Sunday, October 13, 2013

Corn Maze fun

     I don't typically post on weekends, but I couldn't help notice and marvel about all that my boys learned yesterday.  Ian spent a good portion of the day on the couch watching TV and while that would usually annoy me, I noticed that he was picking up a lot by watching American Pickers.  He was learning the history behind the items they were interested in purchasing.  During this particular episode (that Ian watched at least two times through) they had traveled to Italy so Ian was also hearing various people speaking in Italian and reading the subtitles that translated it.  He learned many of the Italian customs and remarked on the fact that everyone (even boys!) kiss on the cheeks when they say "Hello."  We talked about what a Euro was and learned that 5 Euro's equaled 8 American Dollars.  We then spent some time trying to figure out how much they were spending on each item.
    So basically, by watching TV Ian practiced

  • math and reading
  • learned some Italian
  • got a great geography lesson (as they showed maps frequently and he got to see second hand the landmarks and topography of the regions)
  • learned about a foreign country and some of it's customs
  • learned history and a bit more about the World Wars and Germany!  

     Ian isn't typically one to sit and just watch TV so he did pull up a table full of Lego's and worked on making a few different boats to add to his fleet.  He also turned off the TV and went outside every now and them to work on his site out back.  He wore his rubber boots and mined mud from the lake to sift through and pan for gold.  He dug huge holes, and staked out the beach creating different areas for him and his cousin to play.  They came inside and set up Lincoln Logs for their Lego creations too.  Ian folded laundry and packed his bag for his sleep over. 
    The younger two boys spend most of the day playing video and computer games.  Occasionally (when forced!) they turned of screens and played toys.  Alec wanted to start making Christmas cards and worked with me in the craft room figuring how to get the Cricut to work properly for his vision.  He did a pretty good job too.  He got frustrated a bit, as I do too, when the Cricut wasn't working properly but he kept working at it until he was happy with the end result.   We worked on his spelling and writing when he went to write the message inside the card.  I know Alec read several books yesterday too.  We also went on the library's website together and requested several more audiobooks, chapter books and even a few movies since he's starting to run out again. 
     After dropping off Ian at his party and having a quick dinner we took the younger two boys to a corn maze and pumpkin carving display.   We brought flashlights, hats and mittens and had a ball.  We went to Fort Hill Farms, which offers two corn mazes, a bounce house, a 1,000 carved pumpkin display and lots of good food and ice cream to purchase too.  We started out with the large corn maze.  We were given a booklet to use to help us through the maze.  The maze was color coded and there were stops throughout each color where we could write down key words or take crayon rubbings.  These stops were all centered around the importance of agriculture and local farming.   There were bridges where we could climb up and see over the maze.  There were a few postings of the map so we could get our bearings, look for stops we had missed (though we chose not to worry about finding all the clues and just finding our way out).  The boys took turns making decisions and leading us around the maze.  We pointed out the differences in sweet corn that we eat to the cow's corn growing in the maze.  We also showed the boys that pretty much every stalk had two ears of corn, we talked about the hardy stalks, and their unique roots. 

We found a sign!

testing to see if it's dark enough for flashlights yet

We've traveled from the light in the distance to here!

Checking out the map

    As we exited the maze we found ourselves at the entrance to the Pumpkinlandia.  We walked through and saw all the pumpkins.  Some were elaborately carved and others were just variations on traditionally carved pumpkins.  The boys still had their flashlights and when shining them on the elaborately carved pumpkins noticed that they aren't cut through the outer shell of the pumpkin.  They also noticed that there were white and black marker (ink) markings on them to add detail and shading.  We noticed that they had different lights too.  Rather than candles inside these pumpkins had electrical cords and light bulbs inside.  We had great fun finding pirates, minions, bats, and cats in all of the pumpkin shapes.  One area had different colored lights inside each pumpkin and a fog machine going too.  The boys ran into some cousins and went through part of the smaller maze with them.
Regularly carved pumpkins

Elaborately carved-- see the white and black ink?


Many carved pumpkins with different colored lights

Evan's favorite-- a griffin!

"the famous Epcot Ball, mom!"


    The smaller maze had five stations set up inside it designated to five different flavors of ice cream-- vanilla, strawberry, mint, chocolate and peach.  Each station has a small well filled with chalk dust and using the five fingers of your right hand you dip one finger into each well.  Each person makes up their own pattern depending on which finger was used for each color and at the end of the maze all the different combinations are posted.  Once you find your combination (or pattern) the number listed in the palm tell you which fortune to read.  It was neat and all the kids had a ball reading their fortunes and finding their patterns.  The small maze is set up in a series of circles so there is no right or wrong way to navigate through it.  By this time it was very dark but the boys decided they wanted to run black ops and keep the lights off.  They pretended that the leaves were poisonous and they could not touch them.  Even when other people were passing us on their way out the boys would duck under leaves rather than touch them.  It was pretty cute.  On our way out of the maze (once the boys had caught up with their cousins) they were all talking, giggling and walking together.  Occasionally they would double back and head to the back or run up to the front of the line.  One time they got behind us and my husband hid in the stalks so he could scare them as they walked by.  They screamed and laughed and spent the rest of the night trying to hide and scare my husband.  It was fantastic. 
Chalking our fingers

Extra chalk on the way out so they don't wear off

laughing after having been scared

Alec was combination 44-- "you plan the future carefully"

Evan was number 56-- "surprising things will happen to you"

    The boys spent a bit of time in the bounce house which was also set up like an obstacle course on the inside.  They jumped, played and ran around.  It was a great night and so wonderful to get out after dinner and expend some energy.  The boys walked (or jumped or ran) for two hours straight without complaint!   I loved all the math/ logic we used in navigating the maze and making patterns.  We even pointed out all the different possible patterns using just five colors and five fingers.  The boys practiced reading both with the maze clues and with the fortunes.  We learned and talked about art appreciation in the various pumpkins that were carved and all the different designs we saw.  Many of the pumpkins were designed around fairy tales so we talked about those stories we had read too.  We talked about compass points, reading maps, finding ourselves on the map and deciding which way to go.  We were teaching Evan left and right, teaching Alec to make a decision in a timely manner (something he desperately needs to work on!), and we taught them to work together as a team.  There was a whole lot of learning going on here for a Saturday! 

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