Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Squeezing in Schoolwork

   The boys were great about turning off their screens and getting their chores done this morning.  Sure they grumbled a bit but no one complained or carried on to the point where I felt like I might need to raise my voice.  They turned off the screens quickly too as soon as I asked so I told them if they can continue to do that they can continue to have screens for a bit of the morning even on a school day.  This is a HUGE change for me and I'm hoping it will go well.  It gives them all time to wake slowly and it gives me time to exercise and get myself ready and organized for the day.  They all vacuumed their own rooms today while I vacuumed the rest of the house.  Normally, I would have saved more for them to do but we had to be out of the house pretty early and I wanted to them to focus a bit more on getting themselves ready. 
    Once we were all ready to go I asked Ian and Evan to bring their math workbooks in the car and complete any two pages.  I didn't want Alec to work in his math book since he did an extra 3 pages last time and is pretty far ahead of his brothers.  He did have a chapter book that was due back at the library today and so I told him he should work on finishing that up.  It was a pretty quiet car ride but about half- way to karate they put aside what they were working on and asked to listen to our book on CD.  Ian worked on place value to the millionths and Evan worked on adding one more and subtracting one less in his Star Wars math book. 
     Karate class seemed to go well.  I can tell my younger two still don't love it but they participated, tried hard, and were very polite so I was very pleased.  They seem to be catching on pretty quickly to the small nuances that make this class so different from their old classes.  I just hope they give it enough time to adjust and really make sure whether they like the class or not. 
    After karate we went right to the library.   Alec read a bit more of his chapter book; Five, Six, Seven, Nate and Ian worked on his final math page.  He's a very nervous and contentious student so he likes to check with me over every answer.  In the past, I've tried to encourage him to just do it all on his own and then I'd correct it when he finished but today I tried a new approach and basically held his hand through the whole lesson.  His second page worked with circling the multiples of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12.  I just walked him through the multiplication facts for each number asking what's 6x2, 6x3, 6x4, etc. all the way through them all.  He still came up with all the answers and figured out the answers to those problems he couldn't remember but he wasn't asking "is this right?" every 5 seconds.  While I chafe at leading him through everything I couldn't help but remark at how well the lesson went!  Perhaps I'm expecting him to do more than he's comfortable doing on his own & should treat more of our lessons this way.  It sure was nice to see him not getting all worked up over his schoolwork.   
    Alec had not yet finished his book by the time we arrived at the library.  He only had about 10 pages left though and since Ian needed to pick out enough books for his weekly reading I encouraged him to sit at a table and get comfy reading.  I told him I was sure he'd finish by the time we had to leave.  I handed Evan a stack of books that he had due back today and, since we never got a chance to look at any of them, I asked him to look through them and see which ones he'd like to check in and check back out again.  With the younger two occupied, I helped Ian find some books in the library.  He was very excited to find books on ice fishing, deer hunting, freshwater fishing, bow hunting, duck hunting, and more.  We had a pretty good sized stack of books picked out and he seemed quite excited about them all.  I was happy to see several non- fiction books among his choices too.  Alec still was not yet done reading and the boys were trying desperately to keep me away from the shelves (since I tend to find even more books for them all!) and so I offered to sit with Evan and read a book.
   We snugged up together in a chair, not near Alec, and Evan read a book to me!  It was called Quick as a Cricket & he did AMAZING!  I was so proud of him.   He quickly figured out the pattern in the pages and sounded out the words he didn't know.  He made great guessed based on the starting sounds and the pictures.  He picked up a new bookmark while we were at the library and asked me "does this say spark?"  "Yes, it does say spark!  How did you know that?" I answered.  "Well, it started with S and it has pictures of sparks on it so I thought that was probably what it said." He replied.   I, once again told him that we call that reading.  He still insists it's not! 
    We listened to our book on CD on the ride home and once home I had all the boys change out of their karate uniforms and make their own lunch.  I guess it's been awhile since they all made their own lunch because Ian thought this was a huge deal and was so upset he had to make his own sandwich that I had to send him to his room to calm down.  Alec told me he wasn't hungry enough for lunch and wanted to finish working on  his flora and fauna bracelet.  Within minutes he was in tears.  He was mostly done the bracelet and looping the final few bands together when one of them snapped.  Normally, I would remind him that it's not a big deal but this time I knew it was.  This was a seriously complicated bracelet that he'd been working on for days.  I helped him take part of it apart and told him we'd rewind the video and tackle it together AFTER taking a small break and having some lunch. 
    Alec and I took turns reading the next two chapters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during lunch and Ian remembered our lesson from the other day.  He was about to complain about Alec's reading when I just raised my eyebrows at him and he quickly shut his mouth and smiled.  Alec is a great reader and is working hard to read out loud at a speed that we can all understand.  He reads so fast that when he reads out loud it's often muffled together.  He also reads with such expression that when the person in the story is whispering he's so quiet we often can't hear what he's saying.  In just a few days of reading out loud he's showing lot of improvement and he's always eager to offer to read.  I relish taking a break now and then and encourage him to read aloud whenever he feels like it. 
    After lunch I helped Alec finish up his loom bracelet.  Luckily going step by step through the video we were able to quickly fix the broken band.  We did notice another band that snapped too but were able to knot it back together without anyone else knowing or noticing.  It's an amazing bracelet and I can't help marvel at his patience in making something so complex.  I'm so happy it held together and nothing else broke.  We worked side by side so that as he pulled bands through I pushed them away from the pegs to minimize the pressure on them.  Typically he doesn't have any problems with bands at all but after two snapped elastics he was extra nervous that he was never going to be able to finish.
This is how far he got and then the bands snapped

The finished bracelet-- such pretty flowers!

bracelet shown for the side-- so many bands!

    Evan started on a fishtail bracelet as the first part of his frozen bracelet and while he really hinted that he wanted me to do it for him I just kept talking him through the steps.  He got a small portion done and told me he wanted to save it for another day. I told him there was no time limit and he could take as long as he wanted to make bracelets. 
    The boys were all set to go on a jet ski ride with their grandmother when a thunderstorm rolled through the area.  My mother in law was going to leave and go back to her house but promised to come back for rides later when the storm passed.  Next thing I knew I had the whole house to myself as all three boys hopped in her truck along with their Kindles and DS games and went to go hang out at her house for the afternoon.  They came back when the weather cleared and went for a jet ski ride or two.  Alec got to see an osprey!  We're seeing such unusual birds at our lake this year and I'm just loving the extra interest it creates in science. 
   Not too shabby for a day I figured we'd get nothing done but karate! 

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