Friday, May 31, 2013

Glue & Paint Batik Shirts

     As soon as the boys woke up they requested to watch another Popular Mechanics for kids DVD.  This one was called Radical Rockets and other Cruising Machines and was all about space travel, monster trucks, boats, submarines, and cool cars.  They learned about alternative fuels, how astronauts train, eat and go to the bathroom in space, how to sail a boat and stay safe on the water and so much more.  When the movie was done, and they still weren't done eating breakfast yet, I allowed them to put in another Travel With Kids movie and we learned all about the Bahamas.  It's a very hot, muggy day and I'm trying to keep the boys inside for much of it.  We'll be out later tonight at a soccer game and after yesterday's sapping heat, I thought we should try and take a bit of a break today. 
      I had a bunch of poppers that came in a package I had ordered.  The boys had been asking to pop them and so today I took out three sheets; on one sheet I wrote sight words and "at" family words for Evan, on another I wrote all the multiplication facts for the 3-11 times families for Ian, and on the last one I wrote a mix of harder addition facts and easy multiplication facts for Alec.  They were so excited to get this activity.  They all eagerly called out their words or facts and then jumped on the poppers.  It was a very quick and fun activity I like to call POP IT!

      After they finished we sat and read Getting to know the Worlds Greatest Artists series about Georgia O'Keeffe.  I LOVE this series and so do the boys.  They are quick, easy to read books about the Artists lives that include many wonderful photos of their work.  We've read quite a few of them already and I plan on reading even more!  This was a nice re-visit to Georgia O'Keeffe and her work which we had studied a few weeks ago when we painted large flowers and landscapes in her style. 
     We read another cute book called How Big is a Million.  It was such a cute story about a baby penguin who goes out searching to see just how big a million is.  He finds 10 fish, 100 penguins, 1,000 snowflakes but can't find a million.  When he comes home his mom shows him the night sky and there's a big poster to pull out with a million stars on it. 
     We headed outside and painted the fronts of the Batik Shirts.  I'm not sure they really understood how Batik works as they didn't start out painting large washes of colors like I thought they would.  The more I talked and explained and reminded them of color resists we've done in art the more they seemed to understand.  Whether the Batik works or not they'll still have nice, colorful t- shirts to wear.   We set the shirts in the sun to dry and came back inside for lunch. 



After lunch we'll paint the back sides of the shirt (if they're dry) and then we're going to go swimming.  It's too hot to do much else outside and yet I feel like it's too nice to stay inside. 

         Our shirts dried very quickly in the sun but we discovered a problem.  Once they were done and we were ready to wash the glue off of the shirts to reveal our Batik designs we discovered that the shirts were all stuck to the cardboard.  Not one to be easily deterred, I slowly peeled the shirts off  where I could (making a few small holes in the shirts!) and leaving some small paper scraps of cardboard behind.  I put all the shirts in the washing machine and hoped that as the glue washed off so would the cardboard.  And it did though my washer and dryer were littered with scraps of cardboard (which I then vacuumed out of the washer and dryer).  It was a bit of extra work but the boys and I love the t- shirts.  I'm a bit bummed about the one or two small holes in each shirt though from where they broke free of the cardboard.  I can't imagine making the shirts without the cardboard as most of the paint went through the shirts too; perhaps if we had wrapped the cardboard in some sort of cling wrap?  I don't know.  But I do consider this project a success anyway and something I'm sure we'll try again. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A very short day today

      This morning the boys watched another episode of Popular Mechanics for Kids; Rip Roaring Roller Coasters and All Access to Fun.  They learned even more about the science behind park rides, attractions and circus shows.  While watching Alec was also playing Kanoodle and Evan was working on an art project he's making for his Aunt's baby. 
     They all remarked on how much the gummy bears grew and we pulled a "normal" one out of the bag to compare.  I heard them talking about why the gummy bears grew so much and they all agreed "the gummy bears absorbed all that water!"  I love hearing them talk in scientific terms!
Look how big they got!
      For math we read a book called Divide and Ride about a group of kids who go an amusement park for the day and keep dividing into groups to go on different rides.  I counted out 12 counters for each boy before reading the story and had them manipulate them as we read through to demonstrate the different equations we came across.  Though I'm not all that sure that they even needed counters.  The work was obviously above Evan's head but Alec and Ian seemed to understand and grasp the concepts very quickly without using counters.
   We worked on the backside of their batik shirts today too.  By that time their cousins had shown up for a fun day playing in the lake so school was over... or so I thought.  The boys played all afternoon with their cousins; swimming, diving, jumping, having water gun fights and towing each other around on rafts and boogie boards.  They had a ball (when they weren't fighting) and they were pretty tired by the end of the day.
     I called my boys out of the water and had them all clean up and dry off to get ready for Alec's soccer practice.  On the way we headed made a quick stop at the library to pick up more books.  We arrived at the field early and finished listening to the Magic Tree House Book Blizzard of the Blue Moon.  We still had some time and the boys were asking what we were going to do.  It was still pretty hot, sunny and muggy so they didn't want to get out of the car and play plus they all wanted to finish eating so I pulled a few books out of our library bag and read aloud Memorial Day Surprise and Monet.  They seemed to enjoy both books a lot and made wonderful predictions in Memorial Day Surprise!
      By the end of soccer all the boys were looking pretty tired and wiped out from all the sun.  We listened to another Magic Tree House book on the way home called Monday with a Mad Genius.  It's all about Leonardo Da Vinci and I'm already excited to pull a book from the library about his work.  Once home I had them take showers and then I had them each pick out a book.  I offered to read to them in their own rooms; well I should have known that all three boys would want to listen to most of the books so we went from room to room reading Hoop Genius (and we learned how a gym teacher created the game of basketball), Red Panda, and Star Wars the Clone Wars; The Secret Villain.  I even got Evan to read a book to me called Pat's Cat's.  I'm trying to focus on one or two sight words at a time and this week we've been trying to get the "at" family down so this was perfect.   I was amazed, looking back on our day, that we managed to get so much done! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Delicious Fractions & Fun Geography Games

      We started our day by watching a few movies; Travel with Kids to Costa Rica and Popular Mechanics for Kids; Slither and Slime as part of our geography and science lessons for today.   We also read An Earthworm's Life and made our own slimy creatures by growing a gummy bear.   According to most sites I looked at; when placed in regular water overnight a gummy bear will grow and multiply in size, but one site found that the bear dissolved in water so we'll see what happens tomorrow I guess.  I found this great print- out for the boys to measure and trace the gummy bear before and after that explained the experiment too; I'm not one for worksheets usually but something about this one appealed to me so we used it today.  After just a few hours they excitedly called me over yelling "they're huge!"

        For geography we also played a game of The Scrambled States of America.  The boys saw this game arrive in the mail yesterday and have been asking to play it; building anticipation is always a good thing!  They LOVED it.  It was a bit too hard for Evan so he teamed up with me for the first game and then he went to go play while we played two more games.  They had so much fun and it's a quick, easy game to play, as long as you can read.

      We read the Hershey's Milk Chocolate Fraction Book and using real Hershey's bars had the kids demonstrate each of the fractions.  The best part was eating the candy bars when we were done!   We followed up that lesson with a fun fraction game.  I gave each of the older two boys some counters and a few dice.  They rolled the dice, made a fraction, found it on the board, and covered it up.  The one with the most fractions covered at the end wins.  Alec was thrilled when he won by one counter and Ian seemed consoled by the fact that he only lost by one.  I just loved hearing them work together to find each fraction and couldn't help but notice how far they've come in identifying fractions!  Evan played with the fraction tiles while they played the game.  All the boys ended up playing with the fraction tiles and geo-boards/ elastics for part of the morning just for fun. 

making thirds; then twelfths

Fraction game

Here's mine!
Geo- boards

       My husband and I have been working with Evan on reading, usually at night before bed, since he seems to enjoy reading with my husband the most.  Yet, we're noticing that he's not picking up much of anything.  After several straight weeks he still can't remember any sight words, not even those that had been found in his Bob's books.  So I pulled out my book Success With Sight Words and went looking for fun activities and games to play with him today.  My goal is to have him reading (and I mean really reading) by this time next year so please wish us luck (since my original goal of homeschooling was to have him reading by now!).  I'm hoping if the activity fun enough he might not even notice he's learning.  That's why I was thrilled to find Mom to Posh Lil Diva's blog all about fun sight word games! I honestly couldn't decide-- sight word twister, sight word musical chairs, the possibilities were endless!  We finally decided on musical chairs; write sight words on paper/ index cards and lay them in a circle on the floor.  While playing the music the kids walk, hop, crawl, etc. around the circle until the music stops and then they have to read the word closest to them.  In our game no one is ever out and everyone wins.  We played a few rounds until they seemed to get sick of it.  They were giggling, and had so much fun coming up with motions to do each time-- hopping, skipping, galloping, flapping their arms like a bird, crawling like a baby, commando crawling, sniffing like a dog; you name it & they probably tried it.  The words I choose for today's game were ridiculously easy for the older two boys but they had fun playing anyway.  Evan seemed to pick up on a few of the words but we'll see how much he remembers next time we play. 

      We started our batik t-shirts today!  I had let the boys each pick out some acrylic paints a week or two ago at the craft store and promised we'd be making shirts with them.  I finally found the time to start them with the kids.  We first looked at pictures of batik cloth and clothes to give them some ideas and then I set them loose with white t- shirts and clear glue (though white glue will also work well).  Ian sketched his design first but Alec and Evan decided to just free hand them.  We got the fronts all glued and set them in the sun to dry.  We'll work on the backside another day and then once they're all dry we'll get to add color to them! 

       It was a super busy day and we never finished school until 2:30; one of our longest days ever!  We took many breaks between activities where they played with dinosaurs, cars, swords, and a new game called Kanoodle.   For some reason homeschooling seems to go really well for us in the spring and fall.  The boys are enthused, we're finding "fun" things to do, and they're all getting along pretty well (not perfect, but pretty good-- after all they are brothers!).   The boys swam and made up games.  My favorite was when they were pretending to make a Popular Mechanics for Kids movie about water; they'd shout the title as they jumped off the dock and then give commentaries on when they swim, how they swim and all the fun things they can "do with the water in the early spring when the water is still freezing."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time for fun

          It was a bright, sunny, warm Tuesday afternoon and after having had a little teaser of summer yesterday we were all ready for fun.  I made some sponge balls over the weekend and brought them outside for a water fight with the kids.  These are easy and pretty cheap to make and much easier to use than water balloons.  This link has a great tutorial for making them, but it's very simple.  Using three sponges for each ball, cut each sponge lengthwise into three long strips so you now have nine.  Gather the strips together and using an elastic band (we used hair ties) cinch them tight in the middle.  You have to "fluff' the sponge strips just a bit and you end up with a wonderful ball.  Dunk in a bucket and it absorbs an awful lot of water!  I had the boys each get a bucket with water and set them up on the lawn/ beach in a triangle.  They tried to throw the sponges back and forth into each other's bucket.  It's just as much fun to miss though as you might get your opponent wet and no one bothered to keep score! 
On your marks.. get set
Sponge balls

      We also used their new water guns and taped alka seltzer tablets to their chests for targets.  They ran around the yard trying to get each other's tablets.  The last one to have a tablet left is the winner.   It's fun to watch the tablets react to the water and a great excuse to soak one another.   I used double sided tape to tape them rather low on the chest (the back would be another great option).   Ian won by default since Evan quit and Alec's tablet fell off and got lost.  I had anticipated more fun and think I should have waited for another day when they were in better moods.  But oh well, what can you do?
Gearing up for battle
"I've been hit!"

       By the time our water games were over the kids were soaked and ready to jump in the lake.   The dock was finally in and they couldn't wait to practice jumping, diving, and cannon balling.  Alec and Evan had a great time blowing bubbles too.  Evan, who immediately thought of light sabers, took his blue wand and started swinging it around making appropriate light saber sounds.  He even pretended to be master Yoda and used the wand as a walking stick.  He blew so many bubbles his wand was empty in no time.   I told him to save the case and I'd re-fill it for him. 
Evan tries on his new Batman goggles

tons and tons of bubbles

Making Memories on Memorial Day Weekend

More and more as we homeschool I am trying to be intentional about making memories and enjoying life.  This memorial day we focused on slowing down, enjoying the little moments, and making memories. 

I took the younger two boys to a nearby town for the memorial day parade where we met up with some family and the kids played, ate ice cream and enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine!

We talked about the importance of Memorial day and what it means.  We watched the ducks in the water, looked at the fast flowing rapids coming from the dam and noticed how the rain we had just had effected that.

After almost 5 straight days of rain the sun was such a welcome sight!

Ian and his dad stayed home and went kayaking and fishing together.  They took kayaks down the river too with some friends and never came home until lunch.

Once we were all home, we got a fire going in the fire pit and had a nice picnic outside for dinner followed by roasted marshmallows.  They had a ball adding things to the fire.  We were laughing after hearing "what would _____ do in the fire?" for the 20th time and they experimented with leaves, seaweed, sticks, pine needles, pine cones, etc.

It was such a fun, relaxing night that reminded us all that summer was near.

As all the local kids were getting called back home for dinner and to get ready for school I thought to myself (and even said out loud to my husband) that we're so lucky we don't have to worry about that.  We could just sit and relax.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fraction Fun on Friday: Learning About Fractions Through Play

For math we read a few books about fractions.  Whenever possible I like to teach my boys math through reading fun books and playing games.

Today we read two books Full House and The Wishing Club. Both of them were absolutely adorable and the kids loved them!

We then played roll- a- whole.  I had the fraction tiles that I got with my McRuffy set and I had ordered some fraction dice from Amazon.   If you don't have any fraction tiles you can order some from Amazon or go to this page and print some off for free.  If you don't have fraction dice you can use regular dice and attach stickers to the sides.

The boys seemed to like this game (we played three rounds!) and I loved that it worked on many skills pertaining to fractions.

  • Identifying fractions
  • Matching fractions
  • Adding fractions
  • Looking for equivalent fractions 
 Alec's first roll was for 1/4 and he quickly grabbed two of the 1/8th tiles to see if they would work.  That sent the precedent for all of the rounds and rolls.  They were interchanging tiles, comparing sizes, trying to figure out how much more they had left to fill.  It was great!

Playing the game Roll a Whole; Alec is helping Ian figure out what equals 1/3. 
1/6 plus 1/6 equals 1/3
Once we were done Evan wanted to play with the tiles and made up his own game called "Crack the Code."  I never did figure out how it worked but while they were playing Alec was working on filling up the fraction piece chart using assorted colors and sizes of tiles.

They learned so much by just playing with the tiles when our game was over. 

  •  He finally figured out he need 12 of the 12th tiles and 10 of the tenth tiles, etc.  
  • He told me one fourth is the same as one sixth plus one twelfth.  
  • He tried lining the pieces up on the table in a pyramid from smallest to the largest.  
  • He yelled out two one tenth equal one fifth.  
  • He finally filled up the chart using all variations of fractions.  
  • He pointed out that if two twelfths equaled one sixth then he needed 6 twelfth tiles to equal 3 sixths; and so one and so forth.  
  • He also started reducing fractions; four eights is the same as one half!  
  • Once Alec was all done Ian dumped out the tray and put them all back together in the right order matching all the pieces up together.  
  • I heard one tenth, a twelfth, etc. coming out of all their mouths. 
  • I heard Evan yelling "one fifth! one fifth! if I use the one fifth you loose one fifth of your power.  Oh no! One fourth. "   
  • A bit later on he told me he has "six eighths power in his hand."   I have no idea if he was matching that up with the right tile but at least he's getting the vocabulary down!  

 A very successful lesson with the added bonus of free play!

Playing with the tiles Alec arranged them according to size

All filled up randomly by Alec
They may have learned more about fractions on their own playing with the tiles than we did while we were playing our math game together... 

I'm not sure but I am definitely glad I pulled out these tiles to play with today!  It kept them occupied for over 30 minutes and they even pointed out to each other; "hey do you know you're learning about fractions playing right now?"  The best part is that Alec answered "Yep!" with a huge smile on his face.
Alec filling up the holder with assorted tiles

Who could plan math activities to beat this?

More and more I realize I do just need to facilitate (or strew) and watch learning unfold before my eyes.  It seems like every time I question our decision to unschool and start moving toward more traditional ways I am reminded how well they can  and do learn on their own through play.

Ian filled up the chart in order

Preparing to play the game; we dumped out all the tiles and used our fraction dice. 

Linking Up With:

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

The Homeschool Post

Rainy Day Science Experiments

With all the real- life examples we've been having of rain, thunderstorms, and clouds I decided to do a few science demonstrations about weather today.

I had planned to do these same two demonstrations the other day when they watched Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightening and Other Forces of Nature but we never got around to them.

Both of these ideas are all over Pinterest and most of the time they're both referred to as rain in a jar.

For the first activity:

  •  I heated up some water until it was steaming
  • Them I poured it into a jar until it was 1/3 full 
  • We then covered up the jar with a plate and then after a few minutes started adding ice cubes to the plate. 
 The cold plate causes moisture in the warm air trapped inside the jar to condense and form droplets.  Just like our weather outside!

Rain in a jar
The second activity was more colorful and I saved it for last on purpose.

  • We filled a clear container part way with water (any temperature is fine) and filled the surface of the water with shaving cream.  
  • Using colored water and droppers we dropped color water onto our cloud; eventually the shaving cream gives way and the color rains down.  
For more detailed instructions and an explanation of clouds and how they work check out Steve Spangler's Blog.

The kids love shaving cream and water and with the addition of food coloring I knew they'd have fun doing this over and over again.

colored rain clouds
In between schooling today, boys took breaks and played outside in the rain with their raincoats on.

Playing in the rain
They soon changed into shorts and were getting wet standing in the lake or the dam they were making.  They were singing songs a the top of their lungs and working pretty nicely together to create a whole amusement park, water park and hotel.  They made a slide, a wave pool, a stage and a huge hotel with pool and hot tub.  They have a boat launch too and mini roads for people to travel on.  I was told it will only cost $2 a person for the day until the taxes go up and then they'll be forced to charge $3 each.

They were enjoying the fresh air, learning about nature and weather first hand all while working together to create something truly wonderful.

They switched to shorts so they could really get into their work

The stage is in front of the bulldozer

The hotel is the hump with the tunnel; the hot tub is in front w/ the pool in back and a loooong grey pipe is the slide

A close up of the pool & hotel

The start of the wave pool; a wedge shaped hole in the ground

The boys wanted to go swimming and while I thought they were nuts I agreed to watch them.

Within moments of starting to swim the rain started up again.  We could hear it, like a waterfall moving toward us across the lake.

That was pretty neat to see and hear.

Linking Up With:

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Tots and Me
The Homeschool Post