Sunday, April 6, 2014


With all this project work going on at the kid level it seemed only fitting that I have a project of my own.  My project actually started way back in New York when I found at the library and fell in love with Rachel Saunders' 'The Blue Chair Jam Cook Book'  It has beautiful photographs and recipes.  But those that interested me most were always marmalade recipes.  As you can imagine New York winters are rather short on local, fresh citrus, so I gave the book back to the library.  From time to time I'd find it at various libraries where we lived and drool over the recipes but then return it.

Fast forward to last week at our newly expanded farmers market, where they had added an entire block of vendors.  I was strolling along feeling rather overwhelmed by all the new choices when there in between rotisserie chickens and goat cheese was Rachel Saunders herself touting a myriad of exotic, jewel colored jams sparking in the morning sun.  I of course told her how much I adored her book and that I'd always wanted to make marmalade.  "Start with the lemon" she told me.  So I did.  I started with lemon.  I requested the book from the library and picked five pounds of lemons from a friends tree.  It took me four days (and four years) to make beautiful, delicious, heavenly lemon marmalade.  But hey some times it just takes four years for everything to fall into place.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Project Based Homeschooling: Day 1

 A few weeks ago a friend thrust a book into my hands and said "Read this!  I don't have time right now."  As it turned out 'this' was "Projet-Based Homeschooling - mentoring self directed learners" by Lori Pickert.  From page one I loved it!  The book is a discussion on fostering creative, sustained, self driven project work in children.  I almost wish she'd left 'homeschooling' out of the title because I'm afraid she'll miss a whole group of potential proponents - those who don't homeschool!  A far as I'm concerned this book is applicable to all children homeschooled or otherwise.  

I haven't actually finished the book yet but I got so excited about it I decided to start right away.  Lori spends a lot of time discussing how the child has to pick a topic and pursue it.  The adult is available to help procure supplies, help obtain research materials and read them for non readers, and to take notes and photos.  But the involved adult is not supposed to direct the project in any way.  Thus getting the children to choose topics they wanted to pursue seemed daunting to me.  I decided to plant a seed at the breakfast table on Tuesday morning to see what would happen.  I told them I was thinking of dedicating some time to individual, self directed projects.  Then I told them it would mean they would choose a project that interested them and decide how to proceed with it.  I told them I would be available for questions and to take notes and photos but that I would not tell them if they were right or wrong or take control in any way.

Funny enough I didn't have to say one word more.  They got so excited about 'project time' that projects were chosen and the breakfast dishes were cleared within about two minutes.  Lillian decided to make a shower and has so far sketched and written plans complete with water pump and tubes for carrying water.  Sidonia went through two or three ideas before she set upon making art for the wall and then making a frame to put it in.  Eoghan for his part spent a good deal of time painting and then pealing and eating oranges.

Now I'm not entirely sure how 'project time' will end up.  But for now I'm planning on making Tuesday project day.  I'll keep you posted on how projects progress.  Right now I'm hopeful this will become a long standing part of our curriculum.

p.s. Lori has a great blog here. Check it out!