Learning on Halloween?

My oldest niece Barrett asked me to post about their Halloween. Seeing that I love the active interest my children and their cousins are taking in this blog, I gladly agreed. Not to mention that Halloween also provided so many opportunities for learning and creativity.

From a very early age each child has chosen their own costume for Halloween. It is great to see the thought that they put into each one, and how it reflects their individual style. This year between my 2 children and their 3 cousins we had William Wallace, a witch, Sailor Minnie, Queen Elizabeth 1, and a Sour Key Candy.

Ronan chose William Wallace after hearing his dad and uncle quote line after line from the movie Braveheart. With Scottish history in the family, and of course a chance to make and wield a sword it was a perfect costume for him. The sword was the part of the costume that he actually was the most interested in and researched the most.Finding out that the famous sword of William Wallace was quite large he was adamant his costume sword was to be as close to scale as possible. He had his own process for this. He found out the size of the sword and the size of William Wallace( William Wallace was said to be 6 foot 6 and his sword 5 foot 4). Knowing this he deducted how high the sword would have reached William Wallace. He then measured his body on a large piece of cardboard and sized the sword length from there. He found a site that showed how to design and build the sword he wanted and he finally finished the day of.

When he researched further he found that the costume from the movie Braveheart was not historically correct with what William Wallace would have actually worn. He still chose the movie version costume instead. This is how he looked when it was all complete. (We of course had to account for cold Northern Alberta weather).

Ronan as William Wallace

Ronan as William Wallace

Who says that the holidays are not a time for learning? That is the masterpiece of engagement and interest. It leads to extensive learning when given the chance to flourish. Learning is not assigned during a certain time of day, or only in a certain room or desk. Learning is not proven by a grade that you receive. Quite the opposite. Learning is active. Learning is hands on. Learning is empowering. Learning is creative, practical, fun and happens anytime, anywhere, even on any holiday.

My niece Barrett (who is in school) chose a costume that was of importance to her. She is fascinated with Queen Elizabeth 1. After reading a biography on her last year she has searched all she can to learn more. When I asked her why she is so interested in this historical figure she told me that she felt she was a good queen that supported her subjects. She felt she was courageous because she herself would ride out to battle to encourage her troops. She lived under a tyrant of a father that murdered the wives he didn’t like (including her mother) and who could not bear him the children he wanted. She felt she was a female historical figure that lead a life that really interested her. My niece is in grade 5. I would say she has a true interest in this subject and it has been allowed to flourish and grow thanks to a very supportive and hands on family.

What other areas do you see your children engaged and creating? How do you encourage this further in your home?

William Wallace, Queen Elizabeth 1, Sour Key, Sailor Minnie, and the Purple Witch

William Wallace, Queen Elizabeth 1, Sour Key, Sailor Minnie, and the Purple Witch

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What Can Children Do If We Let Them?

There is an activity that my kids do everyday. Almost by accident it has become a central part of our homeschooling. It is something that they started asking for my help with and have now moved onto doing with very little involvement from me. They do this in the morning, afternoon or evening. Whenever they feel compelled.

They have shared this ritual with their cousins who now engage in this process with them every time they are all together. (Which is at least 3 times a week). The other Saturday night my two children and their three cousins worked on the activity for 3 hours nonstop. Researching, recording, collaborating, and creating. From the 5 year olds to the oldest at 10 years old, they all play a part in the process.

It’s cooking and baking.

Chocolate cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes

"I like using the scale best when I bake."

“I like using the scale best when I bake.”

It’s such a simple activity that has become a wonderful part of our daily life. My husband and I have always been believers that kids can do a lot of what adults can do. We just have to let them. Both of our children have helped in the kitchen since the age of 2. This has included stirring the food on the stove, helping plan meals, cooking and seasoning food and chopping vegetables. Yes, using a real knife and chopping the food.

By helping with real things in the kitchen, they have learned that they are a real, valuable help, that they are capable individuals, and what they do matters.

We have always baked cookies together, but when we were living in Seoul, Korea I was excited to do more when we bought a small oven for our apartment. We started baking sweet treats the rare afternoon until it became a more regular occurrence.

Soon the kids decided they were going to choose they treats we would bake. After a small amount of time they were independently going online, finding recipes, writing down the ingredients and asking to purchase them so they could make their new recipe.

They did this often enough that they now are confident enough to search, find, start, and complete a recipe on their own, even with some improvisations. They make their own crepes for breakfast, cookies, and cupcakes for dessert, and with the encouragement of their cousins, are looking into making dinners for the family.

Ronan is 8 and Zahra is 5.

Sure there are so many skills that they are using in the process. Math (fractions, measuring, adding, estimating and more), Reading, Writing (with their cousins they have also decided to create their own family recipe book), Science. But there is also the valuable skills of creating and experimentation, research, communication, independence, confidence, and just having fun in what you do.

What else can children do if we let them?

Crepes for breakfast

Crepes for breakfast

Saturday night baking with cousins

Saturday night baking with cousins