Monday, February 19, 2007

Dinos: To Your Rockets!

We seem to be making a transition from the dinosaur obsession to a space obsession. Or (hopefully) if it's not a real transition, Colwyn is at least making room in his busy life for two obsessions.

I think I mentioned before that Colwyn likes the Magic Schoolbus episodes that have to do with space. He's also really liked the Little Einstein's episode where they visit the planets. Lately he's been pretending to be in a rocket and will take off to visit Mars or something. So, I decided to try to do a bit more with this interest. We're making a styrofoam ball model of the solar system, using one of those giant cardboard displays. Today we painted the display board black (and talked briefly about why space is black), and started painting the styrofoam balls I had cut in half. So far we have the sun, Earth, Mars, Saturn, and Neptune.

But dinosaurs are still a feature in much of Colwyn's play. Last night we used a 50% off coupon to get him a nice dinosaur puzzle at AC Moore. It's a 48 piece Melissa and Doug one. Here he is searching for that elusive piece:

Afterwards, he had to "hide" from the Allosaurus:

He really is quite good at puzzles, and only rarely needs help. Sometimes we prompt him with observations like, "That puzzle piece you're holding looks like it has part of a spotted dinosaur on it. Where might that go?" Reminding him to look more carefully at the piece in his hand is usually all the help he needs.

Actually, my mom and I got into a bit of a argument over the puzzle yesterday, as she insisted on giving him way too much help, or doing pieces for him, or cheering him excessively. I know that seems like a stupid thing to argue over, but the way I look at it.. what is he learning when someone tells him exactly where to put a puzzle piece? He's capable of doing it perfectly well on his own. As for the cheering.. we certainly tell Colwyn he's doing great, but we try to keep our level of praise consistent with his level of achievement. To us, putting an easy puzzle piece into place merits only a "Nice" if anything. Harder pieces, ones that he has to really think about, or finishing the whole puzzle gets more praise, like "Wow, Colwyn, look at how well you did. Aren't you so proud of yourself?" We really want him to have intrinsic motivation to do things.. that is, we don't want him completing a puzzle so that we'll praise him. We want him to feel proud of himself because he thinks he did well, not because we heaped on the praise. Plus.. I think laying it on thick when he hasn't worked hard for something kind of cheapens the comments, you know?

Well, anyway.

I tried to teach Colwyn to play Red Light, Green Light today (gotta get in PE somewhere, right?). We've done something similar in the grocery store before, where I'll say "Red Light!" if he runs too far ahead, and say "Green Light" when we catch up. He follows those instructions just fine, but today he completely ignored all my "Red Light" commands. I think he just really felt like being three. :)

We're having Thomas and Aidan over again tomorrow, and on Thursday we're going to Jen's house to bake bread with Calvin and Miles (Thomas and Aidan will be there, too). Wednesday is our other playgroup, and we're going to Lisa's house since it's school vacation week. Hopefully we'll be able to paint the rest of the planets sometime over the next few days and glue them onto the display board.

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At 3:31 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Its jen from the livejournal. I thought you had a good idea chronicling what you actually do. I need to upload some pics but its great to see how well they are doing and grasping concepts as time goes on.
My kids love workbooks and sometimes its the easiest way to work on fine motor skills with mazes, matching etc. I buy a lot of them at special thoughts (there is one on rte 62 in beverly) they are really cheap there $1-$2. I use Kumon books as well. If you are looking for cheap art, craft and school supplies the dollar store on the lynnway in lynn (across from wal-mart) is amazing. We picked up ceramic piggy banks, wood boxes, paint, puzzles and books for $1. We go through so many craft supplies that it really adds up! I also find great educational games at marshall's (my kids are board game addicts). They love dinosaur alphabet bingo, counting/adding/subtraction puzzles and your body match it games. I paid $3-4 but I saw most of the same games at the learning store for much more.
Did you happen to catch wife swap last night? I wanted to see b/c one of the wives was an unschooler and made the whole concept of unschooling look like child neglect (or ignorance). Where I used to live there were tons of homeschoolers and a few of my friend's parents used the unschool method. Anyway I was just curious what you thought of the lady? (if you saw it). My mom used child led learning but she highly encouraged college and societal expectations (ie: college, SATS, calc).

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

Wow, thanks for letting me know about those stores.. I'll definitely have to go. The dollar store sounds great! We don't get to the mall that often, but next time I go I'll have check out Marshall's for games. Colwyn loves games, too, but is always losing pieces.. so I hate spending $15-20 on something that might not last.

I missed Wife Swap.. I always forget when it's on. A lot of articles about unschooling lately make it seem to be like child neglect. I'm sure there are plenty of people who unschool who really shouldn't be, but I know that if done right, unschooling can be a beautiful thing. I don't think I'm cut out to do unschooling fully.. like most things, I take what I like and leave the rest.


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