Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Signs of Spring In Our Homeschol

Knowing we were all going to be tired today, I decided to relax a bit and let the kids set our pace in homeschooling today.

Spring is right around the corner and I find that there are definite signs of spring that crop up in our homeschool as well.

With more sunshine and slightly warmer days our schoolwork tends to include a lot more time to just play and explore.

  • As spring approaches our school load lightens
  • We find ways to spend more time in nature
  • We're more laid back and can see the end of our workbooks approaching
  • I let the kids lead more and more in what they want to learn about
  • We do less book work and more hands on learning

I haven't been sleeping well lately and I was up, wide awake, well past midnight.  I was up by 6 this morning and even though the younger two boys had a sleepover in Alec's room last night, they too, were up early.  I had let the boys stay up a bit later than usual last night since they were reading (Alec read a chapter in their Minecraft book to Evan and then Evan read Biscuit's First Sleepover to Alec!).  I knew we'd all be a little tired today and I didn't have a single thing planned for the boys for school today.

I figured we'd just play it by ear and see what happened.

Our day started with Ian offering to make waffles for everyone.  Alec and Evan helped set the table and put away all the ingredients as Ian finished up with them.  Ian decided to make a double batch in the hopes that we'd have plenty left to put in the freezer for another day.  He's made them so many times now that he doesn't even ask me questions anymore; though he did comment that if he did a triple batch we'd need 7 cups of milk and flour and 1 1/2 cups of oil so I guess he was working on some math concepts while reading and following the recipe. (Math and Life skills)

Read Aloud & Language arts:
While the boys ate breakfast, I read another chapter in Harry Potter.  The boys had started re-watching The Deathly Hallows part I last night during dinner and have been making non- stop comparisons between the book and the movie.

They each also filled in A Hogwarts Story from Lesson Plan of Happiness' website.

We found a few sorting hat activities on-line and I gave them each a chance to see which house they'd be sorted into.  We used Pottermore, The Guardian, & The Almighty Guru . Alec ended up in Ravenclaw being sighted as a "brainiac" while Evan and Ian were in Hufflepuff; trustworthy & loyal.  I think they were all a bit disappointed not to end up in Gryffindor.

To finish up our Harry Potter stuff today the two older boys also worked on a fun color by number picture (also found on Lesson Plan of Happiness' site) of Harry and Hedwig.

We moved onto math and each boy worked on two pages in their math books.  Alec worked with multiplying a two digit number by a one digit number and adding fractions with unlike denominators.  Evan worked with subtracting two digit numbers without regrouping.  Ian worked with changing measurements in various combinations and also with multiplying fractions.

It was slow and painful going today.

But even though they all took their own sweet time I was impressed with their work.

Evan often subtracted the two 2-digit numbers in his head and just gave me the new number it should be rather than subtracting the one's column and then the ten's column.  Ian, though grumbling and crying most of the time got all the answers correct when multiplying fractions-- a skill he keeps trying to avoid learning.  I hate when they get frustrated with math and don't have conifdence in their ability.   All I can do is encourage them to keep trying and remind them of how well they do.

Sight Words & Self- Guided Reading:
I had spent some time yesterday afternoon replacing many of the cups in Evan's Reading Power Towers.  I used the sight word lists that Evan had gone though with the highlighters and only added those words that he still needed to work on.  We worked through the list together and he did well reading and had fun stacking the cups.

When we were done Evan than read Biscuit's First Beach Day.  It was great that I was able to apply so many of the sight words and reading strategies that we were working on with the reading of the story.   We've been talking about phonics rules, rhyming words that are spelled the same way, -ed & -ing endings, and more.  He's getting better at applying them to his actual reading too.

He often reads better when the words are put in the context of a story anyway and struggled more with remembering words when they're by themselves.  I've also noticed that he never ever reads any of the contractions we come across in the story but reads them as the original two words that the contraction would stand for (it's always "it is" and never "it's; or "we are" in place of "we're"; even with repeated corrections from me he reads it out).  I've decided to let it go for now and I'm happy that he just seems to know what all the contractions mean.  I figure in time he'll correct this on his own.
His cups all read and stacked up
The older two boys read a bit today as well.  We had an orthodontic check up with Alec and they brought books and schoolwork to work on in the car.  We also listened to some more of our new book on CD-- The Red Pyramid.  It's by the same author as the Percy Jackson series and we thought we'd give it a try.  We've only just started it so we're not entirely sure we'll like it just yet but it's interesting all the same.  It doesn't hurt that the main character has been homeschooled his whole life. It always gives us a little thrill when we learn that a character is homeschooled.

Seeing Signs of Spring!

 We were overjoyed to see some signs of spring on our way into the orthodontist's office.  We could see new growth and buds in the flower beds and most of the snow has melted.

We toyed with the idea of heading out for a nature walk later in the day.

Alec had a wonderful check up, once we signed in.  The other two boys waited nicely in the waiting room; Ian included (without panicking).  We made a follow up appointment and headed home.

We found some signs of spring in our gardens too; though most of them are still buried under snow.  I noticed several bushes and shrubs had broken branches and large sections missing due to the weight of the snow we had this winter.  But we did find some greenery poking up out of the ground here and there so that was promising.

I offered to set up a quick science activity for the boys. 

 Using the book Constellations for Every Kid  we filled up a bowl of water, added a mirror and watched the reflection.  We were learning about why stars twinkle in the night sky.  The boys noticed the reflection hardly moved when the water was still but twinkled and bounced when we made ripples in the water.

We talked about all the dust particles, debris, and densities of air/ space that the light has to travel through.  The boys then had fun experimenting with adding drops of food coloring to the bowl and watching the way the colors mixed and reflected off the ceiling of our deck.  They eventually ended up with a color so dark we couldn't see any reflection at all!

They tried adding snow to dilute the colors but it actually blocked out even more of the sun. We poured out the water and Alec refilled the bowl using the lake water. They added more colors and played until they had a muddy brown color.
adding colors to the bowl 

our colorful reflections 

adding snow 

Finally, some signs of spring we can get excited about!

It was so nice to just be outside and school naturally turned to play. 

 By then their attentions had waned and they went off to play.  Ian brought out his mini hatchet and started cutting a path through our woods while the younger two boys played a made up game.  They pretended the sand was quicksand and they had to rescue one another before they sunk all the way.

They were all over the beach and they found something hidden under the snow that they couldn't identify.  After finding a few sticks and flipping it over and over, poking at it and thinking about what it could possibly be we finally realized it was a very old hot dog bun that had started to rot and mold. We saw at least three different types of mold growing on it.  Gross, but very sciency!
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