Friday, July 26, 2013

Child- guided games

        I really didn't want to teach today but felt like I HAD to!  After two days off we had work piling up on us.  It was another very cold, rainy day and we were once again stuck inside.  I was pleasantly surprised though, I told the boys no TV and without arguing they found Lego's, Beyblades and other toys to play with for most of the morning.  They ate, got dressed and brushed teeth without my asking and were ready for school long before I was.  After the third time they asked me to please start school, I knew I had to set aside what I was working on and start school. 
     We began by reading and we finished The Robot King.  I thought it was a pretty weird story and at the end none of us were all that certain if we had liked it or not.  We read another chapter in Surviving the Applewhites and then I pulled out our math story for the day. It was called One Hungry Cat and it used division and fractions.  The boys thought it was a cute story and laughed over the illustrations.  Before sitting down to read I had written out many multiplication and division problems onto sticky notes and put them over the wall so that Ian and Alec could play math slam (where they throw the ball at the problems on the wall and shout out the answer to any of the papers they hit).  This turned into chaos.  They were whipping the balls so hard at the wall they almost knocked pictures off the wall in the other room.  They fought over whose turn it was and kept running in asking me who was right, whose turn it was and tattling on each other.  I had to stop the game and send them into the other room so Evan and I could finish our work. 
      Evan was attempting to read his Bob Books to me while his brother's played their math slam game.  He was extremely frustrated at the noise and the constant interruptions though, and we had to start all over when his brother's were sent to sit quietly while we worked.  Evan then breezed through his two books and I showed him our sight word practice board.  I had written out the same sight words we've been using all week (mat, sat, cat, and, the, on, Sam, sad)  on our chalkboard and I gave him a cup of water and a paintbrush.  He read the words to me and then traced over them with the water/brush to make them disappear.  He thought it was a pretty fun activity and he got a few of the words right!  He even sounded one of them out with very little help from me.  I felt like that was finally some progress! 

     When Evan was done I called Alec over to play the math slam game and then when he was done I sat and watched Ian play.  I think if we tried this game again with the older two boys I would only play it outside.  For sanity's sake!  I think it was great that Ian came up with the idea to modify Evan's game from the other day to use it as math and I think it was wonderful that he's been asking me for a few days to play and practice his math facts, but I think they're just a bit too big to play ballgames inside. 
     While I was watching Ian throw the ball and figure out his answers, Evan told me he wanted to make up a sight word hide and seek game.  He pulled out my sticky notes and started writing down the words we've been practicing onto each note (he tried to use the chalk board to help him when he could but not all the letters were visible so he tried sounding them out, asking myself or Alec for help when needed).  The rules of his game were very unclear to me, but I was happy he was writing and practicing his words without having been asked or even really seeming to realize it.  He hid the sticky notes around the house as he finished writing each word and told us we'd all have to hide later when he was finished setting up... though he never did finish.  I'm not sure if he forgot or just lost interest but I figure at some point he'll want to finish setting it up and we'll get to play.   
    In the meantime we went on to lesson two in the Incite to Write series.  The lesson was called The Blank Canvas and rather just talking I gave them each some paper, pencils, watercolors and brushes.  I told them I was thinking of my favorite dessert and they had to ask me all the questions they could think of in order to draw what I was picturing as my favorite dessert.  They started asking me things like what does it taste like, where we eat it and what kind of cake I liked.  They slowly started realizing that not all questions would help them draw it.  By the end I think all three boys did a pretty good job of drawing the cake I was thinking of-- don't you?? 


       They played Beyblades quite a bit today between subjects and talked about how they work, which ones compete the best and why.  They tried having them battle with obstacles in the way, with two Bey's, with three, they blew on them during battles to make them fall or try to make them spin faster.  I figured it was a great self- guided science lesson! 
     We headed to the library and picked up more books and movies.  The boys finished listening to Mr. Hynde is Out of His Mind in the car and they laughed so much.  This is a hilarious series of books that all of my boys love.  I hesitate to request all books on CD, even though it would be wonderful to listen to them all in the car, because it's a series that Ian enjoys reading to himself.  We searched long and hard to find him something that he enjoys reading and I'm not ready to try and find him something else.   But, since Ian keeps them by his bed at night and reads them to himself, the other boys don't always get a chance to listen to these stories and I feel bad that they're missing out.  It's hard to balance work for each of the boys all of the time and know what's the best way to handle something like this.  Ian wants these books for himself but the other boys always want to listen too.    I know that Alec could easily read these books to himself, but chooses not to so is that really my fault?  I know Evan can't read them to himself but can't help thinking that perhaps it will give Evan a good incentive to learn to read.  I don't know.  I just know we're not done with this series by a long shot.  Ian recommends these stories to all his friends (should they ask!) and they all cheer when they see them come in at the library. 
     As I was heating up lunch the boys played quietly and picked out a science video to watch during lunch.  They decided on the Be the Creature series with the Kratt brothers.  This show is a non- fiction, documentary style show made for kids by the same brothers who are in Wild Kratts.  We learned all about the brown bear today.  Alec was disappointed it wasn't a cartoon like Wild Kratts and both him and Evan soon lost interest.  Oh well, perhaps another day. 

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