Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 4, day 5

This morning, E was back to his cheerful self. At breakfast we discussed greater than and less than signs, and how they look like a little hungry alligator with his mouth open toward the bigger number. E brought his hand down for emphasis and it landed on the rim of his bowl of soggy raisin bran. "It's even in his ear," was a relevant and accurate comment from P. His appetite was healthy enough that, after the mess had been cleaned up, he ate another bowlful and kept it down, evidence that last night's misery was only a temporary ailment.

Bible, calendar and handwriting went well. We looked at a library book, "Look What We Brought You From Mexico," about aspects of Mexican culture that can sometimes be encountered in the USA, and related projects. I had decided that we would make Mexican food for dinner, so we needed to buy masa harina (for tortillas) and black beans (for refried beans). We also looked at a science experiment book about solids, liquids, and gases, and decided we needed balloons, and cream for making ice cream. Language arts was exclusively fun - forming play dough into the shapes of the letters we have studied so far - and I took advantage of how the play dough held the kids' attention to complete my shopping list.

We went to the grocery store before lunch, and I made it as educational as possible. I showed the kids how to compare prices: "This raisin bran, the one we usually get, is 20 oz, and this other raising bran is also 20 oz. So are they the same size? Now let's look at the price. The one we usually get is $1.89, and the other one is $2.99. Which one costs more? Which one should we buy, if they're both the same? That's right, and that's why this one is the one we usually get." I had P find each item on my list and help cross it off as we found it, and even E was able to tell me which number was smaller several of the times I read the prices. All we failed to find was balloons, which apparently Krogers doesn't carry.

After lunch, the kids wanted to do a science experiment, but I wanted to track down some balloons first. We headed to a sheet music store to pick up the Bastien "Theory and Technic Primer A" for P's piano lessons, then to Michaels where we found balloons and a large pack of construction paper (which will be MINE unless I specifically tell the kids otherwise, or else things just get too wild).

The science experiment with the balloons worked remarkably well. We used a funnel to place baking soda in a balloon, and half filled a bottle with vinegar. We put the mouth of the balloon securely over the mouth of the bottle, and then let the baking soda in the balloon fall into the vinegar in the bottle. The balloon blew up as big as I typically blow them up by mouth, and the wide eyes and open mouths of both kids were thoroughly satisfactory. We had to do it twice, so each of them would have a balloon blown up by such an interesting method. The book had a helpful discussion of molecules in solids, liquids, and gases, so the kids and I mimicked a solid by hanging tightly to each other in a close huddle, a liquid by holding hands but dancing in a circle, and a gas by running wildly around the room. I explained that the carbon dioxide gas that was made when the solid baking soda mixed with the liquid vinegar had needed more space to dance around in than the baking soda and vinegar had needed, which was why the balloon got bigger.

The other experiment we did, which was most attractive to the kids, was making ice cream. We placed half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla in a small ziploc baggie, enclosed it in another small ziploc baggie, and placed it in a gallon-sized ziploc bag filled with ice and salt. The kids and I took turns squishing and hugging it for 20 minutes, during which it froze - a liquid turned into a solid because it got colder and its molecules didn't have energy to dance around any more. The solid was thoroughly enjoyed by both kids.

P did several pages of the piano theory workbook, and clearly grasped the concepts well. I asked her to practice playing the sets of 2 black keys and sets of 3 black keys with the appropriate fingers, and she did it accurately. She then set about playing music of her own making, which was reminiscent of Stravinsky crossed with an elephant. This is part of why I was inclined to offer her lessons.

We made the tortillas together, which both kids enjoyed, and then I left them to their own devices while I finished the refried beans and guacamole salad. The beans turned out way too watery, but otherwise dinner was enjoyed by everyone. As promised, we made Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. Dinner prep and eating took longer than usual, so the kids only just got to bed. I'm about ready to head that way myself!

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