Saturday, August 17, 2013

Self- guided math

    We had to go to the grocery store yesterday morning, we just had to.  There was no food left in the house and with plans for a few last minute get-togethers with school friends we had a huge list.  The boys were not only helpful but showed me how much they're learning too.  Evan started pointing out the isle marker numbers here and there.  I was pretty impressed when he told me we were in isle 15 and next would be 16 (he's known how to count to 20 for sometime so that wasn't really that impressive) but then he told me that meant the previous isle (that we had skipped along with a few others) must have been 14.  We've been working counting backwards from 20 so I was happy that he was able to figure that out rather quickly on his own.  As I started putting all the food up on the belt to begin checking out Alec and Evan started telling me "that's a cylinder", "that's a rectangular prism," "that's a cube," etc.  I was thrilled that they were applying old knowledge in a new way to every day items.  I loved how they would think outside the box a bit too and tell me that the orange juice carton was kind of  like a triangular prism stacked on a rectangular prism.  The size and shape of the container didn't seem to throw them off either; they knew that roll of Mentos and the can of tuna were both cylinders. 
     While I put the groceries away the boys played nicely together and started getting ready to head to my grandmother's house.  She wanted to take them shopping so Evan could pick out his birthday gifts and all the boys knew that it really meant she'd be buying them each a little something.  Alec has had his eye on this huge (and expensive!) Lego set.  He raided his piggy bank and told me that he had $13 dollars to put toward the Lego set.  He had a few $1's, a $5 bill and a bunch of quarters.  While I was impressed he was able to count up all the different denominations of money on his own I was blown away when he looked at me and said "the Lego set is $80, if I use my $13 then gram just  has to pay $67."  How he figured all that out in his head when we've NEVER even taught him how to subtract two digit numbers (and definitely not how to regroup!) is beyond me.  But I did have to explain that even with his money to help contribute he still could not get that set today.  He was disappointed and had a very hard time making a different choice once at the store but he finally understood. 
     On the way to my grandmother's I was telling the boys that their cousins had started "back to school" with their homeschooling this week.  I was just making conversation but they asked what types of things they had been learning about.   I mentioned that they were learning about the transcontinental railroad.  Not knowing what that was they started asking all kinds of questions.  Many of which I guided them to answer themselves.  We talked about continents versus countries, why a railroad would be built from the east to the west coasts.  Ian thought he remembered reading about the railroad when he was learning about the gold rush and told us that they were in such a rush to get it done and find the right path that they even put some parts of the railroad right through Indian lands.  I was, once again, impressed by my boys and their knowledge.  I honestly had no idea if they were right or not until I came home and Googled it!  But our discussion wasn't done. 
      They asked what else their cousins were learning about and I told them they're classify animals.  Alec asked me what classify meant and I told him it's dividing animals into groups likes mammal, reptile, amphibian, vertebrate, invertebrate, and things like that.  He felt pretty confident he already knew most of those but did ask what a vertebrate and invertebrate was so I explained that those terms refer to animals that have (or lack) a backbone.  He rattled off a few of each and started comparing the lengths and size of different animal's backbones as well.  Every time the conversation started to lag they'd ask me what else their cousins were learning about. 
       When I mentioned common and proper nouns, the boys reviewed what a noun was, and Alec told me that common meant it was something we see and use everyday, but he was stumped by proper noun.  He thought of a plural noun but didn't know proper noun.  I explained that proper nouns refer to peoples names and the specific names of places.  I told them that when writing we capitalize proper nouns.  They started rattling off proper nouns and then asked if names like mom, dad, and grandma could be capitalized or not.  I told them that no, unfortunately mom isn't capitalized unless they are writing a letter to me. 
       We discussed obtuse and acute angles.  Alec thought these words were so funny and told me that his cousins must have laughed at the names.  I gave an example of each angle and they started pointing them out to me on our drive as well as parallel lines and perpendicular lines once I explained those as well.  I was amazed at all the learning and discussion that took place during less than 1/2 of our car ride to my grandmother's house.  They then asked if we could listen to some more of the Boxcar Children book on CD and I sat marveling at all the knowledge they do seem to absorb and observe in their every day lives.  They might not know all the terminology when it's presented but they quickly grasp the concepts and I know, much like the random identification of geometric solids at the grocery store, they'll bring all these terms up again one day and amaze me all over again. 
     We picked up my gram and headed out and the boys unanimously decided to head to Target.  Once at the store all the boys were comparing prices, adding up various Lego sets and toys in their heads to see how much they were spending (or were planning on spending when gram takes them back to the store for Christmas shopping).  They rounded prices to the nearest dollar to make it easier to add and subtract and worked together to make sure they were all happy.  We checked out some new books and the boys found quite a few that they wanted me to request from the library ("why spend our money on them when we can get them from the library, right, mom?"  Ian asked).  Alec ended up buying two Lego Chima books and spent the rest of the day reading them both cover to cover.  Evan picked out a small Batman Lego set for his toy of the day and a few t- shirts and toys for his birthday party next month, while Ian chose a John Deere tractor with a bucket and trailer to use in his digging.  All the boys were thrilled with their purchases and so thankful. 
      We came home for a quick dinner after spending the rest of the day at my grandmother's and finished off the night with a free soccer clinic.  Alec and Ian played fun soccer games working on listening skills and ball handling skills for 2 hours.  They were even paired up a time or two and had to work cooperatively.  While they played hard on the field my husband and I took Evan on a nice long walk around the field on the walking track.  We got Evan to make 4 laps and he had so much fun walking on the old telephone poles that were lying down end to end at the far sides of the field like balance beams (this was the only part of the walk he found even remotely fun as he spent most of the 4 laps whining and complaining about his tired feet.  I told him it was good practice for our vacation).   He tried to race my husband along the "balance beams" and maintain his course even if the poles were shaking.  We almost finished our Boxcar Children book on the way home from soccer.  We've been listening to the Mystery in the Fortune Cookie for a few days now and we're so close to figuring it all out.  The boys got ready for bed and we read a few more books.  Evan read The Kissing Hand and Curious George Flies a Kite with my husband.  Ian has started reading The Call of The Wild and needed some help with some of the vocabulary words and comprehension so he asked me to read with him tonight.  I think he was disappointed that it was a bit difficult to read but I told him to take his time and we can always read it together.  Once Evan finished his books, both the other boys started listening to the story too and seemed to enjoy it.  Alec was the only one who continued to read on his own after we turned out the lights using his small desk lamp.   It was such a busy day and I was amazed at all the learning that just sort of fell into our laps without any planning.  I'm really starting to like this unschooling thing! 

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