In the last few weeks we have been doing what I’ve dubbed as “relaxed notebooking”, I share more about the concept in my Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop but in essence we have been picking topics each week to do mini unit studies on. This approach works really well with our relaxed, interest-led homeschool style.
I thought it would be fun to share some of the mini units we have been doing as well as the resources we are using.
At the beginning of each week I ask my kids what they want to learn about that week and that helps guide our week. So far they have had a balance of Minecraft and Star Wars and weeks where what they pick what would qualify as educational topics. In the future I may pick the topics if there is one that I think we should do but so far they’ve been doing a great job with their picks.
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A few weekends ago I was cleaning out one of our closets and I came across a ton of rocks my kids had collected last fall. The rocks had been up high on a shelf for about ten months so I figured they wouldn’t miss them, they hadn’t asked for them once, so I took the bowl of rocks and tossed them on my neighbors rock driveway (let’s be honest, half of them probably originated there). Then Monday morning came and I asked Raeca what she wanted to study for that week and what does she say? Rocks. 🤦
Thankfully she didn’t remember the rocks that they had stowed away so I wasn’t in trouble. That was a close one.
Ultimately I have two goals with these weekly mini unit studies:
- To have some physical evidence of learning for when I write up our year end reports for our school division each year. They actually don’t require much in terms of a year end report but it feels good being able to show some of the things we’ve learned about.
- To help my children find their interests. I am excited to homeschool high school when we can get more focused on the topics my children enjoy and hope to use in their future careers, this is an easy way we are starting to hone in on some topics of interest.
We did take some time to do some brainstorming of subjects they think they would like to study in the future. Ephraim’s list makes me laugh because it is so him, it includes topics like: batteries, how do microwaves work, how do phones work without wires, etc. That is totally him and his inquisitive mind.
Raeca’s list is more diverse and includes a topics like horses, pigs, airplanes, building structures, orphanages, Indonesia, Colorado, pens, spiders, wasps, Mexico and Peru.
For our rocks study we had more resources on hand than we do for some other mini units, thanks to my husband’s co-worker who gave us a box of labelled rock samples (?? not sure if this is the correct term but I’m going with it). It has examples of about 40 different rocks and says where they were found. While books and pictures are great resources I find with rocks it is really nice to have the physical examples.
We started our our mini study by watching a few videos to give an introduction. If you like YouTube, come subscribe to my channel there, I am starting to make playlists for different topics we hope to study over time. I have a playlist on Rocks and Minerals, we started out by watching these three videos:
The videos gave us an idea on the three main types of rocks and then we pulled out our favorite science books and looked to see what they had for information on the subject.
While the book Nature Anatomy does not go very in-depth in nature topics I appreciate the diversity and gorgeous illustrations, it is my favorite science book we own, by far, it’s always the one I pull out first.
We have the Usborne Spotters Guide: Rocks and Minerals which I found at the thrift store a few years ago and grabbed because I assumed we’d be studying this one day. Ours is an old version but rocks don’t tend to change that much so it worked out well.
We went for a walk and did some rock collecting and then came back and used our spotters guide to try to identify the types of rocks we found, it was great to have the guide to refer to, I’m going to keep my eye out for more spotters guides.
I also like to pull our our letter cards and have one of the kids spell out what we are learning, we don’t do any formal spelling practice so this is a fun and relevant way to approach spelling.
We also spent some time looking at the rocks with our magnifying glass, the perfect tool for any little scientist. The rock samples that we had been given had more diverse rocks than we found on our walk so Raeca decided to create her relaxed notebooking page on the Flowerstone.
We looked online for some information on this rock since it wasn’t in any of our books and found out that it is pretty much only found on one island in British Columbia.
Then Rae started working on her page. I have three requirements for our relaxed notebooking pages they need to have:
- a title
- a picture
- some information
The amount of information I require differs for each child and each subject. Some subjects are going to have more information to share than others, plus, if it is a subject that they picked and it ends up not being too interested in I’m okay with them not doing a whole lot of writing.
Based on how long they spend on certain pages it has been easy to see which topics they’ve picked have been the most interesting to them.
I am really enjoying this relaxed, interest-led notebooking style, it really suits our family and the way we approach life and how we view homeschooling as a lifestyle. I’ve totally gotten in on the relaxed notebooking and have been making pages right alongside my kids and at the beginning of the week I find myself looking forward to finding out what we will be studying.
Do you have a relaxed and/or interest-led homeschool? Where are your favorite places to find resources?
Do you do any form of notebooking pages? I’d love to hear about it!