adventures in unschooling



Cassius and Paris went on a tour with Tamara, Maia & Kate  of the Russian tall ship

the Krusenstern docked in North van. It is the biggest tall ship in the world. It was a

beautiful sunny day and I was sad I left my camera at home. The ship was decked out
in flags and blaring Russian disco music. They have a disco at night-$29 dollars for a
martini and dancing. Needless to say Cassius opted out of the disco but did take the
 $8 tour.

Cassius:"It was really big. When I looked down into the engine room I wasn't expecting
it to be so deep. It was a hundred feet at least. We saw a little church for the crew, and
a museum of all the awards the ship had won in races. One of the awards shaped like
a bell said "Titanic". We looked down into the kitchen and they had humongous pots
and pans. The masts were 35 meters tall."

Paris:"I liked the flags and Tamara said, "See guys, this is the captain of the ship." The
ship was hooked up to the dock. A guy said "Lets get this boat going!" Captain Hook
was not there.


We have been going to the homelearners gym every week in North van. It is great the see the kids play dodge ball and volley ball etc. in a joyful, positive, trauma free way. Tamara and I spend the whole time playing badminton. Every once in while the kids will come and join us. For the first couple of weeks Cassius couldn’t hit the birdie at all and didn’t seem too impressed by the game.

I was having so much fun with Tamara that I bought my own set. When I brought it home Cassius asked me if I would play with him. We have been playing everyday in the amazing spring like weather we’ve been having. He LOVES it. He keeps begging me to play with him and saying how much fun he has with me (in a bit too surprised of a tone.) He would play with me way more than the hour we have been playing – even though we hardly manage to hit the birdie because of the wind!

It’s interesting to watch him fail and fail and fail and just keep trying, not in the least perturbed. Perhaps it’s because I’m there failing with him. He likes to talk about why he missed or didn’t and what we could do differently. When we play next week in the gym he thinks we’re going to be way better because there won’t be any wind.

We got a birdie with real feathers and it is our favourite to play with.

Homelearning Neighbourhood House: Our First Garage Art Day

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Our first Garage Art Day was not actually in the garage at all. First of all the garage was a mess, and also it was a beautiful sunny day!

Building an art table

Apparently you can’t just screw legs on flat piece of wood and then expect it to stand. We did it the wrong way , and then we took it apart and did it the right way. Good thing there was four of us. It looks great!

Knight camp #4

Here is a great little video my Uncle madeĀ  of Cassius’ most recent Knight Camp performance. Cassius really enjoyed himself this time, and commented that he could tell that all his hard work was paying off. He felt pretty good about defeating two of his teachers also.

Lemon Power


Recently at our Homelearner’s Co-op, Anja led some experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Cassius asked me if I knew that some acids, like lemons and some bases can conduct electricity. When we were at home, Cassius asked Rosalind for her meter. He stuck both the ends of the meter in a lemon and was disappointed to see no reading on the meter.

Rosalind explained that the meter just measures voltage or current, it didn’t create a circuit. Rosalind was curious where he got the idea from and he said that it was from a video he had watched on BrainPOP. They watched it and Cassius said he was confused – he was thinking lemons created electricity not conduct it.

This got Rosalind thinking about making batteries from citrus fruit. She sent him the experiments included below. As it turns out, he was right, you can power things with lemon power not just conduct electricity through it

Electric Lemon Experiement

“Find a dime and penny dated before 1987 and wash them thoroughly. Have a parent cut two slits in another juicy lemon, about 1/4 inch apart, and insert the coins halfway into each slit. Stick out your tongue and touch both coins simultaneously. You’ll feel it tingling–that’s electricity!”

This picture is of Cassius and Anja testing their lemons. At first they didn’t put the coins close enough, but when they moved them, it worked.

I found Cassius’ original experiement interesting because it was something he tried because he had an idea and wanted to see if it worked. The fact that it didn’t work led him him learning even more to figure out how to make it work.

Rosalind and Cassius figured out that the penny had copper plating and the dime has nickle plating. We also figured out that the Canadians held on to having these metals in our money longer than the Americans so if we followed the American dates we should be safe. We had to soak the coins in vinegar for a while to clean off the oxidation.

Timez Attacks

We discovered this game a few years ago – but they didn’t have a mac option. We checked it out the other day and they had a free Mac version 2-12X tables. Cassius loves it – all the kids do. Cassius who has never shown any interest in the multiplication was jumping and yelling out the answers! It’s wonderful to see the looks on the younger kids faces. I can tell they’re thinking, “Math is so cool – I can’t wait till I beat the troll too, like the big kids!”

Of course you can only have the cool environments if you pay for the upgrade, which we discovered when we reachedĀ  level three. Cassius convinced me to buy it. He was pleading to learn math, how could I say no? Now I wished I waited until he got to level five or six, so the novelty of the new environments would go farther. But who knows, it might keep his attention all the way to 12. He now knows his 2 and 3 X tables all the way to 12 and is working on the 4’s. So it is really working for him right now, and he is so proud of himself when he succeeds.

I’ve really noticed how much it helps him if I sit with him while he’s learning something new, and help him remember to breath and stay calm when he feels frustrated and afraid of failing ( or getting hit by a troll)! Once he’s got past this point he just takes off!

Bionicle Writing


Makuta Zeth had been a loyal servent to Makuta for many years, but was banished when he fell for a trap the Toa had set. Ever since then he has been trying to take down the Toa, this has been made hard by the fact that Makuta has taken away his mask power.


Ever since he was mutated, this Matoran has been trying to seek his revenge on the Matoran who fear him and attack him. His desire is to live with them and rule them. He has poison breath and can duplicate.

Bionicle come to the rescue once again. Cassius has been spending time on the lego network. He calls it Lego facebook. He has been posting pictures of his Lego creations and writing descriptions of them. He tells me what he wants to write and I write it out for him. He then copies it out on paper or types it – so he has been getting some writing practice I was so worried about!

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Cassius was in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday with Academie Duello. It was pouring rain and then snowing. He was freezing waiting in the cold for four hours, but had fun swordfighting down Georgia Street.

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The Return of the Blueberry Ninja!

Cassius needed to make a puppet for his animation class and he decided to make it of the Blueberry Ninja cartoon he greated a few years ago. He worked sooooo hard on this. The work was very detailed and he had a challange figuring out how to cut along the line. Making the joints was very tricky.

I sat beside him all day as he figured it out. Sometimes I would do it at the same time as him and explain exactly what I was doing. This really seemed to help. I found it difficult to figure out myself, since I had never done it before. It was really fun solving our problems together. After working all day he figured out that the arms couldn’t reach the weapons because the were on the back. I moved then to the front for him. He really did make the puppet himself though!

They spent the class making an animation with the Blueberry Ninja as the hero.