A bit more structure in our day

   Feeling like my kids and I have been slacking off in just about everything lately, I warned them this week was going to be very different.  After the plethora of screens they had last week all screens are off for the week (during the daytime hours anyway; I did tell them they could have TV and video games around dinnertime).  I wanted to focus on housework/ chores, school work, and lots of fresh air.  My boys, who complained last week whenever I sent them outside were chomping at the bit to get out and play first thing Monday morning.  I guess I need to take away their screens more often!  They didn't whine or complain either-- they WANTED to go outside!  They took out an assortment of toy weapons and chased each other around the yard. 
   They came in and had breakfast and started in on their chores and schoolwork.  Feeling anxious that the boys are probably behind in where they "should" be I'm working on re-designing our math curriculum and trying to be mindful of having a daily plan so we're sure to touch on all the major subjects by the end of the week.  I spent part of my morning pulling out supplies for them to work with.  I'm thinking we'll still use their math books but I just want to make sure to lump all the fraction lessons together (and all the multiplication lessons together & so on) so we're constantly building on previous skills rather than skipping all around.  I just feel like lately anytime we use the older boys math books I have to re-teach all concepts for the day and they're just not sinking in like they should since their books jump all around from skill to skill. 
     Ian vacuumed his bedroom rug & the dining room rug and then went to work on multiplying 3, 4, and 5 digit numbers by a one digit number.  It was hard work for him but he definitely understands the steps and how to do it; he just has to remember to multiply the numbers and not accidentally add them which he has a tendency to do.  He chose to work on this skill in his book with a word problem page.  I can't get over the fact that he enjoys word problems!  He also worked on a page in his cursive book and then finished off his schoolwork by reading another chapter in the Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable with me. 
    I had pulled out some math manipulatives and put them on our coffee table.  The boys each migrated to the table at one time or another and made up their own way to play with the hundreds chart, frogs, colored tiles and number tiles.  They pretended they were money, they made patterns, they stacked them up and compared the total number of each tiles, etc.  Great, fun, exploratory math.

    Alec vacuumed his room and the playroom and then worked on matching clock faces with analog times.  I had an old flashcard set we've never used and I thought it would make a quick re-view of telling time.  He sorted all the analog times according to if they were o'clock, 15 past, half past and15 'til then he went through the pile of clocks and just had to sift through each mini pile once he figured out the time showing.  He matched them up and set them aside quite quickly.  He then had a cursive page to work on and the he asked if he could do his reading in the car later that night when his brothers were getting their hair cut.  He ended up reading a book on sea creatures that we found in the dollar section of Target (while we walked around Target) as well as a few short stories in Favorite Greek Myths in the afternoon.  Good thing he had gotten his reading out of the way or else he would not have been able to play his DS and listen to Percy Jackson in the car at night. 

    Evan and I started his school day with a snack.  I had gotten in some alphabet cookies and we pulled out all the non- broken letters and a c-v-c spelling page I had printed off the computer ages ago.  I asked him to make words-- both real and nonsense using his letter cookies.  He had a hard time sounding out the words he made but giggled whenever he made up a nonsense word.  I finally started asking him to build simple words for me like mop, map, pam, hat, jam, jet, etc.  He did great sounding them out and found spelling them much easier than creating them!  He sometimes stumbled over the vowel sounds but was getting MUCH better by the time he got to start eating the cookies.  We also talked a lot about word families and practiced just changing the first letter of each word to make new words. 

   Evan and I also re-read My Tooth is Loose and I asked him to practice writing his full name.  I realized it had been ages since I asked him to write his last name and at first he told me he didn't remember how to spell it. He slowly started spelling it out loud and remembered-- phew!  I wrote it down for him and had him copy his full name twice.  To finish off our day he did two pages in his math book.  He circled all the rectangles he could find in a cityscape and then on another page he crossed out all the shapes that were not circles.  I know this sounds like a ton of work (and it really is a lot of work for Evan) but we took very long breaks between working.  We even went to the store, out to lunch and to play in the park in between working so he didn't balk or whine or fight me to get any of it done either. 
     We had a great time at the park and the younger two boys made some new friends for the afternoon.  They played tag with three or four other little boys that were there.  They were running up the ladder, sliding down firemen poles, climbing rock walls, sliding down slides, walking on balance beams, and running like crazy!  We all found time to play on the swings and ended our trip with a nice cooling off in the splash park.  

    Once home we read another chapter in Harry Potter and Ian played with his Legos in his room.  Alec was reading quietly and Evan was left to build an obstacle course for Yoshi to drive through with all the building blocks.   We learned that the boys can earn extra tickets for their karate raffle by keeping a reading log so we spent part of our afternoon writing down the titles of the books they've read so far on summer vacation.  I was kind of annoyed by this though, for once I wasn't going to keep a reading log.  I'm the one who ends up writing down all the titles since we typically read the most before bed and I hate to have them stay up late just to write.  I know my boys read a lot and it's not all the different in the summer so I was just going to ignore all the summer reading programs this summer and keep on doing what we do.  Last year each of my boys read close to 100 books and I know they enjoy stories but I hate keeping a log.  I finally told them I'd write down the titles we've read so far but then they have to take it over for the rest of the summer.  I figure if karate isn't enough of an incentive for them than we're just back to not keeping track- either way I'm fine with it. 
   It wasn't a perfect day as we did have some bickering, some fighting and some complaining.  The skies opened up and started pouring in the afternoon.  It had been a rather gray, humid, dark day so we weren't all that surprised when it started to rain.  They wanted to play outside and even headed out with sweatshirts on but it was really coming down out there and Ian thought he had noticed lightening so I asked them all to play inside.   They were stuck inside  with their cousin who came over to play and after repeated reminders to stop yelling, fighting, yelling and slamming doors I was ready for a break and praying for bedtime to arrive.  I know that they're just kids and I have to expect some of that. It's trying not to let moments of obnoxiousness ruin our whole day that I have to work on. 


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