Friday, September 26, 2014

Apples to Apples

   Knowing we had a full day planned I was anxious to get started, luckily Ian was ready nice and early and was very accommodating.  He loves to get his schoolwork done and out of the way as quickly as he can so he can play outside whenever the weather is nice.   We sat down to do verbal math together.  We did a good portion of lesson 2 and he really had fun with today's lesson.  He had to count as high as he could, as fast as he could while being timed.  He counted by 1's, 10,'s, and fives.  The rest of the lesson dealt with adding and regrouping.  He did well and we finished quite a bit today.  He went to practice his division facts and passed his math minute with a lot of time to spare.  He told me he discovered a pattern in the higher numbers of 11's facts (since he already knows the obvious pattern in the lower numbers-- 66 divided by 11 is 6).  He showed me that in 121 divided by 11 you just take out the middle number and you have the answer-- 11, in 132 divided by 11 if you take out the middle number you get 12, I encouraged him to discover if it was true even if we went on and we realized that it was!  143 divided by 11 is 13, 154 divided by 11 is 14, and we realized that the middle number is always the sum of the two numbers!  I have never in my life made that connection in multiplying or dividing by 11.  I later tried it with random numbers 24 and knew my answer would be 264 before the calculator came up with it.  I was so excited I told Ian he was a FREAKING GENIUS!  He was beaming and could not wait to see if Alec had ever noticed that pattern before.  I told Ian I wasn't really sure if anyone had ever noticed that pattern before.  We kept trying it with different numbers and realized it didn't work for anything where the two numbers would add to)or be more than) 10 like 55 but it did work often enough to make a really cool way to try and work with the 11 times table. 
   Ian had complained yesterday that none of his pants from last winter fit him so we spent a portion of our morning cleaning out his drawers.  He's grown a lot in the last year and so I packed away any and all kids clothes in his drawers.  We made up a list and decided to go clothes shopping today.  I really wasn't sure how we were going to squeeze it into our day but he had nothing but shorts and t-shirts left in his drawer so we had to try.   He offered to do his cursive work in the car while we were shopping and asked if he could read after we got home.  He wanted to play outside until I was ready to go and since I knew he could be counted on to complete his work I agreed.

   By that time the two younger boys were ready for school too and the negotiations started almost immediately.  I, once again, wanted the boys to do math, reading and writing and they wanted to finish up school and head outside with Ian.  Alec offered to do a two- digit add & color page in the car and since it dealt with re-grouping I knew it was basically the same as his verbal meth lesson so I thought that was great.  While I worked with Evan on his verbal math Alec worked on his cursive page.  Evan, once again, worked with adding to 6; this time with missing addends and word problems and he did phenomenal!  All the boys love this verbal math series and I think partly because they don't have to write and party because it starts them off nice and easy and gradually adds on skills.  This review portion helps them feel confident in their answers. 
   By the time Evan and I were done with math, Alec was done with his cursive and he went to practice his division facts for the 5 family.  He was so bummed when he miswrote the number 20 for the number 2 on his test and got both 100 divided by 5's wrong.  As soon as he handed the test to me he said "oops, I meant 20 not 2."  Normally I'd let him get away with that but since it was both times I wasn't totally confident he did know it was 20 at the time.  I reminded him that it was only his first day with the 5's and if it was only a small mistake on his part then he was sure to pass the test on Monday.  He shrugged his shoulders but was bummed that Ian had caught up to him and would be taking his 5 test on Monday too.  Ah, the competition between brothers; you've  just got to love it!
    As I sat down with Evan to work on his reading lesson I was floored by how well he did.  We're only party way through lesson two and he read all of today's words to me without ANY help!  He picked a harder mini book than yesterday though and was then struggling to read it.  I've learned by now that it's always ups and downs with reading and so I just encourage and smile and focus on what he does well with and he did great with his reading lesson.  He really didn't want to work on his Cut and Paste Sight Word sentences and asked if he could pick a page or two in his Star Wars Phonics book instead.  I figured he was still writing letters and learning phonics at the same time so I said sure.  He wanted to bring it in the car like his brothers so he was happy to go play outside until it was time to go. 
    I let them all play outside while I quickly cleaned and straightened up the house and got myself ready for the day.  They all willingly piled into the car once I was all ready to go and Evan completed his phonics book in no time.  Alec colored in his penguin by number while Ian worked on his cursive.  We stopped to buy Ian new clothes and while the younger two boys drove me a bit nutty with their games they were actually pretty good in the store.  After trying on about 10 pairs of pants of jeans we finally found one Ian liked and bought three of the same pair.  We picked out the clothes he needed for his Halloween costume too and a few extra t-shirts.  I talked him into trying on some pajama pants and he was amazed at how comfortable they were so we bought a few pairs of them as well.  I explained that he didn't have to sleep in them but it at least gave him something to wear around the house while he was relaxing and watching TV at night before bed.
        They were friendly with an older man we met in the checkout line.  He was in a motorized scooter and started asking them about school.  He told us he was a retired middle school teacher and that he always inquires about young children he meets in the store during the school day.  He congratulated  us on our decision to pursue homeschooling and told us about his neighbor who is also homeschooling her young son.  He started quizzing the boys with some brain teasers and entertaining them with jokes he learned through his years of teaching.  He stumped Ian when he asked what side of the cat is hairier and Ian laughed when he learned the right answer was the outside.  The man then told them the capital of Turkey was Constantinople and asked them if they could spell it.  Ian paused for a minute and then said "I-t!"  The man congratulated him on thinking outside the box and coming up with the right solution.  Then he asked them "Why did  the chicken crossed the road?"  And a few other jokes.  The boys retaliated by reciting a few jokes they had learned-- "Why did the teacher want to go to the beach?  To test the water!"  It was a fun way to pass our time in line and he wished us luck with our schooling when he left.  I'm not sure if we're just really lucky with all the people we meet but I have never had anyone say anything negative to me about homeschooling.  Perhaps we appear so happy and confident no one questions it?  I don't know.  All I do know is that I'm always grateful when these conversations go so well.   The minute someone asks us a question and the boys answer with an excited "we're homeschooled!" I always hold my breath.  I have heard horror stories from other homeschooling moms and I'm always leery of negative feedback.  Luckily, we've been fortunate enough to meet lots of nice, supportive people when we're out and about. 
       When we were leaving the store I asked Ian to predict how much his new clothes cost. I figure it's always great math practice and a practical life skill for him to develop.  Ian is my money kid and usually is real accurate in his predictions.   He was actually way off this time and when I commented on that he told me it was because he hadn't been looking at any prices. That made perfect sense!  I hadn't thought to point out any prices either; other than on the cheapo clearance shirts we had added to the cart as an after though.  Ian seemed shocked by how much we spent and I had to laugh because I actually thought we had gotten a pretty good deal on most of his clothes and had budgeted more.  Though he did remind me we still needed to try find a few long sleeved shirts and some athletic pants. 
Yummy lunch!  Fresh apples. 
     We stopped to buy a few quick groceries, went to two different dollar stores,  got gas, went to the bank and stopped at the McDonald's drive thru for some drinks.  With all our errands out of the way we headed to the apple orchard and picked some apples.  The boys had long since finished their schoolwork and we were able to listen to another disk of our book on CD.  The boys are pros at picking apples but as we walked they reminded me of previous trips and watching the apple cider being made, the wagon rides we took and the places were old apple trees used to be.  They inspected each apple as they took it off the tree noticing the odd shapes, dots of colors and even tiny little bugs in a few that I don't think I would have noticed otherwise.  We picked a bunch of apples and each selected one to each as our lunch.  We bought apple cider, candied apples and a few pieces of fudge.  It was such a perfectly pleasant day! 

      Once home the boys all put away their laundry and whatever they had brought in the car with them.  They cleaned house and the older two boys read books for at least 15 minutes.  Alec finished up his two books he's been reading and Ian shared some jokes he came across in his weird school books.  They all headed outside to play in the sunshine and I sat down to get some computer work done when Evan came in all excited telling me to grab my camera and come see what they had found.  We had a baby Gardner snake on our driveway.  We stood watching it for a while, how it moved, how it tried to expand it's body and make itself look bigger and how it's tongue moved in and out constantly.   Ian was too busy digging in his new dig site to come see the snake but asked his brothers all about it; what kind of snake was it? How big was it? Etc.

    As the boys got tired and bored with being outside they eventually found other things to do.  Ian came in to play Memory by himself.  He really wanted me to play a game with him but I was having a party at my house later in the evening and really needed to start getting ready for it; especially since my husband had called around lunch and told me he wasn't going to be home anywhere near on time tonight and I would have to keep an eye on the boys while playing hostess.  Ian decided he was going to lay all the memory cards on the table and time himself to see how long it took him to find all the matches.  I thought that sounded like a great idea!   Alec must have thought so too since I found him sitting at the table later in the day doing the same thing.
    Alec collected a few bags of acorns outside and told me he could hear them all dropping to the ground out of the trees.  When he went to see what was making that sound and found acorns he decided to fill up his pockets and see how many he could fit.  I have no idea what he plans to do with the acorns but he's always had this fascination with them.  I can remember him coming home with his coat pockets filled with them in preschool and we even have a small tree growing near our playscape form some acorns he planted when he was really little.  He definitely seems to have a green thumb though I have no idea where he inherited that from. 
    We read another chapter in Harry Potter while the boys ate dinner and did their chores.  Looking back over our day I can't help but  marvel at all that we were able to accomplish; math, science, reading galore, and a field trip or two to boot.  It was one of those idyllic days where no one drove me nutty and everything seemed to run pretty smoothly. 

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