Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 21, days 1 and 2

Monday: Language Arts. We got started later than usual, because I decided to start up exercising again. I went for a brisk walk with B strapped into the mei tai (carrier), and he fell asleep but promptly woke up when we got home. I'm hoping to transition into running a couple of times a week, but I haven't really run for a couple of years so I decided to ease into it by walking for a week or so first. I'm going to need to plan my mornings better (like I used to before B was born) so I can fit in exercise as well as school and meet my goal of finishing by lunchtime.

It seemed to take a long time to get through our daily review, but the kids were both happy to make a new letter sheet. I let them get distracted by Starfall, which ate up more of our time (but it's an excellent resource). By lunch time, we'd only gotten through Day 1 on the Language Arts schedule, where I was hoping to compress the entire week into a day (which has worked previous weeks). P traced her copywork upside down under the table again, but it turned out quite neatly. She copied it while sitting in the correct orientation, which I had stipulated before letting her get under the table.

After lunch, I read a chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh to both P and E, and had P summarize it. She did a good job of not getting bogged down in the details, but struggled to get the major points in the correct order. We all played "mynah bird", in which I said something and the kids had to repeat it. P did much better at this than E. Often they seem equally able to do things, but the 20 months between them does make a difference. I used tongue twisters and hymn lyrics, ending with "Betty Botter" (a favourite poem from my childhood). We finished the rest of the week's scheduled language arts activities, with the exception of the second copywork. I feel that P gets good enough at reading her reader by the end of the week that we can replace Thursday or Friday's reader with copywork, and then I won't have to argue with her about doing 2 copyworks in 1 day.

Tuesday: Science. I scheduled my morning better today, and got in 15 minutes on the exercise bike before having to leave for Titmouse Club. Today's theme was birdwatching, and they had several bird stuffed toys that sang with the distinctive song of that species of bird when squeezed. The docent discussed what makes birds different from other creatures (feathers, beaks, wings, laying eggs), and how there are many species of birds. She even gave a brief description of how one would use a field guide to identify birds. The kids made "binoculars" out of toilet paper tubes, and looked outside for birds. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard, so we could hear a few birds but not see any.

After Titmouse Club, we completed our review items. I had intended to do E's school today but not said anything about it to him, but when we were busy preparing lunch he announced that he wanted to do his school Right Now. I told him that he'd have to wait until after lunch, and as a result I will probably suffer from tinnitus when I'm older. I really don't have a good solution for his piercing temper tantrums. I generally try to ignore them for a few minutes, and if he's still going, I send him, shrieking, up to his room. I do not give in to his requests - if he has any sense of cause and effect, he isn't doing it because he thinks it'll get him what he wants. So he had to wait until after lunch for his school.

This week, E's school involved me cutting shapes (square, rectangle, circle, oval, triangle) from 5 paper plates (plastic, in this case, since that's what we had) and then having him name the shapes, and then close his eyes (or be blindfolded) and try to guess the shape by tracing it with his finger. Another time, we can have him trace the shapes onto paper with a crayon or marker and cut the paper shapes out. He wasn't able to identify the shapes blindfolded, but we talked about whether the edges were straight or curved as a clue he could use, and counting the number of sides and their relative sizes as another clue. He'll probably be happy to do this again tomorrow.

Once E's school was done, we read 2 library books about birds. The first one dealt with the various types of nests different bird species build, from penguins (no nest, just a flap of skin on the father's belly) to weaver birds and bower birds. The second one described hummingbirds, including the interesting tidbit that the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (in Tucson) once cleaned out the hummingbirds' habitat too thoroughly and realized, when the hummingbirds' eggs fell out through their nests, that the hummingbirds needed spider webs to make their nests solid enough. Once we were done reading, we started an experiment involving growing an avocado pit in water and then we assembled a cup "telephone" (2 plastic cups connected by a string which, when taut, transmits sound). This toy was played with for the rest of the afternoon, except when the kids went outside to play in the puddle and amused themselves with scooping pollen into the water and with standing in front of the dryer vent.

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