Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Learning on the go.

          Today we headed to the shoreline once again.  This time we went to the beach for a homeschool hike and picnic.  We met up with four other homeschooling families from various parts of the state to hike around the area and explore nature.  We don't often get to meet up with this group of hikers since they often hike quite far away from our home, but today they were heading to a favorite beach of ours and both myself and the boys couldn't wait to meet up these wonderful families.  I knew we were going to have to spend most of our morning packing and preparing for hiking, a picnic and another beach day.  As I packed lunches, boogie boards, sand toys, and our beach bags I was trying to think of someway to cover today's math, reading and geography lessons.  I decided to try a few worksheets that I could have them bring in the car-- that's what the car ride bags were originally designed for anyway.  I wasn't sure how my boys would feel about that though since I've shied away from most anything resembling a worksheet.  I knew they groaned whenever they saw them last year at school and had been trying very hard to focus on hands- on "fun" learning.  But amazingly enough they were just fine with the three worksheets I gave them. 
      Ian had a double sided math worksheet that reviewed fractions, adding two digit numbers with regrouping and telling time.  I also had him read a short non- fiction story about Pythons vs. Boa constrictors (he loves snakes!).  The story came with an accompanying set of comprehension questions.  For his geography lesson today I found a map of Connecticut with 10 questions pertaining to the capital city, the neighboring states, important rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water.   It took him the whole ride to the beach and most of the ride home in order to finish these up but he did really well working on his own.  I was amazed to see how stressed out he was getting on the ride home that he didn't understand some of the questions.  I flat out told him that's why we haven't done much with worksheets.  I don't like to see him getting so uptight about learning.  I explained to him that he can't "fail" homeschooling.  If he doesn't know the answer to a question or doesn't understand it he just needs to ask and we'll go over it together.  That seemed to help.
         Alec had a  math sheet that went through the number of days each month; complete with poem and knuckle count shown here. The backside asked for him to color coins to make up certain amounts, count change, and comparing greater than/ less than piles of tens and ones blocks.  He also had the same map of Connecticut page w/ the same questions and a similar reading page but his was on flightless birds instead of snakes (due to interest).  Thinking he might need more information on Connecticut I gave him a book on the 50 states to use.  He ended up reading the book most of the way to the beach.  He mainly focused on the state birds and insects but also noticed things like Kansas had the most tornadoes ("I don't ever want to live THERE!").  Long story short; Alec only ended up doing his math sheet since he spent the rest of the ride reading either the 50 states book or starting to read his new Jungle Book chapter book we found this morning in the dollar section of Target.  I figured he'd more than covered his reading and geography for the day.   I wasn't going to ask Evan to do anything today since I couldn't work with him but he asked if he could do some math so I found a sheet in one of his activity books that had a 1- 10 dot to dot and another maze on the back.  He was so excited and had them done in the first 15min of our ride. 
      Once at the beach we met up with our fellow hikers (and a few new families too) and off we went.  The kids were trying to scale rocks and boulders, they found caves and cracks in the rock walls, investigated a lean- to, saw many different shaped and colored mushrooms, learned the "leaves of three let it be" mantra when looking at a poison ivy pant, and saw a rat snake.  The beach also has trains that cross frequently nearby and all the kids were excited every time it passed. 

          We hiked for about an hour or so and then headed back to our cars and head out to the beach.  There the kids played in the water, swam a bit, let themselves float in and out on the waves, and dig in the sand.  They inspected the sand and learned where the different color variations came from.  They built a huge fortress wall with all the kids participating and then a few of the boys made up a game-- Ninja Jump.  You had to jump over the wall using your best ninja moves and land in the water.  They had a blast and my kids didn't want to leave to come home. 

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