Monday, 18 February 2008

Instruction leaflet for schools: 'How to be Creative'

The children had been asked by a member of staff at our local Scrapstore if they could do an instruction sheet to give to schools. The instruction leaflet was for making stampers out of 'sticky pads'. The idea was received with (mild) enthusiasm, so yesterday I figured I'd start off making some stampers and see if the children were interested enough to join me (a John Holt approach of course...)

Here are some photos of our morning, some of which we used to illustrate the instruction leaflet.

I decided to start with a fish shape (nice easy one I thought, though it took me a few attempts to stop it looking like a shark). Once we had peeled off the backing and stuck it to cardboard it was easy for dd1 to paint. Uh oh! No apron. Just as well the jumper is already stripey!

Success!Though dd1 was a bit disatisfied with the missing patches on the fish and proceded to paint them in. (Groan! Just what I need, another perfectionist in the household)

Dd1 made a 'seaweed' stamper by drawing around her hand with chalk. As expected, she needed a little help with cutting it out, but managed the rest fine.

At this point ds1 and ds2 decided to join in too and added to the picture with stampers of 'rocks' and blue 'bubbles' from the fishes' mouths. The rock shape was made by drawing around ds2's fist, though I think it would also have done well as a shell.

Then this morning we started choosing which photos were best to use on the leaflet and the boys helped to think up some essential points that needed to be on it. We used children's cookbooks as a starter for our research on layout and content and these were surprisingly helpful. Titles such as 'you will need' were applicable to our project and it helped the boys to see a way of making the leaflet simple to follow.

Hopefully tomorrow we'll get a chance to print out a draft copy of our ideas and show the Scrapstore staff to see what improvements could be made. It's sad to think that teachers in school lack so much creativity that they can't work out how to make stampers themselves. Still, I guess when they've got limited time to tick all the curriculum 'boxes', then it doesn't leave alot of time for creative thinking.

Today and yesterday's activities have left me inspired to think up more ways of using the scrap and marketing it for schools and nurseries. Curriculum packs and projects would be a good money-earner for the scrapstore.

The afternoon was spent at our regular meet up with other home edders at a local adventure playground. Not content with the ample supply of sticks at the playground the boys decided to bring their own from our back garden (cuttings from when our apple tree was pruned). As usual there was lots of play fighting, occasionally getting out of hand, but mostly good humoured.
I discussed with another home educator how well all the children get on with each other when they play fight and how different it is when other children (particularly school children) join in. We concluded that the group have formed their own unwritten 'rules' about what sort of fighting is acceptable or not and that the group appears to educate newcomers and enforce the 'rules'. It's difficult to see how this happens in practice, or exactly what the rules are, but it is very noticeable how the group dynamics change from their usual state, into a slightly disruptive, excited state of having newcomer(s) enter the group and then again return to normal once the newcomers have been integrated and have accepted these group 'rules'.
The fighting can look very violent, but mostly it is staged and choreographed and so looks worse than it really is. Occasionally things don't go to plan and there are a few tears, but it seems, in most cases at least, to arise from misunderstandings between the home ed children rather than malice. For example a childd (often my ds1) will like to be the victim, being repeatedly captured and taken prisoner, or always succumbing to the bottom of the scrum! But there are times when he doesn't want to be this role anymore and it's not easy for him to communicate this to the others. Fortunately these sorts of problems are quickly rectified, sometimes needing the intervention of a parent, but mostly sorted out among the children themselves. The children have remarkable interpersonal skills which, unless you observe them for long periods of time and avoid adult intervention, would probably go unnoticed

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