homeschool co-op: presentation day!

October 29, 2011

{finally sharing this after writing last week … it’s been one of those weeks}

whew! what a day. what a WEEK!! it’s been amazing, full, exhausting, expanding, challenging and wonderful.

and it reminds me how valuable this homeschooling journey is … not just for madison (but especially so!).

our co-op is doing an “around the world” study this year, with families rotating weeks to present a different country. our goal: expose each other to new information as we learn about GOD’s creation.

our country: tanzania. it was hubby’s suggestion a few months ago, as we were deciding which country to share, and quite honestly i had very little knowledge of this country.

our research started a few weeks ago, by checking out some books at the library. we skimmed through, immediately interested in the information that jumped off the pages.

we dove in pretty intensely at the beginning of this week and for the past few days, have spent at least 15 hours in study and preparation.

here’s the thing: this research didn’t feel like “research” in the disjointed, disconnected (and thoroughly uninspiring) way that research can feel like in a school setting. a project of this scope typically spans weeks or months in a regular school, with the various steps spread far apart.

in contrast, this research was not so much done for some external process but was driven by a real desire to learn! i can’t remember ever seeing madison sooo excited and energized. the more we uncovered and discovered, the more excited she became. the process was organic and went something like this:

library books were checked out, general information was read, interest was piqued.

we brainstormed about various areas of focus and interest. i asked hubby for some ideas for our presentation and he contributed to the “topics” category.

we wrote down this list … it included things like, “games that kids in tanzania play”, “flag”, “food”, etc. madison thought of things to add and would return to the list at various times over several days. we kept adding and talking about it.

we began googling ideas. we both looked things up, followed leads and links, kept learning.

the week of our presentation, we got serious and focused. we narrowed our brainstorming down to 8 subject areas and decided to do a poster board presentation for each. additionally, we thought of some learning games and activities to do along the way. (for example, madison’s idea: when learning about tanzanian animals, maddie suggested we print small pics of each animal, put on colored paper and on the back, write some facts about that animal. we will have the kids come up, one at a time, and draw an animal. they will read the facts aloud and then get a prize at the end of our time together if they remember 3 facts. very very cool! and quite a success.)

we were up til 1am the night before, finishing poster boards, last minute research, cleaning and prep of our home … and i have to say that maddie was the LEAD in all this. which is *amazing*. her motivation, excitement, attention to detail … blessed and surprised and inspired me.

so, presentation day, we hosted 25 kiddos (from 3 months to 15 years) and their 9 mamas {plus my mama, who was an invaluable help w/baby j while we presented}. of our 8 “boards”, maddie presented 5. my “shy” girl wanted to do it! we talked about how we would “ad lib” and improvise as we go; that if she forgot a part, i would add it and vice versa. we were a great team, the learning time was fun and she did a beautiful job.

we finished with preparation and eating of authentic tanzanian food and drink: mandhazi, coconut milk rice and chai tea. the kids played hunter and gazelle in the backyard, mama’s visited, the sun was shining, and i … breathed a sigh of relief that it was all done. 🙂

( a bit blurry but there we are in front of the group, sharing .. )

kids are ready and waiting ... 🙂

hunter and gazelle game out back ...

the girls were awesome helpers in the kitchen! there is mom in the back, frying mandhazis!

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