Monday, February 23, 2015

Flying Through the Work

I just love days where everything seem to click!

I don't know why Monday's always seem to be filled with schoolwork.  

I'm not sure if I'm trying to overcompensate for our lazy weekends or if it's just because Mondays tend to be quiet days at home and we have more time for school.

 I do know it sure seems to work!



We got so much done today and I was floored by how much the kids WANTED to work and learn today.  

I often hear of homeschoolers telling me their kids love their workbooks or want to go on in a subject and normally I'm sitting there thinking" I forced them to finish one worksheet today", but today I could honestly say they were all engaged and fairly willing  to work.

We've fallen into a morning routine that works really well for us.

I exercised while the boys slowly woke.  Evan went right to playing the Wii U for a bit while Ian and Alec decided to stay in bed and watch movies.  Evan soon joined Alec and all was quiet.  I was able to get new words typed into Spelling City, pull out some things I wanted to cover, and get school all set up.  I also got to clean my bathroom, shower, eat and get ready for the day.  It was only 8:30 when I called the boys to come eat and they all willingly turned off whatever they were watching and came right down.

I worked with Ian and Evan to fill in their daily conversation journal. We ate breakfast together and talked about our day.

We don't start our day off with schoolwork anymore but get our chores out of the way first thing.

We finished eating and I asked each of the boys to pick a bathroom to clean.  They grumbled a bit but when I told them there were no dibs and it was first come first served they moved quickly.  Each getting dressed and ready quickly and claiming their bathroom.  It's been awhile since I had the boys help; too long apparently since they all seemed to forget how to do a thorough job.  I found myself being called from bathroom to bathroom to help and check on progress and my hopes of finishing a scrapbook page while they worked was soon gone.  It was stressful and I was getting annoyed but I kept thinking that one day they'll be able to do these jobs on their own.  I know it pays to put in the time now so I'll have more time later.

I was pleased to see them  becoming more independent in their schoolwork today too! 

For some reason my boys tend to enjoy starting their day with math so that's what they all did.

 As soon as Ian was done cleaning he hopped on Khan Academy.  He needed a bit of help now and then but I did see him working hard on his own and even watching the videos when he needed help BEFORE asking for help.  This was huge!  I did allow him to use a calculator for part of his assignment since he completed a few of the equations on his own before using the calculator and because I can't imagine a time in his life when he'll need to know some of this stuff off the top of his head without the help of a calculator anyway!

While Ian was working on his math on one computer, Alec settled on the other computer for his math.

I was working at the table with Evan on a workbook page dealing with writing the numbers for the words they had spelled out on the page.  I was constantly called from one computer to the next and then sitting to help Evan and back up again.  I was feeling pulled in all directions at once which was very trying after feeling the same way while they had been cleaning.

Alec had the most difficulty and even had a few tears but insists he loves Khan Academy and I'd say he spent the most time working with it today.

Evan did a short bit on Khan too while Ian worked in his workbook and completed a page on rounding measurements to the nearest inch using the 1/2 in. mark on the ruler.  Later in the day (after lunch) Alec quickly completed a page on grids and patterns in his workbook.  I had pulled up Khan Academy to check on all the boys' progress and I had wanted to try and add 4th grade skills to Alec's page.  He was sitting next to me and asked if he could just work on completing third grade.  In other words he didn't want 4th grade added to his page.  I shrugged and said sure.  I then pointed out to him that he's 56% of the way through 3rd grade anyway and we've only been working on it for a little less than a week!  He looked stunned.  I was too when I put it that way!

Even the other two boys are 15-20% of the way through their grade level goals so if we keep up the pace they'll be done in like a month or two.  Seems uncanny that we can fly through this stuff so fast.  I guess they really have been learning a lot these past few years!

All three boys spent some time writing, spelling and working on phonics today too.  

I got all three boys to write in their journal.  For now, we've decided they have to write one sentence per grade level that they're in.

Evan wrote one sentence but since he's still intimidated by writing he asked me to write it first and then he copied by sentence.  Ian wrote 5 sentences on why he should get an Xbox for his birthday and Alec wrote 4 sentences on why he should be the one to won the black Kindle.

Ian also completed a page in his spelling workbook today and participated in an oral quiz of last week's words.

Alec played Hang Mouse on Spelling City using last weeks words and then took an oral quiz also.  He'll move onto a new set of words tomorrow.

Evan used our alphabet letters to create word family words.  We made up 5 different -at words and 5 different -ed words together.  If anyone had told me a year ago they'd write without tantrums and tears, without copy work, and complaining I don't think I would have believed them.

A fun way to write without writing!
All the boys moved onto reading when their other schoolwork was done. 

Ian read Skippyjon Jones Snow What for reading this morning.  He didn't want to walk back upstairs to his room for a different book and he informed me that he read all the truck and bulldozer books we've checked out of the library for his history report already.  All of them!

Evan read Biscuit Loves the Library  and then asked me to read him another chapter in his Minecraft book.  We have one last chapter and he's excited about finishing it up tonight.

I also read aloud to the boys a lot today.

While they were cooking pita chips, hot dogs and whatever else they wanted for lunch (without help!!) they listened to me read Bambino and Mr. Twain.  We loved this book and it reminded us of our visit to their house in Hartford and all we learned while there.  This book takes place later on in life after Mr. Clemens' wife Livy died.  The boys were enthralled with the cat.  During lunch I read the rest of our chapter in Harry Potter.
     
I then told the boys I wanted to read them another book later and that we'll be starting a unit on World War II.  I explained that it's a war that has always fascinated me and explained about Hitler, the Nazi's invasions, the plight of the Jewish people, and the tragedies of war.  We had a much longer discussion than I anticipated and all three boys were very interested, asking questions, making predictions about the books we'd be reading.

Throughout our talk I was emptying the dishwasher and Alec was making vanilla milkshakes in the blender for everyone.  When we were both done our jobs and all the boys were sitting at the table, our discussion was still going.  I shrugged my shoulders and offered to read the book to them that I had picked out for our introduction today.

The boys were enraptured by the book Irena's Jars of Secrets.   It's about a  Polish catholic named Irena who helped smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto before they were sent off to extermination camps.  She helped save around 2,500 children.  She was captured and sentenced to death but managed to escape and go into hiding herself.

It was a compelling story and the boys had a lot of questions, thoughts, and ideas throughout that they were eager to share.  Being children themselves they imagined how scared they would be to leave their families and go live with strangers.  I think I've got them hooked on this topic.  We've got a lot of great books picked out to read and I want to finish up our study with a viewing of one of my favorite movies-- The Sound of Music.

Once all the schoolwork was done we had plenty of time to play! 

 Ian and Alec wanted to continue our Monopoly game.

Poor Ian was down to just a few dollars and only two properties so he knew the end was coming near. He finally decided he'd rather go finish watching Ax Men and Alaska the Last Frontier than continue subjecting himself to the slow torture of trying to make it around the board one last time.   Within an hour I owned every $500 bill in the game and Alec was mortgaged up to his ears.  He held in valiantly and refused to cave in to the inevitable.  I owned all but the railroads and the set of three green properties.  I have multiple houses and hotels on everything.

 I have never won Monopoly and I sometimes wonder if it's because I am the mom.

I feel bad seeing them struggle to get around the board.

I feel awful when they look teary eyed wondering what else they can do to hang on and not loose the game.

But I also feel strongly that someone who always wins will never become a gracious loser.

I didn't plan to win; in fact I started the game with three properties and the other two owned everything.

The throw of the dice, the chance landings, and the random chance and community chest cards are not something I can control and I like to see that even when the game isn't going their way they don't give up until the very end.

 
I had no sooner finished playing Monopoly with Alec (who wanted to take a break as the tides had most definitely turned on him) and finished up a few things around the house, including this blog, when it was time to start dinner.

Our learning day continues long after our school day ends. 

Evan cooked hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and french fries for us all last night and tonight Alec is making us all homemade pizzas with salad.  It's fun watching them work in the kitchen and seeing them gain new skills.  Alec actually gets mad when I demonstrate skills instead of walking him through them.

He'd much rather take over in the kitchen and learn by doing rather than watching me or just helping.
I have to remind myself to back off and let him have his way more often.   He knows best how he learns.


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