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out of the box thinking


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a while ago i saw a thread about out of the box thinking/education in the middle school forums. of course, i can't find it now...:confused:


since it was geared to middle schoolers, i was wondering if anyone had anything to share on the subject at the elementary school level. what does your day look like? what does out of the box thinking/education mean to you? how do you encourage it in your children? what specific things, items, anything do you use with your children to bring different thought processes into their lives??



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24 pages - might take a while to skim :P


But my oldest doesn't seem to be contained in any box. My simple plans didn't work, but it's been a rewarding journey. One of the reasons I am drawn to LCC is the freedom. Do school, focusing only on academics and the very best of materials. Read a lot. Give the kids plenty of freetime.


Right now my challenge is making our home more friendly to learning. We are getting there (cutting back on TV, reading more, using the library more).

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I don't know if this is exactly what you mean by "out of the box" thinking, but this is what I do with my dd7. Whenever we study certain subjects (specifically science, art, music, history, literature), I encourage her to think for herself. I don't want to be a parent/teacher that gives her all the answers. Let me give you some examples from each of these academic fields to show you what I mean.


Science: We recently reinacted Galileo's experiment with falling objects. The original experiment was from the RS4K Physics book. The last experiment was dropping an orange and a feather. Obviously the feather did not fall at the same rate as the orange, so we talked about why (all of the other objects used in the experiment had fallen at the same rate so this was not fitting the pattern). Then I asked her what are some other objects that you think would behave like the feather when they were dropped. She came up with things that were light (like the feather). Well, some of the light things worked, but some didn't (they fell at the same rate as the orange). Finally, I had her try a sheet of paper. It floated to the ground like the feather (which my daughter expected since it was light). Then I had her crumple it up into a ball and asked what she thought would happen. When we dropped it, it fell at the same rate as the orange. So then we got to talk about what changed that made the paper follow the pattern from before.


Art: We don't use a "formal" art curriculum, but we look at children's art books that have famous paintings in them. I let her look at a piece and then ask her questions about it. Our recent one was The Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet. We talked about what time of year she thought it was in the picture (fall), how do you know (oranges, reds, yellows). What colors would you use to show winter, spring, summer? I aked what the dark object in the middle of the painting was (I don't tell her the name of the painting until we are done analyzing it) and traced it with my finger so she could see what I was talking about. She guessed a fence. Then I told her the name of the painting and she could see that it was a bridge then. We talked about why Monet painted the picture "blurry" (in her words; impressionism in mine). Then I let her choose something from outside to paint with impressionist techniques using one of the seasonal color schemes she had described before.


Music: We were studying basic dynamics in music (crescendo, stacatto, piano, legato). I explained what each of them were and then asked her why would musicians use these in their music. She wasn't sure, so we acted them out while singing. Then we talked about what each made her feel like. We talked about how musicians use dynamics to make people feel things during their music. Then we composed our own "song" that would reinact a thunderstorm through music (I let her choose what each dynamic would represent from the storm).


Literature: We are currently studying the Middle Ages. One of the books on the reading list was The Squire and the Scroll. We read the book and talked about allegory. Then I asked her to figure out what different things in the story represented (I did tell her that it as a Christian allegory). She figured those out with practically no help on my part. Then I had her narrate an allegory to me about being afraid (she loves to make up stories). What would represent fear in her story? What would represent help or rescue? etc.


We don't do this every day necessarily, but when something readily presents itself we use it. Usually I look ahead through what we are studying that week and pick a lesson that I feel I can really make her push her thought processes.


Anyway, this is how we do "thinking outside the box." I don't know if this is exactly what you were talking about (if it's not then I'm sorry this was so long :001_smile:), but it works for us!

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I just wrote a ton about what a box is, etc, etc, but decided not to go there.;)


Interest led science would be a biggie for me. I was doing that because I wasn't happy with any science program and science wasn't getting done. 8filltheheart's 'tea time' post really motivated me to continue it. What do *I* remember the most: the things *I* wanted to learn. My kids have thrived with this. I encourage them to dig deeper, I ask leading questions and they are science fanatics.


It makes me want to take the same route with history. The idea of starting at the beginning really makes the most sense to me. But while they are younger I am thinking of letting the time frame lead the way but letting interests dictate what we focus on in that time period.


I want to take this one step further and have many skills taught through science and history. So if we are learning about crocodiles we read non-fiction of course but we also use The House on 88th Street as reading for the week. Copywork, narrations, and writing assignments come from these content subjects where there is already an interest.


I loved the Logic board's discussion. Great idea for a thread!

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I don't necessarily strive to do anything "out of the box" (we were unschoolers for several years and that was far enough out for me:)). However, some of the things that we do that are a bit different:


--We start the day with nature diaries. I have the kids either write or draw something and put the date on. It's amazing how much this is helping ds get over not liking to write anything (not meaning compose, just putting pen to paper). It also is helping me see better where he needs help with spelling. Today he spelled all his words right!


--I have been including a certain kind of hands on work. Ds has found something he is good at and he likes. I think it is spatially related. He likes Get a Grip by Tops, Build it Cards, a game called Subtrax. I'm planning to get him Complete a Sketch. I don't necessarily think this skills are necessary, but I think it is really good to give him things he likes and feels he has a special talent for.


--My other son is very visual. He also likes a certain (but different) kind of hands on work. I make sure to include as much of this as we can. He loves his own timeline book. He was so-so about picture study until he got his own copies of the same works of art and glued them onto cardstock. He LOVES this and begs for more, more, more. He likes notebooking. History with read alouds was meh with him, until I figured out he needs to see it. He cringed when I said we were going to start SOTW again. So I shelved it

and picked up The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History.


--I'm also following his lead in learning how to read. He clearly has his own way of doing this. We do not do phonics. However, he is not learning from whole language either. I think basically it is phonics learned from sounding out words and not using a phonics program.

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I'm not sure if this is "out of the box," but... here goes.


We are new on this journey. My oldest is only starting first grade, while the twins are doing Pre-K. We homeschooled the oldest through Kindergarten last year. Our plan was to take off for December and begin again in January. We finished Kindergarten, did take December off, BUT we just didn't feel "ready" to begin first grade when the new year rolled around.


I thought they all needed another month to play with their Christmas and birthday toys, games, dolls, costumes -- and so I gave it to them.


I knew that I needed another month to restructure our house! So I talked it over with my husband, who shrugged and said, "What's the hurry?" We took January OFF.


It was a surprisingly fruitful month. They played, acted out stories, played, listened to audiobooks and music, played, helped me organize the house, the oldest read for HOURS each day (and commented how much she LOVED this part of January), played, painted pictures, wrote thank you notes, played in the house, and played in the snow. :D


I never thought I'd say this, because there is a part of me which ADORES structure -- charts, boxes, schedules, routines -- but the time we spent out of the box was a blessing to our family. I don't know if we'll take two months off (Dec/Jan) every year, but it sure is tempting. ;)


To me, "out of the box" means reordering my inner world, and perhaps my outer world. In December, we were preoccupied with the logistics of Christmas, finishing up Kindergarten, church obligations, and so on. But in January, a quiet stillness was a gift that allowed me to hear and see which way to go -- and to have the time to restructure our outer world to make that path a possibility for the upcoming school year. HTH.

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Go with the CD-Rom for Complete a Sketch. We started with the books, then bought the CD-Rom and I wish I would have started there. My middler especially has really enjoyed it. Excellent product, we're looking forward to the others.


Here's a link for others




Thanks for the link. I was thinking to buy this used because money is very tight right now. Otoh, I could wait. Why is the CD-Rom so much better?


I think we have some boys with similar interests. I looked to see if you have a blog, but didn't see one in your sig. So, I went to your profile. So I looked at what you are using. Can you tell me what is V/V, DLR, and EPS?



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I guess to me out of the box also means really paying attention to my kids and trying to find what works and what is necessary, rather than just following what I think "should" be or what is written in a teacher's guide.


To that end, ds does not love narration. Sometimes he does it without too much fuss, sometimes not. I DO think there is a reason for it, so we continue. Otoh, maybe there is another way to get there? We have done alternative approaches to narration, though I do think a straightforward telling back is important sometimes too. Also, sometimes I either forget about the alternatives, or just want to get it out of the way quickly.:blink:


The other day, he DID NOT want to do narration (nor much of anything else) so I gave him some options. We can act it out, draw a picture, set up the scene with legos, make a movie.....bingo!!! He jumped all over the movie idea. And of course, in the end, it not only accompishes the same thing, but so much more. It's really pretty funny too. We did Sir Walter Raleigh from Fifty Famous Stories. I was Queen Elizabeth and my other son's stuffed penguin was my lady in waiting. My younger ds was Sir Walter Raleigh.


Same with math--we've been having issues over it here. Ds said it was too easy for him. I said there were still a lot of things in this level that he needs to work on. The compromise is I have gone through the book and I see where he needs to work on something. TT has lots of review and while I think that is good, it was making ds not want to do math. Now, we might skip a couple of lessons or do a lesson, but skip certain sections. This is working great because he is back to being much more willing to do math and trying harder. He is still learning, but we haven't just bagged TT. Nor are we constantly battling about his doing math.


To me, this is out of the box too.

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I haven't read the thread from the middle school forum yet (that's a long one, huh?), but I'll put in a plug for doing Destination Imagination or Odyssey of the Mind. We do Destination Imagination (I coach our Rising Stars level team) and I feel like it's great for encouraging kids to do that sort of out of the box thinking. I'm constantly singing the praises of this program. It encourages kids to interact and work together in a way that is excellent preparation for life since teamwork to solve problems is an essential part of the challenges. It encourages kids to think creatively yet stay within the boundaries of the challenge. And the "instant challenges" encourage kids to think fast on their feet. We really love it.

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As was discussed in the logic stage thread, 'out of the box' may look different for every family. For our family, 'out of the box' is not using curriculum for many subjects. I think the only subjects I use curriculum for is reading (my kids have dyslexia,) math and science. My children do not do well with a formal program, so I use curriculum as a guide as to know what to teach them and then I use other resources to get to the desired goal. We use games, hands-on resources, online resources, etc. to accomplish this.

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