Today I wrote my first “Observing for Learning” report for the new learning year. Among the various subjects I spoke about was the artwork and story writing that Daughter did over the summer. I always laugh to myself when I write about these endeavours of hers, as I recall a family member asking us – upon hearing about our plans to unschool – how our kids would ever learn handwriting if they directed their own learning (stating that no child would want to sit down and do handwriting sheets over and over). This has certainly not been a problem as you will see. Here are just some examples of Daughter’s creative writing…
First, she loves to create books, “publishing” them under the name of her own company, Orca Books (on this year’s Learning Plan she listed the desire to create a website for her company so she can make her books available online). We have several books lying around the house with the Orca Books name and logo on them. One of my favorites is called “The Planet” and the title page was decorated with various animals and plants (I can’t figure out how to blank out her surname, so in the interest of privacy I won’t post the image here). Pages included “Under the Ground” which showed various animals and insects that live underground, “Blood”, “Air”, and “Cells”. Here is the page on Blood (the title got cut off by my scanner):
The page starts at the cellular level with three kinds of blood cells: red blood cell, macrophage, and platelet. The drop of blood shows what these cells look like as blood. At the organ level is the heart (the sound waves to the right indicate the heartbeat) and then she shows the networks of arteries and veins in the body.
Another page showed the various kinds of cells in the body: the three blood cell types are shown here again, as well as bone cells (ordered in their structure) and also a virus invading a host cell and injecting DNA.
She was not yet 8 years old when she made this and did it all of her own accord; I didn’t know about it until she showed me the finished product, and I must say I was pretty impressed that such a young child has such a solid grasp of this subject. Just goes to show you how far a child can go when they are passionate about a subject and have the freedom to pursue it.
Besides making non-fiction books, she also engaged in story writing. Here is one example where she experimented with dividing her story into chapters. You can see that she hasn’t remembered to put spaces in between her words, and her spelling is sometimes hard to decipher. I think it goes without saying that I didn’t point any of this out when she proudly showed me her story – what a horrible way to burst someone’s bubble. I have, however, mentioned it in passing on other occasions. Sometimes she remembers and sometimes she doesn’t. I love that she is so immersed in her creative process that she’s not really thinking about this yet. It will come, however, of that I have no doubt. Her spelling has improved immensely over the years, as has her penmanship and grammar. All just from experience with reading and writing. Meantime, I just love that she loves to write!
Here is a transcription of the story:
The Blue Whale Bay.
Chapter 1: Meeting Orca
Once in a small city there was an Orca. The Orca heard a bang on the door. “Bang Bang Bang!”. An eel came out and grabbed him and tossed him in the kelp.
Chapter 2: Help
The Orca heard “Help!”. A small voice said “Help!”. Orca said “Are you lost? Hurt?”. “Both” said the ??? [sic].
Chapter 3: Lost Hurt ???
“Where are you?” said Orca. “Blue Whale Bay” said ???.
Chapter 4: Blue Whale Bay
Orca swam and got to it. Stuck in the baleen of a blue whale was a sea horse. Orca pushed him out.
Finally, I wanted to share some creative artwork. Daughter loves to listen to audio books at night while lying in bed. We get them from the library and so have a varied selection over a period of a week or two before we return them for more. One week a favorite story (for both kids – they share a room) was Electrotaur and Smashermite. After listening to this story there was a flurry of creative activity inventing variations on the “-taur” and “-mite” series of monsters. Some were “serious” monsters while others were more whimsical. Here are a couple of examples:
In our home, art is not treated as being any more or less serious or important than any other topic of interest. We also use learning funds to purchase proper art supplies, so that the children feel that their work is valued (rather than hearing that they aren’t “good enough” for the “real thing”). Still, as you can see, her favorite paper is still simple lined sheets or blank printer pages. The bright colours, however, come from a lovely set of coloured pencils unlike anything I’ve found in the school supplies section.
It’s pretty interesting having a child that is passionate about both art and science. I myself am Science all the way – pretty challenged in the artistic department. On the other hand, her father’s family leans towards artistic talent and Husband can draw and sketch very well (though it is not a hobby for him). These days Daughter will tell you that when she grows up she is going to be both a marine biologist and a scientific illustrator ! 🙂