This week was a "hither and thither" sort of week... heavy on the "thithering". Andy took off on All Saints Day so we could run moving-related errands; Katydid had her once a month choir practice for her once a month choir (which, unfortunately, she will not be able to attend because so many of us are sick); we spent Thursday visiting gyms to find a good preschool gymnastics program; and the little boys, pumped up on Halloween candy and irritated by a virus most of the week, did their share of "thithering", too. In other words -- it was a light week academically.
While we were driving around we listened to Hotel for Dogs, by Lois Duncan. We haven't seen the movie, but the book is good. I did my fair share of indentifying with Andi Walker, the 10 year old main character.
Because I apparently have SO MUCH to talk about for a "light week" (ahem), I'm going to break my usual weekly review post into two. This one will focus on Farmerboy and the twins, who are roughly 2nd grade and kindergartenish, respectively.
Art and Nature Study:
I forgot to mention last week that we started a family nature journal. It's not an original idea, but I can't remember where I first heard about it. Anyway, I thought it would be a good way to encourage the little boys in some nature drawing and possibly to encourage my 14 year old as well. (Katydid has her own nature journal in which she draws frequently.) Our first project was leaf rubbings:
(Sorry about the glare from the page protector.)
We're just using a 3-ring binder. Katydid and Farmerboy made a cover for it and then led all the little boys on a nature walk around the yard. They drew what they found and filed the pictures in the binder.
This week's "excursion" (hands-on science in the yard, basically) was a dig initiated by Farmerboy, who wanted to see if any rocks could be found at all. When it was so dry, the dirt was as hard as rock, but with our rain this week, it softened enough to take a shovel. Unfortunately, no rocks were discovered, but a long, rotting board was, and also signs that a raccoon has taken up residence in the barn. The raccoon will have to be evicted somehow; one of our jobs this winter is to convert one of the big stalls on the outside of the barn into a chicken coop. Raccoons are bad for chickens.
By Sunday afternoon, the trench had become an entire river system, complete with tributaries, mountains, volcanoes, bluffs, forts, and civilizations. Chipmunk and Pop had apparently been assigned the titles of "Erosion."
Pip worked hard coloring some bird notebooking pages. He has become very meticulous about his nature coloring pages, prefering to work from actual photos in order to get the colors right. In order to color his blue hen chicken (the state bird of Delaware), we had to round up Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds, which has excellent color photos of all the breeds it references. (And, really, if you are at all interested in raising poultry, you need this book. Read it alongside the poultry catalogs, which is what we're doing right now.)
Farmerboy and the twins have also been learning to tell time for a while now. Farmerboy started out last spring with a few pages in Seton's Math 1 for Young Catholics, but math workbooks usually give telling time and the concepts behind it short shrift. Time (like most mathematical concepts) is a concept best dealt with in a practical, hands-on manner anyway, but the kids do like practicing their time-telling skills on paper. This is where typical math workbooks can become frustrating, because once you've done a page or two of clockfaces, you've exhausted the workbook's fund of time-telling practice. So this is what we do:
Montessori clock cards : These are not the same cards I have, I don't think, because I printed mine from somewhere I can't remember back when Katydid was learning to tell time. But Lori's materials are top-notch, and I'm fairly certain this set is more comprehensive than the one I have been using. The twins are working on telling time to the hour; Farmerboy is struggling a little bit remembering :15 and :45, but he's getting there.
Judy Clock: Again, the teaching clock(s) I actually own are not the same. I bought them (I bought two of them, one for Gareth and one for Katydid, back when there were only two kids to buy for) at an amazing teacher supply/educational bookstore we used to frequent when we lived in the St. Louis area. (The best thing about the store was that it had a large play area in the back.) Our clocks are not as fancy, but I actually like them better because they have the corresponding minutes printed beside the big numbers to help kids learn to tell time in 5 minute intervals. The boys use these a lot, for fun. They sit on the couch turning the hands and say, "It's 7 o'clock! It's 3 o'clock in the morning! It's 12 o'clock now!"
Clock Stamps: The boys are not as keen on these as Katydid was, but they do use them occasionally.
Books: Well, you knew there had to be books, right? Two of our favorites: Telling Time with Big Mama Cat and Little Rabbits' First Time Book (Little Rabbit Books). Mama Cat has been read with so much enthusiasm over the years that the hands on the clock were torn off, so it is in need of being replaced. Little Rabbits is one of Chipmunk's favorite books at the moment. A book I found at the library this week that shows some promise is All in One Hour. It's illustrated with colorful cut-paper collages and digital clocks timing a chain of events set off by a cat chasing a mouse in the early morning. (Another book of which I have fond memories is Gail Gibbons' Clocks and how they go, which I read over and over and over and OVER to Gareth when he was about 4 years old.)
Another opportunity for time-telling practice is letting me know when it's 4:00 and time for computer/Wii time. ;-)
Farmerboy is also working on adding and subtracting two digit numbers in Seton's Math 2 for Catholics. This is work he enjoys doing, but he gets horribly frustrated if anyone talks while he's doing it. Finding him quiet corners in which to work has been a challenge. Also, this is another instance where kids really need some concrete, hands-on work, but our base 10 blocks were all packed up. I finally managed to unpack them this weekend and am hoping to introduce Farmerboy to "trading up" (and hopefully the snake game, too).
And the twins spent a few hours on Sunday morning before Mass inventing their own games using Rummy Roots card decks and other board games.
Because Farmerboy was sick much of the week (including a three day headache), he didn't do too much reading, which is more difficult for him than math. But he did read most of a picture book to me, Drat That Fat Cat!, which I found at the library. This is a really excellent book for young readers -- SO much more intelligent and funny than most phonetic readers, and with a vocabulary mostly based on short vowel words. I had to interject some help here and there (eg. as with "This is an outrage!"), but Farmerboy could read a lot of it on his own. I think that struggling readers often think they are doomed to read short, meaningless books about "nags", "cats", and "hams" for a long time, so I was happy to be able to provide Farmerboy with something different. Glasses certainly improved his reading, but we are still going slowly. This week has been the first I have heard him try to read words in the books HE likes to look at, or on the closed captioning on the TV.
Pip and Pop are anxious to try out their fledgeling reading skills, too, and are just at the "starting to blend" stage. Pip in particular demands long lessons using Phonics Pathways, and this week I helped him along through his first book: a short K-4 phonetic text from Abeka I have had sitting in our container of readers (I keep sets of early phonics readers each to their own ziploc bag in a tall Rubbermaid container) for... a really long time. Gareth and Katydid never picked them up, but they seem to be just right for the twins at this stage.