Thursday, February 21, 2013

Relaxed schooling

I have not posted much because last week everyone took turns being sick, and then we have been out and about as much as we can before the baby comes. So this is a photoblog of some of the things we have been busy with.

We finally sprouted some seeds, almost a month after Tu B'Shevat. The kids wrote the labels, put the seeds into the right compartments, and observed them for a week. They were upset when I did not let them plant the seedlings outside, but we still get frosts here. 
We went to the park to ride bikes. The oldest brought my adult-sized scooter, that my friends got for me in college, and mastered it. 3 yo finally learned to pedal on her tricycle. One of the biggest regrets about the area where I live is that you have to drive to the park, it would be over an hour walk, with crossing a major street. There is no sidewalk on our street, and our driveway slopes downward, so the kids have to be taken places to ride their bikes. The boys also got to wing with abandon, and 3 you finally decided that she's ready for a big-kid swing.

Since we do not follow a school calendar, we were able to have some friends over for President's day, who were off. The boys still had a list of scheduled things to do, but they did them quickly, since they wanted to spend more time with their friends. It worked out nicely for me, since I could focus on one boy at a time, while the other one played. Here is the whole gang, eating lunch. The secret to easy set-up and clean-up: paper goods and get everyone to pitch in.

It was also the last day of the Great Backyard Bird count. I printed out a tally sheet, explained to everyone what we are doing, and they went outside to bird watch. There was a record keeper, bird spotters, time keeper, crumb thrower, and whichever other positions they came up with.

One morning I woke up to 8 yo and 3 yo making bridges out of card stock. They were using Polly houses to test out their strength. They made a reinforced arch and strong triangle bridges, then they doubled up cardstock to see what happens and what kind of load it could take.

Yesterday, after coop classes we went to the zoo. The kids asked for the reptile house and the pandas. They finally spotted the king cobra, which previously had been hiding in one of the pipes in its exhibit. There is so much to b said for getting memberships to zoos and museums and coming there every couple weeks, so that small changes can be observed and whichever concepts are learned can be reinforced. 6 yo learned how to read by looking at the exhibit signs. That works well if I take time to read those exhibit signs, even if it is for the fiftieth time and I know them by heart!

In the Story of the World, where we slacked off for a bit, we finally came to the wars of the Greeks. One of the suggested projects was soap carving, to make Greek statues. The boys tried their best, but followed their hearts. 8 yo carved two fish, an Olmec head and a self-portrait. 6 yo carved two faces, schematically, after some crying that he is no good at carving.

Today we went to the Puppet Theater. The show was good, and there is also museum and a build-a-puppet workshop. The kids made lighting bugs. The presenter first asked about some facts about bugs, and 8 yo raised his hand and explained how the chemical reaction takes place inside by mixing two chemicals, and how bugs use it to find mates. Then there were detailed instructions on building a puppet and optional participation in putting a show together. They boys were on the team with two other kids. They worked out who will say what, and then presented it to the audience. 3 yo built her puppet with some help from me, and then went buzzing around the room, tagging other people. 

3 yo buzzing 
her own monster
reading about different kinds of puppets

In the news without photos, since we were stuck home last week, we were able to crack quite a bit of megillah with 8 yo. I offered a siyum in Lego land (his dream) if he finishes the whole thing. Being at home allowed us to do a perek a day. Today he declared that he wants to finish it up. The only problem: we did not get home from the puppet show till one, and, with lunch, did not get to schoolwork till 2. And we had the last three perakim to go, of which two are really long. He sat at it for over hours, and we got a perek and a half down. He reads the Hebrew and translates, with some help from me. I am quite proud of his skills and his perseverance.

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