We don’t follow traditional school subjects or strict curricula. Instead, our activities stem from my son’s curiosity and interests. I take the many questions of childhood seriously: the endless why’s, where’s, what’s, who’s and how’s fuel our adventures. He is, after all, the pilot, i.e. the one in charge of his learning.
Despite the lack of a strict curriculum, we do have a structure. We categorize our activities based on what we’re doing (e.g. communicating, solving, etc), which often integrates two or more traditional subject areas. Our categories are represented by color, and our palette is described below.
Click on the color to view our activities, games and projects under each.
There is a lot to learn from the achievements and failures of those who came before us. As Sir Isaac Newton said, If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. The BLACK in our palette is our conscious effort to look back and reflect on people and events that contributed to the world as we currently know it.
The BLUE in our palette is probably best summed up with this one word: character. It’s working hard, trying, trying again, being nice, playing fair, winning gracefully, handling failure, seeking courage, dreaming big, believing, finding wonder… It’s grit, i.e. strength of character, the really important stuff.
The BROWN in our palette is a quest to find answers, explanations, or solutions, and the skills needed to help us out. These are puzzles, mazes, riddles, sequences, patterns, math and logic, to name a few. BROWN is anything that makes us scratch our heads and then later shout “I got it!” when we’re done.
The GREEN in our palette is communicating: reading, speaking, writing, listening, sharing, and even communicating in non-verbal forms. We begin by deciphering those tricky language symbols more popularly known as the alphabet, and move on to many other important aspects of communication, including body language, tone, and respect, just to name a few.
ORANGE is inspired by various child development studies stating that—and I loosely paraphrase—movement, music and learning go together like cats and the Internet. Jumping. Hopping. Twisting. If it involves motor skills, it’s an orange. If it moves us to dance, like a good beat or a thumping rhythm, it’s orange. If moves us to tears, like a heartfelt rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, it’s orange, too.
The PINK in our palette is the act of making marks on paper. All kids can draw. More importantly, they believe they can draw, and they enjoy it. For various reasons, a lot of grown-ups have lost their belief in their abilities, and their enthusiasm over this simple act of creating, thinking and feeling has waned. Drawing is more than an artistic act. It helps our brains and well-being in ways that only drawing can. So here’s PINK in an attempt to keep the faith alive.
In the PURPLE in our palette, we use our senses to investigate and make sense of our world, as well as things beyond our world. Curiosity. Experimentation. Questioning. Discovery. These are our big purple words. And if I’m to be completely honest, this one does fall under a traditional school subject area. It’s called Science.
The RED in our palette brings out the makers in us. To create is to make something exist, not just in our heads but in some form that one or more of our senses can appreciate. In RED we turn ideas to reality, express our creativity, engineer, prototype, build. We think with our hands.
Although supposedly only 1% of genius (the other 99% being perspiration), our palette, represented by WHITE, includes inspiration. We seek inspiration from great masters in various fields, from amazing stories from our history, from beauty—natural and man-made, earth-bound and beyond, from everyday heroes.
In YELLOW, everything is possible. We imagine worlds through play and stories. We come up with ideas—impossible and improbable ones—about anything, from how mustard should be made, to various ways to reform and, if necessary, destroy evil monsters. In short, yellow is magic. Just like childhood.