I recently stumbled across a deal where I could use some points I had saved up to “purchase” a professionally made unit study on space for free. Space is one of those topics that never fails to interest my kids, so I jumped on it. Then I opened it and had a look. Then I closed it again.

I don’t know that I can put my finger on exactly what it is about pedagogy that leaves me cold. Lists of objectives and rubrics and output expectations do that for me. It looked bland and forced and horribly uninteresting.

Instead I took myself off to Amazon and found this gem: The Jumbo Book of Space. It’s a meaty book, but written at an accessible level for Olivia and John. Olivia loves the inclusion of myths and stories, and John is thrilled by the experiments and activities. In fact, I am pretty pleased with the experiments myself. They have been easy to implement and for the most part have used supplies we have or can easily substitute.

So we’ve been curling up together each day and reading a bit from the book. When we come to an experiment we have the supplies for, we do it and discuss the outcomes. When we get to certain parts, we supplement with additional experiments or activities (from my Pinterest board) or maybe a Magic School Bus episode. If we have a picture book on our shelf that goes with the topic, we pull it out and read it. I still need to do a search and see what our library has to supplement.

Yeah, I would like to add lots more wonderful picture books to this study, but I am not sure what my budget can bear. Maybe I will pick two or three that are not-to-be-missed. I refuse to let our wonderful study get bogged down in my perfectionism, though. This one book can be enough.

Rocket balloon! Teaches about propulsion and so much fun!

Sometimes I feel like we need more output — a better display of “what we have learned” — some tangible demonstration. As of yet, though, no one has volunteered anything and nothing has struck me as interesting enough to suggest. I know there is a solar system model in our future, as they have mentioned that numerous times before. As for anything else, who knows? The conversations we are having tell me that they are learning.

For now they are learning exactly how I would learn something myself. If there is a topic that I find really interesting, surely there is a book out there to read on it, an activity or experiment to practice, and something to chat about with a fellow interested party.  Lather, rinse, repeat for a meaningful education. No pedagogy needed.

Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
Pam Barnhill