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do you do social studies/science with 2nd graders?


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Yes, through the elementary grades, we did History/Geography and Science every year informally -- lots of read-alouds and children's nonfiction, educational videos, and hands-on. We never purchased a program or textbook for either History/Geography or Science until 9th grade. Sometimes it would be every day for both, and sometimes we'd set one or both of those subjects aside for a few days or a few weeks while we were focusing on something else.

Instead of a formal program, each summer, I took some time to come up with a list of topics to consider touching on for the History or Science area we were going to focus on in the coming year, and researched library books, videos, kits, etc. that would fit with each sub topic, and then use that "master list" loosely during the school year -- mostly as an idea of what to cover next as we moved through the school year, sometimes dropping books/resources or even whole topics, and other times adding to go into more depth if it was a high-interest topic. And sometimes we'd bunny trail entirely for weeks or months on a completely unrelated topic that suddenly became of high interest.

DSs LOVED Science, and they seemed to enjoy History/Geography (when kept informal), so there was no reason to NOT include those subjects as part of our day. I did have one with LDs that required extra time for remedial work/special intensive 1-on-1 time, and we still had plenty of time in the elementary grades to do both skill and content subjects. Just our experience. 😄 

Edited by Lori D.
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We watched Magic School Bus videos, did a few of the kits that go along with those topics, and did some nature studies. Listened to Story of the World and read some of the picture books and short chapter books that I have that go along with those time periods. We looked at the globe to figure out where it was happening and put some stuff up on the timeline. Did some narration about all that. But no output, just input.

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I do.  There's ample evidence to suggest that background knowledge is itself foundational for higher reading.  It is just as important to me as what others call the skill subjects.  I don't think you necessarily need to be formal about it, but I believe passionately that you should be purposeful about it.

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Yes...though it tends to be a "group" and "for fun" sort of thing.  Science and History/Social Studies are the things I enjoy the most and so although we don't use a specific curriculum they are the easiest subjects for me to plan, work thorugh, get excited about, etc.

Basically, we tend to be a bit unschooly about that sort of stuff.  The other day DD11 spotted a bird outside that she thought was interesting.  So we all looked it up and learned some things about the American Goldfinch.  

We did the Aviation Trail, which is a local thing regarding national history (Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, etc) and the kids got a "Wilbear" from the NPS, plus they got Junior Ranger badges and more.  They liked it, it was fun, and they learned *things* even if those things were not specifically what the public school system says they should.

 

(of course, my opinion of the PS system in regards to the science and social studies type of content isn't very high.)  

 

I will also say, I am working on having all the kids memorize the states....which is everyone from my 6th grader to my 2nd grader.  

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Ok, this sort of goes along with what I'm thinking of going back to. 

We already have "documentary time" before bed every night, where we watch something educational, although sometimes that is less national geographic and more top chef, lol. They watch PBS kids, and honestly I'm not sure there is much you need to know that can't be learned from Fetch with Ruff Ruffman or Magic Schoolbus, lol. 

I'm thinking just doing more living books type read alouds, and picture books included, and some videos, etc. Maybe notebooking pages, which he can do digitally, sometimes. And we are a very sciency house, we include them when talking about important topics and current events to some extent, etc. But I guess looking for permission to not do the formal output in those areas. 

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Yes. Age appropriate but consistently. The ages and spacing of my dc made it pretty easy. We did history, world and American, rather than Social Studies, and we could do parts of that all together. Science starts at K and just keeps on going in small bits. Like pp I've come to really value the knowledge library they build up.

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It's optional at my house but all of mine have ended up doing *something* for those subjects, whether that is just participating in science experiments/demonstrations, or listening in to history when I read aloud, or whatever. I do not require any kind of output, unless we get to narration time and I ask, "Hey, what did we read about in that science/history book today?" Or maybe I'll find a sentence out of a science book for copywork. But that's not really part of science or history time, that's writing time (if a distinction can even be made).

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7 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

But I guess looking for permission to not do the formal output in those areas. 

Our formal output into middle school was not particularly formal at all. I guess it depends on what you have in mind. I was sitting for enough working with the concept and the vocabulary to cement -no- plaster -no- tape it in their mind

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13 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

...I'm thinking just doing more living books type read alouds, and picture books included, and some videos, etc. Maybe notebooking pages, which he can do digitally, sometimes. And we are a very sciency house, we include them when talking about important topics and current events to some extent, etc. But I guess looking for permission to not do the formal output in those areas. 

🧚‍♀️ ::Ting!:: homeschool fairy's magic wand has tapped you, giving you permission to do as much/as little in Science and Social Studies as is a good fit for your family! 😄 

(And -- NO formal output! Not even note booking pages! Not needed! It's okay to keep interest alive by cutting out traditional classroom "busy work" types of things!!) 😂

Edited by Lori D.
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Absolutely fine. My kids start writing simple paragraphs or booklets alternating between science and  history every few weeks starting in 3rd or 4th grade. Other than that, we discuss things. That is my approach until they start taking notes in 7th or 8th grade. No worksheets. No tests. No vocabulary sheets. They have all been more than prepared for any upper level science, history, lit they have ever taken. Elementary is about exposure, not mastery.

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29 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

🧚‍♀️ ::Ting!:: homeschool fairy's magic wand has tapped you, giving you permission to do as much/as little in Science and Social Studies as is a good fit for your family! 😄 

(And -- NO formal output! Not even note booking pages! Not needed! It's okay to keep interest alive by cutting out traditional classroom "busy work" types of things!!) 😂

yes! I'm finding myself doing those things not to learn, but to document learning. And really, I don't NEED to do that, other than to bolster my OWN confidence. It's for me, not them, I'm realizing. 

28 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Absolutely fine. My kids start writing simple paragraphs or booklets alternating between science and  history every few weeks starting in 3rd or 4th grade. Other than that, we discuss things. That is my approach until they start taking notes in 7th or 8th grade. No worksheets. No tests. No vocabulary sheets. They have all been more than prepared for any upper level science, history, lit they have ever taken. Elementary is about exposure, not mastery.

Yup, I'm thinking of maybe having the 5th grader do some kind of "show me what you learned this week" thing weekly....can be a poster, notebooking page, written narration, slide show, etc. But on topic of her choice from science, social studies, or something else she learned on her own? 

I mean, it looks so NICE to have the mapwork they did, but is it anymore helpful to learning than us just looking somewhere up on the globe or wall map? Probably not. 

And I right now have the 5th grader assigned to do 20 minutes free reading of her choice a day, and 10 minutes a day of something non fiction. So this week she read Calvin and Hobbes and a book about important symbols in american culture. No pushback on that. Younger one regularly reads non fiction books at his reading level. We already watch documentaries, etc. I'm thinking me adding in a read aloud from books like, "If you lived when" or whatever, biographies, etc?

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Here is a way to keep things in perspective.  K2 is about learning relationships between letters and how to read, forming letters and numbers correctly, simple relationships amg numbers.  The avg child cannot read for information at these ages bc they are too focused on decoding to read.  That is 100% normal childhood development.  Grades 3-5 are about learning how to read to learn.  That means children are learning to read for information, process the information, and learn from that experience. Children of those ages are not "masters" of subject matter.  They are in the process of becoming acquainted with concepts/ideas that more than likely they will forget, but one day later on when they encounter the information again, there will be a niggling in the back of their mind that thinks....I think remember something about that.  Middle school is actually a great time for solid introductions that hopefully will start sticking around long-term.  But, even so, all science starts at the introductory level.  A student who has never studied chemistry before high school chemistry can absolutely be as successful in chemistry as students who have spent lots of time with in when they were younger b/c the course will start at the very beginning and teach all of the necessary skills.  The mind's ability to process complex concepts when they are teens is far removed from the decode-to-read younger child or even the learning to learn older elementary age kids.

FWIW, I absolutely do not believe there is anything a 2nd grader is exposed to in terms of science or history that is foundational.  This is the time for sparking interests or appreciation for the world around them.  Keep in mind that historically and even in some countries today that school-age is considered 7.   (For curiosity's sake, I googled this: https://expatchild.com/school-starting-ages-around-world/ )  If countries are not starting formal schooling until 7, it is doubtful that spending time via life/family exposure vs. formal science and history in 2nd grade is somehow academically detrimental. 🙂  All is good.

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I do. I'd get serious pushback from dd6 if we didn't. But at this age, history is "let's sit on the couch and read fun books" and science is "let's perform some messy experiments and ask questions." She thinks that's way more fun and easier than learning hard skills like reading and subtraction. It makes it so that even if we have a rough day in those hard areas, we have some better subjects to look forward to.

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2 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

yes! I'm finding myself doing those things not to learn, but to document learning. And really, I don't NEED to do that, other than to bolster my OWN confidence. It's for me, not them, I'm realizing...

That's what i-phone photos are for... 😉 

And you can take a few shots of their favorite projects from the year, print them out, and make a fun "yearbook" of memories for the year. (Which doubles as documentation for you 😉 )

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From K-2 we kept it very basic, simple USA and world geography, continents and different biomes, basic animal classification, water cycle, different planets, that sort of thing. Just by reading fun books and experiments.

I decided to start SOTW and a proper science curriculum in 3rd grade.

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No output, but lots of consistent, deliberate, high-level, high-quality input.

I believe strongly in the importance of background content knowledge, so I am very intentional in building vocabulary and conceptual knowledge in content subjects.  History and science (and foreign language and literature) are all a mixture of free reading (~90 minutes a day in 2nd grade), listening to read alouds (~2 hours a day), discussions both about our reading and integrated in daily experiences, and free play (with science equipment, pyramid building blocks, Geopuzzles, etc). 

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8 minutes ago, whitehawk said:

I would've had mutiny on my hands if we didn't!

Yup, with dd she CRAVED to history and hands on. She could read, so it was easy to throw things at her. With ds, who reads almost zero by choice, it' much harder. I use videos, read alouds, and AUDIOBOOKS.  For science, again audiobooks and kits. We're doing really well with Lakeshore Learning kits, highly recoomend. Did you ever get signed up for BARD/NLS? That's how I find audiobooks. I just put in the term (weather, raccoons, whatever) and "grades" and up pops all the kid books on that subject. So easy and FREE. Covers my butt, makes his life good.

When you have kids with disabilities, you have to do something other than their disabilites or it really whacks them. You're doing that R/B math art, so that works. You definitely need that. They still need joy subjects and they still need CHALLENGE. With dyslexia, a lot of their schooling is getting affected by the disability. You want to give them time every day where it's NOT.

Edited by PeterPan
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16 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

I'm thinking just doing more living books type read alouds, and picture books included, and some videos, etc. Maybe notebooking pages, which he can do digitally, sometimes. And we are a very sciency house, we include them when talking about important topics and current events to some extent, etc. But I guess looking for permission to not do the formal output in those areas. 

Yes!!! So BARD/NLS and no output. Or do a kit occasionally and take pics.

I think your output question will come together later as the skills come together. If you want one output a semester, fine. (something techy) But it's ok to disconnect the disabilites and just them them problem solve, create, and enjoy.

Edited by PeterPan
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What you have in mind sounds great. We primarily did read alouds, crafts, and kits. We also added in Daily Science because he likes them and its handwriting/worksheet practice and I used BFSU as a guide. In those subjects I also introduced some independent output skills in second grade like creative notebooking, recording labs, simple paragraphs...just occasionally so he could transition to more output in third/fourth. It seems to be going well so far.

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The need for output was the biggest adjustment that I made over elementary school.  We used the Core Knowledge sequence to pick topics, but only loosely - we might do the American Revolution or the life cycle of a plant during the specified year, but we did it with whatever resources made sense - books, Liberty's Kids video, field trip, hands-on activities, documentaries, maps - it varied between the kids.  I'm a huge believer in content helping kids know enough to think about things and museums and even documentaries are more fun when the kids have some context for what they're seeing.  In the beginning I felt like we needed to produce something, but eventually decided to only do output if it actually helped - a trifold page to separate things into 3 categories, or a sentence or paragraph about a topic because we needed to learn to write.  One of mine liked doing hands-on stuff - I remember kid sculpting something to represent the Great Wall, while the other kids was more about effeciency so would happily read or watch but didn't want hands-on.  Neither kid liked the Sonlight-style 'fiction books about history' - one didn't want to read those books, and the other hated historical fiction because kid couldn't figure out what was real and what wasn't.  I write any documentaries or books read in our school calendar during the school year so that I have a record that we did science or history that day, but that may be all of the output that there is.  In middle school, I make history our primary topic for learning to write essays so I do have periodic long and short papers but noting approaching the stacks of worksheets that I filled in when I was in school.  

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I've been in this country for 3 decades and i still don't get the subject of "social studies", so I could never intelligently teach it to kids. I do, however, understand history fairly well and my husband started talking to them about three branches of govt before they could talk, so I *think* we did  SS.

Science - well, DS10 can probably teach a college level course on zoology at this point. My oldest was all about astronomy at that age and actually contacted a university in CA to find out what he needs to go to college there. He is no longer interested in astronomy...

There has always been some kind of science done, and unfortunately, I spent a LOT of money on science curriculum, which wasn't really necessary

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2 hours ago, SereneHome said:

I've been in this country for 3 decades and i still don't get the subject of "social studies", so I could never intelligently teach it to kids. I do, however, understand history fairly well and my husband started talking to them about three branches of govt before they could talk, so I *think* we did  SS.

Social Studies = Social Science.

It is the study of humans and human social interactions that are not part of the Natural Sciences. Sometimes people call Social Sciences the "soft" sciences -- it's a broad and untidy set of topics, lol, so whatever you covered, I'm sure it was great. 😉 

(At a college level, Social Sciences covers things like Anthropology, Archeology, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Government, Economics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, S*xuality Studies, Indigenous Peoples Studies, etc. -- in addition to History and Geography. So even in college, it's vast and untidy, lol.)

At an early elementary age (pre-K through grade 1), a lot of people lump some miscellaneous topics into "social studies" such as:
- basic health & safety
- neighborhood/community (bakery, fire station, post office, airport, etc.)
- kinds of jobs people go to work at
- the farm
- seasons, holidays, traditions

During the elementary years, Social Studies tends to be more about:
- History
- Geography -- maps & mapping; physical geography = landmarks, countries, capitals
- World Cultures  -- peoples, customs, religions, housing/food/clothing
- National Civics -- basics of governmental structure, presidents, elections, national symbols & holidays
- State -- History/Facts/Geography/Peoples/Landmarks/etc.
- People Groups -- Native Peoples; Explorers & Settlers; famous/special people in History

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See, I don't always separate things out like that. Because homeschooling, and everything is learning.

We were suckers for living history days of any kind. Social studies, sometimes science (although I don't even use the phrase "social studies," so there's that).

I put up two maps on the dining room wall, and American map and a world map. Just put them up. Sometimes someone would comment, sometimes they came in useful when we were learning something, but geography.

I had always wanted to make on of those crystal gardens with the bluing and stuff, so one time we did. Science. I don't even know how old the dc were.

I can't imagine science and history and geography not happening, no matter how old the children are. When they're older, say, 12ish, then science and history becomes more organized, but it was happening all along.

 

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I didn't really demand any output for science or social studies.  Every once in awhile I would have them narrate a section from SOTW.  I sometimes used the comprehension questions in SOTW activity guide.  But I was a huge believer in building as much background knowledge as I could.  I did a US history from picture books in K/1 along with a "countries around the world," theme.  I also checked out library books on things like holidays.  I started the SOTW cycle when oldest was 2nd grade.  We did that but also used a LOT of books to go along with it from the library.  I did "Daily Geography" which was a couple of geography questions/ worked on map skills each day as independent work.  We had giant US and world maps above my bed and located every place we read about in any of our reading.  My kids played on Sheppard Software.  I had some great geography books strewn around the house, and I read some really good ones aloud.  We did puzzle maps. 

For science, I started out trying to do curricula, but I decided we did a better job just reading a LOT of books from the library on a variety of science topics and watching a lot of documentaries.  We did some hands on explorations from BFSU.  But mostly we read and watched tv.  Tons and tons of input on science and social studies but almost no output demands in general.  

ETA:  I read to them a LOT - like 2 or 3 hours a day, and probably half of that was nonfiction.  

Edited by Terabith
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On 8/5/2020 at 3:46 PM, Syllieann said:

I do.  There's ample evidence to suggest that background knowledge is itself foundational for higher reading.  It is just as important to me as what others call the skill subjects.  I don't think you necessarily need to be formal about it, but I believe passionately that you should be purposeful about it.

Yes, this exactly. 

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Yes we did SS and Sci in 2nd grade but we just did it through living and loads of books. It was very intentional, but not very academic, if that makes sense.

My kids were fluent readers by 2nd grade, so I offered a steady diet of high-quality nonfiction. Once they can read fluently, my kids consumed a lot of nonfiction in elementary school (and in middle school). Whether through reading, watching documentaries, studying atlases, local outings or field trips or studying and discussing graphs, charts, illustrations, photographs or any other kind of graphics. We consumed nonfiction in the domains of science and the strands of social science, but I didn't have the time or skill to do like a formal program.

I took the time to explain things as best as I could and I always encouraged them to ask questions of people and taught them to pay attention to the answers. We consumed a lot of non-fiction through media consumption and conversation with people.

We read the Community Section of the news paper often.
We attended a couple of town hall meetings so that they could see that things don't just happen--adults get together and plan and make decisions. (I imagine these are being live-streamed or zoom calls or something in a lot of places right now.)

I pointed out the banks names on the real estate signs of new development or houses for sale or foreclosure, etc.
We went to farmers markets and Flea Markets every so often.
I encouraged them to speak with vendors and farmers at those places.

We went to events on college campuses.

I took them into the bank or clinic and other errand-type places with me, and I showed them the forms that I was filling out (often I got an additional copy for them.) and made them read over the form to understand what information was on. I taught them about Social Security, social security numbers and had them memorize their social security number. Talk radio was always playing on the radio in the car and at home.

We rode the bus a lot and studied the bus routes and bus maps. I tried a couple of random workbooks and what not but it wasn't a fruitful use of my time. We did do maps with a workbook, but we did it at a faster pace so that they could get the skills and terminology, without the fluff. There wasn't any good reason to stretch it out over 36 weeks, so we did some workbook in like 36 days. I bought a copy of the city map at gas stations for them and we put them on the wall. We used markers on the city map to highlight common routes we took. We used thumb tacks to stick artifacts of local places we'd been (receipts, business cards, brochures, etc.) We sketched our common routes through the city a lot. We played "Navigator" a lot.

When I wasn't too busy, we'd get off the bus in an unusual part of town and walk all over. Some times we made it back home on foot, other times we'd catch another bus eventually.

We did read a lot of history. We used the library for everything and they read and reread Nonfiction series like if there was a 3-volume set of books on US Civil War, or something at the library, I always tried to make sure that they read the entire series. (Again, they were fluent readers. I didn't have the time or availability to read to them as much as I wanted them reading.) But they read entire books on topics and they have read a significant portion of the books in the Jr. Nonfiction section of our local library.

We had a set of K-5 science textbooks that I liked, but they were eBooks and the format just didn't work for us long term, but I did try and get them to read through the set of books. I don't remember if we finished them all or not. We checked out books in various "strands" of nonfiction and I just kept rotating through those strands.

This was pre-pandemic. We used the library liberally and constantly. We took public transportation. We attended group events. We went to open air markets when I had time. We attended events at nearby colleges.

 

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Thanks for mentioning the practical stuff, Gil.  We do some of that, too, but since I think of us studying history more than social studies, I had just thought of it as 'teaching them to be functional adults' rather than school.  🙂  We take the kids when we vote, and even when they were young we had them help plot routes on maps of zoos, tourist town visits, or the time we went to Disney.  I'm teaching them too look for signs with instructions, and then who to ask if they don't see them, having worked with the public enough to know that lack of both is a problem.  With their sports, my life involves a lot of driving in unfamiliar places (and, in the winter, it's often in the dark) so I get them to help navigate.  I've always found it hard to learn my way around as a car passenger, but my 9th grader is getting good at figuring out ways to get home from places.  

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Speaking of output, has anyone else noticed how much people want even the youngest students to do the traditional "lab report" with hypothesis, observation, etc? And how that's such a joy suck? Like, you can't enjoy the thrill and fun of a science demonstration without killing it thoroughly with a worksheet. Or like when those poor PS kids at the children's museum are given the scavenger hunt so they can't just have fun, they need to be occupied filling out a worksheet or else how do we know they've learned? 

People might think the kids won't learn to "do" science without learning the scientific method formally... Which makes me think no one will ever learn how to be a doctor unless they start at 7 years old practicing how to get reimbursed from Medicaid and how to get the best rates on malpractice insurance. Lol. 🤣

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1 hour ago, Emily ZL said:

Speaking of output, has anyone else noticed how much people want even the youngest students to do the traditional "lab report" with hypothesis, observation, etc? And how that's such a joy suck? Like, you can't enjoy the thrill and fun of a science demonstration without killing it thoroughly with a worksheet. Or like when those poor PS kids at the children's museum are given the scavenger hunt so they can't just have fun, they need to be occupied filling out a worksheet or else how do we know they've learned? 

People might think the kids won't learn to "do" science without learning the scientific method formally... Which makes me think no one will ever learn how to be a doctor unless they start at 7 years old practicing how to get reimbursed from Medicaid and how to get the best rates on malpractice insurance. Lol. 🤣

Yes, I've noticed it.  My kids don't do lab write-ups until high school.  Based on some conversations--no mom-directed formal science in 2nd grade, no formal science textbook until high school science, no labs before high school--you would assume my kids could never be successful science majors.  🤣 (Guess they never got the message)

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7 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

When people say they do "no output" do they mean no written output, or no output at all?

I haven't homeschooled second grade, although this year we have cousins in first and third joining us, but I was hoping that we'd be doing things like drawing pictures, or building lego replicas of what we're studying or, cooking recipes from a time period, or learning a song and singing it for Grandpa.   I'd consider all those things output though.  Are people using the term differently, or do you feel like those aren't good things to include?

For 2nd grade, pretty much no school "required" output at all depending on what you are talking about.  My 2nd graders write for math and simple copywork (which is used to cover letter formation, simple mechanics, and grammar).  They draw, build legos, cook, sing, etc simply bc that is just life.  I don't attempt to connect those to anything we are doing in 2nd grade, but I do do those things sometimes with my older kids.  

3rd grade is when I start requiring output.  It is also the 1st time I schedule science and history into their school days.  Before that, I am with Gil that those things are easily talked about experienced through our regular family life.

Honestly, I feel like our academics have been the most successful when I see them incorporating things they are learning into their play (as in no suggestions, requirements, recommendations, but you overhear them playing, and they are playing scenes from history or are pretending to do things from science.) For me, that is success!!! for the elementary down crowd.

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14 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

When people say they do "no output" do they mean no written output, or no output at all?

I haven't homeschooled second grade, although this year we have cousins in first and third joining us, but I was hoping that we'd be doing things like drawing pictures, or building lego replicas of what we're studying or, cooking recipes from a time period, or learning a song and singing it for Grandpa.   I'd consider all those things output though.  Are people using the term differently, or do you feel like those aren't good things to include?

Back in the day I spent a greater proportion of science time doing things like that.  And every time we made a model of a plant cell out of jello and candy (or whatever the mom-driven project of the week was) it was a huge, messy, stressful, pointless flop.  I could force my kids to go through the motions of a project, but I certainly could not force them to care or learn anything from it.  Instead, I bought supplies, dragged them out, made messes, and cleaned up messes...all while the kids whined and wandered away and used the supplies for really messy sensory play.  And even if I did drag them through the process, they never got anything out of busywork projects.  Going into the jello project the kids could name about half of the organelles, and after watching me tediously accordion fold Fruit by the Foot into a Golgi apparatus and eating their weight in sugar, they could name half of the organelles.

Now we spend almost all of our science time reading...and discussing, but 95% reading.  We have books of science experiments, and I will happily supply materials if the spirit moves them, but they would always opt to listen to me read aloud more rather than do crafts or projects.

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Just now, square_25 said:

I've always been too lazy for major crafts projects, frankly. I barely keep my apartment clean as is... I don't need extra messes. I miss preschool, since it gave DD4 a chance to get dirty without me having to clean up after her 😉 . 

Anyway, my laziness is pretty much why we've never even tried to make a plant cell out of jello and candy! Or anything similar to that... 

My kids really loved oobleck, though. 

Oh, I love me a good mess.  Painting...with our feet?  Bring it on.  Letting a preschooler make muffins?  I'm game.  Playing with sand and water inside (and rice, oobleck, glitter, water beads, slime, paper mache, and playdough until the children are caked in it)?  Heck, yeah.

I have no problem with messes...as long as the children are enthusiastic and actually getting something out of the experience.  Those activities are all about process, not product.  I can just stand back and let them take from them whatever fine motor/sensory/social/academic/executive function/language learning they are ready for.

OTOH, when I try to get them to do a science or history project, they are not enthusiastic...and while they might get something out of it, it probably was not the something I was aiming for.  With the jello cell model, they were fascinated by the candy colors bleeding into the jello.  They also couldn't get enough of squishing the jello between their fingers.  But in terms of knowledge about cells, they gained absolutely nothing.  So, now every year after Halloween I make a big batch of jello for them to shove gross trick or treat candy into and squish between their fingers.  Still quite a mess, but at least a productive mess.

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2 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

Oh, I love me a good mess.  Painting...with our feet?  Bring it on.  Letting a preschooler make muffins?  I'm game.  Playing with sand and water inside (and rice, oobleck, glitter, water beads, slime, paper mache, and playdough until the children are caked in it)?  Heck, yeah.

I have no problem with messes...as long as the children are enthusiastic and actually getting something out of the experience.  Those activities are all about process, not product.  I can just stand back and let them take from them whatever fine motor/sensory/social/academic/executive function/language learning they are ready for.

OTOH, when I try to get them to do a science or history project, they are not enthusiastic...and while they might get something out of it, it probably was not the something I was aiming for.  With the jello cell model, they were fascinated by the candy colors bleeding into the jello.  They also couldn't get enough of squishing the jello between their fingers.  But in terms of knowledge about cells, they gained absolutely nothing.  So, now every year after Halloween I make a big batch of jello for them to shove gross trick or treat candy into and squish between their fingers.  Still quite a mess, but at least a productive mess.

LOL!  This is me, too.  I love doing things with my kids or letting them do things.....for FUN.  I just don't see a lot of value in what most people do in terms of the younger grades.  I am far more interested in the visible and observable bigger world with my younger kids. 

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2 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

When people say they do "no output" do they mean no written output, or no output at all?

I haven't homeschooled second grade, although this year we have cousins in first and third joining us, but I was hoping that we'd be doing things like drawing pictures, or building lego replicas of what we're studying or, cooking recipes from a time period, or learning a song and singing it for Grandpa.   I'd consider all those things output though.  Are people using the term differently, or do you feel like those aren't good things to include?

When I started out, we did some of those things.  But honestly, a lot of the times, it felt like more creative busy work.  We made cookies in the shapes of Greek columns and jello cells and stuff like that.  And....they didn't learn anything from it.  It felt like something I was doing to prove learning and take pictures for my scrap book.  So, we stopped.  My one exception was songs.  I used songs for memory work, and songs were the only thing Catherine could remember, so we did a LOT of songs.  I wrote songs for our address, our phone number, my MIL's phone number.  We learned states and capitals and countries of the world from Animaniacs. We did skip counting songs, and used the history songs from Classical Conversations.  But other than songs for memory work, I stopped mandating output of any sort.  

Now, sometimes my kids totally produced their own output, that they came up with.  So they'd build replicas out of blocks (my kids were not lego children), or they'd draw pictures, or they'd dramatize historical events, or make models of things out of crap they pulled out of the recycling bin.  That was fine, and valuable, and sometimes I let them count that as school time.  But I didn't mandate it.  Once in awhile, if I came across a project that *I* genuinely thought would be cool, I'd ask them if they wanted to do it.  And if they did, we did, but if they didn't, we didn't.  

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3 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I guess I am thinking more of the latter, lowkey kind of activities, not things that are mandated, but naturally extending what you're learning into things that are more like play.  Jello cells are not my style, but drawing pictures of what you imagine Medusa too look like as you listen to a myth, and then comparing them and talking about the similarities and differences? Yes, I can see my kids doing that. Or reading something about simple machines, and then using that knowledge when playing with the marble maze?  I guess to me all of that is output.  

But, like I said, I haven't actually done this.  I've taught second graders at school but not at home so I'm sort of taking what I know about my youngest as a learner, and extrapolating downwards, if that makes sense.  

That's all totally legit output, and the kind of thing I do with classes when I'm teaching.  And I started out doing it with my kids, but honestly, unless it was their idea, they seemed to learn more from me reading out loud to them more.  When it was their idea and they were into it, and they incorporated it into their play, I felt like it was evidence that they'd really internalized it.  And they did so a lot.  But it didn't feel like the most productive use of our time, in our fairly limited school time, with my particular kids - who had infinite patience for listening to books read aloud and LOVED input, but honestly were kind of put upon when I asked them to do anything with it.  Possibly they were just contrary?  

Grandma had more success at getting them involved in projects she came up with, because SHE wanted to do them for her own personal edification.  Like they designed their own imaginary community and drew pictures of what essential services it had and made maps and stuff.  Grandma's projects rarely had anything to do with what we were studying, but they were usually valuable in their own right.  But if I suggested drawing pictures of Medusa, they'd do it, but not enthusiastically.  But they might use shaving cream in the bath tub to make their hair into what they imagined Medusa's hair might have looked like.  The difference was whose idea it was.  

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3 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I think some of this might just be kid personality.  My youngest, would be the one suggesting Medusa.  He's less of a listener and more of a maker.  My middle kid could listen to me read forever.  

Oh, totally!  My kids loved open ended sensory play, but they were never makers, and they got frustrated with art projects because they could never make them come out the way they wanted, and such.  But they loved listening to books read aloud or audiobooks, and documentaries were pretty much the only non-scary tv they could stand, so.....

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51 minutes ago, square_25 said:

Hahahahah, I'm really not arguing, and I am always in awe of people who don't mind messes! My kids obviously loooove messes, and they make them aplenty, although it sounds like I encourage it less than some people 😉 . 

But my dislike of messes did make me rule out these kinds of projects, which sounds like it was a good thing... sometimes laziness pays off, apparently! 

I loved messes.  I was the preschool teacher who figured my job was to do all the messy projects so families didn't feel like they had to.  I hosted messy parties for my kids' birthdays.  I built a catapult and we used it to hurl paint at pieces of paper taped to the shed.  We painted my housemate's car.  We played with shaving cream and jello and mud and all kinds of sensory stuff.  I feel like mess is evidence of childhood well spent.  We would make potions with baking soda and vinegar and paint.  I ran messy summer camps at preschool.  Mess is great.  

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4 minutes ago, Terabith said:

Oh, totally!  My kids loved open ended sensory play, but they were never makers, and they got frustrated with art projects because they could never make them come out the way they wanted, and such.  But they loved listening to books read aloud or audiobooks, and documentaries were pretty much the only non-scary tv they could stand, so.....

This is exactly my kids, and I think a lot of it for us is weak executive function. They can’t “make”. Making requires planning and gathering supplies and sustaining effort and overcoming obstacles. Ain’t gonna happen!
 

Being asked to draw Medusa would feel like being put on the spot. They have an image in their head, and they would quickly get frustrated when their drawing did not do their mental picture justice. And then when others drew a different picture? Their inflexible, black and white thinking, would tell them that someone’s picture must be “right”, meaning the others are wrong. 
 

They will listen to me read all day long, documentaries are about all they are willing to watch, they free read for a couple hours a day, and if I set up a frog pond sensory tub they will naturally start acting out food webs. But suggestIng an ecosystem game or craft will quickly turn them off the topic entirely. 

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Just now, wendyroo said:

This is exactly my kids, and I think a lot of it for us is weak executive function. They can’t “make”. Making requires planning and gathering supplies and sustaining effort and overcoming obstacles. Ain’t gonna happen!
 

Being asked to draw Medusa would feel like being put on the spot. They have an image in their head, and they would quickly get frustrated when their drawing did not do their mental picture justice. And then when others drew a different picture? Their inflexible, black and white thinking, would tell them that someone’s picture must be “right”, meaning the others are wrong. 
 

They will listen to me read all day long, documentaries are about all they are willing to watch, they free read for a couple hours a day, and if I set up a frog pond sensory tub they will naturally start acting out food webs. But suggestIng an ecosystem game or craft will quickly turn them off the topic entirely. 

This, exactly.  

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Just now, CuriousMomof3 said:

See, I love those things too.  I guess I don't understand why catapult paint splatter, or a baking soda volcano isn't "output". 

Because they were done with no educational objective.  They were just process over product.  There was no real input for them to be output of.  I mean, I could come up with a lesson plan, describing in fancy words a learning justification for it.  But I didn't try to correlate it with any content.  I might, in passing, say something like, "Cool, this looks like a Jackson Pollock painting," but I didn't tie it all together.  It was just a "this might be cool or fun to do."  

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1 minute ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

See, I love those things too.  I guess I don't understand why catapult paint splatter, or a baking soda volcano isn't "output". 

For us it is because neither of those activities would be tied to science or history even tangentially. I mean, yes, we know that baking soda is “chemistry” and volcanoes are “earth science”, but I would not set up that activity at a time we were learning about either of those things. It would be completely optional and have no desired end goal.
 

A couple weeks ago I pulled out baking soda and vinegar and test tubes for my kids, and they ignored the vinegar and started adding drops of food coloring to the baking soda and squishing it into “clay”.  And that was a-okay because the activity was not designed as “output” for a chemistry concept...it wasn’t designed as anything, it was just some supplies left out on the table during free time with no strings attached. 
 

I guess when I think of “output”, I see it as a corollary to input. “I read about dog sleds and the kids made dog sleds out of legos.”  Yes, I would totally call that output. But, “I read about dog sleds and the kids used squirt guns filled with colored water to pretend colorful aliens peed in the snow (when I naively assumed they would make pictures or words 🤣)” feels a lot less like output. Not less arty, not less imaginative, not less worthwhile, But not what I personally would classify as “output” the way I hear it used.

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8 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

There's input that comes, in this situation, from the prepared environment, by which you've provoked, rather than directed, their play, and there's output, which is the art in the snow, and the words they use to give meaning to it, and in the process they're building lasting memories...

I think for me the sticking point with this definition of output is that it is too broad.  Going by this definition, is eating a meal output?  Rolling down a grassy hill?  Tearing up a book and shoving it down the heating vent?  In all cases, there was a "prepared environment" which "provoked" the child into interacting with objects, thoughts, memories and people.

To me, that is the definition of "living", not "producing output".

So, yes, my kids spend hours playing with Snap Circuits, and I could clearly call that "science output" if I wanted...but within the philosophy of our homeschool that is not at all how I think of it.  My 6th grader produces science output - he takes notes while listening to me read science, he writes summaries, he conducts related experiments, etc.  My younger kids don't produce output - they listen, ask questions, share related (and unrelated) anecdotes, and then go about living their lives...which may include playing around with the ideas we read about in their own ways of their own accord, but just as likely won't (at least not on any time scale I can recognize), and that is perfectly fine with me.

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