Sandra Dodd

Is Unschooling about activities?
I think yes, largely--life is learning and an active life is better
than a quiet/still/dull life where nothing's happening.

So Amanda has put this on her blog:
It's the 4/5 year old activities thread--she's put the ideas and
suggestions in there in one long list.

At first I was excited and went to find a place to put it on my page.
As I looked here and there for where to put it, I realized it didn't
fit. If I added "activities" to the top of my list of topics, it
would mar the whole operation.

There aren't "unschooling activities." There are real-world
activities. Unschooling is a different way of seeing those
activities, a different way of engaging in them, and of valuing them
in retrospect.

Brainstorming on this list is one thing and it's not a bad thing!
Having those ideas where people will come across them isn't a bad
thing at all. But if I start collecting activities for 4 and 5 year
olds, will people want a new and different set of activities for 6
year olds? Or if there's a list of things to do, will people come
back and say "We did all that. Now what?"

I'm still thinking, but it seems it's more important to discuss why
and how than what.


Pamela Sorooshian

On Jul 5, 2008, at 12:10 PM, Sandra Dodd wrote:

> Brainstorming on this list is one thing and it's not a bad thing!
> Having those ideas where people will come across them isn't a bad
> thing at all. But if I start collecting activities for 4 and 5 year
> olds, will people want a new and different set of activities for 6
> year olds? Or if there's a list of things to do, will people come
> back and say "We did all that. Now what?"

My 17 yo has been coloring for the past few days. I bought really good
quality colored pencils (Prismacolor) and coloring books for our cross-
country train trip and all the girls on the trip really enjoyed them.
I got Dover coloring books - one is costumes, another is cats, another
is fashion, one is butterflies, and there was also an art masterpieces
one. And I got some of those beautiful geometric shapes coloring books
by - Ruth Heller? (I think)

Anyway - they were enjoyed on the long train trip, but also since we
got home, Rosie has been spending a lot of time coloring.

I'm posting this to reinforce what Sandra is concerned about regarding
these activities being listed as for specific ages. What makes sense
to me is to say that 4 to 5 year olds might like these activities, but
it doesn't make sense to think of the activities as being "for" four
to five year olds. It was fun to think back about what my girls loved
doing at that age - but, really, what I had was either a 4 yo and 1 yo
or a 7 yo, 4 yo, and 1 yo, or an 11 yo, 7, and 4 yo. And they all
enjoyed the activities I mentioned, it wasn't specifically or only the
four year old.

For several years I ran a girl scout troop that had girls from 4 to 16
years old. What we noticed, in a big way, was that the activities we
thought were aimed at the younger girls were very very often taken up
with great gusto by the older girls - they were visibly thrilled to
have the chance to engage in a lot of the activities that most people
would have judged were "too young" for them. And, sometimes, the
younger girls would work with the materials intended for the older
girls and have a great time - sometimes surprising us with their
competencies, sometimes using the same materials to do simpler things.

I think we're better off to think in terms of what a particular child
might enjoy, rather than generalizing about certain ages of kids.



> There aren't "unschooling activities."

I agree. I looked on the blog you referenced and couldn't find the
entry you mentioned. I remember having a list of things for my kids
to do when they were younger, but it wasn't categorized into age
levels. That sounds like schoolish thought. My list was more of
a 'I'm bored, what can I do next' type list where I used pictures to
remind the kids of all the things we had around the house. I think
you're right that if there is a list for 4 & 5 year olds, someone else
will ask for something more than that. They might think one list is
for before school age, and another during school age. But school age
is not an unschooling idea.

Beth M.

Sandra Dodd

I forgot the trick to get a URL to stay whole.
I'll try a few things. But for the reader who couldn't find the thing, it's a worthwhile thing to
learn to restore broken URLs. If only the first part "lights up," cut and paste the whole thing,
and put it in the URL box. You might need to take out a space.



If neither of those works straight out, go to the first part of it (delete everything past the
.com part) and then look for a post that looks like 4/4 year old activities.



Step 16 gives you the key to avoiding airline issues this summer!

> Driving Directions
> Link: <,+CA&daddr=Sydney,+Australia&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=66.53548,104.238281&ie=UTF8&z=2>
> Start address: Long Beach, CA
> End address: Sydney NSW Australia
> Start at: Long Beach, CA
> 1. Head south on S Pine Ave toward E Seaside Way - 0.2 mi
> 2. Turn right at W Shoreline Dr - 0.6 mi
> 3. Take the Ocean Blvd ramp - 0.2 mi
> 4. Follow signs for Long Beach Fwy - 0.8 mi
> 5. Keep left at the fork to continue toward I-710 N/Long Beach Fwy and
> merge onto I-710 N/Long Beach Fwy - 3.1 mi
> 6. Take the exit onto I-405 N - 42.0 mi
> 7. Take the exit onto I-5 N Passing through Oregon Entering Washington
> - 1,113 mi
> 8. Take exit 167 on the left toward Seattle Center - 0.7 mi
> 9. Turn right at Fairview Ave N - 400 ft
> 10. Turn left at Valley St - 0.2 mi
> 11. Turn right at Westlake Ave N - 1.6 mi
> 12. Turn right at 4th Ave N - 0.3 mi
> 13. Turn right at N 34th St - 0.3 mi
> 14. Turn right at Stone Way N - 112 ft
> 15. Turn left at N Northlake Way - 0.3 mi
> 16. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean Entering Australia (New South
> Wales) - 7,906 mi
> 17. Sharp right at Macquarie St - 0.4 mi
> 18. Turn right at Albert St - 289 ft
> 19. Turn left at Phillip St - 0.1 mi
> 20. Turn right at Bridge St - 0.3 mi
> 21. Turn left at George St - 0.2 mi
> Arrive at: Sydney NSW Australia
> This email was sent to you by a user on Google Maps (

Sandra Dodd

The title's honest, though--that was the topic, and that was the
If you wanted to change it maybe add
(or any age)
but you don't need to change it. I just need to not link it. And
that felt odd.

Sometimes there's a part of the explaining of unschooling that needs
more sanding, because it's kind of rough or people rarely go there or
something (vague thoughts here, too).

It's easy AND simple to tell people what unschooling isn't. Don't do
school, don't do lessons, don't use a curriculum.

Then comes the next step: What TO do. But a list of things to do
doesn't help much, or it doesn't in itself become unschooling at all.

The parents have to change, for unschooling to really take root.

Anyone can go to the store and buy a bulb in a pot and watch it bloom
and own a plant. But to have bulbs living in your yard, dividing
themselves, coming up every year without any further work from you
other than watering them (where applicable--I live in the high
desert, where yards get watered or they turn back to dusty dirt),
then you're going to have to have a good place for them to live, and
loosen up the dirt, and put them in there and keep them from dying
until they get established.

Unschooling becomes like an established bulb garden (way better and
bigger and broader, but for purposes of this analogy, stay with me a
bit). Bulbs will arise that you didn't plant. And maybe you
originally bought some bulbs, or someone gave them to you, or you
bought a house where some were already in the ground. But there were
original bulbs.

This list and the sites and blogs you can get to so easily from it
are like a big bulb exchange. You can gather up TONS of ideas and
inspirations and warnings and reminders, but nobody can put those
bulbs in the ground at your house but you. Carrying a bulb around in
your pocket, or having one in a pot in the kitchen isn't going to do it.

Here's a page that should help the parents of anyone, any age. It
will help childless young adults. It will help empty-nest older folk:

That's what unschooling needs. Not lists of activities (those are
available all over the place) but new ways to see the same old things.



Maybe wording it something like:
"A few ideas for playing and having fun"
will be better then anything that says:
"Activities" or "things to do"
List like that give me ideas of fun usually for me to do with my kids.
Sometimes I am too busy cleaning ( trying to ) or other projects and I read ideas like those
in this list and I drop those things to go play with my kids and be a kid with them.
New ideas are fun for me. I am not that creative. My mom is like that she is super full of ideas that just pop
on her head of fun things to do. Like painting my garden rocks and creating animals with them.
Making bird houses of oranje juice and milk jugs and decorating with old bark , pine cones,pine needles, and many other materials found in the ground.
Just going out for a walk and picking up flowers, rocks, leaves and creating things with it.

Alex Polikowsky

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


And I am adding, even if someone else has already, the pseudo
gender-orientation of activities is also easy to do and not particularly
happy for kids. Dress up being a great example. 5 year old ds has loved it
since he was about 2 1/2. He wants capes and drapy headpieces along with
the ninja faceplate and the monster masks. He enjoys polly pockets every
bit as much as his action figure toys. He adores dollhouses as much as
those racing tracks for hotwheels.

The fruit of that is a wild confident imagination about what beings there
are and how they interact. Yesterday his dad began a story for ds to
complete. "A little boy and his lion were walking in the forest one day.
They came upon a spider and the spider said...." then without missing a
beat ds added "Don't step on me. I'm a electric spider and I'll electrocute


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Sandra Dodd

-=. He enjoys polly pockets every
bit as much as his action figure toys. He adores dollhouses as much as
those racing tracks for hotwheels.-=-

I was putting some of Kirby's toys away just the other day. The
Ninja Turtle Sewer is a dollhouse for ninja turtles. That's not the
preferred terminology for boys. It's a stage for action tableaux, at

And there were miniature Turtle like-dollhouses, too, like Mighty Max
(like Polly Pocket, kinda) but all Ninja Turtles from the early 90s.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]