Monday, November 11, 2013

Real tools for real learning

      Friday the boy and I spent the entire day cleaning the house.  I enlisted their help and together we tackled the mini messes.  Ian vacuumed the whole upstairs while Alec and Evan scrubbed the bathrooms.  I washed floors and did a bit of light dusting.  Once the upstairs was cleaned I let them off for the day but did tell them I wanted them to do something "school"- like and let me know what they chose.  Alec and Ian both did an extra page of cursive while Evan chose to play board games that required him to add.  I was glad they self- taught since I was still busy cleaning the whole downstairs. 
     On Saturday Ian had a friend over for the day and they spent the majority of time outside.  They dug holes and built a mini garage for all of Ian's trucks.  I was impressed when I went to check it out.  To make the garage they had a dug a large hole into the side of the hill, surrounded it with rocks (for the walls) and topped it with boards, twigs, and pine needles for a roof.  They had two large rocks in place as the doors and when they moved the doors I could see all of his trucks lined up inside.  I loved that they worked together, using their imagination and found materials to build something quite functional. 
Ian's garage 
    Alec and Evan spent the day inside playing video games, watching movies and taking breaks now and then to play toys.  My boys became obsessed with stop action photography films.  We watched a Lego Batman movie that we had picked up from the Redbox and as one of the extra bonus features they explained how they made the movie.  The boys asked if they could try making their own movie one day and so it began. 
     All day Sunday the boys worked on putting Legos together and deciding what they wanted their movie to be about.  They searched for Alec's camera and we found new batteries to put in it.  I warned them that it was a slow process and would take a lot of work.  They worried about backgrounds, lighting, and which Lego sets to use.   I reminded them that they can make a movie using any toys, trucks, or even play dough but they were determined to use Legos.  I'm kind of sad to say that not one single photo has been taken yet but I know they're still thinking and planning.  They really wanted my help but I was busy in the basement. 
      My husband and I (with the help of Ian) were working on finishing a room in our basement.  My husband measured and cut, Ian and I drilled holes, held boards in place, snapped chalk lines and handed over tools when needed.  I was pretty amazed to find that Ian knew how to use an electric drill, a hand saw (which he has now incorporated into his play outside cutting new boards and sticks for his garage as he expands it), and a tape measure.  He had to subtract numbers and fractions, he learned why 2x4's are called 2x4's and how big they actually are, he learned how to use a level and why we use shims.  It was a great learning experience for him. 
       We woke this morning to no power-- again!  We lost power a few weeks ago during the night and again last night so I was getting concerned that there is some real problem with our power lines.  Luckily the power was back on in no time.  I had taken the time to actually plan a lesson last night and had planned on using the computer today-- something I really couldn't do without power!  After breakfast we sat around the table and I read Breezier, Cheesier, Newest, and Bluest and we learned about comparatives and superlatives.  I was very excited to see that the book was part of a series of books all about English.  They are quick, easy reads with funny illustrations that keep the kids engaged and it's a great way to go through all those terms associated with our language.  We'll definitely be requesting more of them through the library.  
       I then let the two older boys take turns playing Basketball-- an on-line game about comparatives and superlatives (I knew Ian would love it since he loves basketball but I was really hoping to find an animal game for Alec).  It was a cute game and they had lots of fun. Alec and I stumbled up on another cute game that was a lot like hangman.  The clues were written using superlatives and comparatives but worked on all sorts of trivia and spelling skills as well.  Evan and Alec astounded me with some of their knowledge.  How did they know China had the largest population or that the Nile was the longest river??  But I think Alec's favorite game was monkey-fun.  He had to drag words to complete the sentences using comparative and superlatives.  He loved that it was all about animals.  By now I was feeling pretty computer savvy having found the "perfect" game for both the boys to reinforce these skills.

     Instead of playing the computer game I had Evan read a few short books to me.  We had ordered this set of easy leveled readers last week and I have been having him read me a book or two each day with lots of repetition.  We picked five new sight words for the week and I posted them on sticky notes around the house on the TV, Wii, Remotes, etc.  He knows he has to read them before he can play and I've found his brothers to be very helpful in reminding him and helping him read them. 


          We ate an early lunch and headed out to our trampoline class.  Today's class was quite different since it was two classes combined.  It was crazy with almost 20 jumpers in the class but all the kids had a blast.  They took turns nicely, watched and learned from one another, encouraged each other and made new friends.  Alec is starting to work on doing flips and tried at least 20 times to get this new move right.  He was getting frustrated but I reminded him we would be back to regular classes next week and it would be easier to get the extra help he needs then. 
      We ran a few errands and it was already getting dark by the time we got home.   Ian went to my room to watch TV.  He had been asking all day to watch Alaska The Last Frontier, Yukon Men and Axe men and he was anxious to start them.  Alec and Evan worked together on my kindle playing Bad Piggies.  My husband found this App on his phone and just loves it.  He convinced me and the boys that it's a great learning game since they have to build and problem solve.  The boys love it now too and end up fighting over who can use it and play it.  Oh well, at least for today they're all getting along and sharing. 

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