This Week in Home Education


GeekBaby requested to learn about amphibians. One of the drawbacks of being a biologist is your field is irreparably broad… and I'm more of a deep biologist than a natural philosopher. While I could pick out almost every amphibian from a much larger group of animals, I actually had to look up amphibians so I could describe them accurately. Knowing what they are and being able to explain it coherently at the level of preschool natural philosophy are two very different things.

This experience has brought the significant flaws in my childhood education to the mental front, and I suspect I won't be able to rest until I've blogged about it. Sadly, those same flaws tend to inhibit substantial blogging, so there's rather a line.

But we talked about how amphibians need to live at least part of their lives in water, that their skin tends to be slimy, and looked at some pictures of different species.

This one is definitely the weirdest. It's actually why I qualified my ability to pick the amphibians out of a crowd – I suspect I would have confused it with a type of worm.

From here, the discussion branched two different ways.

Fetal Development

GeekBaby expressed a wish that he could be an amphibian, so he could have a tail and grow out of it, like a frog. So I told him he did have a tail once! But he grew out of it while he was still in my tummy. Then we pulled up the From Conception to Birth TED talk, to watch the amazing video of development in utero.

GeekBaby liked the video very much, but wasn't so impressed with Alexander Tsiaras who gave the talk. We followed this up with some other illustrations of development at 20 weeks, and he observed that Tindómiel had already outgrown her tail.


Amphibians also led us to a discussion of where they lived. This and Wikipedia's picture of the leaf green tree frog took us to Australia. We don't have a globe, so I searched the Internet for a good world map coloring page. Sadly, one doesn't seem to exist, at least not on the Internet. I finally settled for one that was blurry when blown to full page size, and missing Antartica, but at least it was blank and reasonably detailed.

I had hoped to keep him occupied with coloring the world so I could clean, but he elected to just color Australia and save the rest for anther day. *sigh*

Reading & Writing

A few days later, we sat down to play with the whiteboard slate. He is still too inattentive for reading and I refuse to push, lest I turn him off, but he can copy his name very credibly!

My mother also reports he enjoys writing his letters with the Mead debossed learn to write tablets. I'll have to pick some of those up.

Geek Lessons

We pulled out my copy of D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths and started reading it to him. I'm getting a little desperate to populate his imagination with something meatier than, and thought this might work nicely.. especially given his current love affair with The Lord of the Rings.

The result? Well, he likes saying Ginnungagap. He can't quite get it all out on his own, but he repeats it with absolute relish.

More Geography

We talked some about the places Norse myth originated, and pointed them out (roughly) on his map of the world. Now he can find and name Iceland… if he's feeling cooperative.

One of the things I love about these little learning sessions at home is how efficient they are. I don't think we spent more than a couple hours on these topics and I'm certainly not 'organized' for teaching. But he remembers them. (If he's feeling cooperative!) It's just like feeding him. Some things I have coax him to try, and others he gobbles, but it all nourishes.

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2 Responses to This Week in Home Education

  1. Melanie B says:

    Oh I just love all the ways one thing leads to another. I had a similar problem discussion amphibians recently. But they didn’t launch us anywhere. I’m still in total slacker mode and haven’t done any lessons since Christmas except for a couple of chapters in her history book. Which of course doesn’t mean that nothing has been learned. I’d just be hard put to try to pin down what has been done.

    It’s interesting that he likes to use the lined tablets. I bought a bunch and then found Bella much prefers using pretty bits of paper to using the more schooling notebooks. Oh well.

    • GeekLady says:

      It’s funny that I went straight for Wikipedia. I’m okay with using Wikipedia… but only as long as it’s a topic for which I have a good BS detector. That Mexican caecilian rather strained the poor detector though. It’s crazy.

      I think unschooling has a special primacy for the below the age of reason crowd. They can absorb so much information at this stage, that I don’t even think learning to read is crucial, as long as they get read TO plenty.

      He likes these notebooks because they start with pages of debossed upper and lower case alphabets, so he has a guide to follow for forming the letters. I don’t know whether he’ll like the plain ruled pages as well. He doesn’t have a strong preference for the ruled side of his whiteboard over the plain.

      They have debossed cursive notebooks too.

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