Saturday, March 05, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

This Week in not-so Brief...

I decided that after half term we were going to knuckle down a bit as we have a nice long stretch now until Easter. It had been a mad busy half-term with a birthday party, a birthday, sleep-overs, The Gathering 2011 (meaning really late nights for the big boys) & Granny staying, but planned outings turned into a wash-outs, so we hadn't spent as much time as I'd have liked outside. Monday the sun came out a little - typically! So I gave the kids an 'inset' day (lol) and sat on the pc doing a little planning and printing (no playing - honest!!). In the evening I also renewed the activities on Stitches 'school' shelf ~ I'm hoping he'll like to do what's there, but screens are way too inviting to him atm!

I absolutely LOVE lessonpathways ~ it's simply so much of a time saver. I headed on over to look up something to do with DD this week and fell upon 'My Shadow' for literacy, so decided to tie that in with the 'shadows' for science and do a sort of 'four-in-a-row' mini unit (we don't work on Fridays so normally only four in our house, but this week only 3 in reality as we'd skipped Monday!) :D
It's been a lot of fun so far and DD has really enjoyed it. Lilo and some of the others wanted to join in too and I think they've all learnt something new, so that's been good too. We began by talking about Robert Louis Stevenson ~ "boring!" in DD's words, but I kept it short and sweet. Sometimes I feel it's good to let them hear stuff they are not so 'into' ! Then we talked about where light comes from and how it is essential for the survival of all living things. This was developed today with the older children over lunch, when we had a discussion about vitamin D & 'rickets' ~ they were asking to go on the Wii and I was kicking them outside instead! (I have the policy that the Wii in the daytime is only for wet and freezing days, otherwise they have to go catch some rays!) For 'hands on' stuff, we have drawn around our shadows on the yard (DD and Minnie did anyway) and then watched them move and grow. DD has been really grabbed by this and keeps asking "HOW?", but I've left that question open for next week: now his curiosity is really sparked I think he will be even more absorbent of the answers!
We also talked about how light 'bends' and 'bounces' and played with a big bowl of water. He was fascinated by how much bigger his hand looked in the water when he looked through the side of the bowl and I attempted to explain how the curve of the bowl bends the light so that it magnifies his hand. We also dropped objects into the water and noticed how much harder it was to grab them out whilst looking through the side of the bowl ~ fun!
He played with the little BBC Bitesize interactive 'thing' from my last post and enjoyed that.
We attempted to make a sundial, but the spot I chose was too shady after 4pm, so I need to 'move' it and try again on another sunny day, but we did manage to plot 3 hours worth so he got the idea.
And inside we made shadow puppets and a screen to show them on ~ great fun :D

We didn't actually finish all I'd planned to do with him on the topic ~ mainly because two of our computers were being stupid today and ate my Solomon-free time, so we didn't do any shadow work today (grrr). Next week we will finish off the science element and work on the literacy side ~ writing some fun poems together :D ~ definitely something that some of the others can join in with too if they want to!

Aside from shadows, DD and Stitch played 'letter bingo' with Bugs and me today (Bugs played to take the other board) and I was amazed how quickly these boys are picking up their letter sounds now. I haven't worked much more on this in the last week or two, but they have at least two or three more that they each know now :D. I was pleased to notice this week that Starfall have now added to their site and I paid up for the extra 'stuff' this week. That, together with Education City, their Leapsters and Leapworld (which they get as part of the package with their Leapsters) are all making up a very comprehensive package of stuff that they both love to spend time on. Stitch also still loves Poissonrouge (which keeps getting better). It's hard to limit computer/screen when I know they are gaining so much from it, but I do pull them off from time to time!! So today, we also did a jigsaw and talked about 'opposites' (that's what the jigsaw was designed to help teach). Stitch already knew most of them, which was reassuring as I haven't 'taught' them as such at any point. Tbh, I am discovering more and more just how much these boys learn by simply being allowed to explore and discover. I am happy that it is so as it makes my life SO much easier that they are natural learners. Lilo is too to a great degree and given the right tools (introduced with careful timing) she can really fly off on her own. She is beginning to read things independently of me now (of her own choosing) and likewise to write things that she wants to down at times.  She has made amazing progress this year and she knows it! She said today, quite flippantly, "I'm getting much better at my reading now." ~ I guess she really means it is beginning to feel easier to her, which is very pleasing.

I never seem to have so much to say about the bigger children, but they are doing well too :D I guess they just need me less these days ;( I mark what they do and it's mostly correct. They call me when they need me, which seems a lot collectively, but really isn't individually! I really want to get back to some 'group' stuff now though ~ geography, astronomy, history, art, music ~ they all seem to have been sidelined for far too long. Bugs was even asking about doing some Geography again today. I think they miss it ~ I know I do! Although I don't miss the noise that usually accompanies group-work! I just need to get my head around it and work out a time when Solomon is consistently asleep for long enough to do it. It'll be summer before we know it and I hope it won't take that long before we get back to at least one them, however long summer days learning in the garden do lend themselves nicely to topic work ;)

One thing I need to blog though, is that after setting down MPH maths with TP for almost a year I decided to give it back to her the week before half term. I asked her to complete a few practices towards the end of the book (where she had begun to come un-stuck). With minimal coaching, just a little reminding of how, but only once, she did them with ease. She went on to work the 'revision' (which I use as an end-of-book 'test' ~ meaning they get zero help from me when they are doing it) and got 86% correct! I was thrilled for her. She has now gone on to 2A and says it is easy :D I'm so glad we took a break. I am becoming ever more the advocate of child-paced learning. I always have been in theory, but the reality has been hard for me to find my way to. I think at last, after almost 10 years of not-quite-getting-it, I am finally beginning to see how children really can learn of their own free-will, if they are given the right 'space' and tools to do so. I even sat and explained to Taz today why our 'school' does not always seem 'fair' ~ that being because they are all different, with different strengths, weaknesses and passions and if each of them were doing the same as the next, then I would not be doing my 'job' well in meeting their individual needs. I think he understood, although I don't think he liked it! He pines after 'going' to school a bit just lately. I think he would almost like to prove me wrong about it! Although what he'd be setting out to prove I don't exactly know ;) He thinks they are all saddled with HE because I didn't like school ~ but that is not the entire truth really (only a small part of it). I just have no faith in state education as an effective way to learn. Taz doesn't get it, but then I wouldn't really expect a 12yo to. He thinks if he went to school he would make a whole gang of close friends ~ he doesn't believe me that that is not very likely. In reality he might a few good friends, for a few years, who he will then completely loose touch with the day he leaves, keeping in touch with maybe one or two if he's lucky. That is not so unlike where he is at now!! He even implied to me today that he would like to find out just how much he would hate it at school ~ sort of like he knows he would, but just wants to taste the disappointment!! Odd child! But he can save it ~ I'm not sending him ;) 

Ok ~ that's enough now ~ enjoy the pictures (click to see them bigger if you wish too) ..!