Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Didn't I Come Up with This?

Jackson got this very complicated toy. It's made of little pieces of wood. That's it. Oh, and it usually sells for $60 though I paid a third of that at Costco. So, why didn't I think of selling little pieces of wood for 400 times the cost?

Seems so simple, but you can't imagine how much he has enjoyed these little pieces of wood! It just goes to show the simpler the toy the more they are able to use their imagination. Remind me why I have all these toys lying around everywhere again? I'm so tempted to throw them all away and let them lose with some cardboard boxes that I can just throw away when it's cleaning day.

OK, off my soapbox now. So, Jackson has created many great things:

I think here he is really just trying to keep Wesley from knocking down his creation:

They even, gasp, worked together! I loved the fire in the middle. This was Fort Nashborough we studied during TN history.

By far, my favorite was the Coliseum since we had just started studying Rome. I thought it was pretty impressive:

They were so proud of their creation (and Mommy was just waiting for the crying, screaming and gnashing of teeth about to happen when this cute little 3 year old knocked it over!).

So, go pick up some CitiBlocs and wish you'd invented them too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Music Fun...

The kids were supposed to go on a field trip to the symphony when it occurred to me that I haven't done a great job teaching about all the instruments. I'm embarrassed to say that I never seem to fit music in the day like I wish I could. I figured there was no time like the present and at least they'd have a base of knowledge to build upon when they did go to the symphony. I found these great instrument cards at a wonderful Montessori inspired blog I love, Counting Coconuts. I printed 2 copies on cardstock so they could later play a matching game.

First, we talked about the categories of instruments. I have them sort one set of the cards into a giant graph and tell me which one had the most:

As usual, it was a pajama kind of day. In this picture you can also see the edge of the Coliseum they built, an art easel, and a house we were using for our bear hunt sensory bin. Oh, the joys of a homeschooling house...

Then they played a game of instrument go fish. Good times, and they didn't realize it but they were learning the names of all the instruments. Sneaky me :)

So, we still have a long way to go in the music education department, but what a fun way to start! They also absolutely loved the symphony, and we plan on going back soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Chapter Book!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I did the classic thing that homeschool mommies are always warned about it. You'd think I'd know better, but I fell into the trap. I began to panic about the fact that my daughter didn't love to read and wasn't reading well enough. She was in the beginning of second grade and still chose step 1 reading books for free reading time. She would rather take the easy route than try something and fail so she always chose the books she knew she could read easily. Not only that, but she didn't like to read. I wasn't sure how that even happened. I mean I vaguely remember giving birth to this child so I knew she had to have at least half my DNA. I can easily read a book a day (if those annoying things like housekeeping, cooking and laundry don't interfere), so if the math is right she should at least want to read half a book a day, right?

But, that was far from the case and I was worried. It's hard sometimes being the teacher and the mommy because you take the full blame when something doesn't seem to be clicking. After a panicked e-mail to the homeschool mommies I admire who have older daughters, they all told me what I knew down deep inside (all kids learn at different rates, just keep reading to her and pushing her, the beauty of homeschooling is that they can learn when they are ready, etc...). They also included personal anecdotes about their daughters not liking reading at Ashton's age. Those were girls who now read voraciously, and who I usually talk books with when I see them. That renewed my hope and settled my panic.

I followed their advice and just encouraged my daughter where she was (although I did pack up all the easy, easy readers to take away that choice :). Then just about 2 months later she woke up and informed me that she had stayed up late reading a Junie B. Jones book and finished half of it! She asked if she could keep reading and finish it all. We quickly squeezed in some math then I let her read away. She finished it in the early afternoon. I told her she had read an entire chapter book in 19 hours- including the 9 hours she was asleep! We all celebrated like mad and made a giant, humongous, told everyone we know deal out of it.

And just like that, MY daughter became a reader:

And I became a little bit wiser mommy, very grateful for the gift of far wiser friends.

Symmetry the Fun Way...

I have this dream of the type of math teacher I want to be. I love the living math and hands-on approach. I just never seem to pull them off due to lack of planning time and inability to follow through. But today I rocked it (if I do say so myself-hee hee). We had a great time learning about symmetry.

First, we got out the twins' letter blocks and we sorted all the letters into symmetrical:

and non-symmetrical:
Then we used our Bendaroos (or Wikki Sticks) to show where the line of symmetry was and sorted the blocks into vertical, horizontal, or both lines of symmetry.

The bendaroos were perfect for this activity:

Then we figured out what the fraction of each category would be which was a great lesson in fractions:

Then I gave them more fraction questions to do on their own (what fraction are red, what fraction are yellow and blue together). They did great and really showed an understanding of fractions.

So, this day was a great math day. If only I could figure out how to make them all like this......