One of the things I love about our homeschool community are the opportunities for group learning outside of the classroom. In fact, I love this opportunity so much that our family participates in FOUR co-operative learning groups. I know, I know. Four sounds like a lot. It is a lot. In fact, we’re barely participating in co-op #4 because it pushed us over the edge.
Two of the co-ops meet weekly. I’ve already shared some of my middle-to-early-high-school level lesson plans and will continue to do so as I do awesome things. I won’t blog about the not awesome things. You’re welcome.
The other class is for younger kids (generally 6-9 year olds) and the first lesson I taught was a history class based on Story of the World Introduction and Chapter 1.
I used my basic rhythm of:
1. Information and discussion
2. Hands on activity
3. Guided play moving to free play
We started by discussing the chapter — which they read ahead — and then I opened up some picture books in front of them to aid the discussion.
After the group discussion, we went outside to work on a cave painting as our guided, hands on activity. Now, many cave painting lessons suggest crumpling a paper bag and having them paint on it. But caves weren’t painted sitting at a desk leaning over. They were painted with low light and while standing or sitting upright.
The original plan was to line my coat closet with paper and allow them to paint only by flashlight. But due to a flooring project that I won’t go into the details of, class was moved to someone else’s house and I didn’t want to take over her coat closet and risk stray paint brushes.
Instead, I took a large piece of a box and held it up while the kids took turns painting. Outside. Away from my friend’s walls.
I asked them questions like “if archaeologists found our cave, what would it tell them about our nomadic tribe?” Other than that we had access to Crayola poster paint and corrugated cardboard, of course. Thank goodness children can so easily suspend disbelief.
After our cave painting, we became a tent dwelling nomadic tribe. This would be #3 guided-to-free play for those keeping up with my methodology.
We needed to use our animal skin (a blanket) to create a shelter. After working on the shelter and discussing what items would be handy (large sticks, mammoth tusks… you know, the usual household items), I asked them what else nomads would do. Hunt and gather, of course!
So we moved from our seated and orderly-ish discussion to our organized yet open cave painting to our open pretend play of being nomads.
About 30 minutes into pretending to be a nomadic tribe — while I hung back with some other moms to simply observe the joy of childhood — I was asked if “class” was over by a rather confused child. I mean, we told them we were doing class yet the lesson moved so fluidly into play that the line blurred.
It was pretty much a perfect lesson. Next up — early writing. If you are picturing a bunch of kids with chisels trying to etch into stone, you would be correct.
What a neat class! It looks like so much fun!
Your “nomads” look like they are ready to set out!