Monday, March 2, 2015

When Plans Don't Go As Planned

  I spent a few minutes before bed last night pulling out some schoolwork for today.  I  had a loose plan set up for which subjects we'd be trying to cover and how I hoped our day would go.  I've been at this long enough to know that things don't always go as planned.  I assumed today would be one of those days.  It had snowed again, and Ian ended up heading out this morning to plow and shovel.  I was trying to get a vet appointment for our cat and as I looked at my piles and realized we'd be lucky to get any schoolwork done at all today.  I figured we'd just take the day as it came and hope for the best.  Imagine my surprise when we finished it all and a few extra things too!
    Ian sat with me after he ate breakfast and got all ready for the day.  I had asked him to pick a bit of schoolwork to work with until it was time for him to leave.  He had 20 minutes or so and we managed to complete a Mad Lib for some fun English practice.  I asked him for nouns, adjectives, and verbs to complete the story and then I read the story out loud to him.  He also worked on Khan Academy for a bit.  I offered to drop him down to third grade today for some easy math review fun and he was eager to work again.  I told him I'd like to see him equally working between third, fourth, and fifth grade so he can alternate between challenging himself and building confidence in his skills.  He ended up completing 30% of 3rd grade today in just the 15 or so minutes he was working on it so we might need to come up with a new plan soon.  Just as he finished up his last problem he heard his grandfather pull up in the plow truck and he left.
   The younger boys came down, ate breakfast, and then headed back upstairs to get ready for the day.  I asked them to please get some schoolwork done too, still not knowing if we'd be heading out to the vet's office or not.  Evan asked to use the computer to do math.  I sat with him and read when he needed me to (though I noticed he's getting used to the format and answering some questions on his own).  Alec was curled up on the couch reading his new Warriors book.  He had started (and finished) a new chapter book over the weekend and so he's back on another reading kick.  He didn't want to put his book down to complete any other work this morning and I let him be for as long as Evan wanted my help.  After Evan finished Khan Academy he asked me to help him in his math book.  We worked on a page that dealt with odd and even numbers.  I showed him how he could complete the next page on his own tomorrow.  He then asked if we could do some Mad Libs too.  I had left the book lying around once Ian had left and Evan loves Mad Libs.  He told me all the nouns, adjectives, and verbs and then we read the stories together.  We ended up completing a few different ones.
    Our Mad Libs enticed Alec away from his book and he asked if he could do some Mad Libs too.  He wanted me to write while he told me what to fill in the blanks.  We completed two or three stories and all of us were laughing pretty uproariously over some of the wacky stories we had made.  While Alec was telling me what to fill in the blanks, Evan sat nearby and completed a page in his reading book; adding s- blends to the beginning of words.  He hardly needed any help at all and even somehow knew that skull was sk- while scarf was sc-!  By the time we were finished with English, Ian had come home.  He asked if we could read some books about World War II.  Since his brothers were still working on their schoolwork he first completed two more pages in his math workbook on measurement; without being asked!  I had actually put his book away assuming he was done with math for today.  It's so great to see my boys willing to work and learn.
   Once everyone was completed their work we settled in the living room and I read aloud.  We read another chapter in Danger in the Darkest Hour and The Yellow Star; The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark.  What another great book we have found dealing with World War II!  The boys loved this story and early on predicted that their King would wear a star too and help save the Danes.  I'm so glad that we've been able to find such wonderful stories of help and courage in such a dark time in our world history.
   After history, I asked Ian to go read.  He chose to read another book about bulldozers for his report.  Evan and I sat and read Biscuit Plays Ball.  Alec was working on Khan Academy and though he needed a bit of help understanding what the questions meant and were asking him to do he completed grade three today.  There's a cute animated party with confetti to congratulate him on completing the work.  We then pulled up year 4 and he was surprised to find that he's already 20% done year four too!  He did ask to stop for the day.  I agreed and found Alec listening while Evan and I sat to read Halmoni's Day as another book for his South Korea report.  We enjoyed this book and both boys perked up tremendously when they heard the girl in the story saying hello to her grandmother in Korean.  They used to say "Anyeonhasayo" to all of their karate teachers at their old school and they immediately recognized the words.
    It wasn't even lunch time and I was marveling over the fact that all three boys had finished math (most of them using both the computer and their workbooks today), reading, English, history, and some work for their geography/history reports.  I had been promising them for a while now that we'd make snow volcanoes and they reminded me over the weekend that we had not yet done that.  I offered to go outside with them and make some snowcanoes as we called them.  We donned our winter gear and I packed up a plastic bag of baking soda and a squirt bottle of white vinegar that we turned red using some food coloring.  We were bummed to find that our partially melted snowman (that just happened to be the perfect size and shape for a volcano) was completely frozen solid.  We tried for several minutes to make a well in the center but soon gave up and decided to try one of the huge snowplow piles by the side of the driveway.  We got lots of foaming "lava" but our hole was so deep and large that it didn't foam over the sides.  They begged to try again so Alec and I went to get more supplies while Ian and Evan made a new volcano with a much smaller crater in the center.  We again made a huge foaming lava pit but found that we just could not get it to flow down the sides.  They didn't care and thought it was still pretty cool.  They then destroyed both volcanoes and had the walls cave in under the pressure of the explosion.  They stomped on them and tracked red "lava" around the hill claiming it was blood and bodies.  I guess they enjoyed our science experiment; even though they knew exactly what would happen they never tire of baking soda and vinegar explosions!
adding the baking soda to our cavern 

squirting in the red vinegar 

It bubbled and foamed 

Our second attempt was still flat but they thought it was great anyway 
    We came in and warmed up.  We made some lunch and settled down to listen to another chapter in Harry Potter.  Evan predicted Dumbledore would die and when both his brothers started harping on him that he was wrong I suggested we read.  We read the whole chapter without any interruptions.  We've only got a few chapters left to go and the story is quite gripping.  The boys were amazed that Evan was right and talked about how they remember that scene playing out in the movie.  We quickly cleaned up and loaded into the car.
   We listened to our book on CD on the way to a yoga class.  I convinced the boys to give it a try (mostly because I wanted to try it out) and I thought it would be good for them to learn some new physical education techniques.  We're always looking for new things to try together.   We found that the homeschool yoga class was wonderful.  The boys knew the other two families that were trying out the class too since those boys go to karate with them.  They had fun.  Ian discovered he was more flexible than he had first thought.  The class was designed with kids in mind so there was plenty of movement and animal poses.  They did some fun breathing exercises and visualization techniques.  They had hemmed and hawed about going but we were all surprised when our 45 minutes were up.  The class flew by!  Alec asked if he could bring his stuffed animal to class next time just to share the quiet blanket time at the end with him.  I don't think it's something we'd want to do every week but it sure was fun and a great way to get out and get moving in the winter.
    We ran a few errands after class and the boys enjoyed our story Inkheart.  We keep waiting for the main character to discover the book and we're a bit befuddled now since it appears her father ran off with "the" book.  We're not sure if we have to be patient and wait until he comes back or if her father has only appeared to have run off with the book at this point.  We're enjoying the story all the same and were a bit reluctant to get out of the car once we arrived home.  We know we're just about at the end of this disk.
    After we arrived home the boys scattered to their rooms.  We pulled up our library accounts page and found that most of the movies they rented from our library are due back in two days time so they're trying to watch them all.  I'm not sure they'll succeed but with cold, windy, bitter winter days there isn't a whole lot of other options in the afternoon anyway.  I certainly couldn't fault them having lots of fun after all the work they did today anyway.  We were happily learning the whole day and it just flew right by!

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