Monday, September 29, 2008

Unschooling at Work

Davan tends to do things in spurts. Well, at least in the post 6 year old years or so. Before that, it was different. Unending years of Fisher Price Little People and then years of Barbie....whew, I'm glad those years are behind us. There isn't much wrong with the Little People, except that playing with them for years will put anyone off. Lining them up, freaking out when the line gets knocked over, each Little Person taking a turn on a swing or getting their hair cut or whatever, "Mommy! Talk her!" over and over...they were long, long years. She was not the sort to go off and play on her own, either.

Back to the spurts, though. The first time I really noticed this spurting business was after a trip to OMSI when she was about 6 or 7. The main exhibit at the time was about the science of animation. We both enjoyed the exhibit, doing stop action movies of ourselves on a stage and other things in a smaller format. Davan loved, loved, loved the taking of pictures of her small dog and then watching it move when she played it back.

When we got home, I set her up with the family camera on a tripod aimed at a dresser top and she went to work. For days I hardly saw her. As much as I love the child, that was pretty awesome. She made a 12 minute movie by moving her rabbit family a tiny bit, taking a picture, then repeating. We had some trouble with making a movie out of the pictures with the software we had on hand, but we were eventually successful, although the attempt to add voices didn't go so well.

Here is just one shot out of the thousands of her first and longest movie. You would not believe how many pictures it took to get the rabbits to the front door....

Then, she just gave it up. No more movies were made after a few months. She was done. Just when I was exploring the possibility of buying a mac to publish the movies with. And that seems to be par for the course with the spurts.

Some past interests, obsessions really, for short times, were the moon, stars, princesses (not just Disney, but real ones), China, cats, rats, gymnastics (although this is the most on-going), being an astronaut, drawing and, lately, anything and everything about the different states - geography, state flowers, how states became states, their license plates (she's keeping a list in the car) - everything.

Here she is, reading one of the 5 books about states we picked up at the library today. This one, she says, focuses more on the nature aspects of the states than some of the others.

Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint when the spurt started, but this time, it was an idea that took seed after she came across a map on which the idea was to fill in the state names. She almost just didn't do it, but then she decided to just copy it from the atlas. Then there was nothing for a while. Then I came across a game at Goodwill - The Scrambled States 2 - and picked it up. You may remember me sharing a picture of her with those cards which she'd made a map with. She didn't do that right after we got the game - things must have percolated for a while in that brain of hers. But after that, bam! There has been so much about the states going on with her - research, questions, map work, history, geography.

Eventually, this will pass, like China. It used to be that we'd know for sure what Davan would say when posed the question, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" Without a doubt, it'd be, "To China to see the great wall!" Now, well, now it's much more unpredictable, which is all well and fine. Her interest in China had abated, but the things she was exposed to because of that interest will stick with her.

The same goes for all of her obsessions. And, who knows? Someday one of them may turn into more of a life long interest. Being an astronaut is still a possibility. For now, though, if you feel the need to be schooly about it, you can call them unit studies.

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