Unschooling: Our January 2016 adventures

Welcome to February! In January we… survived a blizzard (30+ inches of snow), celebrated Dan’s 29th birthday, went to tea, went to many bookstores, talked about politics, adopted a cat, learned about stomach ulcers (the hard way) and fed some stingrays. Just to name a few things. If there was ever a normal month for unschooling, I guess this would be it – we just lived life and did cool stuff.

I hope you’ll read more about all the things we’ve been busy with.

Unschooling in January 2016: For Dan's 29th birthday, Sarah got him a stuffed-animal version of our new cat, Mr. Angelino. His name is AJ.

For Dan’s 29th birthday, Sarah got him a stuffed-animal version of our new cat, Mr. Angelino. His name is AJ.

(If this is your first time catching our month-in-review posts, welcome! Check out our archive of previous wrapups here for some more info on why we take this approach to documenting some of our unschooling learning adventures.)

Unschooling in January 2016: One of the big highlights this month was a visit to a local fish and pet store that has its own stingray tank. On the weekends, they have stingray feedings, and here, Sarah got to help!

One of the big highlights this month was a visit to a local fish and pet store that has its own stingray tank. On the weekends, they have stingray feedings, and here, Sarah got to help!

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, itโ€™s because we really do believe in the book or item!
  • Q-Space – This is the first in a three-part series of Star Trek: The Next Generation fiction. Sarah has all three and has gotten almost three-quarters of the way through this one.
  • Lonely Planet The World: A Traveller’s Guide to the Planet – This was a Christmas gift and Sarah and Chris have been reading pieces of it and planning how they’d like to take a tour of Europe.
Unschooling in January 2016: Speaking of Mr. Angelino, here he is. He's got an adorable nose. And is very cute. He hides in the hole in our cat tree most of the time, has a silly meow, and is soft and nice.

Speaking of Mr. Angelino, here he is. He’s got an adorable nose. And is very cute. He hides in the hole in our cat tree most of the time, has a silly meow, and is soft and nice.

Movies and TV

  • Cool Runnings
  • Unschooling in January 2016: This is my favorite stuffed penguin, Pink (or pengin, as well call them). Sarah got Pink her own blankie and wrapped her up tight. When Sarah's anxiety bothers her, hanging out with our stuffed friends is a huge help.

    This is my favorite stuffed penguin, Pink (or pengin, as well call them). Sarah got Pink her own blankie and wrapped her up tight. When Sarah’s anxiety bothers her, hanging out with our stuffed friends is a huge help.

  • Harry Potter 1, 2 and 3 – Sarah had already seen all the movies, but I’m reading the books and we’re rewatching them as I go. As I recovered from a nasty stomach situation earlier this month, they were great for keeping me amused and laying down.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Sarah saw this for the third time this month, this time in D-Box.
  • Friends – Sarah and Chris watch this almost every night before bed. They’re in Season 7 now.
  • Parks and Recreation and The I.T. Crowd – Sarah and my mom watch an episode of each of these each day when Sarah gets up. As of the end of January, they had neared the end, and actually, as I write this on February 10, they’ve finished! I don’t love Parks and Rec, but Sarah loves it. But The I.T. Crowd is great.
  • Total Recall – Because of course, Schwarzenegger.
  • Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights – Because of course, Jackie Chan. We had some really cool conversations while watching these; they’re fun and funny and give you a lot of chances to talk about real history vs. the movies.
Unschooling in January 2016: This is a good example of the snow from our blizzard. Coby, by the way, is a very large dog - a golden retriever and standard poodle mix. The snow was taller than him!

This is a good example of the snow from our blizzard. Coby, by the way, is a very large dog – a golden retriever and standard poodle mix. The snow was taller than him!

Places, projects and odds and ends

  • On January 1, our whole family of five went to tea at our favorite local tearoom. We had been collecting “Good Things” in a jar all year for 2015, and on the first day of 2016, at the tea, we opened the jar and read them all aloud. It was great! (We’re doing it again this year, and I’d love to do a post on the whole project sometime soon.)
  • We went to some bookstores. Our favorite local one, the York Emporium, plus chains 2nd & Charles and Barnes & Noble, plus The Comic Store in Lancaster.
  • At 4-H, Sarah gave an oral presentation on the report on bats she worked on in December, and she had the first meeting for a new dog project she is hoping to take on with our aging dog, Coby. We are just hoping the poor 13-year-old dog holds out.
  • Unschooling in January 2016: Here's Sarah presenting on bats to the York County 4-H Wildlife Watchers Club.

    Here’s Sarah presenting on bats to the York County 4-H Wildlife Watchers Club.

  • We’ve talked a ton about the presidential race. Sarah is incredibly interested and has a favorite candidate based on the issues that matter most to her. We’ve been watching debates, reading about all the candidates and their views and backgrounds, following primaries, etc. This has been a huge part of our month and will be for months to come, I can tell.
  • We adopted a new cat named Mr. Angelino! This took some work (we’d been trying since Thanksgiving) but now he’s all ours.
  • We learned about stomach ulcers. Because I went to the hospital with complications from them. In an ambulance. In the blizzard. And got stuck at the hospital and was facing two days of sleeping in their lobby until a friend who lives 3 blocks from the ER miraculously found me in the waiting room and took me to his family’s house, where I got to camp out in the room of his 8-year-old daughter. Miracles are real. Sleeping in a bed was one. THANK YOU JASON AND FAMILY!
  • We played Sort the Books in Sarah’s room to see what she might want to read next.
  • Sarah fed stingrays and decided her next pet will be a betta fish during a long visit to a huge pet store, That Fish Place/That Pet Place, near us. This is a serious Pennsylvania field trip destination, local families. It’s as good as some zoos, but free.
  • I started my courses for my master’s degree in homeland security with a public health preparedness concentration. As I’ve been working, I’ve been sharing the things I’m reading and learning with Sarah, and we’ve had a bunch of conversations about homeland security issues and the Constitution and more.

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

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