We have started the second semester of Ben’s second grade year. A lot has changed since we “settled” on curriculum. It turns out that I was about to have my head flipped around by Lori Pickert of Camp Creek Blog. She has an amazing book out on Project-Based Homeschooling (which seriously could have been called project based learning and been even more popular) and it made me really look at how we spend our days and what I’m wanting to accomplish and what I want Ben to be able to do.
So, we’ve really flipped around our homeschool. Ben went through the different second grade level materials that I have and selected some that he would like to work with for this term. We agreed at the outset that math and science were required because he needs to learn these things in order to do and build most of the things that he wants to do. So, he selected several things (Story of the World, Telling God’s Story, Writing with Ease, and Artistic Pursuits). And I have built a plan for him that reflects his interests and his goals. That’s the academic part of our day, but he spends an equal amount of time working on his own projects.
Right now, he’s working on his science fair project. His Zoo School science class decided to have a science fair and Ben decided that he wanted to participate. I helped him research potential topics that would be appropriate for his age and he settled on one that looks at the growth rate of crystals under different temperature conditions. We have been working on this in fits and starts for the last couple of months and will conduct the actual experiment tomorrow (we intend to run it twice to make sure his results hold), and then he will start building the project board and getting ready for the actual science fair. I have been pretty hands off with this. My role is to take down what he says regarding the steps he’s taking so that he can copy what I’ve written into his log book and into the other documents. I have also made a couple of technical suggestions (like making sure we had enough ice BEFORE starting the experiment).
I’m trying to make this project his as much as I possibly can. He needs a bit of help to make sure that he stays within the science fair guidelines, but, for the most part, he’s producing this all on his own and I hope he ends up proud of what he’s accomplished. This is a bit off the mark for a project-based learning experience because there are a lot of finite details, but to me it fits, because he is the one who decided to pursue the project and he’s the one who selected the topic. He is also the one who is figuring out how to do each step and how to describe what he’s doing.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to talk more about project-based learning and the other things we’re exploring in another post. It’s good to be back!