Friday, November 30, 2012

Homeschooling away from home

         My oldest son was disappointed when I told his younger brother I'd make pancakes tomorrow instead of today.  So I said, " you can make them. Go find the cookbook, look up pancakes and follow the recipe."  I knew it wouldn't be quite that simple but he really tried (and did a great job!).  First off there was the "where's the cookbook?" question, since as mother, I know where EVERYTHING is at ALL times- right?!  He then opened to the table of contents and asked me if it would be under eggs since there are eggs in pancakes.  I asked him "where else can we look up things in a non- fiction book?"  "The index!"  We flipped the book over and he finally found pancakes, opened to the right page and started to read.  I told him it would probably work best if he got all the ingredients and measurements out first.  He had no problem with 1/2 and 1/3 but 3/4 threw him.  He asked if he would use two 1/3 cup measures.  So I said well we'd have to add 1/3 plus 1/3.  I knew he'd never added fractions before so I prompted him "what's 1 +1?"  He knew that was 2 so I said right, but in this case it would be 2/3.  It took him a while but he finally understood that he would need 3 1/4 measures to equal 3/4.   He set about making the whole breakfast, reading the recipe and doing the math for all the measurements.  I also noticed instead of saying "one and a half" like he usually does he was saying "one half" and learning the proper terminology too.  I was thrilled that he was doing math, kitchen science and reading at 7:30 in the morning without complaining, grumbling, or realizing it! 
          During and after breakfast we read two more chapters in Hugo and Bunnicula.  I really wanted to read two more chapters in our Magic Treehouse book too but we just ran out of time.  At least we arrived at our gym day on- time and had so much fun! Most days the mornings just fly right by.
          We met a group of homeschooling families at a local community center to use their gym for a fun gym day.  It cost only $3 per family to play for an hour.   We packed our basketball, soccer ball, and some other assorted athletic equipment and headed out.  There were three other families there and Ian spent most of the hour working on dribbling his basketball and shooting.  We play around the world, horse, and he set up an obstacle course to use with the basketball.  Evan and Alec played tag and soccer together.  Alec and I used milk jugs with the ends cut off as cup to catch some small balls.  It's super easy and fun.  We just cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the milk jug and put duct tape around the ends (so we wouldn't get cut/ scratched by the plastic edges).  It would look even better with decorative duct tape but we used up what we had on- hand.  I've seen some real cute ones made up on- line and copied the idea.   We played pass using these and made a game out of it.  I played soccer with Evan and we worked on passing and trapping the ball.  The boys interacted really well with the other kids and played hide and seek, tag and just chased each other around.    It was wonderful and we can't wait to go back next month. 
Running so fast, they're just blurs!
Ian stops to play with some of the younger kids; it's so sweet to see him interact soothingly and sweetly!
Let's practice batting!
Our milk jug catchers! 

         On the way home from gym day, the boys asked if we could go visit their great- grandmother.  We called and she was thrilled to have the company for the day.  On the way to her house we stopped to drop off a box of new clothes, toys and baby formula at our local church.  I love including the boys in things like this so they understand the importance of helping those less fortunate; especially at this time of the year.  Once we got to my grandmother's she asked the boys if they'd like to go out to lunch, so we headed to our local Mc Donald's and the boys spent the afternoon playing on the play scape and we all played a few rounds of air hockey. 
         My grandfather is in a nursing home and my grandmother likes us all to visit occasionally.  She offered to take them shopping for a little something if they behaved while we visited and, honestly, they were the best they had been all day!  We visited for a while and we played a game of Chinese Checkers.   Then they went to the store and each picked out a little toy.  By this time it was dinnertime! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Down Under!

        We tried to get ready quickly this morning. I had all the boys eat breakfast together while I read a few chapters from each of our three books. Once again, they didn't want me to stop reading any of them but we really had to get moving. It was just about 9 by the time we were all ready and I had the fleeting sense of panic that if we ever went back to public school (or had an early morning appointment) we'd always be late! I hate being late; to me being on time for something is being late. I'm always arriving 5- 10 minutes early, or at least I used to before we started homeschooling. One thing about living a more relaxed laid- back life style is that you tend to get used to it and being on time becomes even more of a challenge. For now, I'm just grateful we do homeschool and I don't have to battle the kids every morning to get up, dressed and out the door. It didn't hurt that they had somewhere so fun to go to this morning, it made them much more agreeable to getting ready.
          My boys and I have a special treat planned for today.  My husband's Aunt and Uncle spent a month in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji so the boys are going on a "field trip" to visit their great aunt.  She's planned a whole day of fun and learning for them.  They will be baking a morning snack together, looking at the pictures from Australia, NZ & Fiji (lots of awesome animal and aquarium ones) and reading a few related Australian animal books. I was told that Alec is especially gonna love the souvenir program on the nightly Australian fairy penguin parade (which they went to). She's also hoping to make an EDIBLE Xmas art project when they need a break. 
Here are the edible trees they made; Alec's has red garland!  Just gumdrops, toothpicks and foam trees. 
So simple and adorable!

         I was told to drop them off anytime after 8:15 and to pick them back up by 3:00.  I don't know who's more excited.  The boys, who just love their aunt and can't wait to see what she has planned for them, or me, who gets the whole day to herself!  I'm hoping to finish Christmas shopping without prying eyes around and hopefully get to the grocery store too since it's been two weeks since I last went.  I'm kind of sad I'll be missing out on all that they'll be learning about today (I really want to hear all about the trip and see these wonderful pictures too!) and I can't wait to hear all about it when I pick them up.  They have quite a background on Australia already, since I knew we'd eventually get to see and hear all about their once in a lifetime trip, but I can't wait to hear about all the new things they'll learn about and teach me! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snowmen jugs, math games & paper towel science

This is what a typical school day looks for us during the holiday season.

I dreamed of science experiments last night (no, seriously, I did!) so I decided it was time to do one.  We choose this paper towel color experiment (partly because it was the one in my dream, but mostly because I had all the supplies and thought it would be quick and fun for the boys).  The instructions and photos on the linked site are awesome!

The boys couldn't decide on two colors so we made one cup red and yellow (also known as orange) and the other cup was blue.  The first time our paper towels fell into the filled cup completely so the second time I used a wet fingertip to "adhere" the dry ends of the paper towels to the dry cups.  It takes quite a while but eventually the colored water travels up the paper towel and into the empty cup and the colors mix.

 It was pretty neat but a bit slow for the boys (it took over an hour before we had green water in the middle).   So we left it sitting on the table while we did other subjects.

Evan did another couple dot- to- dot sheets for math today  (and he got them all right the first time all by himself even though one of the sheets went up to 36!).

 Ian made up some targets for a multiplication game found here.  All you need is three pieces of paper and a deck of cards.  We printed out the score sheet they had on the site but you could easily make up your own if you don't have access to a printer.  It was quick and fun and definitely something we'll play again.  Alec played a second round with us (and did fantastic!).

Basically you make three target sheets that say x2, x3, and x5 (though really you could use any three times tables but these are the ones we're focusing on now).  Then you flip cards from the deck onto one of the targets.  When your card (we'll say an 8) lands on x2 you say 8x2= 16 and write down the number 16 as your score.  You play ten rounds and then add up your score.  We only learn up to the 12's so our jack and queen were worth 11 and kings were worth 12 while ace's were worth 1.  They loved it!  And Ian quickly learned that you really want to try and get your card to land on the higher number so your score is the highest.  I even had Ian add up our scores for us at the end. He added up 10 2-digit numbers with just a tiny bit of help from me! So tons of addition and multiplication practice there. 

While I had the cards out Alec and I decided to play the place value game.   We took 10 cards each (no face cards) and laid out a pyramid.  The first row has one card then the second row has two cards... you get the idea.  Anyway we flip over the first row and the one with the largest number wins 1 point.  We turn over the next two cards and call out our two digit number, the one with the largest number gets 2 points, and we continued on until someone had 25 points.  We had to reshuffle every other turn so I'd recommend using multiple decks of cards; especially if more than two people want to play.  We also ran into a great lesson when the 10 card popped up in the ones, tens, or hundreds column as we had to "carry" that over to the next place.  It was a fun and easy way to learn about place value and I'm sure we'll be playing that one again too!   

We read two chapters in Thanksgiving on Thursday and two chapters in Bunnicula (which the boys are loving and laughing at!), then we read few more chapters in our Hugo book.  That was enough reading for now.  But, honestly, the older two boys didn't want me to stop reading at all.  Every time I put the bookmark in our book I got a loud groan.  It's so nice to see them so interested in so many books.  They're able to keep all the books straight too and usually can tell me in great detail where we left off the day before (something I can't always do!).

We started watching the Australia movie we borrowed from the library.  It's 220 minutes long and broken into 4 parts so it will take us a while to watch it all.  Today we learned about the Outback.  It was very interesting but a bit upsetting at parts (like when they hunted 'roos!).  I think it was a bit too documentary like to keep Evan's attention for very long but the older two boys seemed to enjoy it and learned quite a bit about the outback towns and the Aborigines.  In fact, they all ended up watching part 2 during lunch.  We learned about Queensland and the coral reefs.

We made milk Jug snowmen.   I thought these were just too adorable not to make when I found them on Pinterest and I had all the supplies handy.  With yesterday's snow the boys really wanted to make a real snowman but we only got a dusting of snow so I thought I'd console them with this project:

  • Take an empty, clean milk jug and cut out large round black circles for the eyes, a few smaller ones for the smile and adhere with a glue gun (you can use paper or foam).  
  • We then cut orange triangles out of paper for the nose and used the glue gun once again.  
  • Then we decorated them; I told them they could use old hats or we could make ear muffs out of pom poms, curling ribbon, or yarn. 
  •  Lastly we cut a 3 sided flap in the back of each jug and added a string of Christmas lights inside each one each.  
We arranged them on our front stoop (but made sure they were protected from rain and snow) and plugged them in.  They're just darling and it only took a few moments to make!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stories, Stories, Stories, TV, TV, TV

         Before anyone had even had breakfast my boys started writing letters to Santa.  We had done this a few months back but I can't find the letters anywhere and my oldest son wants to fold up his letter and leave it next to our elf to bring back to the North Pole with him tonight.  The elf was cracking everyone up this morning since he found a dry- erase marker and drew faces on all the kid's baby pictures.  This is the first year our elf has gotten into mischief and they're loving it. 
          We had another low- key school day.  We read another chapter or two in our Hugo book and started reading a few chapters in Thanksgiving on Thursday (part of the Magic Treehouse series).  We had checked out this book long before Thanksgiving and never got around to reading it.  I was going to return it but they didn't want me to until we read it.  Not like I was going to argue over that!  We also read Sitting Bull Remembers, and Dinosaur vs. Santa.  Another day with tons of reading.  I realized shortly after breakfast that we're going to see a play next week and I haven't yet read that book to them either and so we headed to the library to get, yet another, chapter book that we started reading today.  The boys ended up picking up some more books and movies.    Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by all the books they check out.  I feel like we should read them all cover to cover but that doesn't always happen.  I'm getting better about relaxing and enjoying homeschooling but sometimes I still stress a bit about all that is out there that we haven't yet learned about. 
        We came home and they asked to watch the next two episodes of Time Blazers that we had on DVR, one was all about the history of school.  It went from caveman times to ancient Rome up to present day.  It was pretty interesting.  The second one was all about the stars and the constellations.  As we were setting up for math I pulled up Blue World Webisodes and we ended up watching a quick 10 minute video on sea snakes in Australia.  It's a site I made sure to bookmark as the boys begged to watch even more webisodes.   All of the mini- episodes are about ocean life.  It's a really neat site.  We then played Yahtzee and Add- A- Bug. 
         Ian was dying to go play in the snow by that point and the other two wanted to eat lunch so I told them if they didn't want to do any art or science today we could stop for the day and they all readily agreed.  It was a very short and sweet day packed with books and education shows. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to work; or should I say play?

          We had a great week off from school with lots of family time.  Our whole family came for Thanksgiving day and we had a wonderful feast.  The cousins all played together so nicely and had a great time.  The day after Thanksgiving we always put up our tree and all of our Christmas decorations.  The boys helped a bit, they each have a small table top tree in their own rooms and once those were done they decided they had had enough.  We watched some holiday movies, played a few board games, and just enjoyed not having a "to do" list.   Already our calendar looks so full for the rest of the year, I'm wondering how much schooling we'll manage to squeeze in.  We have tons of holiday baking and craft projects planned as well as many day trips so it should be a fun time.

           I had some ideas for several new traditions I wanted to start with the boys this year that I had found on Pinterest.  For one of them, I went through all our bookshelves, pulled off all the Christmas books we have and wrapped them each individually.  Each night they unwrap a book and we read a Christmas story.  This has made them so excited about reading!  We ended up reading three books last night because we had forgotten the other few days and they were all ready to tear open a new book this morning.  I had to explain it's really only one book per NIGHT.  We're going to save them for bedtime.  They all grumbled and begged to open one this morning but I explained we'd run out before Christmas ever got here if we open them now. 
            Ian has been creating elaborate houses out of dominoes.  He lays out floor plans and his last house had three bedrooms, each with their own closet, a game room, a huge family room/ kitchen, and honestly it looked a lot like the floor plans you buy except instead of drawn they were laid out with dominoes.  It's very creative and he put another one together this morning for our resident elf on the shelf.  Our elf was found taking a bubble bath in a tub of mini marshmallows this morning and the boys have steadily been eating away at his bath so it's probably a good thing he has a house now as a back up.  I finally had to interrupt Ian and remind him that we had to get going on school work since we have trampoline again today.  He wanted to play multiplication Bingo on my Kindle so that was part of his math lesson today. He also played another Sudoku game on my kindle.  While he was on it he checked out word jumble & words with friends to work on some of his spelling.   He filled in a Christmas Mad lib that I found at classroom and looked up how to spell some of the words in the dictionary. 
            Alec wanted to do another add and color page and I found one with Santa Clause here (for free!) on Teachers pay Teachers.  He read part of his book called Bird Atlas, it's a new book he just got in.  He had found this book at our library and was so upset to realize it was a reference book and he couldn't check it out.  He had been reading a page or two every time we went but it was so hard to get him to leave the library when it was time to go.  He asked me a week or so ago if we could see about buying our own copy and once I found it on Amazon I couldn't resist getting it for him.  He has been reading a few pages a day ever since it came in.  Today's page was all about birds of the Mediterranean Sea; which he found on our large map of the world. 
           Evan, once again, wanted to do a dot- to- dot.  He actually did two of them.  I found a bunch of Christmas ones at busy bee kids.  We also brought our Add A Bug game to trampoline to play while the older two boys were at class.  He not only added the dice each time he rolled but he read me all the squares he landed on!   He's been doing lots of counting since hide and seek has become the kids new favorite game and we always pick a random number they have to count to until they can go seek.   While at trampoline he asked to use my Kindle and we read Beaver Has a Fever.  He also pulled up a drawing app I have and he practiced writing his letters on it; upper and lower case.  We made up a counting game and tried to practice writing numbers as well. 
          We all did tons of reading today, we read a few chapters in our Hugo book and then for history/ geography we read Over in Australia (we have family members who just went there on a trip and are going to tell us all about it while showing us their pictures!), Apples to Oregon (about westward expansion), and A is for Aloha to finally finish up our Hawaii lesson.  We also listened to five books on CD today on the way to and from trampoline; Caps for Sale, Too Many Tamales, Green Eggs and Ham, Where the Wild Things Are, and Splat the Cat.  Some are new and many are old favorites.  We listened to a few of them more than once.   I think I'll need to start requesting books on CDs from other libraries since we've just about exhausted our libraries resources on those. 
          On our way home we stopped at the post office to mail out our Christmas cards that I had the boys put return addresses and stamps on while we talked about the format of an envelope for mailing.  We also stopped at the library and dropped of some of our books that we've read during the past week since we'd last been there and picked up a few more that we had requested.  I think we have about 10 chapter books around here now so we'll be busy reading for quite some time.  It was such a fun, hectic day with tons of emphasis on reading and stories. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

No, I didn't forget that today is only Wednesday, but I will not be blogging tomorrow since we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house and I'll be busy cooking up a storm and spending time with my family.

I love this time of year. 

I just love to cook and entertain.  Yes, it requires a lot of time and effort on my part but I don't mind.  This year, so far anyway, it's actually been easier.  Yes, you heard me right, easier.  It's the first year I've had the boys home with me and I've been giving them all jobs.

They've helped clean the whole house, grocery shop and prepare much of the food. 
Yesterday, we took time away from our holiday planning and we went to visit friends.  They occupied themselves on the long car ride by playing math bingo, the 50 states game on my Kindle as well as temple run, and where's my water? Mostly though they played toys and listened to the radio, singing along with the songs.

Our friends have a new baby in their house and I took the time to really show the boys how tiny babies can be.  It's been a long time since we've had a newborn around here and so I took off the baby's socks and showed them each the tiny feet and toenails, the tiny fingers and fingernails.  I explained to them that they were all once that size too.  I really thought they wouldn't care or would have said that they already knew that, but all of them looked amazed at that fact.

They soon lost interest though and then they tried their hand at playing Foosball, air hockey, and bey blade battles.  They played Star Wars and chased each other around with helmets and toy guns.  They rode bikes and scooters.  It was great fun.  Alec even found a Ninjago book to read while we were there.  It was a wonderfully relaxing day.    
Today we read a bunch of books:

We finished up our thankful tree and it looks nice and full with all the leaves back on it.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Learning when I'm not looking

            I have told the boys they get to take this holiday week off from school since we have quite a bit to do, but once again I realized how much they learn on their own.  While I baked pies and got us all packed up and ready to go to our homeschool trampoline class yesterday morning my boys sat on the floor putting together puzzle after puzzle.  Evan was putting the United States puzzle together and repeated the puzzle when it said the name and capital of each state.  "See, Mom I'm learning!" He says.    He then asked his brothers to please read him a Batman book. 
          The two older boys were overjoyed to be back at trampoline class now that Ian's cast if off.  They were a bit nervous since we switched days and I explained that they would have all new "friends" at this class.  They fit right in and loved it.  Within five minutes of jumping they had made new friends and talked up a storm.  Since Evan did not enjoy trampoline class last round he decided to sit out with me and watch.  He brought along his Leapster and played learning games.  You all know by now how much I don't advocate for screens but I was amazed at what he was learning playing his games; tens and ones place, contractions, spelling.  It was great since he thought he was just having fun! 
          I was impressed that with a day off they had worked so many skills without realizing it.  But I was even more impressed when we went shopping with my sister after trampoline.  As she was trying on clothes Ian asked me how much she was going to buy and I explained that she had a $50 gift card and I had two items she was planning on buying in my hand.  They were around $12.95 each. I told him to figure it out.   I asked him to round them to a whole number and he immediately knew it would be $13 then told me she was spending $26 so she'd have $24 left!  Great math work in his head.   I was so proud. 
         They helped clean the house for Thanksgiving and read some books before bed.  It was a great day "off" from school.  It just reaffirms my belief that you can't ever take a break from homeschooling because they are ALWAYS learning. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

4 Hour hike-- Wordless Wednesday On a Monday

Yesterday, my husband and I took the two younger boys on a hike through the woods to a relative's house.  It took us a good 3 hours to hike to her house even though it's really not that far away (we came home on the road and it only took us about 20- 30 minutes).

Part of the length of our hike is due to the fact that the kids don't walk that fast and they often stop to look at everything around them.  To me that's a huge part of the hike.  They learn so much by observing nature.  We also stopped by a pond to have our lunch on a rock.  It was a beautiful day for hiking!
a hollow tree that they thought was interesting

Running along the top of a dam at the pond

A brook the boys asked me to take a picture of
An old forwarder left by the loggers

The kids find a downed tree and play with the clay underneath

"It looks like a mail box!"
An old stone foundation; perfectly intact

perhaps a root cellar?! 

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Friday, November 16, 2012

A day of computer play

      I decided to make today a "fun" day.  The boys could stay in their pajamas and I thought I'd allow them to take turns playing on the computer today using some game sites.  Evan played Starfall and Word World for a bit this morning, learning all about letters and sounds, and learning some emergent reading.  Ian played Cool- Math and read some of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series on Funbrain.  Once Alec saw Ian playing Cool- Math he wanted a turn too.  They really loved the game Isoball 3.  Alec also likes Word World and most of the PBS kids games.  I encouraged him to try playing Cyberchase games too since they use a lot of math.  I had them check out Sphinxkids too.  It's supposed to teach them a bit about classical music.  The older boys have once again started Words With Friends games with some family members so they've been playing that off and on today too.  I have so many great sites bookmarked that we never seem to get to so I'm thinking of making this a Friday ritual.  We'll check out some new sites and be sure to remember our favorites that way. 
        While each boy took turns on the computer I worked with the other two on various projects. The two older boys did a quick math minute.  They all took a minute here or there to write up another thankful leaf.   They played with trucks, building blocks, and Ian even went outside.  We finished up our penguin art project.

         I read Turkey Trouble to Evan and as I started reading Over in the Arctic the other two came over to listen.  We learned about Arctic animals.  Alec wanted to play a game I had found on our shelves yesterday called Add A Bug, as we opened it up and the other two saw it they wanted to play too so we all played.  While it's called Add A Bug and says it works on addition skills it's really meant for younger kids.  Don't get me wrong, Alec loved it (in fact he wanted to play 3 games in a row!) but adding 1 +2 is a little basic for him; it was, however, perfect for Evan and I was glad he had decided to join us in playing. 
           We're planning on watching some Liberty's Kids episodes later and bundling up so we can go for a walk outside.  It's been so long since we've done that but that's what hats, mittens, and all that winter gear is for, I'm determined to get us all fit, happy, and healthy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Homeschool group game day

         I had very little on our agenda today because I had an appointment early this morning and the boys were going to stay with their grandmother.  Right after breakfast Ian and Alec worked a little bit more on their penguin paintings from yesterday.  The background was all dry so I had them lightly draw a large oval or two for the penguin bodies and then add wing flaps.  For the fish they started with an "eye" shape and added a curved tail.  We got the penguins and the fish painted with a bit of difficulty but once that dries we'll be putting all the details on tomorrow and finish it all up.  Perhaps we'll even use some glitter on the ice part to make it sparkle a bit. 

       While they did that Evan and I read a few books; Turkey Trouble and Earthmovers and Diggers.  Ian started reading a Tonka book about cranes.  Alec had already read the book Over in Australia and The Blues Go Birding Across North America.  I wasn't all that focused on reading today though since they all read so much yesterday!  Once we went to the library yesterday afternoon they each read a good two or three books.  Ian has found a new historical fiction series he just LOVES: it's called I Survived.. So far we've read I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 and we're starting I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906.  We have a few more on order and I'm hoping they write many more of them.  It's a great way to read about pieces of history from a point of view that he can really relate to.   I am just amazed at how much my boys enjoying reading now.  Letting them pick their own books and leaving them to approach reading on their own in their own way has completely changed everything!  I'm convinced the best way to grow a reading is to read lots of great books to them, bring them to the library or book store often to expose them to books, and then let them try out a variety of books. They'll figure out on their own what they love.

        For math Evan did a dot- to- dot again today and Alec and I played a game he made up using subtraction facts.  I'd explain it but like most kids games it's complicated and the rules can change from time to time (to make sure that he wins).  I don't mind since I know that, no matter what, he's still subtracting and working on his skills and that's the whole point of any math game.  Ian wanted to play LIFE and be the banker but I just ran out of time.  I wasn't too worried though because I knew we were heading out this afternoon and he'd probably be doing some math then. 
       We  went to meet a group of homeschoolers for a game day.  It was a fun- filled two hours in which the boys played many games; Madagascar Sorry, Pictureka, 123 Diego, Yahtzee, Star Wars Trouble, War, etc. and met many new (and a few familiar) friends. Ian did end up doing quite a bit of math when we played Yahtzee.   He's getting really good a multiplying to find the top numbers when he rolls and I made him add up his own column of numbers. Then another mother asked him if he'd like to play a game of cards and she offered to teach him rummy next time. Her daughter joined in and soon they were all playing war and heckling each other about who was winning and by how much (which changed with almost every play since they had many a wars going on).   Alec played 4 different games with a different group of kids for almost every game, he's so social and enjoys meeting people.  Evan is a bit shy and can cling to my leg for quite a while but he eventually warmed up enough to play a game or two (with me by his side but at least he was talking to other people).  We had so much fun.  The families we meet are so nice and the kids always range in age from birth to 11, so there's a good variety and the older ones happily play with the younger ones and vice- versa. It's just great.
      Our 2nd monthly grocery trip was planned for tomorrow morning but since the library we went to was right near the grocery store I decided to brave it and try to save on gas.  The boys were wonderful and while it took us an hour to get through the store I was pleasantly surprised to find it only took us an hour!  We had a huge list of groceries since we had pretty much eaten everything in the last two weeks and needed to stock up for the holidays.   The parking lot was just about full and the store was crowded but we had a list and a plan and we stuck to them.  We had two heaping carriages full of food and the boys were so helpful!  Ian now pushes his own cart and the boys help read prices, Evan pointed out many numbers and at one point said "hey mom that says H- E- F- T-Y!"  He was so proud he recognized the letters and kept randomly pointing out other letters and numbers to me.   They even helped me unpack the car once we got home and then Ian did some laundry.  It's wonderful to have kids who don't mind helping.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back in the Groove with Games Galore!

              By 7:30 this morning Ian was done school!  He read another Curious George book (I think he's almost read them all at this point because he told me we need to get more of them) and I found, what I hope was, a fun way to practice multiplication skills.  I stumbled across this site on Pinterest and liked her "rolling multiples" worksheet but figured Ian would grumble at having to write it all down.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is getting to sit with each child on occasion and work together, so I told him we'd play rolling multiples.  I had him roll the two dice, find the sum and then tell me the multiples.  Depending on the number rolled sometimes he only recited up to multiples of 5 (like when he rolled 6, 7, & 8), other times I had him go up to 10 or 12 (like when he rolled 5, 10).  I had him roll the dice 10 times so even though he didn't really realize it he did well over 50 problems in just a few minutes!  Then the real grumbling came when I had him do some cursive, but honestly, isn't it beautiful?
 I found him a joke book cursive writing practice so he could at least have something funny to copy. He does love the jokes but he still hates the writing.
Not one to be left out here's some pictures of Alec's cursive work from today:

           Evan and I played tic- tac- toe sight words this morning.  I printed out this blank tic tac toe template then filled it in with a few wight words.  It's played just like regular tic- tac- toe but in order to cover the sight word he had to read it to me first (since he's very new to sight words I coached him quite a bit) and we had fun.  I let him win a few times and made sure he had to read at least each word once.  He really surprised me a few times, though.  When we first sat down he looked at a game board said "yes!" and covered up the word yes.  He knew yes, mom, dad, red and go!  I had no idea he knew that many words. 

           Everyone wanted to play Alec's math memory game; Match 10.  We've played this before, it's played with the number cards 1-9 out of the Uno deck and you try to flip over two cards that match to 10.  We had a lot of fun, and Ian ended up winning by the last two matches. 

          Evan and I played Dinosaur Train to work on numbers.  It's a traditional board game that we got a long time ago but I thought it was a fun way to teach him to recognise the numbers he spins and to use one to one correspondence to move his dinosaur along the trail.  We also played a 123 go Diego Go game since he asked. 



      We read a book called Going Home; The Mystery of Animal Migration and then followed that up with a fun Penguin Painting.  It's a two part painting so we did the background today.  We used we rags to wipe color onto our background and then painted cling wrap white and pressed it over the blue to make a very neat background texture.

Removing the cling wrap to reveal the texture 


    As Evan kept saying "I'm all done school today" but really they were playing and learning all morning.  Evan went back to the marble maze we made yesterday.  He made a marble jump, the Tower of Terror, and then turned the bucket into hot lava.  He had so much fun.

           Alec choose to read a bunch of old magazines I found yesterday-- Click, Your Big Backyard, and National Geographic Kids.  Coincidentally he was reading about birds in winter. 

          Ian played outside in his rock quarry/ gold mine and found some interesting rocks he brought inside.  He wants to get some books at the library to help him figure out what kind of rocks they are.  So, I'm sure we'll head to the library later.  He was asking me about permafrost and can't wait for the ground to freeze for some reason. 

       During lunch we plan to check out a new TV show called Timeblazers.  It's a show all about history and if you'd like to learn more about it you can check it out on Qubo's website.  I'm so happy we covered all the subjects today and honestly, I think the kids had so much fun they didn't even realize it! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marble race, Water bottle fountains and so much more!

           I was floored as I watched my youngest write out his thankful leaves this morning.  With just a bit of help exaggerating the sounds he was able to sound out each word and write the letters without any help.  He's showing such tremendous results in just two short weeks.  He was beaming, he was so proud of himself.  After filling out his leaves he did yet another maze/ dot- to- dot (I'm seriously running out of them and need to get him on a new kick for math!).   I asked him if he'd like to work together on a word search since I had one for young kids all about Thanksgiving but he remembered we brought one home from the science fair and he wanted to do that one instead.  He told me he wanted to find T- I- G- E- R first and I said do you know what that says as I made the "t" sound.  He repeated "t" and shouts out "tiger!"  I think my mouth fell open!  I'm really hoping to get some word games assembled later today that we can play this week.  It's always a struggle to find that happy medium between planning time, teaching time, and just plain old regular time to enjoy my kids.  Some days I feel like I spend most of the time planning and I don't like that, but I do like to have fun activities for us to do and they take prep. work.  After struggling for a while to find a few of the words on the word search Evan started whining that it was hard and he didn't like it.  I tried to cajole him to keep going but then he said I don't want to do it.  Not wanting to push him I said "OK, we don't have to" as I crumbled up the paper and threw it away.  Not meaning to punish him or getting upset but just realizing this was probably too much for him.  Well, he started crying and carrying on about how he's never going to another science fair and will never get another paper like that again.  I felt bad, but I explained to him that he told me he didn't want to do it and I wasn't going to make him.  I was just listening to his words and when I told him that he said "but, mom I was just whining!"  At least he's honest!  I had to laugh as I tried to explain to him that I'm not a mind reader and don't enjoy hearing him whine and complain.  Oh well, live and learn I guess (for both of us!).
           Ian, who is always my first one ready everyday, had his leaves written up and his McRuffy math lesson done before his brothers had even had breakfast.  I called him over the computer and asked him to go through my Pinterest boards looking for some fun stuff to do today.  He decided he wanted to make a water bottle fountain.  We had all the supplies so I agreed but told him he needed to wait until his brothers were ready, since I knew they'd enjoy it too.   He too sat down to work on a word search, it was much more difficult and meant for older kids.  Next thing I knew him and Alec were working together (nicely and cooperatively!) to try and find the words.  I went upstairs to do some housework and later found the two of them locked together in Alec's room playing.  I have no idea WHAT they were playing but I didn't want to interrupt.  They were laughing and giggling and getting along and I wasn't about to interrupt that!  Unfortunately, Evan felt left out and stormed around sulking and slamming doors.  Too bad they can't all be happy at the same time, it would make my life so much easier.
           Once the boys came downstairs they asked if they could buy Christmas gifts for each other.  Each year I allow them to pick out something for each other and I usually pay for it but this year I warned them that I expected them to pay for all the gifts themselves.  They did a great job finding wonderful gifts for each other (and their dad too) all while staying within their budget!  What a great real- life math lesson. 
          We did our water bottle fountain and it was fantastically fun!  The boys loved it.  We filled up the bottle twice and the balloon four times. 

          Ian sat down to read a few books to Evan; they each chose one and since they both love trucks that's what they chose to read about.  B is for Bulldozer and Roadwork. 

            Alec and I played Yahtzee for math.  There's so much to learn there; addition, multiplication, writing double digit numbers, etc.  Ian joined in for our second round and then I set the boys up with some exploratory play. 

           I cut two pool noodles in half (lengthwise) and had them each find a marble or two.  Instant marble maze!  It's super easy to just use a sharp knife and run it down the side of the noodle.   I gave them a stopwatch and they timed each ball, each race, they experiment with different heights, different angles, turning the maze on it's side, making a curve, a tunnel, and even taping some together to make a monorail.  They played, discovered, and explored for almost a half hour negotiating and problem solving their way through any problems.  It was great and great fun too!   They didn't want to stop and eat lunch when it was ready so I just let them keep playing.  We finally found the fun in our homeschooling again!  Today was wonderful.