I can not begin to tell you how much I appreciate the freedom our lifestyle afford us. As homeschooling gains in popularity and unschooling becomes more mainstream - I feel almost giddy at the possibilities of people taking charge of their education and creating exactly what works for their family and their children. What a privilege and opportunity we have!
For us, a recent immersion into the Little House on the Prairie series has led to long days in costumes replaying scenes from the book. We have listened to wolves howling, sewn, dipped candles, studied maps, talked about the Native Americans, laughed at Nellie and the big crab and cried when Pa lost the wheat field to the grasshoppers.
When we read the series a few years ago, we used the terms "before Laura" and "after Laura" when trying to conceptualize time periods in history.
The great thing about interest led learning is that the facilitator's (parent's) job is to prepare the environment and support the explorations. In another system, the children might expect that I work hard to organize the whole day with activities and projects that I lead them through. In interest led learning, we all work on it together. They decide (with my input and assistance) what they want to do to make the experience complete.
On this particular morning, I woke up to 3 children dressed in their prairie garb ready for a day of pioneer school. We made biscuits from scratch (a rare treat around here) and ate them with the jam we had made last summer (our pioneer selves that is :). We then took a long walk mimicking Laura and Mary's 2.5 mile walk to school. We stopped at our lake (creek) to poke around and catch some minnows. When we returned home, each kid came to my store to buy their slate and slate pencil. Then we played school. They read to me from McGuffy readers, worked on penmanship, and figured arithmetic on their slates.
It was a fun, kid created, parent supported exploration into what it might be like to be a settler. We finished up with reading a few more chapters out loud while snacking on some almonds that Mr. Oleson send over and building with blocks to recreate the house that Pa had built with the high hopes he had for his wheat crops.
The beauty of this type of learning is how it organically flows through our life. Later in the day, the kids were back to pursuing other individual interests: reading Harry Potter, playing the drums, grocery shopping with their dad, building and taking apart inventions, writing stories, building a pond habitat in an aquarium and planning a spa night. The Little House thread will weave in and out of our days until they have learned all they need to from it. And then another thread will become more prominent - but they are all always there, making up a rich and strong fabric of wonder and exploration.
Do your children get absorbed in stories and time periods? I would love to hear how your family does it.