Friday, September 4, 2009

Week 1, day 5

Today I put the MathTacular video on for the kids while I exercised and showered. I started it at the section that shows giving change, the days of the week and months of the year, and telling time. By 10am, I was ready to start doing our regularly scheduled school, but suddenly realized that both kids were still in their pyjamas. 10:15 saw the kids clothed and the beds made, whereupon we started with catechism, Bible story, and memory verse review. Both kids know the verse well now.

Calendar time seems to be a source of constant disagreement. E and I both felt that the weather was warm, but P begged, pleaded, and cajoled until we recorded it as cool instead. It was 79 degrees, cloudy, and humid. P is getting better at reading the thermometer. Her biggest challenge was convincing E to let go of it so she could see it at all.

P did a couple of pages in her handwriting workbook while E traced his name, and then P did the rest of the day's language arts assignment (Week 1, day 4, since we skipped yesterday, but tomorrow's only assignment is "optional" - we'll do it if we feel like it). Part of this week's activities have involved memorizing the days of the week and the months of the year, and P inexplicably became frantic when she couldn't remember the order, started crying, and refused to try any more. It's possible that the fact that E knows them better than she does makes her angry. She sniffled and sulked while E and I played with the coins from this week's Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready activity. Once we were done, she informed me that what would make her feel better would be playing at a playground.

We're new in this area, and there are no playgrounds within walking distance. My father-in-law helpfully suggested a playground that was 30 minutes' drive away, but I really didn't feel like going that far for a playground. Even if it's really good. Another friend had recommended a playground in Terry Hershey Park, but that park is about 100 feet wide by 10 miles long along the bayou, and the playground could be anywhere. However, after scouring Google Maps zoomed in as far as possible, I detected a portion of Terry Hershey Park not far from us that contained playground equipment. I packed a lunch, and we headed out.

After lunch and playing on the playground for a while, we crossed the road and walked along the bayou with our nature walk notebooks. The kids really didn't draw much today, P drew a flower and E drew a dead leaf, but we observed 2 locations where clear streams full of fish run into the murky bayou. The second place is one where Ari fished as a boy; he calls it "the gar place" because a number of gars are usually visible there (though not necessarily catchable). The kids thought that, lacking fishing rods, they'd see if dangling sticks in the water would cause fish to grab on so they could haul them up. Not surprisingly, this did not work. Toward the end of the time we were there, we saw a snake almost a foot long that almost looked like a coral snake, though the colour banding wasn't as clear as I thought it should be. Nonetheless, I felt nervous, and herded the kids home. Whatever P thought this morning, it was NOT COOL by afternoon, and we drank all the water I'd carried with us. E fell asleep in the car on the way back, and my mother-in-law watched P while I also took a much-needed nap.

After E woke from his nap, we read a number of books, including Where the Wild Things Are. One of the last ones we read was a library book entitled Big Numbers (And Pictures That Show How Big They Are). It starts with a drawing of one pea, then goes up in powers of ten until you reach a quadrillion peas. 100 peas are a serving or so, a million peas cover the table, a billion peas fill the house, a trillion fill the neighbourhood, and a quadrillion make a mountain. The kids love this book, and as a result they have a deeper understanding of exponents than your average 3- or 5-year-old.

I'm still not sure what was up with P's aversion to learning the days of the week and months of the year, and what to do about it. I'm halfway inclined to just forget it and let our calendar activities take care of it, but I don't want her to think that I think she can't do it, either. Ack! If anyone has insight into my child's brain that I lack, I'm eager to hear about it.


  1. Hey, it's Maryam from Blacker.

    I love reading about your homeschooling activities; they're so much fun!

    When I was around 8 years old I couldn't remember the name of the city my cousins lived in. I was so embarassed (even though the only person around was my mother) that I started crying, then got embarassed about crying, and then sulked to cover my embarrassment. The best thing my mother could have done at that point was pretend I wasn't sulking and distract me with something shiny :)

    I don't know if 5 year olds reason the same way, but if she's starting to learn that "big girls don't cry", she may be embarrassed by her initial outburst and not know how to move on gracefully.

    Do you think this is plausible? My experience with small children is limited, so I could be complete off target :)

  2. This sounds completely plausible! I've found that as soon as P starts getting frustrated, I either need to jump in with huge quantities of encouragement, or change the subject, or she'll need some time to calm down (like, an hour or two). If I don't distract or massively encourage her immediately, it's all over. I just need to remember this *before* she throws a fit...