Friday, November 30, 2012

Pancakes and Playing at the Gym

My oldest son was disappointed when I told his younger brother I'd make pancakes tomorrow instead of today.  So I said, " you can make them. Go find the cookbook, look up pancakes and follow the recipe."

I knew it wouldn't be quite that simple but he really tried (and did a great job!).  Once he found the cookbook and opened to the table of contents, he asked me if it would be under eggs since there are eggs in pancakes.  I asked him "where else can we look up things in a non- fiction book?"  "The index!"  We flipped the book over and he finally found pancakes, opened to the right page and started to read.

I told him it would probably work best if he got all the ingredients and measurements out first.  He had no problem with 1/2 and 1/3 but 3/4 threw him.  He asked if he would use two 1/3 cup measures.  So I said well we'd have to add 1/3 plus 1/3.  I knew he'd never added fractions before so I prompted him "what's 1 +1?"  He knew that was 2 so I said right, but in this case it would be 2/3.  It took him a while but he finally understood that he would need 3 1/4 measures to equal 3/4. 

He set about making the whole breakfast, reading the recipe and doing the math for all the measurements.  I also noticed instead of saying "one and a half" like he usually does he was saying "one half" and learning the proper terminology too.

I was thrilled that he was doing math, kitchen science and reading at 7:30 in the morning without complaining, grumbling, or realizing it! 
During and after breakfast we read two more chapters in The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Bunnicula.  I really wanted to read two more chapters in our Magic Tree House book too but we just ran out of time.  At least we arrived at our gym day on- time and had so much fun! Most days the mornings just fly right by.

We met a group of homeschooling families at a local community center to use their gym for a fun gym day.  It cost only $3 per family to play for an hour.

We packed our basketball, soccer ball, and some other assorted athletic equipment and headed out.  There were three other families there and Ian spent most of the hour working on dribbling his basketball and shooting.

We play around the world, horse, and he set up an obstacle course to use with the basketball.  Evan and Alec played tag and soccer together.

 Alec and I used milk jugs with the ends cut off as cup to catch some small balls.  It's super easy and fun.  We just cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the milk jug and put duct tape around the ends (so we wouldn't get cut/ scratched by the plastic edges).  It would look even better with decorative duct tape but we used up what we had on- hand.  I've seen some real cute ones made up on- line and copied the idea. 

We played pass using these and made a game out of it.  I played soccer with Evan and we worked on passing and trapping the ball.

The boys interacted really well with the other kids and played hide and seek, tag and just chased each other around.    It was wonderful and we can't wait to go back next month. 

Ian stops to play with some of the younger kids; it's so sweet to see him interact soothingly and sweetly!
Let's practice batting!
On the way home from gym day, the boys asked if we could go visit their great- grandmother.  We called and she was thrilled to have the company for the day.  On the way to her house we stopped to drop off a box of new clothes, toys and baby formula at our local church.

I love including the boys in things like this so they understand the importance of helping those less fortunate; especially at this time of the year.

 Once we got to my grandmother's she asked the boys if they'd like to go out to lunch, so we headed to our local Mc Donald's and the boys spent the afternoon playing on the playscape and we all played a few rounds of air hockey.
My grandfather is in a nursing home and my grandmother likes us all to visit occasionally.  She offered to take them shopping for a little something if they behaved while we visited and, honestly, they were the best they had been all day!

We visited for a while and we played a game of Chinese Checkers.   Then they went to the store and each picked out a little toy. 

It was a fun and full day! 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snowmen jugs, math games & paper towel science

This is what a typical school day looks for us during the holiday season.

I dreamed of science experiments last night (no, seriously, I did!) so I decided it was time to do one.  We choose this paper towel color experiment (partly because it was the one in my dream, but mostly because I had all the supplies and thought it would be quick and fun for the boys).  The instructions and photos on the linked site are awesome!

The boys couldn't decide on two colors so we made one cup red and yellow (also known as orange) and the other cup was blue.  The first time our paper towels fell into the filled cup completely so the second time I used a wet fingertip to "adhere" the dry ends of the paper towels to the dry cups.  It takes quite a while but eventually the colored water travels up the paper towel and into the empty cup and the colors mix.

 It was pretty neat but a bit slow for the boys (it took over an hour before we had green water in the middle).   So we left it sitting on the table while we did other subjects.

Evan did another couple dot- to- dot sheets for math today  (and he got them all right the first time all by himself even though one of the sheets went up to 36!).

 Ian made up some targets for a multiplication game found here.  All you need is three pieces of paper and a deck of cards.  We printed out the score sheet they had on the site but you could easily make up your own if you don't have access to a printer.  It was quick and fun and definitely something we'll play again.  Alec played a second round with us (and did fantastic!).

Basically you make three target sheets that say x2, x3, and x5 (though really you could use any three times tables but these are the ones we're focusing on now).  Then you flip cards from the deck onto one of the targets.  When your card (we'll say an 8) lands on x2 you say 8x2= 16 and write down the number 16 as your score.  You play ten rounds and then add up your score.  We only learn up to the 12's so our jack and queen were worth 11 and kings were worth 12 while ace's were worth 1.  They loved it!  And Ian quickly learned that you really want to try and get your card to land on the higher number so your score is the highest.  I even had Ian add up our scores for us at the end. He added up 10 2-digit numbers with just a tiny bit of help from me! So tons of addition and multiplication practice there. 

While I had the cards out Alec and I decided to play the place value game.   We took 10 cards each (no face cards) and laid out a pyramid.  The first row has one card then the second row has two cards... you get the idea.  Anyway we flip over the first row and the one with the largest number wins 1 point.  We turn over the next two cards and call out our two digit number, the one with the largest number gets 2 points, and we continued on until someone had 25 points.  We had to reshuffle every other turn so I'd recommend using multiple decks of cards; especially if more than two people want to play.  We also ran into a great lesson when the 10 card popped up in the ones, tens, or hundreds column as we had to "carry" that over to the next place.  It was a fun and easy way to learn about place value and I'm sure we'll be playing that one again too!   

We read two chapters in Thanksgiving on Thursday and two chapters in Bunnicula (which the boys are loving and laughing at!), then we read few more chapters in our Hugo book.  That was enough reading for now.  But, honestly, the older two boys didn't want me to stop reading at all.  Every time I put the bookmark in our book I got a loud groan.  It's so nice to see them so interested in so many books.  They're able to keep all the books straight too and usually can tell me in great detail where we left off the day before (something I can't always do!).

We started watching the Australia movie we borrowed from the library.  It's 220 minutes long and broken into 4 parts so it will take us a while to watch it all.  Today we learned about the Outback.  It was very interesting but a bit upsetting at parts (like when they hunted 'roos!).  I think it was a bit too documentary like to keep Evan's attention for very long but the older two boys seemed to enjoy it and learned quite a bit about the outback towns and the Aborigines.  In fact, they all ended up watching part 2 during lunch.  We learned about Queensland and the coral reefs.

We made milk Jug snowmen.   I thought these were just too adorable not to make when I found them on Pinterest and I had all the supplies handy.  With yesterday's snow the boys really wanted to make a real snowman but we only got a dusting of snow so I thought I'd console them with this project:

  • Take an empty, clean milk jug and cut out large round black circles for the eyes, a few smaller ones for the smile and adhere with a glue gun (you can use paper or foam).  
  • We then cut orange triangles out of paper for the nose and used the glue gun once again.  
  • Then we decorated them; I told them they could use old hats or we could make ear muffs out of pom poms, curling ribbon, or yarn. 
  •  Lastly we cut a 3 sided flap in the back of each jug and added a string of Christmas lights inside each one each.  
We arranged them on our front stoop (but made sure they were protected from rain and snow) and plugged them in.  They're just darling and it only took a few moments to make!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stories, Stories, Stories, TV, TV, TV

         Before anyone had even had breakfast my boys started writing letters to Santa.  We had done this a few months back but I can't find the letters anywhere and my oldest son wants to fold up his letter and leave it next to our elf to bring back to the North Pole with him tonight.  The elf was cracking everyone up this morning since he found a dry- erase marker and drew faces on all the kid's baby pictures.  This is the first year our elf has gotten into mischief and they're loving it. 
          We had another low- key school day.  We read another chapter or two in our Hugo book and started reading a few chapters in Thanksgiving on Thursday (part of the Magic Treehouse series).  We had checked out this book long before Thanksgiving and never got around to reading it.  I was going to return it but they didn't want me to until we read it.  Not like I was going to argue over that!  We also read Sitting Bull Remembers, and Dinosaur vs. Santa.  Another day with tons of reading.  I realized shortly after breakfast that we're going to see a play next week and I haven't yet read that book to them either and so we headed to the library to get, yet another, chapter book that we started reading today.  The boys ended up picking up some more books and movies.    Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by all the books they check out.  I feel like we should read them all cover to cover but that doesn't always happen.  I'm getting better about relaxing and enjoying homeschooling but sometimes I still stress a bit about all that is out there that we haven't yet learned about. 
        We came home and they asked to watch the next two episodes of Time Blazers that we had on DVR, one was all about the history of school.  It went from caveman times to ancient Rome up to present day.  It was pretty interesting.  The second one was all about the stars and the constellations.  As we were setting up for math I pulled up Blue World Webisodes and we ended up watching a quick 10 minute video on sea snakes in Australia.  It's a site I made sure to bookmark as the boys begged to watch even more webisodes.   All of the mini- episodes are about ocean life.  It's a really neat site.  We then played Yahtzee and Add- A- Bug. 
         Ian was dying to go play in the snow by that point and the other two wanted to eat lunch so I told them if they didn't want to do any art or science today we could stop for the day and they all readily agreed.  It was a very short and sweet day packed with books and education shows. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A New Christmas Tradition

I had some ideas for several new traditions I wanted to start with the boys this year.  I went through all our bookshelves, pulled off all the Christmas books we have and wrapped them each individually. 

Each night they unwrap a book and we read a Christmas story.

This has made them so excited about reading!

We ended up reading three books last night because we had forgotten the other few days and they were all ready to tear open a new book this morning.  I had to explain it's really only one book per NIGHT.  We're going to save them for bedtime.

 They all grumbled and begged to open one this morning but I explained we'd run out before Christmas ever got here if we open them now. 

Ian has been creating elaborate houses out of dominoes.  He lays out floor plans and his last house had three bedrooms, each with their own closet, a game room, a huge family room/ kitchen, and honestly it looked a lot like the floor plans you buy except instead of drawn they were laid out with dominoes.  It's very creative and he put another one together this morning for our resident elf on the shelf.

Our elf was found taking a bubble bath in a tub of mini marshmallows this morning and the boys have steadily been eating away at his bath so it's probably a good thing he has a house now as a back up.

Alec wanted to do another add and color page and I found one with Santa Clause here (for free!) on Teachers pay Teachers.

Evan, once again, wanted to do a dot- to- dot.  He actually did two of them.  I found a bunch of Christmas ones at busy bee kids.
 I just love that my boys are always so eager to learn; especially when we make our work extra fun by including the holidays.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

No, I didn't forget that today is only Wednesday, but I will not be blogging tomorrow since we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house and I'll be busy cooking up a storm and spending time with my family.

I love this time of year. 

I just love to cook and entertain.  Yes, it requires a lot of time and effort on my part but I don't mind.  This year, so far anyway, it's actually been easier.  Yes, you heard me right, easier.  It's the first year I've had the boys home with me and I've been giving them all jobs.

  • They've helped clean the whole house
  • We got out early and went grocery shopping while the stores were somewhat empty.
  • They've helped prepare much of the food and even decide on the menu. 
  • I had them help set the dining table

We have everything planned out, written down, and even had extra time to visit friends.
Yesterday, we took time away from our holiday planning and we went to visit friends.  They occupied themselves on the long car ride by playing math bingo, the 50 states game on my Kindle as well as temple run, and where's my water? Mostly though they played toys and listened to the radio, singing along with the songs.

Our friends have a new baby in their house and I took the time to really show the boys how tiny babies can be.  It's been a long time since we've had a newborn around here and so I took off the baby's socks and showed them each the tiny feet and toenails, the tiny fingers and fingernails.  I explained to them that they were all once that size too.  I really thought they wouldn't care or would have said that they already knew that, but all of them looked amazed at that fact.

They soon lost interest though and then they tried their hand at playing Foosball, air hockey, and bey blade battles.  They played Star Wars and chased each other around with helmets and toy guns.  They rode bikes and scooters.  It was great fun.  Alec even found a Ninjago book to read while we were there.  It was a wonderfully relaxing day.    
Today we read a bunch of books:

We finished up our thankful tree and it looks nice and full with all the leaves back on it.

And we're taking it easy, knowing that all we have left to do is to actually cook up the food. 

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Monday, November 19, 2012

4 Hour hike-- Wordless Wednesday On a Monday

Yesterday, my husband and I took the two younger boys on a hike through the woods to a relative's house.  It took us a good 3 hours to hike to her house even though it's really not that far away (we came home on the road and it only took us about 20- 30 minutes).

Part of the length of our hike is due to the fact that the kids don't walk that fast and they often stop to look at everything around them.  To me that's a huge part of the hike.  They learn so much by observing nature.  We also stopped by a pond to have our lunch on a rock.  It was a beautiful day for hiking!
a hollow tree that they thought was interesting

Running along the top of a dam at the pond

A brook the boys asked me to take a picture of
An old forwarder left by the loggers

The kids find a downed tree and play with the clay underneath

"It looks like a mail box!"
An old stone foundation; perfectly intact

perhaps a root cellar?! 

Linking Up With:
Marilyns Treats

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Day of Computer Play

I decided to make today a "fun" day.

The boys could stay in their pajamas and I thought I'd allow them to take turns playing on the computer today using some game sites. There are some pretty phenomenal games out there and we rarely take the time to enjoy them.

Evan played Starfall and Word World for a bit this morning, learning all about letters and sounds, and learning some emergent reading.

Ian played Cool- Math and read some of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series on Funbrain

Once Alec saw Ian playing Cool- Math he wanted a turn too.  They really loved the game Isoball 3.  Alec also likes Word World and most of the PBS kids games.  I encouraged him to try playing Cyberchase games too since they use a lot of math.

I had them check out Sphinxkids too.  It's supposed to teach them a bit about classical music.  The older boys have once again started Words With Friends games with some family members so they've been playing that off and on today too.

I have so many great sites bookmarked that we never seem to get to so I'm thinking of making this a Friday ritual.  We'll check out some new sites and be sure to remember our favorites that way. 

We're planning on watching some Liberty's Kids episodes later and bundling up so we can go for a walk outside. 

It's been so long since we've done that but that's what hats, mittens, and all that winter gear is for, I'm determined to get us all fit, happy, and healthy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back in the Groove with Games Galore!

Evan and I played tic- tac- toe sight words this morning.  

I printed out this blank tic tac toe template then filled it in with a few wight words.  It's played just like regular tic- tac- toe but in order to cover the sight word he had to read it to me first (since he's very new to sight words I coached him quite a bit) and we had fun.  

  He knew yes, mom, dad, red and go!  I had no idea he knew that many words. 

Ian and I played a multiplication dice game.  We had to roll two dice and cover up the answer on the the board.  The object was to be the one to get the most covered.  It was great practice and sure beat writing down all the multiplication facts.

Everyone wanted to play Alec's math memory game; Match 10.

We've played this before, it's played with the number cards 1-9 out of the Uno deck and you try to flip over two cards that match to 10.  We had a lot of fun, and Ian ended up winning by the last two matches. 

not a match 

Evan and I played Dinosaur Train to work on numbers.  It's a traditional board game that we got a long time ago but I thought it was a fun way to teach him to recognize the numbers he spins and to use one to one correspondence to move his dinosaur along the trail.

We also played a 123 Go Diego Go game since he asked. 

I love that we can cover just about every school subject using games and fun!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marble Race and Water Bottle Fountains

It's often a struggle to find that happy medium between planning time, teaching time, and just plain old regular time to enjoy my kids.  Some days I feel like I spend most of the time planning and I don't like that, but I do like to have fun activities for us to do and they take prep. work.

Today, I asked Ian to go through my Pinterest boards and find something fun for us to do today. He decided he wanted to make a water bottle fountain.

We had all the supplies so I agreed but told him he needed to wait until his brothers were ready, since I knew they'd enjoy it too. 

We used:

empty soda bottle
duct tape
food coloring

We poked a hole on the side of the soda bottle just big enough for the straw to fit through.  We used a bendy straw and made sure the straw opening was facing up.  Then used duct tape to tape all around it.

We moved over to the counter and filled the bottle part way up with water and food coloring.  We made sure the bottle wasn't leaking and found that depending on how much water we put into the bottle some water did come out.  I made sure our straw was facing over the sink just in case.

However, there was always a point at which the water just stopped.  That's where the balloon comes in!  We filled up the balloon and stretched it over the hole of the bottle and watched as the air pressure in the balloon pushed the water out of the soda bottle.
We did our water bottle fountain and it was fantastically fun!  The boys loved it.  We filled up the bottle twice and the balloon four times. 

Please ignore the dishes in the sink. 

Ian sat down to read a few books to Evan; they each chose one and since they both love trucks that's what they chose to read about.  B is for Bulldozer and Roadwork.

Alec and I played Yahtzee for math.  There's so much to learn there; addition, multiplication, writing double digit numbers, etc.  Ian joined in for our second round and then I set the boys up with some exploratory play. 

I cut two pool noodles in half (lengthwise) and had them each find a marble or two.  Instant marble maze!

It's super easy to just use a sharp knife and run it down the side of the noodle. 

I gave them a stopwatch and they timed each ball, each race, they experiment with different heights, different angles, turning the maze on it's side, making a curve, a tunnel, and even taping some together to make a monorail.

They played, discovered, and explored for almost a half hour negotiating and problem solving their way through any problems.

 It was great and great fun too!

 They didn't want to stop and eat lunch when it was ready so I just let them keep playing.  We finally found the fun in our homeschooling again!  Today was wonderful. 

Linking Up With:
Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Science Fair Day

The day finally arrived!

The science fair was great.  

There were a variety of science projects and a huge span of ages of children that participated.  They all received a certificate for participating.  It was amazing to see all the hard work and dedication, even from some very young children.   

Here are the other projects we saw:
Learning about electricity 
Electricity & alternative Energy (a huge hit with Ian & Alec!)

The boys loved that these snap circuits ran a mini windmill and made all sorts of noises too.  It didn't hurt that the boy had made electricity poles out of chocolate and pretzels that he was passing out. 

Static electricity at work!

This butterfly study drew the kids in by allowing them to color their own bookmark to take home. 
The mammal study complete with definition of mammals, toy mammals, puzzles, books and activity sheets was a huge hit w/ Alec!

This girls human body study was very in- depth!  She filled in tons of diagrams, wrote a report, remade the body using a 3-5 and 2-d model and then she brought a brain jello- mold for snacks and an operation game.  It was great and so clever!

This little boy's rain forest study was very impressive.  He couldn't
have been more than 4 and he did most of the writing himself,
he also made tons of art projects to go along with it 

This boys took his nature collection and sorted according to type of tree and even labeled many of the specimens
Ian's favorite display was on rocks and minerals.  They had fools
gold, sulfur, mica, amethyst. 

Here he is studying them all. 

Ian is learning how to make molecules! 
This young boy used animal crackers to show animal habitats.  It was cute & of course he brought animal crackers to share
Alec is playing an instrument made of wood and wire while learning about music