Thursday, August 15, 2013

tzedakah and unschooling

while the boys were doing HWT and math,
3 yo made a "telescope"
Lots of learning took place today. We had a trip to a history museum with homeschooling friends, where there was a workshop geared towards 3 yo. The boys did HWT, math and Chumash (7 yo knew yesterday's pasuk cold, and confidently read today's pasuk, all in under ten minutes). We went to taekwondo. But the most amazing learning was done by kids' initiative.

coal-burning locomotive
Today was unseasonably cold and windy. When we got back from the trip, all the kids got plastic bags and string and made "kites": they tied the string to the handles and tried flying them on the front lawn. Then 9 yo got large garbage bags and tried making a hot air balloon. He quickly discovered that it won't fly. While I was doing Chumash with 7 yo, he cut up and taped the bags into a large covering for the climber in the backyard. This used up a whole roll of tape. By the time the final product made it outside, it warped into a tent to be hung on the outside of the trampoline. 

paper bag kites
Then, while I was doing chumash with 9 yo, 7 yo brought in four more bugs. I gave him 4 dimes and he sat down to figure out how much is 10 percent of that for tzedakah. He pulled out Base Ten cubes, counted out 40 and divided them into 10 piles. He noticed that some had 3 and some had 4, so he recounted the total twice till he found his mistake. I was busy trying to nurse the whole time, so I was not supervising at all, just getting the report. Then he got the idea to see how much money there was in tzedakah boxes. By that point, 9 yo joined him. They opened up the boxes, spilled out the bounty and spent some time deciding on a strategy how to count this all up. There were over a hundred pennies, so the amount of coins to manipulate was significant. 3 yo joined them, just pushing the coins around.

tallying up tzedakah
Finally, they were ready to exchange the lower value coins into dollar bills. I keep a large assortment of sorted change for allowance, so this exchange was easy to facilitate. The boys decided to split the tzedakah between two shuls. They divided the total. I got them two envelopes. Here comes the cool part: 9 yo decided to write a small note of appreciation to the man who runs his Shabbos group and include it in the envelope. 7 yo, meanwhile, decided to label the envelope. This child spontaneously decided to write! and did not freak out when he was not sure how to spell! and stuck with it without tears! I was trying very hard to contain my excitement.

We dropped off both envelopes on the way to taekwondo. 7 yo and 3 yo went with me to both shuls' offices. We spoke briefly about how it is important to carry through whatever you decided to do and that it is good that we did not wait till Monday to drop off the envelopes.

It is funny: I have not discussed Rosh HaShana with the kids. They knew that we are in Elul, I did mention that we increase in tzedakah, and I bet that if I would have proposed the idea of counting all this money (or writing), they would have balked. All that I provided was time to carry out this enormous count and support in exchanging the coins and delivering the envelopes.

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