Learning on "Vacation"

After figuring out our new school schedule on Monday, I gave the boys the full week off and I'm glad I did.  They learned so much this week and were completely in charge of their days.

One evening Ian and Alec decided to play Life together.  They set up the game and played by themselves.  When they ended their game they counted up their money (with a bit of help from my husband since they both had a few million dollars!).  Ian counted up all his own money and when he realized he had won my husband challenged him to figure out how much he had won by.  He struggled with his subtraction, needed a reminder to borrow and when my husband commented on his lack of subtraction skills I reminded him that Ian is typically only subtracting three or 4 digit numbers (not ones reaching into the millions!) and that larger numbers always appear more intimidating.

Ian and I played again today and since I was busy trying to download some new learning games onto the kindle Alec was out banker today.  They worked together to add and subtract and Ian, once again, won!

Alec also spent a small part of his day on Monday teaching his friends to play chess.

We got in another Rainbow Loom and a huge order of bands.  The boys have been working to create new rings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Alec watched a YouTube video and taught himself to make an infinity bracelet and has worked on making several starburst bracelets by memory.  He works patiently with Evan helping him make simple single strand bracelets and helps when Evan runs into problems.

He was often found carting our kits all around outside this whole week.  He now wears about 8 bracelets on each wrist, two rings per hand and his necklace everywhere we go.  I love that's he so proud but I really wish he'd get the concept that less is sometimes more. 
Alec took an art class on Wednesday and while his painting was coming out gorgeous, he went a little overboard on glitter.  I left the class unsure what to say or do.  I didn't want to tell him I thought he ruined the painting if he thought it was beautiful.  Ian and my husband had no such qualms and pointed out to Alec that they thought the painting looked better without the glitter-- still I said nothing.

Alec came to me yesterday and admitted that he's disappointed in how his painting came out.

As the glitter dried it spread out and ran together too so you can hardly even see the original painting he started with.

I felt bad that he didn't like his painting anymore but thought it was a valuable life lesson.

We talked about ways he could have incorporated the glitter without overwhelming the painting; putting small dots in the center of the flower buds, spreading a bit of glitter on the moon, perhaps dabbing small tiny dots in the sky as stars. 

He had worked really hard to make his sky with the white, gray, yellow, pink. orange and purple and blend them all nicely together.  He then learned how to form branches using brushes and watered down black paint.  He added smaller branches to his large branches and then used the back of the paint brush to dot small pink flower clusters with little white centers.

It took him close to two hours to get everything just right.  I reminded him of all the fun he had painting and that he had learned a few new techniques (this helped me remember my money wasn't completely wasted either).  I even offered to work with him on painting another painting without the glitter. 

Ian had wanted to participate in the class too but since I had to run home and get my checkbook (and he didn't want to stay without me), he ended up missing out.  Not to be deterred he asked me to help him find some painting ideas on-line and started his own painting yesterday.

I gave him few instructions and he worked really hard on his painting-- finishing it up this morning.  It came out so beautifully and we found the perfect place to hang it in our playroom.

Alec also wanted to start another painting yesterday, and so I had the two of them sitting side by side at the table working on totally different paintings.  Alec blended a green background for a peacock he wants to paint, but that's as far as he got. 

The boys built a huge frog/ toad home in the sand complete with a slide (a tube put at an angle through the sides of the wall), a tunnel, a few buckets turned on their sides as hideaway rooms, and one huge bucket built into the ground with lots of water.

They caught a few frogs one day and observed them jumping, swimming, and tried to provide seaweed and small fish for them to eat.  I was half afraid that they were torturing the poor frogs but they were so involved and caring and thrilled to have two frogs that I let them be.

I persuaded the kids to let them go after a bit and tried to explain how traumatic that must be for a frog to have someone our size chasing them, yelling at them, and moving them all around; no matter how well- intentioned.

The following afternoon the kids all had a toad and they pulled him around in the dump truck claiming it was a stroller.  They expanded on the frog home a bit and kept track of the toad for a good portion of the day.  I overheard Alec talking about the differences between a frog and a toad-- all very scientific, of course!

The boys tried our a new sprinkler and they had a ball!  They turned into spies and tried to make it through the sprinkler without getting hit by one of the sprays of water (or lasers as they called it).

They tried to get hit by ALL the sprays of water a few times.  Sometimes they sat on the ground and pointed a spray of water at one another like a gun.  They drank from the sprinkler, set up a fort and used some pool floats as shields.  They decided if they got hit by a "laser" they had to jump into the pool to heal themselves.  All their imaginations working together was pretty neat to see and hear! 

Ian pulled out our Q-Ba Maze supplies and built an army tanker out of them.  He had difficulties getting his creation to stay together long enough to finish since different legs kept falling off as he put new pieces on.

He had to re-think his design a few times and was pretty proud of his final masterpiece.

Evan had fun putting the marble through Ian's made up maze and watching the routes the marbles took. 

They rode bikes, played on the playground, attended karate and did our family workout each night so we got tons of exercise and fresh air too!

We ended our week with a fun Nerf gun war at a local park with one of the homeschool groups from our area.  We had bought the younger two boys Nerf guns just for this event and they had a ball.

They spent two hours running around the field and got a chance to try out some new Nerf guns and make some new friends.  I got to meet some new homeschool moms and it was a great way to end our weekend.

I got a ton of new ideas for learning games, which I just love, and know that I'm not alone in those areas my boys are behind.  All of the moms were saying how much their kids hate to write, how little they write and what a struggle it is.

Sometimes it's enough just to know we're not alone!


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