Monday, September 30, 2013

We're willingly writing!

       I couldn't believe it today when I told my boys we were going to be writing and no one complained!  Evan wrote his first and last name twice in his best, neatest, handwriting.  He knows his first name very well but it's one of the few times he's had to write his last name.  By the time he wrote it twice he knew how to spell it.  I asked him a few times throughout the day to tell me how he spells it and he got it right every time!  It's such small progress but it feels like a huge leap.  The older two boys wrote a short story (more like a paragraph) about their Lego Minifigures.  I had downloaded and printed off many writing ideas from Homegrown Learners quite a while ago and had forgotten all about them.  The boys are very big into Lego's so I thought they'd enjoy this assignment.  They each wrote a cute little story and tried very hard to make sure to use the proper spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.  They aren't perfect, but I still love the stories. 

Evan writing his name

the boys' stories

       Alec decided to try out his own science experiment today.  He wanted to put a fruit loop in water and watch what happens.  I figured he could easily predict what would happen, but he really wanted to give it a try and watch it; so I figured why not?!  It certainly doesn't hurt anything for him to watch the fruit loop dissolve and turn the water pink.  Evan was quite intrigued by the idea also so they worked on it together. 

      I had read a few chapters of Hurry Up, Houdini! to all the boys at breakfast this morning, but decided to ask them each to pick a book (any book they wanted) to read as our last bit of schoolwork this morning.  I am loving these mini sessions of learning.  We're done school in under an hour and I feel like I'm teaching something yet they still have the entire rest of the day for their unschooling pursuits.  For us, it seems like the perfect compromise.  Evan read a Lego Chima Tribes of Chima book with me that he had checked out of the library. I asked him to find the word "the" on each page and even paused a few times in our reading so he could "read" the word.  I think baby steps will work best with him in getting him to read on his own and I'm trying not to push to hard.  He wanted to "read" the names of each of the characters to me when I pointed to the words so, of course, I agreed.   Alec decided to read Baby Sea Otter and Ian read Multiplying Menace: Revenge of Rumplestiltskin.  Ian's book was actually the math story I had planned to read as part of our math work tomorrow but I certainly wasn't going to stop him from reading it.  He was able to summarize the story for me after he read it and he seemed to enjoy it. 


    We still had a bit of time before trampoline so the boys went off on their own for a bit.  Ian played in the sand.  Alec started watching Harriet the Spy and Evan decided to look at his Ninjago Character Encyclopedia book.  I mentioned to Alec that if he really enjoyed the movie he might want to check the book out of the library too.  I often enjoy comparing the books to the movies and thought he might too.
      On the way to trampoline we stopped to print out the pictures we took last week of their Lego creations for the Lego building contest so that we could mail them out tomorrow.  They had a great trampoline class and Alec was thrilled to give me his book to take home.  He's completed all the beginner exercises and was so proud of himself for moving on to another more complicated series of movements.  Ian worked most of the class trying to perfect a move he's working on and Evan mostly had fun socializing and practicing his back jumps onto a suspended mat.  Though Evan also spent a good portion of the class trying to get to 7 "swivel hips" in a row.  So far he's only managed to make it to 5 and, on one occasion, 6 of these moves.  I was so glad to see him trying so hard since he tends to be the one that gets frustrated and quits.
         Imagine my surprise and swell of pride when the coach approached me after class to tell me that Alec has great form and could go far in trampoline if he ever chose to compete.  Wow!  I could tell by watching that Alec is quite perfectionistic about his moves and keeps his body in good alignment but I don't think I had ever thought of doing anything with the boys beyond this class.  I know I have to ask Alec what he thinks, but I must admit I'm already a bit torn about how to go about it.  While Alec really enjoys and loves trampoline, Ian LOVES trampoline.  He used to ask me, as we were pulling out of the driveway after trampoline class when we would be coming back for our next class.  I'm so afraid his feeling are going to be hurt.  Ian is my hard worker who has such drive and ambition, but Alec is the one who comes along after Ian, takes one look and manages to out perform him (in reading, in math, in soccer, in most everything he does).  Ian does well, Alec does exceptionally well (for his age).  I feel like Ian, as the older boy, often feels overshadowed by Alec and I'm so afraid this will take away some of the joy he finds in these trampoline classes.   For now I'm just keeping the coaches words to myself and enjoying that moment of surprise. 
      After trampoline we were going to head to the apple orchard but all the boys asked if we could go visit my grandmother instead.  She has a new kitten and all the boys are quite smitten with it.  They spent the afternoon watching TV, eating snacks, and playing with the kitten.  They learned how to pick her up by the back of the neck like a mother cat, they learned how to get the kitten to chase and pounce on a piece of string, they learned what it's like to have a kitten around.  They watched her and couldn't keep their eyes off of her.  Ian had the kitten curl up and take a nap on his lap.  They all three discovered just how sharp a kitten's claws could be.  They all three took turns trying to come up with the perfect name for her.  It was adorable and the perfect excuse to spend extra time with my grandmother. 

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