Monday, March 3, 2014

A little bit of work and a whole lot of fun!

     We zipped right through all our work today!  I was amazed at how hard and how quickly all the kids got right to work.  We started with math and the older boys, once again, had a math minute.  Evan and I worked with subtraction playing the Target Game that I found in my Games for Math book by Perry Kaye.  These games are always great, quick ideas that the boys seem to enjoy and they don't require many supplies for time to pull them together.  I took a few extra minutes to make a rockin' cool game board using my Circuit in the hopes that I would then keep it and be motivated to use it more often.  Apparently it was so pretty it inspired Alec to make up his own division game so he'd get to use the board too.  I re-arranged the numbers a bit since our middle circle was so big and I knew if I made that the 10 our game would end too fast each time.  We actually landed on zero quite frequently so I was glad I had made that choice. 

     While the older boys were working on their math minute Evan and I started playing our game.  We used the giant board, two pennies, and we each had 10 mini blocks in a paper cup.  The object of the game is to subtract the amount of blocks from our paper cup that our pennies landed on and be the first one to get rid of all our blocks.  I kept a running commentary; "I had ten blocks and I landed on a 4 so I have 6 left, etc."  I asked him how many blocks he started with each time, how many he was taking away and how many he had left.  We played a good 4 or five rounds and I have to say Evan got really good at landing on the target he was aiming at; he won every game!  He immediately told me "I can't take 6 away, I only have three blocks left" and happily decided to wait for his next turn. I would have let him subtract as many as he could and leave it at that but he was happy being in control and so I let him.  Besides it gave me a chance to try and catch up to him.   

       I had planned for the older boys to play the Outsiders game that I found in my Games for Learning by Peggy Kaye book. Though Alec chose to ignore my game and work on making up his own game so I played with Ian instead.  We took scrap paper and decided how many x's  (or o's or hearts or any simple shape) we wanted to draw.  I told him we had to choose a number between 10 and 30 just to keep it hard enough but not ridiculously time consuming.  For the first round I chose 21 and Ian chose 30.  We then shook our fist at one another saying one, two, three shoot and then we'd stick out a finger or two or five and add them up.  Ian shot out a two and I shot out three fingers so we had to group our marks on our paper into groups of five.  The one with the lest amount of remainders (or outsiders as the game is called) wins.  Since Ian had 30 and that made 6 equal groups when dividing by 5 I lost that round.  He had no remainders and I had one.  We played several more rounds and we ended our lesson by Ian going back and writing the number equation for every set we made.  I modeled it for him by writing them on my paper and then he quickly went about working on his paper. He ended up finding a mistake in one of his groupings too and fixed it. 

       Alec was then ready to play his game he made up.  He took the paper cups and put away all the blocks.  He then counted out 30 beads for both him and myself.  We'd toss the pennies onto the chart and whatever number it landed on we would divide our 30 beads into groups and see who had the least amount of remaining beads.  By the end of the game Alec wasn't even bothering to make groups with his beads at all.  When his pennies landed on the 4 he told me that 7x4 was 28 which was close to 30 so he would have 7 groups with two left over.  I loved that he made up his own game and that he was obviously learning!

     We followed up math with some writing work.  I had the two older boys pull out their cursive books and work on those.  Alec has gone back and forth from learning letters to words to sentences.  He has two cursive books so I let him choose whatever he feels like working on for that day.  Both of the older boys pulled out pens and I shuddered to think that they were not using pencils.  I warned them that pens were not erasable and they had to be very careful not to make any mistakes.  They did really well.  I was really impressed with Alec's first attempt at making a cursive g and so was he!

Alec worked on letters D and G today
Ian prefers to learn by writing and reading full sentences.

     While they worked on that Evan rolled a sight word.  I found a blank printable similar to this
one and I filled in words across the top.  We worked on the words the, little, go, at, in & can.  Right away he was able to read every word to me except for at.  I thought, "Hey! he knows 5 sight words! They are sinking in!!" I handed him a die and explained that he had to roll the dice and write each word as he rolled it and see which word would race to the bottom first.  At first he thought this was a lot of work and was kind of sluggish about playing but as he rolled and I (or one of his brothers) announced "Uh Oh, little is winning"  or "Look Can is about to catch up!"  By the time can won he was laughing and having a blast with this game.  He agreed that it was a very fun way to practice writing our sight words. 

His completed "game"


     We read a little bit about India today (our new country of the month).  The book we started with today was very long and textbookish; not something we usually use since the boys don't tend to have a long enough attention span to listen. It was called India; Enchantment of the World.   But I showed them how we can use non- fiction books and look through them reading about just the pictures or reading a few sentences in a paragraph here and there to learn a good overview of the whole book.  When they were interested in a topic area or a particular picture we'd read and learn a bit more and when they weren't we just flipped a few more pages until we came across something else they were interested in.  They must have been paying pretty good attention since they were telling my husband all about India at lunch.
    We cleaned up school early today and headed to town to meet my husband for a fun impromptu lunch date.  We played hangman, drew pictures and talked about our school day while waiting for our meals.  We talked about our plans for the rest of the day and learned what my husband has been up to at work.  While their behavior drove me up the walls (mostly because they were so snotty and snippy with one another and the constant bickering in my house is slowly driving me nuts) they were complimented on their behavior by the couple at the table next to us.  The kindly older gentlemen hands out one dollar bills to all the kids in the restaurant every time he and his wife go out to lunch.  My kids thought that was amazing and quickly shared their gratitude.  By the end of the meal, the man handed them each another dollar and told them it was because they were so well behaved and entertaining.  I'd readily agree with the entertaining part. 
     After lunch we headed to the library and picked up some more books on CD, movies and books.  We were telling our librarian all about our homeschool geography/history fair since she's noticed we're checking out a lot of geography books lately.  In talking about last year's fair, Alec was reminded of the girls that reported on Equestria (the land of My Little Ponies) and has once again asked if he can report on Pokémon.  My gut reaction was to say no (and I did. He planned to report on Japan and I figured he could tie in Pokémon to his Japan study)) and make him learn about a real place but after thinking it over for a good part of the afternoon I have decided to let him try and come up with a whole report on Pokémon.  While it may not teach him much about geography he will have to work hard to put a report together, research the area and come up with a map of all the regions.  I think it will be quite challenging for him since I will be NO help to him whereas I could have helped him with his report on Japan.  Besides, if there's one thing I've definitely learned in our years of homeschooling it's that the boys are willing to work so much harder when it's something they want to do and aren't being forced to do. 
    Once home the boys continued working on the jigsaw puzzles and playing with the pattern blocks.  These are the two toys I had set out early this morning and I was remarking to my husband that it's so neat to see how engaged they get in playing with the boys I just happen to leave laying out during the day.  If I didn't pull any toys out they probably wouldn't bother to play with them at all but they learn so much through their play.  Ian build three- d objects with the pattern blocks today and Evan made a mommy and baby turtle.  In pretending that the baby was drinking milk from his mother we got into a whole discussion about turtles. In talking about turtles, Alec informed us that they are actually reptiles and so they must not drink milk from their mothers.  We talked about mammals that do lay eggs like the platypus and I was super impressed when Alec remembered that they are called monotremes (as I was looking up the answer to help Evan). 
Building three dimensional buildings with pattern blocks

Puzzle fun
Evan's turtle

Evan's mom and baby turtle

More three dimensional buildings 

    We watched an episode of Mythbusters and some of the How The States Got Their Shapes series for some added science and geography learning today.  My boys LOVE Mythbusters.  Just LOVE, LVOE, LOVE it!  I love that they are so engaged in watching science experiments.  They don't, however, love How the States Got Their Shapes.  We've watched an episode or two here and there over our homeschooling journey and it's packed with a lot of history and geography fun.  We try it again every year or so and I'm happy with whatever they take away from them.  We also prepared for our science experiment tomorrow.  Mr. Freeze is freezing Batman, Robin and Aquaman into blocks of ice and the boys have to use science to try and rescue them as quickly as they can.  It should be lots of fun!  The boys are already working out their strategies. 

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