Thursday, July 31, 2014

Self- Guided Learning and Games

Ian came into my room while I was exercising yesterday morning and placed a few books on my bed.  When I asked him what was up he told me he had already started his schoolwork and had finished reading. 

He read a book called Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs and Frogs.  I was impressed!  It was only 6:30 or so and here he was getting his schoolwork done! 

I had reminded the boys the previous night that they had to get their schoolwork done early since their cousins were coming to play but I figured they would still eat breakfast, play for a bit and try to procrastinate at least a little.  Ian told me he enjoyed the book but it was hard to summarize since it was a book like The House that Jack Built that just kinds of builds on each page. 

He walked downstairs with me with the intention of pulling out his math book again and I reminded him that he could work on writing using his Draw Write Now book or practice cursive or any other subjects too.  He excitedly told me he wanted to do a page in his Draw Write Now book as soon as he ate breakfast. 
I sat down at my computer and found Evan eyeing our United States and World Map puzzles.  Ian had played with them a few days ago and left them out of the bin.  Evan was studying the pictures that were on the puzzles and which state/ country they were near.  I reminded him that if he wanted to work on those puzzles that it is all part of school so he happily dumped them out and set to work. 

Ian must have been inspired by Evan because he hurried in and asked if we could play the Scrambled States of America game as part of his schoolwork and I said sure so he set it all up.  Evan wanted to play and asked if I would help him.  He's starting to recognize many of the states and there are several clues that he doesn't even need help with anymore.  Once he can read and spell on his own he's going to be a fierce contender for his brothers with the game. 

We talked about letters & sounds, words, vowels vs consonants, and even what syllables are.  We also talked about lakes, oceans, borders, the compass rose, north, south, east, west, and proximity.  Evan spelled Mississippi for me and told me that's an easy state to spell and read since he knows it already by listening to his brothers spell it.  They had so much fun learning together!
Evan finished up his morning of schoolwork by completing two pages in his Star Wars Phonics book.  He asked if he could do any two pages and chose to work with the letters Q & R.  He told me that he wants to keep the book after he completes it so he can read it and read all the names of the Star Wars guys.

I can't get over how eager he is to work in these books just because they have characters in them. 

The older two boys are so jealous too.  I really wish they made them for older grades too! 
Since the boys were done with school and Alec was still in bed they started helping me clean the house.  Evan dusted while Ian vacuumed and washed the floors using the Libman Wonder Mop.

I was starting to think Alec would never wake up when he came downstairs in his pajamas reading his Secret Zoo book.  He's on the 4th book in the series and even though he only had read a chapter or two previously he finished the entire book!

 In fact, he finished the book by 10:30 or 11 and went on to finish up reading his Greek Mythology book and all of his Greek Mythology fact cards too.  I did have to make him put the books a time or two so he could eat breakfast, get dressed and clean up his room before our company came over but he was content to keep his nose buried in his books until lunchtime. 

He's just such an avid reader! 

He read another 4 picture books before bed too after we said goodnight to him and he couldn't wait until morning to come downstairs and show me.

By lunchtime my sister and nephews were with us and the boys all had fun playing in the water, the sand, and on the swing set together.  We observed a "new" bird on our lake which we figured was a cormorant by the end of the day and also had fun watching the blue heron and the mamma duck with her little ducklings. 

chicken fights
the cormorant found some food  
another picture; we were surprised that it could hold it's breath so long and swim so far so fast!
Once the boys tired of swimming, playing chicken and holding contests in the lake they spread out some blankets and all laid down to compare, trade, and examine each other's Pokémon cards. 

I was happy to hear them doing math too as they battled with Pokémon cards.  Alec was easily subtracting three and two digit numbers in his head and surprised me when he told his cousin that you could not take 130 away form 50 unless you were using negative numbers; I didn't realize he knew what negative numbers were! 

They had fun and they helped each other figure out points and scores each making sure the other's math was right.

I love when they learn naturally through play; that's the best!

Pokémon traders

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working Outside

It was such  a nice day that we decided we all needed to take advantage of it and go for a nice walk this morning.  We try to work outside whenever we can in the summer.  We often bring out science experiments, art projects or even just our school books and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while learning something fun together.

We left our yard and went for a hike in the woods.  We saw birds, examined a spider web, talked about deer, scat, deer ticks and the diseases ticks carry, as well as some unusual fungi.  They hemmed and hawed about taking a walk, especially when I warned them that I wanted to do some sort of walking outside everyday but ultimately we had a good time. 

It's amazing to me that we always seem to find something different on each walk we take; even if we walk in the same places often!

This bird was hopping and appeared
unable to fly

A tree had fallen over and we inspected the trunk to figure out why

scat tracks through the woods


Once home for our walk, the boys wanted to play on the swings and Ian wanted to show me what he had been working on in the sand all morning while I was cleaning.  I let them play and told them I'd set up a blanket inside the fort we had built and bring Harry Potter out to them. 

Ian's new work site 

We read another chapter in our book while sitting in the fort or on the rock near our fort.  The boys were thrilled when our cat come over to join us too.

Since we were enjoying being outside so much, I offered to bring their schoolwork out to them and set up a blanket in the shade.  Ian wanted to read the book Big Night for Salamanders and work on a page in his math book.  He read quietly to himself and then summarized the story for me.  He chose to work on a page about rounding and adding sums of money.  He, once again, needed a quick refresher on rounding and then had his work done in no time.

While working outside on his math, Evan once again was doing more math than his work required.  The first page he worked on was counting by 2's.  But he went on to tell me many more math facts that he knew.  His second page was working with counting by 5's; something he hasn't had nearly the same amount of practice with.  He figured it was counting by fives though and so once he finished writing all the numbers we then counted beyond the  page up to 100 by fives together.  He also completed another two pages in his phonics book; the letters F & G. 

He was getting antsy so I sent him off to play and told him we'd read together in a little bit. 
Alec had headed inside to try and finish up, yet another, Greek mythology book he had started reading Monday night but came outside after a bit to work on his math with us in the shade.  He chose two different pages that worked on adding two digit numbers (some with regrouping and some not).  

After lunch the boys wanted to head to the family cottage across the lake.  Evan and I sat together and quickly read What If?  It's a cute little book with only about 5 words and a very repetitive story line about two seals playing ball on the beach.  He read most of the story by himself to him needed help with one or two sight words that he had not yet been introduced to. 

Once we were done reading it was decided that Alec would bike to the cottage while the other two boys swam there.  I kayaked alongside them in case they needed any help and ended up towing Evan half- way across the lake. 

The boys played with their cousins and some of their cousins' cousins for the afternoon.  They kayaked, swam, jumped, paddle boated, fished, and had a great time soaking up the sun. 

boats, boats, boats

Evan found a heart shaped rock (that we had to keep)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sprinkling in Subjects Through the Summer

The boys were asking to do school today so I put them in charge of what they wanted to learn about.  I don't typically have a lot of schoolwork all planned out for the summer.  We try to work on a bit of math and reading each day while sprinkling in other subjects as the boys

I had asked Evan if he wanted me to find him some word and math games or if he wanted to work in his Star Wars workbooks and he chose his books.  He just LOVES them!  He sat right down yesterday morning and completed two pages in his phonics book and two pages in his math book!

We looked through the book Flotsam together using the pictures for telling the story aloud as we went. 

He then read Goodnight, Gorilla to me and only needed help with the word "dear." He declared himself done for the day and I was fine with that. 

Good Night, Gorilla

I'm finding that getting actual books from the library that he can read with little to no help is helping him see himself as a reader much more effectively than any of the Bob's books or mini readers we've been using.  He now knows he can read some "real" books and that seems to have helped his confidence so I'm no longer arguing with him that he is in fact reading when he thinks he's just guessing. 
While Evan was working on his schoolwork, Ian was working on his schoolwork too. 

He picked a page in his math workbook that dealt with adding 3 and 4 rows of numbers that had a mixture of 2, 3, 4, or even 5 digits. 

Ian was going to read a book too but at the last minute decided to fill out a few pages in his Army Heritage Trail activity book that he picked up on vacation in Virginia; he did a maze and learned about the motor pool and then looked for words in a word search learning all about the command post and the supplies soldiers carried with them during the World Wars. 

He then went to watch some Ice Road Truckers and played with his Lego's making a covered trailer with a hinged tailgate. 

Alec decided to read Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters.  He didn't end up doing any other schoolwork for the day since he read the whole entire book-- all 192 pages!  

Sometimes I worry that just few pages in math and some reading are not enough but then I remember that we often sprinkle in other subjects here and there. All that sprinkling really adds up over time!

  • They spent a good portion of their day on Friday watching many episodes of Wild Kratts and Mythbusters so they certainly had learned lots of science.  
  • Ian had a friend come play over the weekend and after Ian taught him how, they played the Scrambled States of America game together.  
  • The older two boys have also been playing Stack the States on the Kindle 
  • With all our travelling last week we've pretty much lived geography, history and science through life anyway.   
  • We had excellent discussions about the states, the symbolism on their license plates, the views we passed and even a mini lesson on times zones since Nashville was part of a different time zone.  
  • We managed to fill in almost all of the 50 states and all thought it was odd that the three we were missing were in the continental United states and right near each other too!

Sorry it's such an awful picture but the map was pretty wrinkled by the time we made it home!
Alec has completely immersed himself in learning all about the Greek Gods.

While on vacation in Tennessee he bought a deck of Greek Mythology trivia cards at the Athena Parthenon and has been quizzing himself reading the questions on the front and the answers on the back.  He has excitedly shared what he's learning with all of us and has proceeded to read through 3 more Greek Mythology books since coming home. 

He finished Jason and the Argonauts, read Pandora, & Greek Myths; Stories of Sun, Stone, and Sea

He brought a book with him to the grocery store on Friday and was sharing his stories with us and even sharing his knowledge with the bagger and cashier.
We're starting to re-listen to the whole Heroes of Olympus books now that we have finished up the Percy Jackson series.  My boys are so excited and just love these series!  We started listening to book one on CD in the car.

We brought home another huge pile of books and have read before bed each night since coming home from Tennessee.  We've also been reading a few more chapters in the Goblet of Fire and the boys can't get over how different the books and the movies are becoming.