October 10, 2005

Accidental Unit Studies

OK we do unit studies more often then I say we do. Yet to my defense I often don't realize we are doing them until we are done with them, or sometimes right in the middle. They are rarely planned, rather they are spur of the moment unit studies that I plan on the fly so I don't think of them that way. Still at the end of the week if I put it all together - it was a unit study.

Take last week. Unit study - Floods. Not intentional but it turned out that way. Monday morning we read Noah's Ark. Kids watch a video where kids build an ark out of cardboard boxes. Weak mom says "I don't see why not" when kids ask her why they can't built one. Same weak mom heads to grocery stores to collect dozens of banana boxes and invites 13 kids and three parents to assit with building of said ark. Ark is constructed in the garage on coldest day of the year so far, it is still standing, the paint will eventually wear off the floor! Continue reading down a few posts for pictures and more details.

In history we learned about the Nile and how it flooded. We decided to create a model of the Nile. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of flooding and how they planned for it. Science time, Rhiannon gets to pick the book, she of course picks up one on floods (absolutely no prompting by me). Then we read two others with sections on flooding. We head over to google to look at pictures of floods, play flood related games and learn more details about floods.

Same day it happens we received record rainfall and the pond near our house was flooded into the field. Weak mom puts on mud boots and dirty clothes (we lost two outfits this week - one to paint and one to flood and mud - note to self use same outfit next time) and lets children walk to the top of their boots, which of course turns into much more and they come home wet, muddy and covered in duck weed. But they had a realistic example of what walking through flood water could be like and a great time. They also got to say my mom let me paint the garage floor and get myself soaked in duckweed and mud! How many other kids can in the same week.

For math we found a word problem game about flood waters. We talked about areas near us that could flood and why so many people were safe during Katrina, even though they lost their homes. We learn a bit about our weather system and home construction. We talk about sandbags and how they can be used to protect homes and are used along the Mississippi. Saturday afternoon walk with Dad and we see sandbags along the shoreline of a nearby lake and a bridge and pathway covered in floodwaters and closed off.

I would love to be able to say I planned that stellar lesson plan with all the hands on activities, lessons, resources and everything ahead of time. But I did not. God worked and we responded. I could not have made it rain the week we studied floods. I did not even plan it around the weather that was scheduled. I could not have made Rhia pick that for science. I would not have thought ahead to the connection of our bible and history stories this week. I did not even plan on doing the build the Nile activity and I certainly had no desire to build an ark in my garage! I had no idea the two lakes we would visit would be flooded. Yet it fell together so absolutely perfectly - it is the kind of week you just want to bottle up and share. Truly looking back it was a perfect week of schooling, one rarely repeated and one not planned at all. We seized the moment and the opportunity and I said yes instead of no (my intial instinct) and how blessed we all were!

We often find ourselves in the midst of accidental unit studies that are planned on the fly. We find an interest and we go for it and suddenly the more you look the more you find it. The connections are so often there and available we just don't look for them so they pass us by. The same is true with the preschool years and all the letter of the week work I did. Suddenly when we were studying the letter C, everything around us started with the letter C or tied into a lesson about the letter C. It is just being open to the world around you and seizing all those teachable moments and tying them together. I assure you not every week is like this in our home, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it were?


1 comment:

  1. I've experience that too, and I love it! Accidental unit studies are the best kind, and my guess is if you planned it, it never would have worked out so well.