AI - Artificial Intelligence - love it, hate it, or not sure? I'm still on the fence! That is a typical writer's response to a perceived threat.
I've been testing it out though, and I think it's a great tool for generating ideas. For example, today I logged into ChatGPT and asked it to "write a 4 week unit study for children aged 5-7 who are learning about the countries around the world, especially developing nations and less common countries, and include food, stories, and art, as well as academic learning."
For me to plan this would take maybe an hour or more, and for someone new to homeschooling, it could take a few hours. In under a minute, ChatGPT gave me this:
Week 1: Africa - A Continent of Rich Cultures
Introduce the concept of continents and explain that we will be starting our journey in Africa, a diverse continent.
Display a world map and locate...
We're finishing a human body unit study that has lasted many months and included lots of STEM activities from both My Creative Box and Kiwico, the 1998 BBC documentary series The Human Body, Magic School Bus episodes, lots of books, puzzles, games, and of course imaginative play as various health professionals who mostly use bandages and a stethoscope! Mum gets a few minutes to lay on the couch as a patient of course!
These activities were complimented by some Twinkl resources such as their My Body Activity Pack for Kids. There are so many printable resources online to teach most themes, and we choose those which appeal to Zeah. Mazes used to be the favourite, but wordsearches are becoming her most frequently requested activity sheets.
Zeah enjoyed some anatomy classes through Outschool where they built body parts such as the inner ear with playdough while learning facts about that body system. Including hands-on activities...
In 2022 Zeah enjoyed some themed learning activities about Space! We got loads of great ideas from a purchased lesson plan booklet from Preschool Unit Lesson Plans. Their thematic units are literature-based, easy to prepare, and fun to implement. This saved me some time searching the internet for activity ideas!
I also found so many activities on Twinkl, as usual, and Zeah chose several to download and print. She had fun with My Creative Box space-themed crafts and activities, especially the box that became a jet pack to zoom around the house!
We gathered, borrowed and purchased a number of games, puzzles, and books, and watched our old favourite Magic School Bus DVDs several times! Zeah joined an Outschool Space-themed escape room class, in which both the teacher and students shared their knowledge of space to solve problems and reach a goal. Escape rooms are Zeah's favourite style of Outschool class!
We intended to...
I'm a little behind with this series of posts sharing unit studies we've done. Early last year Zeah's learning theme was Insects. It followed Australia, which was a very broad theme to study. Insects was a fun unit with an abundance of resources available for a six year old, and despite studying insects with the kids for over two decades, I still learned a lot too!
We collected books from our own shelves and the library, and the most popular were those with close-up photographs of various minibeasts. We also gathered some toys and games - some we already had, and a few new items.
When preparing resources for themed learning, first I gather what we already own, then I search online for ideas. We use the library, borrowed items,...
The last theme I shared was when we had a Dinosaur adventure! We've enjoyed a couple of themes since then, which you may have seen on our Instagram or Facebook, but I haven't collated them into a post here ... until now! Australia is a unit I repeat with my children most years through their childhoods. We usually start with Aussie animals and move all the way through history, geology, geography, literature and politics as they grow. This, of course, is because we live here!
We already had a large number of Australian books including a shelf full of Aboriginal Australian stories I've collected for over two decades. With Zeah my emphasis explored the first nations culture and stories more than I had with my other children because I had just finished studying a fascinating, transformational unit through University of Tasmania called Indigenous Lifeworlds. I now realise that we need to have these stories, this culture, as the basis...
Following on from the post about our Oceans Unit Study earlier this year, I've collated some info about our Dinosaur Unit Study to share with you. Zeah is five, and she loves learning-by-doing, so we've done a lot of hands-on learning, as well as enjoying an epic Dinosaur Trail roadtrip!
Some of our Term 2 & 3 activities have included:
Castle & Kite, KiwiCo* and My Creative Box* activity boxes have come to the rescue again, with Zeah undertaking lots of creative Dinosaur activities with her Nanny on Tuesdays. I like that I can leave these boxes for them and go into the office, and everything they need is on hand. The activities give quick results, provide something to show off when I arrive home, and there's little waste involved because of how these activity boxes are designed.
(*use these affiliate links for a discount for your family, and mine).
We've found lots of Dinosaur books in the library, op shops, our own shelves, and...
This year, Zeah is Prep age. Kids at Prep in our state are 4-6 years old. Or I could just tell you that last month, Zeah turned five! We plan our 'schoolwork' around themes. So as well as doing some basic literacy and numeracy activities, and learning to swim, and lots of play and mess-making, Zeah learns about a different theme each term.
Term 1 was Oceans, and some of the activities included:
Castle & Kite, KiwiCo and My Creative Box activity boxes have all been huge blessings since I started a new job while still studying fulltime. I'm working casually this year (and mostly home-based) in Community Engagement, which is a dream job for me! I'm studying Sustainability online via the University of Tasmania - Sociology, Indigenous Lifeworlds and Engaging with Sustainabilty units this semester - all three are quite content-heavy with plenty of written assessments! I only have another month or so to go until I get a break...
Because we have a little one of school age now, I thought I'll try to share a series of regular blog posts showing some things we're learning about. Perhaps some of the resources and activities we do will help inspire other families.
Zeah is very interested in Time at the moment. She has asked for a watch for her fifth birthday, and is often asking questions relating to the concept of time.
TIP: Place a standard analogue clock in a living/playing area of your home, and refer to it often, eg: "It's nearly 2 o'clock, we need to get ready for swimming now."
This past week, we started doing some activities and we read a book to support her interest. Here are some of the items we've used...
These rainbow timers from Junior Learning measure 1, 2 and 5 minutes and assisted with estimating and comparison of how long different things take at at our place. I got them online for about $10 last year.
This book, Just a Second by Steve Jenkins has beautiful...
Recently, I shared a review of a printable resource to learn about Money from Teachers Pay Teachers (which also has heaps of cool freebies too, if you want to sample what's available). Then I reviewed the Barefoot Investor for Families. To continue with the money theme check out this collection of over 60 resources. From this Australian government site families can learn about budgeting, charity, advertising, enterprise, sustainability, consumerism, investing, savings goals and more.
If you do unit studies, or project-based homeschooling, Consider including practical topics like money in your home learning journey... it's relatively easy to gather resources and children love to learn about real life. Some other subjects we've covered in other 'real life' units include:
Rather than a rigid curriculum, the projects have been a conscious choice to include the...