Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Our First Studies


Today I put together our first official homeschooling lesson plan. It's a unit study, which is something I knew I'd be interested in using to teach Ethan.

I didn't even mean for it to happen, actually. We'd had a difficult morning since Ethan didn't get enough sleep last night, and I was surfing for activities to keep him occupied to make sure the rest of the week went better.

That's when I stumbled upon this: a coloring book about sunflowers. And I got inspired and came up with enough material, all stemming (hehe) from sunflowers, to last us a month or more.

We'll get our feet wet tomorrow, and see how Ethan responds to it. Taken altogether it looks like overload, but we'll be taking it in little bits and pieces. I've tried to keep each portion short/simple/age-appropriate - one thing I'm deathly afraid of is pushing him. If it goes well and he seems to be having fun with it, here's what we'll be learning and doing:

Botany: We'll plant a couple of sunflowers by the fence (I just hope they grow!). He's been so interested lately in how plants grow and eat and drink, I think he'd like this. Plus he just got a little tiny watering can which he's been using to nurture weeds, so I guess it would be nice if I gave him something more worthwhile to take care of.

Geography: We'll look at some of the places they grow sunflowers, including and focusing on our own state of Texas. He already knows the shape of Texas and points it out when he sees it on anything from billboards to t-shirts to coasters.

Alphabet: Found another coloring page with a sunflower and the letter S. I wonder if there's one out there like that for seeds...or OK, so that one's a stretch.

Art: We'll spend a little time at the Van Gogh Museum online seeing his different sunflower paintings.

Bible: He has a book called The Sunflower Parable that has a Bible verse, relevant to the story, on each page.

Science: I haven't fleshed out the five senses yet, but the sense of Taste is an easy one. Sunflower seeds! Yummy! This can also dovetail with the Math portion, since I have a recipe for chocolate-sunflower snacks.

Math: I didn't know until today that the roots of a sunflower can grow up to 9' deep. Ethan's got a measuring tape he adores (never mind that the verdict on everything he measures is "24"), so we can learn how to measure out 9' on the living room carpet and get a sense of how deep those roots really go. Plus it can reinforce his counting skills. We can also use his measuring tape to measure and track the growth of the sunflower(s) in the yard. Supposedly they grow very quickly.

Other miscellaneous activities:
A sunflower paper plate project with tracings of his hands as the petals and real sunflower seeds glued in the center.
A bird feeder made of nothing more than an empty egg carton and some string and filled with sunflower seeds. We'll see if we can actually attract anything.
A sunflower plant marker on a popsicle stick, to mark his sunflowers along the fence, so Dave won't mow or weedeat them.
A project which shall remain nameless because I intend the finished product to be for Dave.

So there you have it. My first self-designed unit study. On sunflowers, of all things. Feel free to swipe it, change it, make suggestions, whatever. I'm proud of it now, but we'll see when I'm an old seasoned pro looking back, how impressive I think it is then.

Wish us luck!


Jamie said...

I'm impressed! I wonder if I could accomplish all that with Ida. She has the attentions span of a flea...well...when it's something mommy wants her to do! Please let me know how it goes. And I'm swiping your idea...thanks!

mommy said...


He's actually having a lot of fun with it, so we'll continue.

We're taking it REALLY slow, something every other day or so. This week I hope to make the bird feeder and plant the flower seeds.

He's been asking me to do projects, so I guess he's responding well.

I bet Ida would do great! Most of the things are perfect for tiny attention spans (Ethan's the same way!), so taken one at a time, it should go really well.

If you do some with her, please let me know how she likes it. :)