Saturday, August 30, 2014

What It's Like Learning at Home

After a long week with lots of trips, we all decided we wanted to stay home on Friday. The boys seemed eager for some real school work.  As soon as they sat down to eat breakfast they asked me to read them a chapter from our Harry Potter book.

After breakfast we cleaned house for 20 or so minutes together.  Once the boys finished cleaning they just sort of gravitated toward the table and got to work.

Evan worked on writing number sentences to word problems in his Star Wars math book and finished up the alphabet review pages in his Star Wars reading book.

Alec completed 5 pages in his math workbook (by choice as I only asked him to complete two!).

Ian complained as he worked through two pages in his math workbook-- one on adding money together, and another on comparing decimals.  He did great and I let him do the second page orally along with me.  He just has it firmly in his head that he hates math, it's hard, and it's stupid.

The two older boys asked (YES-- ASKED!) to do their division minute test and both passed on this second attempt at the test.  They were happy to start putting together their spaghetti dinner pictures.

I've already promised a trip to the Olive Garden as a reward for learning all these math facts.  They were both pretty proud of themselves today!
Evan headed outside to play while the older boys finished up their math and took their math minute. I saw him running around the house and playing on the swings.  He came in excitedly and told us all we had to come see the toad he found.  We've found a lot of them over the last few weeks and the older boys excitement is starting to wane.  They told Evan they've seen enough toads but he told them they just had to come see this one since he was HUGE.  Evan's excitement was enough to motivate Alec, at least, and the two of them ran off to find the toad and examine him. 

When Evan came back inside he asked to read his book so he could be finished with school.  I warned him we would still have to learn some geography later but that I was happy to read with him.  He re-read I Like Bugs and did such a great job this second time around.

While we were reading, Ian read Frog Song and learned all about the different environments, sounds and behaviors of different frogs.

Alec worked on some coloring and just decided not to read today.  As long as the other two boys didn't notice and complain, I wasn't going to force him to read.  Alec is usually walking around with his nose buried in a book so I typically give him much more leeway in not reading during set school hours since he more than makes up for it at other times.

We wanted to head out for a morning walk and the boys all agreed they wanted to walk to their great, great aunt's house.

Alec asked if he could ride his bike and while I was reluctant to have him on our busy road with the cars zooming past I knew he would be within sight at least and figured it was good practice for him.  I did have to remind him not to listen to his MP3 player while riding and to watch and listen for vehicles.

We had a nice walk and saw toads, caterpillars, and even a bee/ hornet nest on the ground.  The boys were dismayed to find that their aunt was not at home but after a short rest in her yard we walked home talking about what we wanted for lunch when we made it back to our house.

Alec off in the distance on his bike-- when did he get so big?!

During lunch the boys asked me to read some more of our Harry Potter book and Alec read a few pages out loud for us too.
 After cleaning up our lunch I pulled out our books on New Jersey and we learned about the garden state.  We read G is for Garden State and The Legend of the Cape May Diamonds.

Before reading I had the boys find New Jersey on the map and asked them if they knew anything about New Jersey.

  • Alec pointed out it's neighbors on the map, reading all the states and waterways around it.  
  • Ian told me he thought they had a lot of mining associated with New Jersey too.  
  • We talked about the length of the shoreline and I told them a bit about Atlantic City and Cape May.  
  • The boys were happy to learn that the game Monopoly was based on New Jersey and that's where Boardwalk got it's name.  Since New Jersey was the first state to build a boardwalk near the beaches in order to keep the sand out of the hotel lobbies.  

After we were done reading and school was over for the day, they played Lego's and toys in their rooms and then came out an hour later in order to get ready for some jet ski rides with their grandmother.  It was a bit chilly out and no one wanted to stay in the water and swim.  Ian headed inside to work on something in his room (he's been cleaning out bits and pieces of it and wanted to finish up). 

I found Alec at the table drawing some pictures and offered to help him work some more on his peacock painting.  He set up all the paint supplies and we pulled up the pictures.  He sketched out the bird and started painting it in blue along with the outline of all it's feathers.  I worked with him and showed him the basic shape of the feathers and how to fill them in then he took over.

Evan pulled out his camera and started taking pictures of all his special rocks.  I was on the verge of suggesting he take pictures of me or the cat (or anything but rocks) and realized it really didn't matter.  Here he was exploring nature through the lens and it's not like I have to pay to develop pictures taken with his digital camera.

Instead I encouraged him to keep clicking away until he was completely happy with his photos.

Alec watched a YouTube video and was teaching himself to make the Frozen bracelet.  Ian and Evan went inside to see what Alec was making and all three boys ended up working on a new bracelet.

Evan put all the bands on the bracelet for a starburst bracelet and then asked if I'd help him loop them all where they go.  As I went along I marveled at the fact that he got all the bands on right and I didn't have to fix any!  He then started teaching Ian how to make one.  Ian has made many fishtail and other easy, finger bracelets but has never used the loom.  He decided to try a starburst bracelet and did a really great job on it too.  I guess Evan's a good teacher. 

We headed out to dinner and ran into some family.  The boys had fun talking and playing with their cousins and then settled down for dinner.  Alec enjoyed showing off his bracelet and comparing notes with his cousin about the different types of bracelets they've made.

By the time we were done eating and had gotten some ice cream the three boys made friends with an older couple and kept them well entertained with all their stories.

I wandered over as it was time to go and the man asked where they went to school.  I said they were homeschooled and he said he wasn't surprised since they were so well spoken and had such a great vocabulary.  They complimented us on what nice boys we have and how social they are.

It was so nice to hear! 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Soaring to New Heights!

The boys were beside themselves with excitement yesterday morning.  We headed out to try an indoor aerial obstacle course.  We've had a Groupon for Soar Indoors that we bought at the end of the spring and we were waiting for the summer crowds to pass.
We were at Soar Indoors for almost 3 hours.  The boys LOVED it.  I participated with them too and it was a lot of fun.  We were all started on the lower course that's only 2 1/5 feet off the ground.  We are responsible for moving our own harness clips around and the time on the lower course is to make sure that we all have the hang of it before heading to the upper course that is 12 feet off the ground.

Evan, Ian and myself found the lower course plenty challenging enough and just stuck to that.  I don't think Evan stopped once.  He became a master at clipping himself in and moving himself through that course!

Evan went first and jumped right on. 
like being a tight rope walker!

Alec went immediately to the top as soon as he completed the lower course and picked some of the most challenging portions of the course to try out.  He did amazing!

 We're all very anxious to go back and try it again.  Learning new things and broadening our horizons was a perfect way to spend our day and it certainly didn't hurt knowing our local town started back to school today and we were out having a great day!

we just about had the room to ourselves today!

Ian had lots of fun balancing across the bridge

Alec starts on the upper course

watching him 12feet off the ground made me so
Alec's perseverance amazed me!

Evan's favorite part was the zip-line! 

he certainly did not inherit my fear of heights!

Look at that smile! 
It's so fun to try new things.

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by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Catch a Wave: A Fun Day at the Beach with our Family

We went to the beach!  The forecast showed a hot, sunny week and we plan on taking full advantage of our freedom.  My mother, sister and nephews were joining us and we were all excited for a beach day at a beach with actual waves!

We picked up my mom and headed to the beach.  The beach was quite crowded but we found my sister and her sons and settled down for lots of fun.

digging in the sand together

Alec boogie boarding
Evan met another little boy with the same name and they were soon friends.  They marveled at all the things they had in common and had a ball making up games to play together as they dug in the sand, jumped off dunes, and ran around.

Evan and his friend Evan 
Ian spent just about the whole day in the water body surfing and boogie boarding.   Alec actually got his feet wet and before I knew it had gone into the ocean too.  He too learned to body surf and had fun boogie boarding also.

We saw lots of neat boats and planes too!
Ian boogie boarding with his cousin
He dug in the sand and tried burying his feet further at the edge of the surf.  Once he got hem unstuck he decided to try burying his hands too. 

Stuck in the sand, watching the waves deposit and take
sand away
Alec buries his feet
He decided to try it with his hands too
The boys checked out all the sand sculptures around us and Alec marveled at how they were able to do that.  We found a small crab and Ian picked it up and started showing it around.

The crab we found
Evan finally changed into his bathing suit and joined the rest of the family in the water and spent the rest of the day in the waves.  Alec helped teach him to body surf and then Evan took a few turns with the boogie board.

It was a glorious day and the boys had so much fun; even if Alec was shaking, and freezing most of the day.  The kid had goose bumps on top of his goose bumps he was so cold but he was having so much fun he just didn't care.

All the boys waiting for the perfect wave
 They were all rather reluctant to leave the beach and asked about "next" time already!  What a wonderful day making memories with our family!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

HI HO, HI HO It's off to hike we go.

We dragged the boys to Mt. Wachusett again yesterday for a hike.  They did not want to go hiking but once we got them all dressed and in the car & they were resigned that this was something we were going to do they did cooperate.

We listened to Evan's MP3 player in the car on the way there and all the boys sung along to the songs.  I had no idea how many lyrics they knew!

We arrived mid- morning and started our trek up the mountain.

They hardly complained, though they did ask why we couldn't just drive up it a few times.  We saw a few toads, lots of interesting mushrooms, and took notice of all the different types of trees.  We heard squirrels and some sort of bird of prey.

 Alec chose to listen to his MP3 player as he climbed and he was usually a good foot or so in front of us.   I noticed how much better he was getting about dogs too.  Though, not a fan by any means, he no longer runs from them or cowers in fear when he sees them and best of all he's stopped screaming/ yelling at the sight of them too!

The boys politely talked to all the hikers we ran into and Evan ended up petting a lot of the dogs.  I think we were most happy to find a small Eastern newt!

We've been searching for these for years now ever since learning about vernal pools and watching videos on salamanders and newts.  Alec found the little guy right on a rock that he was about to climb up onto.  Remembering that newts breathe through their skin and our lotions, hand sanitizers and soaps are bad for them, Alec made sure to get his hands nice and dirty and muddy before picking him up and moving over to side of the trail in some mossy growth.

The boys had fun climbing on the rocks and playing with the different formations; some were perfect seats, some were made into surfboard and some were perfect for squeezing into.  They all cheered when we reached the top. 

Alec's seat and Evan's surfboard

They love the balancing rock

Perfect sided crack for a lemon squeeze

The Newt

Alec picks him up to move him off the trail

Once at the top we stopped for lunch and a much needed break.  It was windy and cool at the summit so the boys pulled on their sweatshirts.  We checked out the Boston skyline, found a small pond with some goldfish and the boys had fun feeding crackers to the fish.

 Alec walked around and around the pond several times and made friends with many of the adults he bumped into.

He's always happy to share his knowledge of nature with anyone who's willing to listen.  I heard one lady remark "wow, you sure know a lot about this!"  He was beaming! 

Evan was so excited to find an orange feather

feeding the fish

Can you see the buildings of the Boston skyline?

 On our way down the mountain the boys just about ran, nimbly jumping from rock to rock.  We stopped to look at the radio station, the chair lift and some of the ski runs.

We found lots of mud and a few puddles.  The whole mountain was quite damp and looked like it had rained the night before.

My husband found a garter snake on the way down and we noticed that the snake was hardly moving.  We weren't sure if he was injured or just cold so Alec moved him off to the side of the trail and covered him up with some leaves.

We saw, what we think was, a broad winged hawk flying around yesterday (though it wasn't close enough for us to truly identify).

It's so great to see the boys' faces light up in wonder at all these glimpses of nature. 

We stopped for ice cream sundaes on the way home and tried to plan the rest of our day.  I'll admit I was wiped out and only wanted a nice hot shower, dinner and bed.   It was such a fun Saturday!

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This Is How We Roll Thursday Party