Wednesday, February 25, 2009


and somewhat, overload...
truth is, we've had a sheer stupid number of insightful blogs whom've-- whoa... say that again;d sounds cool, eh-- massive contributions of cold-hard-stuff or contributions or subtle influences to our day-to-day stuff. so forgive me for not scrumiging re-hashed nutriments... but credit belongs to those who have earned it.
and hate to sound like an LP, but, see side links... you'll be moved, i am sure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Magnificent OPASA!

Opasa. Opasa... 
Opasa....... OPASA! 

Doesn't it even just sound like something intriguingly ominous or, oh I dunno, magnificent perhaps? It is for my kiddos. We can be done with the day, enjoying a relaxed dinner-- eating out, even-- and it comes up. They can't wait for a visit from the Opasa. Heck, I believe they brought it up at the family Christmas Eve party. It's that exciting to them!

Do I have your attention now? That's how I introduced it to them, as well. For a good 10 days I let them know Opasa was coming... Then it was about to be here... Finally, I revealed that it was all theirs! It was our cue how well interest-led learning would end up working. Opasa is really O.P.A.S.A.- our Ongoing Project And Special Assignment. And they love it. 

When we struggled with a slough of worksheets and curriculums, the Opasa stuck. They chose it, although we helped with suggestion or assisted whenever needed. My little girl started writing a book. My son invented a line of paper toys. They'd disappear for hours. Of course, we're still holding our breath for a "we'd love to study different methods of maintaining our bedrooms and toyroom, please--" GASP!!! Alright, let's just try crossing our fingers.

Since then, we've had studies in superheroes, guitar, ballet, nutrition/exercise, Pokemon and believe it or not I've even helped out with some J-pop assignments. We're about to embark on an in-depth cinema and screenwriting period. Gonna be cool, even for the dear ol' teacher...

Now, I know I'm not the first. In fact, much of my encouragement has been from other unschoolers who have done this kinda stuff for years. But if you're unfamiliar with or uncertain of project-base/interest-led learning, I hope this will ease the fright. After all, in our case, it's just a movie...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

i gotta say something... non-editorial-like, ya know?

firstly: i really feel like i gotta give props/hats off/credit to some of the wonderful encouragement i've received from some fellow-homeschoolers. in a big-big way, they touch the very lives of my two students. three, if you count myself. (thanks to you know who you are...)

may i direct your attention to the BLOGROLL, to the right side of the screen. if you are looking for answers to questions about learning at home, support, encouragement, etc. this is some really good stuff. my kids are proof of that. and my kids are amazing!

next, and here's my apology: i'm sorry for just tossing out ideas in a format you'd read on the pot outta Reader's Digest or the like. it was "put" out there, in the blogosphere, in eagerness to "advise with useful information," i did this because the stuff i got from the aforementioned was gold. but, like many of those, i shoulda just poured out my heart or just rant like i do in real life. but you deserve better. forgive me?

that's why you're the bomb. thanks...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Building Skills

I have been designing things and drawing for a quite while, now. Probably since I was my kids' ages. I still love it, reading Dwell type magazines and filling up the DVR with shows like Beyond the Box, Extreme Homes and Renovation Nation. 

It's fun to watch the kids scoot in when I pull out my box of notched popsicle sticks and start messing around with it. It's the same when I gently shove them aside so I can squeeze in and build a lego structure when they have their bin of it out, playing. Of course, last time I did that, though, I noticed a limit of resources. One can only do so much outta four or five little Lego sets. I should interupt to mention this limitation is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagination is as boundless as we chose. 

I used to tease little friends at the kids' old school that when I was their age, all I got for my birthday was a coathanger, one sock and a used bar of soap. It's all I really needed, too, because I was great at pretending... that, and I lived in a large dog house. All my toys had to fit in the shoebox I got on Christmas the year before. 

I usually got a "uhn-uuuh" or a "you're lyyying..." but they all knew it wasn't off by much. I praise kids for their creativity ALL the time. Turns into problem-solving skills most grown-ups just don't develop. Back to my point, though.

I wanted-- and my kiddos were totally supportive of-- a Lego-opolis! Well, at least a small neighborhood. So we hopped on eBay and Craiglist. Low and behold, a gal  10 minutes away was selling three sets and a mixed bin of 450 pieces more, $25. To boot, she gave us a big bucket of about 1500 more Megas & Duplos! Dang! THAT's what I'm talking about!

And THAT's been our math/geometry/pattern/sorting/fractions/art/drama lesson for the last week and a half. The kids even let me scoot in and make a tiny bungaloo. Had to use paper for the roof, and it didn't fit the style of the rest, but they were gracious nonetheless. Can you keep a secret? I snuck a pocketfull of pieces out for a rowboat. I'll slide it back in when they go downstairs for a snack. He he he...

Oh yeah. I should tell ya something else we found online you may or may not know about. The Lego website has a great 3D virtual designer you can use. It's free. Be careful, though. It has this cool button that prices out how much your creation would cost to order a customized box. And even though my kids don't know my credit card number, they're always checking the mail for us. So I never know if they've been filling out applications behind my back. Ehh, prob'ly not. Nevertheless, the online Lego builder is way cool!

Now, if your kids are too advanced for that, look at Google SketchUp. It's free, too. And I think it's a blast!