A Fishing Pole, A Picnic and A Book: Simple Activities in Educational Terms


A Fishing Pole, A Picnic and A Book: Simple Activities in Educational Terms ~
Written by Lusi Austin from That Homeschool Life

Having home schooled three older kiddos and now homeschooling their two younger siblings, has given me an unexpected gift: perspective.

The blessing of perspective is that I can easily see the big picture. I have experienced how fast time really flies. I have learned to not sweat the unimportant things.

I’ve learned to give more time to the things that matter most. I see how simple experiences can be learning opportunities.  I’ve now learned how to express the value of these days.

Learning as the day unfolded

Recently, we began our homeschooling day with a visit from another home schooled friend. She and my teen hung out in our teen-space. My son was building with LEGOs and playing a favorite game.

I heated up some banana bread I’d made the day before and we all gathered in the loungeroom to enjoy our snack. While we did, I read aloud from a book that I’ve found recently Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

They listened as I then read about the Sioux and different Chiefs that I remembered the names of from previous readings. We looked up Chief Sitting Bull and read about Custer’s Last Stand too. We talked about bison and reservations,  nomadic peoples and the similarities and differences between Indigenous Americans and our First Nation’s peoples here in Australia.

I also explained that the encyclopedia I was reading from had been published some 50 years earlier. We talked about how facts can remain the same, but how our language around those facts can evolve and change as our understanding does. The kids looked at a map my sister-in-law had lent us.

They looked at the different nations names and areas. I asked Mr 11 to get out the Book of Centuries timeline book and he wrote down a few important dates that we read aloud as we went.

I suggested we pack ourselves a picnic and go down to the river for some lunch.

Learning over lunch

Mr 11 got excited and started to make a homemade fishing rod. He made it out of a piece of wood in the backyard and some jute. A hook was fashioned out of a metal paper fastener.

He tested the length of the line in the backyard and then made some adjustments. Zeeki then packed extra ‘line’, some scissors (in case the line got snagged) and some extra ‘hooks’. Lastly, he went into the kitchen and made his own sandwiches.

We chose a nice spot by the river and as they ate, I read aloud some more from the Braiding Sweetgrass book.

After lunch, Mr 11 had the chance to throw his line using some bread as bait. He didn’t catch anything, but while there we chatted about the little wrens and swallows we could see by the water. He observed the current and some of the flowers by the river’s edge which we hadn’t seen before.

Now, years ago, I wouldn’t have classified this type of day as ‘productive’. I would have called it relaxing, but now with the gift of perspective, I can see it as being both. 

Seeing these simple activities in educational terms

Assessing – Zeeki assessed the situation (that we’d be going fishing and decided to make the most of that and make a fishing pole).
Estimating – He estimated the materials and resources he’d need and brought them with him.
Research – As we read through the encyclopedia, we discussed the importance of reliability of our sources when we are researching.
Processing – There was lots of new information to process as we read about the Sioux, about culture that has been lost and as we discussed assimilation here in Australia too.
Observation – We observed new birds and flowers by the river.
Identifying – The kids identified some of the territories and nations of the Indigenous Americans on our map as we read aloud.
Brainstorming – Zeeki brainstormed ways to create the best kind of fishing pole he could.
Contributing – All 3 of the kids contributed their thoughts on our discussions based on the readings.
Conversing – There was lots of good conversation all day!
Listening skills – The kids listened as I read aloud.
Efficiency – We worked together to get ourselves out the door with a picnic lunch, snacks, books and drinks for everyone.
Independence & self-regulation – While at the river, the girls went and made autumn leaf throwing videos for themselves and asked to walk to McDonalds and get some drinks to bring back for us all.
Imaginative & resourceful – Zeeki showed this in his fishing pole activity.
Thoughtfulness & integrity of thought – We had lots of chats about colonization.

I’ve learnt over the years that learning is always happening. Even simple activities like the ones I’ve just described can be packed full of amazing opportunities for our children to engage in their interests, with each other and with the world around them. I hope this might encourage you in some way.


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