Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week 21, days 3 and 4

Wednesday: Math. It appears to be spring break for all the public schools, so while I was discovering that my Bible study half an hour's drive away was cancelled, P and E were discovering with their Oma that the indoor play place they usually frequent was completely packed. Once both they and I were back home, we did school. I forgot to record the weather on our calendar, but otherwise we went through our standard daily review. We then read 2 math books I checked out from the library: Earth Day - Hooray!, which deals with place value, and Math for All Seasons, which deals with counting objects in clever ways (beginning multiplication, basically). On Tuesday afternoon I had re-read the first part of Chapter 1 of Primary Grade Challenge Math with P, and we had talked about the difference between linear increase (add $4 to the allowance each year) and exponential increase (double the allowance each year). I graphed the 2 options in Excel, but P didn't seem to understand what I was doing - I think Excel is too much of a black box to her, and it'll be more helpful to use pencil and paper. We can do that next week. I had also spent some time on Tuesday looking through the first few chapters of the book and reworking Stupid Problems. This is a pet peeve of mine: math word problems that make no sense. For example, "Billy's pocket is leaking money. He starts with $100. After he walks 1 mile, he has $90, after 2 miles he has $80, etc. How much money does he have after 5 miles?" How in the real world could this conceivably happen? It teaches kids to dissociate math from the real world, when math is essential for understanding the real world. So I rewrote the problem to be, "A barrel with a hole in the bottom starts out containing 100 gallons. After 1 minute, it contains 90 gallons, after 2 minutes it contains 80 gallons. How much water does it contain after 5 minutes?" This problem requires identical math, but also refers to an actual situation you might encounter in this universe. Perhaps being forced to solve problems like the original one is part of why Ari's students struggled to see the ridiculousness of their answers when they'd made mistakes - if you generally have to give answers to ridiculous questions, you get used to ridiculous answers.

All right, that was enough ranting.

P had been told last week that this week would be spring break for her ballet lessons, but she didn't see the need to tell me that this was the case until she had tried the door to the studio and found it locked. Since I had planned on going to Target during her ballet lesson, I simply took her along in her ballet clothes. We returned a few baby gifts (everyone likes to give 0-3 month sizes, and my babies start out filling up the smallest size - if I used all the 0-3 month clothes we were given, we'd barely have time to put him in each outfit once before he outgrew them). Once we had free Target money, I went wild and bought running shoes and a watch strap for myself. P wanted a watch for herself, and in celebration of the fact that she can now tell time fairly well, I bought her one too. Given the choice between the plain pink one and the purple one with the flower, she chose the flower. I have asked her the time a few times and she helpfully gives me the correct answer after a minute or so of hard thinking. I'll stop putting time telling on her math 5-a-days so often, because with her own watch she's getting plenty of practice.

Thursday: Bible/Music. Today was E's 4th birthday. This caused school to be late and short. Ari and I gave him an ant farm, which was exciting (especially when the ants, which we'd placed in the refrigerator overnight to calm them, thawed out quicker than we'd expected and ended up in many non-ant-farm locations). This present was a definitive success, and by the time we started school the ants had already started excavating several tunnels.

Last night, Ari's uncle was (briefly) in town before leaving for a camping trip with Ari's dad this morning. In honour of Uncle Tom's visit, Ari's brother & his wife came up for dinner, so it was a big party. Since they weren't going to make 2 trips in 2 days, they gave E his present last night. It was 2 recorders, one for him and one for P, that my sister-in-law had bought at a music teachers' conference. The children are both able to make painful high-pitched squawks, and P is sometimes able to play 2 or 3 different notes. I had a recorder as a child (I miss it still!) and was hopelessly childish in begging P and E to loan me theirs so I could play. I did show P how to arrange her fingers on the holes, but keeping them in place so they fully cover the holes is going to take her a lot more practice.

Usually, Thursday is CBS day, but it was cancelled due to spring break (fortunately, they told me ahead of time, so no fruitless half-hour drive took place). This meant that there wasn't a CBS Bible story to review. We started, instead, with introducing a new memory verse and catechism question, and then read the story of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. I asked the kids why Jesus was able to do this, leading to a discussion on his deity - his power over death was one of the proofs that he is God.

For (very late) lunch, we went to the Aquarium Restaurant at E's request. There is a phenomenally large fish tank in the middle of the restaurant, containing stingrays, a small shark, 4 groupers about the size of E and P, a guitarfish (looks like a cross between a shark and a ray, so P called it a shray), at least 3 moray eels, and a variety of other fish. After we'd eaten, we rode the ferris wheel and got a good view of the city. Back home, we continued the celebration with a dragon cake (and costume, which my mother-in-law sewed) and the rest of the presents, including a play tent, a tetherball, snorkels, masks and flippers for both P and E, and a box containing 12 rolls of tape (now E's tape fetish won't leave the rest of us "stuck" without any).

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