Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Caught Out by Enthusiasm

Doh!  I always catch myself out by forgetting how children's enthusiasm is such an immediate thing! As planned, I had one-on-one chats with the boys at bedtime last night, asking what sort of things they were interested to find out or explore this term.  Youngest took a few prompts for ideas, but once he got doing it was like opening floodgates!  That boy has a lot of things that he wants to know - especially along the lines of how things work, so no surprises there.  Also unsurprisingly, Middle had plenty of creative ideas up his sleeve - for art, design and making things.  His turned out to be the longest and most eclectic list of ideas.  Eldest struggled a bit more - I guess as he gets older his interests will naturally become more focused and specialised.  Animals were, as always, first on the list - if he could spend his life watching wildlife documentaries he'd be quite happy.

Anyway, after chatting to them all I came downstairs to type up their lists of ideas before bed, planning to raid the den today for appropriate resources, and look online for more ideas.  However it took me a while to get going with that plan this morning, as Youngest came downstairs wanting to make a start on his ideas straight away!  I managed to hold him off until he had eaten breakfast and got dressed, but then he was absolutely raring to go.  Persistence really could be his middle name - he just kept asking until I could think of no good reason to say 'after so-and-so'.  Well really, stalling his enthusiasm and progress just so I could feel on top of the organisation is a daft way to go about empowering a learner anyway.  I might actually remember this one day rather than being caught on the hop at the start of every term.  Youngest is always ready before me, and I don't see that changing. I might as well just learn to go with it.  At least I remembered sooner this time, and it wasn't too painful letting him loose on all of his plans.  Middle was also keen to get going on some of his ideas, and even Eldest was up before me for once!  All because they had specific things that they wanted to get on with (things that didn't revolve solely around computer games!)

So these were their lists of ideas:

how do you make soil/ foam/ plastic/ string/ china?
electricity and batteries
science experiments
the Tudors - jigsaw, Horrible Histories etc
How inventions work
the first king of Scotland and all about Scotland
digging up fossils
painting (like the old masters)
How matches work
how sandpaper works
smelting and furnaces
wildlife - how it feels to be nocturnal

design and build a model rocket
bake different-shaped breads
butterfly painting using symmetry
painting faces to show different feelings
making knots with Daddy
True or false quizzes (he likes the ones in their Whizz Pop Bang magazine)
food challenge - trying new things
taste experiments
design and create a marble slide
outer space and gravity
3D writing
3D pictures (using perspective)
make a light maze
how instruments work and how do we whistle
king arthur
biomes - taiga
desert animals
underwater life
inside our body and how it works; five senses
trip to library
leaf art

rivers and flooding
cooking - cakes and puddings
north and south poles
handwriting (his idea - he is self-conscious about his writing)
computer programming & coding
chocolate (good excuse for a trip to Cadbury World now we live closer)
history of space travel and NASA
sculpting - ice/ rock/ wood

I have to say, some of these are going to be a challenge (anyone know of any good kids' resources on dreams?!), and a few are quite unlikely to be covered in my next phase of planning for this term, though I'll do my best.  Let's face it, whatever I don't plan for they will find out for themselves if they are interested enough - such is the beauty of child-led learning.  However I was pleased that some of their expressed interests overlapped (such as space and electricity), and some of their ideas were really inspiring (I'm looking forward to Middle's light maze).  For now though, I just need to get on with the plan so I can keep an eye on where we're going, even if said plan does turns out to be another piece of well-intentioned fiction.  After a crazy few hours of the boys bouncing from idea to idea this morning, they are now back in gaming-world (no problem with that - Youngest would have no idea about smelting if it weren't for minecraft) so I have a couple of hours peace to blog and schedule.  Let me just show you some of this morning's activities, then I'm off to draw up my pretty if possibly ineffectual plan...

our "Terrible Tudors" jigsaw - the reason why Youngest was so impatient to get going this morning, but he wanted me to do it with him, so my plans were put on hold while we worked together

Middle was also impatient to get going on some knots before Daddy could come and help

Meanwhile Eldest found some instructions for drawing a fabulous sea lion

and then Youngest decided to follow suit with the dinosaur drawing book

Youngest also enjoyed playing with our electronics set...

... and completing some of the puzzles in his new Stampy Cat book

Eldest and Middle also watched a recorded TV programme on the Great Barrier Reef and then all three boys sorted out their toy animals into groups of marine, polar, desert and nocturnal animals ready for further play in the week.

Right, I'm off - going to try to see how many of these ideas we can fit into the next half term as a family, and which need to be explored individually.  I may be back tomorrow with the finished sort-of-plan, but no promises, OK?!

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