This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Studying Birthday 101

We just completed an intensive, all-consuming and vital unit study at Wonder World Academy...Birthday 101. That's right, we treated Brianna's birthday as a serious educational opportunity, and we were able to cover all school subjects through the planning and execution of a 5th birthday party!

This is one of the things I absolutely love about running a homeschool..."sneaking" in classwork without my child ever being aware she's in learning mode, because we're all having so much fun. It's even better than that private thrill a mom gets when she sneaks pureed vegetables into the spaghetti sauce and watches her kids devour it.

Just a few subjects we "taught" over the course of her birthday extravaganza:

Home Skills

Brianna did some hands-on homemaking tasks, including cooking, cleaning, and serving her guests. One of her gifts was a set of lace-up alphabet cards, to introduce beginner sewing skills (as well as some letter reinforcement).


We used many aspects of her party as an opportunity to teach math and counting skills. Counting balloons as we blew them up, measuring ingredients for her party food, estimating mini m&m's to decorate the tops of her cupcakes, counting the number of guests, counting and subtracting presents (how many, now you opened one, how many are left?), etc. And of course there were also time concepts explored here--how many days/weeks/hours left until the party, how much longer until the party is over, how many minutes until time to open gifts, etc.


Since she wanted to make her own cupcakes, baking is always a great time for a hands-on chemistry lesson. We also had some weather issues discussed that day--half the party was outside, half in, and the day was very hot and wind picked up and played havoc with decorations.


A lot can be done for art around a birthday! Making invitations is a natural, and decorations or party favors, of course. When it's someone else's special day, making gifts or the wrapping paper is also fun. With Bri, she helped with her decorations, and was kept busy during some of the "how much LONGER?" moments by giving her crafts to do.


We read several birthday-related stories prior to the big day, plus we used streamers with "Happy Birthday" words and decorated her pumpkin with words for letter/word recognition, used Happy Birthday words in her bedroom decor, and showed her directions as they were read (she's not reading on her own yet) for her cupcakes and decorations as needed.

Social Studies

This included social expectations and traditions at a party--being a polite host to guests, the order that activities typically occur, how certain birthday traditions came about, and just plain interacting with her extended family and friends made this a wonderful lesson in social studies. What's more, as part of the day's party we hosted a canned food drive to benefit a local her special day became about giving as much as receiving.

Phys Ed

Racing around upstairs and down to set up, doing party games and playing hostess was a good way to run off some steam!

Part of being a good hostess is making sure ALL your guests get fed--even your newborn niece!