Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bug Butts

A friend of mine used to co-host a radio show about spoken arts.  They joked about the "gods of the airwaves" pulling things together for them which they had not planned for the show.  Every week, things always worked so nicely, seemingly vastly different topics would some how all tie into each other as if it was all so well designed.  Yet, pretty much they were winging it every week.  Alas, I miss this show, but I think about their "gods of the airwaves" when homeschooling life ends up coming together as if I laboriously planned lessons down to the minute detail.

We are "unschoolers" by heart and definitely go with the flow of life as much as possible.  This just works for us so much better than fighting it.  Unschoolers are the willows of the homeschooling world.  Grounded, yet bending, and often a whole lot of fun.  We also have a wide range of interests and ages, for just having three children, and they usually are learning together.  Much of what we do has to be able to incorporate 3-10 year olds.  Luckily, they are pretty interested in helping each other out or learning from each other.  My ten year old might be in a corner reading his own book or writing a story when I sit down with a book to read to my six or three year old.  More often than not, I find my ten year old sucked into the story or it sparking some idea or experiment in his mind.  Why am I telling you all this?  I've decided to blog more about our homeschooling life, when I have time, since a question about vegan homeschooling curriculum came up on a veg parenting list.  I might blog weekly or biweekly about our homeschooling adventures.
We went camping the week of Labor Day (I've been meaning to blog about it, just haven't had the time yet) and Parker found the cute little caterpillar above.  We had checked out some books/movies prior to the camping trip, but hadn't read/watched our way through them all yet.  The next week we cracked a few of the unread books and found information on the creature Parker photographed, a skipper caterpillar.  Sometimes information just falls into our hands effortlessly.  Parker was more interested in the topic after spending some time discovering creatures while camping and I had promised to look up the caterpillar when we arrived home, but forgot.  In the end, it all came together.  And speaking of ends...
Bug Butts by Dawn Cusick
I have to admit, this book caught my eye at the library and I had to pick it up.  My kids, for better or worse, are not into potty humor.  They don't enjoy saying "butt" and "poop", just for fun.  They don't fall to the floor in a fit of laughter at someone passing gas or run from the room when a someone changes a baby's diaper.  Still, they enjoyed this book.  Three thumbs up from the kidlets.  As you can tell form the cover, the illustrations are more on the cute side than overly "gross".  I think even poop or bug adverse parents could stomach reading this book with their kids.  It is full of interesting facts without being bland and I'm guessing anyone who isn't an entomologist will learn something.  Insects are amazing creatures.

I believe there are so many wonderful ways to learn; hands on, information put to music, visual, by teaching others, manipulating tools, reading, etc.  We haven't owned a TV for over ten years, but we have a computer and I don't hesitate to use educational movies in our day.  My eldest will recite facts back to you after watching a documentary, my six year old could learn almost anything if he can sing it, and so far my three year old picks things up best if she thinks it was not intended for her.
Eyewithness DVD Insect
We usually grab a few movies from the "educational" section of our library each week.  Unintentionally, Insect was one of our picks.  It is short and sweet, just the right amount of time for me to wash some dishes before helping with math problems.  The kids were excited to tell me, the African bombardier beetles from Bug Butts also made an appearance in Insect.  Another few thumbs up.  It is not an in depth movie by any means, but it kept all three of them entertained and they learned some things and it sparked some interest in learning more.  I enjoyed hearing Martin Sheen's voice as I did the dishes.

We have quite a few books about insects in our home library and the kids went through this week and pulled out their favorites to read again.  The search for bug books initiated a sweet lecture by Parker to his siblings about why spiders are not insects.  It was so fun to listen in on that one.  Here are some of the books they found and recommend:

A True Book Praying Mantises by Larry Dane Brimner
First Discovery Butterflies by Gallimard Jeunesse and Claude Delafosse
The Life Cycle of a Butterfly by Bobbie Kalman
Butterflies by Emily Neye
It's a Butterfly's Life by Irene Kelly
First Discovery Ladybugs and Other Insects by Gallimard Jeunesse and Sylvaine Peyrols
Are You a Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
The Life and Time of the Ant by Charles Micucci
In Front of the Ant Walking with Beetles and Other Insects by Ryuichi Kuwahara
Brilliant Bees by Linda Glaser

These books don't really teach about insects, but they are very vegan friendly stories about compassion to all creatures and the first is a great story with a strong female character:

Just for fun:
Creepy Crawly Calypso by Tony Langham

A cute book combining math concepts and insects:
A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes

Most of the books above are for younger readers and I also picked up Insectopedia at the library on a whim.  Parker (10) and I are enjoying this book immensely.

This is also a great time of year to get outside and check out bugs in person before the weather gets too cold.  I have the kids take their sketch books outside and find interesting bugs to drawn.  Then they write (or dictate, depending on the child) everything they know about the creature and a few questions they have about it too.  Lots of fun and we all end up learning a thing or two.  Learning about insects is a great way to teach compassion and respect for these often overlooked beings.

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