Friday, June 28, 2013

Do nothing day!

     I woke to the sound of pouring rain mixed with thunder & lightening in the wee hours of the morning.  I managed to fall back to sleep eventually but was still pretty tired when the alarm went off this morning.   I had originally planned a field trip for us to a local art museum today but had decided yesterday that I'm rather enjoying our week of hanging around the house.  We've all had lots of fun with the activities we've been trying out and whether my kids realize it or not we've been doing lots of school work.  No one person has complained about a single activity.  It's amazing to me how much more smoothly our homeschooling goes in the summer.  I'm not sure why that is but I do think we seem to cover so much more during the spring and summer than we ever manage to cover in the fall and winter.  I had a bunch of books pulled out and sitting on the table and a few ideas for some fun stuff to try out today.  I kept thinking that it was a yucky, rainy day and I was feeling tired and lazy so I thought I'd give the kids the day off today.  
     They all watched TV and played toys for the morning while I cleaned, did laundry and worked on many of their scrapbooking pages.  All was going really well until I heard a loud crash and lots of crying.  The next thing I knew all three boys were yelling and screaming at one another.  Tears were flowing and I had to step in.  After finding out that Ian had pushed Alec over, I sent him to his room and told them it was time to turn screens off.   I explained that while it was a school day I had planned to let them have the day off and allow screens too but I wasn't so sure that was a good idea.  They all started protesting and begging to have screens back but I sent them all to get dressed and have breakfast.  I explained that if they can't get along when they have free time I feel like I'm forced to plan things.   They wanted to earn screens back and promised to be on their best behavior. 
     Evan asked me to finish reading his new comic to him and his stuffed turtle (who also loves Generator Rex).  He then saw that Ian was already outside and wanted to go play outside too.  All three boys ended up outside for a bit until Ian came in looking to have a friend over.  Next thing I knew all three boys were pouting and whining to have someone over to play.  I was not opposed to them having friends over, but I keep trying to remind them that most of their friends' parents work and we need to plan ahead.  It's not like I can just call them up and get them over here on a whim.  I wish I could, but I can't.
      It's not always easy trying to think of something fun to do that would be indoors and not super crowded.   We decided to head to the movies... and apparently so did everyone else.  We went to see Monsters University.  It was a real cute movie and all the kids enjoyed it but I'm glad we arrived early or else we might not have all gotten to sit together.  On a rainy summer day we were not the only ones with that idea. 
      We had fun in the car on the way to and from the movies.  We listened to the rest of The Boxcar Children story and then we played a version  of name that tune.  We played portions of different songs and the kids had to sing along once they knew what song it was.  It was great fun and definitely something we'll play again using the kids MP3 players.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cheeze- it Spelling, Skittles math, Pop rock Painting

       To have some fun with spelling today we pulled out a box of Scrabble Junior Cheeze- It's and I found two different sheets for the kids to use.  Snacking on words was for Evan-- he had to make three letter words using the crackers and we read them together.  Since he hardly knows any words at this point I let him make up nonsense words as well as real words and I didn't make him record them-- yet.  We talked about changing just one letter to make new words and I was so happy when he read BAT!   I have hopes that one day soon he will be able to make & read CVC words on his own and use the recording sheet in conjunction with this activity.  For Ian and Alec I found a sheet that looked a bit like a Boggle board that the crackers fit on perfectly.   I followed the entire activity that I found on the Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational site.  I too allowed the boys to manipulate the crackers to make it easier for them to find words. 


  

















   For math today I pulled out a big bag of Skittles and read the book Skittles Riddles.  We manipulated some of our Skittles to mirror the pages and mimic what the book was teaching us.  It was quite a long and involved book and I'm not sure how much they absorbed from it but they sure did love eating the Skittles when we were done! 


    
     While they were eating all their crackers and Skittles I read a few books aloud to them.  We read The Way I Act and Bats at the Beach.  They loved Bats at the Beach.  They thought the illustrations were great.   After yesterday's day long discussion about behavior the boys asked if that's why I was reading The Way I Act.  It hadn't been intentional but this book couldn't have come at a better time!  We talked about cooperation, consideration and being compassionate.  Ian readily admitted that him an Alec do NOT act like that toward each other and rather rudely asked me if he thought reading a book would change him (guess we'll be talking about attitudes and behavior a bit more today!).
       Ian and Alec worked on their friendship bracelets a bit more this morning while waiting for Evan to finish up snack.  Ian has been working on his most every night at bedtime and he's almost half- way done.  I'm impressed with their persistence on this project and with how well the bracelets are coming out. 
      My boys were arguing since one wanted to do a science experiment and the other wanted to do art.  I decided to combine the two.  After seeing how fun it was to add pop rocks to our goop yesterday today we tried adding pop rocks to our paint.  I let the boys do some free- form painting.   It was neat to listen to all the crackling and popping again.  I had them predict what would happen before we added the pop rocks and we made predictions about whether or not the pop rock candy would change the color of the paints too.   Though, Alec did ask a few time if this was art or science.  I kept telling him that it was both art and science and so he then asked if we could do "real" art after science. 



    I was willing to help them with another art project but after painting with the pop rock paint they soon took off playing.  They were up in Ian's room for a bit reading books and playing with Lego's and then they all headed outside.  Ian used his remote control boat and Alec and Evan were playing Batman and Robin.  Evan let Alec use his cape from 6 Flags and they had fun chasing each other around the yard.  They all decided to go swimming before the rain came and quickly jumped into the lake.  They swam, dove and played for a bit until lunchtime.
   We headed in just in time.  By the time I had lunch ready and on the table it was pouring outside.  They wanted to turn on screens and I encouraged them to keep it educational.  So they watched Bill Nye the Science Guy-- Inventions, Wild Kratts, and Walt Disney's True Life Adventures; Wonders of the Wild (though they found this a bit boring and abandoned it before it was over).  
  
     Evan had been asking since early this morning to head to the comic book store and get his free comic book with the coupon he received at the library last night.  I was hoping to wait for a time when the rain let up a bit, but that didn't seem to be happening at all so I finally relented.  We lucked out!  The rain stopped just as we arrived and held off for the rest of the afternoon.  Sad to say, but this was a new experience for all of us.  Never having stepped food in a comic book store I had no idea what to expect.  There were comic book and graphic novels everywhere along with toys, video games and video game accessories.  My boys were in heaven.  They actually picked out their comics fairly quickly and we headed back home.  We've started listening to The Boxcar Children Series in the car and I had planned to keep it off so the kids could look through their comics but they begged to listen to more of The chocolate Sundae Mystery.  I'm thinking we'll have to plan a trip to the Gertrude Warner Museum and capitalize on the fact that the author was born in a nearby town. 
    Once home I declared school over and the boys played Wii and watched E.T.  My husband and I have been trying to remember all the much loved movies from our childhood and through the library we've been able to find most of them for the boys to watch.  They aren't always impressed with our suggestions, but for the most part they really enjoy them.  I enjoy the nostalgia value! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Reading Programs

      We were preparing to head to our local library tonight for the summer reading kick- off program.  We had a bag full of books, movies and books on Cd to return and many more to pick up.  As we were talking about summer reading and all the stories we've been reading I remembered that I had printed out the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Journal a few weeks back and we hadn't written anything down!  I gave the boys their sheets and told them they should write down any of the books (and authors) that we were returning tonight that they had read.  I helped Evan and before I knew it all of the kids had at least 6 books (Alec's was completed in full!).  We only need 8 to qualify for the reward.  I guess I didn't need to worry about it! 
       We were the first ones at the library for the kick- off event tonight.  The boys were very excited.  Our library arranged for a program called Creature Teachers to come with a bunch of their animals to talk about them, their natural habitats and diet.  My kids love animals so this was right up their alley.  Alec was convinced he wouldn't be stumped-- but he was!  I was too!  There were many new animals that we had never seen in real life before.  We had front row seats and it was a good thing too!  I think they had over 80 people show up.  While that may not seem like a huge number that's a really big turnout for our library. 
Ian and Evan pet Levi
      We saw a cockatiel, an alligator, a skunk, a kookaburra, a Coati, a cane toad (wow! they're huge!), a tarantula, a red- eyed tree frog, and a boa constrictor.  Because we were early we got to pet the cockatiel and watch it walk around the room.  The cockatiel has learned to open it's own cage and can do so in under 3 seconds.  We learned that Alligators and sharks will fall asleep if flipped over onto their backs and watched as this was demonstrated with a live 8 year old alligator.  We learned how to make a Kookaburra call his sound back at us. 
Our librarian hold the cockatiel

Alec loves how soft the cockatiel's feathers are


the Kookaburra is loud!


The red eyed- tree frog led to a discussion of poison dart frogs too


The tarantula throws it's hair at predators
The cane toad is HUGE and has enough poison in it's
glands to kill a full sized crocodile if eaten.


The skunk was actually pretty cute. 


The boa constrictor

A Coati! 

The alligator is sleeping!  It falls asleep when you turn it on it's back
and wake right up when you flip it back right side up!  It was really
neat to see! 

Turning a Bad Day Around

    I woke early today, eager to get ready and head out the door.  We had a beach and hiking day planned with a homeschool group from the shoreline that we don't get to see very often.  We hadn't been to the beach yet this summer and we were all excited to go.  I packed light, got dinner all prepped, had the kids in their bathing suits and we headed out to buy some sunscreen on our way.  Things were going great.  We had a real good morning with all the kids cooperating and then it was like someone swapped my kids while I was in the store.  By the time we finished checking out they were yelling and bickering with one another.   I tried to interject and when I got snotty, rude replies I just kind of snapped.  I pulled the car over in the parking lot and announced "I'm going home!"  They all started crying and arguing and pleading with me to continue to the beach.  I heard many a chorus of "please mom!" and "we'll behave."  I came close to caving in,  I wanted to cave in.  I look just as forward to these days out as the kids do, but I knew I had to hold firm.  I've been threatening to take away a lot of our trips lately; they always plead and I give in.  Behavior does change in the short term and we all get to do what we really would like, but today I tried to express to them that my constant threats are even getting on my nerves.  I shouldn't have to threaten to get good behavior.  I explained to them that until I can see them all getting along we'll be missing out on fun stuff.
     We arrived home and started unpacking the bag.  Ian and Evan had been playing outside and Ian was already in the house complaining about Evan.  When confronted Evan started crying and brought up every bad thing ever done to him by his brothers, me, or just life in general.  As much as I still wished we could have gone to the beach today I realized I had made the right choice in staying home!  My kids were a mess.  I'd love to say they learned their lesson and started treating each other nicely and with kindness, but perhaps that just wasn't in the cards today.  I was trying to make the boys find their own things to do today but they kept asking me to plan some fun stuff.  In the interest of everyone sanity I agreed to help them think of some fun stuff to do. 
     I tried to put our lousy morning behind us and our day finally started taking shape.   The boys wanted to play with water balloons again and I told them I had an art project I wanted to try with water balloons.  We took stretched canvases and drew designs using watercolor crayon (though markers and even watercolor pencils would probably work too).  Once they had lots of color on the canvas we bombed the canvases with water balloons to make the colors blend and smear a bit.  It was a very fun project, but I can't say the end result was all that great.  Evan and Ian bombed their pictures so much that pretty much all the watercolor crayons washed right off.  Alec did better about bombing around his painting and his picture was looking pretty neat until the water made the canvas cave in in the middle and we ended up with a colorful mess.  We put the canvases in the sun to dry and while the end result was not great they really enjoyed the fun and active side of this project so I don't consider it a waste.   






    
















     I had brought out some cornstarch and pop rocks and we set about making fizzing, popping goop!  I divided the cornstarch into two bowls and added one packet of pop rocks to each bowl.  Even before we added the water we could hear some crackling sounds.  Once Ian poured the water in though it was really cool.  We heard popping, fizzing, and crackling sounds.  The boys said they could even feel the pop rocks fizzing as they stuck their hands in the goop to play with it.  My oldest even swears that the goop smelled differently.  Since so much water was added to the goop, it wasn't all that goopy and they soon lost interest in playing with it, but I think this is one idea I'll try to keep in mind during the long, boring winter days when we're stuck inside.  If I made real goop that they could pick up and mold, I bet they'd play with it until the rocks stop popping. 


     They decided to go swim and play in the lake for a bit until lunch and they got along pretty well.  I brought our bagged lunches outside along with a blanket and we had a picnic in the yard.  I read a few stories while they were eating: My Even Day (a fun math book that we had to read after reading my 1/2 day and my Odd day), A Stick Is and Excellent Thing (a book of poems about fun summertime, outdoor activities), and There Was A Tree.  Before reading My Even Day I asked what an even number was and Evan told me "like 2 or 4, those are even but 3 that's odd" and the other boys exclaimed "Evan you're learning!  You're learning more than you did in Preschool!  Mom, he knows what an even number is!"  They both then went on to explain that even numbers can be divided into two equal pairs.  When reading There Was a Tree, I had them each predict what the next thing added to the hold in the ground would be.  We related most of the poems to our lives and talked about how we do things the same (or differently) than the poem we were reading.  They willingly sat and listened to all the poems.  the illustrations were great and nice and colorful too so I think that helped.  While my boys enjoy poetry, it's not necessarily their favorite.

     Since we still weren't entirely done eating and no one had run away yet I asked the boys to lay down on the blanker or their towels and search for shapes in the clouds.  I then asked them to make up stories about the shapes they saw.  I had no idea how exciting this would be for them. They fought over who could go first and waited very impatiently for their own turns.  They talked and talked and talked, each telling as many as three different stories.  My favorite was probably Ian's story about the giant rhino that had wheels instead of feet that rolled through town leaving a disaster behind him.  When the movie Star Wars came out the rhino got scared that he would be killed in a light saber battle and so he sprouted wings and flew away and the town never had to worry about a rhino running through the streets again.  Evan told a wonderful story about Pegasus and a giant snake named Medusa who was covered with eyes everywhere- he had lots of details (that mostly made sense) and told how they all battled with help from friends like griffins until Medusa was defeated and they all lived happily ever after.  Alec's story was similar to Ian's story but I was most impressed with his storytelling style.  He used whispers, lots of feeling and expression and really got into the stories!  It was a great impromptu lesson that I'll definitely try again.
Can you find the winged horse?

       The boys had such grand plans for the afternoon, they wanted to draw temporary tattoos on themselves using the watercolor crayons, they wanted to play hopscotch like in the poem we read, they wanted to play the Scrambled States game again... the list goes on and on. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hover craft, Friendship bracelets, Paint War... another fantastic day!

My boys started the day by watching the movies they got from the library yesterday.  They watched The Sandlot Heading home and How to Train Your Dragon.  I was a bit annoyed with all the movie watching, but I just kept reminding myself that it's summer.  A time to be a bit more lazy and relaxed, a time to enjoy life and have fun. 


We were planning to make balloon and cd hover crafts today so we started by super gluing our pop top bottle caps onto the CD and then we set them aside to dry.



While waiting for the CD/ glue to dry we started on our art projects.  We used clear glue and dripped fun designs onto watercolor paper.  While the glue was still wet we covered it with salt.  Just using ordinary table salt-- we then set that aside to dry.  I have to say, even with just the salt on the glue my boys already liked this project.  The salt made the glue look all shiny and like giant crystals.  We couldn't wait for it to dry enough to use the watercolors with it!



We read The Doorbell Rang and I gave each of the boys counters.  We stopped before turning each page so they could figure out how many cookies everyone would get for some simple division practice.  We then went on to read The Giving Tree and Carl's Summer Vacation. 

The boys reminded me that I had promised to show them how to make friendship bracelets using embroidery floss.  I made these as a kid and I needed a quick refresher before showing them so I looked it up and found an easy to follow set of instructions on ehow.   This was a bit challenging for them but with some help from me untying knots and setting them straight once again they were soon going quite well and figuring out how to fix any mistakes they were making.  I hope they don't get frustrated or discouraged and quit before they're done since they are looking very nice.  I keep reminding them it can take days or weeks to get just one bracelet done.


The glue projects were mostly dry so we started painting our salt painting with watercolors.  Its' neat to watch the colors spread throughout the salt as you touch your brush to them.



The hover crafts were a huge hit!  We never did feel like the super glue totally dried so I brought down my hot glue gun and re-glued the pop top onto the CD.  Keeping the pop top closed we then blew up a balloon and stretched the end over the bottle top.  Once in place you pull up on the pop top and as the air leaks out it pushes the CD up off the table a bit and makes it hover and move around.  They excited yelled out about air pressure and force and talked about how it works.  They kept blowing the balloons back up and watching them hover around the living room rug (on the hardwood floor).  They talked about taking them outside and running a science experiment to see if the crafts would hover over the water (and they did!! For the most part anyway; as the balloon got to the end of the air they started to sink).  


We took a quick break for some lunch and then got ready to head outside.  My nephews were on their way over with my sister and mother.  I had told the boys I'd let them have a paint fight today, just for fun, and I was hoping to finish by the time our company showed up.  I was in the midst of filling up the paint containers with very watered down tempera paint when they showed up.  I crossed my fingers that my sister wouldn't mind if they got all painted and dirty and told them they could join us. 

We did have a few rules though--- stay in the yard away from the house, cars and furniture, stay away from the adults (who were still in their clothes and not in their bathing suits), and keep paint away from each other's faces and eyes. 

They had a ball! 

Alec did get paint in his eye and face a few times so he cried a bit and had to jump in the lake a few times to clean off, but other than that the kids all had lots of fun.  Their clothes and skin were quite colorful by the time we ran out of paint!




Monday, June 24, 2013

Water Bombing Math, One sentance writing, and Body art.

       We had a very busy morning around here.  We got the bedrooms all cleaned and spiffed up then got ready for our day.  After we all ate and got dressed we sat down to read together.  I feel like we've slowly gotten away from reading books together and I wanted to find our way back to that.  Alec had a book he got from the library called Alex the Parrot that everyone wanted to listen to so I agreed to read that as well as Yes Day! and How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?  We read all three books and since Alex the Parrot was a true story we looked for videos about him on-line.  We watched a few YouTube videos about him.  It was really quite amazing! You can follow the link to see our favorite. 
        Once we were done reading I told the boys I had a quick writing activity planned.  They were to write one sentence but it had to start with a subordinate conjunction (After, Although, Unless, Since, Because, etc.).  I found this idea on Incite to Write's page on Facebook.  Subordinate conjunctions help kids make a more complex sentence and I figured they would never argue and gripe about one sentence.  Funny enough, they all picked "after" as the start of their sentence.  I was impressed the most by Evan today.  He quickly came up with his whole sentence and even managed to spell most of the words pretty phonetically!


    
















        
     It was hot and sunny today and I wanted to head outside.  We had tons of fun activities planned that I found on Pinterest last night and I couldn't wait to try them.  After stepping outside, I started to think that might be a mistake!  It was so hot and muggy and stifling outside!  Luckily, the boys didn't seem to mind nearly as much as I did.   I found a cute car/ squirt bottle race that I thought the boys might like.  They each got a matchbox car and a spray bottle, but the only one who could even get it to work a little was Alec.  I don't know why it didn't work; but I'm guessing it was because the driveway isn't all that smooth.   While they were troubleshooting their car race I was trying to fill up water balloons. 
   After the third spraying as I was telling the boys I didn't know if we'd be using any balloons today, Ian offered to help.  Low and behold he managed to fill up a dozen water balloons each for himself and his two brothers with little problems.  He did get sprayed and wet a bit, but he didn't mind.  I just had to help him knot the balloons.  I explained to the boys that the balloons were not for a toss or a fight but for a lesson.  I first attempted to write math equations and sight words on the balloons but the permanent marker would not work on the balloons since water was condensing on the outside of them.  I ended up using chalk and designated an area of the driveway for each boy with either sight words or equations.  They had to read the word, or answer the problem, and then "bomb" it with a water balloon.  They loved this activity!  They loved it so much they begged for more balloons!! It was hot and the water was fun.  The water made the words and numbers disappear as they hit.  I think even just the word "bombs away!" made it much more fun than any worksheet reviewing these topics could have been.  Alec had simple division equations (10 or 8 divided by 2), simple multiplication problems (4x2, 3x4, etc.) and a few harder addition problems (9+9, 8+7, etc.).  Ian had hard multiplication and division problems (21 divided by 3, 18 divided by 3, 9x9, 6x8, etc.) and Evan had a few sight words repeated over and over again (red, dad, mom, the, at bat, toy). 







        They drew their own tattoos using watercolor crayons and a bucket of water.  They drew all over their bodies.  They were pretty creative with what they drew and I felt bad when I realized that the heat was making them sweat and all the tattoos were running.  We had tons of errands to run and I didn't want the watercolor crayons all over my car so I had them all jump in and cool off.  They were worried that the tattoos would wash off and I told them it would, but that they could make more later if they wanted.  We'll definitely have to try this again.




 
















         
    After a quick dip to cool off we had a quick lunch and headed out.  We finished up listening to The Pain and The Great One in the car and put in a CD on Greek Mythology.  We went to the bank, Kohl's, Target and Walmart; luckily they were all quick stops and we were back home in record time.  By the time we arrived home the boys still weren't liking the Greek Mythology books (and honestly, I wasn't either) so we decided to return them to the library later this week and start listening to the Boxcar Children instead.
      After having done writing, math, reading, science and art today we declared school finished and headed outside to play in the lake.  Even with the water and our beach mostly being in the shade it was HOT! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Big Birthday Bash

Today was the big day.

 Ian finally got to have all his friends over for a birthday/ swimming party!



The boys pitched in and helped us clean the house and get the beach and patio ready this morning.  We ran a few errands and let them get some early ice cream.  Once home they wanted to go check on the kittens next door and ended up swimming in their pool until it was time for the party.   We had everything set and decorated by then so I didn't mind. 

Ian picked a fishing theme and I found so many cute ideas on Pinterest. Here is a glimpse at our party:

our favors-- tackle boxes with gummy candy
paper goods I found on-line


Gummy sharks (lures)
Swedish fish (minnows)


gummy worms (worms)


Goldfish crackers

Marshmallow bobbers (large marshmallows
dunked in red chocolate melts). 


Pretzel and Pirouette stick fishing rods

Balloons!
Altogether we had 10 kids for Ian's party.  It seemed to be the perfect amount as the 3 hours just flew right by.  They swam, did some fishing, took turns on the jet ski, and tried going off the rope swing. 

Everyone seemed to get along just great and have tons of fun.  I was impressed with all the kids manners, behavior and attitudes.  Many of these kids did not know each other.  Ian has a diverse group of family and friends that attend different schools and are of a variety of ages but they all got along really well.  They took turns cheering for each other when they were attempting the rope swing.  They took turns dunking each other, splashing each other and jumping off the dock.

 I think the highlight of the day, for me anyway, was when all the kids got into a water war with my husband.  Everyone was laughing and squealing!