I was looking back over our learning diary recently (okay, in truth it has been months since I've written in it and I am catching up writing in it by looking at photos retrospectively) and I thought I'd share with you an example of one quick lesson that we did based on an interest that popped up. Sometimes we plan things and sometimes life just gives us little lessons. Let's breakdown how we tried to make the most of this natural learning opportunity.
Chose your topic
For this example it's snakes, reptiles and snakeskin. We had gone to the park for dinner late one afternoon and we found a snakeskin. There was no snake insight but seeing the snake skin made us 'ooooh' and 'ahhhh'. I could tell there was an interest for the kids so we decided to take it home to study it a little more closely and to learn a bit more about it. We talked about where the snake might be now and why it might have left its skin behind.
I asked the kids, 'wow...when do you think this happened?' and then while we were still talking about it I asked, 'why do snakes actually shed their skin do you think?' They gave their answers about what they thought.
We talked about the snakeskin by using our senses. We talked about what it felt like, that it had no obvious smell and that the little 'holes' looked like diamonds, ovals and circles.
We headed to our little homeschool library (aka Bunnings cube bookshelves ;) ) and got down a few of our science books. I asked the kids if they remembered the quickest way to find information and Mr 11 replied, 'the index at the back'. We looked there heading down the list alphabetically until we hit 'snakes'. We looked up information in several books. I chose a page that I thought would be a good read aloud portion and I read it to the kids as they looked over the snakeskin and ran it between their fingers.
In one of our books, we read about the Jacobson's Organ that a snake possesses and none of us had ever heard about that. When there is something new like this we often hit up YouTube for a search of a quick vid to watch.
After doing the YouTube search, we watched THIS vid. I always take a glance at how long these videos go for an try to get one that is by a fairly reliable place like National Geographic for example. We like to get an overview of whatever it is we are looking up as we go and this helps my visual learners too.
Search for 'topic + pdf'
Something I learned years ago was that adding 'pdf' to whatever subject I was searching for helped bring up interesting things to read and sometimes activities to do. For this example, I did a google search of 'shedding in reptiles pdf' and THIS came up. Always check the reliability of your sources (this one came from Purdue University) and if for some reason you can't, still read it but at least have the conversation around how you're not sure this is a reliable source.
I printed off 3 copies and we took a turn reading a few sentences aloud at a time.
Spin Off the Subject
We often 'spin off' the subject and do some kind of other incidental learning as we go. This time we read a little more about classification of reptiles. Again, I did a search for a decent classification PDF (although I can't find it right now. You might even just look up a poster for classification like THIS one I found).
Use the tools that are available to you. In this lesson, we used the awesome microscope that our Aunty had loaned us. In years gone by we may have used a hand magnifying glass. Hands on learning often helps us engage more with whatever it is we are learning about.
Sum it Up
Sometimes summing it up here is just us recapping about the thing we've just learned. Sometimes it's me asking, 'So what was your favourite bit of that?' Sometimes 'summing it up' might mean that our kids write about whatever it is they have learned. They might hand write it or type it out on their typewriters (one has a manual one and the other has an electric one circa 1995 and loves it!) I will openly plug here my templates which are designed for this purpose. I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of printables in my Resource Library which you can learn about HERE.
The microscope printable that Zippi used above is one of the printables in our Resource Library. Plug over ;)
Record the Learning
Record the learning the way that suits you. For me, it's taking photos (so I can remember what we did) and to help me to that end, I take photos of all the things: the pdfs, the kids examining the skin and even them doing the microscope printable. That's just me and it works for me. I then use these photos to record a handwritten account in my journal. You might choose to do some other kind of recording but this bit is up to us. The bit that's up to the kids (in my home) is that they date their sheets/pdfs/observation sketches and pop them into plastic sleeves and then into their 'learning folders' (a simple A4 folder). And that's it! Just one little example of how to do a quick lesson together on an interest that pops up! Hope you found this useful. If you did, feel free to share the link with others or leave a comment on our FB page. More soon!
Lusi x PS: If you want to see how this type of learning links into the Stage Outcomes, you can check out the document HERE.