Thursday, November 26, 2009

Samurai Week

Luca desperately wanted to do ninja week. Well since Ninjas are part of a "secret" society, it's hard to find books on them. So we settled on Samurai Week. This is currently in process as I had wanted to start it next week, after Thanksgiving, but the boys were SO excited about the idea that we started this week. So we've been reading books about samurai warriors and Japan. We had pot stickers for dinner one night & fortune cookies for dessert. Work w/me here - the boys aren't that into sushi. The Japanese eat very different then what we as Americans are used to. In fact there breakfast looks a lot like our lunch. A traditional Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and various side dishes. Common side dishes are broiled/grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), onsen tamago, tsukemono pickles, seasoned nori (dried seaweed), natto, and so on. So I'm having a hard time w/that one. I don't think I'm going to get good enough to make tamagoyaki anytime soon! But I got a couple Japanese cook books, so as we work our way into next week, we'll do a couple more uniquely Japanese meals vs. simply Asian meals.

We've started making felt samurai armor and are going to finish that up in the next day or two, depending on how it fits in w/cooking today. And we also borrowed Mulan 1 & 2 from my friend Heather, so that's our movie option today. To really get into the spirit of samurai week, I took all Niles' word problems from his books & rewrote them to reflect something about the warriors or Japanese culture. He found that more interesting, so I'll continue that this week as we finish up our review of multiplication and division. I also found a great unit study on Japan through CurrClick that he's doing, so this is a pretty well rounded week! One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is to have Niles read Luca a library book about our subject. He read him a book on Japan and You Wouldn't Want to be a Samurai [A Deadly Career You'd Rather Not Pursue] by Fiona Macdonald. Very funny but informative! Here are some pictures of what we have done so far w/the felt.

Field trip to a friend's

Our friends Angela & Neil have chickens now! So we added some school adventure to the playdate with their son by visiting their chicken coop. Chickens are much softer than I anticipated. I expected their feathers to be...I don't know...maybe coarser? When you touch an individual bird feather, they seem firmer, but when you touch the actual feathers on a live chicken, they are very soft. They were curious & did some pecking [to see where we fit in in the whole pecking order, hahaha] but otherwise, just scratched & bobbed. It was fun! Nate enjoyed picking them up & kept calling them "little dinosaurs".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Real World Math

Niles has been seriously hating math lately. So while we're still forging ahead somewhat w/the Singapore stuff, I'm going to try & put in some more practical real world instances of math use. Today, we made strawberry yogurt scones & spent a lot of time talking about fractions. And transferring the smaller measurements into the one cup size. An example, we had 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour. We saw how much 1/3 filled up the 1 cup and then how much more another 1/3 cup filled up and guessed how much remained. Here are some shots of it. I got the recipe from the blog Annie's Eats. She's got some yummy stuff out there! Check it out.

Learning about rocks

At our Kinder co-op yesterday, Colleen found some great science experiments about rocks. The boys got to melt gummy bears in hot water [in a ziploc bag] to demonstrate lava. Then we put them in ice water to show how the lava cools & hardens. They also used 2 different types of bread, ripped them into little pieces & then "crushed" them between sheets of wax paper. And finally, they ripped up marshmallows, added caramel & chocolate chips, and smashed those together. After that, we dipped that in boiling water too, to show how rocks form & still keep bits of their different parts. These were also cooled in the hot water. I told Niles we were doing some rock experiments so he came too. He was SOOO glad he did. Colleen is awesome! Here are few shots of the marshmallow experiment. I didn't think to take pix of the others. Oops!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lesson Planning

I'm trying something new with the kids. Each boy has a folder w/their name on it that contains the work for the week. This is much easier w/Niles as he can read the assignment sheet & check things off on his own. Niles has a tendency to start & not finish something or to say things like "I didn't know what I was supposed to do" so if I go to drop Elie off & don't take the kids to the library with me, nothing gets done. Or at least not enough gets done. This way, I have page numbers & assignments down. I took a teacher work day last week, when both Elie & Nate had school off as well and got their stuff ready for the month of November to really give this a good shot. So far, it's been going well. Niles hates math, so this way, he can see exactly how much he has to do for the week. And he can choose to do it all on one day or spread it out. I did tell him, if it takes you 3 days to do all this week, then you're done for the week, but if it takes you 7 days to do all this work, then you won't get a day off. He's still pondering that one out. ;) Niles has been asking lots of questions about movie special effects lately so I got him a book at the library about it. He really liked that. Anything that gets him to read more for pleasure is good.

Luca's folder is filled w/various work sheet type activities, practicing his letters and such. So he has some things he can do while I'm away. His phonics and some of the math need to be done w/me. But he can do things like draw x number of buttons on coats, x amount of apples on a tree when I'm not here. And Niles enjoys reading him the instructions too. It's very sweet. Luca can be a bit fussy about his work and I get some "I don't want to do this" flak. But he's learned that school at home is still school and when it's work time, I mean it. I am in no way an "unschooler". And I get that learning is fun and doesn't have to be traditional here at home. But we also have to do things to move the process forward. He is excited to be learning to read, but it still requires work. You don't just one day start reading w/o learning the building blocks. This reminds me of a funny story. We are going through reviewing the sounds all the letters make. And I had just introduced "n" and said nnnn like Niles and Nate. Niles chimes in "and Neil." I say, "this is true, but Luca calls Neil 'dad' so he is really d or duh." To which Neil chimes in from his office, "I'm not sure I like being "Duh!" which got us all laughing.

Leaf Charting

At this week's Kinder co-op, the kids charted leaves they had collected. Were they brown or green? Were they pointy or straight edged? Colleen also used some cool manipulatives she had to show how you can use triangles and squares to make octagons and hexagons, etc.