The Island of Chess


On Tuesdays we go to the homeschooling coop. This usually takes half a day so virtually no other schooling happens. This particular coop has several things going for it. It is about 3 miles from our house so we can take our sweet time getting ready. Some of the Rocket Boy’s best friends are in this coop. My best friend is in this coop. The format is great – start with running around the playground, then go inside for a short (under 10 min) presentation and lots of hands-on fun (1+ hour), help with the clean up, go back outside and spend the next hour-two-three at a playground with friends.

Sept2015-Build water tower

Another reason we like this coop is that each week we do something different. So far this year we had an engineering day where the kids had to solve two engineering challenges – build a water tower out of toothpicks, marshmallows and daisy cups; and to build a rocket-like projectile, powered by air, that would cover the greatest distance.


Then we had a farming day where we all learned to grow micro-greens (we are still munching on our sweet pea micro-greens although by now they are about 10 inches long making them at least mini-greens).


This week was all about dioramas. First the kids listened to a short presentation about the history of the dioramas. They also looked at some pictures. Next, they each picked a box – shoe box, Altoids tin, berry basket, whatever and filled it with lots of odds and ends (corks, dominoes, puzzle pieces, scraps of paper and fabric, thread, plastic dinosaurs, fake flowers, real twigs and pebbles, beads, foil, game tokens, ribbons and many-many-many other things). Then it was time to create and use glue sticks and glue guns with abandon.


The Rocket Boy created a jungle-covered island that is a stronghold of the White chess pieces. They are expecting an attack from the opposing Black forces. Fortunately, they have a powerful cannon, a Pawn watch tower and a Knight on the lookout near the sandy beach (“one if by land, two if by sea” comes to mind).


At the end of the official part of the coop (before the clean up and the playground time) all the dioramas were lined up for a big display. We all walked around, admired and snapped pictures. The kids (btw, it’s a mixed age group that includes all ages from toddlers to teenagers) were wildly creative. Some of our favorites were


“The end of the dinosaurs”




Barnyard surprise (surprise is in the Altoids tin – a diorama inside a diorama)




This little guy, whatever he was.


Egyptian pyramid top to bottom


Altoids tin monkeys


Altoids tin terrarium


Altoids tin forest.

And then we went to the playground.


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