Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring fed

We had relatives come down to Orlando to visit with us and we started out this morning by having a good- bye breakfast.  They had only been in town for just under 24 hours but it was wonderful to see them. 

We showed them all around our hotel and they watched us feed the swan, fish and ducks again (as has become our morning routine!).  This morning we saw turtles too in our little pond!  We had noticed some painted turtles the other day but today we saw a new turtle we had never seen before.  Once we looked it up we think it was a Florida Soft shell turtle.  We saw a bird of paradise flower and watched the squirrels for a bit.  It was a nice quiet nature study morning right in the middle of our hotel. 

It may be tricky to see but this is the soft shell turtle
 
Once our guests had left we decided that, rather than hang around the hotel again today, we'd try out Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park.  This is a Florida state park where you can bring in tubes and tube down the spring. 

The water stays a cool 74 degrees year round and is a clear spring fed brook/ river. 

We rented tubes at a local place just prior to entering the park and once inside followed the park rangers directions to the head of the spring. 

We jumped in and floated down.  I had bought a disposable underwater camera to take pictures and I was glad I did.  We saw many neat kinds of fish, plant life and shells.  We pulled out our tubes and headed back to our car to have lunch. 

Along the way we saw a raccoon and stopped to watch him for a while.  We also watched the squirrels and enjoyed looking at all the different trees that were around us; many of which have Spanish moss hanging off of them.

Evan spotted a baby squirrel lying on the ground and upon further inspection he appeared hurt.  The boys were upset but it was sweet to hear Evan say that he was going to come back when he was an adult and rescue the squirrel so he could help him feel better.

On our second pass down the river I was a bit nervous after having watched a baby rattlesnake swim across the spring and disappear into the woods not more than 5 feet from where we were standing and putting our tubes in.

I was much more watchful and not nearly as relaxed but I knew with all the noise we were making it was unlikely anything would come to close to us anyway (there were signs warning of alligators too but luckily we didn't see any). 

We did see a large turtle floating in the weedy reeds on the side of the spring and the boys dove with their goggles on searching for sharks teeth that some of the other boys in the spring told us about.  We think Ian found one too. 

I'd highly recommend his state park to anyone looking to have a low cost family day in the Orlando area.

You can find out all about it and other Florida state parks here.  We had a wonderful day filled with nature study and a bit of geography thrown in too.  
    


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Legoland/ Cypress Gardens

Yesterday we headed out early to Legoland.

The park sits on the site of the old Cypress Gardens and opened just a year ago.  We were excited to hear about Legoland Florida since my boys have been asking to go to the one in California for years.

It was great.



The park isn't so large that you can't cover it in a day.
   
We watched a comical fire safety show that taught the kids to stay low and go, to stop, drop, and roll, call 911 for an emergency and my boys favorite to "put the wet stuff on the hot stuff."

 They walked away from the show singing that little song.

We went on most every ride in the park with only a 10 minute wait at the most.

The kids went to driving school and got to drive little battery powered cars around a track.  There were little Lego areas set up throughout the park where kids could play and create while parents held their spot in line on the rides.  It was clean and so kid friendly; as all good kid parks should be.

The most impressive part of the park though was getting to see all the amazing Lego creations.

They had mini city replicas of Las Vegas, New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, Kennedy Space Center, and various parts of Florida all represented.

Throughout the park they had large Lego animals, dinosaurs, even a full size car (with a video inside the driving school to see how it was assembled).  The ladies that used to walk around Cypress Gardens were recreated in Lego pieces as well and set throughout the park on benches.

  
We walked through the tribute to Cypress Gardens and saw the Banyan tree in the middle.  It was planted in 1939, it is so huge already and yet we could see where more roots were already growing towards the ground.


We saw fish, turtles, sausage trees and banana trees.  While the boys didn't think the gardens compared at all to the rest of the park we did see some really neat fauna and it was a great bit of nature set into the theme park.

We read about the knees of the Cypress Trees and learned a bit about the history of the lake and Winter Haven itself. 
     
Cypress gardens was always known for it's water ski show and Legoland also kept that tradition, Lego style.  We sat to watch the pirate water ski show complete with Lego characters.

There were boats, water skiers, a ski jump, and jet skis.  The kids sat in the splash zone and got a bit wet.  They were in awe of the water skiers and all the tricks they could do. 


We took a walk through a Lego "Factory" that I must admit was a disappointment to me.  I thought we'd actually get to see a small demonstration of a factory but it's really more of a recreation.

In a tiny room next to the store they show a short (fictional) video about the Lego factory followed by an even smaller room that has models set up showing piles of tiny plastic going into a machine and coming out on the other side as a block.  They then explain that the pieces are inspected before being boxed and shipped.

 It was still educational and the boys wanted to shop for Lego sets before leaving anyway so we were happy.

 It was a great day and so much fun.  I'm sure we'll be back on future trips.    

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Friday, September 28, 2012

So that's what dad does!

   We wanted to hang around by our pool and hotel today since it was going to be 90 degrees, but my husband had worked in Florida 4 or 5 years ago on a large plant that he periodically visits and Ian really wanted to go check it out.  So my mother in law stayed at the hotel with the younger two and let them swim in the pool and use the water slides while my husband and I took Ian to the block plant.  But first we ran into a hotel employee who had been feeding the birds and fish and let the boys help.  We didn't know it but there were also large catfish in the pond with the swan and a very large carp as well.  We learned the swan was in fact a boy (which Ian and Evan guessed it to be- they named him Toby).  We went for a walk to the front desk and found several more licence plates to cross off of our lists along the way. 
     While driving to the plant Ian and I played mad libs and he read the stories back to me.  I was more than happy to play along when he asked as I figured it was a great self- guided lesson.  Once at the plant Ian was in awe of all the trucks, loaders, fork lifts and cement mixers.  This company makes concrete paving blocks and have an automated system with conveyors and everything.  They weren't producing blocks today so it was safe for us to walk all around the facility and get a personal tour.  We saw the kiln, the storage bins and learned that the cement is a rather dry mixture that resembles wet stone more than concrete.  They talked about how much they produce and sell and the costs of pallets.  Ian asked a few questions but for the most part was just happy walking around checking things out.
        We got back to the hotel around lunchtime and after everyone ate we ended up back by the pool.  We played on the water slides and swam until the poolside show.  Alec and Ian were both called up to participate and had no problem getting up in front of the huge crowd that had gathered and participating.  Alec's team had to wear very large bathing suits (over their own) with sponges sewn onto the butt.  The object was to soak the sponges in water then waddle over to an empty bucket and squeeze all the water out.  They worked in tandem to try and fill up the bucket the most; and they did.  He was so excited to win.  Ian got called up as part of a relay team.  After getting slimed they had to work a circular bungee chord from their head to their feet and pass it along to the next person in line then the last person in line had to smash a whipped cream pie in their face; the first team to finish wins.  Ian's team won.  They worked great with these total strangers and cheered their teammates on loudly.  It was a great day.    
       

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sea World

We went to Sea World yesterday.

We got into the park and I handed Ian and Alec a map.  I told them they could pick where they wanted to go and as long as they could get us there that's what we'd do.  Then we just started walking while they decided what to do and where to go.



We saw flamingos and Evan explained to my husband that they're pink because of the food they eat.  Alec told us all that flamingos are extinct in the wild in Florida.  We learned that male and females help incubate eggs and the reason that they stand on one leg is to conserve body heat.

We walked over to the pelicans and learned many are hurt when tangled in fishing lines and nets.  From there we walked over to pet and feed sting rays.  Alec was too intimidated to do either and Evan was too short to feed them.  You have to put a piece of shrimp between your fingers and place your whole hand underwater.  A stingray will then swim up and over your hand sucking up the shrimp as he goes by.  It was really neat!

     
We then headed to see the dolphins.  We got splashed a bit but didn't mind since it was pretty hot.  We went to see the turtles, manatees, and alligators.

The boys played a video game where they had to race their turtle to the beach avoiding dangers like oil, fishing nets, hooks, and lines, while eating enough food to survive so they could lay their eggs.  It was a great fun way to learn about the effects of pollution on ocean life.

Evan went on a kiddie coaster while the older two boys found their way through a large maze of rope bridges.  We went on a ride simulator to the arctic and afterward walked through the exhibit to see first hand beluga whales, walruses, and a polar bear (though only Evan and my mother in law saw the bear since they didn't go on the ride and he was back in his cave by the time the rest of us walked by).

By then the rides appeared to be up and running so we headed back toward Atlantis.  On the way we stopped to see and feed some sharks.   We also went to see the sea lions and harbor seals.  They came right out and up onto the rocks so we were able to see them quite well.

Alec stayed behind with my mother in law and fed them while Ian and I headed onto our first roller coaster.  It was called Kraken and wow! was it ever intense.  He loved it and laughed through the whole thing.
   
We all met back up and my mother in law took the youngest two through the aquarium at Atlantis while my husband and I took Ian on the flume ride.  There were actually several drops and it turned into a partial roller coaster at times.  It was great.

We walked through the aquarium after the ride and it was pretty small with just a single room containing jelly fish, a few sharks and a tank of assorted reef fish.  We went over and rode Manta.  You're suspended lying face down for this roller coaster and it was wild!  You go backwards head first into the loop, feel the spray from the fountains on your feet and come so close to the ground several times you feel like you could touch the grass.

After the ride we walked through the aquarium there and saw sea horses, rays, and an octopus.  By this time it was late afternoon and the boys were begging to guy souvenirs.  So while walking around looking for just the right thing for each of them I noticed that it was dolphin feeding time.

 Alec was so upset we weren't swimming with them so I paid for us to feed them.  We got to the ledge after learning how to properly feed them and it was great.  They'd swim right up to you with mouth open and you could cup the underside of their jaw while placing a fish in their open mouths.  Everyone loved it; except Alec!

Feeding the dolphins 
He didn't want to touch them and I was so grateful I hadn't caved and paid for us to swim with them.  While he loves animals so much but he is very frightened of getting up close to them.

He finally touched the dolphin with the very last fish of our entire batch.  They feel quite muscular.  I thought they'd feel like a ray but they don't.


Whale encounters! 
Watching the show
We went into the shark encounter building and walked through a tunnel of fish.  Saw barracudas, sharks, and rays and by then it was time to head back to the 5:30 show of Shamu.  We got great seats and the show started on time.

It was amazing but Ian was disappointed that he didn't get wet even sitting in the soak section; though everyone around them did!  It was a great way to end our day and we were even able to stop and see the whales in the underwater tank on the way out of the park.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nickelodeon Hotel and Medieval Times Dinner Show

My boys watched their first sunrise ever yesterday morning at the airport.  We were heading to Florida for a few days of sun and fun!
   
Once we got settled into our hotel we decided to walk around and check it out.  The kids were, of course, impressed with the arcade and the pool/ water slides but they were also loving all the different birds and insects and animal life we saw.

There were ibises, cranes, and a huge swan; which we ended up feeding.  We saw fish and even watched them jumping out of the water and over each other in order to eat.  We saw many little lizards but they were too fast to get pictures of.  We saw these big, bright, orange moths too.  It was pretty neat and the kids were so interested in them all. 


    
We hit the pool for the afternoon and Alec made three new friends.  Two of the girls were from Australia and he was impressed with some of the different words they had for things.. "mom, they say adult like adul!"  He spent most of the afternoon with them and learned how to play billiards too.

Ian tried out the water slides, jumped, swam and watched a poolside show.  Once Evan came to the pool, after resting, he was read to jump in (without a life jacket!).  Since it was the deep end he had to wait for an adult but kept trying to swim out of my arms.  We finally took him over to the water slide section and that was it; he rode water slides non- stop for the next hour.  He loved them.

We watched the bucket turn green and mass slime everyone and then we decided to head back to our room.  Ian, Evan and my husband swam across the pool to collect our belongings but Evan didn't want to get out of the pool just yet.  He asked my husband to catch him when he jumped in and at least 5 times he swam back to the edge of the pool by himself with his head above the water.  I was impressed at how much his swimming continues to progress.
   
We headed to Medieval Times last night and while the boys really didn't want to go (and really should have been in bed since they'd been woken up at 3:30!) they loved it!

The restaurant looks like a giant castle.  Inside they have suits of armor all around on display.  The great room has coats of armor all over the ceiling and souvenirs all around.

We were told to walk through the main building and across the courtyard to see a small medieval village.

 I was picturing a mini replica of a village the size of most model train towns.

I was wrong.

This small village was one you walked through;

  • they had a carpenters house
  • a basket weaver at work displaying period pieces
  •  a blacksmith
  •  a falconer
  • a torture chamber
It was a small museum- like set up displaying tools, clothing, pottery, and the lifestyles of most of the towns people during the medieval ages.  It was pretty neat and very educational.  The boys were most interested in the torture chamber which I thought would be upsetting for them but nope; they loved it.

Unfortunately we then had a long wait for the show to the start and the boys were getting very antsy.  I was starting to think it might not have been such a good idea to book our dinner on our first night in town when they finally announced us all to our seats.


The boys LOVED the show.

We saw horses hopping, bowing, kneeling, jumping and kicking.  We watched the falconer train his falcon to swoop in and catch the prey he had swinging around on a string.



Then we watched knights battle each other to challenges like lancing a small ring off a hanging target, throw javelins into a bulls eye, jousting and even some staged hand to hand combat. The boys were cheering and jeering so loudly and at one point Evan cried when "our" knight appeared to be  loosing the battle.


  
The boys did think they were going to enjoy the show but they really weren't looking forward to eating at all.  They did surprisingly well though.

Ian and Evan tried the tomato basil soup and garlic bread and loved it.  I was shocked since Evan never eats any vegetables but I was so proud.  Ian and Alec ate a good portion of the chicken, even though they didn't have any ketchup.  They all tasted the apple turnovers, and the herb crusted potatoes too.  I was glad they at least tried all the food and never heard one of them complain they were hungry afterward.

It was a wonderful first day of vacation packed with all sorts of science, geography, and living history lessons.

Some days I just love homeschooling so much I wonder why I didn't start doing this years ago!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning from our elders

We had a pretty quick morning of fun lessons before heading out to visit some elderly family members.  I just love that we have extra time to visit with them now that we are homeschooling!



Alec was so overjoyed to see our Dragon Keepers book #2, in at the library, that he read the whole first chapter out loud to us all while we were driving to visit the boys great great aunt.

Ian looked through a new construction book he had gotten in also but I know he couldn't have really read it yet since he was listening to the story too.
     
We watched a science video this afternoon about gibbons.  We all had no idea that the numbers were declining in the wild due to the illegal pet trade.  We see many species of gibbons when we visit our local zoo.

We knew many of the calls they made but it was wonderful to see what their natural habitat would look like.  We also learned a lot more about how aggressive and territorial they are; something that's not always noticeable at the zoo. It was a great show and the boys wanted to watch another one about Orcas.  I
        
They played with some new toys and went outside too.

 Evan figured out how to get most of the new toys out of the package all by himself and even used the scissors safely. I was thrilled with this small show of independence since he does rely on all of us to do things for him more often than not.

 They rode bikes, used the swings and observed a really long worm on the ground, speculating as to why he was so big, where he was going and what he was doing.

 I'm always amazed at how much they find to do in one day and all that we accomplish.
      
While visiting relatives this afternoon Ian and I worked on (helped finish) a 1,000 piece puzzle.  I keep thinking I want to set one up somewhere in the house for us to work on whenever we get bored and want something to do for a bit.  All of my kids enjoy puzzles and it's such a fun way to work on problem solving skills as well as improving their ability to really focus on details.

While Ian and I worked on the puzzle Alec played Uno and War (his two new card game obsessions), in fact, I think he played several games of each.

Evan was content to wander the house and look around.  He noticed so much stuff that reinforced many of the things we've been doing homeschooling.

  • He found a picture on the wall that was of a blacksmith shop- "look mom, just like at Old Sturbridge Village"  He talked about the bellows, the fire, and told me he thought the man was probably making a boarding ax too.  
  • He noticed carvings of eagles, bison, mountain goats, ducks, beavers and other assorted animals. 
  • He pointed to the painting of the salmon and told me they were swimming upstream to lay eggs, at which point his brother chimed in that it happens in Alaska. 
  •  Alec saw a book titled northern lights and told me it's also called the Aurora Borealis.  When the puzzle was all completed the boys looked at the birds and told me the red one was a cardinal, the blue one was a blue jay, the yellow one calls "potato chip!" and I reminded them it was called a golden finch.  The last one I really wasn't sure about.  Alec thought it might be a chickadee so he asked his great aunt, who knows a lot about birds, and sure enough he was right!   
  • They played with paper, scissors and stickers and made picture collages out of them. 
I love having my boys spend time with their elders since they are a wealth of information.  They talk about the history of our family and our town.  They teach the boys new games and introduce them to different foods.

Once again I had no intention of schooling today and yet they did some science, reading, art, history and math!
       
       

Learning Every Moment; What my Boys Learn on the Weekends

I don't often post thing on the weekend because to me we're not in school and my blog is about homeschooling.  However, that doesn't mean my kids aren't learning. 

My oldest son often goes to work with his father or grandfather and helps out.  He's learned (and continues to learn) how to drive various trucks, loaders and excavators.  While this often makes me nervous he is being taught the proper way to handle the equipment and has spent every moment of his life (that he's been able to anyway) riding along with assorted family members when they're doing work.

He helps rake, sweep, shovel, mow, etc and is pretty willing to do whatever job he can to help out with "real" work.   This weekend was no exception, within 15min. of waking up yesterday, Ian was running by me changing his clothes to go to work.  He leaves around 6:30 in the morning and I don't usually see him again until sometime in the afternoon.  

When he got home yesterday he asked if he could ride his bike to his grandfather's house when he got up in the morning because they were going to be doing an oil change on the truck.  He was up and ready so early this morning we had to explain that we don't ride our bikes on the road when it's not yet light out and that while papa is an early riser we should let him sleep in a little before showing up at his house. 

Ian was disappointed but watched Yukon Men and Bering Sea Gold; Under the Ice with my husband while waiting until it was time to go to work..
   
My younger two stay home with me on the weekends and I often leave them to play together. This weekend they ran experiments to see which Zhu Zhu pet was the fastest, which balloon would fall from the balcony first and why (though they had no idea it was an experiment, they thought it was just a fun game). 

They read and learned all about Evan's new Pokemon cards. 

They took photographs with Evan's new camera and learned how to turn the flash on, center the subject matter so as not to chop off anyone's head, and what to do when the camera memory is full.
     
Alec is learning to play soccer and he had a game last night.  It was an exciting game, made more so by the fact that they won!  They are all learning to work together as a team and actually passed the ball to one another a few times. 

The referee we had for last night's game was wonderful and would instruct the kids on how to do throw in's or penalty kicks and gave all the kids advice on how to play even better. 

On the way home Alec complained that at team practices they never practice kicking goals while running and having people running at you.  He told us that it's totally different in a game.  So we told him that's something we should practice then, either at home or suggest it to his coach for one of their practices. 

They do scrimmage at practices but he's right that we often have them line up and practice kicking and kicking the ball while stationary isn't the same as kicking it while running.  


Today we headed to Zoink's Fun Factory for a party with all of Evan's friends and cousins.  It was a great afternoon of exercise and socializing.  They all had so much fun playing and bouncing on the bounce pillow.

 Ian realized if he jumped really hard and did a fake cannonball he could knock people over.  They had slide races and obstacle course mazes.  It was wonderful to see all the smiling faces.
        
So yes, even on weekends we learn.  Everyday, all day long we, as human beings, learn. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

So this is unschooling!

Today I gave my kids a real day off, or perhaps I should say I finally let them try what real unschooling is like.


While I was cleaning the house today, Alec and Evan were locked up in Evan's room working with Lego's.  As I sit and type this they have been locked up in there for almost 6 hours (and I do mean locked; they won't let anyone in unless we have a good reason).  The few times I peeked in to remind them to please at least eat breakfast and brush teeth there were Lego's everywhere.  But they are so happy and engaged in what they are doing I don't want to interrupt- at all!

I can only imagine all that they are learning by working with Lego's for 6 hours.  I know it must involve lots of problem solving, architecture and math even though they don't realize it.

They are learning to play cooperatively, something I think is just a bit harder for siblings, so I'm quite proud of them.

I'm sure it will take us quite a while to clean up Evan's room later, and I'm betting Alec is still in his pajamas (since they are his favorite clothes) but some things just have to wait until later. 


Ian, on the other hand, has been a bit more restless.

He came into my room early this morning all dressed and ready (he had even had breakfast & brushed his teeth!) looking for something to do.

I was playing a new Sodoku game I had downloaded to my kindle and he watched me play for a bit and then asked if he could try a puzzle on his own.  I set him up with one that was called "very easy" and left him to it.  He played for a good 15- 20 minutes.  All he knew was that he was trying a grown- up math game but I knew he was learning all sorts of logic, patience, and critical thinking skills.  He was also taking part in a game that dates back to the 18th century so in a sense you could say he was living history for a bit too.  He didn't finish the whole puzzle but we saved it to work on another time.

He then asked to play outside.

Restless after playing outside by himself for a bit he wandered back in and found the rest of us watching a Crocodile Hunter show about Lemur's in Madagascar (Alec and Evan came out of Evan's room long enough to eat a bowl of cereal and had turned the TV on).  Ian watched the rest of the show and then begged his brothers to play a game with him but they went right back to playing Lego's.

I felt bad and offered to play with him once I finished mopping the kitchen floor.    I found him in his room also playing Lego's so I guess it was just a Lego kind of day around here!

Ian and I played Disney Wheel of Fortune until everyone was ready for lunch.

I loved that he suggested the game and he used, not only spelling skills, but math skills to play the game too.

  • He had to figure out how much money for multiple letters (like when I spun $600 and got three H's; he multiplied to get $1800!) and make change when buying vowels.  
  • To be the host you also have to read a chart.  The game comes with a book that lists all the letters of the alphabet, when a player calls out the letter you have to find it on the chart and cross reference it with the puzzle number to see where that letter lands in the puzzle.  
  • He could have tried spelling the puzzles since, as host, he knew what they were but I didn't point that out.  I did, however, model that when it was my turn to play host. 


It was a great, fun, engaging game.  The best part was getting to spend time together just the two of us to really connect and have fun together.  With all three boys home with me all the time it can get a bit difficult to find quality one on one time so I enjoy every chance I get. 


 We had a picnic outside on the lawn so as to not mess up the kitchen I spent all morning cleaning.

As I was putting the lunches together Alec asked if we could listen to his book on tape outside.  I hadn't planned on bringing the radio out but figured why not?  It really only takes a minute to set up and I certainly didn't want to discourage them from listening to books.

We listened to most of Make Way for Ducklings and Macawber.


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I cleaned up the picnic and they went to play on the swings, in the sand, and in the woods.

I didn't have anything planned for this afternoon anyway since  Ian is spending the evening at his friends house and they were picking him up this afternoon.

I have to say I was shocked as I watched our day unfold.

I read all about unschooling and really thought it sounded wonderful.

In my heart I want to be an unschooler all the time but I often panic that we just aren't covering enough that way.

I'm a linear person; if we start a chapter book we'll finish it, if we have a math book we start at page one and work our way through it.

 Yet here I sit recapping our day and they did math/ logic, reading, some spelling, some science and all we did was "play"! 

I think I've finally got it and will try to keep our days unplanned like this.  Have materials and ideas handy for when they're bored (and I'm sure I'll still throw in those occasional "real" lessons) but I'm going to try very, very, hard to keep our lives unscheduled like we did today and just follow their lead. 
           

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fresh Air and Exercise: Homeschooling When We're Rarely at Home

I got up early this morning and packed both a lunch and a dinner for all of the boys today.  I knew it was going to be a busy day of running around. 

It's funny how much we're not at home when we're called homeschoolers. 


Thankfully I know that my boys are always learning and there is much to be learned outside the home.

Typically if we had a busy day and lots of schoolwork planned we'd pack it all in the car with us and we'd work on it periodically.  The boys often complete individual work while I drive around or else I'll sit with them at the park, in the doctor's office, or for a few minutes in the parked car and help them finish up what they're working on.

Our plans for today included visiting the boys great grandmother in the nursing home, heading to a local park to play with their cousins and ride bikes, then we were heading to our trampoline class, then Alec was headed to soccer while Ian and Evan went to get haircuts. 

It was a busy day! 
   
When I looked into homeschooling I loved how flexible it was. 

We're hoping to homeschool year round so that means we get to take time off every few weeks and today was a day where we decided to just take a break from all our schoolwork.

We did manage to get some reading done.

Ian read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site to his brothers


Alec read The Smiley Snowman


I read Capital (a great U. S. history book about how the capital came to be our capital).


We then headed to the library and returned a bunch of books and checked out three more books on tape/Cd.  We listened to Strega Nona in the car on the way to our next stop of the day.


We went to visit the boys great grandmother and we stayed for a bit.  Typically we visit with her in her room since she has difficulty moving around much, but today they wanted to rearrange her room so we sat with her in a different room.

The boys were thrilled to find that the room had two small birds- a cockatiel and a parakeet.  They were more than happy to watch the birds playing around in their cages and shared some of their bird knowledge with my grandmother.  She kept remarking on how smart they were and, of course, how big they are getting.  She started getting nervous that it was getting close to lunch time and she might miss it so we said goodbye and dropped her off in her room. 
          


Our next stop was a lovely park/ playground.  My sister and I planned to meet up with our kids and just let them play.  They enjoyed bike riding around the paved track, swinging, climbing all over the climbing structures and playing basketball. 

We had a picnic and just relaxed for two whole hours.  It was a beautiful day for it and all the boys had so much fun playing together. 

If we hadn't had trampoline class next, I don't think my boys would've wanted to leave at all!
       
My oldest son LOVES trampolining.  He hasn't stopped talking about it since we left class last week.  He has repeatedly thanked me for signing them up and letting them try it.  Evan is the only one who really doesn't seem to like it, but today he too seemed to enjoy it. 

They all learned a few new "moves" and got to try doing a few flips with a harness on, even Evan who struggled with this last week gave it a shot and managed to get himself all the way around!  Alec and Ian practiced flipping onto a mat and I observed my children.

It's amazing how much I learn about them just by watching. 

Evan started counting his jumps and counted up to 45 all by himself (last I knew he could only count to 25)!  He took a break and started pointing to all the different flags asking me which was which (self- guided discovery!). 

Alec pointed to a few flags and called out their names as well while jumping; mainly the Florida (which he recognized from our schooling), Great Britain, and Mexico (which he recognized from the Olympics). 
      
After all that exercise I wasn't all that surprised when Alec and Evan fell asleep on the way to soccer practice.  I figured after four hours of running, biking, and jumping it was well deserved. 

Alec woke up before we got to the field and then him and Ian played soccer for a while.  They practiced ball- handling skills, had a mini scrimmage and worked on teamwork.



 It was a wonderful day filled with tons of sunshine, smiles, exercise, and learning; even if we weren't at home.