Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mystery Science, fossil bonanza, & a teachable moment

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Sometimes I fear I'm not schooly enough for this unschooling thing to work. This is a common worry among homeschooling types — am I doing enough? Are my kids learning the right things? Would school be doing much better for them?

I see myself as a Type B personality, so I'm naturally laissez-faire. While I think Type A unschoolers have to push themselves to relax, I feel I need occasional nudges into scheduling and activities to make sure we do something.

And so it was I finally cracked open Mystery Science.

(This post is not at all sponsored, by the way. I signed up for the free trial but then let it lapse, because I'm awesome like that. I'm just talking about the single lesson's worth of use I've gotten out of it so far, and this isn't meant as a straight-up review.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Read along with us: Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad

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In honor of Black History Month, here's a video review of two books about the Underground Railroad.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How to talk with kids about refugees: Book, video, & resource suggestions plus concrete ways child activists can help

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A story: My old church supported several Karen refugee families from Myanmar. The Karen are a Christian and Buddhist ethnic minority group in Myanmar (Burma) who were forced from their homes, their villages destroyed, and fled from violence and ethnic cleansing in a Burmese civil war into hiding in the surrounding jungles. Not the pretty Jungle Book jungles but mountainous ones that grow cold and inhospitable, with little food to forage.

The fortunate ones were able to cross the border into Thai refugee camps. The very fortunate ones were able to make their way from Thailand to settle in other nations, such as the Karen community in the south Seattle area. This was not their wish, though. They miss their homes desperately and find it hard to adjust to a new life in a new land where they're definite minorities. As one woman said in an interview with CNN: "[I]f the situation in Burma changes, I hope to go back to my country."

Here's the part of this experience that has stuck with me for years now. A group of internally displaced Karen people still running and hiding in the mountain forests wrote our church for assistance. We raised money regularly to try to get supplies to them and sent words of support and encouragement. In this letter back to us, they asked in particular for one thing: a bone saw. They had been performing amputations on horribly injured members of their community with whatever sharp implements they had to hand. They wanted a bone saw to ease the process.

THAT is what a refugee is. It's a person who's thankful for a bone saw. It's a person whose current greatest wish is an appropriate instrument to perform major surgery in the open air of a jungle as they're running for their lives.