Helping Children Show Their Scientific Learning

Helping Children Show Their Scientific Learning | Racheous - Lovable Learningcontains affiliate/sponsored links

“What happens to bones when they break?”

“Is there a man in space right now?”

“But Mum, what is grabity?” (gravity)

“How can planes fly?”

“Why does the heart pump blood all around our body?”

My 4.5 year old, like all children, is so full of wonder and questions.

Sometimes I ask him what he thinks, other times I ask where he thinks we could find the answer and we look. Other times questions spark a big discussion and more questions.

When kids are allowed the freedom to live and learn, they are natural scientists. From day dot, their minds are wired to search and question. Children spend much of their time exploring, tinkering, experimenting, prodding, making a mess, making mistakes, and repeat. That is, they practice capital S Science.

Rolling diy

The simplest way to get started with helping your child explore their learning and making meaningful expressions of their learning is, in my opinion, with science.

When it comes to learning, science comes very naturally in this family. I think that by it’s very nature, it is something that can so easily be viewed away from a two dimensional piece of paper (in contrast to say History or Mathematics – which can too, of course, but is less translatable). You don’t have to look hard to find opportunities to explore science. Simply by being in the world, we are surrounded by examples of science. Each little experience, every idea, every question, is helping the child to understand and build their internal model of the world around them.

But so many elements of science ARE abstract. So having ways to explore those abstract ideas and make learning visible is so important.

earth layersLearning about the Earths layers (right: source)

So what do we do? We give them opportunities to discover and absorb the natural world. We explore hands on science together and discuss what it means to experiment. I help them classify the world around them and let them express that learning how they see fit.

All your child needs to facilitate the expression of learning is access to resources (magnifying glass, documentaries, microscope, camera, binoculars, books, figures), open-ended materials (Spielgaben, loose parts, recycled materials, creative materials), time and freedom.

We should not force children to memorise knowledge but let them construct their own knowledge through discovery and creativity.

Skeleton DIY learning

Without coercion, I see Cameron showing me his learning through so many avenues. From imaginative role play to model making, drawing to small world play, and through his follow up questions. I see the gears turning in his mind and watch his comprehension unfold slowly and naturally.


Cam uses Spielgaben daily. I shared some of his recent science based explorations with Spielgaben in this post.


Spielgaben offers a 15% discount to Racheous – Lovable Learning readers – AUD $373 | USD $340 | GBP 200 including shipping to Australia, USA and UK (prices are approximate depending on conversion rates).

To take advantage of this discount, simply send an email to [email protected] mentioning Racheous – Lovable Learning and Spielgaben will reply with a discount coupon.

The Unlikely Partner in Our Unschooling Journey

Unschooling Life Without School Real Families series

Today I’m joined by my lovely friend and fellow unschooling blogger Andrea from hippyhappymama as part of a mini series ‘Life Without School | Real Families’. You know how much we love connecting with the natural world. I know this will inspire you!


I sit talking with my friends on our rugs, holding our babies and commiserating with each other about sleepless nights and toddler tantrums. Out of the corner of my eye I spy my children, walking up the hill holding a large tree branch with several of their friends from our group. They quickly discuss who should hold which part and which direction they will take. The branch is heavy but they work together to get it to where they deem necessary. Once it is lying on the earth, they run to the dry creek bed and each carefully choose a rock. They return to the branch where we watch them pound the rocks into the flesh of the wood. I hear one child say, “We can’t shape the rocks like this, the wood is too soft.” Most of them run back to the creek bed to try banging the rocks against other rocks. A few children remain, enjoying the effort of pounding against the branch even if it won’t have the outcome they expected. Us mamas, continue talking, all the while watching this amazing learning take place so easily and freely.



Later we see the children explore the back-burned ruins in the trees beyond the clearing and notice them take sticks covered with black soot to their rocks discovering they can draw with them and someone mentions it’s called charcoal. Later still, games of hide and seek, sword fights, treasure hunts and tree-climbing start and finish with little structure or rules, the main themes seem to be around enjoying this time in the fresh air and the sunshine. I sit back and remember to say a silent thanks to my incredible partner in this unschooling journey – nature.



Before I became a mother I appreciated Mother Nature’s gifts in the ways I assume we all do – experiencing the seasonal changes around us through windows and occasionally physically through the salty water in the ocean or the winter chill in the air. But now, I see so much more. I see how my children are connected to nature in a way that I must have felt as a child but have long since forgotten. I see how they explore every blade of grass, rock and stick before they are even able to speak. I see how the grass beneath their feet provides the perfect padding for babies learning to walk. I see the trees curving and bending to the sky, some shedding their leaves and others full of unique blossoms enticing little legs to stretch their muscles climbing and reaching. I see the sand at the oceans edge teaching children how even beautiful things crumble and fade. I see the vastness of the sea capture their imagination with mystery and danger all the while causing shrieks of summer joy as their bodies slip through the water and jump the shallow waves.



I see so much where before I saw nothing. I see knowledge being soaked up every time they step foot outside our door. I see now how much value my children place in their time in nature because they choose to spend so much of their day with the sun in their face. And because I have seen their joy and their connection to the earth I know I have to support it, and that I have to fall in love with it too. And I have.

I look forward to our camping trips in the bush. I enjoy them all the more when we’re far removed from the reach of civilisation. I like to see my children be free to explore and discover and experiment and test and try in all the amazing arenas that are out there in nature. I couldn’t buy a resource that gives my children all of that if I tried. I couldn’t compute or translate or even record all of the learning that has happened outside of the walls of our home in the last six years. It’s infinite. And it will continue to be.



A wise man said to me, “How will the children appreciate the environment, how will they appreciate nature if they never dance in the rain or sleep in the sun, if they are always corralled to ‘go outside’ under limits and rules? Children need to be at one with nature if we expect them to have a connection to our world.” I couldn’t agree with him more. I am seeing that my children have a secret friend in nature and although she was always speaking to me, it is only now that I am listening to her and understanding her language. I am so grateful that my children opened my eyes and my ears and for my not-so-silent friend in our unschooling journey. We do dirt, we do wild and we do free and there is no other way I would rather it be.



The Unlikely Partner in Our Unschooling Journey | Racheous - Lovable Learning Guest

Parenting a Sensitive Child Respectfully

Parenting respectfully naturally sensitive shy boy child

“I want to stay over here for a while” my 4.5 year old announces quietly as we arrive at a creek with some friends.

“Sure, I’ll be over there saying hello” I reply without a pause in my step.

We exchange happy hellos and little eyes flash over in Cameron’s direction.

“He just needs some time” I smile to his friend.

Picnic blankets are arranged, babes are boobed and worn, toddlers and kids have snacks and set off to explore. I turn around to see the quiet exchange of greetings and the next thing I know any apprehension has gone.


Conscious parenting with a sensitive child

I think one of the biggest hurdles I have when it comes to parenting respectfully is the judgement that comes with straying from the norm. Too often I get the sense that people think my parenting reinforces less than ideal behaviours. For some reason, sensitivity and shyness are viewed with negativity by society. Particularly with boys. I have wrote about shyness previously.

I think that when you parent consciously (natural, mindful, gentle, respectfully whatever you call it!), sometimes any perceived negative traits in your children are considered byproducts of your parenting choices. Oh, you discipline gently, that’s why your child is throwing a tantrum. You wear your baby? Must be why they’re not sleeping through the night.

Similarly, I think some people view Cameron’s shyness and difficulty in social situations as a result of my parenting choices – rather than as part of his character. & they consequently push their ideals onto him – expecting him to join in before he is ready or not allowing him to have time to himself – and it only exacerbates the issue.


2014-07-27 13.43.59

Parenting a sensitive child respectfully takes patience and sometimes, preparation.

What a sensitive child needs is a parent who is supportive and understanding, but helps them to deal with anxieties and is able to consistently guide them to feel safe. It is also beneficial if you can encourage your sensitive child to take risks socially and help them to feel pride in their social successes, no matter how small.

Keeping an open dialogue about coping with big emotions and difficult situations is so important. I love that Cam knows that he can talk to me and that I’m always there to come back to when the world seems daunting to him.

My highest aim is to model resilience and confidence to Cameron (while being vulnerable and showing him that I make mistakes and deal with difficult social situations too.) I empathise with his introversion and sensitivity. I too am ‘shy’ and think that I’m a pretty great person as a result of that (not in spite of it!)

I’m truly thankful for my fellow home educating friends I have made as they are genuinely supportive of my parenting. I think having that village is so important no matter what your parenting ideals are.


Parenting a Sensitive Child Respectfully  Racheous - Lovable Learning

Reading Eggs | Read-To-Cure Challenge

Cameron uses and loves Reading Eggs to learn to read. We tend not to use programs or a curriculum, however I love Reading Eggs and find that it is an engaging program that Cam really enjoys.

Today I’m going to be talking about the Read-To-Cure Challenge. From 4 August to 1 September, children all across Australia will be completing books and online reading lessons in the ABC Reading Eggs program to take part in the Challenge.

Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge | Racheous - Lovable Learning

To claim your 5 week FREE access for your child to participate in the ABC Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge, please visit

There are exciting prizes to be won and the money raised goes directly towards improving the lives of hundreds of children and their families who are affected by childhood cancer.What donations help achieve

Reading Eggs are working with Go Fundraise where you can set up a page with your child so that they can link up to the Reading Eggs cause and encourage friends and family to sponsor them!


During the Challenge they’ll be some great prizes up for grabs:

The top five children who raise the most funds WIN:

First prize: Apple iPad mini 16GB with Wi-Fi PLUS Apple iTunes gift card and Hoyts Family Movie Pass*, valued at $650.

Second prize: JB Hi Fi voucher worth $500 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $550.

Third prize: Toys R Us voucher worth $150 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $200.

Fourth prize: Toys R Us voucher worth $100 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $150.

Fifth prize: Hoyts Family Movie Pass valued at $50.


The top five children who complete the most books and lessons WIN:

First prize: Apple iPad mini 16GB with Wi-Fi PLUS Apple iTunes gift card and Hoyts Family Movie Pass*, valued at $650.

Second prize: JB Hi Fi voucher worth $500 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $550.

Third prize: Toys R Us voucher worth $150 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $200.

Fourth prize: Toys R Us voucher worth $100 and $50 Hoyts Family Movie Pass, valued at $150.

Fifth prize: Hoyts Family Movie Pass valued at $50.

*Hoyts Family Movie Passes include two adults tickets and two child tickets for general admission only.


So talk to your child about the challenge and see if they would like to support such a worthwhile campaign. Encourage them to complete as many ABC Reading Eggs books and online reading lessons as they can. Then you can get your friends and family to sponsor their efforts and all donations will go directly to the Children’s Cancer Institute.

If you’re already a Reading Eggs subscriber, register your participation here and follow the prompts to set up your child’s fundraising page. If you’re new, claim your 5 week FREE trial here and follow the prompts to register your child’s participation in the Read-To-Cure Challenge.

On 4 August 2014 the Challenge will begin. On this date your child can start to:

1. Read books in the ABC Reading Eggspress Library.

2. Complete ABC Reading Eggs online lessons.

3. Encourage friends and family to sponsor their reading efforts. All donations can be paid through your child’s personal fundraising page. Each donation will automatically update their personal fundraising tally.

On 1 September 2014 the ABC Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge concludes. Donations will still be accepted after this date but will not go towards earning prizes.

I would love for you to share if your child participates over on my Lovable Learning Facebook group!

Invitations to Explore with Rocks | Reggio Provocations

Invitations to Explore with Rocks | Reggio Inspired Provocations

Nature provides the best in Reggio inspired provocations. I love the Facebook page Creations in Nature and have been sharing some of their gorgeous images on my Facebook page.

Since I defined what a provocation is, I thought I would share some of my favourites, starting with those including rocks!


Some rocks naturally have white lines (bands of quartz) through them. Here a teacher has added the white lines with a white acrylic marker for a line art and math provocation.


This simple tray set up with sand and rocks inspired gorgeous natural mandalas.


Expand this mandala provocation by including rocks and pebbles of varying tones, colours, shapes and sizes. Furthermore, include photos or books with inspirational photos. This provocation included Andy Goldsworthy’s book ‘Stone’.


Inspired by Peter Reidel and of course Andy Goldsworthy, these children created balanced rock sculptures. I love how they included mirrors as well and kept it as open-ended as possible.


Extending upon balancing, this provocation included cards with numbers of rocks balanced and patterns.


Add a fine line marker and paper and perhaps you will inspire some observational drawing?


I love this larger scale land rock art! This is beautiful transient art and a great extension on simple outdoor play.


This rock themed provocation basket includes everything in one – the rocks, books, photos and inspiring materials all in one! The book Everybody Needs a Rock looks like a great read!


Speaking of cool books, I love the look of the book that inspired all of this awesome rock art at Stimulating Learning!

If Rocks Could Sing (a discovered alphabet) has stones in lots of different shapes that represent things beginning with all the letters. How fun!


My Nearest and Dearest shares two ways to play and create with rocks. Above, she shows how simple black sand and white rocks provokes beautiful calm play and art.

Below, she shares how they make rock people and faces.



Add some simple wire for another element of sculpture and process based creativity.


This looks very inviting. With the book beach stones and muffin tin trays with water, children can wash and arrange rocks.


Along the theme of water, add a brush and dish of water with a larger rock for a lovely open ended provocation.


When you add in scales, a provocation can be taken to a new mathematical level. I love how inviting this looks. I wish this store (Homemade Rainbows – it was so inspiring!) was still open.


Again with sand and rocks, this zen garden inspired provocation would be lovely for some quiet time play.


Lastly, this is a great ongoing group provocation with some simple patterns drawn on felt or card, alongside natural bowls with rocks and pebbles.

Some more books to inspire:


A Handful of Quiet | Happiness in Four Pebbles


If You Find a Rock

A Rock Is Lively