When Zane was in fifth grade we had been homeschooling, with some help from the public school district, for a few years. It was an arrangement that my more experienced homeschooling and unschooling friends found too restrictive but I really needed the structure and reassurance. I chose the curriculum and the district supplied the textbooks, some enrichment classes, and teacher support. All they asked was that I agree to teach to the district standards and check in with an education coordinator for a review once a month. However, by December of the year Zane was in fifth grade things were changing. We had an arrangement... I wrote out a daily agenda with a detailed explaination of the work I wanted him to do. He would sit down for breakfast, quickly scan my carefully prepared list, and then tear through the work as fast as humanly possible with as little help from me as he could manage. I wasn't really teaching, most of the time I was just verifying that he learned what he was supposed to. Usually he was done by lunchtime and the rest of the day was spent goofing off. But, the one thing that would slow down and really concentrate on was history. He loved history and, in the fifth grade, California expects children to do a history unit on the California Missions. I saw an opportunity to do something more interesting than just flipping pages.
At the beginning of December I told our education coordinator that we were already halfway through the textbooks for the school year and we were going to take a month off to study missions. She was super supportive and we had an amazing month. Looking back on it I can say without a doubt it was my shining moment as a "teacher". We read about adobe construction, studied maps of California, learned how ocean currents effected the Spanish colonization, learned a little Spanish, talked about the Catholic church, read Island of the Blue Dolphins.. which was probably a strange choice but he liked it and it was the right time period and location, attended mass at a real Mission and toured the grounds, and we finished the month with the construction of a model mission... out of gingerbread.
I'm not sure which of us learned more but it sure was fun. This year I'm hoping to have enough time before Christmas to work on another Gingerbread creation just for fun.