Tuesday, June 3, 2014

More of a traditional day

      Feeling like we hadn't "done school" in a while and knowing we can't take the  whole summer "off" I started asking the boys to do just a bit of schoolwork each day.  I'm hoping to do just enough work to keep us in the routing and keep them from that summer slide but not so much that we spend all morning working.  For math I had asked the older boys to work in their math workbooks yesterday.  They know that they can pick a page (any page) and get their math work done fairly quickly.  Alec, once again, chose to do 6 pages.  This, in and of itself is not that unusual, but Alec managed to finish 6 pages in the time it took Ian to complete one page and that left Ian feeling very disgruntled.  He complained about the workbook itself and I offered to let him pick out another book if he'd rather.  I told him I still thought he needed a 5th grade book though since that's the grade he would be going into if he was in public school and if he wants to go to high school he needs to stay somewhat on grade level.  He agreed and understood the logic in that and after looking around at Barnes and Noble today at their selection of 5th grade math workbooks he decided he'd like to just stick with the book he has.  He had attempted a page on finding volume the other day and got all upset about using multiplication.  He's more comfortable adding and often did add by mistake.  He got angry and started crying before deciding to skip that page and pick out a different page.  I was stunned when he chose to do word problems instead.  He told me he likes them the best since they're like real life scenarios and he understands what he has to do.  He added and subtracted three, four and even five digit numbers with carrying and regrouping without any issues at all.   I was pretty happy thinking that he obviously was reading, comprehending and applying math to real- life situations. 
      Knowing I had only been focusing on reading with Evan and totally neglecting math I have been trying to incorporate it into our play and stuff.  Today we counted by 10's up to 200 while Evan was bouncing up and down like a spring.  After that we counted by 5's to 100 while he spun in circles.  He then ran off to get ready for the day and I figured math was over.  I was wrong.  He later asked to play the Add A Bug board game we have and he spent the morning adding up the rolls of his dice (we play with regular dice and not the ones that came with the game).  We've adapted the game to our style of play and since it's usually just him and I playing the rules often even change from game to game.  He rolled, added up dice, moved his pawn around the board and read all the squares he landed on-- without any help!  He often counted up his bugs and compared how many he had to how many I had. 

    I had asked the older boys to work on some writing too and told them that would probably be it for the week of lessons (we often lighten our load considerably in the summer).   Ian chose a workbook page section working on punctuation; mainly quotation marks.  I did the first few with him and then let him work on his own.  He did great!  By the end of the assignment he was getting them all right.  I then asked him to rewrite just a few of the sentences in his best writing.  He grumbled but did finish the page and he told me that it wasn't so bad.  I told him that I know schoolwork isn't always fun but I try to make it as fun as I can and that's why I only require them to do bookwork on rare occasions.  I know it's not that much fun but I sometimes feel like it's the only way I can really "see" what they're working on.  Alec chose to work on a page in his cursive book and reviewed all the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet. 

    Alec has been reading up a storm.  We picked up three new Dragonbreath books for him at the library last night and he finished up the third and final book this afternoon.  He's also read an entire Skylanders guidebook.  I find him curled up everywhere reading!  Ian had finished reading his 8 summer reading books for the Barnes and Noble summer reading program so we turned his paper in this afternoon and he picked out a free book to read.  I think he was pretty proud of the fact that the guy behind the counter couldn't believe he was done already and told Ian he was the first one to turn in his sheet to him.  Evan read another little book to me today about marching ants and he noticed during our picture walk that the ants increased by increments of 2.  First they marched by two's, then four's all the way up to ten's.  He easily counted by two's and found each of the number words written multiple times on each page.  In our picture walk we talked about where the ants were marching, on a shoe, up the wall, through a door, etc. and he was able to find those words for me too on each page.  He then read through the book pretty quickly, only getting stuck on words like across and through.  We listened to another chapter in Harry Potter and another whole CD in the House of Hades.  the boys have been reading at bedtime too.  Ian and I started reading Dan Gutman's Genius Files series together.  I read one page of the chapter then passed the book to him for him to read a page.  I was really impressed with how much his fluency has grown.  Gone was his halting voice and he actually stopped with periods and used expression.  He sounded out long words like acceleration, terminal velocity, and many others I thought he'd get stuck on-- but he DIDN'T.  I didn't realize how much his reading skill has grown since we started homeschooling.  I have noticed he's reading more often, on his own, without feeling like he was forced into it.  He enjoys picture books the most and finding books that he relates to isn't always easy but I'm definitely finding it to be worth it!

    We've been getting school over with very quickly (I think we spent all of 10 minutes on math on Monday and that was it for the day!) and that's so nice since the weather has been beautiful!  We've spent our mornings shopping, going to the library, the bank, and running other various errands; most of which the boys have initiated and we've spent our afternoons on the shore of the lake swimming, feeding the ducks, feeding the geese, and observing all the animals around us.  In the past two days we've seen herons, ducks, geese, fish (of all sorts), a red tailed hawk and a "new" duck on our lake that we're still trying to identify.  We've eaten lunch and dinner outside almost every day/night and we even got a fire going in our fire pit the other night.  All the boys love to find pine needles to make the fire burn higher, they throw sticks in and even found sticks to use as torches.  Having them walk around with smoldering sticks really made me nervous but they were totally in their element and loving every minute of it.  We did have to remind them to keep the sticks on the beach and to be careful not to walk in the woods or close to the house (or anything else flammable) but they were fine with them and very careful. 

    The boys begged me to order a few of the Travel with Kids videos from our library but we ended up buying a series on Amazon for just a few dollars when they came in this afternoon the boys all cleaned up and headed to Ian's room to watch a few episodes.   They're also helping me plan our family vacation this year and we've been reviewing a lot of geography lessons (as well as math lessons as we price things out).  They've even used the movies to research other things and places they'd like to go, do and see so who knows where we'll end up this year?!  

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