Oliver’s Research Calendar

It was a school holiday last Friday and on my way out the door to the office Oliver asked me what he should do all day.

Do some research on volcanoes,” I said.

And a few hours later in my email box arrived a collection of images and links on volcanoes and earthquakes.

So on Sunday we went into iCal on Oliver’s computer and set up a Research Calendar for him, with a topic for every day. Here’s what this week looks like so far:

  • Saturday: iPad
  • Sunday: Family History
  • Monday: Estonia
  • Tuesday: Lions
  • Wednesday: Van Gogh

Last night, in anticipation of today’s “Lions” topic, Oliver suggested to me that lions can navigate using the stars – I think he got this idea from The Lion King, but I’m not sure. I initially dismissed the idea – lions can’t use sextants, after all – but some quick web research revealed that animals use all manner of methods to find their way in the world, so who knows. More study needed.

This morning on the way to school we talked about how dogs are “canines” and cats are “felines” and we wondered what lions are. So Oliver’s going to look for an English to Latin translator when he gets home from school.

We welcome suggestions for future topics.


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous on May 11, 2010 - 17:12

<li>arctic tern</li>
<li>Easter Island</li>
<li>human origins</li>

Valerie's picture
Valerie on May 11, 2010 - 20:38

volcanoes, bridges, bees

esthertester's picture
esthertester on May 20, 2010 - 15:41

I love this idea. We use an activity chart to ensure that free time doesn’t end up being consumed by video game play. The kids get to see all the activities there are to do on their cards and fill out their weekly calendars with them. I think you’ve inspired me to create a research card to add to the mix.

Both Oscar & Clio have been curious about how things are made so this might be an angle by which to approach it. Putting on my “industrial design googles” now…

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 20, 2010 - 16:09

We’ve been at this for a few weeks now and I’ve found out some things:

<li>It’s best that it doesn’t seem like work, or an obligation; it’s more a “conversation starter.” So I don’t say “Oliver, have you worked on your research today?” but rather “Hey, do you know what I learned about bats today?” during a free moment.</li>
<li>Oliver’s naturally interested in maps and websites and I’ve found that he just naturally gravitates to using Google to find things out if he has a general topic to guide him; this has proved, if nothing else, to be a useful tool for keeping him from the Barbie websites that he otherwise naturally gravitates to.</li>
<li>The best “research topics” are completely open-ended, and usually just a single word, like “bats,” or “lions,” or “pocket gardens”; more complex topics, like specific questions – “Why does your pee smell when you eat asparagus?” – are less interesting to Oliver, probably because they don’t allow for as much free-form exploration.</li>

CJW's picture
CJW on May 22, 2010 - 14:33

What a great idea — I will try it someday (when the kids aren’t in diapers).

Some ideas:

- jumping
- bonsai trees
- archimedes
- aurochs
- jupiter
- glaciers

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