Monday, May 19, 2014

Our spring and summer transition

   I haven't planned a lesson of any kind since my boys passed their multiplication minute tests last week; partly because we've had some sickness in the house and partly because I'm feeling the spring/ summer need to just GET OUT and play.  Over the course of the weekend we re-planted the boys beans plants (they're so big they have flowers on them now!), went fishing, visited with family, attended a birthday party, and so much more.  We rode bikes, watched my husband fix and replace the bike tires, and mowed the lawn (Evan "helped" my husband). They played with their cousins, went for rides on the four wheeler, ranger and even their uncle's boat (which Ian helped him put in the water).  Alec helped me make a birthday card for his friend and all the boys helped their grandmother try and catch her cat that was hiding under the porch.  All these everyday, mundane tasks are opportunities for learning that we all tend to take for granted.  They're tasks we know how to do and know how to do well, some are even tasks that my boys are quite proficient in as well but they are still learning opportunities whether they're repetitive or not.  Thinking back over our last four or five days I'm remembering quite fondly my desire to unschool.  In hopes of getting more of our spontaneous learning back,  I told the boys this morning that we're probably going to fall back into our spring and summer routine of me not planning much of anything at all.  I still want them to work in their math books most weeks and I'd like to continue working with Evan on reading and sight words every day but I'm not going to be planning much of anything else.  We're putting our human body study on hold and we're going to focus on nature, fresh air and sunshine (on those days the sun decides to make an appearance).  The boys did remind me that in spring and summer we tend to do more messy science and art outside and they're quite anxious to start that up again too and they want me to keep reading a chapter or two of our Harry Potter series at lunch most days.  I promised I'd try but I really want to be careful not to over plan.  This is our favorite time of year to relax, observe, and just enjoy life and I know how easy it can be to think "oh we'll just do math, and sight words, and reading... oh and science... and I can't forget art"... and then the next thing you know our day is done.  I want to get out, go places, get in a few more field trips before schools let out too.  This is our field trip time and I don't feel like we've been going anywhere lately.   
   Left to their own devices today the younger two boys watched a good part of the Disney Nature film Oceans before deciding to turn off the TV and get ready for the day.  They got dressed, brushed teeth, made their beds and put away laundry!!  On their own!  Who are these kids?  They pulled out toys and had stuffed animals and blankets lining the whole hallway.  They had a whole elaborate play thing going on and I was happy to work on my scrapbooking with few interruptions. 
   Ian washed up all of the Lego pieces he had found outside in our toy box last week and then worked on cleaning up his room.  He stripped the sheets off, washed them, and remade his bed with new sheets (asking for a bit of help on the re-making part).  Then he sat down to build a new Lego garage. 
    The younger boys wanted to go out and play and convinced Ian to join them.  All three boys ran outside and played for at least an hour together.  I came out of my craft room to find that the hallway and their rooms had been all cleaned up before they headed out!  I was in awe! 
   When I went outside they told me they had ridden their bikes and scooters, gone running (and showed me where to), and had been taking turns swinging.  We decided to order one more swing (and if it fits our swing set I'll probably order a third) so that more than one person can swing at a time.  It was a bit chilly out today though and quite windy at our house so we didn't last long outside.
    The boys wanted to head to the library before lunch and so we all piled into the car.  We've finished the Mark of Athena and we're waiting for The House of Hades to come in from inter library loan so we listened to some music as Ian kept asking (or I guess I should say predicting) if we were travelling west, north, south or east.  He was right every time!  He told me that he knows Massachusetts is north, London is east, Alaska and California are west, and Australia is south east.  But as we traveled around town he had a pretty good sense of direction and knew which direction we were headed as we turned down different roads.  I have no idea where he gets that from; if my car didn't tell me which direction I was travelling I wouldn't really have known, not on any of the small side roads in town anyway. 
     Once home the boys all got their lunches together and we sat down to read another chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Once lunch was done I asked the boys to do something for school.  Ian picked a page in his math book about triangles; we learned about right, isosceles, equilateral, and scalene triangles.  I handed him a ruler, went through the first 6 problems with him and then left him to his own to finish the page.  While he was working on that Alec was busy trying to finish the new chapter book he had started this morning-- Dragonbreath; Revenge of the Horned Bunnies.   Once he finished he told me a very de-tailed retelling of the story.  He then told me that it was book 6 in the series and he'd like to read the other books that came before it so we went on-line and requested books 1 & 2. 


   Evan and I worked together in the living room reading sight words.  I had, once again, written them all out on large pieces of bubble wrap and as he read them he could pop them.  He did a great job with most of the words and was quite inventive on thinking up new ways to try and pop them.  He tried hitting them with his hands (flat, fisted and chopping motion), he tried using his knees, laying on them, using his elbows, ripping them open, and so on and so on.  He compared sounds of each method and tried to figure out why so many ways wouldn't work.  Either the bubble wrap would move in the wind created by his motion or else the pressure was equally applied and would not pop through but he kept trying and finding new ways to experiment with bubble wrap. 

Sight word pop

 
















       Ian was jealous that Evan always gets the fun assignments so I had offered to write up math facts or fractions for him to put in order of least to greatest and then I'd let him pop them all.  He was all for it until he decided he wanted to save his bubble wrap.  When it warms back up he'd like to try and make himself a float out of them and see if they will hold him up in the lake.  I thought that sounded like a great science project so I agreed to keep them until the weather warms up again. 
    The boys and I headed out for a quick scooter and bike ride this afternoon, once again reviewing the rules of the road.  Evan, in particular, does not understand the dangers of riding his scooter down the middle of the road and is more focused on his feet and his balance than on where he is riding so I have to constantly remind him to stay on the side of the road.  We reviewed what it means to look both ways; not glance both ways, and we talked about which side of the road we ride on and why.  The older boys seem a bit more aware of the road and cars and do much better with staying safe.  They remained outside playing on  the playground until late in the afternoon.


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