Sunday, 18 September 2011

Down the rabbit hole

This year I am determined to put things right about how science is learned here.  Last year it was done in a haphazard manner which has not been very effective in helping Tiger to become more knowledgeable in this area.  This year we are using MSNucleus, starting from the beginning -- kindergarten level.

We are starting with the Life Cycle (this curriculum's equivalent of Life Science).  So far so good.  We covered classification.

After reviewing the most fundamental classification of living versus non-living things and reading the book shown above, we proceeded to hands-on classification of wild animals using plastic model animals that Tiger used to play with.

It was interesting for me to observe how Tiger went about putting the animals into groups and to hear his logic behind the groupings.  Having Tiger explain how to arrive at his way of doing things is an effective way to understand how he thinks, and for me to assess how much he knows about a given topic or concept.

After spending a few moments discussing the factors that may be used to classify the animals, such as diet, size, habitat, physical attributes, I let Tiger loose to work on it himself while I observed how he went about it.

He first separated the whole lot into two big groups, then I challenged him to classify them into smaller groups after each separation.  His final result was as follows, which I then summarised into a diagramme so that we could both see what was done.

Everything was going great until the end of lesson 1 when Tiger and I discussed the native habitats of a selection of wild animals.  I was not expecting too much from our discussion since I am well aware of how little time we had spent on science before, but I became worried when Tiger did not know where elephants are from, and did not know that you don't find lions and tigers together in a jungle. Alarm bells started to go off in my head as I experienced a private "I-have-failed-my-child" moment.

Never mind this 6-year-old can tell me details of every major battle in the ancient world and in British History up to the War of the Roses -- who fought against who, how long the battle went on for, where the battle was fought, who won, why and how they won, what weapons were used by each side.... I still panicked, albeit momentarily, when I saw what resembled a "Do you know where milk comes from, children?  Yes, Miss, milk comes from the supermarket shelf" situation.  I'd say spending more time getting to know the various habitats/biomes is in order at this point.

After some scrambling around again, I discover that there is so much to learn about habitats/adaptation/biomes.  It seems that this topic alone is going to take us quite a while to study.  In the process of gathering materials and resources, I realise that this is turning into a unit study, or maybe calling it 'theme-based study' might be more appropriate.  My 'plan of attack' is loosely outlined as follows:

1) Hands-on Activities
2) References (books, websites, documentaries)
3) Games
3D World Animals Floor Puzzle (this is a 'leftover' from Tiger's preschool days that we are now using as a springboard for discussion)
    4) Field Trips
    • A zoo
    • Natural History Museum 
    I don't know how long we will spend on this topic before we resume lesson 2 in our science curriculum, but I am inclined to enjoy learning as much as we can about this topic and see where else our interest (or in this case, a knowledge gap) takes us, rather than to worry about ticking the boxes of an arbitrary sequence set by someone else.  We are doing it our way, and I'm really excited about it.

    This is probably our first deviation from our very structured, "Classical" style.  Does that matter?  I don't think so.  I am not even sure what grade level we are working at for this, but knowing grade levels and following strictly to any specific homeschooling style are not important anymore; it's what we have actually learnt that counts.

    This post is linked up to several blog hops, where you can visit to see what other homeschoolers have been busy with.


      1. I LOVE your blog! I will be reading regularly.

      2. I think we've all had those moments where we onder if were doing the right thing. Looks like a great plan for the year


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