Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writing can be fun?

         Not really meaning to, we ended up doing quite a bit of a writing today.  The boys each received a letter from my mom and wanted to write back to her.  I thought today would be a good day to do that since I didn't plan on going to far.  Evan, once again dictated his to me.  I did make him write a few of the words in the letter though ("I love you"-- just some very small words to start) while the older two boys wrote their own.   Once again this was a struggle for Alec but Ian wrote quite a bit sitting in his room at his own desk.  We did have to edit quite a bit for punctuation and missing words but all in all it wasn't horrible when I took into account the fact that he wrote it totally on his own in the same amount of time it took me to help Evan write his.  Before writing I asked them if they remembered the right way to set up the letter and we talked about the format of a letter, and Ian definitely did.  I figure by writing letters once a month or so they should have this format down pat in no time. 
          Our math lesson also ended up including quite a bit of writing too.  It was another lesson pulled from my cereal math packet, but instead of estimating or counting, today they had to create.  They decided on the ingredients for their very own cereal and wrote a recipe using fractions and measurements.  We pulled out my cookbook and looked at recipes.  I showed them that they have to list all ingredients and then write the instructions.  On the front of the sheet there were lists of ingredients, shapes, colors, textures, etc. to choose from in making the cereal.  They also had to describe how the cereal would taste and name it too.  Of course the descriptions they came up with orally were much more descriptive than the ones they wrote down but that's pretty much how elementary aged writing goes.  I got them excited about writing by telling them that if they got me excited about their cereal and, if they used ingredients we could find at the grocery store, I'd allow them to create it "for real" one day next week along with designing their own cereal box.  Alec started the project and told me it was the best ever!  They loved writing up the recipe and I did have a few mini lessons about how 2 1/2 cups and 2- 1/2 cup measures are not the same thing.  We were basically talking about adding fractions without them realizing it.  I probably should have waited until they told me what kinds of cereal they'd like to make before offering to let them eat it.  I think some of the combinations will not only make my stomach hurt but my teeth too! Let me share them with you:  Evan's recipe calls for 1/3 cup apple jacks cereal, 1/4 cup crushed potato chips, 1/4 cup whole Oreo sandwich cookies with 1 Tbsp. milk.  Ian's cereal ended up becoming a milk shake since he used 6 cups coffee ice cream, 1 cup milk, 5 cups whipped cream, two cherries, 1/4 cup crushed potato chips and 1/4 cup choc. chip cookies and instructed his audience to blend the milk, ice cream, chips and cookies together in the blender.  Alec's cereal: Marshmallow Toast Crunch used 8 cups of milk, 4 cups of cinnamon toast crunch, 1 cup of rainbow colored diamonds (that don't even exist so he told me we could make them), 1 cup marshmallows, 4 Oreo cookies and 3 chocolate chip cookies.   But true to my word we'll take a day (or three if they want to try each other's and get to [have to?] eat them).   I think I'll definitely try another math/ writing activity like this again.   I bet we'd learn a lot by writing and then trying out our own recipes and it was very engaging. 

Look at that grin he has on his face while writing-- priceless!
        We took turns reading portions of the book Smelly Old History; Medieval Muck.  It's supposed to be a scratch and sniff history book, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), we couldn't really get it to smell, though the kids claimed they could smell it.   It's a disgusting series that really grossed my kids out by describing the urinals, the lack of bathing, the abundance of animals and illnesses found throughout history, and in the case of this particular book, during Medieval times. They seemed to like it and I think they definitely have a more realistic idea of what life was like back then.  It was a bit more graphic than I would've liked but boys seem to enjoy being grossed out more than girls.  Afterwards we quickly filled some names and dates of some Medieval events onto our world history timeline and added the date Gillette's castle was built also.  While we had it open I asked the boys if there was anything else they wanted to add.  Ian wanted to add Sojourner Truth's birth date and the date she actually took the name Sojourner Truth to use as her own.  I told the boys that so far I had only written a few things and that they were free to add words, pictures, etc and that this would be an on-going project for years to come where we could just add things as we covered them or heard about them.  I'm hoping in the end it will really help us all learn to connect events around the world in a more chronological order. 
         For art today I told the boys could draw and paint or create in 3- D their own castle.  We studied pictures of castles found on the Internet and I showed them some art samples I had found on pinterest the other day.  I then left them to create.   They though play- d'oh would be the best choice (I was surprised and thought Ian at least would want Lego's) but we pulled out the jars and I left them to it.  Here's what they came up with so far:

The bright pink/ purple color dotted around are the window holes
Ian's castle may be a bit hard to see on the mat but he included window holes, drawbridge, and the center keep



Alec's castle is two floors with mote and parapets. 
           The boys watched another episode of Dirty Jobs and learned about the 2nd most deadliest snake in Australia; the Brown snake.  They learned that the venom can kill in 14 minutes.  Baby Browns have enough venom to kill 20 grown men when they hatch.  Nests can have up to 30 eggs in them.  It's illegal to kill them so once captured and removed from a home they have to be returned to the wild.  I had to leave the room a few times; it made me nervous watching these guys try and catch the snakes.  I hate snakes but the boys, once again, just love them.  They also learned a bit about the King toad, a non- native species that is killing much of the Australian wildlife.  
            My husband's aunt stopped by today and taught the boys a magic trick.  Ian practiced over and over so he could wow his dad when he got home.  She also sneakily hid money and candy inside a box of fruit roll ups (opened it up and then re- glued it), had them say the magic words and when the opened the box they were overjoyed to find money inside.  Ian ran inside the house and got a paper and pen to copy down the magic words... needless to say he was very disappointed when the spaghetti we had for dinner didn't have extra money inside even though he said the magic words multiple times! It was very funny and cute.   Lastly, she taught them a trick using their fingers to learn the 9 times tables.  They thought it was pretty neat but they will need more practice before they master it. 
           We went to the library and returned our movies, books on Cd's, and a few of the books we've already read that I picked out and they don't want to re- read.  We picked up 3 new books on Cd; I am a Manatee (Alec took one look at the title and yelled "If it's about Manatees it must be about Florida!"), I'm Dirty, and I Crocodile.  We checked out some movies on ocean life and Ian was excited to find Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to go along with the book we read last week.  We also checked out six new books including the book Wonderstruck that was recommended to the boys by his cousin.  We listened to the books on Cd on the way to do errands.  They played outside for a bit while their Aunt was here but other than that we just never got around to it today.  It's so hard for me to spend beautiful days like this inside when I know they're numbered.  But schoolwork must be done and this was just one of those days where the projects took longer than anticipated.  On the upside Alec was thrilled he FINALLY got to wear his pajamas all day while we were doing homeschooling.

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