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Evolution—we are here

An update on our progress towards U.S. History by way of the evolution detour. Or actually backtrack, since it's not really out of the way, I suppose. This is turning out to be a really fun exploration. Discussing ages of evolution with Calvin—exploring, researching, sometimes explaining—I've had to look more closely at my notions of life and death. I spent the better part of my college years studying exactly this topic, and still I feel like I am only now really seeing it for its most basic lessons. But that's a post all its own. For now, an update:

The timeline has been keeping us busy. So far we have populated each period of the Paleozoic era. Calvin chooses the critters and designs the scenes, then I get to work with cutting and gluing. Mostly we've been using Evolution, The Story of Life, by Douglas Palmer and Peter Barrett, for sketches. We're really enjoying the process, and even my sore neck, from bending over the pieces, is worth it when we play with them either on the timeline or on his felt board.

Designing the Permian period

The timeline is hanging in our upstairs hallway where the light isn't good for photos, but here is our progress up to yesterday, populated through the Devonian Period.

We've just discovered Back in Time, an app for the iPad that has given us no end of pleasure, starting with the big bang and passing through all the events between then and now with pictures and info and lots of buttons to tap. Less hands on, but equally fun, we've been reading and re-reading The Story of Life, by Steve Jenkins, and Life Story, by Virginia Lee Burton (reviews here), and watching and re-watching the BBC Walking With videos. They've definitely taken some liberties with those, but we are enjoying them nonetheless.

And thanks to said new app and the book Bang! The Universe Verse, plus a push from the recent arrival of BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding), we've taken on the idea of matter. All those life forms that are evolving had to come from somewhere, right? This is only cursorily related to the evolution exploration right now and has more to do with the arrival of the BFSU book, in which the states of matter is amongst the first topics to look at (along with classification of stuff, and that we really have down), but when I think about it, clearly they're related. Well, actually all of life, and thus all study, is related, and isn't that the point? So tomorrow we'll be freezing, melting, and steaming water, and other fun experimenting.

And because we're not unit study or subject immersion learners, there are lots of other things going, too, like a little piano, a little math, a lot of reading, a little playing with food in the kitchen, a lot of board gaming, and a little outside play. The workboxes are going well (I'll write about that sometime soon), and we're happy and busy much of the time. Still, sometimes the old fear of not knowing what we're doing will creep in grab me around the neck...until I look around, and then, in one great big "oh, yeah" moment, I'm fine again. Evolution it is.

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