My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I woke up early today, the spring-forward day of Daylight Savings Time, and had spent twenty or so minutes writing on my laptop on the couch before Woody woke up. When he did, he came to cuddle with me under the star sheets and wanted me to read him some of the poems I'd been working on. I did, ending with one about the body of a small bee that I shook out of the cuff of my jeans at the end of a day last spring. I later found out that this is common because bees are naturally curious, exploring nooks and crevices, and I was moved by the circumstances of this little gal's death. Hearing this, Woody suggested we write a poem together about the Man-of-War that we found on the beach two weekends ago.

He thought we ought to start with the flies that were gathered on the jellyfish's curly blue tentacles, and that we should include the fact that he was the one who noticed it. It smelled a little bit, but not that much, and a lot of people stopped to look at it. I wanted to talk about the colors, and how we all wanted to touch the blue and purple air-filled sac.

Working together for a few minutes, then with me tightening things up and filling things out, we came up with this:

The Man-of-War

It mustn't have been dead long,
though the flies, who are keen to such things,
had gathered on the curly tentacles,
impervious to the poison.

The oldest boy found it first.
We had gone to the beach together,
the three children and me,
to play in the rippled waves
and dig our hands in the gray sand
and look for shells.

The pneumatic bladder,
the simple sail that moved this collection of blue beasts
around the ocean,
was full to puckered.
We were all tempted to touch it,
especially the lurid purple seam
across the top, 
but some hidden sense said no in the little ones.

Pattern tells us it is not uncommon
to find them here
in the early spring,
something to do with the ways the currents carry things, lee and way. 

Still, passers by stopped and bent over
to wonder at the impossibly beautiful hues
and the cartoonish plump
and the hint of dark danger
of the Portuguese Man-of-War
washed ashore.