Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Case of the Missing Textbook

It was a dark and stormy night...

Maybe not. It wasn't dark or stormy and it certainly wasn't night.

I shuffled into the room, accidentally sloshing my cup of peppermint tea on my already crusty pajama top. What was that? Oatmeal? I hope. I sighed and made my way over to the couch my office.

The place isn’t much to look at. In fact, the whole building kind of looks like a stack of stale graham crackers. But we’ve called this little apartment on the 2nd floor home for a few years now. And if you can get past the large mountain of sewing stuff in front of the bookcase or the road bikes parked in the living room…it’s not so bad.  

My mine drifted to the case at hand. Where did I put that crazy thing? I glanced over to the last place I had seen it. Waving away a strange urge to catch a train in Constantinople or wrap myself in a tweed cloak, I got up to take a closer look.

"Hah! Maybe someone took it, "I said.

A small voice from the table spoke up.

"Are you talking to yourself again, Mom?" It was The Boy.

"Of course, not. Probably. Yes. I'm talking to myself. Have you seen it?"


"Have you seen your science book I put it right here!" I looked closer at the spot. What was that? A buttermilk glass ring and what looked like to be Strawberry Pop Tart Crumbs. I picked one up and tasted it. Yup. Strawberry Pop Tarts.

I thought for a moment. Hmm. The only person in the house that would leave behind a buttermilk glass ring is The Studly Muffin. But what would he do with a science textbook? That left the Strawberry Pop Tarts.

Mighty peculiar. I looked suspiciously at The Boy sitting at the table. He loved Strawberry Pop Tarts. And what was that in the corner of his mouth? A bit of Pop Tart? The more I thought about it  he did look a little shifty. And a little too pleased with himself. For one thing he was building some sort of strange contraption. A getaway car? A flotation device? Something to block Downtown Abbey from ever appearing on the television set again?

"Mom! Did you see this. I made a simple pulley. If I attach this Storm Trooper to this end of the pulley it will lift him up....." He want on to describe some sort of sci-ency stuff. I have no idea what he was talking about. My expertise extend only to things I can make up.

But I knew when I was licked. This kid didn't need that science book to learn science. I sighed. If you can't beat 'em...join 'em. I sat down at the table, picked up Darth Vader and said, "Okay then. Show me what we can do with him."

Case Closed.

Do you ever feel as if you are lost in the deep murky mysteries of a textbook? Have your child’s eyes become listless and shall we say it, Bored?”'

This is where Delight Directed Teaching comes in. 

Delight Directed Teaching makes up a good bit of our schooling. I’m not quite an unschooler. I was educated as a classroom teacher. I’ve had to rewire my brain just a bit. And I do enjoy planning. But there is something pretty terrific about allowing my son to follow his interests and passions. 

Just this past week Josiah asked me if he could write a mystery story. Why Surely! Josiah has had a fascination as of late for mystery stories. And because I am a bit gaga over the genre myself I have been only happen to indulge. 

I want to share with my steps of planning said Mystery Story. Maybe it will help you dip your toes into the fun world of Delight Directed Teaching. No textbooks needed 

First of all,  I kept a notebook of things I wish to accomplish. It is not a specific lesson plan. I wrote enough of those in college. With all those standards and objectives. Very dreary.  Instead I make a list of resources that I wanted to pull together so that I could assist Josiah with his project.

I looked through our library. If I could give any advice to any homeschooler is that you need to always be building your library. Many of our books I found at The Thrift Store.  I piled up a variety of mystery novels for inspiration. If perchance I don’t have what I want I make a list and put the books I want on hold at the library. We have a large city library system and I know I can get quite a few good ones. If the subject matter is say, more historical in nature, I make sure that there are plenty of books, magazine articles, etc.  for research.

My first place to look for supporting movies, videos, etc. is Netflix. I found a few movies appropriate to the subject and Josiah’s viewing guidelines and added them to our "Watch Instantly List." I always like to add a movie experience to whatever we are studying. I also found clips of famous detectives on Youtube.

 Are there things that we can do that brings the subject to life? In this case Josiah's goal is write a mystery story. From his reading and watching he gets inspiration. Now I must teach him to organize his thoughts into characters, clues and intrigue. 

I use  Pinterest a lot! What a happy place for the homeschooler! I believe I could find a resource for about any kind of lesson, unit on Pinterest. You can check out the board I made on detectives

Are there any field trips we can take? Maybe not this week, but maybe a teacher or another homeschooler has created a lapbook or unit study that I can incorporate. Here are some of my favorite sites to check out.

So do I worry about gaps learning this way? Not really. It used to stress me out a bit. But I've realized that he learns so much when he's truly interested. Think about this. By researching the mystery genre and then writing his own mystery story he learns about story elements. His writing skills are polished.  He puts his editing skills to work. And instead of using random sentences from a textbook, he is learning by using his own words. And he has a finished product he can be proud of. 

I gave you an example of Josiah's mystery writing career as part of our Delight Directed Approach, but I have used the same method for many different things. Sharks. Levers and Pulleys (MacGyver, anyone?), Archeology (Indiana Jones), Snakes, Pond Life...and it goes on and on. 

So, dear friends, I hope you are inspired to add a little mystery and intrigue into your schooling every now and again. And lose the least every once in a while.


I am linking up with some of my fellow TOS crew bloggers for the 5 Days of Creative Teaching!


  1. It's a pinnable post for me. :) I enjoyed reading that, a good step by step way to help folks do child-led/delight-directed learning. :)

  2. Pinterest is one of our favorite resources, too! I think it's been one of the biggest reasons I have the confidence to homeschool -- between the sharing and the visual layout, I can actually plan lessons without losing my mind!

    Stopping by from the Crew.

  3. Great post! It was fun to read, so I'm sure it was fun for your son, too. My daughter is very into mysteries right now -- both reading and writing them. I like your outline.

    I'm your newest follower from the Crew.

  4. Love your take on today's topic for the Hop! I'm your newest follower and fellow Crew member ; )

  5. Aww I like this post. Reading all these blogs is giving me new ideas for incorporating more fun into school. Thank you!


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