Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy's not slowing us down much...

Wow!  Thanks to all of you who've been checking out my blog during the last few days.  I logged on today to find I've made 1,500 page views!  That was just amazing. 

I haven't posted anything since we've been without power/ Internet since hurricane Sandy came through on Monday.  We still are without power for most things, but my wonderful husband, not only hooked us up to a generator, but also left a portable device with me that enables me to use the Internet!!

It's amazing how quickly we become accustomed to technology and feel so lost without it.

I've been taking notes so that once I could blog I wouldn't forget all that we have covered in the last few days.  Part of my hurricane prep was to make sure all the games, science experiments and "school" stuff was printed off or copied from the Internet so we'd have plenty to do.

 Many of my friends tried to convince me to let the boys have time off just like the local schools but really I knew without power I needed to keep them occupied more than ever and believe it or not my kids LOVE school now that we homeschool.  They're happier when we're doing things (well, most of the time anyway). 
        
I did treat Monday like a "snow" day and we had no school.  I knew that we would more than likely loose power and for several days so I let the kids watch as much TV, play as many video games, and get all their "screen" time in as much as they could while allowing them to have a pajama day.  We watched the news and tracked the storm as it moved it's way north.  We learned a lot about weather and current events while learning some geography too.  We lost power shortly after lunch and within three minutes I heard those dreaded words... "I'm bored, there's nothing to do!"  I could have pulled out school work but I choose to let them try and muddle through.  When we were kids my mom didn't worry about keeping me entertained and sometimes I get so frustrated that my kids seem incapable of keeping themselves entertained for even just a little bit.  They eventually found their way to some games and we played Life (where Ian was the banker and reinforced all sorts of math/ money facts), we played scrabble (and worked on our spelling skills), we played hangman (also working on spelling skills), Dinosaur Train & Sorry Sliders (where Evan reinforced his learning of numbers & 1 to 1 correspondence).  Without meaning to we covered a lot of learning!  That's not to say it wasn't a stressful day of whining, fighting, moaning and complaining.  It unfortunately was and I sent them all to bed early that night.  I told them we'd definitely have school on Tuesday. 
         More and more I find we're moving away from "unschooling," and that's OK (though I do wish I could figure out how to change the title of my blog now!) because we are finally seeming to hit our groove.  Lately we have a schedule and it's working for us!  I still let them lead when they take the initiative but mostly they wait for me to tell them what we're going to do today.  I try to keep our learning fun and interesting for them, and for me too so I don't have to listen to a lot of complaining either.   I still have hopes that someday we'll be an unschooling family and they'll tell me what they're going to do for the day but perhaps they're too ingrained to listen to the teacher at this point or just don't have enough confidence yet.  We'll see where this journey brings us over time.  All I know is right now I see my boys thriving and our family bonding over everything.  We're happy and really who could ever hope for more than that?!
         Yesterday found us awake very early with the gearing up of our generator.  We figured we were up so why not jump into our day.  We read a few chapters in our Kitten book and another book called from Seed to Pumpkin.  We learned about how pumpkins grow and realized we hadn't checked on our pumpkin seeds in a while.  We were overjoyed to find they had huge sprouts, even the pumpkin we just threw a bit of dirt and water into was growing. 
         While we were on the topic of science we did a magic potion.  In preparing for this lesson we had previously boiled red cabbage for dinner and saved a bunch of the purple cabbage "juice."  We measured 1/4 cup of the purple juice into each glass container and then added 1 Tbsp of baking soda to one, after making predictions of what would happen.  We then added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to the other, again after predicting what would happen.  Like magic the purple liquid changed greenish blue and bright pink.  Once we mixed the two together we were back to purple and it was fizzing!  The kids loved it.  I brought up the terms acid and base and told them they'd hear that a lot more the further into science we go.  

            We had another unplanned science experiment we carried out as well.  In the book from Seed to Pumpkin it talked about how all pumpkin stalks have "straws" that carry water to and from the leaves and it had an experiment using celery that we decided to try.  Celery stalks have "straws" too and in order to see them more clearly we took two stalks of celery (one with leaves and one without) and put them into a glass of colored red water.  We then checked them throughout the day and watched the red lines appear, the leaves turned reddish brown and we could see a red outline around all the leaves and through all the veins too.  Evan predicted that the stalk and leaves would turn reddish, Ian had predicted that the water inside the celery would turn red and Alec predicted that just the veins would turn red since they are what carry the food to the plant.  They're turning into such scientists! 
         We tried a new math game yesterday too for the older two boys.  They played a game called Pumpkin Farm that was very much like battleship, but instead of ships you placed fat and skinny pumpkins on the grid and then they took turns guessing where they each had hid their pumpkins.  The first one to find all their opponents pumpkins first wins.  While they played that Evan quickly did a dot- to -dot and then worked on matching uppercase, lowercase, and object picture candy corn puzzle pieces together.
   
              We did a writing activity called Making Monster Sentences.  They had pictures of 8 monster feet that we cut out and pasted in a little booklet.  They then had to write a descriptive sentence or two about the monster.  Evan dictated his sentences and I wrote them down.  His were very basic "This monster has hairy feet" type of sentences but I expected more of the older kids.  Ian came up with some great ones, my favorite "This critter has bare feet, and a bare head, also a bare hand, but he is wearing shorts."  Alec had fun with colors and descriptions, "This monster has laces everywhere.  Even the hair and eye lashes are laces."  I won't lie and say it was a fun writing activity.  They once again groaned, complained, cried and dragged their feet but I'm determined to continue writing until they aren't in tears all the time.  I figure it's got to get easier the more we do it, at least that 's my hope.  In the meantime I'm constantly trying to find ideas for what I hope will be "fun" writing activities.
         To finish up our day I guided them in how to draw a bat.  This site had great, simple easy to follow step by step instructions.  I let them color the bats however they wanted.  I was kind of disappointed they all chose markers since many of the details were lost in the coloring but they had fun and by that point in the day that's all I wanted anyway.  They still came out cute and the boys loved them. 
      After lunch their cousins came over and they played outside, made up games of Nerf gun tag, played Lego's and Life.  They had fun creating with Lego's and playing with trucks.  Not a bad ending to our day. 

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