How it typically goes – an example using a science lesson

After seeing that there is discussion on the 4RealLearning forum on whether or not Charlotte Mason thought of toddlers spicing up the mix while trying to teach, I thought I’d lay out today’s science lesson to show what often happens here with the whole gang.

We began the Life Science chapter on animals today from Behold and See 3. My goal is to cover pp. 104 -108. All the kids and I start seated around the kitchen table (baby is currently sleeping). They all came willingly because I told them they could have an ice cream sandwich as a special snack today. Eating commenced along with some informal discussion on Genesis 1:20,24, all the differents kinds of animals (using pets and the zoo as fodder), and how scientists group animals, or classify them, to help them study and learn about many animals at once. We look at the colorfully painted opening page of the chapter that shows many different animals with the Genesis verse printed in the center. My 5 and 3 year olds are so excited to shout out different things about animals (and some completely UNrelated things as well, I might add!) that it causes the two year old to begin babbling loudly so as just to sound like he’s contributing too. I calmly remind them I can only talk or listen to one person at a time, and that they should only talk about animals right now. Once I realize the younger boys are just going to go on and on about their favorite animals, I tell them that’s enough and I would like to move on to sharing the list of words we’re going to be learning about. They sit quietly through this and a few more comments by me until I ask what kind of babies cats have. With a lurch, the talking train is off and running again with the contest being who can tell me the most animals and their babies’ names. My three year old can’t get a word in edgewise, which makes him cry. I shush everyone and let him tell me about a couple animals. I also ask my two year old to please get off the table. He does, and my five year old takes advantage of the lull in conversation to state he’s hungry and can he have another snack? I say no and don’t bring it up again while we’re doing science. I then summarized the points they were to take away from this discussion on baby animals and moved on to asking them to tell me what animals eat. Once again, there was no problem generating plenty of ideas! I then asked my two oldest, 10 and 8, to select six animals from the list provided. I announced to the younger boys that their sisters were going to do some research (reviewed what research is) and we would come back together when they were done. The girls headed to the encyclopedias, the boys ran to play Lincoln Logs and I got up the crying baby. I managed to tape up two large pieces of paper to the pantry door with one hand while holding the baby in the other. Then I got water for the boys and cleaned up the table from the ice cream. After about 15 minutes, the girls said they were ready, so I called the boys, set the baby in his seat with an apple piece to chew on (it was in a handy little mesh holder so he can’t choke) and began to go over what the girls found out by charting it on the paper I’d taped up. My oldest made many trips off her chair to return the apple in its holder to the baby, but I know she has the ability to do that and still pay attention 🙂 . Once the girls finished presenting their information (10 minutes or so), I could tell the boys were losing interest. I told them to go play because I needed to work with just the girls for a few minutes. By now, I needed to hold the baby as the apple wasn’t good enough anymore. I had the girls get out their sketchbooks and enter in the three terms we learned from the list at the beginning of the chapter and their Latin roots. I called back the boys and asked them if they wanted to paint (of course they did!). We looked at many of the pictures in the chapter and determined they were watercolor and ink. I sent the girls downstairs to fetch the painting supplies while I got newspaper and paper out for the boys. I asked them to try to paint some animals like the ones they saw in our chapter. I asked the girls to label the animal and classify it when they were done, using the encyclopedia for help. I nursed the baby for most of the painting session, then I painted as well (which the kids always like). The boys drifted off one by one as they were done, with my oldest and I being the last at the table. My 8 year old then asked if she could go outside since she was done, and I said yes since I was done with what I wanted to go over with them for now. The two oldest helped me get the boys dressed, and once they were out the door, I turned to face the painting mess on the table (only from the boys – the girls know to clean up after themselves). By this time, though, the baby had had enough and wanted to finish nursing. Needless to say, he cried a bit while I quickly cleaned up. This is a pretty typical scenario for us, although I will say I’ve experienced worse way too frequently! Of course there are times that are very nice when I work a lesson with just my older girls because the boys are very caught up in what they’re playing too.

Below are our pictures from today:

Both the girls drew their animals from memory (I did not 🙂 ) It’s far from the best work the Sweettooth can do (the wolf), but I could tell her heart wasn’t totally into it today. (We’re working on this issue!)




The giraffe is on the left below the sun in case you couldn’t tell 🙂 Bustruction worker and No fear are below. Bustruction worker claimed he couldn’t draw an animal, and No Fear doesn’t care – just does his own thing!



Last, but not least, my humble painting.



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Filed under Children, Homeschooling

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