Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling
I used to be a hoarder, stashing away all sorts of goodies for a rainy day. Sometimes, these were fabulous books I had found that I wanted to look over with the kids. I’d read them (in private) and put them away for that perfect time to share. Or I’d acquire some new art supplies, and then store them away for that next great project.
Other times, they were more ordinary things such as math manipulatives or even interesting paper. A big component of my secret collection were the science kits for every subject imaginable, from owl pellets to solar models, carefully hidden away in the garage.
Unfortunately, the rain never came and my wonderful resources just collected dust. Sometimes the perfect opportunity presented itself but I either couldn’t find the time to share the item, forgot where I had stored it, or worse, forgot it even existed.
I soon realized there was a flaw to my plan. What was the point of amassing such a wonderful resource of learning materials if no one was benefiting from it?
About the time I started testing the waters for a more relaxed approach to schooling, I started purposely leaving things out in the open. Blocks found a permanent home in my living room. Manipulatives and science kits were free for the taking. Art supplies were available to whomever chose to use them. I grabbed many, many interesting books from the library and left them out for the kids to discover.
I loved that things were being used. As the kids were left to openly explore and play with the science kits and manipulatives, they became familiar with them and many times “learned the lesson” on their own.
It was wonderful to see that they didn’t have to wait for me to be ready to teach them something. Through their play, they learned to blend colors, grow crystals, and build complex circuits.
In the interest of keeping some order, I don’t keep everything out, but rotate them. This also helps the kids see the objects with fresh eyes.
I love seeing our “school” supplies in use daily, and especially love seeing them used in ways other than their original purpose. Learning is happening all the time, rain or shine.
Are you making full use of your school materials?