Combining Movies and Hands on Activities for Optimal Learning

Woohoo! We started school at 9 this morning!  We set a goal to start school easier and today we managed to hold ourselves to that goal...  We're still trying o incorporate a lot of games and hands on learning opportunities and decided to add quite a few movies into our day too.

Evan came downstairs around 9 after having helped clean the bathrooms and playing with his Lego's for a bit and asked if we could start school.

I showed him a computer game I found on ABCya! where he can connect the dots while counting by 2's.  He was excited to try this game and did really well with it.  I stayed nearby in case he needed help but he managed to count all the way to 100 by 2's without any difficulty.

He enjoyed it so much he asked me to save it on the computer so he could play it again another time.  I only wish they had more pictures to choose from.

Evan picked out another book to read to me and I was impressed that he knew the title "Best Friends" without seeming like he sounded it out or anything.  He read through the whole story with only a mistake or two and got real excited when I told him we were going to play Bang! again today.

I had pulled out the old sight word flash cards and put in his new words and we had such a fun time learning together.  He did really well with most of the words and I was glad to see how many of the new words he already knows. 

By the time Evan and I sat down to play Bang! the older boys had made their way downstairs too.  Ian did his math minute and then pulled out his extreme dot to dot book and worked on that for a while.  Alec wanted to wait to do his math minute and instead started with his color by number paper.

I let them choose what they wanted to do for math today since their new books will be in later and we'll be starting on those tomorrow.  They could choose dot to dots, color by numbers, or Sudoku or anything else that was "fun" with numbers.

Once Evan was done math and reading he went to go play and soon I was left with just Alec.  He wanted to try his math minute and was so disappointed when he had two more left to fill out and the timer rang.  I offered to let him try and take the test orally so I grabbed anther blank test, set the timer for one minute and stood next to him while he called out the answers-- he managed to get all 21 questions in under 30 seconds.  I considered that "knowing" his facts and told him to add another scoop to his ice cream cone.  He's now working on his 9 times tables since he believes the 9 times tables are easy.  He's found a pattern with them that has helped him memorize these facts quite quickly. 
Once all the boys were done with math they took off back to their room (and each other's rooms) to play with their Legos.  I let them play for a bit while I did some laundry and worked on the computer and then we reassembled at the kitchen table for science.

Since the boys had so much fun with the magnets yesterday I thought we'd conduct an experiment using them today.

  • I have been wanting to try to show the boys the iron in our cereal and so we followed Steve Spangler's Eating Nails experiment.  
  • We modified the experiment slightly since we used two different kinds of cereal (each with a different iron content).  
  • We compared raisin bran to frosted mini wheats and I had them predict which one they thought had more iron.  
  • We started by crushing each cereal and seeing if we could get any flakes or pieces to move around the plate using our magnets.  The boys were diligent about making sure they tried each of the three magnets during each step of the experiment to see if there were any differences.  
  • Once they tried moving dry crumbs around on the plate they tried getting a piece of cereal to cling to the magnets by pressing down on the flakes with the magnets.  
  • Finally we tried adding a bit of water to the cereal pieces and seeing if we could get anything to move along the top of the water.  Ian managed to get a few flakes of the mini wheats to stick to his magnet so he guessed that the mini wheats had more iron.  
  • We took two quart size freezer bags and added 1 cup of cereal to each bag.  We then poured hot water until the bags were 2/3 of the way full and then mushed the cereal and water around a bit with our hands.  
  • We set them aside in a bowl to sit for 20- 30 minutes and then checked them with the magnets to see if we could attract any of the iron with our magnets.  I hoped and prayed that something would show but I just wasn't sure if our magnets would be strong enough to make a difference.  They weren't! 
  • The boys and I were so bummed so we decided to buy some stronger magnets and try again another day.  
I hate it when our science experiments fail.  I know it's still a learning experience but it's always such a let down.
searching for anything moving near the magnet

Ian got a flake to stick

our cereal slurry
 My goal for the day had been to do some art with the boys.  I felt like it had been a long time since we had done a real art project.  They each added their own twist to their art work and I just love watching their creativity take over.

 Alec took samples of green paint and made me look up a picture of an anaconda so he could make sure he had the "right" shade of green for his snake.  Ian chose to make a milk snake and already knew the color pattern he wanted to use.

They worked on these painting throughout the day in fits and spurts, setting them aside to dry or when they had had enough and picking them back up again when they felt like it.

Alec's painting is all finished.

Ian is still working on his painting
We watched Born to Be Wild.  It was a very interesting documentary about orphaned elephants and chimpanzees in Africa. They all really enjoyed it so much.  It was funny and cute at times; who doesn't love baby animals?  While watching the movie the boys got their lunches all ready.  They worked together to put their lunch on the table and I am so grateful that they're becoming so independent.  Once lunch was over they settled in to watch the rest of the movie and I had to snap a picture of my younger two enjoying one another and the movie.

These glimpses of friendship are so rewarding and reaffirm my belief that homeshcooling is the right thing for us.  Once the movie was over all the boys were acting out that they were chimps trying to carry one another around on their backs.

We also watched Families of Russia this afternoon.

It was a cold, windy day and was just perfect for snuggling on the couch watching movies.  I even offered to pop some popcorn so we had a fun snack in the living room.

The boys love this series and asked me to request a few more of them.  They compared the two families shown on the movie to one another, to our lives and to the other movies we've seen so far in this series.

 The boys spent the afternoon playing, painting, and watching movies.  Evan played World of Zoo for a bit on the Wii and all three boys spent their evening after dinner working out on the treadmill, elliptical machine and playing ping pong.

Alec even challenged my husband to a game of chess.  He loves chess and has been working on teaching just about every family member we have to play chess and while he doesn't always win, or win easily I'm always uncertain that we're all playing "right."  It would be nice to get him together with other kids who know and understand the game too.

All in all it was another (dare I say?) perfect day filled with fun learning games and activities.


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