Two weeks ago I wrote about a change in our family’s homeschooling schedule. We have left the co-op we have belonged to for 5 years and are meeting with three other families. Well, yesterday we started our first unit. It is a simulation game set in a village in Ecuador. It took a while to find a game that we could adjust to suit our needs. All the mothers searched online and we found that there are many simulation games designed to be played online, many we could purchase for a few hundred dollars or even a few thousand dollars (those ones come with someone to run them). Once we settled on one, we had to transform it from an online interactive game into an “eleven children in one house” interactive game.
We began the session with the big picture, introducing the children to the Amazon rainforest with its unique flora and fauna. Then we gave them a more detailed view of a tropical rainforest’s composition and its value to us. We did throw out a few mind boggling statistics about how fast rainforests are being cut down. Then they had a quick lesson in crop rotation and at last we introduced the game.
Nine of the children are inhabitants of an Ecuadorian village, one is the owner of the general store, the rest farm coffee, maize and cacao. All of these farmers have families and are barely making enough to support them. The other two children are Eco-tourism experts whose role it is to present an alternative to farming in this community. If the community agrees the Eco-tourism people will begin running a program for them.
We gave each of the children a profile, a map of their farm and $600. They met in their community groups and started discussing what they would plant and whether they could afford food, education, farm equipment, house repairs and transportation costs. Several of them found that $600 would not cover everything as their families were large. They visited the general store where the compassionate store keeper made arrangements with some of them enabling them to pay for things later when they had more money. Many of them decided not to pay for education for all their children as a way to make ends meet. ( I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this, they are all homeschooled)
We had to end when the Eco-tourism people were making their presentation, so next week we will pick up where we left off and the village members will decide whether to give the tourism project a try.