Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week 2, day 4

Friday was the only day this week on which we did school in the morning. It was quite a relief to start with kids (and me) who weren't already tired. I set the kids up watching their math video while I exercised, and then let them play with Cuisenaire Rods while I showered. After my shower I came to encourage them to put the rods away, and they informed me they had built "pretend Caltech" from the rods. Any 4 rods of the same length provide the 4 corners of a building, and it can be roofed with a pair of rods, and then a number of rods placed perpendicularly to the pair. Two of the one-unit rods (cubes) served as Ari and myself inside of Caltech. Two buildings had been built, of different heights. Neither child was remotely willing to put the rods away, so I suggested that we do our Bible story and calendar, and then play together with Cuisenaire rods until E's timer went off (we're sending him to go potty every 40 minutes or so). This suggestion was accepted, so that's what we did, and we ended up having 20 minutes to play with Cuisenaire rods. P enjoyed placing the different colours / lengths in order from 1 to 10 and back to 1, making a diamond shape. When the timer went off we found almost all the pieces and put them away. Speaking of finding missing pieces, earlier in the morning the kids had found the missing dominoes (from week 1, day 1) at the bottom of a 5-pack box of wipes. So, I have faith that eventually all missing pieces will end up back in the appropriate containers. Maybe not all at the same time, though...

We started out language arts with P's handwriting lesson, and this time she did lowercase "k" beautifully. She didn't enjoy copying her last name very much, but she did it twice as I asked her to, and rather well at that. The other activity was to put a story in order - I read a 4-sentence story with the sentences in order 4, 1, 3, 2, and she had to re-tell the story with the first event first, etc. At first she was sure she couldn't do it, but I asked her to just listen to the sentences once more and see how she felt, and she did it perfectly on the first try. She seems to readily conclude that things are too hard for her when they aren't - hopefully enough counterexamples will change this tendency.

For E's Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready activity, I used the eggs again, but this time started out with just 3. He wasn't being silly, but he was only able to identify the one of the 3 eggs I removed about half the time. This skill probably just needs practice. It's a bit like Kim's game, I suppose. I can bring it back once a week or so until he masters it. We'll move on to the next activity next week, because if we don't I suspect we may have a mutiny on our hands.

The remainder of our school time before lunch, we spent on geography. P can now reliably identify the USA on a world map, which was one of the chief things I wanted her to know. We read a library book on US national monuments, and then I set them up with Statue of Liberty colouring pages I found online. While they coloured, I read the story of the first lunar landing and of Lewis and Clark's explorations. I hadn't known many details at all of the Lewis and Clark expedition, so I enjoyed learning more about that. I thought it was awesome that Sacagawea, their Shoshoni guide, carried her baby with her throughout the expedition, and halfway through found her long-lost brother. I think my excitement rubbed off on the kids, because P retold the story in some detail to her grandfather during lunch time.

I decided that formal school was over, and after lunch we went shopping. However, P picked up a twisty tie in the bulk foods section of the first store we went to, and throughout the rest of the trip, she shaped it into various letters and asked E to identify them. He did pretty well, when he wasn't being silly, though I suspect part of what P described as "E being silly" was E not being able to figure out which letter P had made, but deciding to cover his ignorance with silliness. It certainly kept them happy in the car. At Target I found markers for our Markable Map, which I tested when we got home and they worked! I'd tried dry-erase (which stained, though not so badly that we can't use the map any more, and took loads of alcohol to remove), washable kids' markers (which never dried), and some old transparency pens we found in the study (which smeared, and required alcohol to remove). These dry quickly, don't wipe off with fingers, and do wipe off with water. In Sonlight's defense, the kind I bought at Target is the kind they sell with the map, and I should have bought the package from Sonlight, but I thought I'd be able to use something we had around the house instead. Silly me! In any case, starting next week we'll include the Markable Map in our geography lessons.

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