I am constantly amazed at what we can glean from birthday parties.   It is a great opportunity to see that learning happens whatever the family is doing.

Learning when Planning the Party

There is the character side – the giving, the thoughtfulness, the focusing on someone other than self (for the non-birthday people), the appreciation/gratefulness, the contentedness (not having a wishlist), self control (people and chocolate cake make it all easy to loose self control on birthdays!)

There is the academic side –- The art in making cards, wrapping paper, the gift; which would include technology and math.

The language in writing in the card.

The speaking skills in saying “happy birthday” or in talking on the phone to grandparents (which is a life skill too).

The language in writing thank you notes to family who sent things in the mail.

The family identity – following what we do as a family, being content to be with family – not always needing friends, building family traditions

Learning During the Party

The social skills:  being kind, thoughtful, good manners, considering others.

The games involved: the running, taking turns, imagination, looking out for others who are too little or not joining in, being fair.

The being able to say goodbye!

Learning After the Party

The cleaning up!  Oh, the life skills there – don’t think I need to list them!!

Playing with the gifts – this often covers a multitude of learning areas – take Nomi’s recent birthday as an example:

  • Make an insect:  This covered math, science, technology and when she told me about her creations it was English.
  • Plaster kit:  This will cover art, technology/materials, and when she writes about it English!
  •  Needle kit:  When she arranges her needles here it is Technology (looking after her equipment / systems) When she uses the needles she is selecting the right tools for the job and therefore will be making/sewing something which is technolgoy/art.
  •  Monopoly:  This game has been stretched out over days so there is a list of social skills happening as well as the math/money.  The older kids have had more in-depth discussion on the history of the game and the location of the properties etc as well as economics and insurance.
  •  20Q – Playing this game has increased reading and vocab, categorising skills and thinking skills.  This would cover English, Math, and Science.
  •  Stamp collecting:  She has read about Stamp collecting, and spent a long time organising and thinking about her collection – opening the doors to Math, English,  Society and Environment.
  •  DVD – yep… even a family time around a DVD brings in learning opportunities:  Viewing skills, especially when we discuss the movie later in terms of the construction of the movie, the music used, how they got animals to act, what their favourite lines where.  Any learning area can be pulled into a movie.  See www.teachwithmovies.com

So though we haven’t achieved many of my goals for this week – a birthday has brought many learning opportunities into our family life.  I am sure we took each opportunity to its full and in doing so had a great learning week together.

Further Reading:

Relationship based activities for Learning:  We can use regular family life to teach our kids the foundations for all learning.

Family Life Creates Learning Opportunities:  Learning comes in all sorts of activities – don’t limit your homeschool to book work. 

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