Friday, January 23, 2009

LONG week!!

It's been a mish-mash of good and bad this week. It was our non-book week and these are supposed to be a rest for me and a change for the kids, but tbh I'm not sure that they work all that well in the first regard as I usually end up more stressed at the end of them than I do when we are in routine. 

Monday - C had a bit of a temperature so we kept him home just in case he went down through the morning. As it was he was fine most of the day and has been fine since. We started off the day with squircle board which for this week's theme was The Vatican and person of the week was The Pope. They were interested enough in it (even if I did struggle to get stuff together for it). I had planned to make a rosary bead as a craft to go with, not that we are Catholic or anything, but just as something about a different 'strand' of our Christian faith. As it was that never happened because I didn't get round to resourcing it! After squircle board the children tried to re-act Jake's play of a part of Melusine. While they were doing that I spent some tot-school time with C working on shapes and patterns with this;

Sadly the 'play' ended up with the boys squabbling (as usual) and me taking over as 'narrator' - really no big issues, just J2 not being able to accept not being in charge! Once that was over the kids all got measured ready for our 'drawing to scale' activity. Was amazed to find that Jake is almost 160cms already - that's 5'2"!! He's not yet twelve - he will be as tall as me by the time he reaches his teens at that rate! Also interesting that there was only 1cm between J2 and A (representing 2.5 years in age!!). We then took a break for a bit & later in the afternoon I sat them all down and did an ad libbed lesson on drawing to scale. This actually meant a little bit of explanation on decimals and how they can be translated to fractions (of cms). I was amazed at their seeming level of understanding. When I asked what 5/10ths was E (age 5) - with the help of a little picture - was the one who saw it was 1/2. It was complicated to teach three concepts in one, but somehow I think they really got it and the drawing went really well. They drew themselves 1:10 (hence the reason for the decimals lesson). I didn't teach them about ratio, but simply said they were going to draw themselves 1/10th of their real height, which in effect meant they learnt about ratio too without knowing it was called that. They did some great pictures of themselves and I want to keep the outcome as a memento of how tall they are just now and how they all drew and coloured at this age.

Tuesday - Thursday 
We decided (with a little persuasion from me) to make a start on this. I bought it ages back, along with some others in the series and ever since we did an American Indian one, Boo has been begging to do the other one. I didn't want to do the same type of thing again just yet + storage of the gorgeous models is an issue! Instead I persuaded them all to have a go at this because we can make a lapbook with the models (as most of them are flat). They did succumb and we had a good time with it for the rest of the week. We have learnt about the seven systems of the body (an overview), types of body cells, some types of body tissue, the brain and it's functions, neurons, eyes, and ears. We didn't quite finish off all I had hoped - which was to do sight, touch and smell and complete 'The Nervous System' (and associated organs), but we can pick up next non-book week. That's the beauty of lapbooks :)
As an aside, but relevant all the same, I have been sadly stunned by how LITTLE Jacob knows about all this - considering he got Level 4 Science SATS. He didn't know the 7 systems of the body. Even once he had been informed of them he couldn't clearly sort out which system he thought each major organ should be in - meaning he does not have a very thorough understanding of the basic functions of any of the major organs of the body. I know science and memorisation of facts are NOT his strong point at all, but really... I am SO glad I decided to push this now because it will be teaching Jake the stuff he should already know without him feeling like he is being patronised by me. Hopefully it will give him a starting point for some more serious science next year. I can't imagine he is ever going to do anything really scientific in life and I have considered dropping 'science' as a whole subject out of his curriculum entirely (giving him more time to focus on art and dance - and the things he excels at), but in reality a) I don't think he would really want me too as it "can be fun sometimes" and b) I think he should have at least a basic level knowledge of how the world hangs together. But it does make me wonder exactly what science (if any) he did at school!

Integrated Tot-School.
At some point in Tuesday C played with this a bit (note the ever present Hula Hoop packet!),
 at other points he joined in with us a bit and did some colouring along with the others. He was disappointed not to be able to cut anything out of the project work, but was not content to do some cutting out of his own, so we did have a melt down or two :(  However, he did enjoy joining in with our make-believe 'ear' (toilet roll and greaseproof paper), and the couple of games we have played to help get ideas across; for 'NO BONES!!' one person calls out an action like "skip", or "hop", etc... and then at some point shouts "no bones," at which point everyone else flops to the floor like jelly - amidst fits of giggles as they all land on top of one another! Mine can play this game endlessly it seems & they ALL love it! :) Ellie calls it the floppy game and has wanted to play it everyday since Monday! Then "SILENT MESSAGES" is designed to help them understand the workings of neurons. They all stand in a circle holding hands. On the word "Go!" I start of a timer & one person squeezes the hand of another. They pass the squeeze around till it gets back to the beginning hand. The last/first person then shouts "Stop!" The idea is to see how fast they can get the message round. A variation on the theme is to stand them in a line finger-tips to finger-tips and pass 'tickly fingers' along the line (and maybe back again) as fast at they can . This is actually a little harder, but possibly better as a visual illustration of how the dendrites and terminals of the neurons work. They were fascinated to think that while they were acting like neurons the neurons in their own bodies were doing the same thing, only at lightening speed!

Thursday pm
The smallest ones went for a rest and I played Ticket to Ride with the older four (P 'teamed up' with Jake). J2 won - with 8 journeys under his belt!! A lost, but not by a great deal and she did remarkably well considering her age (8) and the fact she had NO help until the very last. Jake & I drew scores exactly. 

If you are wondering why all this lovely together-school stuff would be more stressful than our normal routine I can explain. I have an 11.5 yo joker-boy in my classroom, a 10yo hoppity, "can't control my laughter" son who sits opposite, an 8yod getting to the 'I know everything before I do' stage, a mousey 7yod who forgets what you said 2 seconds ago (& who is quite capable of giggling along with the others) and an airy-fairy 5yod who takes every item of fact and makes it part of her fantasy world!! Mix that together with a 3yos who wants in on the act and a 20mos who climbs up and dances in the middle of the table you are working on to make sure you notice him!! That makes quite a cocktail and it's not very conducive to everyone listening and learning sensibly, 'front lead' teaching from me. Now one-on-one these kinds of 'free(r)-style' weeks might be even more fun and not requiring of the 'teacher' bit so much, but in a mixed age group that haven't quite learnt enough respect for the next member, I get a headache! They all call out comments (although that is getting better), one makes jokes, and they all try to be the first to show off how much they know, or worse still I have one that rarely answers anything because she knows if she says nothing for long enough someone else will give the answer! It's not like we aren't doing the hands-on fun stuff too, but I have to do a bit of 'teaching' for it all to make any sense to the younger ones (and maybe the older ones as well it seems). On Tuesday morning it did actually get to a point where I wasn't willing to continue trying to 'keep order' and I made them all do an hour of silent book-maths instead! They were not happy but it did the trick. The girls were 90% better after that, but the two big boys still mucked about too much for my liking and so had to do ANOTHER hour of maths after school. I don't like using maths as a punishment really, but it needed to be something they were least likely to need me for help with and that they didn't want to do! I gave them all a straight up chat after school and said that if things didn't improve drastically not only would I call off THIS non-book week, but I would be considering not scheduling them in at all next year - and I would scrap non-book DAYS as well. This definitely got them thinking and they did majorly improve for the rest of the week - now they need to show they mean it by keeping it up next time round! I am not into 'crowd control' - that's not what I want my HE to look like. I want it to be good fun, but I need them all to understand that it is only fun when it is fun for everyone - and that includes me - and for it to be that way they need to learn to learn a lot more respect for each other (and me) so that everyone gets a fair share at taking part, I can think clearly and not get be-fuzzed & grumpy and we can all learn together and from each other. School should not be a competition - it should be am exhilarating ride!!

Moving on...
P went away on Thursday to his Grandad's funeral in Portsmouth, leaving me solo for the last couple of days. So after all the busyness of the day I ventured out to kitchen to cook tea. When tea was done I was seriously flagging and I think Jake saw this and kindly volunteered to bath the small boys :) He duly did so very well while I washed up. He even managed to put N's nappy on and was so chuffed with himself for doing it right - "Wooo, I'm a real big bro now!!" That was such a blessing as it didn't mean I had to face a sink-full of dishes late at night or in the morning :) He can definitely pull out the stops at times. Shame he let himself down though by omitting to tidy his room, or put away his clean pile of clothes (which he should have done while I was cooking tea), thereby hindering the actual putting to bed of the baby by about 1/2 hour - but also, at the same time, getting me out of another exhausting game with the big boys! I had said (why do we do this to ourselves?!!) we would play their new Star Wars Risk game that they got for Christmas, but that we haven't had time to look at it properly yet - if everyone else was in bed by 8pm - which in the end they weren't ;) Boys came down and played Hue Knew together while I read my rss feeds and emails. Not long after they went up at about 9.15pm my Internet went down, so I played on ACCF for a bit and paid off my mortgage part one :) Then I went to bed!

And that about takes us up to speed! Today was Friday group at my friend's this morning, followed by Lasagne for lunch, which, thanks to having been able to get the kitchen tidy last night, I made this morning before I went out - I am never that organised!! There is something about P being away that means I get all 'driven' but by 9pm I am done for - except I stay up - don't ask me why! (My answer would be because if I don't blog now I will forget my week). N went for a rest after lunch and the others played nicely. The kids go out to club at 4, but before they went tonight I got them to do all their chores (rabbits, tidy rooms, tidy lounge & hallway, clear & wipe table) so that tonight would be easier. I didn't have Jake to help me tonight because he is at a 'half knight of pear' (half night of prayer - sleepover - fun night). Once they had gone C went on Reader Rabbit Nursery for a bit, giving me a window of peace - well maybe, only by the time I had finished washing up from lunch N had woken from his nap all grumpy and C was bored of the computer :( I put 'Cars' on for C and snuggled N on my lap - at least that way I would get to sit down quietly for 5 minutes, where N promptly fell back to sleep :) Once he was settled I put him down on the sofa under a blanket and set to writing a bit more on this blog... A few sentences later the rest came home (ho hum...). Round 2!! P and I set to in the kitchen (not long cleaned up remember) making promised scones for Tea. If A had made them she can do them alone, but P wanted ME to make them with HER - so like the nice Mummy that I am, I did - and they were lovely and she did really well, but the mess..! After scones J2 remembered that I had said we would have Angel Delight for pudding today and had not done it at lunch time, so he set to making that in the kitchen and dishing it up for everyone - more mess..! N & C woke up and played in the lounge - more mess..! By bedtime tonight I was running well out of steam, so this time J2 offered to help (no little kid's baths tonight), so he went up and tidied his room while A read C's favourite book to him (One, Two, Buckle my Shoe...), then tucked C up, said prayers with him and put his music on. He then went and read stories to the girls. I usually try to keep it to a shared story, but he read at least two! Said prayers with them all and put on their music for them :) He came downstairs looking a little more weary than when he went up and declared that it was more tiring than he thought!! It was nice though as it gave me a few mins to be with N and just chill with him - not that he really ever chills much these days except when he is asleep! J2 & I then played with N together for a few more minutes and he asked me how to put N's nappy on, so I showed him, but N was in manic, reaching overdrive mode, so it would have been impossible for him to do. Once N was down in bed J2 ate the last scone and got a big hug from me before he went up to bed.  At LAST I get to finish my blog - the mess can wait till morning!! Now I'm done & I'm off to bed - I've no more energy left for today and I have 3 girls to get ready for ballet in the morning!


Philippa said...

We had the Star Wars Risk for Christmas last year and it takes a really long time to play. The kids really enjoyed it but I was a bit frustrated when half way through it we switched to the "dark side", because I was doing really well up to then!! Make sure you play it on a surface that you won't have to clear for a day or so!!

Caroline said...

That's sounds a bit epic!! Surfaces that don't need to be used for a week - hmmmm - not in this house!! Only surface we have is dining/school/lunch/craft/games & LIFE table!! We'll have to see how it goes when we venture in... We got it out on Sunday night, but copped out and just played standard rules with it! Looks like we made the right decision - that took long enough!