Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not Back to School Field Trip to the Ecotarium

The children in our town all headed back to school yesterday and, in what has become a homeschooling tradition for us, we spent the day on a field trip.  Typically we head to the beach, the zoo, or the aquarium.

Yesterday we headed to the Ecotarium in hopes of getting a glimpse at their new baby otter.  Unfortunately, the otters were not cooperating and we never got to see them.  Luckily, there were lots of new exhibits and a few of our old favorites to check out. 

We saw lots of live animals.  

This turtle cracked us up
The porcupine seemed undecided  as to whether or not he should go outside 
Alec sat in a mini class about camouflage and got to feel an arctic fox pelt.  
We saw an albino skunk 
For once the opossum was up and about; he came walking right up to the glass

 We also saw two other varieties of turtles, lots of frogs, a red tailed hawk and a sugar glider.

The boys learned about city life in their new exhibit.  We learned about sewers and water treatment, noise and noise pollution, building bridges, and mapping too.

Learning about imports and how far away goods and foods travel to reach us 

Testing out various bridge materials to see which ones hold up best to vibrations and movement 

They experimented with different materials to build bridges over gorges and lakes too 

Ian's bridge may not have been very helpful for cars but it was very neat to look at. 

These computers blared out sounds and you had to rate how stressed the sounds made you feel.  We were cracking up at some of the actual sounds on there and, occasionally, about how they made one of us feel.  
 With the summer sunshine still going strong, the Ecotarium had their bubble centers set up and it seems like no matter how many times we play with them bubbles are just fascinating!

Even with the wind Alec was able to get a good window of bubbles going 

Evan helped and they managed to get the bubbles all the way to the top 

Alec is now so tall he had to crouch down to surround himself with bubbles 

Ian made some giant bubbles 

I just happened to catch this one in mid- pop!

Seeing what happens with different shapes in bubble solutions 

The boys also learned about dinosaurs, looked at dust under a microscope, read about old growth forests, and the destruction of beetles.

Learning about dinosaur digestion and poop 

Reading about old growth forests and how to determine if a forest is old or new.

We walked around outside and played on the playground for a bit too.

Sitting inside the pavilion looking out at the pond 

It was a wonderful day! 

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why I Will Always Let My Boys Read "Fluff"

There seem to be two schools of parenting or teaching when it comes to encouraging kids to read:   One camp wants to see kids reading quality literature and frown upon " fluff " (books of little substance or consequence that are superficially entertaining) while the other camp is just happy to see their kids reading.

In case you couldn't tell by the title of this post, I'm one of those moms that is just happy to see her kids reading.

Out of my three boys I only have one that LOVES to read and the other two tend to shy away from it. I usually have to cajole them into reading for just 15 minutes.

Having struggled to raise two reluctant readers I have found so much value in allowing them to read fluff that I'm not even sure I can see the validity in the argument that kids should read quality literature! (Kidding!)

Any books that make my non- readers happy to read is just fine by me!  I have always let my boys choose their own books and we count whatever they are reading as part of our schooling.

Evan has struggled for years to learn to read and kept insisting he did not know how long after I thought he really could read.  In the past month or so he has read an entire chapter book by himself and asked if I could request book 2 in the series when he still had two chapters to go.

This made me so very happy!

Did I love the book?  NOPE!

Did I think it was quality reading?  Not even close!

The book series he has fallen in love with is all about Terraria.  I have such a hard time listening to the story and we found a few grammar and spelling errors (which I did explain and point out)... but he LOVES them and that has always been my goal when teaching reading.

I want my boys to fall in love with reading; to look at books and remember having fun with them.

I want them to want to read and not have to force them to read just because it's part of our school day.

I love when they come bounding over eager to tell me about what they read, begging to see if I can find more books like it, and watching them recommend the book to their friends.

So I will always allow my boys to read "fluff."

That doesn't mean we don't read any quality literature; we do. I read books aloud to the boys, we listen to books on CD, and I often suggest books for them to try reading that I think they'll enjoy.  Often I can get them to read books with me by taking turns reading pages or chapters together.

Right now my middle son is working his way through Watership Down and Ian is giving Animal Farm a try; both at my suggestion and both books I remember reading myself in school.

I try to make sure they are exposed to a variety of reading materials, authors, genres and styles but I will always encourage them to read books they enjoy; even if it means allowing fluff.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Love to Learn Linky #32

Our last link up of the summer!  When I next "see" you it will be September.

In New England September signals the start of school for everyone, thoughts turn to apples, pumpkins and fall.  The air is already turning just a bit cooler though I continue to hope for a few last days of summer to enjoy with my boys.

I can't deny that I do love fall though and look forward to sweaters, crisp cool mornings and the beauty of the changing leaves.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

When You Have A Child That Refuses to Grow Up

I have three boys and their personalities are so very different.  From day one each asserted himself in a unique way and I have always tried to treat them as individuals.  That said, it's not always easy to stop comparing them.

Lately I have been realizing that I am trying to force my youngest son to be a bit more like his brothers.  He is reluctant to grow up.  Holding onto childhood likes and interests, resisting learning any new self- help skills, etc. and I have been struggling to accept that.

My oldest two boys were always pushing the envelope to try new things.  They were in a hurry to grow up!

Often the asked to take on new skills before I thought they were ready.

My oldest was driving heavy equipment around by the time he was 8!

My middle son potty trained himself in just a few days at the age of 3 because he so badly wanted to go to preschool with his older brother.  He never had one single accident!  (We let him start school the month he turned 4 because he was so insistent; even though it was part way through the school year!).

They asked to learn how to cook and bake and use sharp knives and "real" tools quite early on.

I can remember hearing "my by self!"  over and over from the time they were able to talk.

They often picked out their own clothes and struggled to dress themselves, feed themselves, and generally just taking over anything I tried to do for them.

Making his own Christmas cookies 
I encouraged their independence even as I worried over it; always afraid they'd get hurt or get in over their heads.

Then I had my third and I can honestly say he's been pretty content to stay young.  He actually seems resistant to growing up.

Whereas his older brothers often took over and wanted to do things for themselves, Evan rarely did.

Evan often asks me to do things for him that I know he can do himself.  He does not enjoy or want to make his own breakfast or lunch.  He still pretends he has no idea how to run the washing machine or dryer and waits until he completely runs out of clothes before asking me to do it for him.

Sometimes I fear he is lazy.

Sometimes I fear he may never grow up and take responsibility for anything.

Sometimes I fear that I am forcing him to grow up before he's ready.

Lately I have been trying to look at this reluctance of his to grow up as a gift.

I still get to sit and read to him.  I still get to snuggle with him in his bed.

He still has piles of stuffed animals and toys everywhere.  He plays with toys and enjoys using his imagination so much.

He has plenty of time to grow up and I really want to stop rushing him to hurry it up.

After all it really is flying by so fast.

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