Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A real experiment!

        We watched the movie Balto last night.  It was something I had requested from the library last week when we were finishing up our Alaska study and Ian mentioned the famous sled dog Balto.  I'll be totally honest, that while I did remember the name I couldn't quite remember what he was famous for.  When Alec asked "who's Balto?"  I turned to Ian and said do you remember.  He told us the whole story and I offered to look for a book or movie about it for us to watch.  The boys loved it!  We made popcorn and snuggled on the couch for a Monday movie night!  We never would have done that if the boys weren't homeschooling.  I would be too afraid they'd be tired at school if they stayed up late.  I'm sure they will be tired today but we'll just do a little less than usual. 
        By the time they woke this morning I was busy cleaning the bathrooms upstairs and left them to play on their own for a bit and I was glad I did.  They took out the new canister of pattern blocks we got in last night and all worked together to make an elaborate pattern that they then used for Batman's house or perhaps it was Mc Donald's since I did hear them saying something about a shamrock shake over and over.  It always makes me smile to overhear their conversations when they're playing without any adults around. 
        I headed to the grocery store this morning because we just couldn't put it off one more day.  I handed each boy a calculator once we were in the store and asked them to try and keep track of how much we're spending.  I had thought about making it a contest and offering a prize to the one whose total came the closest but I wasn't sure how frustrated they would get.   Now this might not seem like a great math lesson for most people (and I probably would have said the same thing) since they weren't actually adding themselves.  I handed them out when we got the store and Ian said "This is going to be so easy since we don't even have to add the calculator will!" But, for my boys who've never used a calculator before, this was a real learning experience.   Ian got frustrated and quit before we got to the end of the store.  Evan was just playing with the numbers but I was pretty happy to see he typed in the numbers I was saying at least.  Alec thought he had it right and ended up being only $8.00 off from the total price so he did pretty well.  They had to learn how to use decimal points and apply common sense to see if the totals made sense to them.  They had to figure out the cost of one item if it was on sale 2/ something or 3/ something and I only bought one.   They had to type quickly sometimes to keep up (like when I grabbed three gallons of milk), and they had to figure out how to fix the inevitable mistakes of hitting the wrong number or forgetting the decimal point.   It made the grocery store trip longer, a bit more stressful, but filled with life lessons. 
        While I put groceries away Alec and Ian played a game of boggle together.  It was a bit frustrating to hear them bicker but I tried to let them be and see how they would do on their own.  They played a few really quick games and mostly only found two or three letter words.  I find it is a much harder to play than a game like Words With Friends or Scrabble where you  only have seven letters or perhaps eight to work with.  I thought they did pretty well; esp. when they both came up with "hex" as a word and managed to use the x or "yoga."  While Ian and Alec went on to paint their stained glass pictures from yesterday Evan and I played sight word bingo.  I was so proud of him when he picked up a game board and said this is the one I used last time.  He remembered out, in, go, no, but, & two!  We only played once and that was a few weeks ago.  The look of pride on his face was priceless.  After that game we played a quick game of alphabet bingo and then he asked to go play. 

Their completed stained glass paintings 
        For science today we played with baking soda and vinegar.  First I gave them a tin of baking soda and a few cups of colored vinegar and few of colored water.   They used droppers to drop colors into the baking soda and see what happened.  I gave Ian and Alec a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and told them to write down anything they learned or observed that seemed important to this science experiment.  They quickly realized the colored vinegar made the baking soda bubble where the colored water made tunnels.  Evan thought that perhaps it was how high or how low you dropped the vinegar and water that determined if it bubbled or not so we experimented with that and found out it's not the height of the drop.  The  boys then tried adding vinegar to the water to see what happens when you mix them and then add them to the baking soda.  They were surprised to find it still makes bubbles.  Ian stopped periodically to write down his observations but Alec didn't.  I choose not to push it.  I knew they were learning by all the vocalizations and didn't need to read what they had written down.  I just wanted to see if they'd write more not thinking it was a writing activity and I wasn't asking them to write.  They put their hands in and mixed the containers all around.  Ian thought it felt a bit like goop (cornstarch and water mixture).  They all agreed the baking soda felt totally different than it did when they started.   Once we exhausted that activity we went on to combine the baking soda and vinegar in a recycled water bottle and blew up a balloon. You can find instructions for this activity here.   We talked about why that worked, whether or not the balloons would float.  We then pulled the balloons off and tied them up.  They don't float.  They're filled with carbon dioxide; the same gas we give off whem we blow up a balloon.  They had fun playing with them until they popped and left baking soda behind.  It was a great fun science morning.   We ended up eating a pretty late lunch because they were having so much fun experimenting they didn't want to stop!

            They finally ate lunch and we made quite a few fruit fly traps.  We read about them on- line and this method promised to rid the house of them overnight.  So following the directions we combined a bit of dish soap with vinegar (cider or wine works best) in a small glass bowl.  We covered the bowl with cling wrap and poked some tiny holes using a toothpick.  The theory is the flies are attracted to the smell so they fly inside the small holes and get trapped.  The surface tension of the vinegar is broken by the addition of the soap so...  I guess they sink?!  I feel bad for the fruit flies but they're just getting too bad to continue ignoring them.  We put one trap near the kitchen sink, one near the garbage can and one in the bathroom upstairs.  I already see a bunch of flies in all three traps but I still see a bunch flying around.   
        We watched the ending of the Great Barrier Reef and since it was pouring rain I knew it would be a long afternoon.  We plan on baking and cooking. playing computer, play- d'oh, Lego's, and the game of life.  I just hope we have enough time for all that before Alec leaves for soccer!  But, as I always remind the boys, there's always tomorrow.  We don't have to do everything in one day. 

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