention span. However, I wanted to complete the story in this session, so I omitted some of the exposition and dialog to maintain his interest. After reading, we discussed the plot to check comprehension.
- We made a cloud in a jar. Tot was interested for about twenty-seven seconds. This science-loving mom enjoyed it more than he did. I performed it with a match and hairspray. The match produced a far more impressive cloud. Also, I had better success placing a small saucer on the jar than using the lid. http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/cloud-in-a-jar/
- Next, we made room for spontaneity within our spontaneity. Tot asked three times if we could make a message in a bottle the way that Piglet did in the story. I happened to have a bottle sitting around, so I figured, “Why not? I haven’t planned it, but the whole day hasn’t been planned.” We scrawled out a message, put it in the bottle, crawled to Teen’s room, and rolled it through the door. Then Tot and I ran back to the living room and spread out a blue blanket, pretending to be Piglet and Owl trapped by the flood. After explaining the plot briefly to Teen, he was ready for the role of Christopher Robin. Rolling into the room on a desk chair, he heroically rescued Piglet by plucking him off of the blanket, hoisting him onto his lap, and rolling away. Through peals of giggles, Tot retold the story to his older brother. So through creative play, the elements of the story were further embedded in Tot’s mind. Plus fun family memories were made!
- Then, we sang the rain songs that ignited the whole shebang in the first place. I picked up Sing a Song of Seasons by Mailbox at a used curriculum fair a couple of years ago. Tot loves it! I enjoy it as well because the songs are easy to learn (Hubby is the musician, not me), and the illustrations are engaging. Plus the songs are arranged by topic, so choosing music related to our current subject is effortless.
- Lastly, we finished with an activity based on the poem “Rain.” I wrote the simple poem out on card stock, Tot cut out illustrations, and glued them in the appropriate places. As I read each sentence, Tot chose the matching image. He also colored the rain on each black and white drawing, making rain sounds while he did so. After that was done, Tot memorized the poem and performed it for his dad. I downloaded the pictures and poem from http://thisreadingmama.com/free-rainy-day-pre-kk-pack-updated-expanded/.
At the end of the afternoon, we had worked on literacy, language, reasoning, science, and fine motor skills. We accomplished this using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities. I find when I leave room for creativity in my school day, these things happen naturally. I don’t need to sit and think about whether I’ve incorporated auditory components into the lesson; they just appear.
Note: Inspiration on this scale doesn’t strike often. School days like this happen every few weeks. They are not daily occurrences!