Some schools have spirit week, our homeschool has a Special Focus week. A Special Focus week consists of packing away all of our regular textbooks and spending most of our school hours deeply studying a specific skill or area of interest. This year, we became experts in architecture and design.
Our week began with a trip to the library and a short documentary about one of America’s famous artists, Frank Lloyd Wright. My kids learned about who this man was and the types of art he created. We checked out every book we could find at the library- all sorts of genres and levels of reading. We spent the entire first day unpacking the world of Wright and his contemporaries.
Tuesday asked us to learn about our project. The Frank Lloyd Wright Museum website offers project ideas for students which include pretending clients with actual needs and spaces on which the building will be set. We randomly selected from these options, worked with the boundaries listed on the project cards, and developed 3 or 4 concepts from which our clients choose. I asked a friend to stand in as the clients and select which idea she liked best.
Wednesday and Thursday continued our study about architecture and design around the world, discussions about how buildings and spaces need to meet the needs of those who use or live in them. We spent a great deal of time learning how to cut, measure and glue stiff cardboard to create the models. Mathematical concepts using square footage, lengths, widths, easements and other real-world ways math is applicable to these topics were major conversations.
Friday gave us time to finish up any remaining parts of the models, review the slide shows found on the Wright Museum website, continue to read more about other artists similar to Wright and watch a few episodes of the Netflix show, Abstract. We also spent a little time in the afternoon writing about what we had learned about both Wright as well as the world of architecture and design.
This week reminded me that all effective learning does not need to happen with textbooks open in front of our faces. We tackled a very big topic and ended the week with a great deal of experience and education, leaving many more conversations to happen at another time. Not only did we finish the week with a broad understanding of who Wright was and the kind of interesting design he created, but also with a list of topics to discuss another time. We had unanswerable questions like “how can buildings support the needs of those who live or work there?”, “How can we modify homes to better suit our needs?”, “is it easier to build from the ground up or renovate older builds to meet our needs?”, and “how many models can a razor blade be used for before it needs to be replaced”?
Have you ever donated a week to a single subject or topic of learning? What kinds of topics have you found that can create an enchanted week of learning for your homeschoolers?
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.