Natural Learning and The 4th of July

“Sometimes, you have to let one story end so the next one can begin. ~Lindsay Mattick

Last week I wrote about the art of strewing as a necessary tool in the life of unschooling. I get a lot of satisfaction out of searching and researching for ways to strew for my kids, but there is also a great joy when my son finds his own passion organically, no strewing necessary or intended.

A few weeks ago, I sent Big Brother to Gnome Camp which was a sweet, small camp my friend ran out of her house. The kids delighted in a week of digging in the mud to create rivers and streams for their gnome houses, boats, and bridges that they also built and decorated. It was a magically week that led to many holes and tunnels being dug in our own backyard afterwards.

During this week of camp, the book (unrelated to gnomes, but still just as enchanting) Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear was read and it made a big impact on Big Brother. He was completely romanced by the fact that it was a true story of a real boy and a real bear. This past weekend while strolling through the bookstore he found it and with delight we brought it home. I had never read this book, but when I saw that it was illustrated by one of my favorite artist, I too was excited to have it. We sat down to read this breathtaking retelling of the story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. It was charming and heartwarming with a twist that brought me to tears at the end. Seriously. It was the first time I had ever cried reading a children’s book to my son and it actually took me a moment to collect myself before I could finish reading him the book. (Go read it. Today.)

Given this book is written about a piece of history, afterwards it led to a landslide of questions. Big Brother and I launched into a long discussion about what a soldier is, what war is, what a country is and what his country is, and finally the significance of this day, July 4th. We looked at the map to locate our country and Great Britain and a few other places mentioned in the book. What started out as a simple children’s book to read together ended up being nearly a half hour conversation about so much of the world and its history. It was the most organic, natural exploration and he was genuinely intrigued. When I sat down, I had no plans to discuss any of these topics but before I knew it, it was a real history lesson. That is the power of natural learning. I couldn’t have planned that conversation and have him feel so enthusiastic about it. That came from his own curiosity and drive to want to learn. It was inspiring.

And then afterwards we enjoyed a good ol’ neighborhood BBQ to celebrate this day!

Happy 4th of July!

Kids kicking back at the BBQ




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