Unschooling: Our July 2016 adventures (plus some May and June highlights!)

Early summer is alpaca baby season! This is Sarah with Mac (Macintosh), one of this year's crias.

Early summer is alpaca baby season! This is Sarah with Mac (Macintosh), one of this year’s crias.

Happy August, everyone! I’m excited to share a roundup of what our family’s unschooling has looked like so far this summer, not just because it’s cool (it is), but because I’ve been able to connect with a lot of new people following an interview about unschooling that I did for USA Today’s back-to-school magazine. If you’re catching one of these updates for the first time, I’m glad you’re here. This is a fun way we can show just a little bit about what unschooling looks like in our family. Check out our archive of previous wrapups here for some more info on why we take this approach and some other highlights of our adventures.

As part of a program our library does each summer, there's a challenge to hike and find waystations in 30 local parks. We did a few, accompanied by our trusty pink owl Fwoops, including this one where we found a cool swingset.

As part of a program our library does each summer, there’s a challenge to hike and find waystations in 30 local parks. We did a few, accompanied by our trusty pink owl Fwoops, including this one where we found a cool swingset.

This update talks about our July, but also hits some highlights from May and June, since we’ve all been too busy enjoying all the fun things summer’s had to offer to, you know, take time to write about them. (Sorry not sorry?)

I’m playing around with some other ideas that might allow us to share highlights more frequently, so I hope you’ll stick around and see what we come up with.

During First Friday in downtown York in July, Sarah both made a cool tie-dyed bandana at our friend Rita's store, Prime Art Supply, and also got the autograph of Mike Hawthorne, the artist who draws Deadpool in comics, who happens to be from York!

During First Friday in downtown York in July, Sarah both made a cool tie-dyed bandana at our friend Rita’s store, Prime Art Supply, and also got the autograph of Mike Hawthorne, the artist who draws Deadpool in comics, who happens to be from York!

At our June alpaca club meeting, Sarah got cuddly with a chicken and got to play in a huge rainstorm that came up.

At our June alpaca club meeting, Sarah got cuddly with a chicken and got to play in a huge rainstorm that came up.

Books

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it’s because we really do believe in the book or item!
In early June, my mom, my oldest sister Linda, Sarah and I went to Rehoboth Beach for a few days and had an amazing time.

In early June, my mom, my oldest sister Linda, Sarah and I went to Rehoboth Beach for a few days and had an amazing time.

Movies and TV, Part 1

A special note for our newer readers: I’d love for you to check out our post on learning from movies and TV shows. It really explains a lot about why we are such fans!

  • Spy Hard: Sarah and Chris’ review was that this was pretty awful, but with a few funny moments.
  • The Money Pit: The Great Movie Watching-Duo reports, “We greatly enjoyed the pratfall version of Tom Hanks.”
  • 1941: Sarah thought it was very funny. Chris greatly enjoyed the music and trying to dissect the ways in which the movie went wrong.
  • The Whole Nine Yards: Because a movie with BOTH Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry is the ultimate treat for Sarah, and it was funny, to boot.
  • True Lies: Again. Always. Arnold.
  • Deadpool: My only requirement here was that Sarah had to find an agreeable adult to watch this with, since nobody in our house had any interest in it and since it really does require an adult. Her grandparents, who had already seen it, were glad to, bless them.
  • The Truman Show: Sarah and Chris liked comparing this to The Matrix, one of Sarah’s favorite movies.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Sarah, Chris, Dan and I went to see this once, then Chris took Sarah back to see it in D-Box.
  • Walking Tall: The Rock as Defender of Small-Town America. How can you not love it?
  • Deal or No Deal and Family Feud: Game shows, always.
In July, we went to International Snake Day at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, and while there, Sarah and Dan fed these awesome rainbow lorikeets.

In July, we went to International Snake Day at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, and while there, Sarah and Dan fed these awesome rainbow lorikeets.

Movies and TV, Part 2

Coal, who was Sarah's project alpaca for almost three years, left in July to go stay at a farm in Maryland for a year. This was taken on the day we went to see him off.

Coal, who was Sarah’s project alpaca for almost three years, left in July to go stay at a farm in Maryland for a year. This was taken on the day we went to see him off.

What, you don't get cuddly with a tarantula? Sarah does.

What, you don’t get cuddly with a tarantula? Sarah does. This photo was taken by a local newspaper, The York Dispatch, and even graced its cover!

Video, board and card games

This is another area with prerequisite reading! I have a whole series about video-game learning that I’d also love for you to check out if you haven’t already.

  • Lanterns: A cool table game Sarah bought for the family.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • MLB 15: The Show: Sarah’s custom player, Wolverine Logan (yes, really), retired after many years. This was a huge deal. Now his son, Wolverine Logan Jr., is her favorite.
  • Guitar Hero Live: This is something Sarah and I like to play together.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • The Sims 3: Chris got this for Sarah and she has absolutely adored it. She recreated the Wolverine Logan family of MLB fame and that’s who her Sims family is based on.
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Destiny: Sarah got into this a couple years ago but found it really hard to play; lately, she has friends playing with her online and is really enjoying it again.
Sarah's Wildlife Watchers 4-H club went to a local state park for a day of lake stomping and pontoon-boat riding. Here they're investigating some of the water creatures.

Sarah’s Wildlife Watchers 4-H club went to a local state park for a day of lake stomping and pontoon-boat riding. Here they’re investigating some of the water creatures.

One of the cool things we've been doing lately involves Artsnacks, a monthly subscription service where you get cool art supplies (in a box, obvs) that you're challenged to use to create something new. This was what I made with July's, which included tiny Yupo paper that I loved.

One of the cool things we’ve been doing lately involves Artsnacks, a monthly subscription service where you get cool art supplies (in a box, obvs) that you’re challenged to use to create something new. This was what I made with July’s, which included tiny Yupo paper that I loved.

Places, projects and other odds and ends

See, this is the part of the roundup that’s a problem when I don’t write regularly. It’s not that I don’t remember what we did – I actually keep a notebook/journal where I make notes about lots of cool stuff. It’s that it’s WAY TOO LONG! So I’m just going to try to hit a few highlights.

Population density, language and medieval rock music: We started talking about the band Of Monsters & Men, the members of whom are from Iceland, and somehow that led me to mention Stary Olsa, which is a medieval Belarussian band that does rock covers, which I backed on Kickstarter. I don’t know how I found them either, so don’t ask. But somehow, talking about all of that led us to talk about population density and language in the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.

The North Museum: We’re members at this science museum in nearby Lancaster, PA, and we did a bunch of cool stuff there in the past couple of months. We went on a behind-the-scenes tour where we saw the collections not on exhibit, saw the preview of some new planetarium shows, and then went back to see those shows live. Relatedly, now we can identify Jupiter in the night sky.

So we've been growing this gigantic pipevine for years as a potential butterfly habitat, but had not been able to attract any pipevine swallowtails. At the 4-H Insect Fair, one of the Master Gardeners for our area gave us a few caterpillars to release to try to get them started!

So we’ve been growing this gigantic pipevine for years as a potential butterfly habitat, but had not been able to attract any pipevine swallowtails. At the 4-H Insect Fair, one of the Master Gardeners for our area gave us a few caterpillars to release to try to get them started!

Military dogs: We spent one evening reading all about dogs who’ve received the Purple Heart, dogs’ military ranks (did you know that every military dog outranks its handler?) and a bunch of people who’ve received the Congressional Medal of Honor. That was good for a bunch of crying from me, but a lot of cool conversations too.

Dog intelligence: Sarah’s part of a dog project in 4-H, where she’s training my best friend Nina’s husky, Thor, since our dog, Coby, is 14 and not in great shape for excursions to the 4-H center and jumping over hurdles. But with Coby, we’ve been studying dog cognition, through a Coursera course, website and podcast by Dr. Brian Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University who’s very cool.

For Mother's Day, Sarah, my mom, Mom's good friend Sandy and I went out for tea.

For Mother’s Day, Sarah, my mom, Mom’s good friend Sandy and I went out for tea.

Hamilton: Just like basically the rest of the country, we love this musical. And, of course, cannot afford tickets, no matter how much I’d LOVE to take Sarah to see it on Broadway. So we listen to the soundtrack pretty much constantly and have had some truly cool conversations thanks to it.

Working out: We joined a gym. I don’t really know what to say about this, as I am decidedly an outside toy, not an inside toy, but it’s something Dan, Sarah and I can do together and it’s not too expensive.

4-H: So, so, so much to say here. Our Wildlife Watchers club had a picnic and went to Gifford Pinchot State Park for a lake stomp and pontoon tour; the alpaca club is swimming in new crias (baby alpacas) and gearing up for the fall shows, while still finding time for an annual pool party where Sarah never left the water; and most fun of all, Sarah was one of the 20-some representatives of York County at the recent 4-H State Achievement Days held in State College, PA, where she participated in a “Microbe Mania” program learning about the microbes that affect plant life. Oh, and we went to our county’s Insect Fair, where Sarah held a scorpion and a tarantula.

Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes? We went to International Snake Day at the Lehigh Valley Zoo (where we’re also members, in addition to the North Museum). We got to see rattlesnakes up close (it’s the first time I ever heard one rattle) and got to pet some non-venomous snakes. Sarah absolutely loves petting snakes and spiders. Me, not so much.

Rockstar mode Sarah, complete with mohawk and biohazard T-shirt.

Rockstar mode Sarah, complete with mohawk and biohazard T-shirt.

Chernobyl: I’m not sure how we got on this topic, but we spent one evening watching videos of Chernobyl, including this one about The Russian Woodpecker, a huge satellite wall, and this one about radioactive bananas. Oh, and also how to visit Chernobyl. That whole video series is amazing.

So what’s new with your family this month? Drop me a comment! I love hearing from all my “blog friends!”

Happy birthday to the original James Bond, Sean Connery

It’s the brogue that gets you.

Whether he’s looking dapper swilling his martini glass in a three-piece suit or resplendently regal in his royal robes, it’s Sir Sean Connery’s voice that draws you in to whatever movie you might see him in. And even though he hasn’t made many movies in the last decade, his celebrated heyday — including a seven-film, 21-year run as 007 himself, James Bond — produced more than enough films to ensure we see him regularly popping upon our television screen.

That, and the fact that he’s one of only two Bonds whose birthday we haven’t written about, made it an easy choice to celebrate his 86th birthday on the iHomeschool Network’s celebration of August birthdays.

Sean Connery unit study on Unschool RULES

All about Sean Connery

Sir Thomas Sean Connery was born Aug. 25, 1930, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to a cleaning woman and a factory driver/truck worker. He claims he’s been known as “Sean” throughout most of his life, though when he was younger he was usually referred to as “Tommy.”

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links, which will make me a little bit of money if you choose to purchase any of the products I’ve mentioned through them. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it’s because we really do believe in the book or item!

Throughout his life, he’s spent time as a milkman, a truck driver, a lifeguard, an artist’s model, a coffin polisher and joined the Royal Navy, where he got two tattoos: One that says “Mum and Dad,” and the other a “Scotland Forever.”

Similar to our last birthday boy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Connery started bodybuilding at age 18. He placed third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contests, according to his official website (which appears to have been last updated roughly around the same time), though most official sources have him in the 1953 version of the competition, where he placed either third in the junior class or failed to place in the Tall Man classification.

It was around this time, in 1951, that Connery started helping out backstage at a local theater to make some money, which piqued his interest. During a London bodybuilding competition in 1953, one of competitors offhandedly mentioned that auditions were taking place for the musical South Pacific, and Connery managed to earn a spot in the chorus. By the time the production had reached Edinburgh, he had been promoted to a featured player, and the next year found himself as the male lead.

For the next several years, Connery bounced around various roles in TV shows, theater plays and even a babysitter. He managed a few leading roles in television movies and even a Disney film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, as he made his way into the 1960s.

In 1962, he got his big hit. Though reluctant to commit to a series of films, he signed on as James Bond for five films, from Dr. No  to You Only Live Twice, between 1962-67. He then reprised the role for 1971’s Diamond’s Are Forever, and 1983’s Never Say Never Again. James Bond creator Ian Fleming originally had his doubts about Connery, thinking him unrefined and too muscular, but changed his mind after Dr. No’s success. He was so impressed, in fact, that in later novels Fleming even created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for Bond.

Connery had a few worries as Bond. In one sequence for Thunderball, Connery had a scene with sharks. Wary, he had requested a Plexiglas partition be built in the pool; it was, but one shark still managed to get through and Connery bailed out. He also had to wear a wig for every Bond movie as he started going bald at age 21.

Connery starred in other films while he was Bond, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie and the much-acclaimed Murder on the Orient Express. He started to get tired of the role of James Bond, feeling he was being typecast and a better actor than “just” James Bond. After his career as Bond, Connery went on to make many popular movies, including Highlander and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables. Even in the late 80s/early 90s, when he was 60 years old, his fame grew with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Hunt for Red October. He retired from acting in 2006.

Read more about Sean Connery

Books and movies about/featuring Sean Connery

Ideas for discussion

  • The perils of success. Landing the role of James Bond undoubtedly served as Sean Connery’s big break into show business, and allowed him to become a big enough star to do other movies (both commercially successful ones as well as those films he made for love of the craft). But it turned out to be a little bit of a double-edged sword, as he grew to resent the fame and pigeonholing that came along with it. Is there such a thing as too much success? Is it the same as too much of a good thing?
  • Finding your voice.Sean Connery held a dizzying array of jobs before finding his calling as an actor (and, actually, for some time as he was still trying to get his foot in the door). He didn’t even know about the acting world until after he had already done a stint in the Royal Navy and tried his hand at his father’s occupation, truck driver. Sometimes, we don’t find the perfect job (or hobby, or sport, or anything) until later in life. How do you know when you’ve found something for you that really sings?

More Bond birthdays

In case you missed them, we’ve already written posts celebrating Daniel Craig and Timothy Dalton, both of whom have March birthdays, and Roger Moore, who has an October birthday! Poor Pierce Brosnan came up in an already-busy May, but we promise we’ll get to him next year.

Join the birthday party

If you’re interested, there are many more cool “August birthday” lessons from my fellow iHomeschool Network bloggers. Click the image below to check them out!

Famous birthday unit studies for homeschoolers on Unschool Rules
And thanks for stopping by to help me wish Sean Connery a happy birthday!

You can check out more posts in our Learning Party series here!