Thursday, February 01, 2007

the six birds

Following the lead of our succesful day on Monday, I decided to try again yesterday to take one of the kids' idea and run with it for our day's activities. Wednesdays are fairly relaxed days for us anyway -- we have a community exercise/movement class in the morning, then we spend a quiet afternoon at home, both because the kids (especially Zoo Boy) are pretty beat after 45 minutes of solid movement, and also because I don't do enough of that in general -- just being at home -- so I've actually written time for that in our weekly schedule.

After our rest time, I set up an OT activity for them (a short obstacle course with a lot of bouncing and jumping), then played a round of "fishin' for favorites" to get in some more bouncing and some focused RDI time. At the end, the kids jumped into the "fishing hole" (the ball pit) and pretended they were catching fish. That got us talking about animals that eat fish, and then more specifically about birds that eat fish. Which gave me an idea.

In watching a Blues Clues episode the other day, Zoo Boy asked if we could play a game they did on the show -- there were cards on the floor with pictures of various colored objects on them, and a leader called out the colors and the kids had to jump onto the right colored object. I have a deck of bird flashcards, so I sorted through the deck and extracted the colorful birds from it. I scattered the cards on the ground, then explained the rules to the boys. Then I called out a color and the boys had to jump onto a bird that was that color. (The photo is of the kids playing this game, listening for the next color.) Then we picked up that bird card and flipped it over to find out the name of the bird. This game was a BIG hit with the kids (especially Zoo Boy, our budding Ornithologist), and they insisted on playing it twice.

One of the birds in the deck was a Kookabura, so after the game was over, I left out the Kookabura card and we all danced around it singing the "Kookabura" song with assorted variations in words and movements (sometimes he sat in the old gum tree, sometimes he climbed up the old gum tree, sometimes he flew around the old gum tree, sometimes he ate gumdrops).

After several rounds of the song, I fished out a book I had recently purchased at a local thrift shop for $1. It's entitled The Song of Six Birds by Rene Deetlefs, illustrated by Lyn Gilbert, both from South Africa. The story tells the tale of a village girl who is given a songless flute as a gift. There are wonderful snippets of village life displayed as she wanders about filling her flute with the song of 6 native African birds. In the end, the beautiful music she plays inspires a village-wide festival and celebration. WONDERFUL story!

After reading it, the kids wanted to flip back through the book to find the names of the birds and the songs they sang, and we all practiced singing the songs of the six birds. They then started flipping through the flashcards to see if they could find any of the six birds in there, and I faded into the background to leave them to their quest. Eventually they started playing pretend games about the six birds, having birds from the deck of cards talk to the six birds, etc. By the time The Map Man got home, Zoo Boy had an entire birthday party set up for the six birds and we each had a role as a party guest.

I officially declared the day another raging success. Which has me thinking that my best plan for using the Enki curriculum is going to be to arrange my materials in thematic folders so that I have easy access to materials to use based on the natural inclination of the kids as to what is interesting them that particular day/week. They certainly seem more integrated with the experience when it comes from an inner place, and they have a more open intake of the "lesson". The day just seems to flow easier, more naturally. And the flexibility of that sort of set-up appeals to me, strong believer in unschooling that I am.


At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So wonderful!!!! Sincerely, Diane

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is there a certain part of the Enki curriculum that you find particularly helpful and related to RDI? I like the idea of thematic folders as I am having a hard time with the organzational end of things. My son is 5, but not as far along, RDI wise, though moving through.

I love this blog! It's a huge help to see how this is done in the real world.



At 11:32 PM, Blogger Harvest Mom said...

Jennifer, the fact that the Enki curriculum is heavily based on child development research, just like RDI is, is what I think makes the two so compatible. Reading the Enki Homeschool Foundation Guides is very similar to reading materials on RDI. So combining the two just seems so natural. The daily/weekly rhythms are a wonderful framework to support an RDI lifestyle atmosphere, and there is a nice emphasis on slowing down (spending more time at home, not doing a lot of running here and there), just like RDI. Unlike RDI, there is a big emphasis on Sensory Integration, but it's always been the one thing I thought was missing from the RDI program, and I think this is a way to incorporate something that I think is extremely important for all children, but especially so for kids with Autism, in an RDI-compatible manner. The emphasis of the academic portion of the curriculum is on discovery and creativity, also the goals of an RDI program.


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