A Bit of Murder in Our Typical Unschooling Day

“Miss Scarlett did it in the conservatory with the dagger,” Gemma-Rose announces to her older sisters.

Miss Scarlett, the conservatory and the dagger: Those words belong to my childhood. Many years ago, I loved playing Cluedo with my own sisters. I hoped I’d be the first person to discover the identity of the murderer. Could I work out how the murder was committed and where?

It’s a lot of fun trying to solve a murder. At least it is when the murder is only make-believe. It’s not likely a Miss Scarlett is ever going to knock someone over the head with a silver candlestick in the drawing room of an old English house (after passing down the secret passage). We know it’s only a game so we’re free to enjoy ourselves.

But what if the murder is real? What if someone’s mother is poisoned or shot or brutally beaten? That’s disturbing.  A real person dies. Should that person’s suffering become our entertainment? But what if that murder is an opportunity for science? What if forensics gives us the tools to apprehend, not a pretend Miss Scarlett, but a real murderer?

In this week’s podcast, I ponder these questions while sharing some science and maths resources.

I also talk about:

  • My first year as a podcaster: Why did I nearly delete my very first episode? And why is it important I don’t worry about the opinions of others?
  • A typical unschooling day: Do our days have rhythm? Or are they wildly unpredictable?
  • Two tips for joyful unschooling: (I offer them, but you are free to reject them!)
  • What we should do if our children reject our strewing

Program Notes


Lindsay, Caroline and Gerry’sWhat the Faith

Blog posts:


Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensics Story: You might find episodes on Youtube (Might not be suitable for some children because the segment about DNA testing mentions murders involving rape. Also, the subject of murder in general may be disturbing to younger people.)
Catching History’s Criminals: articles on OpenLearn
CSI: Algebra: free download (if you sign up for a free account)


If you prefer to listen on your iPod you could subscribe to my podcast through iTunes

Thank you for listening!

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  1. It sounds great! Now I'm looking forward to cozying-up this afternoon, with a cup of tea, to listen 🙂

    1. Reply

      An Almost Unschooling Mom,

      Cozing up with a cup of tea… That sounds good! I love doing that especially in winter. I wonder if it's starting to cool down where you live. Today is the first day of spring here in Australia! I hope you enjoy the podcast. Thank you for listening!

  2. Reply

    I'll be back for the podcast soon….read your post title in my inbox and funny thing—–I actually did think of "Clue!" timmy and I have been on a Clue Marathon this summer. We can't just play one game. It's addictive. We're always doing "best 2 out of 3" or some such. But we thought THE SAME THING as you. It's kind of gruesome and morbid…and sad to be playing such a game!

    When the kids were little we played Clue Jr….same type of thing essentially…process of elimination, deducting, etc. But you need to find out who ate the cookie, in what room and what he drank with it. So you're uncovering 3 answers as well, but it's more kid "friendly." I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and other Hsing-unschooling-family topics!

    I hope to be regular at your podcasts now that school is starting and we'll be on more of a "routine." Ha.

    Our 1st day is tmrw…Sept 1.

    Sue…take care and I'll "see" you soon.


    1. Reply


      I'm glad you understand what I mean by the two sided nature of murder games! I've never heard of Clue Jr. Yes, maybe it's better suited to little kids. Even though Clue(do) is a deduction game, for older people I suppose it wouldn't be the same without the murders and weapons. For some reason these capture our imaginations.

      It's strange how we have different timetables. You're leaping into the first day of the new school year and we're heading towards our spring holidays in a couple of weeks' time. I hope you soon get back into your term time routine. Please say hello to your boys for me.

      Thank you for listening to my podcast when you get a free moment. Lovely to chat. xx

  3. Reply

    I'm saving the podcast as a treat when I am able to listen uninterrupted!! Your title took me right back to the cluedo game from my childhood. Another crime game is Dherlock Holmes 22b Baker Street, it is definitely more challenging and there are plenty of twists and turns 🙂

    San xx

    1. Reply


      My podcast is a treat? You are always very kind! Thank you! I hadn't heard of the Sherlock Holmes game but just looked it up. It sounds exactly the sort of game my girls enjoy playing. They have an old game called Scotland Yard that is also set in London. It's one of their favourites.

      I hope you enjoy the podcast! xxx

  4. Reply

    40 podcasts, what an achievement, and this one was so interesting!
    I read the blog and listen to the podcast but I can see why many more people listen than read, it's very convenient.
    I really appreciate your program notes and find the links invaluable. Last night we watched the Pain, Pus and Poison documentary that we all enjoyed and I was pleasantly surprised that the presentation was more tasteful than the title. I couldn't quite get past the needle through the hand scene and discovered that one out of my 4 children is as squeamish as I am!
    I do find it very challenging to find new resources on the internet and I think you make it easier for me, so thank you.
    Now here is a question for you: when you played Cluedo in your younger days, did you always want to be a particular character? I didn't feel right in the game unless I was Miss Scarlett 🙂
    God bless

    1. Reply


      Thank you so much for both reading and listening. Your support has really encouraged me to keep podcasting. I appreciate all your comments very much.

      I love sharing links to interesting resources. Podcasting is good for chatting about the various things I find. I'm glad you enjoyed Pain, Pus and Poison. Yes, the title could be a bit off-putting. Maybe this title was meant to catch our attention. The content kept us watching.

      Sometimes I share things we haven't actually viewed just in case other people are willing to take a risk and have a look. Other times I share, knowing a resource isn't perfect, but hoping some people may get something out of it anyway. This is the case with The Forensics Story. I wenht back and added a warning note to the resource link. I don't think the series is suitable for young children or even older ones who might not be ready to hear about murders involving rape. The program didn't go into details, but I thought I should say something. The point of the segment was to share the advances in forensics provided by DNA testing.

      I wanted to be Miss Scarlett as well! I have two younger sisters and probably I had to let them be Miss Scarlett most of the time. The character I really didn't want to be was Miss White!

      It's been fun discussing Cluedo. Thank you so much for stopping by yet again. God bless!

  5. Reply

    Kim, I think I deleted your comment by mistake. Oh my! I'm good at making mistakes. Sorry!

    Kim Huitt has left a new comment on your post "A Bit of Murder in Our Typical Unschooling Day":

    Sue, Congratulations on a year of podcasting. I am so thankful that you shared your thoughts over this past year in this format. I'm such an auditory person that hearing and also seeing your youtube videos have deeply affected me. I've been greatly encouraged and empowered

    1. Reply


      I have no idea how I managed to delete your comment. I rescued it from my inbox and pasted it back onto my blog. I hope that was okay.

      Thank you for your congratulations. I really do appreciate your kind feedback. There were moments during the last year when I considered giving up podcasting. I'm glad I didn't! I always enjoy pondering unschooling with you. Thank you for your encouragement and support!

  6. Reply

    I love getting a peek into the lives of other homeschoolers. Thanks for sharing. Did your days have a rhythm when your children were younger? I must admit I envy the structure your days have.

    1. Reply


      Maybe our days have a lot to do with our personalities. We all like to work in a tidy and organised environment so we're happy to work together doing the chores at the start of the day. We enjoy being up early though occasionally if the girls get overtired, they do like to sleep a little later than normal. I think the structure of our days allows us the freedom to have adventures. Once the boring stuff has been accomplished, we are free to do whatever we like!

      When our later children were younger, babies and toddlers came before anything else, but we were still fairly organised because the older ones and I worked together to get things done. When our first children were young life wasn't so rhythmic. With no big people to help, I had to be more relaxed. I must admit there were some days when I was overtired and hated living in mess. I would sacrifice sleep etc to do chores which was silly. When we moved into unschooling I learned to go with the flow of the day and not worry about unimportant things. Different things for different stages of life. Now it's easy for us to add rhythm to our days because we no longer have little people in the family. Funny how this stage crept up on us. At one time, I thought we'd be living an overbusy life, where it was hard to get everything done, forever. Sometimes I yearn to go back and savour my babies once more!

    2. Reply

      Thanks for your response. My eldest child likes rhythm/routine, and a loose structure. My youngest likes spontaneity, lots of projects going at once and a bit of chaos thrown in. He likes "different things every day." I fall more in line with my eldest. Since our very natures vary so much, it feels like it is hard to please everyone. I think you are very fortunate that your family's personalities gel so well. I am working hard to honor everyone's personalities, including my own. You continue to be a big inspiration to me. Thank you very much.

    3. Reply


      I think, as far as learning goes, I also love 'spontaneity, lots of projects going at once and a bit of chaos thrown in"! Your description sounds so good!

      I've been thinking about how a rhythm to our day allows us to have this kind of learning. We all work better in an ordered home so if we get the boring stuff such as chores out the way quickly and efficiently, then we're free to have wonderful learning adventures! (Though we have discovered that there are times when we need to work on projects and skills in a more regular consistent way if we want to meet goals.)

      I thought about your comments and then decided to talk more about typical unschooling days in this week's podcast episode. I'll publish it tomorrow. I hope you'll listen!

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

    • Wendy
    • September 2, 2015

    Congratulations on a year of podcasting! And thank you for all the resources.

    My favorite part was you talking about how you start and end your day with your children: really lovely! One of my favorite things that my mom did with me was tell me how much she enjoyed being our mother, and what a lovely time she had. I knew it, and anyone could see it, but it meant so much that she said it. It's something I tell my own kids often, too.

    Life! Excited about life: the true gift of unschooling!

    Thanks so much, I'm so glad you got into podcasting!

    1. Reply


      I am so glad you liked my 'tips'. I am always so reluctant to give tips because I know all families are different and what I do might not be right for anyone else. But maybe, we can never have too many moments of love with our children. I don't feel bad about saying, "Love! Love!" What beautiful childhood memories you have of your mother saying she enjoyed being your mother. I hope my children have similar memories. Does your mother know you are saying her words to your children in your turn? I bet that would make her feel warm inside. Whatever else we do, I think it's the love we show which is most important.

      Oh yes, life is indeed exciting! Of course, sometimes the sun goes behind a cloud, but we should definitely get into the habit of approaching our days with excitement and thankfulness.

      Wendy, thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words!

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