Monday, November 17, 2014

Sorry! And Other Games

   We started our day with some housework.  Ian had slept over my mother in law's house last night and the younger two boys didn't want to do anything until he came home so that it would be "fair."  I was fine with that since I spent the time waiting for him to come home cleaning through all the cabinets and pulling out old sheet sets, blankets, towels, and pillows.  I've been reading a lot of organizational blogs and I was motivated to start cleaning up those areas of the house I never seem to think of.  Really, why do we need 25 beach towels?!  We don't and so I went through and counted out 10 of our favorites and bagged up the rest.  Once I got started the job just kind of snowballed and next thing I knew we had a good 8 or 9 bags of stuff to donate.  By the time I ended, Ian was home and we set to work vacuuming all the rugs and cleaning all the bathroom counters and sinks. 
   As we finished cleaning we got started on our schoolwork.  I didn't have anything planned but wanted to at least work on some reading and math with the boys.  Alec read two more chapter books over the weekend.  He started another new series called the Dragonet series and he read both of the first two books over the weekend.  These were very long books and he had his nose buried in the text most of he weekend.  He's all out of chapter books and waiting for more to come in from the library so I didn't make him read as part of his schoolwork today.  Ian, however, hadn't read since Friday and so he spent part of his morning reading another chapter in the My Weirder School book that he's reading.  Evan and I read Happy Pig Day! together.  He did amazingly well today.  I don't think I helped him with more than five words in the whole book.  Evan then left to go play Word Monkey on the kindle and get some practice in with phonics and sight words. 
    At some point this morning Evan and I played addition war.  We each flipped over two cards, added them up and the one with the highest sum won.  I had taken out all the face cards and showed Evan an example of how we play.  He just took off after that.  Many times he didn't even add up his sums but would say I won because we both have 7's and I have a 9 but you have a 5 so I have more.  He quickly saw the pattern when adding with 10's and knew that 10 + 5 would be fifteen before adding it up.  It was fun and great practice adding on with sums up to 20.  Alec had wanted to play with us but Evan didn't want him to so I offered to play fraction war with Alec as soon as I was done with Evan. 
Fraction war-- comparing 2/4 with 3/8
9+1 and 8+2; that means --War! 

     Alec and I also flipped two cards over but put the smaller number on top of the larger number to make a fraction.  The one with the larger fraction won.  The only time we deviated from our rule was Alec flipped over an ace and told me he'd rather place it under the card and make a whole number that would beat any fraction and I agreed with that.  If we could reduce fractions, we did.  We compared denominators first and then how many pieces secondly.  He showed great understanding of fractions and often could tell me right away who's was larger and why.  It was fun and when we were done and I offered to play with Ian, Alec wanted to play again.  Ian didn't want to play with Alec though and so I sent him to his room to practice his flash cards while Ian and I played.  Ian struggled a bit more with the concept of comparing fractions and I think it took him a good half- way through he game before he was really seeming to catch on.   We all really enjoyed this game though and I hope we'll definitely play again.  It was such a fun and engaging way to learn about fractions and compare them.  Alec got 12 of the 16 problems right on his math minute today and was really happy with his first attempt at this test.
    Since I didn't have a plan for our day following their lead found us playing a lot of games today.  We all sat and played Sorry! Sliders.  It was a very lively game and we played two different rounds.  We enjoy this game and like that with four different game modes to choose from there's a lot of variety.  We, of course, use any and all games to teach good sportsmanship, honesty, and manners.  When we were done a few rounds Ian wanted to go play with his trucks and the other two asked me to play regular Sorry!  We had lots of fun and giggles and Alec told me it was math too since they were counting and subtracting (when determining how many squares they had left to get home). 

   My husband has been playing devil's advocate lately since the boys and I have gotten really great at making learning experiences out of everything.  We were watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman this weekend and were talking about what a fun history lesson the movie made (after talking about last week's math lesson of Clue).  The boys also pointed out that they learned quite a bit about forest fires and the important role planes play when watching Planes Fire and Rescue this weekend.  My husband scoffed and told me that by my definitions of learning we could call loading the dishwasher learning.  I said absolutely!  I'd be teaching them life skills, cleaning, organization (and as I was coming up with more lessons) he went on to add why don't we just say it's geometry when trying to fit all the shapes in and seeing angles, we can say it's science if we think about how it cleans the dishes, and... I don't know.. we threw a few other "lessons" in there as well.  I agreed with it all.  My husband laughed but I argued that it was all true.  Learning is all around us, in everything we do and that's why we have such sayings as "you learn something new every day" because you really do!  Not every lesson is as big and important as others but they're all there.  I still argue that movies like Mr. Peabody and Sherman & Planes Fire and Rescue are great educational films.  We "met" famous characters like Ben Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci,  and Bill Clinton.  We saw the Trojan horse (which Alec knew all about and was happy to tell us the story), learned a small bit about the French revolution and how it was followed by the reign of terror.  We learned about down drafts, how fires spread, ground crews and the dangers of their jobs, and the importance of communication.  The movies were fun and engaging and while I would never say we completely covered each and every one of those topics just by watching a movie, I do believe that all the little lessons and exposures over time really add up to meaningful learning.  Every time my boys hear about, see, or learn something about Leonardo Da Vinci they're making important connections and each connection makes that learning a bit more embedded in their brains.  My husband gets that, he just likes to tease us about it from time to time.  Mostly I think he's jealous that he can't hang out with us having all this fun most days. 
   We cleaned up and had some lunch.  I read another chapter in Harry Potter to the boys and then we got ready to head out to the library.  We had some books come in over the weekend and Evan, who has taken to playing Lego Lord of the Rings on the Wii & has started re-watching the movies, asked if he could check out the book to read.  I know it's way above his own reading level, but if he's interested and willing to sit and listen I'll surely read it to him! 
  On the way home from the library we stopped to get some wood glue for a project Ian's working on.  We listened to our book on cd in the car; The Dragon- Rider.  The boys are really enjoying the story and have a lot of fun listening to it.  Once home Ian set to work on assembling his wooden model plane.  He read the instructions and put the plane together on his own.  He had to stop so all the glue could dry and started planning out what kind of paint job he'd like to put on it once it's dry. 

   Alec spent a portion of his day drawing with his markers and paper and making up pictures. I offered to help him set up all the paints and things to finish up his peacock drawing but he didn't feel like it today so I let him be.  I know what it's like to not feel artsy or crafty some days and certainly wouldn't want anyone to make me sit and create anyway. 
   They spent the rest of the dark, rainy day watching a few Magic School Bus movies.  We learned about outer space, rot, and digestion.  We watched The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space, The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad, and The Magic School Bus for Lunch.  That's a whole lot of science in one afternoon. 

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