Monday, May 20, 2013

Fractions, Fudge, Flowers, and more

        The boys watched two of the Travel With Kids videos; London and England.  I don't usually let them watch more than one a day but I thought these two went together very nicely and it was a yucky, cold, rainy morning anyway.  I kept reminding them that London was a city in England and where the Olympic games were held.  I'm not sure how much they're really learning about geography since they can't find these places on the map later, but they do learn a lot about social studies, history and the area/ climate of all these places through these fun, engaging movies.  The only downside is that all my boys then want to travel to these places to be able to see and do the same things as the kids in the movies.  They're all already asking how to get a job like this when they're older.  I hope if they figure out a way to get paid for travelling they'll take me along with them! 
        After the movies, and while they were getting ready for the day, (brushing teeth, making their beds, getting dressed, etc) I quickly cleaned a few rooms upstairs and then we settled in together to do a bit of schoolwork.  I read two storybooks about fractions called My Half Day and The Lion's Share.  I decided to give them the choice between baking and using fractions in real life or doing a page about fractions in their math book.  Not surprisingly they chose baking/cooking something.  I handed them each a cookbook and I told them I needed them all to try and agree on one thing.  We had less than an hour before we needed to leave and I'm only one person.... so of course they all picked a different recipe!  They searched through the books and cabinets until we found all the ingredients for them each to make something.  I figured it was a great kitchen science lesson too as well as a lesson on estimation (we had to decide if we had enough of each ingredient to follow the recipe) and fractions.  Unfortunately, it was just too stressful for all of and we all ended up feeling pretty frustrated.   I was frustrated to be asked dozens of questions at the same time plus I kept watching the clock thinking we'd be late.  Ian and Alec were frustrated trying to remember/ figure out the different fractions, keep track of the ingredients and read & understanding the directions.  I felt bad that this "fun" activity wasn't turning out to be any fun at all.  I think the only one who really enjoyed himself was Evan, but he can't read yet and so he had me read it and help him.  He sat down to enjoy his Parmesan tortilla chips with some hummus while I helped Ian with his peanut butter fudge and Alec with his peanut butter chip cookies.  We managed to finish everything, but just barely.  I felt bad that it had not been a fun morning of learning but the boys didn't seem to care much once we were done and they eagerly awaited getting to eat their yummy treats! 

     While the cookies were in the oven I read to them another chapter from Ralph S. Mouse then we headed out.  It's the boys last trampoline class and they are all a bit bummed not to be going for the summer.  They're all growing by leaps and bounds in this class and I think they're worried they'll forget over the long break.   They were happy to learn that there is an open jump time a few nights a week so I'm sure we'll have to stop in a few times. 
     I'm not sure how we'll proceed through the summer yet though.  I've been asked by several homeschoolers if we're done yet and that's always hard to answer.  When we're really in our unschooling groove, I'm not planning and so in a sense we've been done most of the year.  We don't have a curriculum to get through and my only real goal for the year was to find a way of homeschooling that works well enough for us that I wouldn't want to send the boys back to school.  I wanted us to grow closer as a family and find enjoyment in the everyday.  I think we've reached our goals.  For us learning happens every day, all day long whether I plan something or not and we have had so much fun.  I can't ever imagine sending the boys back to school.  I'd miss all of this so much.  Yet I still don't think we have a perfect homeschooling routine and regimen down.  We probably never will.    That said,  I think these last few weeks we've finally hit upon a good compromise between complete unschooling and my planning lessons so we'll prob. continue this way through the summer with many, many breaks for just plain 'ole summer fun. 
       After trampoline we headed to do some errands and stop at the library.  We spent the afternoon listening to books on CD finishing up Ms. Lagrange Is Strange and Magic Tree House book Season of the Sandstorms.  Once home I asked the boys if they'd like to help me plant some of the flowers we bought.  They said no, but once I had to use a hammer and nail to make some holes in the bottom of the pots, I suddenly had tons of help.  Ian then wanted to help with the dirt while Alec decided he wanted to do all the watering.  We got 9 planters done in 30 minutes!  They look real pretty along our wall too. 

           I was hoping the sun would come out and we could let the last of our butterflies go too before dinner, and it did.  The boys didn't need to "help" this batch of butterflies nearly as much as the last batch though as two of them flew away on their own.  Evan was happy he got to hold one in his hand like his brothers did yesterday and they all had equal turns so that was good.  This has been such a fun, engaging science lesson that the boys have already asked if we can get more caterpillars and do it again.  We kept one of the butterfly gardens and I told them I'm sure we could order more caterpillars next spring.


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