We started our morning getting caught up on a project I wanted to start November 1st but totally forgot about. Every year for the month of November I write on my Facebook page one thing I'm thankful for each day. During this time of Thanksgiving it's the perfect time of year to remember everything that we have been blessed with in our family and it's something I really want the boys to start focusing on too. So we made a thankful tree. I drew a tree and cut out a bunch of paper leaves in a rainbow of fall colors. Each day they will write one thing they are thankful for on a leaf and we'll put it in our tree. By Thanksgiving we'll have a nice, big, full tree (I realize by Thanksgiving the real trees will be bare but think a pile of leaves would just look silly). So today they each had to write up 5 things they were thankful for. This was pretty easy for them and I didn't hear too much complaining, mostly just from Evan who was forced to write his own words today as I helped him spell. I know he complained but I was amazed when he only got stuck on 3 letters. He's showing such improvement in just the last few weeks and it kind of confirms my suspicion that he's just being lazy. I was so proud of how easily they came up with what they are thankful for and some of them were just wonderful. Ian, as the oldest, tended to have the most to say; he was thankful for food so he wouldn't pass out if he couldn't eat, he was thankful for vehicles because he wouldn't want to walk all the time, and my personal favorite: he was thankful for our house because he wouldn't enjoy living in a church, a car, or a cave! The other two boys focused on people like mom, dad, and toys like video games.
To further our Hawaii study, today we put aside our usual state worksheets and made paper leis. It's really quite easy, we took a length of yarn, cut up some plastic drinking straws, and I used some punches I have to punch out paper flowers and a center hole to thread the yarn through. We made a knot in the end of our yarn, threaded on a paper flower, a piece of straw and then alternated between the two. They loved it and I have to say I loved how they came out.
After that we stopped to try and get ourselves back on track with homeschooling. My boys, rather unexpectedly, told me they wanted to go back to school this morning. I know the prompting behind it since we told them we might be getting rid of our dish/ cable. We're looking into ways to tighten up our budget since I am no longer working and we've found other alternatives that would be more affordable, yet still allow us to watch TV on occasion. All the boys heard was that they wouldn't be able to watch all of their favorite TV shows. I think stopping homeschooling over TV is pretty silly. Rather than immediately give in to what I think would be a huge mistake on the boys part I told them to think about their decision for a few weeks. In the meantime, I'm having them each come up with their own lesson plan for the next week. They get to choose what work they'll be doing. I'm hoping by doing this they can remember all the fun we've had since we started homeschooling and also take ownership of their learning to cut down on all the complaining that's making homeschooling not so fun for me these past few weeks. I love watching their learning unfold and being an integral part of it. Being a teacher by profession I know how rewarding teaching in itself is, but it's at least 100 times more so when it's your own children. I treasure them and our time together and I'm hoping they'll realize they do too. In the meantime we'll be focusing on the kids own lesson plans and giving them ownership as well as taking some fun field trips.
They planned for all of 5 minutes before they looked at me and said "this is hard!" I just smiled and said " I know. That's why I get so upset when you shoot down all of my ideas, I try really hard to find fun stuff to do." They asked to go to Pinterest to look stuff up as well as looking through my books to get some ideas. Alec spent a long time pouring through all the arts and crafts books before picking out 5 activities. He also printed out several math worksheets (I couldn't believe that one!), and decided to read all the library books he checked out as part of his reading for the next week. He seemed pretty driven and I was happy with what he came up with. Evan refused to find anything and told me he's not doing school so I guess I'll pick some stuff for him to do like usual. Ian came up with two math ideas and then asked what I had already had planned. He came up with the idea to read all of our Curious George books this week since he didn't get any books from the library. He found a science experiment he wanted to try and I told him he had to have some sort of writing activity too so he decided to do some copy work and practice cursive using the gel bags. All in all it sounds like we have a fun week shaping up.
|Planning his own curriculum|
I need not have worried though, by mid- afternoon all the boys told me they don't want to go back to school. They explained that they were upset at the idea of missing their favorite TV shows and are also missing their friends. I totally understand that and we tried to come up with some possible solutions to those problems. Ian informed me that after trying to plan all his own lessons today for the next week he'd like to go back to me planning and him not complaining. I appreciated all their candor and really it helped me too. I looked back through most of my old blog posts and saw how far we have moved away from our learning through play and unschooling aspirations to a more traditional approach to learning. Rereading the old blogs reminded me of many fun math, science, and writing activities we've tried and never repeated. It also gave me ideas for other things to try going forward. While I researched and brainstormed how to move us all in a more positive direction all afternoon the boys were unschooling while I wasn't looking!
Evan and Alec created their own game to play using our ball bin as a hang glider (pretending; I don't let them jump off of heights or anything!-- safety first!). They were acting as superheros and had this whole complicated system going of who was who and why they needed to catch this one or that one. They were having so much fun. They then decided to bring the toy animals up and play in the sink of water.
While they were doing this Ian was outside working in his new quarry he's been digging. He has a huge hole dug and a large stonewall being made. He informed me that those stones are for sale if I needed any. Once he got too cold playing outside he came in and started in on a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle. I've been wanting to set one up in our dining room on the card table for a while now. I thought it would be great to have something we could keep set up for a while and work on here and there as we had time. They were content to use silly string, building blocks and tons of play- d'oh until dinner was just about ready. Sure they were playing, but I know they were learning too.