Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Power of Hands-On Learning

My local homeschool group recenty started a 4-H club. It has turned out to be such a blessing for all of us, because each month we are now given the opportunity to get together to:

• let the kids talk, work together, and play

• let the parents share their discoveries and ask questions

• help the children to "learn by doing"

I never had the opportunity to participate in a 4-H club growing up and for some reason assumed it was similar to an agriculture club, or something. But in reality, a 4-H club can be about anything or everything. Their main goal is to supplement a child's education by providing them with opportunities to "learn by doing."  The National 4-H Curriculum is available to all of their members. It focuses on 4-H’s three primary mission mandates: science, engineering and technology; healthy living; and citizenship. (They even have a ¡Qué Rico! Latino Cultural Arts curriculum! I can't wait to try it!)

Six families in our club (including mine) decided to try out the Embryology curriculum. So at our last meeting, our county agent brought each of us a copy of the curriculum as well as all the equipment necessary for us to complete the project. We all took home incubators, eggs, a rearing box, waterers, feeders, substrate, food, etc. We set up the incubators the same day, added the eggs the following day, and have been carefully recording our observations and actions. The curriculum is loaded with information about embryology and includes several related activities for the children. And this is all FREE. We just have to turn all our stuff back in (including the chicks) at our next meeting.

Last month, my daughter also participated in a regional Activity Day, by presenting a poster on eggs. Over 200 4-hers from the district gave presentations on the topic of their choice. The children were divided into different age groups:

• "Cloverbuds"  (ages 5-8) get the opportunity to give a presentation in a non-competitive setting.
• 9-10 year olds
• 11-13 year olds
• 14-19 year olds

The older kids who received a medal (gold, silver, etc.), also get the opportunity to compete at the state level.

This entire process was a great experiece for my child. Not only did she have a blast learning about her topic, but it helped her begin to develop her skills of research, goal-setting, organization, and oral presentation. In fact, she enjoyed putting together her posters so much, that we have decided to investigate this process a little more through lapbooking other topics. (More on lapbooks later.) Here is a look at the posters my daughter put together...


So if you have a 4-H club in your area, I would strongly encourage your to join one, or create your own! There's no reason you couldn't create a club that focuses on "bilingualism," "multiculturalism," or "world cultures!"

Con mucho cariño...


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