Tuesday, April 20, 2010

birds, solar system and Europe

One of Sean's Easter gifts was "Birds of Washington Field Guide," by Stan Tekiela.
This book is the perfect size. It's filled with beautiful pictures of birds, both male and female, and it is organized by color of the birds so it's easy to find what you're looking for when you see a bird and want to identify it.
Sean loves this book. Absolutely loves it.
We also have a map for bird watching in Washington.
Today I set out some geography and solar system work, but Sean wanted to study birds first. So we got out the map and he had his book. I suggested that I look for a bird pictured on the map, and he could look in the book to find a real photograph.
This work required him to locate the index, find the entry in alphabetical order, and then find the corresponding page. He did this over and over.
I got interrupted, which meant he got interrupted. When I looked up again I saw he was pulling out the huge puzzle of the solar system. While he has already studied this for three years, it doesn't hurt to keep going with it. It's a cool floor puzzle, and he enjoyed it. I found it on sale at Border's.
I had some three part cards of the solar system and he put those in order, then we moved on to some geography work. We have a really big control map for Europe, so he matched flags with the countries of Europe.
Tomorrow I'll show him some pictures a friend took on her trip to Moldova, her home country.
He also worked on music today. He tried to replicate a drum riff from one of his favorite songs while I made lunch.
For bed we read a Langston Hughes poetry book, then he wanted to look at the bird book again. We noticed there are other books like this one by the same author on reptiles and amphibians, trees, wildflowers, and mammals.
We'll probably be looking for the reptile book very soon.
I've started to wonder about spelling. I don't really believe in tests, but wondered how to be sure he's learning to spell words correctly. He seems good at memorizing things quickly. I hate to admit it, but I think Google has helped with spelling, LOL! He types in something to search, and if he spells it wrong it comes up with the suggested spelling. It's how he has learned to spell some of the words for things he is so interested in researching.
He has been drawn back to writing through our interstate postcard project, though he doesn't like to write more than one or two postcards at a time. (We're very slow on this project, so if you're reading this and are expecting a postcard from us, please be patient. This is a child led project for us.)
For a long time he wouldn't write at all. I encouraged, but tried not to push, and some days just didn't ask him to write anything at all. But on any piece of paper that he draws or does any work I have him write the date and his name at the top.
His handwriting was not good. Inside I worried, thinking I should do something to help his penmanship. Instead I waited.
His letters aren't always perfectly straight, but they are much better than before. It is proof for me that Maria Montessori was right about sensitive periods and trusting the child to learn.
Imagine what kind of world we would live in if everyone were allowed to become the person they were intended to become, free to learn at their own pace, rewarded by the feeling of accomplishment, of learning to do things on their own, instead of some outside, artificial token, trophy, or authoritative praise. Imagine what kind of world we would live in if we focused out, on the big picture, then incrementally focused smaller so that we had a better understanding of the whole universe first, then our own tiny world, country, state.