Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Modifying pre- K and K activities for older kids

          I had a ton of things on my "to do" list today that I just didn't want to put off for another day.  Many of them were errands and shopping so I knew we'd be spending a lot of time in the car.  I didn't want to let that time go to waste though so I was trying to look for some activity ideas (not worksheets though since we've been using them a lot lately).  I came across one that I thought would be perfect for Evan but knew the older two boys would want to partake of too.  It's an alphabet hunt.   I found the idea on Pinterest and modified it for the car and the older boys.  Basically you take a paper plate (or anything sturdy) and put all of the alphabet letters on it.  I then cut a slit out of each letter so they can be folded down out of sight once they are found.  So as they see the letter when we're out and about they fold it down and they point it out to me.  I expected the older two boys to read the signs and write down the words they've found too. 



          The older two boys loved it and had almost the entire alphabet finished by the time we made it back home.  Evan, however, refused to look for even one letter.  Go figure!  I did have a talk with the boys about our lack of enthusiasm for school since we've been home from vacation.  It seems like at least one of them finds fault with every activity I have planned and more often than not no- one wants to do anything more than listen to me read a story and fill in a quick, easy math worksheet.  I feel like we're stuck and need another jolt to start moving forward again.  Ian suggested changes to his learning that were just a tiny bit different.  He's sick of his times 3's tables and would rather learn his times 10's, and then his times 5's and just jump around rather than the liner approach I was taking.  I was fine with that and the next thing I knew we spent the rest of the car ride home multiplying by 10.   Ian and Alec took turns answering questions and even answered 99 x10!  I was very impressed.  It seems like every time I think we're not doing enough or they aren't learning like they should they come out with things that totally floor me.  How many 6 year old knows that 87 x 10 is 870?!
           Once home, the older two boys started coloring a Halloween picture for a coloring contest and Evan decided to play Halloween music and dance around the living room.  Next thing I knew they were hosting their own talent program competing against each other in a dance off.  It was cute and great exercise too.  I hadn't planned on doing much of anything with the boys today since I'm focused on laundry, holiday prep and household stuff but we had bought a bunch of hair gel to make gel bags.
The idea was to have a fun way to practice letter and number writing.  Again my main focus was Evan but I thought the older boys would enjoy practicing cursive letters this way too.  I had told them all about "my" idea and they were asking if they could use them so I made up a few and set them to work.  Evan had a tough time getting the gel to move around well and perhaps I used to much for him.  I did tape his down to a cookie sheet to prevent it from moving and that seemed to work a bit better but he complained more than anything else.  However, when I said then don't worry about it or don't use it he refused to budge from his seat.   (Late in the afternoon he begged to take them back out and practiced all of his uppercase letters then drove trucks around on them.  So I guess they were a hit but I just picked a bad time for the activity before lunch.)


            They wanted to watch TV during lunch and they happily settled on Word World.  They haven't watched this show in over a year but they happily watched today and by the end of the show Evan was going around saying R-O-P-E rope!  If he remembers that word I'll  happily let him watch Word World everyday! 






                 After lunch we went for a walk.  My intent was just to get exercise but once again I heard much grumbling about walks being boring and hurting their feet and legs (honestly, you'd think I made them walk miles upon miles when we take a short 30 min walk around the neighborhood if that!).  Once I heard the complaining I remembered that our walks always go much better when they have a job to do so today's job was to collect nature items to make a woodland potion.  I completely stole this idea from the blog nature of homeschooling, I thought it sounded really fun and in the spirit of Halloween too.  So we headed off to gather nature items, I had each boy bring a small bucket to put the materials in and told them to start thinking of the magical words for their potions.  They really got into it.  They collected many different things; feathers, berries, moss, tree bark, etc.  Alec got into gathering the items the most. He climbed trees to find the perfect green pine needle, broke open an acorn to "get just the nutrients inside."  He then threw the rest of the acorn back into the woods for the squirrels to eat and told me it was like a symbiotic relationship.  "The trees drop the acorns, I pick them up and crack them open and leave them for the squirrels to eat! It's kid of like a symbiotic relationship but not really."  Sometimes I just love to listen to them talk.  We saw a huge flock of birds flying overhead and stopping periodically to rest in the tree tops. I was told this was because "they're safe from predators way up high in the tree because the branches are so thin up there and would bend if another animal tried to land there too."  It was a great walk -turned -nature talk and I was so glad to have this time outdoors in the wonderful sunshine with my boys.  

The nutrients of a nut





           Once home I read them a short excerpt from Shakespeare's Macbeth as the witches are brewing their potion and we talked about what was expected of their spells.  Ian immediately went off and started writing.  He thought he was finished but I disagreed when he came out with "duck and buck are words that rhyme, but I only need one and that's buck."  I explained that it was confusing; Did he only need one buck?  Was he talking about a male deer?  I also told him I just didn't think it was long enough or that he had nearly enough thought put into it.  He was very upset but worked much harder and started getting excited again once we went through his second try together and he got inspired even more.  He wanted a potion that would make him rich  and finally came up with a very clever little poem potion.  They were very uncertain as to whether the potion would work or not.  Once they finished writing the potions down we went outside and used lake water (not hose water since that wouldn't make it nature-- or so I was told) and mixed up our potions. 
"a pinch of dirt, a couple of leaves, a feather from a duck, Some moss, a couple of poisonous berries, a mushroom and some grass.  I hope it adds up to some muck.  Then I hope it adds up to some money."  Ian- age 8

"Some dirt and loom, Nutrients from a nut, and berries that need to be cut.  The underside of a mushroom, Just right for me to scout, Now I hope my tooth comes out!"-- Alec, Age 6

 "I wish, I wish, that this would turn into some money, And then some action figures so I can buy Pokemon cards"
       Ian was very disappointed when his didn't work and then asked his brothers if their potions worked.  Evan glumly agreed that his did not and Alec said he wasn't sure if his would since he took out the feather and decided to keep it at the last minute.  He looked very anxious and teary eyed that his potion might be ruined because of that.  It was adorable and best of all; they told me it was fun! 

         


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