Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We've been watching some interesting shows on TV, which has led to fun discussions and games. The first was a show where a team of archaeologists tried to recreate an Egyptian sea-going barge. Colwyn and Lachlann were really into and asked lots of great questions. Later they played with blocks and created their own versions. That led us to try some engineering challenges for our science day this month. I love the website Think! Engineering. We tried building a few different bridges using the supply lists given, and we also tried the catapult (which we sucked at).

Another day, we watched Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, which we probably haven't seen in a year or more. Colwyn especially liked the parts with the hominids and Neanderthals, so I think we may skip the dinosaur section of the World History book so we can move onto human evolution. After all, they've been studying dinosaurs for years.

Lachlann surprised me a week or two ago by doing some simple addition and subtraction orally, in his play. A while later I asked him a few questions like, "Hey, I want to bake some cookies, and I need 6 eggs, but only have 3. How many more do I need?" and "I bought 2 donuts and Auntie bought 2 donuts, how many do we have altogether?" He was able to do them all pretty quickly, in his head. Like I said in my last post, he observes Colwyn's math lessons most of the time.. I just didn't realize he was getting that much out of it. It makes me feel better because the other day, my mom seemed surprised that he still wasn't writing his name. Right now, I have him cutting paper as his lesson--I'm trying to come up with fun fine motor activities for him so writing will hopefully come easier.

I checked some of the books Colwyn's been reading to determine his reading level. Turns out he can pretty easily read at the second grade level. He was quite pleased with himself when I told him that. It's normally something I'd keep to myself, but he tends to get down on himself for not reading perfectly like Mommy and Daddy do, so I thought he could use the boost.

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Friday, January 08, 2010


I love the holidays, really I do. But each year it's sort of a relief to be through with the craziness.

So Colwyn is starting on subtraction in his Singapore Earlybird 2B workbook. He's done great with addition and seemed to get subtraction immediately. It reinforces my feeling that the practical, hands-on, incidental math we do daily really helps. I almost feel like the workbook is just a way of checking to see what he already knows. When he pipes up with, "Mom, you gave me seven pieces of chicken, I ate five and just have two left, can I be all done?" - do we really need a workbook? But it is nice to not have to draw up my own worksheets so he can learn the symbols, I'll admit to that. Lachlann is working on learning how to write numbers. His recognition is great, but his pencil (well, dry erase marker in our case) grip is horrible, and it makes him not enjoy writing. We've been playing with plates of flour or sugar and drawing numbers (shapes, letters, etc) with our fingers. I'd love to let him do that with shaving cream, but Doug doesn't use any.. maybe I'll have to grab some at Target. Lach observes most of Colwyn's math 'lessons' so I'd be surprised if he didn't breeze through subsequent lessons.

Colwyn's reading is coming along really well. It's wonderful to see how proud he is of himself when he reads through an Elephant and Piggiebook. The only time he really experiences difficulty is when his own impatience or irritation gets in his way.. then even an easy word can seem hard. That's when we usually take a break and come back to it later. For book club, we just finished The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean. That was a big hit with Colwyn. Last month was Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit, which was very sweet. We ended up missing the actual book club meeting that month, though, as the kids were sick.

Our other work has been haphazard, at best. We're slowly working through the Early Life section of The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, which has included working on learning the names of the continents and oceans. We've explored some of the neat websites on arthropods, and Colwyn liked making the connection at the Museum of Science when we saw fossils of arthropods. The kids got a calendar for 2010, so we talk about that daily. In the process, I've learned that, yes, Colwyn is firm on the days of the week, and yes, he knows his cardinal numbers pretty well. The months are new to him, but no biggie. He likes knowing what day it is, and we draw little symbols or write easy words on days we have stuff planned, so he'll tell me, "Mom, we have two more days until Lego Club!"

What else? We've worked on our Secret Agent social studies sporadically. Our Earth Scouts meeting last month dealt with the water cycle (briefly) and habitats. The kids all created terrariums, which was much more fun than I expected. The mess was exactly what I expected. Thankfully all the moms are great about helping pick up. We also did caroling at a local nursing home, which was a great experience. I was surprised at how Colwyn was really into memorizing the words to the songs, he did really well. The kids were a big hit with the elderly residents as well as the staff. For science day last month, we created a diorama of a dinosaur habitat, as well as Play Dough dinosaurs. The diorama included a volcano, which we set off with baking soda and vinegar. The kids loved that part, and with some foresight on my part, it wasn't very messy at all.

We've got a bunch of stuff coming up this month, it should be exciting. Hopefully I'll get better at keeping track.

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