Little House on the Co-Op Day One

Rain Bow Loom:  The Power of Hand Work

Hi everyone,

I apologize for not posting more often.  As many of you know the strike is now over, and regular school will resume on Monday.  While I am happy that teachers and students can get back to business and parents need no longer worry, a part of me is sad to say good-bye to my Strike Days’ adventures in home learning.   From now on it’ll just be weekend and sick days adventures in home learning….;)

Still, I have lots of posts waiting to be published.   I haven’t been here blogging in part because I was busy hanging with a small group of kids over at Little House on the Co-Op.  It was so much fun, the closest so far to my fantasy of home schooling with a small group of kids!   H, one of the oldest said it best: “Belinda, I love doing this, it’s almost like school but even better.  You’re teaching us stuff all the time, there are so many activities to do, but we don’t have to do them if we don’t want to!”

Well, day one started with an intense Rainbow Loom skills trade:

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I knew Rainbow Loom would be a great thing to start with as it’s something most kids have in common these days.   Everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn.  it’s hands on and suits many learning styles.  I was right.  The kids spent a good two hours working, creating gifts, comparing projects, peer-teaching and negotiating use of the computer, as well as peer-teaching computer skills.

For those who are new to the idea of children learning at home, or even project-based learning at school, this is a fantastic example of the many lessons of socialization: listening, patience, turn-taking, honouring each other’s process, wrangling hands-off and hands-on learning, trading knowledge, observing reasons for making / doing / creating.  Some make to give, others make to teach, others make because they just can’t help fiddling.

This brings me to my most important point: Children who often have a hard time sitting still and focussing on detailed work benefit enormously from Rainbow Loom or other finger work such as knitting, whittling, carving, weaving, beading, lego, rubiks’ cube and so on, where learners / makers sit for extended periods of time using only their hands and eyes.  In traditional school settings most of this kind of work is writing, drawing, math.  There is little art, crafts or making.  Now of course we have typing and gaming as well on computers.

What are the advantages to this kind of focused hand work or fine-motor skills?  How does this work fit in with the value of using manipulatives?  Moving objects in space, using your hands, your tactile sense to make sense of concepts that would otherwise perhaps be too abstract?

Stay tuned for more on this discussion..and absolutely feel free to join in – I’d love to hear your comments.