January 18, 2016

Homeschooling Chat: Cross Curricular Projects

Now that the girls are approaching ten and have the attention spans to match, we've decided to swap from doing a whole slew of small projects throughout the year to one big, cross curricular project. This isn't to say they won't still do some small, short single subject projects. They'll always have short essays, papers, and experiments going on. No, we're talking about a group of smaller projects grouped together covering a range of skills and subjects, all under the same theme.

Here's the girls' finished food pyramid poster.

We decided to start with one of the five basic needs as the basis of our first cross curricular project: food. No matter who you are, you have to eat. Shouldn't you know something about what you're putting in your body well before you're out of elementary school? We think so.

The food pyramid poster the girls made was the first miniature project within the larger whole. The cooking lessons they've been taking with me all this year are an ongoing part of the project as well. The poster counted as a health lesson, since it shows what and how much you need of any given food type to have a balanced diet. We've discussed why this is important and what counts as a serving size while making it. The cooking lessons are just practical life skills/home economics.

Now, as I've said before, we did a pyramid based on how our family needs to eat because of food allergies, food intolerances, and the anti-inflammatory diet I have to follow because of auto-immune issues. If you look up a typical pyramid, it's going to look different.

So far, this project has been rather simple, but we're only heading into the third full week of the year. Now that the poster is complete and hanging over our table in the kitchen, the girls will begin practicing designing meals, then a day's worth of meals, and then writing a menu for an entire week of meals following it. That will flow into creating shopping lists for their menus and researching common costs of specific ingredients. Then that will transition into writing menus to a budget, and then grocery shopping for the week with a set budget. (Life skills requiring math.)

We didn't get much from our 2015 garden, but we did get some.

When the weather warms, and if we are able to build and fill the raised beds, we will try for another vegetable garden. (It's one big science lab!) Hopefully we'll have more success with raised beds than we did containers, and the canning lessons Granny D promised will actually be needed. While we work together to preserve our harvest, we can speak with her about growing up during the Great Depression. And you better believe that will lead to farther study on the event itself using books. (What better way to bring history to life than to speak with someone who lived it? Plus, the best part of education, practical life skills.)

Throughout the gardening phase, I'll have the girls read articles on how to tend the kinds of vegetables we're growing. Then they'll write down notes and their ideas on how to improve our garden to prevent pests and disease from destroying our crop. (More science and language arts here.)

All the while, the girls will be continuing to take turns helping with breakfast and dinner every day, taking on more of the actual cooking as we go. The goal is to have them be able to safely prepare at least a few simple meals all on their own with just supervision by the end of the year.

The goal of parenting is to spend eighteen years teaching your child to no longer need you to survive. Fostering independence and the confidence born of competence is the best way to help a child or young adult thrive. Cross curricular projects are a great way to instill life skills, reinforce academic concepts and principals, and just to keep learning fun.

Have you ever done a cross curricular project with your students and/or children? What was it on, and how did it go?

If you'd like to see updates on our "All About Food" project, please comment below and let me know.

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