Let’s face it – homeschoolers, in general, come with a certain stereotype.  We’re a bit “unconventional”, and that’s the nice word!  It’s never bothered me because, as I’ve confessed to you before, I’m not conventional.

And so, it is with great joy and exuberance that I share with you the “unconventional” gift my daughter, Mae Mae, received from a dear friend for her 13th birthday this year.  I must first let you know this about my Mae Mae…she loves, adores, is obsessed by, passionate about, “eats, breathes, sleeps”  horses.  Life had no meaning until she had her own horse!

Mae Mae also wants to be a vet someday.  She volunteers at a vet hospital every Friday and is learning Latin for all those medical terms.  It’s gifts like this one that thrill my heart because they mean a great deal…

Wanna take a guess as to what this is?!

These are all the bones that make up the front leg of a horse.  It’s a horse leg puzzle!

My friend, who had access to these bones, cleaned them and wrapped them up for Mae Mae.  Then she and Mae Mae looked through an anatomy book until they found a picture of the skeletal structure of a horse’s front leg.

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Those pages were all that Mae Mae had to go by when figuring out how to put this leg together.

I love looking at the bones, touching them.  They’re beautiful!

The other day, I found Mae Mae, bones in hand, studying intently the drawings of the leg.

It thrills my heart and makes me want to jump and shout when kids learn by discovery.  That look of “ah ha!!”  The excitement in their voice, the boost of confidence – it’s so rewarding to those of us who teach.

That’s what I observed as I saw Mae Mae begin to fit all the pieces together.

Learning to take what she saw on the 2 dimensional paper and translate it to the 3 dimensional bones in her hands.

And with each piece fitting properly…

The determination to complete the task grew…

Unbeknownst to her – she’s learning!!

And she’s questioning… “Mom, can you believe all the weight of a horse is carried by this one tiny toe?”  “How strong do  you think these bones are, especially when the horse is jumping and putting all that pressure on the front?”

Good questions, good critical thinking – the quest for more knowledge.

Now she’s figuring out what part all these smaller bones play in the overall structure of the front leg.

And the best part?  Mae Mae figured this all out on her own, without any help from anyone – not even Sawyer who was asleep beside her!

Unconventional gifts for unconventional learning – part of the joy of homeschooling!