Friday, 1 February 2008

Learning all the time...

John Holt's book 'Learning all the time' arrived in the post today, and as if to reaffirm some of its content my children have been happily learning all day.

At least I assume they are learning. It's a difficult thing to quantify, but just from observing them (as discretely as I can) I can almost watch the cogs turning, each time leading to a new discovery or a new question.

dd1 (4) today discovered some magnetic letters and shapes that I'd acquired from our local 'Swap Shop'. They'd been in the footwell of our car for 3 weeks, first in a box with a lid, then in the box as the box lid got stood on(!), and then finally, when the box was used first as an impromtu plate and then a notebook, they just got left strewn across the footwell. Feeling diligent today (and aware of the rapidly deteriorating state of the inside of my car) I scooped them up into a perfumed 'nappy sack' and brought them indoors.

Dd1 showed some interest, so I left her with them, not sure exactly what she wanted them for. She picked out a few and quickly found something to stick them on - the metal cupboard door under our kitchen sink. I don't know if I've ever 'taught' her anything about magnets and magnetic things, but I guess she'd just absorbed the information somehow. With the bag (and another box of magnetic letters that we found) she started to make a tower up the cupboard of the magnetic animals/objects, swapping them around. First it was the house on top of the sheep on top of the ....and so on. She talked all the time, not for my benefit, just as if to explain to herself what she was doing and why. Next she made a tower up the cupboard door of the magnetic letters. Sometimes she stopped and asked me what a particular letter was (I was in the kitchen, making lunch). She was particularly fascinated with the 'i' and the 'j' letters because they had joining plastic between the 'dot' and the 'stick' part of the letter.
'Hmm...' she said about the letter j,'this one is the same, but it's got a curly bit on it'.
I said 'yes that's 'j' for jump'. We thought a little more about other words that began with 'j'. She suggested a word.' Yes, jug that's a good word.'
'No, not jug she replied junk' . I had misheard her.
'Ah like junkbot', I said. Junkbot is the name of a game on the Lego website, where the player has to move bricks to assist the 'junkbot' in completing his task. It's a popular game with her brothers.
'Yes, but it's not junkbox, not box like a box', she emphasised. 'It's bot. Junkbot.'
'That's right, Junkbot. Because it's a robot that carries junk', I said.
We laughed as at that moment the dog sneaked in and stole one of the letters. Look I said, ' he's stolen the letter that begins his name. 'He's got j for Jack. What a clever dog'.
It was true. I took the 'j' from his mouth and put it back in the box.

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