Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Geography and Science

        We started our morning by finding Florida on the united states map and I had my kids tell me everything they knew about Florida.  Here are some of the things they told me:  It's where Disney is and lots of other parks too,  Florida has more kinds of fish around it than any other part of the world, flamingos are now extinct in Florida, it's surrounded by ocean so it must have a lot of beaches.  They noticed it was on the gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.  We then watched an hour long documentary on Florida that took us to the Florida keys; where they showed us an underground hotel the kids thought looked really neat.  Remembering the hotel helped them also remember that there's coral reefs and that Key West is famous for scuba diving.  They learned that the Seminole Indians live in the Florida Everglades with animals like buffalo, alligators, snakes, raccoons, and birds of all different kinds.  They also remembered that the Seminole Indians would eat the alligators; the men would capture them and it was the woman's job to kill, clean and cook it so the woman did more work than the men did (my kids words--- not mine!). We saw the space station at Cape Canaveral and it showed a plane ride that simulates anti- gravity.  We learned that St. Augustine is the oldest town in Florida; parts of it were over 500 years old.  They showed us an old military hospital and the tools they would have used back then to amputate legs and arms.   The kids learned that Daytona has a huge motorcycle convention every year and that racing was born in Daytona when it was realized that the cars could drive fast on the sand.   I had them do a very quick activity sheet that taught them the state bird, flower, capital city, nickname and flag.  I'm not sure how much they'll remember from the sheet but they certainly learned quite a bit by watching the video.  As they were trying to recall facts for me if they couldn't remember the place or a key word I gave them the United States of America book opened to the Florida page and had them look it up as an added learning tool today. 
              It was pouring rain again here this morning and since I noticed the rooms upstairs were once again nice and dark we turned Ian's room into a planetarium with a projector he got for Christmas last year.  We projected various planets onto the ceiling and then there are many different buttons to choose from.  We learned random facts about the planets, the climate, size and distance from the sun of each planet, as well as how many moons and different space missions that traveled to each planet.  They told me they learned that much of the space travel happened in the 1960's and 70's.   They used a solar system book to help them remember which planet the other facts they remembered went to.  They learned that some planets like Mercury and Venus have no moons. Some planets known as the gas giants have just gasses and no land mass.  The dark spot on Neptune is a hurricane.  I must admit this lesson didn't go that well.  Perhaps it's due to the fact we were once again just sitting and listening like we did during the movie or perhaps it was staring at one planet too long while listening to a long list of facts.  I'm not sure but they were more interested in playing with the buttons and throwing stuffed animals around the room.  I left and figured if they wanted to continue playing they could but I certainly didn't feel like they were learning much.  My kids weren't motivated to learn much today as all morning long I kept hearing-- "are we done?" 
           We, once again, headed to the dentist.  This time it was Ian's turn to have his teeth cleaned.  We listened to some books on Cd in the car, though Alec chose to read a page in his book Extraordinary Endangered Animals.  He learned more about the Lesser Pandas.  Alec then played the kindle in the dentist's office and he amazed me once again!  He was using math bingo again today and once more picked the hard level; this time he was able to add the two digit number even when you had to carry over the tens.  I said "Wow! You know how to do that?" He looked at me and said "well, yeah you showed me how yesterday." I demonstrated it twice... I guess that was all the instruction he needed.  I tried to get Evan to play a new game with me while we were sitting watching Ian get his teeth cleaned.  We've often played "I spy" in the doctors waiting room and Evan loves it.  Today I tried to play a variation on that I looked around the room and said "I spy something that starts with the letter c"  I made the hard c sound and asked him if he had any guesses.  He just looked at me and said "I don't want to play that game."  My mistake was in not asking his brothers to play first then I bet he would've argued it was his turn.  I tried to turn it into a math game instead and said "I spy 4... " and he refused that one too.  I gave up at that point and figured I'd try those games another day.  Alec eventually got sick of the math bingo and pulled up word boggle for a bit before trying another kindle game I had downloaded called the 50 states and started quizzing himself on the state birds.  By the end of the ride home he was getting about 50% of them right! 
        Since I was told we didn't do any "real" science today we pulled an experiment together when we got home.  We were supposed to do a model of the solar system but I'll be brutally honest; it looks like tons of work I just didn't have the energy for today plus I was missing pieces.  So instead, I had Ian read aloud about plate tectonics in the science book and then we simulated an underwater earthquake causing a mini tsunami.  We put two small blocks into a deep pan and added water to cover them.  We held them down and rammed them into one another causing the water to rise up in a big wave.   I figured it tied in nicely with yesterday's weather lessons about hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones (of which Ian was able to tell my husband, last night at dinner, where on the globe each of those took place-- I was so proud!).   We experimented with the height of the tsunami based on how fast or how far apart we started and discovered it's not so much how far the plates move but how fast that determines the size of the wave.  The faster the plates move the higher the wave.   They each took a turn playing with the blocks and running the experiment themselves. 

          After science Ian did another lesson in his math workbook while Alec finished reading all about the Lesser Panda and Evan looked through a few of his lizard books he brought home yesterday.  By then we were done school for today.  They watched a non- fiction movie about monster trucks and then occupied themselves for the rest of the afternoon.  

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