The Day we Ditched The Books

I pulled out all our schoolwork for today and set it on the table.  I quickly realized that after just a few short days of getting back into our routine and we were already in a rut with books, worksheets, and workbooks.  While I do think book work is important I try not to leave us doing the same thing over and over again each day.  It was time to shake things up!

After thinking it over for a while I decided to pull out all the boxed sets the boys got for Christmas and make today a hands- on day.

 I hoped that they'd be engaged in some more hands on opportunities for learning and boy was I right!

 As soon as the kids saw everything piled on the table they wanted to dig right in.

Alec and Evan started playing sight word Don't Break the Ice before they even made or ate breakfast.  I took our Don't Break the Ice game and wrote the sight words on the plastic using fine point wet erase markers.  They played several games together and Alec made sure Evan was reading the words he chose to knock out of the way.  Often more than one word at a time fell but they didn't worry about reading all the words.  I figured after three or four rounds of the game he had gotten some pretty good sight word practice in and they were having a ball playing. (reading and sight word practice)

Once they all settled down to breakfast I read another chapter in Lewis and Clark and Me and finished the chapter we were on in Harry Potter.  (reading)

 They couldn't wait to dig into all the boxes on the table.

There was a bit of an argument over Alec's new snap circuit set and I sided with Alec since it was his new toy.  Ian was very unhappy with that but I reminded him that he had his own snap circuit set that he could use if he wanted to.  He didn't want his own set he wanted Alec's set.  I let him pout while Alec put together two or thee different types of circuits.

Evan was interested in the snap circuits too so I worked with him to put together one of Ian's circuits.
The younger two both went and locked themselves in our downstairs bathroom with the light off.  Alec's set of circuits light up and one of the configurations allows the lights to blink off and on based on sound.  They hooked up Alec's MP3 player and watched the lights flicking off and on to the music.

Ian finally picked out a few things he wanted to try out with his snap circuits and he made a few different loops and experiments.  He wondered what would happen to change them from positive to negative flow and we talked about electricity, currents, closed circuits, open loop circuits, and more.   We tried out all of Alec's lights, speakers, fans, and making "talking" currents.  It was great fun for all! (Science)

All lit up!  

Evan wanted to make the top spin 

Trying to make a speaker controlled light circuit

Ian and I pulled out the CSI Fingerprint Analysis Kit.

We tried out most of the experiments and were quite disappointed in the quality of the kit, the instructions, and the outcome of our experiments.  We soon discovered that the ink they gave for fingerprinting didn't wash off; even with sugar scrubs.  The ink was so watery that the fingerprints came out blurry.  We tried to lift fingerprints off of a glass but that didn't work well either.

We were ready to pack it in and chuck it all in the trash but Alec and Evan wanted to see what we were doing and have a turn with everything.  They didn't have all that much more luck with it than Ian had but they liked it just the same.  We all decided to keep the black light/ flashlight thing, the ink (so we can use it with quill pens during Harry Potter week), the magnifying glass and the soft dusting brush; everything else got thrown away.

It was a disappointment but we still learned a lot about fingerprints and the way investigators go about solving a crime anyway.  (science)

Looking for prints on the glass 

Checking his fingerprints 

The boys wanted to make a crystal today.

We had gotten a crystal growing kit a few years ago and have worked in fits and spurts to make them.  Alec and Evan agreed that they wanted to make the blue sapphire gem.  We read, followed the instructions, and hoped for the best.  We've learned that over the past few years we either get really great crystals or else they're utter failures!  Luckily today's was a great success.

We had a large sparkling blue crystallized rock when the day was done.  We also learned that the blue Alum powder stains hands.  I now have two great badges of teaching today with blackened fingertips and blue palms.   (science)

While the younger boys were making crystals Ian pulled out his new Laser Maze game.

We realized that it was a one person game and so he sat down to try and solve at least a good 10 of the puzzle cards.  Alec really wanted a turn to play too and tried to play over Ian's shoulder.  We finally convinced him to let Ian have a turn and then Alec could have his own turn.  I even saw Evan playing by himself right before lunch.

All three boys enjoyed the game tremendously (math/logic).

While waiting for a turn to play Laser Maze, Alec and Evan went to play in Evan's room. They were using the light from the CSI kit and the brush to look for evidence of a crime in Evan's room.  Alec also set up his Sudoku board and played a game of that too while simultaneously playing with Evan.

He picked puzzle 51 to try and challenge himself since he knows the higher the puzzle number the harder the solution tends to be. (math)

Evan headed outside for a little bit to check on the ice and see how cold it was out.  I warned him not to stay out long since it was quite cold and windy.  I helped him bundle up and reminded him to stay off the ice especially if he was outside alone.  He happily played for 20 minutes or so and came in telling me that it was so cold out and the ice was so hard that he couldn't break any of it off on his own.    

By that time Ian and I were in the midst of playing a game of American Trivia.  I'm surprised by how much the boys enjoy this game.  I find it to be quite difficult myself but since Ian won for a second time today I'm guessing he'll be asking to play it even more often (history & geography)

We read How to Be a Viking first and then went on to read another portion of a chapter in Harry Potter.  Ian groaned when I put the book aside but I had been reading for a half- hour at that point and I could tell Evan was getting anxious to go do something. (reading)

I reminded the boys I had a few movies from the library we could watch.  So Ian and I settled down to watch Lewis and Clark-- The great Journey West.  It was a great movie but a bit to dry for the younger two.

They elected to take Where in the World is Carmen San Diego upstairs to watch in Alec's room.  Ian, however, really seemed to enjoy the movie tremendously and asked me a lot of recap questions at the end.  He often rewound the disk to repeat parts of the story he missed the first time around and asked me a lot of questions.  I hadn't really thought of it when I picked explorers as our U.S. History unit but it really plays into Ian's fascination with living off the land. (history and geography)

After the movie was over Ian headed outside to play and was soon joined by his two brothers.  I had cocoa going in our Cocomotion machine for when they returned (yes, I have a hot cocoa machine; some people like coffee I like cocoa!).  It was bitterly cold and I know that tends to be their favorite way to warm up.  Alec came over to knock on the door after a bit.  He wanted to show me a block of ice that he chiseled out of the ground and tried to make into a heart.  It was adorable! (nature/ art)

They came in and the younger two drank their hot cocoa in front of the computer playing Spirit Animals. Alec was so excited when he found this game link in the back of one of his favorite book series.  He was even more excited to find that the game finally worked on the older computer we have set up in the playroom. It's pretty much the only computer we hadn't tried getting it to work with before.  He had played last night before bed and spent part of the afternoon teaching Evan to play. (technology/ reading reinforcement)

 While they were busy on the computer Ian pulled out our Ohio postcard exchange postcard and followed the recipe they gave us to make Peanut Butter Buckeyes.  We didn't have enough to make the full recipe so it turned into a great math lesson when we had to halve the entire thing.  He was fine with  half of 3 cups or half of 2 lbs. but 1/2 of 1 1/2 sticks of butter took a bit of thinking. (life skills/ reading comprehension/ geography)

It was such a fun day of learning and we didn't have to fill in one single worksheet!


  1. fun for everyone! My kids love trying their favorite recipes as well. The kitchen is messy but we all learn a lot :)

    1. Exactly! Though I do have to say that my boys have gotten much better about cleaning up the kitchen when they're done.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Favorite TV Shows Growing Up in the 80's and early 90's

10 on the 10th: 10 Things I May do in May

Some of My Favorite Shows and Movies I've Been Watching