Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Castles in Connecticut?

            We started out our morning doing some cereal math.  I have a whole mini book from scholastic on cereal math that I thought would be a neat break from "real" math.  I handed each boy a large cup of Lucky Charms cereal.  They had to estimate how many of each marshmallow shape was in their cup first and then sort and count the actual number of each shape.  Then they naturally made up number sentences comparing the shapes and sorts.   Alec and Ian were excited that they got most of their estimates right.  Evan needed help on forming most of his numbers but other than that had no problem completing this activity.  His sentences mostly compared which shapes had the most and least, but he too noticed when he guessed right.  After math they ate the cereal for breakfast. 
             We watched a documentary on Sharks after breakfast (Alec and Evan watched it twice in a row while Ian surprised me by playing his piano).   After the video's I asked them what they learned and Ian told me he learned that some sharks do lay eggs but some give live birth.  Some sharks wrap their eggs around a plant.  The dog shark finds a shell to put it's egg into.  Sharks babies are on their own once they are born.  Alec told me that only 5 types of shark attack humans.  Some sharks are harmless.  Sharks sometimes get confused between a seal and surfboard because they're both the same length and size the move the same way.  Then sharks will accidentally bite the surfboard but then it won't like it and will want to leave.  Evan did not know that "some sting rays are relatids to sharks" and he did not know that there were "different types of sharks that had different teeth; some are small and some are big and some are sharp. *CRUNCH*"
                We headed out on a day trip today.  The older boys brought a word search of shark terms and a dot- to- dot shark in the car for the long ride to Gillette's castle.   Alec added a worksheet on fractions to his packet because he thought it looked like fun.  Not all that surprising, Evan choose another dot- to- dot today this one was from number 1-20 and on the backside he had to draw jars of equal groups of nuts, count them up, and write the number.  We planned to meet up with my sister and nephews, tour the castle and hike on some of the trails.   We also brought our three books on Cd and the Magic Treehouse chapter book we started the other day to fill in the remainder of the ride.  Ian and Alec each took a turn reading one cheaper and then Alec just continued to read the entire rest of the book out loud to us all!    
           I had planned on starting a Medieval unit on castles and knights this month.  So far I've gotten to the point where I told the boys we'd be learning about castles and knights and that's about it.  I did ask them today to tell me everything they know about castles and knights.  I then explained that while we were headed to a castle today it was not around during medieval times and no knights or kings ever lived there.  But I figured there are some similarities to most castles and it would be neat to see one in person.   I was right.  It was very neat.  We knew William Gillette built his castle as his home.  He was famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes on the stage (long before movies of Sherlock Holmes were ever made).   We found out many more things throughout the tour though.  William Gillette played Sherlock over 1,300 times and was the one to give him the watch cap and pipe.  He was a crafter and an inventor as shown by his house.  The 40 something door inside the castle are all made of intricate wood designs and no two are alike.  He had secret staircases and mirrors to watch the goings on of others and keep his movements secret.  He invented an indoor "sprinkler" system in case of fire using rain water run- off.  It was a real interesting, though pretty quick, walking tour through the house. 

The boys strike a Sherlock Holmes pose

    Once outside, after we had our lunch, we went hiking on a few of the trails through the property and ended up on the banks of the Connecticut river.  It was a beautiful day to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine and the beach looked like something out of a shipwrecked movie with lots of trees and vines overhanging the water.  The boys pretended it was a bat cave, a training area, and many other things.    It was a great day, especially knowing if I hadn't chosen to homeschool this year my boys would have started school today.   

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