Monday, December 6, 2010

Unplanned Learning

A few months ago I signed up at C-SPAN's website to receive a free presidential poster.  It came to our house and I promptly put it in my "I'll get to this later" pile.  I completely forgot about it until I was cleaning off my desk a month later.  I opened it up and it was HUGE.  What was I going to do with this very large poster?  I was tempted to give it away. I folded it up and brought it down to the kitchen where AH was hanging out.  I showed him the poster and started unfolding it.  He was fascinated!  We laid it out on the kitchen floor and sat looking at all the information at our fingertips.  Not only did it include a list of presidents, but when they were born, other public service posts they had held, military service, what party they belonged to, America's population along the timeline, technology, supreme court rulings, constitutional amendments, and more!  We must have spent a good 45 minutes just looking and talking.  I wouldn't have considered this part of our "school day", but AH loved it so I couldn't just give this goldmine away.  It needed to be up, on display, somewhere we spend a lot of time.  Hmmmm....

The poster on our kitchen wall.

You wouldn't believe what we have done with this poster.  During dinner AH has taken to quizzing us on our presidential trivia (I am the worst!) and asking to be quizzed.  One day during breakfast he wondered just how many years of military service had been served by our presidents altogether.  He not only added all the years up, but then decided to make a chart with this information.  He found this exercise so interesting that it led to a series of charts that now grace the wall above the poster: Presidential states, birthdays, political parties, and more.

Years of military service.  No, Eisenhower did not serve the most years.

Presidential parties

Presidential birthday months
None of this has been planned.  It is AH's continuing interest in this poster and subject matter that has made learning history, social studies, and government so easy and so much fun.  He blew me away last week when he listed the first 8 presidents in order.  I asked if he could list all of them. He needed only one hint (he forgot LBJ).  I was reminded that learning occurs when you can take advantage of an interest and encourage a spark of curiosity to become a flame!

My kitchen won't win any decorating awards, but we sure have fun!


Michelle said...

This is great, and so awesome that AH is so interested in it. I'm off to see if they're still available (fingers crossed). I think the kitchen is the perfect spot for it :)

Lindsay and Co. said...

Cool! I signed up for one as well. I love the idea of having learning 'stuff' everywhere!

Sparklee said...

Very cool! Don't you love it when kids find a new fascination and then run with it?

My kitchen (or any other room) won't win any decorating awards either! We made a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder poster and I couldn't find a space for it. Now, anyone who visits our guest bathroom can learn about Laura Ingalls Wilder!

groovie mom said...

Awesome! I was thinking about our poster this morning and how I need to dig it out and get it up on the wall. Now if I can just remember where I stashed it...