Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A traditional day

       It's been a traditional learning day around here.  Mostly because I'm having one of those weeks where I'm questioning what the kids are really learning, but also because the kids were bickering at each other all morning long and I thought this would be a great way to keep them occupied.  Once we got going this morning, they really didn't complain much at all and I was surprised by how much their skills had improved (especially Evan; counting to and connecting all the dots up to 100 seemed very easy for him!). 
       We started with science and did a quick experiment called Magic Milk- it was really cool!  We poured a 1/2 cup of 2% milk into each shallow plate and the boys dropped food coloring onto the milk in random dots and patterns.  I had them try dipping a regular cotton swab into the milk to see what would happen.  They found the cotton swab either sucked up milk or food coloring, but not much else happened.  They then dunked the same cotton swab in dish soap and tried again.  The minute the swab touched the middle of the milk all the food coloring was magically swept away to the side in a really neat pattern.  We then read the description of why it worked, though I'm not so sure they understood or even cared WHY it worked they just loved watching it work.  It was really neat to see.  The boys also checked on our caterpillars; they are getting so big!  They check on them several times a day and we're anxious to see them as butterflies. 

plain cotton swab

swab with dish soap
see aren't they big?










      
    We finished reading the Mouse and the Motorcycle.  Our book on CD, that we listened to in the car last week, skipped so much we checked the book out of the library and finished reading the last few chapters on our own.  As I was reading they all started playing with the white boards and markers.  They were new and I think they were just excited to use them so I went with it.  I had planned to have them use paper and pencils to try a quick writing assignment called 10 minute writing that I found in our Games for Learning book,  but we used lined white boards instead.  I set the timer for 10 minutes and told them they could write whatever they'd like for 10 minutes.  A list of their favorite toys and things, practicing spelling, cursive, letters, copy work, whatever they wanted as long as they wrote for the whole 10 minutes.  Ian practiced writing his alphabet and when I asked him to challenge himself he took out his cursive book and tried writing some words in cursive.  He ended up writing his whole name!  Alec tried writing a list of his favorite things and Evan practiced his name and letters, though he told me it was a chapter book about the mouse from The Mouse and the Motorcycle but it was called the Mouse in the Sports Car and it was about a mouse that can drive all around in a sports car seeing things. 

     After reading and writing I had them all complete a math worksheet.  I thought my kids all liked math and hated writing but perhaps I am wrong.  They all complained and struggled with math the most.  Thinking they needed a break I told them to go play, but only Evan did.  Ian finally finished his assignment and all the kids thought it looked like a lot of fun to play with the Pentomino set.  The next thing I knew all three boys were taking a turn with Ian's book and the shapes trying to make rectangles.  Evan had no problem counting to 100 once he took a break and finished his dot to dot in record time. We even practiced counting by 10's to 100.  Alec was having great difficulty, not so much with the work, but with focusing on the work so I set a timer for 2 miniatures and pointed to two rows of work, I told him he had to race against the clock.  I just kept setting the timer and pointing to what section he needed to work on and we were done in under 5 minutes.  The best part was he got them all right!
figuring it out
"I've got it!"


Ian's working on order of operations
Alec takes a turn


Alec is adding two digit numbers
first try-- he gets it! 

      I looked at the clock; it was 10.  In under three hours we had covered all four subjects I had planned for today.  I pointed it out to the boys too.  They played with blocks and trucks and Ian ended up going outside to play.  Alec and Evan re- discovered their car ride bags and pulled those out of the cabinet.  Evan played with the magnetic tangrams for a bit and Alec asked me to play Dots and Boxes.  He has a wipe- off version of the game and we hadn't played in a while so I willingly agreed.  We had fun and once I won the first game the other two boys wanted to play too.  We each took a colored marker and took turns; in the end Alec won and Ian pouted.  I had to remind him our deal to treat each other nicely and not to be a sore looser.  



      The boys all cleaned up the toys and made lunches and then agreed to all watch Liberty's Kids.  I wanted to picnic outside and enjoy the nice sunny day but I did have a lot to do inside the house myself so I let it slide.  I did dishes, laundry and worked on my blog.  I also did a few searches for tangram sheets, pentomino sheets and pattern block sheets.  The boys seem to love these concepts and aspects of math so I figure I'll give them more ideas and challenges for them.  I printed off a lot of the pattern block sheets.  They love those and while these will be very simplistic for Alec and Ian they'll still have lots of fun.  I also found this great site called ABCya! that had free on- line games for kids of all ages, including a tangram game that can be quite challenging.   They watched a few episodes and we got ready to head to Alec's dentist appointment.  My kids LOVE the dentist, but today I talked to Alec about him going in for his cleaning while I sat in the waiting room with his brothers.  I could tell the idea made him nervous but there just isn't enough room in the actual exam room for all of us and now that they're getting older I don't think I have to be in the room with them.  The other two were not happy about it either since they wouldn't get to pick a toy from the prize box if they weren't in the exam room too, but I wanted to stand firm on this and they all agreed it worked out great. 
    I had planned to go to a park or for a hike after the dentist; I wanted to do something outside where we'd all get some exercise.  The boys grumbled a bit, and the first 30 minutes were tough with lots of complaining (mostly from Ian).  We saw lots of turtles, birds, dogs, and flowers and they all seemed to think that was pretty neat but they still complained they were hot, tired and kept asking every 5 minutes how much time had passed.  Alec and Evan found walking sticks and soon turned the hike into a game where they were ninjas and had to press secret buttons on various trees or signs to open trap doors.  It was great, but Ian kept trying to rain on their fun and was such a downer for us all that I decided to invent a new game myself: The Question Game.  We took turns asking questions that everyone had to answer-- "If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?"  "If you could go anywhere in the United State where would you go?"  "If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?"  "What is your favorite... (this one had several variations-- movie, TV show, amusement park ride, season, time of day, book, etc)"  This game lasted us for an hour and a half and they never got sick of it.  We hiked for two hours and they all remarked that the time went by really fast while we were playing.  To treat them all we decided to have ice cream for dinner; sundaes, waffle cones, whatever they wanted.  They thought this was amazing!  Not ice cream after dinner or even before dinner but AS dinner?!  Hey, what can I say?  Sometimes you gotta live a little!  The look on their faces when I suggested it was just priceless and best of all my husband works next door to an ice cream stand so we met daddy there and all enjoyed some fun family time eating ice cream and playing. 

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