I’m riding the whirlwind, or as Jen Merrill on her Laughing at Chaos blog called it,“duct taped to a cheetah.” (Cheetah refers to this article by Stephanie Tolan about gifted children.)

Let me tell you a little bit about my day:

Today was clean-up day because I felt better after the last few days that I didn’t.  Needless to say, it’s chaos and mayhem around here because little kids apparently have some neat cloning trick and can be in 5 places at once making even more messes.

I’ve been feeling guilty about my lack of structure lately, so we’ve been doing this modified “circle time” thingy that ends up with 1 or more children getting up and wandering off at any given time.  I give up when there are no more children left.

After our attempt at a song that the toddler thought was hilarious, we pulled out the chalkboard blocks.  Sneaky mommy had some math ideas in mind but, as usual, things didn’t go as I had visualized.

I started off making simple block structures and challenging the kids to copy me.  The Princess was so proud of her tower, but the Engineer demanded a chance to design the challenge.  So he did…and made an arch.  When I asked him why the two pieces in the middle didn’t fall he replied: “because they’re pushing against each other” in that “duh! mommy” voice.

So then I had to prove that I really did know what I was talking about, and pulled out our geography cards (laminated photos of world landmarks with geography info on the back that I made.)  I found the photo of the aquaduct, and handed it to him.  He promptly built an aquaduct.

Then we found a video or two about aquaducts online and watched them, and had a brief discussion about ancient Romans and the importance of clean water.  He wanted to know why they had to go to the mountains for the water, so we had a different discussion about springs and snow packs: which then morphed into a discussion about glaciers.

He was excited to see a river of ice, so I pulled out the photograph of a glacier in Alaska calving an ice chunk into the water.  Then we talked about what that ice does to the earth beneath when it moves.  We just had to find a video to watch the iceberg calve, because the picture just wasn’t enough!

After watching the glacier calve we morphed into a discussion of icebergs, and whether the glaciers were producing really big icebergs or just little ones.  So we ambled on over to The Kid Should See This blog and found a lovely video of Antarctica; watching whales breaching and icebergs from high enough up to see the shadows of the bottom portion.

Then he just had to see the video about the glacier on Mt. Kenya, and from there we popped over to the interesting video about Iceland’s volcanos that was filmed using a drone.  They got close enough to melt the camera, which to a 5 year old is seriously impressive.

Then we had to break for lunch, and he whizzed around the house playing drones, volcanos, and aquaducts.  He built a really tall aquaduct and then a “volcano” destroyed it (one video talked about Pompeii, woops!  Must do better screening next time.  I didn’t link that video.)

Summery: Math (patterns, stability of an arch) Engineering (aquaduct building, effects of grade on water flow) History (ancient Romans) Geography (Iceland, Italy, Alaska, Antarctica, Africa) Biology (clean water source, effects of contaminated water, whale: fish/mammal discussion) Technology (drones and the use of them, photography technique: time lapse exposure with flame drawing) Science (icebergs and what happens when ice is top-heavy) and Geology (glacier carving the landscape.)

You could call it organic learning, or child-led learning.  I think I prefer Merrill’s “duct taped to a cheetah” term.


From Aquaducts to Volcanos In One Day
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