Saturday, February 28, 2015

Learning about Birds Through Observation

We were heading out this morning and manged to find quite a lot of birds to observe.



While driving we saw a hawk fly over our car and land in a big tree near the edge of the road.  It was across the street from the parking lot so all the boys got to see it sitting up in the tree.  The light brown feathers really worked like camouflage for the bird and we were all a bit awed at the size.

The yard next door had many bright red cardinals and some big blue jays too.

We were having fun watching the birds then I spotted the bald eagle sitting in a tree along the water's edge!  We pulled into the driveway and were able to park the car so all the boys got to see the eagle sitting in the tree.


Seeing the bald eagle brought up the topic of predators and prey.  Alec was happy to teach us all everything he has learned about birds.
  • The size of female and male birds of prey.  Ian assumed since this was the smaller of the two bald eagles spotted lately that it must be the female but Alec told him that the males are smaller in all birds of prey species.  
  • We talked about why that would be when most other animals have larger males and smaller females.  
  • We talked about the diet of the bald eagle, predators to the birds themselves, their eggs and their hatch-lings.  
  • We talked about when the eggs are laid and when the babies hatch.  
  • The boys even reminded us that Ben Franklin had not wanted the eagle as the nation's bird and why.  He had wanted the turkey to which my husband replied "It's a good thing they weren't our nation's bird; they're so tasty!"  
It was a great and spontaneous science lesson held right there in the car while driving.
   
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Self- Directed and Teacher- Directed Learning Mesh

We had a quick morning of work today.  I  had a dentist appointment this morning and my mom was coming to watch the boys so I wouldn't have to drag them with me.  I told them they only had to do math and reading for today but they surprised me by choosing to do even more!
   

Our days are often a mix of traditional teaching methods where I teach and guide lessons and a mix of delight directed learning where the boys choose what else we are learning about. 

Math-- Each of the boys took their 20 minute turn on Khan Academy.  Ian is starting to hate it since the deeper he gets into 4th/5th grade math the harder it gets.  He then pulled out his math book and completed a page drawing lines to specific measurements; I'm thinking we might just turn to book work altogether.

Evan had worked in his Star Wars book and completed a page on counting by 10's up to 250.  He needed a bit of help but did a good job.  He also worked on Khan Academy for a bit and was thrilled to earn tons of mastery points and level up in 15 different skills.


 Alec worked on a workbook page putting numbers with decimals in order from least to greatest.  When it was his turn on the computer Alec leveled up in 36 skills and is now 90% of the way through 3rd grade level math-- in a WEEK!

Reading-- Ian read It's Christmas, David!  He has several books started up in his room that he's been reading at night but he didn't want to go upstairs and instead picked a picture book at random off of our bookshelf to read.  Evan read Biscuit takes a walk.

Geography-- Ian and Alec played The Scrambled States of America game.  Alec announced that they might be loud but they were learning.  They told me they were working on their geography skills (yep, they chose to do this on their own just for fun!).


Science-- Evan and I dumped out yesterday's colored, super absorbent, crystals onto a plate. According to the Big Bag of Science instruction booklet, if we let them sit out a few days and dry out they should shrink back up.  We wanted to see if that was true and if they would stay colored or revert back to white so we ran a science experiment.  We found an out of the way place to put the plate and we'll keep checking on it over the next few days.

Easy and simple but sometimes the best experiments are; I always try to encourage the boys to see what will happen when they're curious about what would happen if... some of our best experiments started with one of the boys asking that.

   
 I went to get my teeth cleaned and when I came home I found Ian and my mom playing Life.  He had made her be the banker but even so just playing the game gives you lots of math and reading opportunities.  He was using all sorts of strategies to try and help him win.

It was getting late and the boys had made it pretty clear that they wanted to get to gym day.  I offered to make lunches again while they cleaned up whatever they had been playing with.  My mom left to head home and by the time we settled down to eat they were asking me to read some more Harry Potter.

Reading Comprehension, physical education & socialization-- We listened to our book on CD in the car and finished up the first CD.  So far it seems like everyone is enjoying it though and they are eager to hear more.

We arrived at gym day and the boys had a great time.  Alec played gaga the whole entire time; only pausing to rest when he was "out." Ian played a bit of gaga, played some games of four square, and played with the soccer ball.

Evan had a bit of difficulty.  He had two different sets of friends show up at gym today and he was having a hard time figuring out how to play with them both.  He spent a bit of time pouting, crying, and sitting by himself.  He claimed that they couldn't all play since the boys didn't all get along.

He had no idea how to handle it when one friend was not being nice to another.

We talked a bit about friends and sticking up for our friends.  We talked about being in the middle of friends.  We talked about feeling like an outsider.  I tried to give him advice, but mostly I told him he had to figure out for himself what worked best.

The two boys in question were happily off playing with other friends not minding in the least and eventually, I think, Evan realized he was the only one not having fun.  After that he was up and running, rolling, and playing.
   
Once home the boys were on their own.  Alec went to build with our magnetic blocks.  I had no idea that Ian had been building with them earlier too and both boys showed me their new buildings.  They figured out how to make turrets and towers.  Ian told Alec he could use any of his block pieces that he wanted as he left the room and Alec made a house with three turrets, a roof top garden, and a wind breaker.
Ian's house with mini pyramid towers in the background 

Alec's completed house from the backside 

The front of Alec's house 
Alec sat down at the computer and using a list he had written up while watching his Pokemon movies (YES! Finally some self- guided writing!), he looked up stuffed animals to add to his Amazon wish list.

It always amazes me when we look back over the days that I feel like we slacked off on and see how much learning they directed.

I love when they direct their learning because I do think that those lessons are always the one they'll remember the most.

We can't help but acquire knowledge when we're interested, determined, and driven... even if it isn't always a topic other people care nearly as much about.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's All Fun and Games: Declaring a "Game Day" in our Homeschool

After another mid-week sleepover with my younger two and a couple of days filled with schoolwork and book work, I decided to declare today a fun movie and game day.



I loaded some new computer games onto each of the computers-- Where in the U.S.A. Is Carmen Sandiego?  and Oregon Trail.

I pulled out board games like Q Bitz, Spot It! Fire and Ice, and Geo Dice.

I pulled out science kits like Wind Powered Car and Big Bag of Science.

I pulled out movies like Schoolhouse Rock, The Magic School Bus, and Liberty's Kids.

 I had the kids pick and chose what interested them and we just learned through play and exploration. We set aside our regular schoolwork and our geography/ history fair reports and just focused on enjoying ourselves.
 
At first I wasn't sure this was going to go well.  Ian and I started playing Q Bitz and then Evan and Alec asked what we were doing and wanted a turn to try.    It is a super fun game though and you have to use a lot of math and strategy.



Evan then requested Spot It! Fire and Ice.  All the boys loved the other Spot It! game we have so I agreed.  Alec, Evan and I had fun playing three rounds and three different versions.  It was fun and the variations make it unique.  We tweaked the rules here and there as we saw fit.

 When the games were over no one wanted to try any others.  Alec decided to try playing Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego and I played part of a round with him so we could both see how it worked.  He ended up playing several rounds and he had a really fun time.  He looked up facts about the various states when he wasn't sure about the clues and even used our wall map and Scrambled States of America game to help him along.  He had a lot of fun!


 Ian decided to use the other computer and try playing the Oregon Trail.  I warned him before starting that most everyone dies on the Oregon trail.  He read up on getting supplies and we worked together to figure out how to navigate through the program.  The game has come a long way since I used to play it in school.  There are actual graphics and even small animated movie clips about life on the Oregon trail.

After loosing several wagons to ice and running river water, Ian was in sight of his final destination.  He became ruthless in making it to his destination when his children died of thirst.  Ian then died and he threw up his hands.  I reminded him that I had never heard of a single classmate of mine making it to their destination.

 
While the older two boys were playing their computer games, Evan wanted to do some science.  He opened up the Big Bag of Science he had gotten for Christmas and we did the first three experiments.  
  • Though I really hesitate to call anything we did with the bag "science."  I can't believe the recommended age is 8-10; I'd say more like 3-5. For the first experiment he dissolved colored tabs (like the ones you get in Easter Egg decorating kits) in water.  Yep, that was the whole experiment.  They went on to describe dissolving and encouraged the child not to throw anything away until they went on to experiment two.  Since experiment one took all of 3 minutes we went on to experiment two. 
  •  Experiment two encouraged the children to hold the colored vials up to the light and to look through them.  It then told them to hold up more than one vial and look through them; so basic color theory.  Evan rolled his eyes and told me if he held up the blue one and the yellow one at the same time it would be green since blue and yellow make green.  It then instructed him to use the welled tray and a pipette to play with color mixing.  He had a lot of fun with that.  
  • When he was finished the book said we could go to experiment five and add some super absorbent  crystals to the wells.  These crystals were tiny, hard, white rocks.  As the crystals sit in the water they'll suck up both the water and the colors and turn large, squishy and different colored.  We set them aside for an hour and got ready for lunch.



After lunch Ian started making a batch of Brownie Buckeye Cupcakes.  He followed the recipe and, using a boxed brownie mix, made some peanut butter cup stuffed cupcakes with some delicious peanut butter frosting.  He even learned how to pipe frosting!

Ian learning how to pipe frosting
The cupcakes are cooling
The finished products!
He also made some meatloaf for dinner.  Later he'll cook up some egg noodles and a package of vegetables to go with it.  He was pretty proud of himself in making two new recipes today and told me that it was something he could add to his kitchen resume.

Mixing up the meatloaf 
 It's so amazing to me to see how much my boys are growing up.  They're quite helpful around the house (when they want to be) and I couldn't imagine our lives any other way.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

One Moment at A Time

Some of our best school days take place when we're just quietly working and plugging away at our schoolwork.  I try to take each day one moment at a time and follow the boys leads as much as possible.


Our days have a nice slow flow and rhythm to them that has taken us a long time to find.

We started our day by starting another chapter book together over breakfast.  We try to start each day with a read aloud.  It helps settle us into a nice day of schoolwork and gives us all a slow ease into our day.  We enjoy starting the day altogether.

 To continue on in our World War II unit we've started reading Danger in the Darkest Hour.  It's a new book in the Magic Tree House series.  We're really enjoying another book with Jack and Annie; we really missed them!

We ended up reading two chapters and the boys were concerned that Jack and Annie are going to be parachuting behind enemy lies; "won't that make them better targets for the bad guys?"  We can't wait to hear what will happen next!

   

I sent the boys to get ready and we all worked together to get some vacuuming and dusting done.  each boy pitched in and did a few rooms.  While none of us enjoy cleaning we find that tackling the job together and just each focusing on one room a day makes it manageable. 

They finished up at different times and then came to see what was set out and set up at the kitchen table.

 Now, rather than give a moment by moment summary it will just be easier for me to break them into subjects since the boys tend to all work on different subjects at different times and we were all over the place today.

My boys know that thy are free to come and go from the table working on subjects as they want to; knowing I can only help one boy at a time this more relaxed method works well for us.
 
  Math-- All three boys spent 20 minutes on Khan academy.  At some point throughout the day all the boys also worked on one page in their math workbooks.  Alec worked on reading a chart and comparing speeds and times.  He loves charts and bar graphs so it was a good page for him.

 Evan did some more practice with greater than & less than and counting.  I almost found his page laughably easy compared to what he can do on Khan.  Comparing 2 to 15 when he was comparing numbers up into the 900's seems pretty basic, but he loves it and he was happy to complete it on his own so I let him be.

Ian completed another page in his measurement book.
 
Spelling/ Reading--  Alec completed his spelling list last week and went onto the long I sound.  We had a new list of twenty words and I asked him if he just wanted to write them once each first before playing games with them or if he wanted to go right to Spelling City.

Ian was already on our other computer playing Spelling City games with his spelling words but Alec surprised me and asked if I could quiz him on the new words.  

He barely even glanced at them but not one to discourage them I said sure and cautioned him that he might have a hard time.  He got 15 correct.  He then asked if he could just practice the 5 he got wrong and of course I agreed!  He wrote those 5 words and then played Hang Mouse on spelling city (after I modified the list to only have his 5 new words).  Pretty sure we'll be moving on to the next list next week!

Evan worked on a page in his Star Wars reading book and filled missing words in the blanks.  Evan also read Biscuit in the Garden to me.

 
 Writing-- Alec wrote four sentences using the writing prompt:  If you were forced to spend the rest of your life in a zoo, a museum, or a library which would you choose and why?  He, of course, picked the zoo claiming that the library wouldn't have nearly enough books to last him a lifetime! I loved knowing that he was probably right.  He had some great reasons why he'd love to live in a zoo.

Ian was uninspired by the prompt and so we started looking through books and the internet for inspiration.  Alec posed the question "If you could only buy one piece of heavy equipment for life what would it be and why?"  Ian asked if he could change that to two pieces and started writing furiously.  He too used both sides of the paper.

 I explained to the boys that it must mean they are writing with more details and that's a good thing.
    
History-- On top of reading the two chapter in the Magic Tree House we did a bit of work on our history/ geography fair projects today.

Alec worked with me and with his dictation we typed up a page for his history fair report.  He's decided on a way to approach his topic of comparing Greek and Roman Gods and I think he has a good idea of what still needs to be done.

Evan and I read two more books about South Korea.  These two books took place in ancient Korea and we learned a lot about the "old" ways.  We read The Firekeeper's Son and The Royal Bee.


 
We finally paused for lunch and read another half chapter in Harry Potter (which we finished during an early dinner for the boys).

We headed out to run some errands together.

We're listening to a new story on CD called Inkheart.  It's by the same author as Dragon Rider and we're hoping to love it just as much.  We were even more excited when we learned that there is a movie out about the book.  We'll have to follow up the book with the movie!

We love adding books on CD to our car rides.  It gives us something to look forward to as we're driving around and we always have something to talk about together.  Besides, we've found some  of the best books by listening to them.
 
We stopped briefly at Target, where Evan asked me to buy him a stuffed animal with the promise he'd pay be back at home later.  I asked him how much money he had and he told me he had a 5 and 9 ones so that was $14.  It was all said so quickly and added up so fast I just had to marvel.  The animal was only $10 and so he knew he'd have $4 left for something else.  Once home he counted the money out of his bank by himself and came to me with his $10.

I love those little moments when they show me that what we're learning is being applied to their lives! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Benefit of Using Workbooks

I have not always been a fan of workbooks.

I usually try to avoid using them.

I prefer for our learning to be hands-on and fun but my boys were asking for book work.

Then there are days like today when I am reminded of why there are days when we just love our workbooks!  



While they aren't always the best lessons, or the most exciting, they do give us a certain bit of freedom.

1.  We can take our schoolwork with us! We did a small bit of school while in the car today.

The boys had karate class and then we headed out to lunch with my mom.  We spent the entire afternoon visiting with her, my sister, and my niece.  It was nice and relaxing and both Ian and Evan had a great time playing with my niece.  She's a year and a half old so they built towers out of cardboard stacking blocks and let her knock them down.  Then they tried to teach her some new phrases and words.  They all had so much fun.

Knowing we were going to have a really relaxed day I had asked the boys to bring some schoolwork with them in the car.

2. Workbooks are great for some quick and easily tackled self- guided learning.  Often my boys can flip through and find pages that they can completely all on their own just following the one or two examples on the page.  They don't need me to teach them a lesson if they pick up the concept on their own.

Evan worked on two pages in his math book comparing numbers using the greater than/ less than sign.  He also completed a page in his Star Wars reading book filling in gl- sl- and a few other consonant blend chunks to the beginning of words.  He only had a hard time with a few of the pictures that he didn't know.

3.  It is a way for both the boys and I to evaluate what areas they still need to work on.  Having them work independently shows us all what skills are still in progress and what skills they have mastered.

4.  They can choose what skills to work on.  I do not make my boys work on the pages in their book in order; they are allowed to flip through and pick two pages they'd like to work on.  Ian chooses to go in order while Alec enjoys picking ones that look interesting.

The older boys finished up their math work.  Ian worked on two pages in his measurement book measuring to the nearest 1/4 of an inch and the nearest 1/2 inch.  Alec ended up working on a page with rounding money to the nearest dollar, 10 dollars, and hundred dollars.  He also picked out a page on area to do.  He's really enjoying area and perimeter.  He has stumbled across them on Khan Academy a few times and really enjoys those kinds of problems.

Our math workbooks (and Evan's reading) 
5.  They can find their own time to work.  If I'm teaching a lesson I usually have the boys all working on the same subject at the same time.  With workbooks, they can decide what they want to work on and when works best for them.  Alec prefers to save math for last and read first since he just loves reading.  Ian prefers to get math over with first and then tackle reading later.  With independent workbooks they can do that.

6.  They can see their progress.  They enjoy looking back and seeing how much they've learned over the course of the year.  They like knowing when they have completed a workbook because it gives them a sense of accomplishment.

7.  Fun pictures and characters make the work fun too.  My boys swear that they enjoy workbook pages and I've noticed those that have fun pictures or characters actually have my boys asking to do them.  They truly enjoy them; something I find a little odd but I'm starting to appreciate them more and more.

8.  Workbooks ensure that we're not forgetting any topics.  While I don't love workbooks they have been great at reminding me of all the various topics I need to make sure I'm covering with my boys.  I'm pretty sure there are some math lessons I would not have remembered to teach them at all if I had not had them asking questions about certain workbook pages.

9. All three of my boys like to see their day's work at a glance.  They like to know that they just need to complete two pages in their math books, a page or two in spelling, and work on some reading.  They prefer to see their wok laid out in advance and then they work through it all methodically checking each item off the list they have going in their head.  Workbooks allow them to do that (though we still have many days with hands on projects!)

10. Workbooks give my boys confidence.  They just don't seem to think we've learned anything until they can complete a workbook page on it and get 99% of the problems right. Seeing that they have learned, that they do understand, and that they're doing well gives them confidence in what they've learned.

 With schoolwork done by the time we reached my mother's house we were free to enjoy our day.

 There are times when workbooks are extremely beneficial to us and today was one of those times.  I really am trying to embrace the workbooks since they seem like such a good fit for my sons.

Linking Up With: Top 10 Tuesday,
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“Mrs.AOK,

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.

 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.  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 own 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.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Middle School Math Game!

Ian made up his own game this weekend and by the end of it I thought it was such a great self- guided math game that I thought I'd share.
 


 After lunch Ian asked his father to play a Nerf gun game and the next thing I knew we were having a great time (and practicing a lot of math too!).

Ian drew a target on our French doors using the dry erase markers; assigning each circle of the target a value.  We each took turns shooting all 6 bullets from his Nerf Gun.  Ian would then add up our scores.

We kept track for 10 rounds, adding, carrying over and even subtracting at times.  After 8 rounds Ian and I were tied for first.  By the end I won by a mere 15 points and Ian ended up coming in third.

He added up our scores into the thousandths, happily and with lots of carrying over (and here I was thinking this morning that we've never added beyond three digit numbers).  I think he was pretty bummed he lost but he took it well and was a good sport about it.

 He wanted to play another game too!


keeping score 
Quick, easy, fun and a great review of multi- digit addition!
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Full and Fun Day of Reading

When we first started homeschooling, I only had one boy that actually enjoyed reading.

Alec had taught himself to read when he was just 4 and loved reading stories.  He could easily get lost in a book and spend hours enjoying himself.

My youngest did not yet know how to read but my oldest son hated it.  Hated it so much he told me he never wanted to read.


I did not push him to read and let him take a bit of time off from reading.  However, I did keep on reading.  I read aloud interesting books, books with colorful illustrations and chapter books that left them begging me to tell them what happened next!

After a bit of time listening to me read aloud he finally asked if he could start reading by himself, in his room and it's amazing at what a difference that has made in his willingness to read!

I did not push him to read chapter books and instead encouraged a love of reading through picture books and other books he picked out himself.  Knowing he'd be more willing to read books about things he was interested in.

I will pick out books for them, on occasion, based on their various interests and other books they have enjoyed in the past but my boys know they don't HAVE to read them.

Take today's reading (which included a lot of history/geography today too since the boys all read about their topics for our fair)-- Ian read so many books today I was floored.  He came downstairs with a stack of books he had read and then proceeded to look through our library bin and read even more!

Ian enjoys books about trucks, construction equipment, fishing, basketball, and books that make him laugh.

Today he read:






He also wanted to start writing up some facts for  his history report.   He had fun reading and wanted to work on some writing... I just could not believe it!

Alec loves reading a mixture of fiction of non- fiction.  Enjoy anything having to do with animals, Geek and Roman Gods, magic, and

Alec read



He too wanted to start typing up some facts about Ancient Greece for his history report and later read a couple more chapters in his Guardians of Ga' Hoole book.

Evan read Loose Tooth to me and then listened to me read Have a Good Day Cafe, a book we picked out for his geography report on Korea.   Evan also asked me to read a chapter in his Minecraft book to him.




He's starting to remember the names of different Korean dishes and looked at all the different characters of the Korean alphabet at the back of the book.

My boys are required to read something to themselves or tome each day but that is not the only way we work on reading skills and developing a love of books.

I often read aloud books that we're studying for science, history or geography.  We often have a
"fun" chapter book that we're reading and we'll pick out a book to listen to in the car while we drive around too.


My boys can listen to books that are for more advanced than their reading skills allow and it's wonderful to have books that we can talk about and discuss that we've all read.

Today, we read part of the next chapter in Harry Potter and listened to another CD in the car while we ran to gym class, the library and to visit my grandmother.


We're listening to The Fast and the Furriest and we are just loving this wonderful book! It's hilarious!
When Kevin, a 12 year old couch potato, realizes that his dog Cromwell wants to start agility training he can not believe it.  His dog can barely walk without falling over!  And that's not all; since it's summer vacation Kevin's dad wants him to try football camp.  Kevin finds that trying to please both his dad and this new version of his dog is not easy.


Basically, I tried to make reading fun, enjoyable and tried to take all the pressure off of him!

And boy, has that worked out so much better than I had hoped.


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