Unit study : The Emergence of Farming (Free Powerpoint slide)

We started using Khan Academy for learning History in a chronological way about a few weeks ago. The videos by John Green are humorous, informative, and a great jumping off point that can lead to all sorts of research and reflection. First topic he deals with is about the emergence of agriculture. I felt there were some unanswered questions in the video. Of course! And nobody ever said these videos were really meant to cover everything one can or should learn about History. It’s great for starting off somewhere.

As my daughter and I are new to the 3D Notebooking thing – well, she has been doing some lapbooks and she likes them. Only thing is I find that with lapbooks, even if we tried to make it deal with more complex terminologies and concepts, there still isn’t a lot of scope to practice writing longer pieces – like an A4 sheet long piece of work, or more. And as my daughter is building up her skills towards her IGCSE English exam (which she will take in about 3 years’ time) which has a rather substantial essay-writing component, I decided to start getting her used to writing longer pieces from now on. So I found out about 3D Notebooking. It’s like a fusion of lapbooking and essay writing. Best example is to show you this website link so you can see what it’s about : http://notebookingpages.com/ There is also a gallery on that website where you can see examples of children’s 3D notebooking work in a large age range.

We started off gently. I first got her to read certain articles on the internet – news or informative ones, or watch videos, then asked her to write about a paragraph, a few lines of words, or as much as she wants, about her thoughts on what she’d just read/seen. She rather enjoyed this actually. I could see it seemed more fun than following a textbook. For this reason I will never ever try to teach History or Social Studies from a textbook ever again. I mean they can be useful as a base to jump off from, or as a guide to know when to learn what – but really ever since we started using Khan Academy, I realised how good it was and how much information is available online. The only problem is that there is so much information out there. It can take time to seek out what you’re looking for, and to verify the information is true.

I wrote up a Powerpoint slide show for my daughter to help her with the Emergence of Agriculture theme, kickstarted by the Khan Academy History video she watched.

The Powerpoint slide show I made can be downloaded here : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8KolCk2cqBESU5Rd3FHT0k4RXM/view?usp=sharing

So how I did it was I let her watch the Powerpoint. It includes some basic general info, some links, some possible new words (vocabulary-building) and some questions at the end to prompt some reflection or research. But I leave it up to her entirely on what she chooses to write about in her Notebooking pages.

I also purchased this set of Notebooking papers for her here : http://notebookingpages.com/archives/2330

I thought it would be nice for her to have, you see. I let her choose any design she wants. It’s her Notebooking pages. So her choice. She decides how the pages will look and what she wants to write in them and she decides if she wants to draw or stick mini-flapbooks in them or whatever. Everything gets filed into a folder reserved especially for Notebooking pages.

She ended up writing up about 3 pages worth of Notebooking pages on this topic alone. She chose not to do 3D notebooking this time, but just to do notebooking and draw in pictures herself. It was a great topic because it relates to a “living” book my daughter had read in the Sonlight Core D series called “Walk The World’s Rim” and it detailed a lot of how life was as a hunter-gatherer (the protagonist in the story is an American Indian boy). These days there is a trend (in some circles) of eating diets that emulate what the practitioners think hunter-gatherers supposedly ate in the past. They argue that the hunter-gatherer diet is healthier than the grain-based diet that humans started after they switched to an agricultural lifestyle. The reality of hunter-gatherer lifestyles can be less idealistic – often they went hungry for a week or more. Hunter-gatherer diets actually varied a great deal depending on the geography and environment each hunter-gatherer group/tribe lived in. Not all of them ate little grain. They were sometimes so hungry they ate ground-up fish bones or grubs for subsistence. Agriculture provided them with a more stable food supply (although even that can be disputed in times of famine and bad harvests). But there must have been reasons why so many human societies ditched the hunter-gathering lifestyle for agriculture. What were they? These things were explored in the Powerpoint slides I created for my child.

As part of our foray into this topic, we also looked into how switching from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural lifestyle may have changed our social dynamics. Hunter-gatherer lifestyles were more egalitarian. It was the agricultural lifestyle that brought about feudalism, etc. All very big concepts, big words, for a young 12 year old girl like my daughter. But she learnt a little from it even if she did not fully understand everything. I did not test her to see how much she understood. I did not even grade her notebooking work for her standard of writing or her ability to express her thoughts and opinions. This is a totally free, knowledge-enriching experience that I want my child to have. By learning this way, she doesn’t just learn History. She learns a bit of social studies, a bit of sociology, a bit of science, etc.  Like I said in a previous post, I don’t believe in compartmentalising learning into separate subjects. So much of learning – real learning- is a fusion of lots of different subjects and multidisciplinary in nature.

I wonder where our notebooking adventures will take us to next. But I’m really enjoying this home education journey with her. I love unit studies.



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