Learning Days

We went to the library yesterday and actually got some books that weren’t about dinosaurs or the history of the earth or even deep ocean biology. We got a book called “Did a dinosaur drink this water?”. Okay, there is that word in there. And I’ll admit it’s what got DD to yank it off the shelf – “Look mama, a dinosaur book we haven’t read before!”. But actually, I figured out from the title that it was a book about the Water Cycle. We also got another book called “A Drop of Water”. It is, on the surface, a photography book with lovely shots of water dripping and splashing, bubbles frozen in time, and amazing photos of snowflakes. It was these images that captured DD’s interests but when we started reading it I discovered it was all about water – surface tension, the various phases of water, etc.

We sat and read them last night which prompted a discussion of the water cycle and the ice, liquid, vapour cycle. We’d talked about the phases of water before, so this was just building on that nicely. I was also pleased to hear her say, when we got to a page about hydroelectricity, that it was “just like that Magic School Bus book we bought” (at a kids fair for 50 cents, gotta love it). That book, about electricity, featured a coal-burning electricity plant. So I was able to explain that what turns the turbines can vary. In some places they burn coal. Here on the Wet Coast we use hydroelectricity. DD asked if the sun made electricity too, and I explained that via solar panels, it can. Wind, too. It was one of those discussions you wish you could have on tape to show people…THIS is learning, THIS is how it happens, Right. Here.

Earlier that day at the playground DD found a long stick and discovered that the sandy footing had just the right amount of moisture that day to make it perfect for drawing on. It took me a while to realize the significance of what I was seeing when she drew her name, while facing me, so that the words were upright to ME. Yes, she wrote her name upside down.

And that night, perhaps inspired by the learning of the day, I came up with some wonderful experiments we can do together. Putting a drop of food colouring in a glass of water at room temperature and measuring how much time it takes for the moving water molecules to mix the colour in; timing it again in hot water. Boiling water with salt and without.

I thought about how simple it is to make a circuit with a battery, some wire, a light and a switch. Thanks again to Magic School Bus DD is learning about flowing electrons. We can use this simple circuit and then break it at one point to introduce different substances and see how well they can conduct electricity. Like all good scientists we’ll keep notes of our observations. I get off on this shit and I’m excited that, if she continues along the path she’s showing, she will too.

This is what made me realize that I don’t need no stinking program. I can do this. We can do this. And it is going to be more and more fun as the kids get older and better able to focus. In the meantime, we’ll relax and enjoy this free time of life when there isn’t (shouldn’t be) pressure to “start learning” (as if they haven’t been doing so since they popped out of the womb) and I won’t be Mom’s Taxi shuttling kids between activities.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Learning Days

  1. Rolfe

    I’ve been having a similar experience learning about how learning really happens. It is a pleasure to read your story and see that even though the subjects are different the process really isn’t.

    I’ll have to try some of your experiments, they sound fun. One thing we tried with electricity: we made batteries out of lemons. Take a lemon, roll it around a little to soften it inside, then stick in a copper wire and steel paperclip pretty close to each other, but not touching. You can get about 0.5V that way. You can chain them together for more. I picked up a little multimeter to measure the voltages and currents, and we tried all sorts of variations and recorded the performance of our batteries.

  2. Jennifer

    That’s exactly how I feel about learning. We don’t use any curriculum. I just wing whatever the kids are interested in. We go to the library, search the internet, and get Netflix movies or go on outings. It’s better learning to me.

    Jennifer (www.toadhaven.com)

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