Friday, January 29, 2016

Homeschooling in Real Life - our day with zebras

Here is the play by play.  I often tell you about all the good parts but am feeling more and more like I should tell the whole truth, even the tough parts.  I know this is a blog, but it's also real life.  

To begin our second week of Going On Safari with Mother Goose Time we made binoculars.  This week was all about the animals one might find on safari.  So having binoculars to find the animals with was quite perfect.  I made Adam's for him.  I figured he could decorate them from there.  When I first handed them to him he looked at them, like what the heck are these.
 I demonstrated how to use them and he gave it a try.
There you go bud, that's it.  I have been reading all the other Blog Ambassador's blogs and seeing tons of adorable pictures with these binoculars.  They are such a great play prop.  I have tried this before but they never held together.  I think the key to Mother Goose Time's toilet paper binocular set up is the strip of paper that they had us wrap around both tubes and tape on. 
They held up for 4 days!  That's pretty good for a toddler.  He saw me try to throw them away and got really mad at me.  So back out they came.  The only think they are missing is the paper holding them together.  So it looks like I will be fixing them rather than throwing them away. 

Don't mind the iPod collection on the table.  Two are the originals or close to it and almost obsolete.  They were all brought to the table for some reason. 
On zebra day we of course had to make zebras.  Peter complained "I wish they were white zebras we could draw black stripes on."  I'm thinking, really?  We always have white paper, black paper with white chalk is awesome.  He of course had a blast. 
 Adam holds his chalk in a unique way.  But it worked.  I glued the eye on there for him. 
 Peter stuck his eye ball to his glue stick and thought that was pretty funny.
Adam really enjoyed coloring his.  He often puts his hand down and colors between his fingers to mimic the times we have traced his hand.
 Again Goose joined us.  I teased Lachlan "there's someone watching you."
"Who?" as he looks up to find Goose staring straight at him.  Maybe it was the black and white of the zebra that attracted Goose, or maybe it was the milk still left in the cereal bowls.  I know it's not good cat training to let them drink when we are finished, but sometimes we do anyways.  Just keepin' it real.
It was a hard shape to glue.  You had to get glue down the legs and tail if you wanted to get your zebra to stick well to the background paper.
 Super fast zebra stripes.
While they worked on their art project I read the circle time section of the Teacher Guide.  A bit backwards I am sure.  We were introducing the letter z today.  They had us ask them to draw in the air the tiniest z they could possibly draw. 
Then the largest z.  I keep forgetting about this, draw it in the air concept.  I need to use it more often.  The day after this Lachlan and I were working on something and he needed a little hint so I drew in the air.  It's nice that Mother Goose Time constantly changes things up, gives you new ideas that you can then take and use with all your children, even the 1st graders.
There were some other lessons and activities that came with zebra day but I wanted to get Lachlan onto some of his 1st grade work.  So I got him started on the z page in his Handwriting Without Tears workbook. 
I stopped getting the More Math and More Literacy workbooks for Lachlan because I wanted Peter to have something that was just his.  Peter decided he wanted to write "zebra" on his zebra art.  I got the topic poster down so he could see it better and he wrote all the letters to for the word on the page all mixed up and crazy.  Later he added his name in the same fashion. 
 I think it's kind of fun. 
I had Peter's journal and More Math and More Literacy workbooks all set out and ready for him.  But I have been struggling with Peter lately.  He has always had a hard time staying focused on a task.  His mind is just running too fast. 

He's kind of like me, I go to the play room to drop off a toy, see a mess, clean it up, walk by the bathroom, notice the towels messed up, fix them, hang a new hand towel, wipe down the toilet, start walking back out to living room when I see a shirt, throw it in the hamper, remember that I am thirsty . . . or maybe that's just typical parenthood. 

Anyhow, Peter can hone in on one task and work and work and work on it for ever when he wants to or when it's something that really excites him.  But there are other moments it's impossible to get him to focus.  Cleaning up toys is a nightmare!!! (Peter's internal monologue: oh yes, I love that toy, I shall play with it.) "Peter, stop playing and clean up!" So he tosses one toy in the right bin and the next toy he picks up, oh yes, I love that toy, I shall play with it.  But here's the thing, he is 4 and EASILY does his brother's 1st grade curriculum when he wishes.  So he's not behind.  That's when I realized I need to use this time to not focus on the academics as much as his ability to complete a task.  So even though I had this all set out, I did not expect him to do it all and my expectations going in are key.  I had him help me pick a page and we worked together to finish it if he seemed up to it we would pick one more page and so on.  When I saw the cues it was time to be done we finished what we were working on and moved on.  We didn't necessarily finish the whole page, because the goal is to celebrate finishing what Mommy has asked him to do.  So I may only ask him to finish the math problem he is on or finish writing the word he is working on and then be done.  He still has to stay focused long enough to finish but he is also set up for success.  Then I can praise him for finishing everything I asked him to do.  If he does more, then it's just an added bonus. 
I got Lachlan's Saxon Math 1 lesson ready next.  We were weighing tubs with mystery contents in them.  I had them labeled A,B,C,D,E.  He would put two on the scale and tell me which one was heavier.  Eventually we narrowed it down to which one was heaviest. 
And here is where Lachlan is learning a skill, that I keep telling myself, will be a positive in his life some day.  How to keep focused even with a screaming baby right next to you.  Adam woke up early and was DONE. 
He actually calmed down a bit and let me finish with Lachlan which was wonderful because I have been focusing on another important skill with him.  His tendency is to decide to be done with school when ever he gets frustrated by something.  So he quits and storms off quite often, OR he fights me tooth and nail to get anything done so it takes ALL day.  I keep telling him that if he works with me and sticks to it, we can get done with all of his schooling in an hour.  Then we would both have the rest of the day free to explore further into the topics of our choosing or in my case WORK!  I get so behind.  

On this day, he was ready to go and determined.  I didn't look at the clock and time it but I would say it took about an hour.
 He is really getting good at his workbook pages. 
I did end up skipping reading during this morning of school.  This is something I have been doing more and more lately.  It is so nice in the afternoon to cuddle up on the couch with a book, it took me a while, but with the help of another homeschooling friend, it finally dawned on me that our "reading lesson" didn't have to be so rigid, at the table and lumped in with everything else.  More often then not Lachlan reads to me later, in the late afternoon or evening. 

We actually got out our Bob books again.  He was halfway through the first collection when we moved onto How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  That book set the foundation for reading and it still has wonderful lessons.  But I think we were both getting a little board.  So instead of doing that everyday, I have been trying to mix it up.  He was so motivated to finish the first collection that he read 5 books in one day.  It was so cool!

One last little note on how these zebra art pieces keep coming up.  I stuck them to the side of the cabinet that they can see easily from the table.  Adam points to his art work quite frequently and I say "zebra" he tries to say it too.  He is always smiling when he points to it. 
Another conversation happened when Lachlan asked Peter what the orange thing on his drawing was.  "It's a lion attacking the zebra" says Peter.  I am so glad Lachlan asked because I thought it was the sun and just never looked any closer. 

It's interesting as I read through this post in my final edit.  I realized that sometimes our "school lessons" aren't the actual subjects we are studying but they are the Real Life Lessons like I titled this post.  For Peter it's learning how to focus on a task and finish it and for Lachlan it's learning how to work through frustration.  These real life lessons will be so vital to their success as grown up human beings.  Which is of course the goal. 

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