Monday, June 16, 2014

"Let's Stay Home"

  I had planned on heading out with the boys for a final week of field trips.  I was kind of dreading the whole packing lunches and driving around thing but the boys have been all gung ho about going places lately and I didn't want to disappoint them.  Imagine my surprise when Evan informed me that we're doing to much lately and he'd like to just stay home.  I was even more surprised that his brothers seemed to agree.  They spent the morning playing video games and watching TV and I warned them that if we were staying home I thought we should at least do a few quick school type lessons since we haven't done any in a while.  NO ONE complained; in fact, they agreed! 
    I asked Ian to do a page or two in his math workbook but since Alec has been doing 5 pages to every 1 that Ian does I told him he could work on writing instead.  Ian was not happy to have to work on a page in his dreaded math book but since we've looked around at TONS of different math books and he doesn't like any of them I offered to work with him on his page.  We worked on multiplying three and four digit numbers by a one digit number.  He thought it looked really hard and intimidating but once I broke it down into steps he caught on right away.  The only problem he had was remembering to multiply the numbers since he often added them together instead.  I usually just had to tell him "you added" and he'd quickly fix any mistakes.  I reminded him to just take it one step at a time one problem at a time and we were finished in no time.  He didn't think it was hard at all either. 
     Since the younger boys were playing outside Ian and I headed upstairs and went through the library book bins to pull out the books that were due back this week.  We talked a bit about reading since Ian is still reluctant to read anything that has lots of words on one page.  I asked him why that was and explained to him that if he's enjoying a story he should just take it word by word, line by line, page by page and not be intimidated by the overall length of the story.   He has no time line in which he must finish reading a story, he has no set stories he MUST read; my whole basis of teaching reading is that kids learn best reading what they love.  He seemed to get what I was trying to say but still insists he prefers stories with more pictures since it helps him "see" what the author is saying better than just reading alone.  Since I know he can listen to, understand, and enjoy chapter books without any pictures when we all read together I'll leave it be for now.  He decided to finish reading his Truck Book so he could return it to the library today and then offered to help me fold all the laundry. 
    Alec and Evan came in to get started on their work.  We just ordered a Draw Write Now book and Alec wanted to work on a lesson in that.  He chose to learn how to draw a red fox and he did a really great job! When I asked him if he liked the lesson he told me that he LOVED it (with LOTS of emphasis on the love!)! After drawing the animal, he got to color it in, add a background and then he had four sentences to copy.  I told him to pay close attention to capitalization, punctuation, spelling and penmanship.  He made a few mistakes and I just told him to check it over; looking closely at his capitalization.  He immediately found and fixed his two mistakes and happily went on to playing sight word memory with Evan.

His completed fox

    Evan and I read one of his mini books to start school today.  He was re- reading his Ants go Marching book from a few weeks ago and read through it without any mistakes.  He told me it was both a counting by two book and a rhyming book.  Once we were done reading we set up all his sight word flash cards face down on the coffee table and Evan, Alec and I played a game of memory.  Evan lost the game but was able to read most of the sight words he turned over.  We talked about the difference between b and d, discussed the sounds letters make, looked for smaller words inside longer words, talked about beginning, middle, and ending sounds and had fun reading together.

    Once the boys were done we all sat down to listen to a few stories.  Evan wanted me to read  Great Big Guinea Pigs before returning it to the library so I started with that story.  We talked a bit about guinea pigs and whether we thought the story was fact or fiction.  We also talked about rodents, the capybara and the raccoon.  From there the boys asked me to read another chapter in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  We noticed it was lunch time by the time we finished and the boys asked if I'd read a second chapter during lunch-- as if I'd say no!
    They made their lunches and we sat down to listen to another chapter in the book.  The boys were laughing uproariously with the introduction of Professor Trelawney, who was largely overlooked in the movie.  When we finished reading and eating our lunches we decided to head out to the library and drop off our books.  We listened to a few more chapters of Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief.
    It was finally warm and sunny today and the boys wanted to go swimming.  I offered to bring out the boys For Wizards Only Magic Science kit that we had started playing with yesterday and spent a bit of time doing some fun science magic with Evan and Alec.  They brought out their Harry Potter wand and really got into it!  We talked about acids, bases, red cabbage, reactions, chemical changes, density, color theory, and even added a bit of math into our day to when they had to fill up the test tubes 3/4 full or 1/2 full, etc.  Alec then spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the wand, test tubes, water and food coloring.  He had lots of fun mixing colors, making up potions, adding ingredients and having a ball.  Evan joined him and they played with different amounts of water, different numbers of food coloring drops, they kept emptying out the test tubes into a giant bucket and watched that change color too.  They noticed that the oil floats on top of the water and beaded up.  They noticed it made their test tubes, hands, and everything else slippery and slimy.  They were messy and having so much fun.  I love that this kit has lasted us more than two days and we have even more experiments to work with for another few days.  I'm looking for ways to capitalize on this Harry Potter craze they've got going over the next few months until our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.  I've gotten some great ideas too-- one homeschooling mom we ran into set up an owl hut on her back porch and her son is having all his assignments delivered by owl so he has to check the hut each morning!  One mom made a Hogwarts cake with her children, they made their own wands, and drank butter beer.  I'm thinking we'll "read" tea leaves & write down our predictions for one another, make up our own potions after taking a nice long nature walk to collect ingredients, make our own marauders map, and more. 
Yesterday they even used the Harry Potter Robe when playing

Color changing fizzy potion

Playing with acids and bases using red cabbage powder

Overflowing the fizzing potions

Making a "crystal" ball with oil, water, and color changing tablets. 

Our completed crystal ball; they could NOT see
the future....

Alec mixing up his own potions; it's serious business!

Playing with the water, oil and colors
Our crystal ball started separating; oil vs. colored water
      While the younger boys were perfectly happy doing wizard science Ian spent the afternoon in the lake working with his toy boats and jet ski's trying to figure out how to hook up a tuber or skier behind them.  He tried skipping rocks for a bit and brought the dump truck, buckets and other assorted toys down to the water too to play with.  It was a really nice, relaxing, quiet day. 

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