Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An UNplanned Party

We didn't really get to much schooling today, but my kids did learn some life skills.  Since I don't work my husband works that much more and this week he's gone away on business. 

While there are many  huge downsides to him being gone one of the upsides is that I've become much more self- reliant. 

He only left this morning and already I've cleaned a good portion of the house, fixed the toilet so it now flushes (I only had to replace the flapper), & caulked the bathtub so the water will finally stop leaking between the tub and tile; all of which I had the boys either help me with or watch so they can learn how to do it too. 

While Ian and Alec were off to LEGO camp again today, I prepped Ian's room for painting.  All of my boys wanted their rooms redecorated this year for their birthday gifts and I'd never gotten around to getting Ian's room done.  He has some huge pieces of furniture I've been waiting on my husband to move but I decided today that Ian has been waiting patiently long enough. 

I had Evan help me remove everything from the walls and pile it on the beds.  Then we pulled the furniture into the middle of the room and started taping off the trim and outlets so it would be ready to paint after lunch.

We never got around to painting though because I had no idea it was Otter's birthday today!  

My 4 year old decided that today was his stuffed otter's birthday and since Otter was turning 5 it was a very important day.

Evan planned a party for him complete with pinata!  (Yes, I just happened to have one handy- weird I know).  Evan decided that after LEGO camp and lunch we' d go outside and break the pinata, then play a new game (and I quote Evan on this) "I made up this neat new game called hide and seek where you have to hide very fast!", then he wanted everyone to come inside and dance in the dark in his bedroom with the lights out and the curtains shut.  It sounded like fun and it was very cute to watch Evan take over in our house for a day and plan the party.

During the car ride home from LEGO camp Evan was telling his brothers all about the part he planned and I was happy to realize that the Pinata left us open to a whole discussion on Mexico and Mexican customs.  I reminded my boys of our trip to Disney and the Mexican pavilion at EPCOT.  They were able to think of the dresses, Mexican hats and hat dance, tacos, quesadillas, and a few Spanish words-- all in just a quick 10 min. discussion in the car! 

By the time we got home they had a bunch of questions so I looked up Mexican clothing, Mexican food, and Mexican crops and found articles relating to them all.  We read all the articles and looked at all the pictures.  I just love having a computer so we can learn at the drop of a hat when they're interested in something.  By the time I finished reading about Mexico, lunch was over and the boys couldn't wait one more minute to start the party.

We all had a great time at Otter's party and Evan says Otter loved his party too, but the party had to end so Ian could make it to his piano lesson on time and then the two younger boys had physicals with their Dr. 

sorting the loot 

Monday, July 30, 2012

One is a Lonely Number

Lego camp started today and with the two older boys signed up and raring to go I just had one little boy at home with me.

Evan was a bit lost today with his two older brothers gone.  He just wasn't sure what to do with himself.   Honestly, I am not used to having just one boy around either and was not used to having him underfoot.

Being the youngest he's not as adept at keeping himself busy and occupied.  He's always had a playmate around!

I knew I could use this time to help him become more independent but it's so rare that we get some quiet one- on- one time that I decided to just enjoy it.

We read books played board games together.

Knowing we had a whole week together I decided to brainstorm some ideas of activities we could do together; just the two of us:

  • Read books.  We enjoy stories and with no one else around we can snuggle and read as much as we want.
  • Put together some simple puzzles.  Evan is not a huge fan of puzzles but we do have some simple ones that would be great to work on together.
  • Bake a treat!  I have a hard time encouraging my boys to help out in the kitchen when there is three of them around but with just one I think we could easily bake a few fun treats. 
  • Build with blocks.  I am not great with imaginative play; so when my boys ask me to play with their people and cars and toys I usually say no.  However, I am a pretty good builder and together we could build something really great. 
  • Play board games.  Evan often gets left out of games because his brothers tend to ask to play games that require skills he doesn't yet have.  We have plenty of games he could play but I rarely think to ask him if he'd like to play.  
  • Go on a short outing!  Since camp is only a half day we can't take off for a day on our own but we could go to the park or a mini hike together.  
  • Play a video game together.  We only have two controllers so Evan typically plays video games with his brothers but I do have some gaming skills and enjoy playing games like Mario and MarioKart.  
  • Go kayaking.  I can fit Evan in my kayak with me and we could take off together for a relaxing paddle around the lake.

 As Evan and I were playing a board game I happened to look in the playroom and noticed a bunch of the kids fish toys all sorted out by color and type.  When I asked Evan about it he told me that him and Alec had done that this morning while playing!

Honestly the time just flew by this morning with only one little boy at home with me.

When we picked the boys up they were filled with stories and excited to share about their day.   They made trucks, airplanes, hangers and garages and  learned the differences between gear motors and pulley motors.  They just loved it.  Alec told me the only part he didn't like was cleaning up and leaving and wished it would have lasted all day!   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Using the Olympics to Teach World Geography

With the Olympics in full swing and my kids watching many of the events (we have a DVR and record the Olympic coverage on NBC which then allows us to watch only the events and rather quickly too).  These Olympics and my children's interest in them have provided the perfect opportunity to talk about all the different nations.

It has been the perfect introduction into world geography.

My kids are always interested in maps and geography.  They enjoy learning about different cultures and we have decided to use our time studying the Olympics to build on that.

Here are a few ways to teach about the world when studying the Olympics:

1.  Talk about the differences between continents, countries, and states.

Learning about new countries can get confusing for them at times.

We have the names of continents, broken down into names of countries, broken down into names of states, then counties, cities and towns.... that's a lot of names for elementary aged children to keep straight.

I can't tell you the number of times my kids have confused them all.  Like the time I asked where France was only to be told "in Texas!"  Again I explained that Texas is a state in our country and France is its own country.

I know it will take years before they all manage to keep even most of them straight (and by then they could change again!  I was taught about the U.S.S.R in school so some of these countries are new to me!)  But I figure any exposure I can give them adds to that knowledge they are building.

2.  Look at all the flags!  We love watching the opening & medal ceremonies the most because my kids truly enjoy seeing all the different flags.  

The children are noticing the athletes colorful uniforms and the flags that are displayed next to each Olympians name (or in the case of swimming- right in the lane on the pool).  I have a book on world flags I checked out from the library that explains why many of the nations have the colors or symbols that make up their flags.  So when my children notice that Australia's flag have a mini Great Britain flag in the corner they are able to look up why that is that way.

We even put together a quick chart using tally marks to keep track of some of the boys favorite teams; using the flags as their symbols.

3.  Eat your way around the world!

Over the last few days and continuing over the next few weeks I'm trying to plan meals that are from all around the world, or at least point out what countries our foods came from.

Last night we ate many Italian dishes including pizza, cheese ravioli, eggplant and chicken Parmesan  and this morning I pointed out Italy as the boot on the world map.  I explained Italy is part of Europe.

This morning we had crepes from France, also found in Europe, which we also found on the map.

Ian has already requested that we eat Taco's from Mexico and knew where Mexico was.  But there were a few obstacles to overcome in planning my food unit.  While many dishes cross several countries it's not always easy to pinpoint one country of origin.  Also my boys are not real adventurous when it comes to food so I'm trying to plan meals they'll actually eat.

After researching many different children's around the world cookbooks here are a few other meals I have planned:

  • Terriyaki chicken with fried rice from Japan
  • Hummus and pita bread from Israel, Iran and Jordan
  • Frittatas from Spain
  • Maple chicken breasts from Canada
  • Shish kabobs with rice and pita bread from Egypt
  • British scones
  • Banana pancakes from Jamaica
  • Gingerbread waffles from Belgium
  •  Struesel coffee cake from Germany
.... just to name a few.  Once I got going it was pretty easy to come up with slight variations on foods my children eat now.

Many of the everyday foods we eat come from around the world already since we live in such a diverse nation and every supermarket now has a ready supply of "ethnic" foods so I think this can be a lesson we'll be able to continue long after the Olympics are over. 
4.  Read books!  While I could easily pull out books about all the different countries we decided to just focus on the host country and have surrounded ourselves with picture books about Britain.

5.  Listen to snippets of foreign languages being spoken on the internet.  We've talked about languages and the jobs of interpreters to help the athletes.

 Mostly  we've just enjoyed watching history in the making.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Finish Up One Unit and Starting another

Today started out pretty good.  We are wrapping up our sunflowers unit and gearing up for the start of the summer Olympics tonight.  Our unit study for the next few weeks will focus on the Olympics.

I set our morning aside to do errands and the boys gathered up the coins in their piggy banks to bring to the bank and get "real" money for (meaning bills).

 Ian added up all the coins in his bank and he had over $12.  I was so proud of him that he was able to add up all those coins and then proceeded to help Evan count up his!  So much math!

 Alec chose not to add his up and instead made breakfast for himself and his brothers, which I figured was an important life skill to learn as well.

Once at the bank I taught them how to use the coin machine and let them stand in line at the teller and handle their own deposits and money matters.  It's important for them to learn to communicate effectively with other adults and not always rely on me. 

They did a wonderful job! 
During lunch I read a few books to the boys.  One called A Field of Sunflowers to wrap up our sunflower and plant unit and then one simply called Olympics.  It was a great illustrated quick story that introduces how the Olympics started and what they are all about.  They go through the symbols of the torch and rings, the history of the Olympics, the events in both the summer and winter games.  It talks about all the jobs of all the people associated with the Olympics and the building of the arenas and villages.  It was quite comprehensive for just a short little book.  I learned a few things too.  I never quite knew the symbolism of the rings and had forgotten why they called them the Olympics.

We finished up our sunflower art work and then they pulled out the silly putty we had made, along with some play- doh and some noisy putty they found in the play- doh bucket.  They played for over an hour with these with relatively little fighting.

When it was time to clean up Alec and Evan asked if they could try an experiment and freeze the noisy putty.  I thought that was pretty inventive of them.  We'll have to check it tomorrow to see what happens when you freeze putty.

Before they left the kitchen  I made them clean it all up when they were done.  It took them almost another half- hour to clean the silly putty off the toys, table and chairs but I was glad they did clean it up.

I quickly asked them to write up a list of Olympic events they'd like to see over the next few week since we rarely write anything.  My kids hate to write.  And since Evan and Alec weren't that enthused about the writing "assignment" they started writing up Christmas wish lists instead but at least they were writing!

Ian then went outside to work with his trucks. 

Now off to enjoy dinner and then pop some popcorn to watch the opening ceremonies for the 2012 summer Olympic games!  I've already warned the boys they won't get to watch too much; I'll let them stay up a bit late but no way can they stay up until midnight.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How We Cover All the Subjects in Unschooling

I try let the boys lead us in homeschooling whenever possible.  We may not cover every single subject every single day but most days we can cover quite a few of them!

I don't force my kids to participate in any activity and mostly I try to suggest activities that I think they'll really enjoy.  Often I try to make sure our lessons are helping to answer questions they have asked or are about topics they are interested in.

Here is how a typical day of unschooling unfolds for us.

This morning we painted sunflowers in honor of our trip to the farm for art

The kids painted their hands yellow and stamped them in a circle to make the flower (or in Alec's case field of flowers).  They then used a paint brush and green paint to paint the stem.  Alec noticed the stems were curved and painted his stems that way.  Ian noticed there was small green leaves on the back of the flower and that you could sometimes see them peeking around the petals so he added some of those to his picture.

 I love how all the art work turns our differently even when they have the same instructions to follow.

We'll add petals and the center of the sunflowers tomorrow once our paint has dried.

While we were sitting around the kitchen table talking about sunflowers I had the kids dissect the huge sunflowers I had bought for science.  They were starting to die and I thought this would be a great way for the kids to see all the parts of the plants up close.

They pulled off the petals, cut open the stems, and saw all the pollen ("That the bees collect and make honey!" shouts Alec).  They discovered the stems are too hard to break open by hand and that they're a bit prickly.

We talked about how the stems have to be hard since it's such a huge flower and they grow so tall.  The boys figure the stems are prickly to discourage animals from eating it.

We read two books; one called Stems and one called Flowers to learn all the parts of the plant and what they did.  I first asked them what they thought and between the three boys they did know most of the functions of the plant then we read the simple stories to reinforce that knowledge. 

They weren't sure what pollen was,  Ian thought the pollen was a seed and Alec knew the bees used it to make honey but they weren't sure how it helped the plant.  So we read and learned that pollen is what helps the plant make new seeds to grow new plants.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to find any sunflower seeds inside our sunflowers. 

I remembered the boys asking me yesterday about a documentary on the sinking of the titanic that we started watching and never finished.  Ian picked out a Titanic book yesterday at Barnes and Noble and he's been somewhat obsessed with the Titanic for several months so I had taped this documentary for him quite a while ago.  He thought it had gotten deleted but I managed to find it and they watched another hour of the documentary for history today.

The boys have really started noticing license plates and asking me more about the states; how do you know a state versus a city or town? How far away is our state from whatever state they happen to see a licence plate from.

So I pulled out a puzzle we have of the united states and dumped it out on the floor.  No joke, my boys actually squealed and dove for the puzzle and managed to put the whole thing together, cooperatively, with little fighting in just under 10 minutes.  I was amazed!

Plus I was thinking what a fun, great, geography lesson. 

 After lunch we headed bowling.  We'd never been to this particular bowling alley but we had some free bowling coupons from Kidsbowlfree.com.

We had a great time.

We'd never played with the large balls and pins before and the kids had a blast.  It was a super fun physical education lesson and we worked on good sportsmanship too. 

On our drive today we saw licence plates from Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, and many many more.  The boys were very excited to cross so many off of their lists and even started looking them up on the map. 

Ian noticed one tractor trailer truck had a cab from New York and a trailer from Oklahoma and looked up the states to see how far the driver had to go.  He was impressed! 

Then he started wondering what do they make in Oklahoma that they'd be shipping to other states in a huge trailer.  I'm thinking we'll need to pull out our 50 states book and start learning some facts.  It was a great mini geography lesson!

While I was cooking supper Alec and Evan decided to dump the puzzle back out and re-make it.  Again they put it all together in no time.  At this rate they are going to know where all 50 states are in no time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Teddy Bear Sleepover at the Library!

 Our library was hosting a teddy bear sleep over tonight so we loaded into the car and took off.    We made sure to pack animals that the boys would not miss terribly overnight and they were excited to leave their animal for it's very own sleepover.

It was ADORABLE and the kids loved it!

They got to:
  • listen to stories with their animals
  • Sing songs and dance
  • Chase bubbles around the room
  •  Play musical hula hoops (like musical chairs but you jump in an empty hula hoop when the music stops instead of a chair)
  • Try hula hooping
  • Act out the story of Goldilocks and the three bears using puppets.  
When all the activities were done it was time to say goodnight to the animals. 

Then they made a name tag for their animal, kissed them goodnight and put them in the tent.  Then the animals got to sleep at the library overnight.

 It was a riot to listen to my boys when we pulled up to the library.  They each had a "talk" with their animals about appropriate behavior-- "don't bite the librarian or any of the other animals" "don't eat any of the books" "make sure you behave or you'll be grounded"  I was trying so hard not to laugh.

The next day we had to go to the library and collect our stuffed animals, who were pretty good for the librarians except for Ian's alligator who ate one of the library books! 

 It was just darling and the expressions on their faces were just priceless.

Each child got a sheet of card stock with 3 small photos of the animals doing various things around the library.  Ian grounded Chompy on the spot and told him he's going to have to sleep on the floor!

While there we joined in the summer read aloud (for reading) and as soon as we sat down Ian studied the picture of his animal "eating" the book and propped next to the alligator in the picture was another book called "Books are For Eating" and says "OH! no wonder why he ate that book look what he had just read!"

It was probably one of the most fun activities we've participated in at our library.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Buttonwood Farm trip

We headed out late this afternoon with my mother in law and nephew to Buttonwood Farm.  They have a huge fundraiser every year when sunflowers bloom to raise money for the make a wish foundation.

There's homemade ice cream, a wagon ride through the sunflower field where you stop and feed the cows, sunflower bouquets and tons of people.

We went last year for our first time and my boys not only remembered it but actually asked to go again this year. 

I wasn't sure if we were going to make it there this week since two of the boys are on medication that cautions being in the sun but we loaded them up on sunscreen and bug spray and hoped that going later in the afternoon when the sun wasn't so high would be sufficient enough to keep them from getting burns. (it was!)

We devoured our ice cream (in the shade), went on a wagon ride and fed the cows, saw chickens, and took photos in the sunflower field; most of which was in the shade.  We bought a few sunflower bouquets and headed home for dinner.

It was wonderful! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Learning About Birds of Prey at the Ecotarium

My kids, myself and my husband were all very tired yesterday after our family camp out.  We could have stayed home and napped, but I know my kids well enough to know that rarely happens, even when they really need it.

So I suggested a day trip and we were so lucky to stumble upon a class that was just perfect for Alec.

 I figured they'd be tired no matter where we were and at least if we kept them busy they wouldn't fight so much.   We decided to head to the Ecotarium in Worcester, Ma, which is a huge favorite of the boys.  In fact they've asked me a few times if we were going to go there again this year.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that almost ALL the indoor exhibits had changed since our last visit. 

It't part nature center, part science museum and it's loads of fun!

 Ian got into a wind tunnel to feel what hurricane force winds were like.  We got to climb a rock wall horizontally to see how hard it is to navigate across a rock formation.  They played with the effects of mountains and valleys on fog, wind effects, and making mountains.  They had a whole area dedicated to different board games all set up for people to play.  We played with bubbles of all shapes and sizes and discovered why soda makes you burp.  We saw ferrets, turtles, porcupines, snakes, skunks, parrots, bull frogs, red foxes, and honey bees making a honey comb.

We bought tickets for the train ride and an extra talk called Birds of Prey that I took Alec and Evan to while my husband and Ian went and tried out the tree walk/ zip line they have.

Alec quickly established himself as an authority on birds of prey answering most of the questions posed to the group, the guides were very impressed with him and called on him frequently.

When asked what a bird of prey was he said it was a bird that ate meat.

When asked how they caught meat he answered that they'd catch mice and things using their talons.

When asked why the birds had certain feather patterns he said so they'd look like the tree which is camouflage.  The audience was a good mix of adults and children and they all were very impressed with his knowledge and willingness to participate-- I was too!

Evan, though much shyer knew several of the answers too and told them quietly to me.  He's started having me read him a few owl books from the library and his most notable owl fact is the barred owl's call "who cooks for you" call; which he actually said several times yesterday.

The guide walked around with a red tailed hawk, a great horned owl, a screech owl and then brought in a bald eagle.   They picked two children, a boy and a girl, to come up and listen to the eagle's heart beat.  Alec's hand shot into the air so fast the guide just laughed and said I figured it would be you; come on up!  So he got to listen to the heartbeat and pet the feathers. 

They passed around various feathers, talons and wings so everyone could see first hand the differences between owls, hawks, and other birds of prey.  Alec was totally enraptured and learned a few new things.  He didn't realize that, unlike mammals, the male birds of prey are actually smaller than the females.   He was saddened to learn that all the birds at the Ecotarium were injured in some way and unable to be returned to the wild.

We later discovered they only have that show twice a year so we were lucky to have stumbled upon it!

As soon as the talk was over we went to watch the otter feeding.  Evan had been waiting very impatiently for this all day.  We thought we were going to be late and miss part of it!

Turns out the woman feeding the otters was one of the women in the birds of prey show and she immediately recognized Alec who then answered most of her questions again!  She told him she hoped to see him again someday; maybe even as a volunteer when he grew up!  

We learned otters have two layers of fur and while playful looking and bashful do have very sharp teeth.  They got to touch an otter pelt and even see the skull of an otter up close.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Family Camping Ideas

My kids have been asking off and on for over a year to go camping.... in a tent!

If you don't really know me my idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without a pool.  I love amenities and the more the better so this was not something I was totally on board with.  But being the good parent I try to be I decided to give camping a try this year.

 Knowing my low tolerance for the outdoors we camped in our backyard; a nice compromise.   

I do remember camping as a kid and I didn't totally hate it.  I remember campgrounds as being lots of fun and I hoped that if backyard camping went well maybe we could branch out and try a night or two at some local campgrounds.

We bought a big tent (though really it wasn't big enough) and pitched it in the yard.  My husband and kids spent a few days building us a fire pit on the beach and I spent a week or so stocking up on supplies like glow sticks, sparklers, and the like.

After our night I realized camping is a lot of WORK!  While fun, it is not my idea of a vacation. 

Maybe if I look at it as an adventure and not a vacation I'd be willing to try it again but I think for now we'll stick to the backyard.  We would've had quite a few problems if we were trying "real" camping. 
Yesterday morning I went around gathering kids' clothes, sleeping bags, pillows and the like.  I packed coolers with what I hoped would be most of the food we needed.  My hope was to pretend it was a real camp- out and not use anything in the house other than our 1/2 bath in the basement... but that just didn't work.  I think we were in and out of the house at least a dozen times and honestly we would've been running to a store or a restaurant if we had been out in the woods.

Never having camped as an adult I had no idea what we'd need or how people manage to transport everything they do need from home to site.

But we had fun anyway and that's what's important. 

 Our camping trip started before dinner and the kids got right to having fun and took turns water bottle bowling while we helped set up my sisters tent (her and my nephew joined us for the night).  We made some fun marshmallow shooters that you can find the instructions for here.  They liked them and after trying to shoot one or two started filling the cups with handfuls of mini marshmallows and shot huge bunches of them out.  They were a bit disappointed that they didn't shoot real far but they still chased each other around the house having a war with them.  They pulled really hard on the balloons and pulled them right off the ends of the cup a few times and soon lost interest.

After that the kids went swimming.  My two youngest tried to bring the shooters into the water and see what would happen if they added water to the shooters along with the marshmallows.  But that didn't really work at all. 

For supper we cooked burgers and hot dogs on the grill and I made corn on the cob and squash casserole on the stove/ in the oven.  After dinner the kids went back in the water and swam until it started getting dark.  They fed the ducks and had jumping contests.  We started a fire in the pit and put on sweatshirts and still the kids swam.  They even tried to put out the fire a few times.  And being boys they thought it was funny to try "peeing" on it with the water shooters.  It cracked us up.  All the adults were laughing so much just listening to the kids and their antics.

Once it was evening and cooler we called them out to dry off and get dressed then we played with sparklers.  This is the first time my kids have ever used sparklers and, not knowing if they'd be afraid, we made sparkler shields using solo cups.... come to find out no one really wanted to use them.  They had no fear and they practiced writing in the air with them.  Using two sparklers at once, lighting one using another pre- lit one.  They discovered that sparklers made a cool hissing noise when you put them in water; "because of the heat from the sparklers and the cold water!"  They also learned that if you put the sparklers into the sand they went out a bit and would start to sparkle again if you didn't leave them in the sand to long.   They loved it!

After the sparklers our fire pit was ready for us to roast s'mores.  The kids all searched for sticks and then roasted marshmallows.  Mostly they caught on fire and burnt but we all ate them anyway.

 After the kids were sufficiently sugared up I brought out the glow sticks.  We tried to make glowing bubbles like the ones shown here.  I had a small bottle of bubble solution and we cut open two glow sticks and poured them in.  If I had bothered to read the whole article I would have read that while the bottle glowed brightly the bubbles really didn't glow at all... and that was just what we discovered as well.

 I had bought TONS of glow sticks, bracelets, necklaces, etc. after seeing the way my kids took to them at the 4th of July and they played for a long time with them.  We added a glow bracelet to each of the bowling bottles for glow in the dark bowling.  Then they used glowing necklaces to try and ring the bottles, but mostly they spun them around making chains and whips and at one point even connected all 30+ glow sticks into one long chain that they had to cooperatively move around or else it would break into pieces.   They tried making jump ropes, having ninja battles, putting on a light show, and just using their imagination.

They gathered in the tent with their flashlights and read a Henry and Mudge camping book to each other. 

Then we sat around the fire looking at the stars.  We pointed out the little dipper and the North Star.  I was so proud when Alec remembered that the stars are suns that are far away.  My nephew remembered that Harriet Tubman used the North Star during the underground railroad when we talked about how sailors and other people used the stars for navigation at night.

By then it was 10:30 and well past time for bed.  The kids climbed into the tents and after much giggling and whispering (and meowing and clawing by our cat!) we fell asleep.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rainy Day Activities

We woke to pouring rain outside and I decided that I didn't want to go far.   We settled in for a quiet day at home and tried to figure out how we'd fill our time.

Ian listened to Harry Potter on his MP3 player for part of the morning while Alec made his own breakfast and then made his bed (he had to put new sheets on it and everything).

We watched a virtual field trip video of an ice cream factory and talked about the similarities and differences with the Ben and Jerry's factory we read about in the book last week. 

We started making our own rock candy today-- it takes a week for it to turn into rock candy and I'm really hoping it works or else the boys will be very disappointed!  It was a big nerve racking for me working with a hot sugar solution around my kids but they were awesome. 

Our biggest challenge was towards the end; the instructions tell you to suspend the skewer in the glass using a clothespin and not allow it to touch any sides... I could not get ours to stay even using multiple clothespins.  I finally gave up and our skewers are touching the bottom and at this point I'm just hoping for the best; though to be honest I thought we'd see something by afternoon so it's not looking good. 

 We ended up with a bonus science lesson thrown in today.  While waiting for the sugar solution to cool down the boys were playing with our clips that have magnets on the back and sticking them to each other.

 Evan excitedly said "mom, look they stick to each otheyer!"  Noticing his excitement and remembering how fun magnets can be I said "why don't you go around the house and see what else they'll stick to."  Next thing I knew all three boys were running from room to room, object to object checking to see what the magnet would stick to, occasionally holding up the object yelling "look it sticks to this!"

 Ian and Evan read books while Alec dictated another blog installment for me to write up for him.

Then the boys made their own lunches and I put on a documentary called Australasia that they watched while eating.   Once again Alec was the one who paid most attention but the other two watched also. 

They turned off the TV half way through the second documentary and started playing quietly together.  They made their stuffed animals fall in love, kiss and have babies (lucky bear only had 7 days gestation that really lasted 10 min.)  This was hilarious!  I was leery of letting them know I was listening since it was so neat to hear the conversations.

They read books to the animals and snuggled on the couch with blankets-- self- guided reading!

By 2:00 the afternoon seemed to be really dragging and the boys were getting restless.  I turned to Pinterest and looked for some ideas.  This is what we came up with: Masking tape games! We played hopscotch, target bowling, guard the eggs, balance beam, and long jump.  

Evan quit each game the minute things weren't going his way and I let him.  I figured I could try and force him to play and keep reminding him of good sportsmanship or I could let him miss out on all the fun we were having and let him see how much more fun you can have with good sportsmanship. 

They stopped in between the games for snacks or whatever and I left the game boards set up allowing them to play creatively with them as well.  For bowling they made human obstacles, they made up some new rules for the egg guard game (the one in the middle can't touch the eggs just the people), and they tried walking backwards along the balance beam.

Once they were bored with these games (about an hour later) they started building with blocks.

 I love block building as it's one of a few activities that combine math and art.

Yep, I said math and art...  building with blocks takes creativity and forces children to problem solve.  It's architecture in miniature form.

 So once again a day of nothing lead to learning in almost all areas of academics; reading, writing, math, science, and physical education! No one wanted to do any art projects today or else that would've been covered too. 

If you enjoyed this and are looking for more rainy day activity ideas try our 25 Rainy Day Activity Ideas for Boys post.