Friday, April 20, 2012


a few days ago i received a surprise package in the mail--a book from Nomad Press.  Bridges and Tunnels, actually.  excellent.  right up our alley. (and is it any wonder why i love Nomad Press so?  i mean... free unscheduled, surprise books?  dude.)

this morning i got it out to read a bit to the children.
since the book mentioned a few projects to go with our reading, we put those on the list for later today.

soon after, i found another treasure... a list of '50 Things To Do Before You're 11 3/4".
really, (perhaps) since the first one was "climb a tree", i figured we had this one.  i mean... it's Us.  how can there be things in Nature, that we haven't thought of, or done?  yeah, well.
turns out there were a few!
i read the list to the children, and they were just as captivated as i.

so the next thing on our list for the day was to build a den.
we talked about what it would be made from.  how tall it would be.  what shape it would be.
and got to it.

(er... some of us more active in the process than others.)

"Mom, how many months are in eight years?"  He's been worried about the speed of time, lately.
"Well... twelve months in a year, of course, so twelve times eighty.  What's twelve times eight?"  I actually had to think about that for a second.  "Twelve times eight is ninety-six... so nine hundred sixty."
"That's quite a few.  Okay."
A few minutes later... "How many seconds in eighty years?"
Keep in mind that I was distracted with something else... probably making Madd's butterfly template, and arranging the weights.  "Go get the calculator."
"Why can't you just tell me?"
"Because we'll have to figure it out."
"But why can't you just tell me the formula?"
"Because we'll have to figure out the formula... it's not like eighty times sixty.  Let's see... sixty seconds, sixty minutes, twenty-four hours, three hundred sixty-five days, eighty years.  The formula will be 60 (seconds) times 60 (minutes) times 24 (hours) times 365 (days) times 80 (years)."
"Oh... I see."
"I think the calculator is on the coffee table."
"We can finish it in a minute..."

there was a balancing butterfly.

and shootin'.

a mudpie.

jumping through hula hoops on the trampoline.

research on Godzilla.

making abutments--via geodesic domes.

and questions....
using large index cards (single layer) what will happen if we put a book on this? 

what about if we put it down very, very gently?

which will be stronger?  triangle beams?  or pillar?

one, two, three, four, five....
and crumble.

 one, two, three, four...


 woh!  ten....

 eleven... twelve...thirteen...


it becomes clear that we're going to topple from lack of balance long before we topple from the weakness of the pillars...



and balance is precarious.  we let it sit...

and a few minutes later it slid sideways, and fell.  we'll weigh our books today, and see how much weight we got from those three paper pillars.

I do love this life.


  1. What great ideas! I love those kinds of experiments, like your pillars...things you can build at home for free, but they are so illustrative.

    Last picture, in the den, is so cute too. Did you make them sleep out there?! ;)

  2. Trev wanted to. :)

    When we found that balance was going to be a problem before weight, we were surprised. :) Pretty cool!

  3. i really like that butterfly balancing thing. i think we might try that today. :)

  4. Wow! Those pillars are amazing. One of my favorite things about unschooling is this not-knowing-the-answer-beforehand stuff, where we get to be as surprised as the kids are (no teacher's guide with the results spelled out...). What a thrill it all is.

  5. Eric and Maddie int he den...LOVE it. We need to try that balance thing with the paper pillars. Isaac will love that. Thank you, as always. xo

  6. Ha, this post had me stumped! I couldn't figure out where the multiplying by 80 was coming from. I finally realized the typo (eighty years instead of eight years). Goodness me, my brain. Those pillars are awesome!! And of course, the den, too!

  7. Yup. Sorry, Melissa :) That first one was s'posed to be "eighty", also. :)


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!